A MelanieM Review: Forged in Flood by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

When one drunken night forever scars three best friends, will they ever find a way to pick up the pieces?

Eaten up with guilt, Ivan Black spends ten years hiding from the world. He retreats to his family forge to wallow in misery. Alone. So lonely his heart aches with it.

Wesley Cook and Rolland Spence have been together since university. They struggle through the physical scars of the accident, building a life in the ruins of their dreams. They find happiness but continue to miss their angry ginger Viking—Ivan.

In all the anger of wasted years, the three men find a way to forge a relationship as hot as the fires in the smithy.

I’ve long been a fan of the novels of Dahlia Donovan, but Forged in Fire may be her best story yet.  It is a deeply moving love story between three men who lost each other and their chance at major careers in rugby directly after the university. Young men drove drunk and disastrously crashed, rolling the car, ending their triad through grievous injuries and the guilt one still carries to this day.  That would be the driver Ivan.

All this we learn in bitter bits and pieces one wet, flooded night as the waters rise about the village of Boscastle and Ivan’s family’s forge high on the hill.  It’s over a decade after the accident and “Ivan the Terrible” as his family calls him has fully retreated from life to his forge, shutting off all contact, including the two men who used to mean the most to him.  He’s plagued by memory loss from brain damage, deep guilt, and a deep seated rage that is his legacy from his father, now in prison.  His past not only haunts him but he fights it every second of the day.  And it mostly wins and tears him down.

Ivan is a savage portraiture of a man.  Driven by his demons yet Donovan continues to make us understand him as she reveals more and more of his past and his struggles to get by them.  They include his father who we meet in prison and who Ivan is named after.

But the heart and soul of this story is the dynamics, return of love and relationship of the triad. Born in the rising flood waters in Boscastle, it’s painful, so slow its like slogging through the rising tide, full of anger, resentment, pain, and loss.  They have a decade of issues to work through…even abandonment.  Incredibly, the author also manages to bring in laughter, giggles, light touches, and some incredibly  sexy scenes that show that the pull between all three men isn’t just some surface attraction.  No, it’s cellular.  These men need each other in order to be complete.  Donovan makes us believe it absolutely.  We feel it as much as the men do.

If Ivan is a complete character, so is Wesley Cook and Rolland “Rolly” Spence, who have been together as an existing couple since the accident.  They have returned to get their third, Ivan, and bring him “home”.  Each one of them, so clearly defined and beautifully written that its a joy to meet them and be included in their relationship.  It’s fun to watch and listen to, the dialog shows the ease of a couple who has been together for years as does the sex between them.  Loving, quick, and warmhearted.  Yet still they yearn for Ivan, all prickles and anger who they’ve missed all this time.  And he’s missed them as well.

The emotions here are huge, the growth, the pain, the fear the oozes off of Ivan as he faces his past, his father, his disabilities and even his future, it will scare even you.  Bring tissues.  For 130 pages, this is a big book.

I can’t begin to tell you all how much I love it and the men here.  It will leave a lasting impact.  One incredibly stupid decision and three lives changed forever.  Now we how the aftermath turns out and lives change again.

I highly recommend this story. The writing is incredible, the descriptions vivid and carry such emotional heft, and the characters so real you believe in them and invest in them absolutely.

And for those of you who are wondering, no this is not connected to her Sin Bin series other than a brief mention of Taine Afoa.  It’s completely standalone.

So yes, go pick it up, dive in and lose yourself in these men and their road back to each other.

Cover art: Claire Smith.  I love this artist’s work and this cover is no different.  It’s perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Hot Tree Publishing  | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 130 pages
Published July 14th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASINB07DS6HLPJ
Edition LanguageEnglish

Forged in Flood is a British contemporary M/M/M romance. With heartache, hot men with foul mouths, and plenty of heat, enjoy getting to know Ivan, Wesley, and Roland.

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: A Fortunate Blizzard by L.C. Chase

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5    ★★★★★

A Fortunate Blizzard coverThis story was outstanding! Heartwarming and heartbreaking, it made me smile, and it made me cry, and I didn’t want it to end. I love these guys!

Trevor Morrison is dying. It’s a few days before Christmas, and his doctor has just told him that it’s likely his last. She didn’t use those exact words, but she did tell him that his kidney function is getting worse, and the dialysis he’s undergone for the past seven years may not be able to keep the kidney functioning much longer. She’s also given him a pamphlet on making the decision to go off dialysis and die naturally, virtually pain free, a decision he’s been leaning toward making. All this wonderful news is joined by more wonderful news—a blizzard is going to make it impossible to fly out of Denver to visit his family in Connecticut for Christmas.

When he gets stranded on his way to the airport, and the shuttle manages to get to a hotel, he meets Marcus Roberts in the bar. Marc is an attorney and a workaholic who is frustrated that he’s stuck in a hotel when he could have just stayed at his office and kept working. But his assistant forced him out, and now his car is out in a snowbank on the turnpike, and he’s stuck in the hotel. At least he has a room, something that is no longer available to the new arrivals.

One look at Trevor and Marc is struck by the need to get to know him. Initially inviting him to his table to talk, and later, inviting him to his room to share the comforts of the hotel room and other things that might arise, Marc eventually realizes that being forced out of the office that day may be the best thing to ever happen to him.

Trevor is very hesitant to allow anyone to get close to him, but Marc manages to squirm his way under Trevor’s defenses, and when the airport is still not open the next day, Marc invites Trevor back to his home to await Trevor’s rescheduled flight out the day after Christmas. Trevor is very clear that this is only a casual encounter, and Marc agrees, but when neither of them is prepared for it, their emotions complicate the casual and make it more.

They spend Christmas together, and Trevor, a renowned artist, manages to get Marc’s creative spark going by using their artistic skills to decorate for Christmas. Marc has not had a Christmas celebration in many years. Estranged from his mother, a woman who stifled his artistic creativity and shunned him for his sexuality, Marc hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in years. However, with Trevor encouraging him, he begins to think that he might have a future in which he can enjoy artistic pursuits and not just use work as his twenty-four hour a day focus.

All good things end, and when Trevor is gone the day after Christmas, Marc realizes that his priorities need a major overhaul, and one of the first things on his list is to find Trevor and convince him that their future is not impossible.

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As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, this one is a keeper. I highly recommend it to all lovers of contemporary M/M romance, especially to those who enjoy a tearjerker, hurt-comfort, men with disabilities, and those who just want a book that they can devour from beginning to end with no interruptions. Don’t miss a chance to read this one!

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Cover Art by L.C. Chase is a beautiful portrayal of two young men, one kissing the cheek of the other, set against a backdrop of a snow scene with an empty park bench— a scene mentioned as being one of Trevor’s art creations in the book. It’s the perfect cover for such a wonderful story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 175 pages
Expected publication: November 2nd 2015 by Riptide Publishing
original title A Fortunate Blizzard
ISBN13 9781626493391
edition language English