A Paul B Review: Stealing Dragon’s Heart (Lifting the Veil #6) by Susan Laine

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Stealing Dragon's HeartTen years after the Unveiling, Finn Greyson knows all about mythical creatures.  It has also made his life as a master thief a bit more difficult as security has increased with the new times.  When his fence offers him a job of breaking into a master collector’s suite and stealing the Earth Shard, Finn is reluctant to take the job.  New Shanghai has become a walled city with few if any escape routes.  Finn is already a wanted man in the city anyway.  Add in the fact that his fence only says that Finn would know the object when he sees it, the job seems almost impossible.  Considering the amount of money that could come his way, Finn decides that this could be his last job and agrees to the mission.

Cameron Feilong has possession of the Earth Shard.  It is one of five pieces of the Elemental Crystal, along with ones representing wood, water, metal, and fire.  Each shard is protected by a guardian.  If the five shards are reformed into one crystal, then dangerous things could happen.  The last time the elven race got an evolutionary advance while others devolved into more basic creatures.  Cameron is one of the five charged to make sure these objects are never together again.

Finn breaks into Cameron’s suite and is amazed at all the priceless objects that are stored on the multi-level apartment.  Pushing away ideas of stealing a couple of the priceless art pieces that he sees, Finn searches out for his bounty.  Strange things begin to happen to him after he passes a small dragon statue in one of the hallways.  When he starts dancing an Irish sword dance and singing nonsensical rhymes, Finn realizes that he has wandered into a dragon’s lair and his horde.  When confronted by Cameron in his dragon form, Finn tells Cameron the reason that he is there.  Cameron is alarmed and immediately goes to where he stores the Shard.  Noting that it is gone, Finn realizes that he has been set up.  When the New Shanghai police arrive asking about a murder in Cam’s suite, Cam also realizes that he is being set up to take the fall for Finn’s murder.  Together the pair must solve who is willing to kill both of them and prevent the mastermind from retrieving all five shards before it is too late.  But in the end will Finn be able to steal something even more precious than the shards of the elemental crystal?

This is the first Lifting the Veil book that I have read from Susan Laine, but I have read several of her other books.  As with the other books that I have read by hear, I totally enjoyed it.  What I really liked was the different settings that she built within her mythical world.  From the barren tundra home of the first lycan to the underwater world of the Undine, her descriptions gives the reader a sense of the worlds that these people live in.  Each of the four settings where we find a new guardian is brought to life.

I also liked how Finn, while seemingly the weakest of those searching for the shards, might actually be the strongest.  His persistent optimism might annoy Cam somewhat but it is what is needed to accomplish their mission.  When he has to make a couple of decisions that test his moral system, you can feel the pain he goes through as he is weighing his options.  Because of his actions, he lashes out at the guardians for not being there when he thought he needed them most.    At the end, he realizes that he might have been a bit harsh and hopes it is not too late to make things right.  I look forward to reading more in this series.

The cover art by Anne Cain is a pretty drawing of what I think is Cameron’s mountain retreat.  While it is a gorgeous cover, I wish the cover had more to do with either the elemental shards or the characters themselves.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details

ebook, 240 pages
Expected publication: March 2nd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634769723
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series:  Lifting the Veil

A Paul B Review: Broken Prince, Mismatched Eyes (The Mauritanian Saga Book 1) by Layla Dorine

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars       ★★★★★

Broken Prince Mismatched EyesCaden DeMott might be the son of a noble but he clearly is not treated as such.  Born with two different colored eyes, many people in the area believe that he must be evil according to their traditional beliefs.  His stepmother makes his life miserable and effectively keeps him away from his stepbrothers.  Even his father can be distant at times to keep peace with his wife.  The only companionship Caden can rely on is his two dogs.  Because of all of this, Caden is withdrawn.  One morning, his father informs him that due to a business arrangement made by his stepmother several years ago, he is to be married to the prince of the family’s most important trading partner, the country of Mauritania.

Prince Rhys Gwyther was supposed to be married three years ago.  However, an accident while he was touring a mine left him almost a paraplegic.  But with determination and a lot of hard work, Rhys has learned to walk again, albeit with a limp.  While there are some in the kingdom calling for him to be bypassed as heir, Rhys is bound to live up to his birthright.  He makes the week voyage by boat from his country to the DeMott estate to meet his future husband.

When Rhys arrives, things go from bad to worse for the two of them.  Rhys takes an immediate dislike to Caden’s family.  But in Caden he finds potential for a mate.  However, both young men are waiting for the other to fall along long established patterns of abuse that they have suffered due to their “deformities.”    This will continue to shape the beginnings of their relationship.  Outside factors also contribute to drive the young couple apart.  Rhys’s father adds to the problem unintentionally making a decision meant to help them but only makes matters worse.  Will they find their happily ever after?

I really enjoyed this novel.  Caden and Rhys each have had their own problems over the years and have dealt with them as best they could.  These problems almost doom the relationship before it even starts.  Only after they agree to forget what others say and concentrate on just themselves do things begin to turn around.  But Caden’s family and past, along with those who do not feel Rhys should be the next king continue to threaten the princes.  The conclusion of the book wraps up the causes of the problems for both men, with the villains getting their just comeuppance.

The cover art by Kellie Dennis is just stunning.  Our two heroes are standing with shirts partially opened exposing well-formed chests above a picture of a boat sailing toward the land of Mauritania.  It fits the book really well.

Sales Links:  Wayward Ink Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details

Kindle Edition, 328 pages
Published December 4th 2015 by Wayward Ink Publishing
(first published January 1st 2013)
ASINB017WXGBM8
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series:  The Mauritanian Saga

Cover Reveal Time for Shira Anthony’s With the Wind (Mermen of Ea #3) And Trilogy Finale

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Running With the Wind (Mermen of Ea #3) by Shira Anthony
Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

RunningWithTheWind-colorsREV

Release Date: June 8, 2015

Sales LInks:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback

About Running With the Wind,  Sequel to Into the Wind

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With the final confrontation between the island and mainland Ea factions looming, Taren and Ian sail with Odhrán to investigate a lost colony of merfolk in the Eastern Lands. Upon their arrival, the King of Astenya welcomes them as friends. Odhrán, however, isn’t so quick to trust the descendent of the man who held him prisoner for nearly a decade, especially now that he has someone to cherish and protect—the mysterious winged boy he rescued from the depths.

