A MelanieM Review: Lord of Hearth, Lord of Hollow by Sera Kane

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

LordofHearthFSCulinary school is hard enough for Aimes Cully without mixing in an utterly underwhelming physical appearance—too small, too delicate, too red-haired, too freckled, too human—added with the inability to magically improve the food—still too human—and facing the too beautiful, too fae-looking Aleksi’s teases and taunts. When rumors surface that Aimes’s older brother’s success is a lie, Aimes is determined to prove them wrong and show that pure-blooded humans are the equal of anyone with mixed blood.

But things get worse after Aimes is caught in a faerie ring and transported to the fae hollow of Lord Keanewyeth Ordioral. As the attraction heats up, it becomes obvious that there’s something wrong in the magical home. A cursed creature appears, and everything becomes jumbled as the secrets of their lives collide into a painful concoction of Aimes’s past and Keanewyeth’s present. But if they can meld their talents, they might be able to save each other.

 

Sera Kane is a new author for me but if Lord of the Hearth, Lord of the Hollow is any indication of her writing, I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us readers.  I do love fantasy fiction and its clear from the world building going on here that Sera Kane loves it too.  The author has amassed a wealth of details and general information about the fae, magic, spells that her vision of the universe here comes through with sparkling clarity.  To this she added the intense atmosphere of a culinary school, a interspecies romance and so much more.  And did so with humor.

Even the dialogs here with its mixtures of slang and more formal language of court I felt worked well within the storyline. However the wealth of vision here and wonderful plot was a little too weighty, in my opinion, for the length of pages allotted by the author.   Its length could really have been tripled to deal with all that went on and still not have covered it all to the depth indicated by parts of this narrative and universe.

At 52 pages, you will whip through this story in no time.  Its fun, sexy and a lovely fantasy romp.  Pick it up, if you are a lover of fantasy fiction and chef’s competitions gone fae!

 

Cover art by Paul Richmond is right in tune with the story and characters, a real plus.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe |  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 52 pages
Published April 20th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163477132X (ISBN13: 9781634771320)
Edition Language English

A BJ Review: The Sacrifice and Other Stories by Kim Fielding

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5     ★★★★★

The Sacrifice and Other Stories by Kim FieldingA sickly man seeks recovery in a seaside cottage. 
A temple slave tends a man due to be sacrificed. 
A soldier releases a genie.

In seven fantasy short stories and novellas, men find passion with other men in the most unexpected places, and even the gravest circumstances may open the door to hope and love.

This anthology includes two brand-new short stories. In “The Sacrifice,” Rylo is a temple slave tasked with comforting a man who is scheduled to be killed in the morning. In “Chasing Away Cold,” Daku builds an ice sculpture of the god Jarli in order to ensure the end of winter. The collection also includes three novellas and two additional short stories, gathered for the first time in a single volume. “Treasure” introduces Jules, a young man who travels to the quirky seaside town of Urchin Cove to regain his health—and finds an unexpected treasure washed up on the beach. Xolani, a soldier in “Three Wishes,” picks up a small glass bottle and unleashes a surprise. Another soldier, Volos in “Guarded,” will risk everything to save Prince Berhanu. In the sequel, “Mato’s Tale,” an unassuming innkeeper gets a chance for adventure. And in “The Downs,” Enitan is unjustly banished and comes to discover that the demons he must face aren’t the ones he expected.

Join Kim Fielding on journeys through imagined worlds where magic is commonplace and romance lies just around the next bend. All royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers.

The Sacrifice – 5 stars

New for this anthology, and oh boy, does it ever kick this anthology off right! This is a lovely dark little gem of just the sort that originally brought this author to my attention. Rylo is a temple slave sold by his own parents. He’s chosen to give comfort to a soldier who’s scheduled to be sacrificed the following morning. The story grabbed me from the first paragraph and reeled me in. I loved it for several reasons. First off, I’m a sucker for long-haired, broken, or scarred guys and it delivered gave me that! Not only that, but in such a short number of pages, the author made me care deeply for both of these guys. I adored the dynamic between these two, the switch up between them given their sizes and role in the story. A most excellent short story that despite a very satisfying ending, still left me wanting more of these two. I will cross my fingers.

