A MelanieM Release Day Review: Sweet Clematis (Being(s) in Love #9) by R. Cooper

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Can a curse be a blessing?

Clematis works hard to embody every fairy stereotype. He can be a sulky prince or a submissive flirt, slutty and arrogant or silly and soft. He makes himself into whatever causes someone to want him. Combine that with beauty that’s incredible even for a fairy, and everyone wants him sooner or later… just not for long.

Well, everyone except the fairy Clematis secretly adores. But then, he’s never expected happily ever after, not when he’s spent years burying his emotions and making himself unlovable to push people away and protect his heart.

But his curse changes all that, and Clematis can no longer prevent his feelings from rising to the surface. He’s terrified that when his few friends see him for who he really is, they’ll abandon him, just like his parents did.

It’s hard to imagine friends who see past his act to the sweet person within, but maybe happiness has been in front of him the entire time, waiting for the real Clematis to break free and blossom.

So it’s not often a story has me sobbing by the first 18 pages, well, ok, not a story by R Cooper.  I adore R Cooper.  This author has a definite style and approach to  writing and their stories, especially this series.  It flows very naturally, with ebbs and eddies, long lovely narrative winding strolls through storied forests and a town occupied by humans and magical beings alike.  From the first novel, Some Kind of Magic, the author has been building an amazing universe and ever increasing,  always interlocked ,cast of characters.  And they flit, sometimes on gossamer wings or growl or stomp or what have you through each other’s stories, making appearances both large and small.

The romances take  time to come to fruition, slow like the seasons, but eventually, love and the couples find a way.  And it’s amazing.

But I don’t find myself sobbing in the first couple of chapter.  Nope, nuh uh.  But then again there’s no one quite like Clematis.

You see, Clematis has impacted just about every character, often badly, within this series. And we’ve always seen the ramifications of Clematis’ actions from the perspective of the other person/being’s life.

Until now.

Now we see the tragedy, the pain, the victim that is Clematis.  And I’m here to tell you that it’s shattering in R. Cooper’s totally quiet, disquieting way.

I spent most of this book reaching for tissues because just when I thought his gentle acceptance of  victimization,  of his state of awful existence for such a long period of time  had gotten to a point where I could see him working through issues and trying to see what those around him did, R Cooper delivers a blow, not with a strike of a hand, but with the cut of a narrative feather. One that goes so much more quickly straight to the heart.  To the reader and to the other characters finally getting a true picture of the fairy in their midst all this time.

What an incredible talent that exists in this writer!  In this one story, Cooper takes one character that has existed throughout all the series and now reveals Clematis to have been not the being represented at all, but a new truth uncovered.  And some of the beings from the other stories?  Well their actions don’t seem quite so shiny in retrospect given the new revelations here.

These aren’t novels where you can relay details because the plots are too complicated and linked with other beings and their stories.  Suffice it to say, the characters/beings are created so realistically that they come alive from the moment you meet them.  They shower glitter, shed fur, and weep tears that leave tracks that shine into your heart.

This is the ninth book.  I don’t know if there will be a tenth.  So many characters from all the stories appeared here that it almost felt as though the author was wrapping things up. Excerpt that, R Cooper style, they also stirred up things as well.  So your guess is as good as mine.

I love this series. Sweet Clematis (Being(s) in Love #9) by R. Cooper certainly shook things up in many ways.  I’m going to have to restock my  tissues, that’s for certain.

I will say it has a wonderfully happy ending for all the tears that was shed.  Just as I hoped for.

For those new to the Being(s) in Love series, I have no idea what to tell you.  Without the foundation of the other stories, you might be somewhat lost here, but it takes time to read all eight stories (which I adore) before getting here.  I do recommend you do that,  Just pick a lovely  spot, take you time, get comfy, and be prepared to go on a wonderful journey.  You’ll end up here.  For now.

Cover art: Paul Richmond.  Love this  cover but…somehow something is missing. Read the story and you will know what I’m talking about.  Because that’s not Clematis. Read and find out who it is.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 306 pages
Expected publication: November 27th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781640808188
Edition Language English
Series Being(s) in Love #9

A Boy and His Dragon

A Beginner’s Guide to Wooing Your Mate

Little Wolf

The Firebird and Other Stories

Frangipani and the Very Shiny Boy

A Dandelion for Tulip

All the Futures That Could Be

Treasure for Treasure

His Mossy Boy

Sweet Clematis

 

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Treasure for Treasure (Being(s) in Love #7) by R. Cooper and Dominic Carlos (Narrator)

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Rating:  3.25 stars out of 5

In the nineteenth century, the dragon Dìzhèn put the small coastal town of Everlasting under her protection. Her family was supposed to carry on the tradition, but all of Dìzhèn the Great’s heirs eventually left rather than live in the shadow of such a powerful dragon.