Armed with the knowledge he believes will save the Ea, Taren returns to the mainland. With Ian at his side, Taren convinces Vurin that their people must unite with their island brethren before it’s too late. When Seria and his men attack, Taren must call upon the ancient power of the rune stone to protect his comrades. But using stone’s immeasurable power commands a hefty price—and Ian fears that price is Taren’s life.

Note: Series must be read in order. This is the final book of the series.
Pages or Words: 67,000 words

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance

 

About Author Shira Anthony…

In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “i Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shira.anthony
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shira-Anthony/177484618974406
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterShira
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/anthony0564/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4641776.Shira_Anthony
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ShiraAnthony/posts

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Tour Dates & Stops: May 7, 2015

Parker Williams, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Cate Ashwood, Carly’s Book Reviews, Andrew Q. Gordon, The Hat Party, MM Good Book Reviews, Rebecca Cohen Writes, Havan Fellows, Kristy’s Brain Food, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, BFD Book Blog, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Inked Rainbow Reads, Chris McHart, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Bayou Book Junkie, Molly Lolly, Emotion in Motion, Kimi-Chan, Charley

The Merman Of Ea Series Include with links to our reviews:

Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea #1):

Stealing the Wind coverTaren Laxley has never known anything but life as a slave. When a lusty pirate kidnaps him and holds him prisoner on his ship, Taren embraces the chance to realize his dream of a seagoing life. Not only does the pirate captain offer him freedom in exchange for three years of labor and sexual servitude, but the pleasures Taren finds when he joins the captain and first mate in bed far surpass his greatest fantasies.

Then, during a storm, Taren dives overboard to save another sailor and is lost at sea. He’s rescued by Ian Dunaidh, the enigmatic and seemingly ageless captain of a rival ship, the Phantom, and Taren feels an overwhelming attraction to Ian that Ian appears to share. Soon Taren learns a secret that will change his life forever: Ian and his people are Ea, shape-shifting merfolk… and Taren is one of them too. Bound to each other by a fierce passion neither can explain or deny, Taren and Ian are soon embroiled in a war and forced to fight for a future—not only for themselves but for all their kind.

Into the Wind (Mermen of Ea #2)

IntoWindSince learning of his merman shifter heritage, Taren has begun building a life with Ian Dunaidh among the mainland Ea. But memories of his past life still haunt him, and as the threat of war with the hostile island merfolk looms ever closer, Taren fears he will lose Ian the same way he lost his beloved centuries before. Together they sail to the Gateway Islands in search of the fabled rune stone—a weapon of great power the Ea believe will protect them—and Odhrán, the pirate rumored to possess it.

After humans attack the Phantom, Taren finds himself washed up on an island, faced with a mysterious boy named Brynn who promises to lead him to Odhrán. But Taren isn’t sure if he can trust Brynn, and Odhrán is rumored to enslave Ea to protect his stronghold. Taren will have to put his life on the line to find his way back to Ian and attempt to recover the stone. Even if he does find it, his troubles are far from over: he and Ian are being stalked by an enemy who wants them dead at all costs

On Tour with Rory Ni Coileain and the SoulShares Series (contest)

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Series: SoulShares
Book Names: Hard As Stone

Author Name: Rory Ni Coileain

Author Bio: Rory Ni Coileain majored in creative writing, back when Respectable Colleges didn’t offer such a major, so she designed it herself – being careful to ensure that she never had to take a class before nine in the morning or take a Hemingway survey course. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa at the age of nineteen, sent off her first short story to an anthology being assembled by an author she idolized, got shot down in flames, and found other things to do, such as nightclub singing, for the next thirty years or so, until her stories started whispering to her. Now she’s a lawyer, a legal editor, a sopraltenor in her church choir, the mother of a budding video game designer, and amanuensis to a host of fantastic creatures who are all anxious to tell their stories, and sometimes even wait their turns.

Author Links:

Facebook Author
Facebook soulshares page   ,
Twitter: RoryNi
Cover Artist: Allan Penn
Publisher: Ravenous Romance

The Four Books in the SoulShares series are listed below with the accompanying blurbs and excerpts:

♦Hard As Stone:

Blurb:
Hard as Stone Final

Hard As Stone: Tiernan Guaire is a Fae in exile. Forced from the Realm into the human world for the unimaginable crime of a brother’s murder, he lives by a century-old vow, to trust no one, and never to allow himself to love or be loved.
Kevin Almstead has just lost his future, to a vote of the partners at his law firm. Trying to escape for an evening, he ventures into Purgatory, the hottest all-male nightclub in Washington, D.C., where he allows himself to be seduced by a stranger with long blond hair and ice-blue eyes.
Drawn into a Soulshare bond with his intended one-night stand, Tiernan soon learns that the most ancient and evil enemy of the Fae still walks the human world, and it will stop at nothing – certainly not Kevin Almstead – to possess the magick of a Noble Fae.

 Hard As Stone Excerpt:

Tiernan stirred, muttered under his breath, the first signs of distress he’d shown since falling asleep. Passing out. Whatever. Kevin sighed, resting a hand lightly on the blond’s smooth chest; in short order, he found himself running his fingertips lightly over his lover’s chest, tracing the lines of the muscles, and then down, a fingertip traveling along the intricate tattoo over his hip. Tiernan wasn’t buff, not like some men were and Kevin himself tried to be. Lean, hard-bodied, almost impossibly fit. And with that long, unruly blond hair, and his crystalline blue eyes, Tiernan would turn heads in rooms full of men or women. And no doubt had.

