A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: Enter the Dragon (The Bestiary) by Jamie Sullivan

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Since a ceasefire was called on the Dragon Wars, dragons and humans have lived in an uneasy partnership. To help humans understand dragons and prepare future dragon trainers, the Academy was created. Jac Conway is an eager student, long enthralled with all things dragon. But even he, with all his hopes and ambitions, never dreamed of just how close to them one night would bring him …

For a short story I found myself totally sunk into this world in a short amount of time.  The author throws us and Jae down a scary tunnel on mating night and the rest of the story just carries us away.  Yes, I wish to know more about the past history, how the dragons decided it was worth it to come together with humans.  The tantalizing elements here raise so many questions that a mere 50 odd pages can’t begin to answer.

But the promise, the characters, small and large, the glimpses I saw of something bigger…well, if this is the start of a series I can’t wait to see what the author brings next.  I hope to see these characters again as well.  What a way to shake up an  academy!

Cover art by Kirby Crow is pretty, but the blue is distracting.

Sales Links:  Pre order Links at Less Than Three Press

Book Details:

ebook. 56 pages
Expected publication: October 4th 2017 by Less Than Three Press (first published November 21st 2012)
ISBN13 9781684311057
Edition Language English
Series The Bestiary

An Alisa Release Day Review: A-Viking by Kiernan Kelly

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

a-viking-by-kiernan-kellyWhat’s a Viking to do when he ends up on a Florida beach, surrounded by a world he doesn’t understand, with a hyperactive stockbroker as his only guide? Go back to Chase’s hotel, naturally. Chase thinks Bjorn is eccentric at best, a lunatic at worst, or just maybe the real thing: a Viking from the days of yore. It isn’t easy for Bjorn to admit, but he needs Chase’s help to navigate the confusing modern age. While Chase is trying to clean Bjorn up and help him fit in, Bjorn’s sworn enemy also makes the trek through time. Jorund is eager to plunder this new land and finish the job of killing Bjorn’s family line, all in one blow. Bjorn and Chase will have to set aside their vast differences and work together if either of them wants to survive.

This was a nice quick read.  Bjorn and Chase are both greatly confused when they meet on the beach.  Both try to find explanations in their own minds of how or why the other is acting so strange.

 

Both of these characters are wonderful.  Both would be considered work-a-holics in their own times, but soon realize that life is worth more than that.  I loved how both of these characters interacted with each other and how scared Chase was that Bjorn would disappear just like Jorund did.  Seeing these characters together in the future was a wonderful ending.

 

Cover art by Paul Richmond is nice and catches your eye.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 56 pages

Published: 2nd Edition, October 19, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 9781634777940

Edition Language: English

A Paul B Review: The Leprechaun’s Gamble (Gifts of the Fae #1) by A.J. Marcus

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Leprechaun's GambleA leprechaun gets but one chance to find love in the mortal realm.  If the leprechaun is successful, they may live out their life with their true love in the mortal world with occasion visits back to the fairy world.  If unsuccessful, they must find love in the fairy world which has proven difficult to do.  Knowing both the reward and costs, young leprechauns gamble to find their true love.

Ailin is one such leprechaun.  Having passed up his chance last year thinking he was too young for such an adventure, he decides to go forth this year.  He knows that the portal will open on St. Patrick’s Day and will have until the equinox a few days later to find his love.  Having found the portal site, Ailin crosses through then casts a spell to protect himself from the rush of other leprechauns coming through.  Once he regains his senses, he heads to town.  On the way, he meets a brownie, a dark fairy from another fairy kingdom.  Ailin ignores the brownie’s temptations and finds a festival in the nearest town.  He is off to find the man who will love him.

Rohan is a farmer to the north of the town.  He inherited his grandfather’s farm recently and loves the simpler life.  He enters a jig dance contest at the local festival.  As competitors begin to drop, he notices the only one keeping up is a good looking red headed man, who happens to be Ailin in his human guise.  Impressed that he can keep up, Rohan offers to buy the man a drink at the local tavern.  The competitive nature in both men leads to a game of darts where wagers are made by the patrons.  Finding the man challenging, he asks the man to come back to the farm with him.  Ailin is overjoyed at the possibility that Rohan might be the one and accepts.  Now he must turn this attraction to true love in the next few days or else he will never find mortal love.