Only the youngest dragon of the current generation remains: Zarrin, the softhearted disgrace of his family. He might be weak, small, and afraid, but he is determined to show the humans they have not been forgotten… one human in particular. The problem is, Zarrin can barely get that human to talk to him.

It should be a dream come true to have a dragon trying to get his attention. But Joe refuses to bow to Zarrin like everyone else. Yes, Zarrin is sexy, oddly gentle for a dragon, and stares at Joe with a gaze so hot it makes him shiver. But hurt, mistrustful Joe can’t believe Zarrin’s promises that he’s here to stay. Joe doesn’t realize he is the treasure Zarrin has been looking for his whole life, a treasure he once let slip through his fingers out of fear. Now, to win Joe’s trust, Zarrin has to be brave and become as strong as Dìzhèn herself.

This was a nice story.  Joe has been hurt in the past and isn’t willing to trust that someone would really want him let alone a dragon.  Zarrin isn’t sure what he is doing wrong but want to get to know his treasure and he ends up with an unexpected friend to help along the way.

Both Zarrin and Joe were so sweet.  Both of them have been hurt before in different ways but it make them both vulnerable and they deserved to find love.  I loved watching them find the love and happiness with each other they have always wanted. While I like the stories I have read in this series I get insanely frustrated with how people and beings talk around topics and at the end I just felt that Joe didn’t fully believe he was Zarrin’s forever.

Dominic Carlos did a nice job narrating this story.  I think his reading went well with this author’s style of writing.  Though his reading was a bit slow for me to keep my attention and I ended up increasing the speed a bit..

Cover art by Paul Richmond is wonderful and I loved the picture of these characters.

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 14 hrs 29 min

Published: May 8, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

Edition Language: English

 

A Stella Review: Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut by R Cooper

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

 

Jerry Candelario, known as Potts to almost everyone, has spent his entire adult life focused on raising his siblings and his niece. But the home he fought hard to make feels empty since everyone has grown up and moved out, and his precious baby niece is now a teen with a life of her own. With fewer people at the dinner table every night, Jerry suddenly has all the time in the world to think about what he wants. For years, Jerry has kept to himself, never going to college, never dating or doing anything with his evenings except getting lost in a book. But although he pushed aside his longing for community and romance, he never stopped imagining the freedom he might have in a distant someday. Then kind, clever, and out Lincoln Lee opened a bakery in Jerry’s small town. Jerry told himself he was lucky when they became friends. He was too busy to try for a relationship, and someone like Lincoln would never want someone like him anyway. But now that Jerry’s nights are free, all he wants to do is spend them with Lincoln. Jerry knows nothing about gay culture, or dating, or being in love. With Lincoln, he wants to try, but is he making a fool of himself or is his someday finally here?

 

Oh, this story! I could reread it a thousand times and it will always give me the same lovely emotions. Maybe because I understand Potts so well, maybe because Lincoln’s patience is what I look for in my lovers, maybe simply because the book is wonderful.

I have to say, although my relationship with the author previous works is a hit or miss, my love for her words continues and with this new release I was hugely rewarded. There was nothing I didn’t like in Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut, I found everything perfectly put in the right place and moment, every scene so well balanced with feelings, smiles and some tears. I soon emphasized with all the characters, I loved them all and so wanted to have them in my RL. Potts’ family is a mess, but his love for his sister, nice and dad is endless and so deep, it came strongly through his words and thoughts. He put himself and his needs before all his family’s needs and now for once he seems ready to start thinking just a little about his desire for Lincoln.

I adored their relationship, how Lincoln was so welcoming and open with Potts, although sometimes he seemed to be resigned to be just a friend and nothing more, he never gave up on the possibility to be loved as more than just a friend.

I want to recommend this new release by R. Cooper to everyone who is looking for a story deeply packed with feelings and positivity, It’s a light quick read but not a shallow one, not even for a second. Most of all it felt real and believable. Well done!

The cover art by Erin Gamble is lovely, fitting and kind of soft like the story is.