Mine.

The Fae rolled onto his side, away from Kevin; chuckling softly, Kevin settled himself behind his lover, glancing over the shoulder in front of him at the bedside clock. He could still get almost three hours of sleep if he was lucky. He wrapped an arm around Tiernan, nuzzled into the curve where neck met shoulder, breathed in the scent of wild hair and sated male body and honey, and closed his eyes. So this is what magic smells like.

Sales Links: Hard as Stone for Kindle    All Romance eBooks   Nook    Kobo

 Ravenous Romance’s Web site

Gale Force:

Gale Force Cover FinalBlurb:
Conall Dary is the most powerful mage born to the Fae race since the Realm was parted from the human world, over two thousand years ago. But that very power condemns him to a lifetime of celibacy, because sex calls to power, and he has power enough to drain a world. When he refuses to use his talents for a Noble lady’s petty revenge, he finds himself shanghaied to the human world, his soul torn in half and his magick blocked.

Josh LaFontaine is the beautifully inked owner of Raging Art-On, a Washington, D.C. tattoo and piercing parlor. While taking part in New York City’s Pride march with a former lover’s dance company, his world changes forever when the man of his dreams materializes out of nowhere at his feet. Josh’s sensual and loving touch, the first Conall has ever known, may be enough to give him back the magick he’s lost. But before they can complete their Soulshare, a terrible accident leaves Conall bodiless, lost, and invisible, to everyone except – maybe – the human with whom he shares a soul. But Josh will need to find him before the ancient evil of the Marfach does or everything they have – and more – will be lost.

GALE FORCE EXCERPT:

The sense of relief as he got out of the taxi was like nothing he’d ever felt before, and even knowing most of it wasn’t his own didn’t make it any less overwhelming. Only the presence of the foot traffic in and out of Purgatory kept him from falling to his knees in gratitude, maybe doing some pavement-kissing.

Well, that and a sense of haste only slightly less urgent than a cattle prod. He fumbled the keys off the hook at his belt and unlocked the deadbolt, then keyed in the combination on the touchpad, wincing as the tiny crystalline tones tried to pierce his eardrums.

Are you sure you can do this, lanan? There might be another way. Just let me think, now that I can.

Josh shook his head. Letting himself into the small client lounge in the front, he locked the door behind himself and made straight for the tattoo studio.

No time. Every minute you’re disembodied makes it less likely you’ll ever get back, you said so yourself. And me…” He paused, his hand on the doorknob of his studio. “I’m not sure how much longer I can stand this.”

Buy Links:  Gale Force for Kindle (US)   All Romance eBooks Barnes & Noble (Nook)   Kobo   Ravenous Romance

♦Deep Plunge:

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For the last six hundred years or so, the only things reminding Lochlann Doran he’s a Fae have been his faceted aquamarine eyes and the fact that he can’t die. He’s been a wanderer for so long in the human world – over two thousand years – that he’s lost his magick, including the gift of healing that goes along with being a Fae of the Demesne of Water. Finding his SoulShare might get it back for him. But it might kill him, too.

Garrett Templar has been living on borrowed time, in a sense, since he was eighteen, when one of the johns he entertained to pay the bills while he danced at Purgatory infected him with HIV. It was always supposed to be a “manageable” disease, though, at least until a cure was found. Except he’s just found out that the virus in his system has inexplicably mutated into full-blown AIDS, and no known drug cocktail can even slow it down.

And when Lochlann and Garrett find each other at last, on Purgatory’s dance floor, the only thing as urgent as their need for one another is the hunger of an ancient evil to do whatever is necessary to possess Lochlann’s magick…

Deep Plunge Excerpt:

Shit. His grip tightened on the strap of his bag, ready to swing it — or ditch it, if it looked like that would help him escape . And for one sick, sweaty, gut-wrenching moment, he was ten years old again, hearing the kids closing in behind him, knowing there was no way in hell he was going to get away without another split lip, ruined shirt, blackened eye. Almost hearing his mother’s voice again. Garrett Lee Templar, I swear, you find more trouble than any ten other boys ever dreamed of. Do you think I can just make new clothes appear out of thin air?

“Garrett?”

He recognized that voice from somewhere. Slowly, he turned. And stared up into eyes that gleamed blue even in the crappy light from the streetlight on the corner.

“Lochlann?”

He hadn’t had to rent his ass out for a while now, but the idea of a john following him home from the club still made his skin crawl. Yet there was something about those eyes, something different.

No. Fuck that shit. You get hurt the worst when you let yourself hope.

Buy Links:  Deep Plunge for Kindle (US)  Barnes & Noble (Nook)   Kobo    Ravenous Romance   ARe

♦Firestorm:

FirestormFinalCoverFirestorm BLURB:
Rian Sheridan is a foundling, a Northern Irish Catholic corner boy whose world was destroyed in fire, and reborn the same way, beside an Orangemen’s bonfire last July the Twelfth. A consuming, dimly-remembered pain in his past calls to him, taunting him, daring him to find it and lose himself to it in the S&M underground of Belfast.

Cuinn an Dearmad is the last surviving Fae Loremaster, and he’s just seen the beginning of the death of the Realm, the haven of the Fae race. The only hope of stopping it starts with him finding the Prince Royal of Fire he stole from the cradle, and lost in the human world, many years ago. He has a few guesses about where that hope ends, and he doesn’t like any of them.

Rian and Cuinn are an impossible pairing, two SoulShared Fae. Any two Fae will strike sparks, but these two Fae are a conflagration. Unable to stand one another, yet drawn into an escalating series of sexual collisions, their passion will either save a world or destroy it.

FIRESTORM EXCERPT:

He gave up on trying to sleep, rolling onto his back and lying sprawled out in the great bed fit for a king. Or a Prince. Shite. He didn’t want to be a fecking Royal. Whatever that meant. But if there was one thing he could say he’d learned in life, it was that what he wanted had fuck all to do with what happened to him.

