A MelanieM Review: Don’t Fight the Spark (Soldiers and Mercenaries #1) by Kasia Bacon

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

As the Light Festival draws near, the Něssyrians craft paper lanterns, awaiting the most important holiday of the year.
The Lyliňg Fighting House, too, prepares for celebration–by laying fresh sand onto the arena and setting up a match against their top pit fighter, the unrivalled Yüuzuki Ōren.

His last match. One he can’t win.

With the odds more than stacked against him, the gorgeous Barbarian is as good as dead. Unless his lover, healer Ĥaiatto Ẽkana, proves himself every bit as determined as he is clever and finds a way to protect the man he’d stop at nothing to save.

Let me start my review right off saying I thoroughly enjoyed this story and main couple.  I thought it ended way too soon.  My initial response was to give it a much higher rating until I realized a couple of things…

I got some of the more important information I needed from the author’s ‘About the Book’  section and not the story. This is the first novel from this author and her series, The Order. This is a universe where all the stories she’s writing are fitting together like building blocks, creating an overall enormous painting of a world puzzle, complete with a variety of beings, cultures, politics , empires, histories, you name it.  Yes, all that I gleaned from her AtB notes.  It’s there where she also writes that this story arrived as a one sentence inspiration (the first sentence in the story), demanding to be written, forcing her to put down two other Order Universe tales in the making.  Those are some strong voices and I could understand that, listening to them as the story unfolded here.

It’s also where she mentioned readers should read her story The Poison Within (Inspector Skaer, #1) first for all the foundation work it lays.  Sigh.  Ok. Didn’t do that. Get to it later.

What else did I learn?  That the author recommended I should read the Order Glossary first before diving into the story.  It’s something she puts in all her stories to help readers remember terms, geography, rulers, kingdoms, beings, terminology, and plants.  And yes, do.  Read it first.  Unfortunately, it’s placed in the back.  Still, read it first because if, like me, you have no idea what The Order universe is about, that is pertinent information you will need.  Like exactly what The Order is.  Trust me, that’s huge.

So armed with all that knowledge, I sailed into Don’t Fight the Spark and loved it!  I understood the levels of magic users and what a sand fighter is (think gladiator).  I was quickly pulled  into the hidden relationship between healer and fighter.  Oddly enough, the story is told from the pov of the healer, Ĥaiatto,  not Yüu,the fighter, something you wouldn’t get from the blurb.    He’s  a lower level magic worker, a spark.  Someone who can’t make their own magic but buys it and then uses a stone to focus the magic.  Bacon uses every bit of the 86 pages to build a tender, powerful bond between fighter and spark, one now threatened by a singular fight and imminent death.  I was so emotionally connected to them both I had tears in my eyes at certain scenes.

The action when it comes, flows so fast that you almost have to go back and reread it to make sure you didn’t miss anything, it happens so swiftly.    So does the ending, a HFN as it can only be at this moment for them both.  This is the first in a series and the start of a journey for them both, along with others we met in this novella.

I have no other stories as comparison so I don’t know if this is typical of the other Order stories in length and format.  That the Glossary steps in for foundation and the assumption is that you are reading them all.  It might seem so from the author’s words in her ‘About the Book’.

In character, relationship, and plot, this story is strong.  The reader must look elsewhere for universe building and structure for the series.   I’m already scrambling to catch up on the rest of the stories because I can see this being a new reader addiction for me.  I have to know more about The Order and yes, I’m heading towards The Poison Within already  That’s next.  I’ll let you know what I find.  Until then, consider this another fantasy novel I definitely recommend, but read the sections I mention first.  Come at this story with all the knowledge you can!

Cover art: Paul A. Bacon.  I love this cover.  I would have read this story based on the cover alone.