SALE LINKS:  Amazon   

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition

Published June 2nd 2018

ASIN B07DH5B7CW

Edition Language English

 

A MelanieM Release Day Review: His Mossy Boy (Being(s) in Love#8) by R. Cooper

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A Being(s) in Love Story

Years ago, a very intoxicated Martin nearly died in the woods outside Everlasting, and a beautiful creature saved him, although Martin’s done his best to forget it. He spends his time in a haze of weed as he avoids his emotionally abusive mother—and the way he feels about men. Martin is already a weirdo in his isolated small town; he doesn’t need a sexuality crisis too. He’s a mess, but someone—or something—always seems to take care of him, usually a tall, sarcastic deputy by the name of Ian Forrester.

No one knows much about Ian, which is how he and his family prefer it. Ian has resigned himself to a lonely life keeping his secrets and guarding his forest. It’s safe to dream of Martin, because Martin never remembers Ian helping him. Besides, Martin barely speaks to Ian, so nothing can ever grow between them. Right?

But with the dragons—and the magic—back in Everlasting, suddenly anything seems possible, even a happily ever after for two men who never expected one….

When I pick up an R Cooper story I know exactly what I’m getting into.  A long, densely layered, fabulous fantasy tale, a slow burn romance so slow moving we are talking a smouldering peat fire, one that’s simmering under the surface and takes chapters, hundreds of pages to come to fruition. No you won’t get any sort of instant love here.  That’s the absolute love and joy for some, and total frustration for others.  For me?  It’s what I love and know I’m getting from the opening sentence.

His Mossy Boy is just part of a rich tapestry of tales that R. Cooper has been building in their (Being(s) in Love series, each story adding more vibrant storylines, characters and history to an overall mythology and town of Everlasting.  It’s sheer magic!  And like any wonderful bard R. Cooper takes their time.  Always has and I expect always will.

Martin is young man in pain.  Emotionally abused by his mother, uncertain about his sexuality, Martin feels like a freak, unloved and worthless. He takes refuge in alcohol and drugs, often ending up in a stupor outside and alone.  Cooper brings us into the mind and heart of this bruised and aching man through Martin’s perspective.  And it’s often a tortuous one.  Especially with his scenes with his mother, as she drags down and kills what little hope and progress he’s made to to self worth through the day.  It’s heartbreaking and all too believable.

But Martin has someone looking over him.  Deputy Ian Forrester who has he own secrets and heartbreak.  We get Ian’s perspective too.  We get his insight into the town, into Martin, and we see the blinders, well, not blinders but perhaps lack of knowledge is keeping him from making the right decisions about Martin and their future.  To get these two together will take the entire book.  They will come so close at times but fear, low self esteem, town pressure and more, even magic seemingly strives to keep them apart.

There’s even dragons!  Joseph and Zarrin, his sister Zazzy and Bernard the chatelaine, the dragon parents and the town of Everlasting feature prominently here.  Did I mention this is a densely woven incredible tapestry?

But primarily it’s about getting Martin to accept himself, to see beyond other’s abuse of him and their intolerance and to be brave enough to reach for what he wants and think he deserves it.  And not just Martin alone.  There are two that need to believe that boundaries can be broken, rules bent so lovers can be together.  In the end it all comes together in a powerfully simple walk down the street holding hands that makes you want to cry in happiness.

Yes, I love this story and this author.  Neither one, the story or the series is for the impatient.  Neither is the author for that matter.  But for those of us who love to meander, take our time, looking around, appreciating the trail as much as the  destination. Those of us who love the slow burn, the hesitation before the kiss…well, this is magic.

It helps to have read the story before this one, Treasure for Treasure (Beings in Love #7) to get background history on Joseph and Zarrin.  Indeed pick up the entire Beings in Love series.  It’s wonderful.  I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.  His Mossy Boy and the rest are all highly recommended!

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond.  What an absolutely gorgeous cover.  Its perfect for the story and characters.  One of my favorite of the year.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages
Expected publication: September 11th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635338850
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Beings in Love #8

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Treasure for Treasure (Beings in Love #7) by R. Cooper

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

treasure-by-treasureA Being(s) in Love Story

In the nineteenth century, the dragon Dìzhèn put the small coastal town of Everlasting under her protection. Her family was supposed to carry on the tradition, but all of Dìzhèn the Great’s heirs eventually left rather than live in the shadow of such a powerful dragon.

