A Vivacious Review: Repeat Offence by Jackie Keswick


Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

In their afterlife, Hiro and Taz are judged and found guilty. As punishment, they must continue to live their lives but on opposite sides of the veil, always. The moment they find themselves together at the time of death is when their punishment will be fulfilled. But living years, centuries without each other is taking a toll and when the time comes to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, what will they do given the punishment they received before for the same crime?

The premise of this story is quite extraordinary and I liked how the author executed her vision of where the story was going.

Hiro and Taz are lovers? friends? The story doesn’t specify. This miffed me a little because it is left up to the reader to decide what kind of a relationship these two share. Considering the overwhelming tones of wanting to be together, it could be a romantic one but it wouldn’t be a stretch to see this as platonic. There is the decided lack of other lovers which helps the romantic angle. Also, the fact that they try to figure out a way to communicate from opposite sides of the veil that builds up the romantic angle but again the fact that nothing is explicit is a little disappointing. I felt like we were building up to the moment where they would be able to meet each other again after centuries on opposite sides of the veil and at that moment I wanted to see some tangible outward expression of emotion that would make the moment worth it, but it didn’t happen.

The implied nature of Hiro and Taz can only be expressed through their wish to talk and keep talking to each other which I have to agree is a pretty good description of a soul mate. But, again that interpretation of seeing them as such is left upon the reader. I personally can identify their longing for each other and I liked how something as simple as the way they talk to each other can communicate so much.

I liked the setting of this story and the mythos that was created to explain the world and its working. It was a novel idea, having them be punished for something that did a lot of good put a whole new twist on the judgement they received. The judges really do seem like a novel concept. Hiro and Taz are quite developed characters and considering the paucity of words the author does a good job of making sure Hiro and Taz feel like two separate beings with their own individual quirks.

Overall, this story is unique especially in the story it tells and the way it tells it but whether the story will be satisfying is entirely up to the reader’s interpretation.

Cover by Pavelle Art is very appropriate for the story’s setting.

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 Amazon CA  |  Amazon DE  |  Amazon FR  |  Amazon It

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 69 pages
Expected publication: August 14th 2019 by Jackie Keswick
Edition LanguageEnglish
Other Editions
None found

Release Blitz for Repeat Offence by Jackie Keswick (excerpt and giveaway)



Book Title: Repeat Offence

Author: Jackie Keswick

Publisher: Jackie Keswick

Cover Artist: Pavelle Art

Release Date: August 14, 2019

Genre/s: Fantasy/metaphysical, fantasy/paranormal

Trope/s: abiding love, defeating death, 

Themes: actions have consequences, paying the price for compassion, perseverance, triumph over adversity

Heat Rating: 0 flames. No sexual content. (It’s a love story, but not a romance)

Repeat Offence is a fantasy story, told in first person POV. It’s NOT a romance, and there’s no sex, but I consider it a love story. Apart from the first and last scene, the two MCs are apart. Readers can infer that it’s m/m, but Taz’s (the narrator’s) gender is never mentioned in any way. It fits into general fantasy as much as into LGBT+.

Length: 20 000 words/66 pages

It is a standalone story.

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Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  Amazon AU

 Amazon CA  |  Amazon DE  |  Amazon FR  |  Amazon It




It should have ended with their deaths.

But dying in a wash of blood was just the beginning.

Sentenced to eternal life for sacrificing themselves in battle, warriors Taz and Hiro must take turns living as human and Guardian on opposing sides of the veil with only a chance to catch a glance of each other in the moment of death.

Until an attack forces Taz and Hiro to make a choice. Should they cling to what little solace they’ve carved out for themselves? Or should they sacrifice their lives to save countless others and risk the wrath of the Judges for a second time?


Excerpt – Judged

It should have ended with our deaths.

It didn’t.

Dying in a wash of blood was just the beginning.

I’d closed my eyes to firelight and pale grey mud, trampled and stained crimson, grateful when death took me swiftly, only to wake to light harsher than the noonday sun at midsummer.