Though ever since the Twalf, last summer, there was one thing he nearly always got, when he wanted it. The thrill. They’d thought to break him that night, and perhaps they had, but after the breaking he’d been made anew. Into a man who craved what the bastards sought to shame him with, and who used them, in the end, more cruelly than they had used him. After all, he could use them, and others like them, any time he liked.

Addicted? Hell, no. Victorious.

Firestorm Buy Links: Amazon   ARe

SoulShareBadgeTour Dates:

July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
August 5, 12, 19, 26

Tour Stops:
July 1: Smoocher’s Voice, Jade Crystal
July 8: Hearts on Fire, Nephylim
July 15: Parker Williams, Kimi-Chan
July 22: Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Fallen Angel Reviews
July 29: The Novel Approach, MM Good Book Reviews
August 5: Dawn’s Reading Nook, Love Bytes, Because Two Men Are Better Than One
August 12: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, My Fiction Nook

August 19: Prism Book Alliance, Book Reviews and More by Kathy
August 26: The Blogger Girls, Amanda C. Stone

 

WillPride

Contest:  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Prizes provided by Pride Promotions and Rory Ni Coileian. The Rafflecopter Prize: One set of SoulShares series

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Diego (Endangered Fae #2) by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Diego Endangered Fae coverDiego Sandoval’s life changed utterly the day he rescued an ailing Fae under the Brooklyn Bridge.  From dumped lover and struggling author, Diego’s life is now filled with the love of Finn, his Pookie lover and the book Finn inspired has gotten Diego a league of fans and followers.  Now relocated to a remote area of Montana, life is good but change is in the wind once more….

A misunderstanding between Finn and Diego shatters their happy lives when in a fit of jealous rage, Diego’s uncontrolled power rips a hole in the Veil which seals his universe away from the Otherworld.  The Otherworld is the place where all Fae fled in the face of humankind proliferation and despoiling of the Earth.  Pulled unwittingly into the Otherworld, Diego must learn how to use his powers, find Finn and make their way back home.

But so many obstacles stand in their way, including a mysterious disease that is slowly killing all the Fae, a disease that all Fae are sure Diego can cure.  And if that is not enough to contend with, then the appearance of the US Army with its own assumptions might be the biggest problem of all….

When a book and characters are able to pull me into their story to the point that I forget the time and other things I need to be doing then I know that the author has accomplished their mission as a craftsman of tales, a first rate storyteller that would be welcomed at any fire or table around.  That’s how I felt about Diego (Endangered Fae #2) when I finally put down the Kindle and looked at the clock.  I couldn’t believe how late it was or how absorbed I had been in Diego, the second book in the Endangered Fae series by Angel Martinez.  I loved the first story, but this one built on that and became so much better….

This is a complex story with numerous characters, locations and worlds involved. Once again, Martinez pulls from a number of mythologies to build her two universes and multitude of Fae species.  Diego follows months, perhaps a year, after the events of Finn.  They have moved into a cabin in the wilds of Montana,  and Diego has become a successful author based on his first published story about a fictionalized Finn.  But a state of happiness is an unknown territory for both man and Fae and Martinez is wise to include the points of view of both Diego and Finn here to highlight their feelings and insecurities about their relationship and each other.

Finn, while long lived or even immortal, has not had a happy history with relationships, especially his last one which ended in his dismemberment and his lover’s torture and burning.  And lurking underneath a traumatic history with love or because of it, is a case of poor self image and enough insecuritiesto fill a canyon.  He wants to be worthy of Diego, but is not sure exactly how to accomplish that.  He fears that Diego will abandon him even as Diego tries to reinforce the depth of his own feelings towards the Fae.  Diego too has a bad history of romance behind him.  Two insecure new lovers must balance their new relationship with the needs of each other, different species included.  That’s a heavy task that Martinez has placed in front of her two main characters and that is only the beginning as well as the foundation for most of their issues.  A stable, loving relationship is so new to both that neither understands how to communicate their fears or feel secure enough in their love for each other to question the firmness of the foundation upon which they base their feelings.  That an impressive fracture to overcome for any new couple, let alone a human and a Fae.  Plus both have a history with Diego’s prior self, Taliesin and the power that Diego has yet to harness.  More issues still for the couple.  I mean Martinez has these two on such shaky emotional ground (believably so) that its a wonder each gets out of the bed they are so fond of.

But an emotional jealous rage shatters a barrier raised by a Fae Queen and both are drawn into an ancient feud that has dire consequences for all.  Here Martinez delves deep into Fae mythology and comes up with some astonishing characters.  From Dana to Balor, ancient enemies with a common sorrow between them, and Lugh, half kin, ex lover and soldier, such amazing characters of immense gravitas and magic await the reader on the other side of the Veil.  And none of them even remotely come across as human.  This element of the story is incredibly compelling and magnetic in its pull.  I loved Martinez’ ability to continue with her relationship dynamics between Finn and Diego while building on Finn’s history and complex relationships with others in the Otherworld.  This will just add to the problems they face, trust me.

One aspect of this story will be the arrival (I won’t say where) of a top secret US Army detachment.  Their impact upon our beloved characters and story isn’t for the squeamish.  While Martinez is not as graphic as she might have been, my imagination supplied far too many details on top of the ones the author already delivered.  Vivid, traumatic, scary….just what you might expect from such an encounter.  The detachment fills much the same role as the Wendig0 did for the first story.  It shakes everything up, provides a enemy to thwart, and makes the ending of the story that much more satisfactory for all everyone went through to get to the resolution.  Not a easy element to read but so worthwhile once you get to the other side.  Don’t flinch…move smartly forward.  Trust me, its worth it.

So many wonders to be found here in this story and series.  I loved the Fae, all of them, and the Otherworld. I loved that Diego’s cultural identity is as important as Finn’s Fae one, a lovely touch that adds spice to the Endangered Fae melting pot of a series.  I absolutely fell in love over and over again with character after character, no matter the species and how much fun is that?