Only the youngest dragon of the current generation remains: Zarrin, the softhearted disgrace of his family. He might be weak, small, and afraid, but he is determined to show the humans they have not been forgotten… one human in particular. The problem is, Zarrin can barely get that human to talk to him.

It should be a dream come true to have a dragon trying to get his attention. But Joe refuses to bow to Zarrin like everyone else. Yes, Zarrin is sexy, oddly gentle for a dragon, and stares at Joe with a gaze so hot it makes him shiver. But hurt, mistrustful Joe can’t believe Zarrin’s promises that he’s here to stay. Joe doesn’t realize he is the treasure Zarrin has been looking for his whole life, a treasure he once let slip through his fingers out of fear. Now, to win Joe’s trust, Zarrin has to be brave and become as strong as Dìzhèn herself.

Treasure for Treasure (Beings in Love #7) by R. Cooper is another wonder of the slow build in story writing.  I’m a long time fan of both R. Cooper’s, this series, and this style of narrative.   R. Cooper has never rushed into anything when coming to a character build or story thread.  Its always a long and winding path this author takes us on.    We get a feel for the location, the geography, the village, the local townsfolk, and the main characters in a leisurely yet sure manner.  Much like a expect dry stacking those field walls of stone, Cooper leaves little space between the layers as quietly and slowly each character fleshes out and becomes deep and believable.

Joe we meet in all his past and then current pain and conflicted feelings about the town and the dragons who own it.  His sense of being an outcast, his sexuality as part of the cause is contrasted with that of the statue of the dragon in the square.  Powerless versus the power implied.  Its a wonderful starting point, especially where the author takes the story and Joe next.

Joe is such a special character, a believable human, pained, flawed, artistic, and angry.  Then comes Zarrin,  And in this character, Cooper really rises because you always believe that Zarrin is truly a dragon who can take the shape of a human.  Not a human masquerading as a dragon.  His thoughts are that of a dragon who doesn’t quite understand the humans he’s supposed to be protecting.  His emotions?  Also not that of a human as well.  Its as though the author has authentic knowledge of what a dragon must actually be like should be exist.  Or at least one like Zarrin, beautiful golden Zarrin who wants to claim his Treasure but has no idea how to do it.

He does get some help from the most unlikely places.  There’s a marvelous secondary cast of characters.  And the townspeople are as varied as one might expect to find in a real town, from the phobic to the hunters to those accepting and warmhearted.

And there’s Joe and Zarrin’s slow build to understanding and a relationship.  Just waiting for that first kiss is something else.  But the reward is just as great.  I was never frustrated as one might expect because I was so fascinated by the process and trying to see when and how Zarrin and Joe were going to figure it all out. I was so engaged in their own misunderstandings that the places where I might have been frustrated passed right by.

This is just such a  marvelous tale.  Of love and romance, of dragons and treasures found.  Of two beings so right for each other that nothing could stand in their way.  Not misunderstandings, not a town, nothing.  I loved this novel.  Its one I highly recommend, especially if you’re a fan of the slow build.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  For some reason, this cover just seems off, the proportions or something, which is  unusual in a Paul Richmond cover.  Just not a fan of this one.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 340 pages
Expected publication: December 12th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163477888X (ISBN13: 9781634778886)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBeings in Love #7

A Lila Review: A Dandelion for Tulip (Being(s) In Love #6) by R. Cooper

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

A Dandelion for TulipDavid is in love with Tulip, a kind and unusually quiet fairy in his social circle. But everyone knows Tulip doesn’t date humans. David tells himself he is happy to be Tulip’s friend, because he doesn’t believe a fairy could love him and Tulip has never tried to “keep him”—as fairies refer to relationships with humans.

Fairies are drawn to David, describing his great “shine,” but David knows only too well how quickly fairies can forget humans, and thinks he’s destined to be alone. He can’t see his own brilliance or understand how desperately Tulip wants him, even if Tulip believes David can do better.

But exhausted and more than a little tipsy at a Christmas party, David makes his feelings too obvious for Tulip to deny any longer. Because of a past heartbreak involving a human, Tulip is convinced someone as shiny as David could never want a “silly, stupid fairy” in his life. Now, if he wants to keep David, he’ll have to be as brave as his shiny, careful human.

A Dandelion for Tulip takes fantasy to another level with the acceptance of beings as part of society. Even so, they’re mostly kept as a secondary group and this affected the humans that befriend them. There still a touch of ignorance about how they acted and associated with.