Sales Links:   Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBook

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 86 pages
Published April 26th 2019
ASINB 07QQNP96D
Edition Language English
Series Soldiers and Mercenaries #1

Release Blitz and Giveaway for Don’t Fight the Spark (Soldiers and Mercenaries #1) by Kasia Bacon

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Don’t Fight The Spark by Kasia Bacon

Series: Soldiers and Mercenaries #1

  (The Order Universe)

Release Date: April 26, 2019

Subgenre: MM Fantasy Romance

Order here:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Author blurbs about Don’t Fight the Spark:

“An irresistible gem of a love story. In just six short chapters, Kasia Bacon delivers all the goods: an adorably mismatched couple to root for, a seductive and dangerous fantasy world, and more than a spark of wit and charm. Read at your own risk: the second you finish, you’ll be afflicted with grabby-hands for Book Two.”

—J.C. Lillis, author of HOW TO REPAIR A MECHANICAL HEART and A&B  

“Bacon delivers a jewel box world of magic and true-lovers with a yaoi-manga aesthetic so vivid that I can practically see the screen tone.”

—Nicole Kimberling, author of Sea of Stars  

Synopsis for Don’t Fight The Spark:

As the Light Festival draws near, the Něssyrians craft paper lanterns, awaiting the most important holiday of the year. 

The Lyliňg Fighting House, too, prepares for celebration—by laying fresh sand onto the arena and setting up a match against their top pit fighter, the unrivalled Yüuzuki Ōren.

His last match. One he can’t win.

With the odds more than stacked against him, the gorgeous Barbarian is as good as dead. Unless his lover, healer Ĥaiatto kana, proves himself every bit as determined as he is clever and finds a way to protect the man he’d stop at nothing to save.

Excerpt #1:

“Are you wishing on a star, Yüu?” I perched on his chair and moved in to extract the empty crystal from his grasp. I replaced it with my fingers, lacing them around his. 

   His gaze found mine, piercing me with an intent stare as if trying to solve a puzzle. He acted collected, as always, but his golden eyes gleamed with something foreign: resignation and sorrow. “If I could offer a lantern for a blessing bestowed upon me this past year, it would be lit for you,” he said. “I’m thankful for every moment you’ve spent with me. For your every kiss. Every smile you’ve given me.”

The teasing grin died on my lips. I knew what Yüu was doing: exactly what Rhēn had suggested I did. Saying goodbye. Preparing me. Letting go. Giving up on us.

Without realising it, I clutched his hand as if it were a lifeline slipping away from me in deep water.

Excerpt #2:

They brought him to me bloodied and beaten to a pulp three days before the Night of Lights.

Being battered black and blue after a fight came with the territory for an ih’mohrô, even one as good as Yüuzuki Ōren. Not once in the past, however, had he ended up unresponsive in my treatment room. My stomach plummeted at the sight of two guards hauling him between them like a sack of coal. Was the dread that had haunted my dreams about to transpire?

Careful not to unmask my fear, I schooled my features. “Here.” I ushered the men to the exam table, erected in the middle of my study for easy access.

I did my best not to wince when Yüu’s limp body landed on top of the linen-dressed surface with a dull thump.

I got to him in two leaps and busied myself with arranging him in a recovery position. Placing two fingers on the inside of his wrist, I took his pulse. It felt thready and rapid, but it was there. I observed his chest rising and falling in shallow but regular breaths. Having seen no evidence of a collapsed lung or any blockage in his airways, I sighed with relief.

The blood caking his body—part dried, part fresh—prevented me from fully determining the damage.

I ordered the men to step back and allow me room to work. The next moment, I snatched my emergency kit from the side cabinet and prepared a basin of fresh water, dampening a soft muslin washcloth in it. Having settled Yüu onto his back with speed and care, I proceeded to clean the skin of the wounded man.

Not just any man, but the one I loved.

The scanty outfit of a pit-fighter, consisting of a simple loincloth, allowed me to get on with my task right away, taking stock of his injuries as the sweeping movements of my hands uncovered more and more scrapes, cuts and contusions.

