A Mika Review: The Lion and the Crow by Eli Easton

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Rating: 4 star out of 5 stars

The Lion and the Crow coverIn medieval England, duty is everything, personal honor is more valued than life itself, and homosexuality is not tolerated by the church or society. 

Sir Christian Brandon was raised in a household where he was hated for his unusual beauty and for his parentage. Being smaller than his six brutish half-brothers, he learned to survive by using his wits and his gift for strategy, earning him the nickname the Crow. 

Sir William Corbett, a large and fierce warrior known as the Lion, has pushed his unnatural desires down all his life. He’s determined to live up to his own ideal of a gallant knight. When he takes up a quest to rescue his sister from her abusive lord of a husband, he’s forced to enlist the help of Sir Christian. It’s a partnership that will test every strand of his moral fiber, and, eventually, his understanding of the meaning of duty, honor, and love.

I really enjoyed this book a lot. I love a good historic fiction book. I laughed, cried, and was over excited by the adventures of Sir William & Sir Christian. This was a short novella, which I wish could have turned into a full length novel. Both guys were extremely resilient with the situation that this rescue turned into. Christian had to have strong body armor to grow up in a family like his. He was the 7th son and you can say the black sheep of the family. Through in some homosexuality in this time frame and all he needed was instant death. Goodness, no one treated him with respect or care until William showed up in the picture. William… I felt bad for him at first, because he had no clue what he was getting into by allowing Christian to accompany him. I found myself swooning at times of Christian trying to find way of appeasing William, and vice versa of William looking out for Christian as well as giving praise where praise was due. I really enjoyed it. That ending though, I cried so much. I mean I understand it but damn it was such a beautiful bow wrapped up for people.

Cover Artist by Maria Fanning. This cover totally goes hand in hand with the book. Its knights, jostles, horses, adventures, and hosing material. The cover model was a gorgeous version of William loved it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press   All Romance (ARe)    Amazon    Buy it Here

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition
Published January 19th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 1st 2013)
ISBN139781627985451
edition languageEnglish
seriesLove Has No Boundaries, Don’t Read in the Closet Eve

Review: To The Other Side (Terra #1) by S.J. Frost

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

To the Other Side coverBiologist and environmentalist Garrett Evergard is hiking through the woods in the Pacific Northwest trying the find the means to save the woods from being clear cut by a developer.  All Garrett needs is to find one species of plant or animal rare enough that calls these woods on the edge of the Olympic National Forest home to get them  designated as a protected habitat.  Little did Garrett know that he was about to stumble into the most amazing find of his life. When Garrett spies a rare spirit or Kermode bear, a white colored black bear that resides only in a specific habitat.  Focused only on the spirit bear, a missed step finds Garrett falling into the ravine, an accident that will forever change his life.

Bryson Summers is a Native American, one of a long line of witches and Gatekeepers.  Bryson lives a life of two worlds, one on each side of a door in his cottage that straddles the border between them.  One is Earth, and on the other side, a magical place called Terra.  Here unicorns, dragons of all sizes, and magical beings like brownies and elves live with humans that live and work as they did long ago.  The spirit bear calls to Bryson when Garrett falls.  Garrett’s injuries are severe and Bryson takes him home to heal and recover.

As Garrett recuperates, the men find their mutual attraction deepens until Bryson finds himself dreading Garrett’s departure, something that Garrett is also not looking forward to.  But the forest and his job awaits.  And Bryson’s attention is needed to a growing danger from a power mad duke capable of great evil.  When Bryson disappears, Garrett will do anything he can to save him but what can a mere human do against such great magic?  Garrett is about to find out.

In this first novel in her new series Terra, S.J. Frost takes the idea of parallel worlds and makes it fresh with her own twists and ideas.  From the moment we enter the story and watch Garrett confronted with two tiny dragons zipping from flower to flower in a manner akin to hummingbirds, the reader knows they are in for a delightful time in a realm that sparkles with the strangely beautiful and abounds with fantasy creatures we will never get enough of.  The Floras or flower dragons are tiny jewels and just one of the many dragon species that spill over the pages and into our hearts.  I say one of many because  waiting for us inside Bryson’s cabin is Wynn, a small sized white dragon with an affinity for bodice ripper romances and Oreo cookies.  And more equally wondrous creations quickly follow on the heels of his appearance (although Wynnie is a heart grabber for sure).  Bryson the Gatekeeper is able to talk to them all because of his deep connection to the Earth and all its animals, no matter what side they dwell on.   Terra is constructed along the lines of Medieval times.  It lacks any form of technology and its societal structure is along those of royalty/peasant/serf strata. In fact, all those elements and species Earth lacks can now be found on the other side.  Magic, faeries, dragons, elves, brownies and more to come I expect as more stories unfold and the series expands our knowledge of Terra and its kingdoms.