This is book six in the Being(s) in Love series but can be read as a stand-alone. I even went back and read all the blurbs to be sure I wasn’t missing anything important. I only noticed a cameo by one of the couples, which perhaps, can be considered an update on their relationship. The author did an excellent job building a believable world and beings that were easily identifiable.

I like David and Tulip individually, but basing a complete story on the MCs lack of communication didn’t work for me. If they had talked for two minutes, the story would have been done in less than fifty pages. I think I was as confused as the characters with the constant assumptions between them.

Their coming together felt forced, perhaps because the reader got the initial impression of them being friends and the unrequited love angle came out of nowhere. I understood the characters pasts and fears, but a lot happened off page as time passed by, leaving several questions unanswered.

I wanted to like this story more because it had all the elements to be great, but the long philosophical discussions were hard to appreciate when I wanted to smack David and Tulip on the back of their heads. I needed more of a connection between them to carry into their happily even after.

——–

Paul Richmond captured an important scene in the story with this cover. I’m not entirely sold on the characters’ features, but overall, it’s a good match for the story.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published: June 24, 2016, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1634773144 (ISBN13: 9781634773140)
Edition Language: English

Series: Being(s) in Love
Book #1: Some Kind of Magic (Beings in Love, #1
Book #2: A Boy and His Dragon (Beings in Love #2)
Book #3: A Beginner’s Guide to Wooing Your Mate (Beings in Love #3)
Book #4: Little Wolf (Beings in Love, #4)
Book #5: The Firebird and Other Stories (Beings in Love Stories #5)
Book #6: A Dandelion for Tulip (Beings in Love, #6)

 

A BJ Audiobook Review: Dancing Lessons by R. Cooper and Narrator: Brian Schell

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 Rating:  2.5 stars out of 5

dancing-lessons audiobookTwo years of living with his controlling boyfriend left Chico worn down long before that boyfriend revealed he’d been seeing someone else. With no other choice, Chico moves in above his cousin’s garage in a small town in the redwoods, where he merely goes through the motions. To get him out of the house, his cousin pushes him to volunteer at a local dance studio to help with their annual show.

He’s not expecting to end up in a dance class, or to start feeling alive again in the arms of his dance instructor. Rafael is the studio owners’ son and was once a well-known dancer in his own right, but now enjoys being a teacher. Although Chico likes him, he’s afraid of taking a chance. But Rafael is determined, and it only takes one dance for Chico to start to realize he might still have something to learn.

From the beginning, the narration on this left me cold. There was very little nuance of characters, emotions, or variations. The reading seemed flat, not like a performance to me, but like an average person reading a book out loud, which isn’t really what I hope for when buying an audio.  I found it hard to get into the story and as it went on hard to keep track as the voice and inflections tended to annoy me and pulled me out of it. I found this audio very hard to listen to.

Since I also own but had not read the ebook of this, I decided to try reading a bit of it to compare the experience to listening to the audio, and can say that this is a case of the book being better than the audio delivery of it. The writing style didn’t mesh well with for me, parts read as confusing and left me trying to figure things out as they weren’t clear, just didn’t flow for me sequentially or something, especially when it came to dialogue. I had to re-read some bits a few times to figure out what was going on… it was as if there was a communication gap between the author and myself that I had a hard time breeching.

Although the story wasn’t long, it still felt really slow for me at some parts. However, there were some things I really enjoyed about the story, although at times I felt Chico was a bit over the top with things like “silly Chico,” I could relate to how someone can feel so down on themselves due to the ways others have treated them. How sometimes the relationships we live with can change us drastically, until we lose who we once were along with our confidence. And how we are surprised by the most basic decent treatment from others, by their appreciation or attraction. That part was very poignant and real to me. Except that for him to have gotten to that point, it would seem to me that it would have either taken longer or been more predominate than just how one person had treated him. I did also want to mention, that it bugged me when Chico turned around and later said “silly Raf” in a scene

Overall, this is a sweet story with lots of UST, some heat, and a few memorable moments.

I wish that I had chosen to read this entirely as an ebook rather than listen on audio. From trying it for a part that way, I am sure I would have enjoyed it more in that format. Perhaps I will indeed go back and read again once I have let some time pass. For now, I need to rate it as an audiobook though… I rate the story as a 3 star, although I might have rated it higher if it was read rather than listened to, I’m not sure. But I rate the narration as a 2, and for me that is being generous as I really did not connect at all with this narrator, and because of that, feel that I didn’t connect with the story.

