A MelanieM Review: NoX by Adrienne Wilder

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Rating:: 4.5 stars out of 5

One is a dying man.
The other is a man who died to live.

A nude man invades Luca Suarez’s home and protects him from creatures who cannot exist.
Creatures hunting him.

The stranger can’t tell Luca why. He can’t even tell Luca his name.
He remembers nothing until the moment he sees Luca.

The only hint Luca has to the stranger’s identity is a tattoo on his wrist: N o X

Nox doesn’t know who he is, but he’s sure of three things, his memory loss is temporary, the monsters chasing Luca are called Anubis, and his Alpha, Koda, sent Nox to protect him.

There’s just one problem… Koda is Luca’s brother who was murdered five years ago.

With each passing hour, Nox fills in the pieces painting an impossible truth. And with each passing hour, both men find themselves unexplainably attracted to each other.

Something Luca is willing to embrace because he has nothing left to lose.
And one Nox can’t let happen because it could get Luca killed.

Nox is a HEA m/m paranormal, science-fiction romance.
But be warned, these are NOT the shifters you are used to reading about.

NoX by Adrienne Wilder is a HFN LGBT science fiction novel that ends with new elements added and the author opening up her universe and characters for a sequel that may never be written. Which given the snippets revealed in the author’s notes at the end would be a shame because NoX is a complex, twisty blend of Egyptian mythology, cosmology, shifters, genetics, mad scientists, action adventure, government conspiracy, and , oh yes, hot sex and romance.  Maybe a few more thrown in for good measure.

NoX is a totally engrossing tale from the moment you open the story and meet the ailing Luca, alone in his house on the stormy dark night.   A bang, a flahs, a barking dog, the reader’s pulse starts to race and you become totally involved in this fragile young man’s world and the terror that is about to overtake him.  The writing is terrific, the descriptions are vivid, and the characterization are layered and give these people depth and authenticity.  We believe in them, care for them, and often despair for them.

That is especially true for NoX, the person who begins the story without memory.  That slowly returns in bits and pieces, and as it  does so does his part of the story and back history.  About that I will say no more.

But NoX is told from multiple points of view and it absolutely works,  It flips effortlessly from one person to the next, moving the story and suspense/action forward, while creating angst and a great deal of knots in the reader’s stomach.  Trust me on that last one.

Wilder’s twist on shifter culture pulls from many different areas and genres.  The author brings in Egyptian mythology with Anubis, creationism and origin legends and science, plus sheer old science fiction beings/creature of unknown background now set loose.  There is also plenty of talk of genetics and molecular science.  Except…and here is where it get’s weak…and the author takes the easy way out of a complex explanation or creating one..

“There isn’t enough time for me to explain, and even if there was, you don’t have the education to understand it.”

I read that  to be the author saying that wrote themselves into a scientific corner and that was their solution.  That happens a couple of times here where the intricacies overwhelm the narrative.

There are several major twists to this story, all well woven and one a real stunner that stopped me reading in amazement.  The action is so swift, the information coming at you at such a fast clip that it takes time for the reader to take it all in.  It took me a while to realize that the relationship between NoX and Luca is actually very primal at first, anything resembling something romanic doesn’t appear until later in the story.  So in that respect, you might say this is actually a slow burn romance as well.

It is also violent, graphic, and very sexual which is how the Anubis bonds.  But again that is also such a complex matter, although it appears primal, that it is best left for the storyline.

However, while the blurb states this as a HEA that just isn’t the case.  It would indicate that if it weren’t for that epilogue and the author’s notes.  During the epilogue, more information and new elements are introduced which opens up an entirely new path, characters, and possibilities.  None of which is suggestive of HEA.  The author’s notes are further indication of a sequel in the works as snippets, which are given for the readers to look over.  With Wilder’s note saying it’s dependant on whether or not this does well.

Funny, I always thought you wrote a story because it wanted to be written or you had the passion or need to write it. Huh.

Anyway.  This story stands on it own merits.  It deserves this rating because it’s entertaining, well done, imaginative, and I loved reading it.  Aside from that author’s note of course. Which as you can tell struck me the wrong way.

If you love science fiction that combines a wonderful blend of elements, I think NoX by Adrienne Wilder might be just your thing!  I’m definitely recommending it.

Cover art Adrienne Wilder.  Great cover as it also contains several important elements from the story while being dramatic.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US    |  Amazon UK 

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 463 pages
Published April 2nd 2019
ASINB07QD2Q4VD
Edition Language English

Review: Crucible of Fate (Change of Heart #4) by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 5 stars

Crucible of Fate coverDomin Thorne should be on top of the world.  He is the semel-aten, the leader of the werepanther world, ruler of the city Sobek in Egypt, the capital of the werepanthers.  At his side are his new mate, Yuri the former shersuru of Logan Church as well as Mikail, Crane, and Taj from his former tribe, courtesy of Logan and Jin who knew it was crucial to have people he trusted around him as he began his rule.