I am getting ready for the third book in the series, Semper Fae (great title).  It deals with the romance between a soldier who plays a major role in this story and another great chacracter found here too.  No spoilers as yet.  It won’t be out for several months.  Until then, get started on this series.  Start with Finn, and then go on to Diego.  I will meet you back here for Semper Fae.

Consider Diego (and Finn) definite recommendations from ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords.  Such happy findings….I can’t wait to see where Angel Martinez takes us all next….

 

 

Cover art by Winterheart Designs.  Nice  cover, love the models standing in for both characters.

Buy Links:              MLR Press        Diego: Endangered Fae Series ” title=”Amazon buy link”> Amazon            ARe

Book Details:

book, 3rd, 296 pages
Published June 6th 2014 by MLR Press (first published September 16th 2010)
original titleDiego
ISBN 1608209342 (ISBN13: 9781608209347)
urlhttp://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=AM_DIEGO
seriesEndangered Fae #2
charactersDanu, Finn Shannon, Diego Sandoval, Lugh, Balor
settingMontana (United States)
Otherworld ,Tearman Island

Books in the series include:

Finn (Endangered Fae #1)
Finn’s Christmas (Endangered Fae #1.5) (note: this was folded into Finn as the last chapter in the latest edition)
Diego (Endangered Fae #2)
Semper Fae (Endangered Fae #3)

 

Review: Goblins, Book 1 by Melanie Tushmore

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Goblins, Book 1In the 17th Century, the ancient sprawl of Epping forest is bursting with magic and those who go unseen by human eyes: the elves who rule the summer court, and the goblins who rule the winter court. It is said that if a human catches the eye of one of the fey, they are either doomed or blessed.

The Goblin King has seven sons, a number said to be unlucky.  For most of them, home and duties is not enough and when they go exploring chance encounters with humans change their lives forever.

Book 1 contains the stories of Wulfren and  Quiller, goblin princes and the humans that changed their lives.

Goblins is a magical book on so many levels.  From that cover that pulls you in with its haunting and haunted young beings to the lyrical and imaginative descriptions of Epping forest and its dwellers, this book kept me awake thinking about the scenes and settings I found within.

Honestly this is a book who needs more than one rating because of all its standout elements, including that miraculous cover.  But the characters and plots for each brother varied enough for me to rate each story individually.  So let’s start with my least favorite and the first in the book, Wulfren and the Warlock:

1. Wulfren and the Warlock.  Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Wulfren is the seventh son of the Goblin King and the youngest.  Wulfren also has the least amount of magic as the magic increases with age.  A very young spirit, Wulfren is half elf and half goblin. His mother is an elf banished for her passion and love for the Goblin King, she remains the favorite of his consorts and the mother of two of his sons.   His curiosity and youth get the better of him when Wulfren and his brother Garnet spy a warlock in their woods and play pranks on him.    When the warlock turns the tables on Wulfren and captures him, both of their lives change forever.

I loved so much of this story.  The plot is wonderful, the settings other worldly and the descriptions of everything within so unbelievably magical that I never wanted to leave.  So where is the problem?  With one character, that of Wulfrin.  Wulfrin is a very young spirit, so young in fact that his dialog and antics place him in the realm of a 12 to 14 year old.  He himself says at one point to the warlock after being captured:

“I… I have over seven hundred seasons, now. Seven hundred and twenty,” I added.

“Seasons? The seasons … But that would make you …” He sounded surprised, his eyes widening. “Age aside, you must be a young spirit.”

“I’m not young!” I said, indignant. “I do everything the adults do.”

Yes, Wulfren is young, adorably so.  He acts on impulse, doesn’t like doing his chores and feels shuffled aside at his father’s court because no one let’s him do anything.  Any one who has had a child or is familiar with children has heard this plaintive voice a hundred times or more.  It’s the voice of a child and Tushmore has captured it perfectly.  So why do I have issues with this?  Because immediately the Warlock binds him with silver chains and drags him off to bed, introducing elements of bdsm and non con sexual activities to basically what is a immature goblin.  No matter how I tried looking at this aspect of the story, the squick factor was just too big to overlook.  Time and again, I picture Wulfren as Max from Where the Wild Things Are roaring his terrible roar., claws included.  Not an image Tushmore would want to evoke. Even after both admit they have feelings for each other, it still feels like a barely pubescent boy who wants to please an older man, doing small chores around the house and pleading for his attention.  When they are parted, Wulfren writes a letter to his warlock and its contents are those that any tween writing to Tiger Beat would recognize.   Even if you accept that these two characters have a loving relationship, it never feels real or believable, just terribly one sided.

And that is the fault of Ash, the warlock.  We really never get a firm grip on his character.  Who is he?  Why is he by himself on the edge of the woods?  He remains an enigma for the entire story, and that makes it hard for us to believe and connect with his relationship to Wulfren.  Everyone else comes alive in this story with the exception of Ash.  Had his character been more fleshed out and Wulfren made an older soul, then this story would have a completely different tone.

Still, the vivid descriptions and magical air that Tushmore imparts to her tale make this story a lush visit to hidden kingdoms.  Here is a look as the goblins get ready for a celebration when Wulfren is brought home:

They led me downstairs. Random bursts of song filled the air as musicians tuned their instruments, and quarrelled over who played what. Outside in the dark, the court gathered amongst the inner ring, with the toadstools towering above us. Sprites had lit the dew drops that covered the toadstool heads, and they sparkled. Fires lit on twig ends were jabbed into the ground for torches. Brownies rushed about with acorn shells full of wine in their arms, sloshing liquid as they hurried.

“Father has even broken out the mead,” Garnet whispered to me. “Hurry, before it’s all gone.”

I dream of lit dew drops and fire flies tucked into cobwebs to light the great hall.  Just so magical.   Scenes like this elevated this story above the main relationship.

