An Ali Review: Rough Trade (The Woodbury Boys #3) by Sidney Bell

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 Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Quick-witted hustler Ghost is no stranger to living dangerously; survival has always been the name of the game.

He’s just always gone it alone.

Now he’s got the wrong people breathing down his neck, and the only way out demands placing his trust in the unlikeliest of heroes: Duncan Rook, a gruff cop whose ethics are as solid as his body.

Cozying up to a criminal is hardly what Duncan’s reputation on the force needs—especially when that criminal is temptation personified. Ghost is Duncan’s polar opposite, and the last person he expected to fall for.

So then why does every imaginable scenario for taking down their common enemy end with Ghost in his arms?

This was the exciting ending to the Woodbury Boys trilogy.  The story has two aspects.  One is the case of the crooked policemen that they’re working together on and the other is their relationship.
The case was action packed and could be made into a movie. There’s fighting and car chases and shoot outs.  I thoroughly enjoyed how this part of the story played out and how it gets wrapped up
I was most looking forward to the relationship aspect though.  I admit I was a bit worried going in to this.  Ghost has had a terrible past and he’s suffered a lot of trauma over the years. I was really worried that the author might try to wrap up all his issues with the love of a good man as we so often see in romance stories.  She didn’t though.  She made Ghost’s progression very gritty and very realistic.  He works so hard for his happily ever after.  When he gets there though it is beautiful.  The epilogue made my ears tear up I was so happy for him.  Ghost was a very complex and well written character and his sense of humor helped break up some of the more emotionally heavy scenes.
Duncan wasn’t at all what I would have thought as a match for Ghost but he ended up being perfect. He was so calm.  He took Ghost’s issues seriously and he respected his boundaries which really needed to happen in a story which such a serious plotline.
I had high hopes going into this book and I’m really excited to say this exceeded my expectations.  I loved every minute of this book and I’m sure this is going to make my Top 10 list for the year.  This should not be read as a standalone as the criminal case is an ongoing one since book one. You should also note a content warning for non-graphic child sexual abuse flashbacks.
If you haven’t started this trilogy I highly recommend it. All three books have been 5 star reads for me and some of the best books I’ve read this year.
Cover Art has the typical two male torsos with a nice depiction of the beach below.  Not exactly startling.
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 496 pages
Published December 3rd 2018 by Carina Press
ASIN B07DCSP72Z
Edition Language English
Series The Woodbury Boys #3
setting Colorado (United States)

A MelanieM Review: Running with the Wind (Mermen of Ea #3) by Shira Anthony

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Sequel to Into the Wind

Running with the Wind coverWith the final confrontation between the island and mainland Ea factions looming, Taren and Ian sail with Odhrán to investigate a lost colony of merfolk in the Eastern Lands. Upon their arrival, the King of Astenya welcomes them as friends. Odhrán, however, isn’t so quick to trust the descendent of the man who held him prisoner for nearly a decade, especially now that he has someone to cherish and protect—the mysterious winged boy he rescued from the depths.

Armed with the knowledge he believes will save the Ea, Taren returns to the mainland. With Ian at his side, Taren convinces Vurin that their people must unite with their island brethren before it’s too late. When Seria and his men attack, Taren must call upon the ancient power of the rune stone to protect his comrades. But using stone’s immeasurable power commands a hefty price—and Ian fears that price is Taren’s life.

This is the final installment in the Mermen of Ea Series from Dreamspinner Press.

With Running with the Wind, Shira Anthony brings her Mermen of Ea Trilogy to a close and what a ride it has been!  From the moment I met the endearing Taren, I was hooked on this imaginative saga of discovery, loss and love.  From a simple seaside tavern where we find the young slave,Taren,  who is ignorant of his true nature as a merman, through the pirate ships, tumultuous relationships and discovery of a divided Mermen culture, Anthony has built a deeply layered and magical universe to go along with her complicated fantasy characters.    That a series of relationships is built upon the plight of a divided people and the renewal of a culture who had lost its way just gives this trilogy added depth and heartfelt angst. The author’s world building is equal to the creativity shown with the characters, all of whom she made it easy to fall in love with.  And cry over.

Writing the final story, whether to a series or trilogy, is always tricky.  Readers have built up certain expectations in their mind that they bring to any final installment and meeting those high expectations is almost always impossible.  How does Running with the Wind measure up to mine?  Pretty darn well.

We have multiple couples and their relationships to bring some closure to, in one case its two couples in one.  That would be Taren Laxley who is also the reincarnation of the Ea priest Treande and his lover Ian Dunaidh, captain of the Ea ship the Phantom, who is also the reincarnated Owyn, Ea priest and lover of Treande.  We get both the past and the present with these two.  And then there is Odhrán and Bastian, who natures I won’t reveal here but these are two powerful characters, so much so that I almost think they “stole” the story away from Taren and Ian.  I loved the slow development and revelations that occur with these two.  They surprised me, confounded me and I thought their part of this tale was among the most powerful of elements.

But the Mermen of Ea also includes the unforgettable Jonat Rider, and Vurin, and so many others.  Anthony’s creations are so well developed that you come to care for them all deeply throughout the course of the series and their various fates pull at your hearts at the end of the story.

As stated, the final story, especially one with as many plots as found here, has much to tie up and the narrative got a tad crowded along the way.  The colony had to be brought back to its true destiny, a huge evil had to be overcome,  and some of our major characters had transformations to go through in order to survive and win out at the end.  I did find that some passages dragged on a little too long for me but the battles at sea and on land were vividly described,  painfully believable and suspenseful.  The air and sea felt charged with energy and the drama was everything I could have hoped for and expected of this writer.   And yes, I cried some too.

A truism that most writers recognize and address in their stories or fables is that a price is almost always extracted from each hero/major character who uses a ancient or forbidden power.  Somewhere towards the end of a tale, the hero will have to pay   a  profound personal cost that is the consequence for the use of magic. That happens here in Running with the Wind but not to the extent that I think the readers were lead to believe would happen by the events leading up to the last battles.  Some will be happy about that and others will be let down that the price Taren pays is more of a tap to the wrist then a major sacrifice.  How a reader feels about the element will dictate how they feel about the end of this story and series. I have to admit to feeling a bit disappointed, but only a little.  That is my only real gripe here.

This is a wonderful universe in which to spend hours of time.  And Shira Anthony has left enough room and questions that should she ever wish t0 return to it, perhaps to see how Odhrán and Bastian and the others are getting along, including a certain King, well,  I would be more than happy to journey back along with her.  But if that never happens, we still have the wonderful mermen and humans of  the Mermen of Ea saga to keep us happy and involved in their lives.  Read them all in the order they were written.  Enjoy the journey and end up happy as I did as to how it all played out.  It was a wonderful ride, I loved every minute and word of it.

Cover art by Anne Cain.  I have loved all the covers for this trilogy.  This one is lovely as is the first one.  But that second cover is so indescribably gorgeous and incandescent that this one suffers a little in comparison.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press –  All Romance (ARe) –  Amazon   Buy It Here on June 8th.

Book Details:

ebook, also available in paperback
Expected publication: June 8th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634762151
edition languageEnglish
seriesMermen of Ea #3
charactersIan Dunaidh, Taren Laxley, Odhrán, Bastian, Seria..

Books in the Mermen of Ea Trilogy are in the  order they were written and should be read:

Stealing the Wind coverIntoWindRunning with the Wind cover