But the tasks before him are even more formidable than he had imagined.  The old priest who supported him has died, and the new priest is intent on undermining his authority.   Crane is homesick and both Yuri and Mikail are not acting like themselves.  And Domin finds himself short tempered, and impatient with the pace of change in the rules and regulations he wants implemented.  Then his ex shows up just as a servant tries to kill him, and Yuri goes on a goodwill mission that turns deadly, and faced with his loss, Domin realizes that he truly loves Yuri, the only one to love him deeply and forever.

As his enemies gather all around him, Domin must prove to himself and all of Sobek that he is truly the semel-aten Logan believes he can be if he is to save those he loves and the werepanther world so desperately in need of change.

I hope that Mary Calmes intends to continue this series because with each book, it gets stronger, more deeply layered and complex.  Crucible of Fate picks up after the events of Honored Vow, and the fight in the arena between Domin and the former semel aten, Ammon, a circumstance planned by Logan.  Now in Sobek, the werepanther capital city in Egypt, we are given a Domin in crisis mode, inside and out.  Everything has  changed for Domin and it is overwhelming him on every front.  Domin has a mate in Yuri and it is so new for them both that neither has adjusted to their new status.  Yuri has always loved Domin, but Domin’s feelings for Yuri are still so brand new, bringing with them a measure of insecurity.  Logan gave permission for several close members of his tribe to go with Domin to insure his safety and to insure he would have people around him he could trust but none of them are acting like themselves.  Even the goals he wants to set for change within their society seem to distant to enact.  Mary Calmes gives us this wonderfully volatile man puts him down within an equally volatile framework and lets the explosions start to happen.

The author places characters we have come to love into situations where  their interpersonal relationships must expand and grow to their potential or all will be lost.  And it’s not just  Domin who must change, but Crane, Mikhail, Yuri and the entire court of Sobek.  It’s wonderful because we get to see the start of a social revolution but from the person’s view point who is planning it all.  Just a lovely touch.  As this author has done in the past, she takes the facts she has given us and then uses them to turn everything we know on its head by the end of the story.  All the little twists and turns she throws into the story takes Domin into a place I did not see coming, and I loved that.

And it’s not just the wonderful characterizations that greet us like old friends, but the vivid descriptions of Egypt, from the palace to the catacombs that help the reader visualize each and every scene our beloved werepanthers find themselves in.  But no matter how wonderful the settings (and they have been outstanding, especially Mongolia), it is the characters that continue to bring all of us back for more.  I never thought I would come to love Domin as I do when I initially met him. Then he was a bully, and a bit of a thug, deserving of a smackdown, which he got and then some.  But over the series, we have watched Domin evolve into a man of honor, worthy of both respect and love.  One of the true pleasures of this story, is Domin and Yuri’s story, watching their relationship deepen, strengthen and finally reveal itself as one between true mates.  It is just so rewarding and satisfying, I can’t wait for you to experience it yourself.

In fact you won’t find a quibble here.  Just the plea for another book.  Ilia, Jin and Logan’s son is introduced here, and while not giving you any spoilers, let’s just say he is worthy of his own series.  Crane has a wedding coming up, and so much more is on the horizon for them all that their story cries out to be heard (yes, that would be Danny’s voice we hear). So here I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping the future will bring us more in the Change of Heart series.  Until then I will return to the beginning and start over with Jin and Logan.  Don’t miss out on any of them.

 

Here are the books in the series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and the events that occur:

Change of Heart (Change of Heart #1)

Trusted Bond (Change of Heart #2)

Honored Vow (Change of Heart #3)

Crucible of Fate (Change of Heart #4)

Three Fates by Andrew Grey, Mary Calmes and Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars

The Fates sit, spin and weave the fabric of all human life.  Some people’s threads are guided to the path of true love, some are lucky in love and life while others have their lives or threads cut short, their loves lost , while others still have waited many lifetimes to find their true love again.  All human life woven into a tapestry by the Fates with some surprising and  unexpected results, even to the Fates themselves.  Three Fates weave the stories of three very different couples, from werewolves in Germany to Scandinavians in California.

Fate Delivers A Prince by Andrew Grey gives us a young werewolf with a terrible itch who visits Germany with his family only to run into a prince who takes his royal duties very seriously.  Only an intervention by Clotho will put these two on a path to love.

Jump by Mary Calmes brings us into the lives of Egyptian gods and the Fates.  When one god loses his mortal lover, he renounces his immortality and dies.  Bereft his brother God begs the Fates interference to bring the two together again, no matter how many lives each must live before they find each other again.

Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane stars Loki and Thor as the Nordic gods whose meddling changes the patterns of two families, giving one the abundance of luck after stealing the luck from another.  When Lief, the lucky bike messenger saves the life of Hacon, who is laboring under a family curse, the Fates have a chance to right a wrong as the Gods look on.