2. Quiller and the Runaway Prince:  Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Quiller is the third son of the Goblin King.  He is half goblin and half bird spirit like his mother, another one of the King’s consorts.  When winter is finished and spring comes to the woods once more, Quiller and the rest of the goblins are free of their duties for two seasons and its time to play.  Flying through the woods, Quiller sees a fallen man and his injured horse deep in the forest.  The horse snorts and tells Quiller he doesn’t think much of the young man but Quiller sees and feels something for the human right from the start.  When Quiller tells the young man that “all runaway princes are mine”, a journey begins that neither is quite prepared for.

This story has it all, great characters, believable relationship between beings of basically the same age (emotionally and intellectually), and the vivid, imaginative descriptions that make this book a must read on every level.  This is how the story begins:

The start of spring, 1648.

Winter was over, at long last. Tonight we were all in our larger forms— as tall as elves— and dressed in vein-thin leaves. It was the celebration to welcome Eostre, goddess of spring. Our home, the rotten ring, had been decorated in her honour. Dewdrops were lit, and fireflies were hung in cobwebs. The musicians piped up and played as the first glimmer of Eostre appeared through the trees. Pale light played on her shapely edges, like it shone from within. The form she took to visit us was more elf-like than anything; tall and graceful, with long, sleek hair of many colours.

Hair that moved. As Eostre stepped inside our ring of rotten tree trunks, I could see her hair crawled with insect larvae. She paid it no mind, as she cast an amused eye over the ring, then addressed Father. “Goblin king. Your line was missing one pair of claws this winter.”

Father’s face twitched ever so slightly before he replied. “Yes, Goddess, we … We managed without.”

We know from the previous story that the missing set of claws belongs to Wulfren, the youngest son of the Goblin King.  The King and his subjects are responsible for Fall and Winter.  And during those seasons, the King holds Court but the scepter passes to the elves in the spring and there the Goddess will hold court through the summer months.  I loved the image of the Goddess, Eostre, her hair full of larvae that writhe as she walks. Its mesmerizing, opulent and yet somewhat repulsive. Yet, Tushmore is not finished with Eostre.  Here is the scene as the Goddess leaves the company of goblins:

The ceremony was almost over; Eostre bid our ring farewell. In each footprint she left, fresh shoots and flowers grew, yet without her touch they soon wilted. All flowers died in the rotten ring.

Eostre inclined her head to Father. “Raedren, goblin king of the southern realm, thank you for the winter.”

“Goddess. Peace be.” Father bowed deeply to her in return, his cloak of cobwebs fluttering around him.

“Peace be.” Eostre smiled, then turned with a swish of hair and flowers. Her hair’s colour was ever changing, like the leaves in the trees. Butterflies and mayflies now crawled from her hair, spread their wings, and took flight. She left in a trail of flying insects and wilting flowers, on her way to the summer court, and the elves.

How wondrous, how enchanting!  And the spell is set for the rest of the story.  I loved the characters here, each a small treasure to be held and marveled at again and again.  Quiller is just the start of a cast we will connect with and remember.  Quiller is the third son of the Goblin King and therefore a prince himself.  But his mother is a bird spirit, a crow and his personality bears the hallmarks of a bird.  He is flighty, scattered in his thoughts and attentions and he recognizes that.  Just his actions as he flies through the forest gives ample example of this character and light hearted nature. Cashel is also a prince, a human one.  But magic aside, these two are each other’s equal in courage, in outlook, and finally in love.  They are everything that is missing from the first story.

Tushmore also uses Quiller’s journey to bring a dark realistic look at the times and ways of humanity.  Along the way, Quiller talks to a group of crows to see if they know where his mother resides.  They reply to look near the gibbet:

“Gibbet?” I asked, puzzled.

“Wood the humans hang other humans on,” he explained. “We peck their bones clean. Nice when it’s dried in the sun.”

“How strange,” I said. “Where is this gibbet?”

“Find the human path,” the crow said. “East of here. Before you get to the human place.”

“Oh, fear not, I shan’t be visiting any humans!” I cawed.

But of course, he does, flying past human remains, evidence of the cruel nature of the times.  Tushmore blends together the magical and the human worlds with a smooth, gifted touch.  When Quiller meets Cashel, a human of royal blood, Cromwell and the Parliament are laying waste to the people and lands all around.  None of that really matters to Quiller but Cashel is mired deep in the midst of political intrigue and fears for his life.  So into the castle goes Quiller (in bird form of course) where Cashel is living with his cousins.  Black deeds abound inside, threatening Cashel’s life and those of his relatives.  With a magical being in the middle, all sorts of things start to happen, and the reader will love every single minute.   I mean, Melanie Tushmore gives us everything we could want and more.  There’s poison, nefarious goings on, villains, a witch and of course, love.  And it’s all believable, and layered and complete.  Well mostly.

These are just the first two books and there are seven sons, five more to go.  So I expect to see Quiller and Cashel appear in the books to come.  Quiller still has his duties to attend to in the fall and winter.  Plus I don’t expect the Goblin King to willingly lose another son to the humans and that is not addressed here.   Still this story is quite marvelous, worthy of the price of this book alone.

After reading Goblins, I can’t wait to see what the author does for the rest of the sons.  I want more of her extraordinary descriptions and spellbinding imagination.  I highly recommend this to you all even with my reservations concerning the first story.

Cover design by Ria Chantler.  This cover is exquisite, one of the best of 2013.  The more closely I look at it, the better it gets.  just remarkable.

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: September 25th 2013 by Less Than Three Press LLC (first published September 25th 2012)
original title Goblins, Book One
ISBN13 9781620042373
edition language English

And I Saw A Sea of Squirrels….and the Week Ahead in Reviews!