Treasure – 4.5 stars

This was previously released and written for the DRitC event in 2013. It’d been on my TBR list for a while, but I’d not gotten to it until now. I’m glad I finally did. Sickly, book-loving Julian comes to the small town of Urchin Cover for a holiday, sent by his family who hopes the sea air will improve his health. He finds that, but also so much more when a storm washes handsome Kit Archer up on his private beach. This one is like a romantic swashbuckling fairy tale adventure! There’s dragons, pirates, imps, sprites, and magic. There’s hurt/comfort, sweet that will make your teeth ache, hot sexy bits, suspense and action. It has al that and more. It didn’t drag me in quite as fast as the previous story, and there is a much slower build between the two MC, which some may actually prefer. Overall, a heartwarming story that left me feeling good.

Three Wishes – 5 stars

After soldier Xolani accidently kicks an old bottle on patrol, picks it up and rubs it to remove the dirt, a genie emerges with three wishes to grant. But wishes granted do come with a price. I won’t reveal much more about this story, as you really should experience it for yourself. It’s quite short, but it’s perfect, too. Touching and sweet and full of hope… an exquisite little story.

Guarded – 5 stars

This was previously released and written for the DRitC event in 2014. I’d already read it when it came out, but re-read to refresh my memory since it’s been over a year. Originally rated it as 4.5 stars but I enjoyed it even more the second time around so I’m bumping that up. This is another dark one, and those are my favorite kind it seems. Prince Berhanu shuns guard Volos because of his Kozari blood, but its Volos who comes for him when he captured by the enemy. This story has some brutal parts, and those who have rape triggers should beware. A story with so many of the elements I love: long-hair, hurt/comfort, UST, hot sex, sweet bits, a harsh past, and much more. The prince’s ordeal was hard to read but this story show love’s healing power.

Mato’s Tale – 3.5 stars

This is the sequel to Guarded in which we get to see more of Mato, the lonely but brave innkeeper that assisted Vollos and Berhanu. This was released as a freebie some time ago but I hadn’t yet got around to reading it. While I didn’t really connect very much to the couple in this, I was glad to see Mato and his mother both find their someone special and for Mato get his adventure. Also pleased to find out that Volos and Berhanu were to wed. All around a bunch of lovely HEAs.

The Downs – 4 stars

A dark fairy tale set in a fascinating dystopian world where those convicted of a crime are taken from the city, across the Reach and pitched over a cliff into the Downs where they are told they are being given to the demons for their pleasure.

Entian, a criminal who has been wrongly judged wakes to find himself in the tender care of a scarred giant named Rig. Both of the main characters were intriguing, and their backstories are very developed for a story of this length.This story had many elements I enjoy: dark, dystopian, hurt/comfort, scarred/broken characters, and a sweet love story. This one isn’t only a romance, but a fable-like tale of betrayal, second chances, and vengeance. Little truths sneak out from its pages.

Chasing Away Cold – 5 stars

New in this anthology. Daku creates an ice sculpture of the god Jarli which his tribe will sacrifice in order to ensure the end of winter. Oh my, what a perfect little parable. Had the tears falling down my cheeks as I read. Am I an emotional sap? Maybe, when reading Kim Fielding. Sigh. What’s the magic more powerful than Gods… love, courage… and what this says to me, hope. This is a perfect little gem of a story, and just the right ending for this anthology.

If I figure out the exact stars for this anthology based on the numbers, it comes to something around 4.57. But I’m giving it a big, firm five stars, because very rarely have I ever enjoyed an anthology so completely. Each story is a gem for different reasons, but together they are an impeccable whole.

COVER: I really admire drawn covers done specifically for a story, and this cover captures the feeling of the first story, The Sacrifice, perfectly. Love the dark in the background to the portrayal of Rylo with his attire and tattoo, and long hair, which always, always grabs my attention. But also that outstretched hand that invites the sacrifice in for his last night of pleasure but at the same time invites us readers in to join them. Worked for me!

Sales Links:  Amazon | Buy It Here


Book Details:  

Kindle Edition, 404 pages
Expected publication: November 27th 2015
ASINB0180W71RY
edition languageEnglish404 pages

Published November 27th 2015 by Kim Fielding

Help Out Doctors Without Borders by Jumping Into Kim Fielding’s World of Fantasy with The Sacrifice and Other Stories (special guest post and giveaway)

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The Sacrifice and Other Stories by Kim Fielding

The Sacrifice and Other Stories by Kim Fielding
Publisher/self published and release date: self-published, Nov 27, 2015
Cover Artist: Catherine Dair

Buy It Here at Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Kim Fielding here today to talk about her latest short story collection and the charity that she is donating the all the proceeds of the sales of this special fantasy anthology.  Welcome, Kim, please tell us more about this collection of stories  and your connection to this charity.