The stone beneath my back leeched the heat from my body and the brightness around me held so little warmth that my breath rose in puffs of vapour. I felt no pain, and my arms bent when I willed them to. I raised my hands to my neck where the smooth skin under my fingertips mocked my memories.

By the time we’d fought our way out of the Sakkadian king’s tent, I’d been bleeding from a raft of shallow wounds. And when the king’s guards had overwhelmed us, a savage cut to my neck had ended my life.

There was no sign now of the slash that had almost severed my head. The fatal wound had vanished, along with the mud, the firelight, and the sounds of battle.

A rasping cough made me turn my head. Hiro lay beside me on the cold stone, skin smooth and eyes wide. “Taz?”

“Yes.” My voice grated, as if I’d not used it in years. I cleared my throat and tried again. “It’s me.” I sat up to better watch him—alive, serene, with his blue eyes glowing like the finest gemstones. “Do you think—? Is this the afterlife?”

He scratched his head, his fingers catching at the curls in his pale hair.

It hadn’t been that long when I’d seen it last. Running through the ward fires had singed the ends to ragged shreds. They framed his face in messy tangles, dark with sweat and spattered with blood. Holding a sword in one hand and a long dagger in the other, he’d appeared like a savage in the final moments of our lives. Glorious, undefeated, victorious. Dying shouldn’t have felt so right, but with Hiro beside me, elation had left no room for fear. Even the pain of my wounds had shrunk to a minor annoyance.

I’d gone to my death with a broad grin on my face.

Only to wake here… wherever that was.

I fingered the loose trousers and deep blue tunic that covered me from neck to ankle. Slippery, and with a soft sheen, the material was as unfamiliar to me as the cut of my outfit. As strange as waking from death, my wounds gone and even Hiro’s long hair restored.

When Hiro rose, I rolled to my feet and stood beside him, surveying the place where we’d woken. A huge, empty hall stared back at us, perfectly proportioned and large enough for a company of men. A mosaic of pale-yellow stone formed the floor. Whitewashed plaster covered the walls.  Dark beams leaned towards each other high above our heads, twining in an intricate pattern to create a roof.

Neither cressets nor sconces marred the smooth expanse of stone and plaster, and no hearth or fire pit interrupted the slabs covering the floor. Since the room lacked doors and windows, it should have been pitch dark. Instead, we stood in frigid brightness.

I took a step towards the nearest wall, intent on solving this riddle, when Hiro’s grip on my wrist held me back.

“I’ve never believed in tales of an afterlife,” he answered the question I’d asked earlier.

“Wise of you,” came a voice from behind us. “Because what might pass for an afterlife in your world will be your penance in ours.”

We turned as one and the sight sent my heart racing.

“I am your Judge,” he rumbled.

The Judge towered over us, his height that of two ordinary men, with breadth to match. Swirls of shadow and light swathed his form and hid his face, and his regard touched me like an icy breath, colder even than the chill air in the hall. I itched to wrap my arms around myself to ward off the shivers, but I didn’t want to show weakness. His words hinted at worse to come, and whatever he chose to throw at us, he wouldn’t find me any less steadfast than Hiro.

I had no idea who or what he was, whether god or demon. Every kingdom on the continent had its own gods, temples, and rituals and I’d never been one for much worship. I’d made offerings to Balar, the god of storms, and Veenis, the hearth goddess, at times, but those had been little more than token gestures. I swore by the gods, of course, or at them, though I wasn’t insane enough to mention that. The entity facing us looked forbidding enough to be Balar, but the storm god was never judgemental. He smote sinners and believers alike.

“I am not a god,” he said as if my mind was an open book to him. “Neither am I a demon. The Judges guard the balance of these worlds.”

Worlds. As if there was more than one.

I pushed the thought aside and focussed instead on Hiro and the Judge who watched each other like rival cats.

“Why do you require our penance?” Hiro dared to ask when too much time had passed in silence.

“You were given a gift, and you chose to squander it,” the Judge unbent enough to enlighten us. “You didn’t wait for death to come for you at the appointed time. You went out of your way to seek it. You both lie dead long before that destiny was meant to be yours. And for what?”