Yüu was as tough as they came. The toughest. I would know, having treated him and other prized combatants of the Lyliňg Fighting House for over three years. If his body shut down, going into shock from blood loss and pain, both must’ve been significant.

Excerpt #3:

I trailed a path of feathery kisses down the bridge of his nose and upper lip until my mouth met with Yüu’s equally eager one. Then I latched on with a moan I couldn’t suppress any longer.

Yüu’s kisses were always sweet and gentle to start with. They quickly became testing, inviting more engagement, only to turn bold and shattering in the end. He kissed like he fought: sounding his opponent out, cranking up the challenge, then leaving them breathless, stunned and completely obliterated.

I welcomed every such defeat delivered by his clever tongue, and this time was no different. Hot-cheeked and a tad winded, I forced myself to break the kiss, at last, gratified at Yüu’s growl of protest. “Let me take care of you, love,” I panted into his ear. “All right?” And with that, I pushed him backwards onto the chair.

Showing no signs of resistance, he allowed me to guide him into a half-lying position.

Once I had him situated right where I wanted him, I drew back slightly, pausing to study the ravishing view sprawled in front of me.

Oh yes. I knew and adored the wild look glittering in his golden eyes. That tightly-wound hunger. That unconcealed want. The way he observed me with parted lips, his body coiled in anticipation, turned my blood into liquid fire.

Without stalling anymore, I let my hands wander across his shoulders and chest, avoiding the bruises and trying not to frown at them. I took a brief detour to tease his dark, hard nipples before continuing my unhurried descent south, caressing every single one of his delicious abdominal ripples. By the time I passed his belly button, having arrived at the edge of the cloth covering his groin, the material below tented over a generously sized bulge. Twitching now and again, it taunted me into uncovering it. And in two pulls at the material, I managed to do just that.

Excerpt #4:

Admitting I’d been mugged wasn’t the best way to calm Yüu down.

Fear widened his eyes. Watching him scared out of his wits for the first time—scared for me—crushed my heart to dust. “Mugged! You’ve been mugged?” he said in a low and dangerous tone, his eyes pinned on me.

“I’m fine. It’s nothing. I got lost around the west docklands and—”

“West docklands! The fuck? Why were you there in the first place? Are you mad?”

“Well…” I didn’t want to lie, but neither did I want to tell him the truth just yet. The trust Feninghan had mentioned was all very good, but until something concrete manifested, I’d decided to keep quiet.

“Ĥaiatto.” Yüu made a visible effort to curb the temper I never knew he possessed. Grinding his jaw and taking noisy breaths through flared nostrils, he looked like an enraged stallion. “I know you’ve been up to something, trying to remedy our situation. I didn’t want to pry, and gods know I appreciate your efforts, whatever they are and regardless of whether or not they will come to fruition. But I won’t stand for you putting yourself in harm’s way over this. Do you understand? Look at you! Just look!”

In an odd reverse-role scenario, Yüu rushed to my side to check me over for injuries. He opened the folds of my robes, effectively stripping me of them. His hands roamed across my chest.

I had to admit—I didn’t mind being subjected to such thorough and energetic examination, especially if I could redirect its purpose a tiny bit.

“Love, I swear I’m all right. It appears worse than it is,” I covered his hands with my own, forcing him to gaze up at me. Truth be told, I felt both touched to tears and completely aroused by his frenzy.

Yüu’s mind, however, seemed stuck on the issue, his eyes brimming with worry and frustration.

Damn, I did understand he hadn’t had it easy the last few days—forced into passive idleness, locked inside my rooms without as much as a change of clothes, deprived of any influence over the unfolding events. Waiting while I gallivanted around town doing gods knew what. It must’ve been a real headfuck for his action-driven personality, even though he had handled his seclusion better than I’d expected.