In addition to the wonderful job S.J. Frost does in building her series universe, we are given an endearing and quixotical core group of characters to connect and empathize with. To The Other Side deals primarily with the meeting and romance of Garrett, the biologist and  Bryson, the Gatekeeper but Frost also introduces a host of companions whose stories are sure to follow this one.  There is Torren, a Dragon Speaker, who can talk to every type of dragons and mourns the fact that dragon slayers are allowed to prowl the kingdom killing dragons without cause or the slightest hesitation.  Zain, the Black Fox, an assassin for hire and known thief.  Zain has already found his love, Larkin, but there’s a problem there and its a deep one.   Larkin, a bard, is a small, beautiful man with a gift of conversing with the dead, a problem when the man you love is a stone cold killer.  And theirs is not the only untenable or hopeless love that Frost reveals in this first story.  Another that will appear is an elf Aleric, who sad past and quest is surely deserving of his  own story and HEA.  And Boggy the brownie who loves to clean and grump about them all.  Land’s End, Bryson’s home, serves as their informal headquarters and way house when they are all in the area.  Each character is beautifully defined, with the depth and breadth of personality needed to bring them to life and make us care for them all.

Frost has a flask full of complications for Garrett and Bryson to overcome in their own quest for love and a future.  Bryson is tied down to his Gate and is long lived due to his connection to the Gate and Earth/Terra.  He is also a powerful witch whose gifts are needed in the nearby villages.  Garrett too has an important job to finish, that of saving the forest where the Gate is located.  He needs to find a rare species to save those woods from a developer and in finding it, it may have found true love as well.  There are magical hurdles to overcome as well as realistic mundane ones and watching these two men surmount each and every one is a true joy.

S,J. Frost tells her story with a well developed sense to humor to go along with the pathos.  The pace is a little slow in the beginning as Frost is laying the foundation for the story and the series, but once in place the story takes flight. And we and the characters are in for a marvelous ride.

Next up is Torren’s story and that of Sir Karrick Brenton a Knight of the Crown who enters into the story at the very end of To The Other Side.  I can’t wait.  Already this series has grabbed my attention and my heart.  I can’t wait to see where the author takes us with this group of characters on their journeys to romance and true love.

Cover Art by Jared Rackler.  A little dark but the outline of the unicorn behind that gorgeous cover model is perfect to set the tone and intrigue the reader.

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published May 31st 2013 by MLR Press (first published May 30th 2013)
ISBN 1608208680 (ISBN13: 9781608208685)
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=SJF_OTHR
seriesTerra #1
characters: Garrett Evergard, Bryson Summers

Books in the Terra series to date in the order they should be written and read:

To The Other Side (Terra #1)
Knight of Fire (Terra #2)

Review: Night of Ceremony (Notice #4) by M. Raiya

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Night of Ceremony coverJust days after their wedding, high school teacher and dragonshifter Adrian Kendall and his human husband Josh have new trials to face before the two of them and their newly adopted dragon shifter daughter, Jenny, could settle down to a normal family life. Well, as normal as any family that is made up of a dragon shifter, a human with special gifts and a half dragon shifter adopted baby girl.  Also included in their family is Huntington, Adrian’s brother, Justin and Wells (an ancient dragon and his knight partner) and many others.

The ceremonies Adrian and Josh must face are those of dragonkind.  One to see if Adrian’s clan will accept Jenny as their daughter and the other to see if the clan will accept Josh as his mate  No little stress there. But unknown to all, a much larger event is on the horizon, one that will change the future for the young family and all around them, if any survive the night of ceremony.

I love this series by M. Raiya and this book is an excellent example of why it deserves not only your attention but affection as well.  We have just been witness to a remarkable wedding of Adrian and Josh, their adoption of a half dragon child and the entrance of a ancient black dragon and knight with unknown connections to Adrian and his clan.  Night of Ceremony picks up shortly thereafter, with the celebrants still basking in their happiness.  But Adrian and Josh are also facing many new potential obstacles to their happiness and union, and that would be Adrian’s Dragon Clan.

M. Raiya has been developing a complex wonderful dragon society that exists along side the human one and each book delivers new aspects of the ancient society’s culture and laws.  Like our present world, the society of dragons is slowly being modernized, from their evolving views on remaining hidden to their complex relationships with their knights.  Within every story, the author offers up some new aspect of the changing dragon viewpoint along with a human problem of equal complexity, mostly revolving around Josh and Adrian’s relationship.