His voice rolled through the empty hall and teased echoes from each corner. The anger and disdain in his glare heated my blood until I no longer felt the cold. I was about to tell him not to sit in judgement over what he would never understand when Hiro’s grip tightened on my wrist and stopped me.

“We didn’t squander our lives,” he told the Judge, much calmer than I would have done. “We didn’t raid the Sakkadian camp on a whim. We’d long waited for such an opportunity and we took it when it arrived. We fell to Sakkadian swords, but not until we’d achieved our goal. Ten years of warfare are done with. Over.”

“That is irrelevant.” The Judge’s anger crackled in the air like static before a thunderstorm. “I hold that you threw away your lives, because you knew that your mission was suicide.”

Hiro let go of my wrist and turned his head until our gazes met. I couldn’t tell whether he was trying to reassure me or keep me quiet. I wanted to argue—desperately so—but what could I say that would be acceptable to the Judge?

We hadn’t known. Not in the way he implied. I’d never once gone into battle believing I’d not make it through. And I’d swear any oath that Hiro hadn’t either.

“We didn’t—”

“It is irrelevant.” The Judge didn’t let Hiro plead our case. “We have judged you by your actions. You wasted the life gifted to you and you will do penance for your transgression.”

With each word, the Judge seemed to grow taller and wider. His voice filled the hall until even the harsh, bright light gave way before his wrath. “You are sentenced to eternal life. You will spend your lives on opposite sides of the veil, taking turns living and watching. You will switch places at death. We will consider your penance complete if you manage to meet in the exact moment the human in your pairing dies.”

His pronouncement ended with a snap. The air grew icy and thick. And before I could exchange more than a single glance with Hiro, darkness wrapped me up and my sense of self disappeared with the light.


About the Author 

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.

Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who write their own rules. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.

And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.

For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places:


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A VVivacious Review: Orientation by Rick R. Reed

Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
OrientationRobert and his lover Ethan have drifted apart to the point that they are mere strangers living together. As things between them worsen Robert wonders if he ever truly loved anyone other than his first lover Keith who died of AIDS.
Then on one particularly lonely night Robert comes across a suicidal girl, Jess but it appears that there is more going on between Jess and Robert than either can guess at first. But what exactly does this sense of familiarity and love translate to between a gay man and lesbian?
I really think this book is not aptly named, I mean I don’t think it ever deals with orientation, I mean the characters in this book are not conflicted about their orientation and neither are they troubled by it. While this book ends on a note that kind of stresses orientation, this book is truly just a story of love.
It is a very engaging story. I read this book at a stretch; I just couldn’t put it down. It is a short book but what I liked about it is that the story never becomes predictable. What kept me turning the pages one after the other was the fact that I had no idea where this story would take me or how it would end.
Our MCs are Robert and Jessica who are both in ways dealing with loss. They bond over this fact but what truly makes them want to be with the other is the fact that there is a deeper sense of familiarity and love that underlies there meetings. Since the moment they met Jessica has felt that she is meeting someone she already knows and loves. Complicating this fact is that even though they feel love towards the other their orientations are completely incompatible. This story also follows two other characters, Ethan, Robert’s boyfriend and his drug dealer, Tony.
This story really focuses on its characters, you can sympathize with Robert’s desire to be blind to the obvious, to not have to face his boyfriend’s infidelities as well as his potentially lethal lifestyle and bury that under the joy of having someone else who understands his love for Keith. While Ethan’s struggle with his addiction is painful, he is wasting away and try as he might to climb out of the abyss he is in, he only ever manages to dig himself deeper. Tony’s guilt over being the reason many people have lost touch with themselves and his shame over not being able to give up the opportunity to make just a little more money is honest. And then there is Jess who is reeling form loss, is burdened by her lack of finances and struggling to understand these new feelings that have awakened in her… for a man…
This story really ties together the lives of these four characters and makes for a compelling read. This book is firstly about love and secondly about the human condition. It is an amazing read.
Cover Art by Wilde City Press. I liked the cover but I’m unsure as to how it relates to the story.
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Books Details:
Wilde City Press
Kindle Edition, 2 edition, 192 pages
Published July 25th 2016 (first published May 7th 2008)
Original Title Orientation