Review: His Heart To Reap by Erin Lane

Rating: 3 stars

His Heart To Reap coverAiden M. Scott, 26 years old, 3 years dead and stuck in limbo.  What is a bored departed supposed to do with limitless time on his hands?  Why become a reaper of course.  And for three years, that is the job Aiden has done, he is a reaper, more of a social worker really, for the newly departed. Aiden and the other reapers meet the newly dead as they arrive in Limbo, and then help them to ascend by assisting them in discovering what is holding them back in limbo.  Some of the dead move on immediately and for others, it can take years of “celestial therapy” before they move on and Aiden is so tired of it all.  He can’t figure out why he has never ascended and he is getting a little depressed.

Then Brandon shows up in Limbo,  Aiden’s best friend and secret crush.  Aiden  asks Miles, the head reaper, to be Brandon’s caseworker.  He  wants to be the one to help Brandon move on. More accurately Aiden wants time to spend with Brandon before he moves on, and taking a personal interest in your “client” is frowned upon in the reaper business.  So Aiden tries to hide his attraction to Brandon, even from Brandon himself. But when Brandon confesses he is gay to Aiden, Aiden realizes that he has a confession of his own to make before its too late.  Between Limbo and Heaven, is there room for love?

After reading this story, all I could think was that perhaps InstaLove In Limbo would have been a more accurate title.  It’s not that this is a poorly written story because it isn’t.  It’s just that there is nothing particularly memorable about it either.  Every person has there on take on what happens after death.  There are funny takes as well as epic ones.  This one runs more along the lines of Dilbert in Limbo.  I will let Brandon tell you about it as he questions Aiden on the afterlife:

“So you work until the day you die. Then you work some more? Doesn’t sound too peaceful to me.”

“No, but sitting back and waiting for something to happen isn’t fun either. We use work, even without pay, to escape the mundane. It helps, but only a little.”

“What do we do now?”

Well, at that point I wanted to put the book down.  You mean there are cubicles in limbo?  Sounds more like a level of hell to me.  If this had been a comedic take on the afterlife, then this would have been an amusing twist but it’s all very serious. Also the world building should continue to give a complete feel to the afterlife you have constructed.  The afterlife is dull, its colors dampened, Fine.  But there are stores that remain open so the reapers can get coffee, etc.  Who runs those if everyone either moves on or is a reaper?  Don’t know.  What about the reaper organization?  Not real sure about that either, which is surprising considering how big a role that plays in the story.

The same issues that I have with the author’s world building continues into her characterization.  Not much difference between Aiden and Brandon.  Could very well be the same person.  Closeted, bland, then instalove.  The only character I was interested in was Mrs. Emily Davidson, a long term resident of limbo in need of assistance in ascending.  She was more complex than either of the two main characters and therefore, far more interesting.  Once of the things that kept her from moving on was her anger at her husband for not waiting for her to arrive so they could go on together, understandable and human.  But at the end, the author seems to have forgotten that part of Emily’s story and brings in a totally new reason for her to ascend (one not even suggested at), and it just doesn’t make any sense.

Nor does the ending.  I won’t go into it but it seems almost a refutation of the story’s premise, almost as though the author couldn’t figure out which way she wanted to go with the plot’s focal point.   In the end I did waver between a 2.75 stars and a 3.  It was Mrs. Davidson that gave this story a 3 star rating but I don’t think that is enough to recommend it to a reader.  If a friends to lovers in limbo story is your thing, then you might want to pick this one up, otherwise I would give it a miss.  There are many wonderful books out there to read.  I would find those instead.

Cover Artist: Kalen O’Donnell delivers a nondescript cover that has nothing to do with the story within.

Book Details:

ebook, 108 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Loose Id LLC
edition language

Attack of the Planked Salmon and the Week Ahead in Reviews

This year we have had a real, honest to God or Goddess spring.  The weather has been seasonally cool, with light  winds and rain as appropriate.  No snow (sorry, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan), no heatwave, just spring and we are not sure how to deal with this phenomenon.  How quickly we have forgotten that it is not safe to plant annuals before the first week of May.  And board shorts and flip flops won’t be needed really until the end of May or June.  But one thing is always constant. And that is that spring and summer always herald is the advent of  the grill season.

We started grilleing a week or two ago just as the weather started turning lovely and the ponds and small spring in the backyard called to us to come out and sit a while.  And up until yesterday, all of our grilled dinners were delicious and uneventful.  Then we decided that planked Salmon would be just the thing for Saturday’s dinner.  Off we went to Harris Teeters to buy our fresh salmon and asparagus, then home to soak the planks and get everything ready.  I had gotten another flat of red double begonias for the bed in the front yard (needed some extra pop of color), and the cedar planks were in the sink, soaking away.  We had the glaze mixed and ready to go.  When the time came, the salmon and asparagus cooked beautifully and perfectly on their planks and the meal was wonderful.  We sat outside, with our wine, salmon and Bogle Sauvignon Blanc, and dogs of course  and basked in the serenity of the gardens and afternoon sun.  Then my own special hell hit me with a ferocity that would make the Hulk blink.

You see I keep forgetting that salmon hates me or that my insides hate such a rich and fatty fish.  I can eat it about once a year but no more and I already had my one salmon meal earlier in March.  Oh the idiosyncrasies of my aging mind , yeay, that’s what I keep telling myself it is but really, I just wanted that darn salmon.  It started ominously just a  few hours later.  A slight twinge and a “oh no, maybe it will pass” thought.  But I knew I was not to be so lucky and by early evening, I was commode hugging, Bluto frat boy sick.   I mean I haven’t been that nauseous since my college days of Old Frothingslosh and cemetery running.  Don’t ask.

By 10:30pm I was actively praying to the gods of Bacchus or anyone else that would listen, to let me just die in my bed before I had to race back to the bathroom, hoping desperately to make it there in time for some more porcelain worshiping.   Willow was hiding under the bed, watching with great fascination, Kirby was racing with me, thinking it was a game and Winston of course was sleeping off his bits of salmon.  Oh to be a dog, eat some grass and go on about one’s business.  And finally it passed, leaving me a wreck in the bed, and thinking “never again”.  Sigh.

So that was the great salmon attack.  But for those of you lucky enough to eat salmon with a nonchalance I admire, I have included the recipe at the end of the post.  Try it out and let me know what you think.  We used honey and it was delicious but the maple syrup would be great too.

So here is the week ahead in book reviews:

Monday, May 6:                      Fire Horse by Mickie B. Ashling

Tuesday, May 7:                      Leaving Home by T.A. Chase

Wed., May 8:                           Shy by John Inman

Thursday, May 9:                   The Hellfire Legacy by Missouri Dalton

Friday, May 10:                      His Heart To Reap by Erin Lane

Saturday, May 11:                   City Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov

So there you have it.  It looks to be a great week.  Now if I can just stay away from those oysters……

Here is the Planked Salmon Recipe from

yield: Makes 6 servings
active time: 30 min
total time: 2 1/2 hr

2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 tablespoons mild honey or pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 (2-pounds) salmon fillet with skin (1 1/2 inches thick)

Equipment: a cedar grilling plank (about 15 by 6 inches)


Soak cedar grilling plank in water to cover 2 hours, keeping it immersed.
Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high heat for gas); see Grilling Procedure . Open vents on bottom and lid of charcoal grill.
Stir together mustard, honey, rosemary, zest, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Spread mixture on flesh side of salmon and let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.
Put salmon on plank, skin side down (if salmon is too wide for plank, fold in thinner side to fit). Grill, covered with lid, until salmon is just cooked through and edges are browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Let salmon stand on plank 5 minutes before serving.