Author Bio:

A linguist and an avid reader with a particular fondness for fantasy and paranormal genres, KASIA BACON lives in London with her husband. When not tearing her hair out over a translating project, she writes stories about the shenanigans of emotionally constipated assassins and sexy Elves. Otherwise, she can be found shaking her loins at a Zumba class, binging on anime or admiring throwing knives on Pinterest. She has a mild coffee and lemon tart (gluten free) addiction. A lover of MMA and Muay Thai, she also enjoys nature and the great outdoors. She dreams of becoming independently wealthy, leaving the city and moving into her wooden mini-manor—located in the heart of stunning forests resembling those of the Elven Country depicted in her tales.

Author links:

Website: kasiabacon.wixsite.com/orderseries

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01NBRROIR

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kasia-bacon

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kasiabacon/?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kate.baconbuczkowska

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kasia_bb

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16273366.Kasia_Bacon

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/JustKasiaBB/

Newsletter: http://kasiabacon.wixsite.com/orderseries/newsletter

Giveaway:
Win a physical copy of Don’t Fight the Spark or one of two Order Universe-inspired stationary sets.

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A VVivacious Review: Don’t Fight the Spark (Soldiers and Mercenaries #1) by Kasia Bacon

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Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
Yüuzuki Ōren is an Ih’mohrô (sand fighter) at the Lyliňg Fighting House and as the house prepares for the Light Festival,  Yüuzuki must prepare for a fight with insurmountable odds. A fight he is unlikely to survive. A fight he will survive if his lover, Ĥaiatto Ẽkana, the healer at the Lyliňg Fighting House, has anything to do about it and Ĥaiatto will go to any extent to make sure Yüuzuki lives, even if it means selling his soul.

 

This book is told from Ĥaiatto‘s perspective and primarily follows his actions as he tries to save Yüu from fighting a fight he won’t survive.
I couldn’t relate to Ĥaiatto. He is a healer but he curses way too much. Somehow my idea of healers as educated bastions of society doesn’t mesh with Haiatto swearing every other sentence. Also, somehow the word fuck brings me out of historical settings though this isn’t a historical per se this book does try to give the impression of a bygone era. The work fuck starting gaining popularity in the fifties and at that time it was no where near as ubiquitous as it is today. The use of words of modern origins or those that gained popularity in modern times in a setting which is anything but modern brings me out of the immersive experience of reading and after a time it becomes exhausting to keep re-immersing yourself. It is a weird quirk and I am not sure others would have this problem.

So, for all of the above reasons, validated or not, I wasn’t having a fun time being in Ĥaiatto‘s mind and unfortunately, this book is entirely from his perspective. This book also doesn’t focus much on Yüu and their relationship aside from cursory mentions. For a relationship that has been going on for three years, these two feel really new at stuff or maybe I just feel that way because we actually don’t get that much content to form an opinion one way or the other on their relationship and on Yüu.

The bulk of the story focuses on Ĥaiatto trying to solve Yüu‘s predicament which he does without consulting Yüu something I found weird. I  also don’t get why he didn’t just tell Yüu the truth about the crimping or atleast about his deal with the Order. It didn’t make any sense for him to withhold that information. Here is someone preparing for death wouldn’t you try to alleviate their fears with legitimate hope? Leaving that aside, this is the part of the story that I enjoyed the most as Ĥaiatto interacts with members of The Assassin’s Guild. All members of the Guild made quite an impression on me. None more than Lu Feninghan, the grandmaster himself. If I am right he is Lochan’s father and now I really want to see him pop up in Lochan and Ervyn’s story because that would make for one hell of an interesting dynamic. I actuality won’t mind more of Lu.

Cover Art by. Can I just gush over that cover? It is amazing. It is definitely the best cover of the year because I really can’t foresee any cover topping it. The infinite cosmos and the two kissing faces forming out of the ether are so gorgeous. Just break my heart already.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:Kindle Edition, 86 pages
Expected publication: April 26th 2019 by The Order Universe
Edition Language English
Series Soldiers and Mercenaries #1