~

Hi, I’m Kim Fielding. I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. My healing abilities are limited to Band-Aids, ibuprofen, and Neosporin. So although I really want to help my favorite charity, Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers, I can’t very well go jetting off to provide medical services to people badly in need of them.

In case you’re unfamiliar with them, DWB is a nonprofit organization that provides medical care around the world. They go to places where people are suffering from conflict, disasters, epidemics, or extreme poverty. They’re independent and politically neutral. Basically, they provide critical, life-saving services to the people who need them most. You can read more about their work here.

Several years ago, I cast about for a way to help DWB. I came up with the idea of donating all the royalties from my self-published books to them. This has amounted to several thousand dollars per year—much more than I could have managed without my readers’ support.

This year I decided to do something special as a fundraiser. I’ve gathered together three of my fantasy novellas and two short stories, then added two brand new shorts. I’ve packaged them together in one volume with a beautiful cover by Catherine Dair. And I’m donating all the royalties. The book is called The Sacrifice and Other Stories.

The novellas in this collection have already received lots of rave reviews, and I think that having everything in one volume may be handy for those who’d like to reread. Maybe some of these stories are new to you. Plus I got to write two brand-new stories that had been bouncing around in my head. One of them is about a temple slave who has the job of giving human sacrifices one last good day. The other is set in prehistoric times (I promise, no T-rexes) and tells the story of a man who must sculpt a god out of ice in order to save his tribe. I really enjoyed writing them.

The book is available in Kindle and print editions. You can indulge yourself, but it would also make a wonderful gift for your romance-reading friends. And you’ll be helping a truly deserving organization.

About The Sacrifice and Other Stories

The Sacrifice and Other Stories by Kim FieldingA sickly man seeks recovery in a seaside cottage.

A temple slave tends a man due to be sacrificed.

A soldier releases a genie.

In seven fantasy short stories and novellas, men find passion with other men in the most unexpected places, and even the gravest circumstances may open the door to hope and love.

This anthology includes two brand-new short stories. In “The Sacrifice,” Rylo is a temple slave tasked with comforting a man who is scheduled to be killed in the morning. In “Chasing Away Cold,” Daku builds an ice sculpture of the god Jarli in order to ensure the end of winter. The collection also includes three novellas and two additional short stories, gathered for the first time in a single volume. “Treasure” introduces Jules, a young man who travels to the quirky seaside town of Urchin Cove to regain his health—and finds an unexpected treasure washed up on the beach. Xolani, a soldier in “Three Wishes,” picks up a small glass bottle and unleashes a surprise. Another soldier, Volos in “Guarded,” will risk everything to save Prince Berhanu. In the sequel, “Mato’s Tale,” an unassuming innkeeper gets a chance for adventure. And in “The Downs,” Enitan is unjustly banished and comes to discover that the demons he must face aren’t the ones he expected.

Join Kim Fielding on journeys through imagined worlds where magic is commonplace and romance lies just around the next bend. All royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers.

***

Available now from Amazon.

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About the Author

Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

You can find Kim
On her blog: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/
On Facebook: http://facebook.com/KFieldingWrites
On Twitter: @KFieldingWrites
Or via email: kim@KFieldingWrites.com

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For more on Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers or to donate directly to them: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

***

Excerpt (from “Chasing Away Cold”)