I find the author’s characters just amazing, from M. Raiya’s ability to get us into the mind of a nonhuman dragon like Adrian and Justin to one of the more interesting and complicated characters around, that of Josh the increasingly gender fluid husband of Adrian. In Adrian’s inner circle, there are both humans and dragons which gives the author plenty of subjects when addressing the differences between cultures, their views on equality and sexuality.  All of the characters are just so well done here.  Huntington the brother has changed greatly from the first introduction in Notice (Notice #1) when he tried to kill Adrian, the brother he didn’t know he had to the full acceptance of his role as beloved brother and confidant, gifted in his own right with special talents unknown in other dragons. Even the new baby Jenny has enough interesting aspects to her personality that I look forward to new stories involving her development. But there is one that is so special, so remarkable, that I find him hard to describe, a fact he would surely applaud.

That character would be Josh. I love Josh so much and of all of the characters, his is the one to experience the most growth and change of them all.  When we first met Adrian and Josh, they were dating and Adrian was unsure of his feelings for the very “femme”, very flamboyant Josh.  Adrian had always been attracted to masculine gay men and Josh was the very anthesis of that.  Over the series, we have watched Josh wear women’s clothes, apply makeup in a manner that demonstrated a perfected skill and reveal that he is troubled and unsure about his gender identity.  And while we are learning so much about Josh, including his horrific backstory, Adrian is learning about acceptance not only of his own homosexuality and of Josh’s but to come out of the closet in his communities (human and dragon).  M. Raiya’s treatment of Josh, Adrian and their relationship is one of this series shining features.  Here is one of my favorite excerpts.  Huntington, Adrian’s brother, has just realized that Josh prefers to use the womens bathrooms instead of using the mens facilities and wonders aloud to Adrian as to what it means:

“Damn! I mean, I’ve gotten used to having a gay brother.”

I paused and then said levelly, “You still have a gay brother.”

“Yeah, but if Josh is in a dress walking down the street, and God knows he can pull off female, then everybody’s going to think you’re straight!”

“And why do we care what everybody thinks?”

Huntington started to say something, but then Josh walked out of the women’s room, a diaper bag over one shoulder, Jenny on his other, and he tossed his hair back from his face and gave us a dazzling smile.

I smiled back.

After a moment, Huntington did, too. ***

Perfection and nothing more needed to be said.  So many joys to be found in this small gem of a series.  All of the stories that makeup the Notice series are short in length for the most part. Notice has the most pages at 176 pages. But most are under 75 pages in length.  I have listed them all at the bottom of the review in the order they were written and should be read.

Are there issues with the stories?  To be sure as none really exist as stand alone fiction and some are lacking in backstories and world building if not read as part of the series.  But the positive points of the series far outweigh any qualms you might have with other stories in the same universe. This really is a lovely story. A terrific little tale in a gem of a series by an author whose works I continue to look forward to.  Start with Notice and work your way forward.  I think you will find yourself just as affected by Adrian and his Josh as I am.

Here are the stories in the series in the order they were written and should be read:

Notice (Notice #1)

Nice: The Dragon and The Mistletoe (Notice #2) (review included with Notice)

A Sky Full of Wings (Notice #3)

Night of Ceremony (Notice #4)

Stories in the same universe:

A Dragon and His Knight

Origin in the Shifting Steam Anthology.

Book Details:

ebook
Published March 10th 2013 by Torquere Press
ISBN 1610404572 (ISBN13: 9781610404570)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=78_85&products_id=3861
seriesNotice #4

Mother’s Day and The Week Ahead

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Short and sweet today.  It’s Mother’s Day and the cookout here is only hours  away.   Plus it’s my birthday week, so I expect to have a hopefully fun filled, jam packed schedule.   So if life and my schedule permits, here is the week a head in reviews:

Monday, May 13:                  The Sky Is Dead by Sue Brown

Tuesday, May 14:                  Never A Hero  (Tucker Springs #5) by Marie Sexton

Wed., May 15:                        Night of Ceremony by M. Raiya

Thursday, May 16:                Bad Attitude by KA Mitchell

Friday, May 17:                      Bullheaded by Catt Ford

Saturday, May 18:                Lenny For Your  Thoughts by Anyta Sunday

So there it is. Got to go.  Wish like mad it would warm up,  Poor plants, flooded and now cold.  Is that a sniffle I feel coming on?