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And Then I Saw A Sea of Squirrels……grey squirrel drawing

Its fall and my patio and lawns are full of nature’s bounty, aka nuts.  Lots and lots of nuts and therefore lots and lots of squirrels (and deer but that’s for another story from this park naturalist).   This year is a high cycle year so all the oaks, hickories, and beech trees in my backyard were groaning under the weight of the nuts they bore.  And have now loosed them upon every surface available, turning every spare inch into a prickly hulled,DSCN4046 brown blanket or a mosaic of shiny hard bits and pieces of acorns to go along with the prickly hulls of the beech nut.  Of course the green golf balls of the black walnut are dropping too, sounding like hail during the worst of storms.

And my dogs hate this.

I don’t blame them.  Those prickly little bits and pieces hurt the pads of their paws, jagged hulls of shells courtesy of sharp squirrel teeth are just the right size to work themselves between the pads and wedging themselves firmly to great pain and discomfort.  No amount of sweeping is stopping the tide.  It’s relentless, a constant cacophony of sound followed by a carpet of discarded husks.DSCN4053

I think most people don’t realize that nuts are cyclical.  That each year the harvest is that much greater than the year before with the various animal populations that depend upon them for food expanding along with them.   And then the year that follows the one with the biggest yield is all but barren.  No nuts, or at least very little.  People start reporting seeing skinny or starving animals.  And they reason that such a thing helps to keep populations down.  And certainly that is true for the present day.  But not always.

Did you know people once saw seas of squirrels as they migrated through?

Yes, Eastern gray squirrels used to migrate, following the cycles of the oaks, and hickories and other nut bearing trees.  Back when the midwestern and eastern forests were one contiguous mass of forest.  Back before we started to carve out our settlements, and farms and cities. Back when there were only small farmsteads and villages that dotted the forests, tiny punctuation marks of humanity.

Then the animals lived much different lives than they do today.

One of my college professors,  Dr. Vagn Flyger wrote a report for the University of Maryland on a squirrel migration as recent as 1968.  Oh, how he loved squirrels and imparted that love to his students!  And this recent migration, from Vermont to Georgia, fascinated him.  You can read it here.  But even more fascinating are the earlier account of waves of squirrels so massive that it took days before the end of the hoard could be seen.  Or as Robert Kennicott in his article “The Quadrupeds of Illinois” in The Annual Report of the Commissioner of gray squirrelPatents for 1846 stated  “it took a month for the mess of squirrels to pass through the area.”*

Just imagine what that must have looked like! Tens of thousands, perhaps millions of squirrels following the wild harvest through the vast forest of the midwest and east, flowing like a grey furred river, leaping and bounding over every surface as they passed their way through the immediate area.   Here is another quote (from that  *same article ):

*In 1811, Charles Joseph Labrobe wrote in The Rambler in North America of a vast squirrel migration that autumn in Ohio: “A countless multitude of squirrels, obeying some great and universal impulse, which none can know but the Spirit that gave them being, left their reckless and gambolling life, and their ancient places of retreat in the north, and were seen pressing forward by tens of thousands in a deep and sober phalanx to the South …”

No longer.

We still have them migrate occasionally.  The last reported one was likely 1998 in Arkansas but nothing like the vast migrations of the past.  And how can they with no massive forest or massive stands of trees, following the bounty of nuts and seeds as the cycles demanded?  Like the beaver before them, we have changed their natural history and lost something special in return.

Now the Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is regarded as a cute backyard dweller or bird seed eating pest.  They get into attics or gnaw on wires.  We are amused by them, infuriated by them, and in some cases regarding bird feeders outsmarted by them.  They throw nuts at my dogs and tease them unmercifully and I laugh, of course.  They are a constant in my yard and a source of food for my owls and hawks.  They are as familiar to me as my wrens and woodpeckers…and my life would be poorer without them.

But once they moved across the land in rivers of energy and gray fur, millions of them covering the landscape and making people stop in their tracks, marveling to see such a sight.  Just once I wish I could have been there, standing beside those folks so I too could have said “and then I saw a sea of squirrels…”.

The Migration of the Grey Squirrels

by William Howitt

When in my youth I traveled
Throughout each north country,
Many a strange thing did I hear,
And many a strange thing to see.

But nothing was there pleased me more
Than when, in autumn brown,
I came, in the depths of the pathless woods,
To the grey squirrels’ town.

There were hundreds that in the hollow boles
Of the old, old trees did dwell,
And laid up store, hard by their door,
Of the sweet mast as it fell.

But soon the hungry wild swine came,
And with thievish snouts dug up
Their buried treasure, and left them not
So much as an acorn cup.

Then did they chatter in angry mood,
And one and all decree,
Into the forests of rich stone-pine
Over hill and dale to flee.

Over hill and dale, over hill and dale,
For many a league they went,
Like a troop of undaunted travelers
Governed by one consent.

But the hawk and the eagle, and peering owl,
Did dreadfully pursue;
When lo! to cut off their pilgrimage,
A broad stream lay in view.

But then did each wondrous creature show
His cunning and bravery;
With a piece of the pine-bark in his mouth,
Unto the stream came he;

And boldly his little bark he launched,
Without the least delay;
His busy tail was his upright sail,
And he merrily steered away.

Never was there a lovelier sight
Than that grey squirrels’ fleet;
And with anxious eyes I watched to see
What fortune it would meet.

Soon had they reached the rough mild-stream,
And ever and anon
I grieved to behold some bark wrecked,
And its little steersman gone.

But the main fleet stoutly held across;
I saw them leap to shore;
They entered the woods with a cry of joy,
For their perilous march was o’er.

Now for the Week Ahead in Reviews (and  Autumn Sedum in my garden):DSCN4051

Monday, Sept. 30:         Sonata by A.F. Henley

Tuesday, Oct. 1:              September Summary of Reviews

Wed., October 2:            Goblins by Melanie Tushmore

Thurs., October 3:         Dominant Predator by S.A. McAuley

Friday, October 4:         The Isle of Wishes by Sue Brown

Sat., October 5:               Knightmare (City Knight #2) by T.A. Webb

Review: Dance Only for Me (Dance with the Devil #6) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Dance Only For Me coverJackie Black, sorcerer and gunslinger, has a surprise for Roman, his lover of two years.  Jackie has decided to move to the city to be closer to his boyfriend and makes a surprise trip to tell Roman the good news.  But the surprise is on Jackie when he intrudes on a romantic evening Roman has planned with another man, a much younger man.   Heartbroken and lacking a place to stay, Jackie heads out of Roman’s building and straight into trouble.  In a bar in the poorer section of the city, Jackie is befriended by a man who claims to be a supernatural detective who needs help on a case.  That case involves retrieving a magical object from someone who just might also be a killer.