What a remarkable trio of stories by three amazing authors.  In each story, the Fates weave out the pattern of peoples lives but things never go as planned, not without a little interference by the weavers themselves. If you have ever heard someone say “well, it must have been fate” and you believed it, then these stories are for you.

In Andrew Grey’s story, he brings the Greek Gods, or rather Clotho , the youngest of the Moirai or Fates to help two young lovers accept their destiny.  Clotho is responsible for making decisions, weaving the human story.  When it looks like Cheyanne the young were is going to listen to his insecurities and poor self image instead of attending the ball, Clotho sends the appropriate dress and instructions to send him to the ball and a meeting with his prince.  Chey is young endearing young man, whose position in the family as the baby plus an undiagnosed skin disease has turned him into someone who craves a library and books over human interaction and society. The descriptions of Chey interactions with his father were so touching and had that authentic feel of a father and son trying to navigate their issues with each other. In fact all the relationships here feel very real whether it is family dynamics or odd man out at the ball.  Reading this story gave me the feeling of being there watching it all unfold. Andrew Grey gives us a great sense of setting with his descriptions of the buildings and streets in Munich, Germany combined with terrific characterizations.And the idea that love is an itch you must scratch as well as the balm? Priceless. And so is this gentle tale of love and a forever prince from Andrew Grey.

Anubis and Horus come to life in this touching tale of love lost and centuries later found once more.  Haven’t you ever looked at someone and sensed an immediate connection beyond all logic?  I did and let the moment and the person go by to my everlasting regret.  So this story had a special resonance for me.  When Raza and Cassidy meet and seem to know one another, I  almost wept so right did Mary Calmes get that feeling, that moment in time.  And the character of Cassidy Jane is someone I have never seen from her before.  Short, skinny, bald and wearer of bowties!  I kept thinking where did you come from?  And I loved him!  And Raza, seemingly implacable until Fate smacks him in the chest in the form of Cass and they put right what went horribly wrong so long ago.  But this is a Mary Calmes story, so you have two lovable and oh so human best friends for our two main characters, Snow Drake and Jamie Kidd.  I loved them too.  And there is angst, and anxiety towards the end that it will all go wrong again but the Fates have other ideas, and so does Anubis. That climatic scene at the end? Scary and fun? Ah, Mary Calmes, you did it again.  This was wonderful.  I so love Cass!  Can we please see all of these people again?

Our third and last weaver of human destiny is Amy Lane.  Here she invokes the Gods of Asgard and the Fates called Verdandi (neccessity), Urdh(fate), and Skuld (being).  Here the Fates or Norns, also known as the three sisters, live under the world tree,Yggdrasil, in the realm of Asgard. They weave together the destinies of men and gods as well as the changing laws of the cosmos.  Their tapestry was interrupted, the pattern broken when Loki comes and steals a golden thread of luck from one baby and gives it to another.  The Fates are horrified at Loki’s act, Skuld takes the broken threads and spit splices them together as best she can. This results in “The family with the thread, they shall be lucky, long-lived, and blessed—mostly. And the family without? They shall be unlucky and doomed—but optimistic and intelligent and resourceful.” A temporary fix until a solution comes around in the form of sons from each family that meet and heal the break in their destinies in a most extraordinary way.  Here we meet two of the most remarkable creations, two sons of Norway residing in California, undeniable in their uniqueness and depth of character.  Lief, the lucky “Thundergod” of bike messengers glows his way off the pages and into our hearts, his personality larger than can be contained within this story. Hacon Haldor aka Hake took a little longer to creep into my heart. Dark, thin, brooding, he can kill tanks of tropical fish by freezing them and make his mother’s plants turn black as he passes, although he doesn’t really believe he is to blame no matter what his ex boyfriend and brother says. Flanking these remarkable beings are Lethal, a pint sized bit of attitude and energy who is Lief’s best friend, Andre who is Hake’s ex boyfriend and cop, and two unforgettable cats, Loki (of course) and Vanir who have their own roles to play.  Element upon element, layer upon layer,  the yarn Amy Lane has woven intertwines until we are given a story tremendous in scope, as large as Asgard itself.  We have mythological elements, the scary world of bike messengers, marvelous explanations of the meaning of stories and hero figures, knitting, and some of the best cussing phraseology that has come down the pike.  I am talking some memorable wall hangings and cross stitch pillows just screaming out to be made with those phrases in mind.  And no I cannot repeat them here.  You will have to read the story!  Uh hem.

I loved these stories.  They spoke to my mind and my heart.  Clearly these wonderful authors were fated to write them as we are to read them, enjoy them and bring them close.  Don’t pass these by, don’t give Loki a reason to make more mischief (like he needs any).  Whether you believe in Fate or happenstance, these stories are for you.  No quibbles here.  Trust me.  You’ll love them.

Cover art by Christine Griffin.  Love it.  What a great sexy cover.  Amy Lane says she is the Fate in the hoodie.  Of course she is.  So who do you think are the other two?