Review: Close Quarter by Anna Zabo

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Close Quarter coverSculptor Rhys Matherton’s life is a disaster.  His beloved mother has died, leaving him her entire fortune and a shocking bit of information.  His father, the one who rejected him because of his homosexuality, isn’t his father after all.  So grieving, inundated with people asking for money and favors, Rhys flees the States and takes a cruise, hoping the isolation will give him time to recover and consider what he is going to do next.   But on board Rhys’ life changes forever when he spills a drink on a handsome stranger.  An apology turns into a night of hot sex and then something more.  This stranger makes Rhys feel alive.  It’s as if he has been waiting to this man to come into his life to complete him.

Silas Quint has boarded this ocean liner for a mission, to hunt down and destroy the Soulless, vampires traveling the Atlantic to feed on the souls of the passengers.  Silas doesn’t need any distractions but he feels a connection to Rhys that won’t be denied.  After a night of incredible sex, Silas explains he’s a forest fae, something Rhys has a hard time believing until Silas proves it.  But Rhys too has a surprise for Silas and for himself as well.  One that will have impact on Silas’ mission and change both of their lives forever, if only they can survive this voyages and the vampires hunting them both.

Close Quarter is the first book by Anna Zabo and what a book it is!  I couldn’t put this one down from the moment I started reading it, I was totally absorbed by Zabo’s story. Her characters, her plot and her world building, all  marvelous.   Every aspect of this story captured and held my attention from beginning to end,, and left me wanting so much more.

So many elements are in play here.  First there is her world building.  It’s terrific while still leaving plenty of room for enlargement and minutiae in the future books to come.  We get just enough to make sense of the plot and events unfolding in the story which manages to combine the fae, angels, and vampires into one cohesive plot.  I loved how Anna Zabo used familiar aspects of fae mythology, like the summer and winter courts, but then added her own layers to it.  She did the same with the vampire lore as well.

Zabo’s vampires are not the benign creatures of other authors.  Instead these vampires harken back to old Slovakian folklore , the Upyr. These are terrifying creatures, ripping hunks of flesh from their victims even as they devour their souls, truly dark beings.  Allied against the dark are the Messengers and their servant, Silas Quint.  That is a story I won’t spoil for you here but it is large in scope, equal to the aspect of evil Zabo has created for Close Quarter.

Silas and Rhys are a wonderful combination, equal parts magic, snark, and yes, love.  Although the entire book takes place within a few days, the bond created between Silas and Rhys is absolutely believable as are their feelings towards each other.  That I could buy into this  case of instant love floored me and is due directly to the vivid descriptions by Zabo of their interactions and the fast paced events that happen aboard the ship.  Silas and Rhys both question their reactions to each other and the emotional connection that snaps into place almost immediately.  Again, the explanations are startling, even to the characters themselves and I loved the mythology the author has created to explain this connection and Rhys’ past.  It works, its captivating, and it leaves you needing more of that background information.

In fact, Anna Zabo tosses in so many wonderful elements into the mixture that some are almost overlooked as the characters scrambles to stay alive and together.  I say almost because as you read you will find yourself going back, returning to prior passages to look for additional clues or pertinent facts that you might have missed when certain elements are revealed in the story.  One of those ‘how did I not see that coming” sort of moments.   Because once one of these little revelations occur, then you will immediately want more information and it won’t be forthcoming, at least not in this book.

I contacted the author about any future stories in this universe and was delighted to hear that Zabo has two more books with Rhys and Silas sketched out, as well as one with Vasil Kutsera, an important secondary character here.  This is a universe that cries our for its stories to be heard and Silas and Rhys make a wonderful start.   I loved Close Quarter and think you will too.  Consider this book highly recommended.

Cover art by April Martinez features some gorgeous models and that ship is a lovely addition.

Book Details:

ebook, 218 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Loose Id, LLC

Review: Some Kind of Magic (Being(s) in Love #1) by R. Cooper

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Rating: 4.75 stars

Some Kind of MagicRay Brannigan has always fought against convention.  He was the first were to become a police officer and then detective.  He worked hard to become one of the best on the force, respected by his  peers. Life was pretty good, until he met his mate then his life started unraveling.  Now he finds himself unable to sleep or eat, his thoughts constantly on the one being he wants most in life and can’t have, at least on his terms.  That would be Cal Parker, half human half fairy, consultant to the Police force and son of his retired Captain.  Cal Parker is his mate and Ray can never let Cal know the truth.  Because wolves mate for life, and fairies? Well, everyone knows that fairies don’t do long term anything, so what’s a wolf to do?

When bodies start piling up, all the evidence point to a supernatural Being as the killer.  Ray’s Captain wants everyone working on the case, including Cal Parker.  Working closely with his mate is playing havoc with his senses, all those delicious smells pouring off the fairy and Cal loves to flirt, especially with the grumpy wolf detective.  The more time Ray spends with Cal, the harder it is to fight the pull of his mate.   Then the killer turns his attention towards Cal, and the race is on to protect Cal and catch the killer.

Some Kind of Magic is some kind of charming.  I loved this supernatural tale of romance between a grumpy wolf detective and the flighty half fairy consultant.  Ray Brannigan is almost along the lines of those old noir detectives, detached yet protective of his city, honorable yet fighting his own nature.  The story is told from Ray’s pov, so the reader assembles the facts of the case and the details of Ray’s relationship with Cal as Ray thinks about it.  But right away, we realize that part of Ray is not thinking very clearly, and this is in turn with a being not eating or sleeping well.  A wolf has found his mate and is denying them both the deep relationship that comes with the part.  A lovely touch by the author is the inclusion of “known facts” from old fairytales about werewolves and fairies versus the “new modern knowledge”.

We realize, even if Ray doesn’t, that his perceptions of fairies is off from the start, and that it is fear that is ruling his decision.  So the author gives us a slow build, full of heat mind you, to a sexual explosion between Ray and Cal.  Cal is a lovely character, half human and half fairy, who has his own troubles fitting in with the police and constant human prejudices.  Descriptions of Cal are always accompanied by mentions of sugary confections and candy, savory aromas and rich smells as fairies are constantly feeding on sweets.  The sensual descriptions just add another layer to the reader’s enjoyment of this story as well as makes one want to visit a candy shop.

Humor is not left out of the picture either. At one point, Ray is telling his partner that were natural history was easy to find as the book “I’m Going To Get Fur Where?: A young Were’s guide to their changing body was in every library for Pete’s sake.”  I loved the meshing of worlds here and that does sound exactly the sort of book you would find in the library.

The only element I found to be disappointing was the identity of the killer.  I had that figured out early in the story. But the real journey is the one that Ray and Cal take towards true romance and that is the one that filled me with joy.  Vivid descriptions, wonderful characterizations, and terrific world building, it’s all here.  I hope R. Cooper continues to revisit this world she has created so there seems like a city full of stories await us and I want to hear each and every one.

cover by Paul Richmond is just lovely.

Stories in the same universe include A Boy And His Dragon.