She knelt, scooped a handful of snow, and stood to hold it before her. “This is nothing special—simply water that has frozen and melted and frozen again. But sometimes something very important may come from nothing at all. It depends on the heart of the maker.” She dropped the snow and pressed her hand against Daku’s chest. “The contents of a heart can change everything.”
Although he didn’t understand, he nodded. Then he gave her the cup and turned to complete the ice man.
He took particular care over the face: a narrow chin and broad cheekbones, far-set eyes with a slight downward tilt at the outside, a strong nose, and lips stretched in a wide smile. The ice man’s hair was straight, falling well below his shoulders.
“You’ve made him beautiful,” Yalamay said. Daku couldn’t say whether she’d gone and returned or had been standing there the entire time.
“He is beautiful. I only… I only tried to show that.”
Yalamay nodded as if this made perfect sense. “I knew you were the right one for this.”
Aside from Daku’s mother, people rarely praised him, and Yalamay was always sparing with her commendations. Daku should have preened under her rare words. But he was too preoccupied with what he had created. The ice man looked so real, so joyful. And in a few short hours he would be destroyed.
Daku swallowed with difficulty, but he managed a small smile when Yalamay patted his back. “Thank you for letting me do this,” he said.
“I won’t always be here, my boy. And none in the tribe but you could make Jarli so well.”
“Don’t go!” Daku cried, as if she could somehow stop death.
She chuckled. “I am pleased to be appreciated. But Daku, everything changes eventually. Winter becomes spring becomes summer becomes autumn becomes winter. Youngsters grow old and babies are born. Even hard stone is worn away”—she gestured at the rock on which the ice man stood—“but new plants grow.” She gestured toward the forest. “Someday this world will see changes that are so far beyond the tribe’s dreaming. But a few things remain unaltered. Do you know what those things are?”
“The gods?”
Her laughter startled a nearby crow from its branch. “Oh no, my boy. Gods and goddesses change too. More slowly than humans, perhaps, but no less inevitably. But the world contains magics even more powerful than gods, and the strength of those magics never changes. What are they?”
At first his mind was as blank as a fresh layer of snow. But Yalamay looked at him expectantly, and Daku remembered the conversation he’d had with his mother earlier in the day. “Love and courage.”
“Very good! There are others too, but I think those are an excellent start.”

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Giveaway

Enter to win below.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Good luck and happy reading.  Link and prizes provided by the author.

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A BJ Review: Human Choices (Guardians of the Leythe #2.0) by Jaye McKenna

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Human Choices coverKhy has been held prisoner for years, drugged, bound with a collar around his neck that keeps him from using his leythe energy, and forced to serve Master Rikard. Treated like a slave during the day and enduring agony at night as his power is ripped from him for Rikard’s nefarious use, Khy has little memory of any other life. Until one day his master is called away on urgent business, and Khy is left alone. When the drugs wear off, he makes a break for freedom while he can.

He meets Jaedin, a former ranger who is still mourning the loss of his beloved Talon five years after his death, in the town of Rosefire. When Jaedin steps in to help Khy, he finds himself haunted by voices and in an attempt to rid himself of them, sets off in search of Khy thinking he has cursed him.

This was written from a photo and prompt for the Love’s Landscapes series of DRitC. The author did an absolutely amazing job with incorporating the prompt and the photo so truly perfectly into the story that was written. I initially read this story (which is second in a series) before having read the first book. I enjoyed it then, but this past week I went back and read it after reading book one, and it came to life much fuller and more completely since I now had a background on Varien and Tor.

The world building in this series is excellent, and all of the characters are well drawn. I cared about them and what would happen to them immediately. Plenty of angst (this author’s guys tend to go through the wringer a bit, which I love!) Totally rooting for Khy to have a HEA although the whole thing with Jaedin near the start did piss me off while at the same time I found it interesting. This story is tagged as non-con, but its a different take on the non-con trope. Almost a reversal. I won’t spoil that by explaining, but give it a read and see.

So back to the world building. There are so many elements of this series that I find pretty damn cool about its world, well, I mean in addition to the magic and the hot long-haired guys, of course.

* The Fireskye, made me think of the Northern Lights (which have always fascinated me)! Only even more cool. 

* The Black? Is it death? Hell? Both? Something else. 

* The leythe itself and how it runs through what is turning into quite a complex history.

I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Tor and Ash from book one. And while I loved the new guys (especially Jaedin), I am still most drawn to Ashnavayarian, I hope he continues to appear in this series as I find him quite fascinating as he grows and changes—which he’s done a lot of from book one to this story! And I loved the little bits of him and Tor’s continuing relationship that peek through in this near the end.

An engrossing fantasy with magic, angst, and a fascinating world. I highly recommend this, but must say I think you might enjoy it even more if you read Human Frailties, Human Strengths first. I know I did.

The cover by Cinchbug is nicely representative of the story.

Sales Links:  Free here at Goodreads M/M Romance Group

Book Details:

ebook, 141 pages
Published June 7th 2014 by M/M Romance Group @ Goodreads
edition languageEnglish
series: Guardians of the Leythe #2.0, Love’s Landscapes, Don’t Read in the Closet Events , more
characters: Jaedin (Human Choices), Khy (Human Choices), Ashnavayarian “Ash/Varian”, Tor MacAran

A Stella Review: The Fifth Son by Blaine D. Arden

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A prince without power…

The Fifth Son cover

In a land where magic is commonplace, Prince Llyskel has none. He can’t command spells, he has never been taught to fight, and as the fifth son of the King, he will never rule. Everyone believes he’s a weakling, most of all himself.