I like the cover by Catt Ford and can picture a particular scene when I see it, however it doesn’t give a feel of the book as related to dancing or costume design, etc.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes


Audiobook Details: 

5 hrs 17 mins

Published May 25th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Little Wolf (Beings in Love #4) by R. Cooper and Robert Nieman (Narrator)

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Little Wolf audiobookOn the run from his old-blood werewolf family, Tim Dirus finds himself in Wolf’s Paw, one of the last surviving refuges from the days when werewolves were hunted by humans and one of the last places Tim wants to be. Kept away from other wolves by his uncle, Tim knows almost nothing about his own kind except that alpha werewolves only want to control and dominate a scrawny wolf like him.

 

Tim isn’t in Wolf’s Paw an hour before he draws the attention of Sheriff Nathaniel Neri, the alphaest alpha in a town full of alphas. Powerful, intimidating, and the most beautiful wolf Tim has ever seen, Nathaniel makes Tim feel safe for reasons Tim doesn’t understand. For five years he’s lived on the run, in fear of his family and other wolves. Everything about Wolf’s Paw is contrary to what he thought he knew, and he is terrified. Fearing his mate will run, Sheriff Nathaniel must calm his little wolf and show him he’s more than a match for this big, bad alpha.

 

Tim has been running from his family for years, with the help of a friend he goes to Wolf’s Paw.  When he meets Nathaniel he does everything he can to push him away, but the sheriff is determined to keep Tim safe if not from others, but from himself.  They both slowly open up to the other, but both continue to misunderstand the other’s actions.

 

This was an interesting story.  As with other stories in the series the whole not being able to tell your mate who they are to you can get a bit aggravating.  Tim never learned about any of his instincts while being lock away at his uncle’s mansion and doesn’t know how to process and understand the feelings he is having. How they can take Tim pushing Nathaniel away when he doesn’t know as a rejection is hard to fathom.

 

Robert Nieman did a great job narrating this story.  He doesn’t change voices much when narrating, but this author’s style of writing didn’t need the break up between characters.

 

Cover art by Paul Richmond is perfect and follows the pattern for the series.

 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Audible | Amazon | iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 18 hrs 55min
Published: May 2, 2016 (ebook first published May 8, 2015)
Edition Language: English

Series: A Being(s) In Love Story

A MelanieM Review: The Winter Prince by R Cooper

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5            ★★★★★

The Winter PrinceHis heart stolen by a powerful pari’s magic, a young prince’s veins slowly fill with ice. That is what the stories say. Three years have passed since, and all efforts to save Kisin have failed. He won’t survive another winter. To save the prince’s life, Razin, the court wizard and Kisin’s childhood friend, plans to seek out the pari. But unbeknownst to Razin, Kisin’s heart was never stolen; he gave it freely to escape the pain of impossible love—his love for Razin.

Razin won’t accept Kisin’s fate, for reasons obvious to anyone who knows anything of love. Kisin agrees to the desperate quest, out of duty and a need to protect Razin. But it isn’t long before Razin realizes saving his prince will require more than simply retrieving his heart. Razin will have to convince him to want it.

Sometimes when I’m reading a story by R Cooper I feel as though I’m drawn back into the past along with it, the words convey a tale that makes me feel so much a part of their lives and adventures.

The Winter Prince is another wonderful fairytale, with a cold, blue prince without a heart as its focus. Kisin is turning to ice and everyone assumes they know the cause but they are so wrong.  And one man closest to the prince, Razin who loves the Prince beyond all hope will do everything he can to save him.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Razin is a powerful mage in his own right but title. That’s part of the story as well.

R Cooper’s stories don’t unfold with haste but with a meaningful leisure.  The author builds the tales slowly,  upon scenes and history, upon the characters disclosures and moments of revelations that the reader, if they are patient, are rewarded with such gems of joy and magic along the  way.  I love it when I get the “aha, I see where you’ve been leading  us” moment, or the laughter that comes when an angle totally unexpected pops up.  But the clues are there if I hadn’t been paying attention to all the gorgeous work going on, the descriptions, the world building, the mythology…simply beautiful.

