A Free Dreamer Review: Salt and Iron by Tam MacNeil

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

Salt and IronJames van Helsing is the youngest son of the famous monster-hunting family—and the family’s big disappointment. He’s falling in love with Gabe Marquez, his oldest friend and son of the family the van Helsings have worked alongside for years. Things get even harder for James when he becomes what he and everyone else despises most—a magic user.

He didn’t mean to evolve into such a despicable person, and he knows using magic is illegal, but there’s nothing James can do about it, no more than he can stop himself from loving Gabe. Just when things can’t seem to get worse, he and Gabe are called to help nab a network of magicians who are changing destiny. Not just any destiny, but the destinies of the van Helsing and Marquez families. James foresees a terrible fate, one in which monsters emerge from the cracks, along with his dark secret. And that’s when people start to die.

I absolutely loved “Salt and Iron”. I just couldn’t put it down. In fact, it was so addicting that it constantly made me late because I just couldn’t tear myself away from it.

The setting was unique. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything similar. I loved how the traditional myths about the Fae were carefully woven into the whole plot. It was utterly intriguing. The world building was very well done and it was easy to fall into the world.

James isn’t your average romance hero. He’s an alcoholic, occasionally swallows pills and is generally pretty pathetic. Still, I found myself sympathizing with him from the start. He’s a magic user in a family that hunts magic users. But he can’t help it, he can’t control his magic.

At times I could only gape in mute horror. There are so many truly ugly secrets hiding in this family. The revelations weren’t pretty and I definitely didn’t expect the consequences. They made me question every character at one point. I was never quite sure who was hiding what and why.

The love story is very low key. Both MCs aren’t in a very good place for most of the story, making the romantic feelings kind of take a backseat. The focus was more on the rest of the plot, which I really liked. There was a HEA for the relationship, so don’t worry.

Both the protagonists and the minor characters had real depth. It was easy to relate to James and Gabe. Some of the minor characters were really interesting as well and I loved the interactions between them and James and Gabe.

Long story short, this book was awesome. If you’re in the mood for great urban fantasy of the more violent sort, with a dash of romance, then go read this book. Just don’t expect an epic love story, or you’ll be disappointed.

I’d love to read more stories set in this universe and I’ll definitely a look at the author’s other works.

Cover: The cover by AngstyG is absolutely gorgeous. It shows the outlines of two men sitting at a dinner table. The background is completely black and the outlines are white. I think it depicts the general feel of the story really well.

It reminds me of a YA novel I read years ago, which is why I stopped to take a closer look at the book in the first place.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published March 7th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781623809676
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Advent Story Review: Four Alternative Christmas Presents by Tam MacNeil

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Sleigh Ride Advent StoryIt’s Christmas Eve, and newly minted superhero Matt AKA “Strong Man” is in the middle of taking down one of Central City’s most notorious criminals, the mesmerist and villain Dr. Destructo. It’s Matt’s first mission, and he’s working with his idol and secret crush, Jake X-Ray. He doesn’t want anything to go wrong.

Unfortunately for him, everything goes wrong. Soon Matt finds himself racing through alternative presents, trying to capture Dr. Destructo and trying to figure out why all the Matts in these other scenarios have the one thing he really wants—a relationship with Jake.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar package “Sleigh Ride”.

If you are a fan of super heroes and romance, this story was written for you.  Superhero Matt has just come into his super powers but is having a hard time finding acceptance among the other super heroes, especially the one he secretly adores, Jake X-Ray.  Then his first mission with Jake goes wrong and they find themselves chasing the villain through multiple alternative universes.  In each one that Matt has found the acceptance this Matt desires and love with Jake!

Why can’t Matt find it for himself in his universe?

I think the story was cute, a little disjointed and missing important world building elements.  If you love superheroes, you might find the story cute enough that you won’t care.  But if you aren’t a fan, then the issues might irritate you enough to make you want to put it down.  It had a lot of promise with the plot that I just didn’t think the author was able to deliver.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 24 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN B018RRVX2Q