Needing something to take his mind off his pain, Jackie agrees to help the detective and changes the course of his life forever.  For nothing in Jackie’s life is as he wants it to be.  His father is off somewhere in Asia, mourning the loss of his wife and Jackie’s mother, Jackie feels he is not made for love as his last three boyfriends have cheated on him, and his new found friend is dead, dying in his arms moments upon his return.  What is Jackie to do but what a Black always does.  Holster his guns and go get the person who done the crime, or crimes.  He can only hope it won’t cost him his life as well.

If asked, I would be hard pressed to say which of Megan Derr’s fantasy universes is my favorite. but certainly her Dance with the Devil series would be in the top two.  So you can imagine my delight upon hearing that her latest release was a return to that amazing universe and wondrous group of supernatural beings that inhabit it.  Jackie Black and his father Jebadiah Black have appeared briefly in other stories but now Jackie is getting a central role in his own novel, Dance Only for Me (Dance with the Devil #6).  And I have to say I loved it.  It had everything  I have come to expect from Megan Derr and this terrific series.

Jackie Black is an oddity in his world, an amazing thing to say given the creatures that roam the streets and bars of the City.  He is over 70 years old, a sorcerer who wears a Stetson, cowboy boots, duster and uses magical revolvers of the old West to take down miscreants, human and non human alike.    Thin as a whippet, “whipcord” thin as his mother would say, Jackie is a bit of an anachronism, just like his father.  He speaks in the dulcet well mannered tones of a Sheriff in the old West, polite even when aiming his six shooters to kill,  This is our first introduction to him and his story:

Jackie caught the goblin right square between its crazy ass eyes and sighed as the fool thing dropped like a sack of flour to the warehouse floor. He holstered his revolver in a single, smooth move and touched the brim of his hat to the cluster of goblins huddled in the corner. “Ma’am,” he said to the one at the head of the pack, who had hired him to do something about a goblin that had tipped from average goblin crazy to crazier than a pack of elves gone drunk and frisky.

He walked over to the body to make certain it was dead and wrinkled his nose at the smell wafting off it. He’d caught whiffs of it before, but now the thing was holding still it was a sight easier to catch. “Poor thing’s mind done been scrambled like eggs at Sunday brunch.” He tipped his hat back to look up at the head goblin as she approached him. “Ain’t got a clue how he was poisoned, but I were you, ma’am, I’d be checking right careful for a traitor in your midst. This sort of thing is near always personal.”

I loved the dialog that Derr has written for Jackie.  It is so easy to picture him, a spare man of honor, like Gary Cooper in High Noon (google it).  In fact, I loved everything about Jackie, from his background and family life to his current painful predicament as a discarded lover who thinks he will never find the person/being right for him.  His singular code of honor drives his actions as well as his relationships.  And people are drawn to him whether he likes it or not.  The many layers to Jackie will draw in the reader as well, we just can’t help it!

Typical of Derr, it’s not just Jackie who is beautifully characterized but all the beings/people created for the story as well.  Whether it be friend or foe, everyone you will meet between these pages feel real.  They have hidden agendas driven by greed, pain, or a need to set things right.  They  want love or friends or a family or all three.  From a demon called Ned whose pain will make you cry to a young boy, Wyatt, whose dark past has made him older than his years, each and every one will cry out for your affection and attention.  And they will deserve it.  Especially Ned, Wyatt Thorne and a vampire necromancer, Phoenix Fairchild, each so memorable in their own way.  I loved them too.

One of the charms of this series is that couples, people from previous books make appearances throughout the series. Sable Brennus and Christian are here, as is Ontoniel Desrosiers,  Johnny and Grim, and even a dragon or three.  Seeing them here just made me want to go back and start reading each of their books all over again.  Megan Derr has such a wonderful imagination and her creativity just flows through this series like a river of magic. Every type of magic or wondrous being is included here.  Angels, sorcerers, witches, goblins and alchemists, that’s just a start.  There are werewolves, vampires, ghosts and golems too.  They are all present and involved in Jackie’s life and story and we are so much the richer for it.

I came close to giving this story a 5 star rating but there was just a few too many errors here.  Spelling errors, repetition problems and sentences like this one.  “Hope your right, Sheriff.”  Instead of “Hope you’re right, Sheriff”.  An editor should have caught these common problems and didn’t.  That brought the rating down which was a shame.   Tighter editing and better proofreading would have made this story a perfect read.

Those issues aside, I absolutely recommend this story to every person who is a fantasy fan, who love mythical beings come to life and men who hunger after love even though their past has told them it only brings heartbreak.  If you are new to the series, you can read this as a stand alone.  But reading the other stories first make this a much richer and fulfilling adventure.  I really hope that Megan Derr brings back Jackie, Ned and the rest for a followup adventure.  They are all so deserving of it.

The Dance with the Devil series:

Dance with the Devil (Dance with the Devil, #1)

The Glass Coffin

Dance in the Dark (Dance with the Devil, #2)

Midnight (Dance with the Devil, #3)

Ruffskin (Dance with the Devil, #4)

Sword of the King (Dance with the Devil, #5)

Dance Only for Me (Dance with the Devil, #6)

Cover Art by London Burden.  Great job in branding the series by cover but I wish it was a little lighter in tone so we can see the guns.

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Published July 24th 2013 by Less Than Three Press LLC
original title Dance Only for Me
ISBN13 9781620040850
edition language English

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?