But its always the characters that bring me back.  R Cooper makes me understand the isolation at the heart of Kisin’s sexual innocence and  the deep pain that causes the grief the drives him to the desperation and worst decision of his life.  We will see the story from other points of view than his, from Razin’s as well.  I love the character of Razin.  His life is so different than that of the remote, lonely prince.  Razin was free in every way the Prince was not, in every way but one. I loved that you could see his pain and loss at his predicament too.  There are simply so many other wonderful characters that will flow in and around these two, two women in  particular, that will add their love and support in an astonishing way.

In the end, the magic of the story and the power of love kept me enthralled to the end.  Happy ever after?  Well, as much and as imperfectly perfectly so while staying true to the world they lived in.  I could see it and still be happy for them all.  Yes, I loved it.

Love R Cooper?  Are you a fan of fairytales and fantasy?  Here is another for your must read file.  I highly recommend it.

Cover art by Brooke Albreacht doesn’t have enough of that fantasy element to satisfy me here.  She could have done so much with the blue prince element and that was really lost.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 147 pages
Published February 24th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634769785
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: The Firebird and Other Stories (Beings in Love #5) by R. Cooper

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Being(s) in Love Stories

The Firebird and Other Stories coverMagical creatures known as beings emerged from hiding amid the destruction of the First World War. Since then they’ve lived on the margins of the human world as misunderstood objects of fear and desire. Some are beautiful, others fearsome and powerful. Yet for all their magic and strength, they are as vulnerable as anyone when it comes to matters of the heart.

A firebird in 1930s Paris is drawn to a writer with a haunted past. Upon returning from fighting in the Pacific, a jaguar shifter finds a third-gender human on his doorstep. Early rock ‘n’ roll DJ Hyacinth the fairy shocks his listeners with his admiration for his quiet assistant. During the AIDS crisis, a gruff, leather-wearing troll dreams of a settled life with a mixed-species elf across the bar. An imp, who remembers only too well how cruel the world can be, tells himself he’s content to stay behind the scenes—if only his chaotic, impish magic would stop getting in the way. And a shy human tending his poisonous and carnivorous plants is convinced no one will ever want him, certainly not the handsome werewolf grieving for a lost mate. Human or being, all must overcome fear to reach for love.

I have loved R. Cooper’s imaginative series from the moment I found his story, A Boy and His Dragon, a couple that make an appearance here at the end.  From the magical beings Cooper brings forth looking for romance to the sly, rich, and subtle manner in which the tales are told, R. Cooper’s stories have enchanted me, delighted me and in the case of some of the tales told here, left me more than a little haunted.  Let’s look at them one by one.

The Firebird.  4.5 stars. 1934, Paris, France. Kazimir, a lone firebird, perhaps the last of his kind, sings on the famous stages along side Josephine Baker, in a tragic opera written for him.  He knows little of his kind, only what his previous deceased owners have told him. Now free he sings, then retires to his flat, always filled with people, magical beings, and flowing champagne.  Until a starving ex pat American editor/ writer invades the soiree, with a book he needs to publish and stories he refuses to write.  Rifkin is drawn like everyone to Kazimir.  But now for the first time, the attraction starts to be returned.  But the war is coming, sides are being chosen, and firebirds are immortal, aren’t they?

Such a perfect bittersweet story to set the collection with.  The Firebird will appear again, as well others in this story.  Kazimir has been used, those that want him, who seek to own him often find themselves lost.  What happens when love is finally part of the firebird’s existence?  Quite a story if not exactly a romance.  The threads laid down here appear throughout all the other tales.

The Warrior’s Sacrifice. 5 stars.  1947.  Los Cerros. Mexico? Or Mexico/California combination.   Teo has been taken, beaten, tied up and dumped at the doorstep of the tehuantl—the jaguar, left there as a sacrifice by the neighborhood gang, one of which Teo has just rejected.  Thugs really who never understood Teo, the way he dressed, or acted.  And now it had come to this.  Teo has had a crush on the jaguar for most of his life, even before the jaguar had been sent to fight in the Pacific.  War over, now the Jaguar was back, dangerous and often bloody.  And Teo had been offered as a sacrifice to the one he wanted more than anything. What would the jaguar do?

This is an amazing blend of mythology, culture, and romance. Teo is such a special character, that I hesitate to give him definition here. The jaguar too is a strong, engaging character, one that pulls you towards him because you need the answers to the questions he poses. Combine Teo with mythology come to life in the tehuantl, a warrior back from the Pacific in a vibrant little village, well, this story has so many layers and hidden “notes” that it is one you will want to revisit to again and again to see what you  missed the first time around.  I would change nothing in this story, not even the length.  Unforgettable.