Powerlessness is Llyskel’s problem—and his pleasure. In his secret fantasies, the prince dreams of nothing more than finding himself helpless at another man’s hands… particularly the hands of Captain Ariv of the Guards.

Then Ariv makes Llyskel’s dream a reality, and as the powerless prince surrenders to the soldier’s desire, he finds his own true strength at last. But a web of royal politics is closing around Llyskel, threatening to tear him from his lover, and it will take all his newfound courage to escape…

Contains five shaded black-and-white illustrations by Yana Goya

I can officially say I’m becoming a fantasy girl! I’m reading a lot of fantasy books lately and I’m really loving them. This one too. A really well done short story and the beautiful black and white illustrations helped me to visualize better the MCs. The Fifth Son was only the first book I read by Blaine D. Arden but it surely will not be the last. I loved the writing, the plot, the setting, almost everything, except I’d really like to read a little more about this two young men.

I don’t want to linger on the story, the blurb tells you already enough and being a short one, I don’t want to spoil your reading. What I’d like to talk about is the writing. I was really impressed, it’s not only well written book but what I loved the most was the feeling I got while I was reading about the prince and the captain. I was able to feel myself in the story, to see the places they were, the author was very good at bring me with her in a beautiful, colorful world full of magic.

Moreover I wasn’t expecting the little kink aspect in the story. The sweet Llyskel and the protective Ariv were explosive in bed. Having no magic powers at all, Llyskel is almost consider an outcast, but never from his lover and his family. The captain was so supportive of the prince in and out of the bed. And the courting ritual was romantic and cute.

The Fifth Son by Blaine D. Arden is sweet fairytale with some mystery and action thrown in it, nothing too heavy, but a little something that made the story not just a sweet romance but a really interesting and engaging one. I was conquered! Now I’m just hoping the author will give me a chance to read one more installment in this great world building. Highly recommended!

Cover art by Simoné. In this case it was the cover that caught my attention. I love it, the colors, the details, everything fit the story perfectly.

Sales Links:    All Romance (ARe)       Amazon        Buy It Here

Book Details:

Published November 28th 2014 by Cayendi Press
2nd Edition, ebook, 76 pages

A BJ Review: Wizard’s Moon by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

“I wish to buy a boy.”

Wizard's Moon coverA handsome one-eyed stranger visits a whoremaster asking to buy a boy and ends up with Faro. But not everything is as it seems, and Faro soon comes to question whether he was purchased for the reasons he’d assumed.

This is not your typical Josh Lanyon, although there is a kernel of mystery to be found. Lyrical and lush writing wrapped me up like a blanket as it whisked me away to another place/time. Knowing this story was short, I deliberately chose not to read it all in one sitting. Because Josh Lanyon writing a rentboy fantasy? I knew this was one to be savored slowly.

Often the fantasy genre invests a lot of storytelling time into world building, sometimes to the point where the story get bogged down in it. I was delighted that it wasn’t the case here. The author gave just the right amount of detail to create an extremely satisfying visual of a dark and moody world that I want to explore.

All the characters were rich and interesting, even those we see for only a short time such as the whoremaster at the beginning and the witch-wife near the end. Moren Ke creeped me out, such evil in a beautiful package. And Faro and Jaxon Re had me intrigued from the beginning. Their connection and chemistry came across well despite the speed of its development.

In the short forty-six pages of this well-written book, we have sexy men, suspense, magic, torture, knife play, angst, sex and mayhem. What more could one ask for? Well, I do wish it had been longer, but overall this is a yummy tidbit.

Lanyon indicates in the afterward that the story was written some time ago. I’m glad he released it for us, but my wish is that he’d expand on it. The end left all sorts of possibilities. Mr. Lanyon, more please?

Cover Artist: ?   Those beautiful eyes in such an intense and sad face set against the lush mysterious background screamed fantasy as it caught my eye. When I saw the author name snugged in small amidst the title, it was an instant had to read.

Sales Links:          All Romance (ARe)      Amazon     Buy It Here


Book Details:

ebook, 46 pages
Published March 8th 2015 by JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.
ISBN139781937909772
edition languageEnglish