Hyacinth on the Air Rating  3.5 stars.  1961.  Los Cerros Fairy Hyacinth and human Walter work on the air at  a radio station in Los Cerros. Hyacinth has been among the humans for 70 years and still has no regard for human censorship, especially on the air.  Something he can often get away with just a small fine as a fairy but poor Walter could lose his job over.  And Hyacinth does find Walter so very attractive, even if that’s something he’s also not supposed to notice.  Strange humans!   But once Hyacinth realizes Walter is noticing right back, all bets are off!  Its sexy, kinky and even sweet. Its  light-hearted and whimsical tone  sometimes worked against other elements of the story of gay rights to take away its power.

I liked the bending of history here. They are talking about “the war”, and other 60’s facts like Lee Dorsey music but  with all sorts of twists and turns.  I like it but when put along side some of these other stories it just pales by comparison.

A Giant Among Men. Rating  4 stars out of 5.  1982.  Los Cerros.  Tank, a troll with his Viet Nam MIAs/POWs Never Forget and Love Is A Many-Gendered Thing pins on his lapel, is a lovely character. Tank is his own neighborhood watch, but Mami Wata’s a  neighborhood bar is a special place because of Simon.  Tank’s in love with Simon, the bartender.  Simon, best described as elf and ?.  Delightful Simon was a bit more of a question mark but intentionally so.  They made a great couple in the end and I would love to have seen this story expanded.

The story basics are recognizable but the manner in which R. Cooper has folded a AIDs like virus into this story, a similar fear environment infecting the country, it all feels so very relevant.   R. Cooper’s touches to indicate the 80’s vibe which includes mentions of the movies about a murderous fog were just terrific.

The Imp and Mr Sunshine.  Rating: 4 stars out of 5  2005.  Los Cerros.   Rennet (the child imp from The Firebird) is now grown and Los Cerros is a liberal city seeming to embrace its magical beings.  That includes trying to see imps as  something less demonical, and more as beings to be accepted, like fairies and elves.  What Rennet likes, or moreover loves is John Summers, the deputy mayor “The Incredible Unflappable Mr. Sunshine” who he sometimes does odd jobs for.  What follows is a tale of a closeted politician coming out of the closet in his love for an imp.  Its charming, Rennet is endearing and the reader will have no problem connecting with the romance and the characters.

The Wolf in the Garden. Rating 4.5 stars out of 5.  2014 Los Cerros.  Miki (who has a definite connection to the Firebird).  Miki is a gardener who the reader will adore.  Miki grows the plants needed for sale in Cassandra’s magic shop.  The gardens and greenhouses exist behind the shop and they are Miki’s domain, the plants are Miki’s companions and confidants.  The reason behind Miki’s shyness are easily guessed at,and  his gentleness and huge heart bring the reader easily over to his side.  Then Diego the werewolf arrives, mourning, dying of loss and a shocking thing occurs.

Again, what an amazing story.  It moves with an awareness of the fragility of life, how easily things change, along with the need to accept new paths when they open up before you.  For a story that contains so much pain, it is also full of hope and sweetness.  I loved it.  And would love to see more of this couple down the line.

  The Dragon’s Egg.  4.5 stars out of 5.  Present.  Bertie the Dragon and his Arthur are back from A Boy and His Dragon.  The egg appears after a night of passion.  More than that I will not say.  I fell back into their relationship easily, and loved seeing where the two had  progressed since last time I had seen them.

But for those unfamiliar with their story, this might be a little problematic.  A Boy and His Dragon built Bertie and Arthur’s relationship with great care, its foundation that of Arthur’s abandonment and ill treatment as well as Bertie’s love for his Boy.  Without that background, someone new to their history and story might flounder a bit, which would be a shame, because this is a darn good story.  Tender, emotionally revealing, and deep as R. Cooper’s stories tend to be.   That ending was priceless, and of course, it made me want more.

From a story full of fear and despair to one that ends on such promise and love, R. Cooper takes us on a incredible journey with The Firebird and Other Stories, its one you won’t want to miss.   Pick it  up and being your magical voyage today.  I highly recommend this collection and the other  Beings in Love stories.

Cover artist: Paul Richmond.  I love the cover,  Vibrant, unusual, but I wish the Firebird had more of the story elements.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages
Published September 18th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press