This is the first book in the Gifts of the Fae series by A. J. Markus.  If you are looking for two alpha males you have found it in this book.  Both men acknowledge their competitive nature, which includes the size of their equipment.  Of course both are well hung, as it seems they have to be the best at everything they do.  It was interesting to see Ailin dance around some of Rohan’s questions as Ailin cannot lie to the human but also did not want to reveal his true nature until he know Rohan was the one for him.  Overall it was an enjoyable start to this new series.

The cover art is perfect for this book.  We have the red headed Ailin with his scruff standing beside the dark haired Rohan wearing what looks like a tam o’shanter.    These fit the description of the characters perfectly.  The rainbow above the author’s name is a nice touch.  Kudos go to Carmen Waters for the cover.

Sales Links:   eXtasy BooksAmazon

Book Details

ebook, 53 pages
Published March 14th 2016 by eXtasy Books
ISBN139781487406516
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series:  Gifts of the Fae

The Leprechaun’s Gamble (Gifts of the Fae #1)

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

Review: Frostwick (Wick 1.5) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.25 stars

FrostwickStarwick is a Frostwick and a shadow of King of Lyus.  It was while he was on a mission for the king when he and the Crown Prince were attacked by a sorcerer thief intent on killing the Prince and stealing the royal seal he wore. When the thief threw a killing curse at the prince, Starwick stepped forward and took the curse upon himself.  Now Starwick is dying, his death postponed by a magical wards that hold off his death as long as he remains in the closest of proximities to the charmwick who cast it.  But the charmwick whose wards support Starwick? That would be Tyrwick, a master swordwick as well as charmwick and the bastard son of the King.  And Starwick has been in love with the black coated Tyrwick for years, a feeling that has never been returned.

Now the two must travel together to Draius, home of the Wick School and the most concentrated group of Wicks known throughout the Kingdoms.  Here they must find a spell to counteract the killing curse, aid in helping to apprehend the thief, and recover the powerful ring before the thief strikes again.  But the curse is getting stronger, and Tyrwick’s cold, disregard is sending Starwick into the depths of despair.  When all looks to be lost, can hope and a hidden love come forward to save Frostwick?

Frostwick is a short story, 64 pages, that  manages to bring back all the couples from one of my favorite books, Wick, by Megan Derr.  Wicks are sorcerers or magicians and each has one or more specialties or fields they control.  There are swordwicks (masters of fighting and protection), lyrewicks (masters of song magic), firewicks, waterwicks, well, you get the idea.  Once their power manifests itself, usually at a young age, then wick is added to the last part of their name.  Star became Starwick when he found he could not only control water but water in its cold forms of ice, snow, etc.  Starwick is first mentioned in various stories in Wick as he was the romantic love of two brothers, neither affair ending well.

Typical of Megan Derr, Starwick is not an easy man to like, he doesn’t even like himself very much.  He despises the job he does for the king,  along the line of  being a royal assassin.  Starwick has many layers to him and the same abusive background that the other wicks who attended the Royal College for Wicks suffered.  He is paired with an equally enigmatic character of Tyrwick, who treats Starwick with a rough distain. Readers of Derr’s previous novels will realize quickly that all is not what it seems between the two men and the joy is in Derr’s storyline, watching the interplay between the men, especially once they reach Draius where all the other wicks await them.  They are all here.  Creawick (my favorite), Tolkiwick, Roswick, Tolliwick,Fenwick, and all the others.  How I love them all.

And then there is the matter of the plot, which is a nifty one.  A charmwick thief throws a killing curse on the Prince which fails, but still manages to steal the ring.  He too has managed to get to Draius where he needs to steal a book Tokiwick has to help him use the power of the ring.  Megan Derr builds up our anxiety over Starwick and Tyrwick’s quest as Starwick’s pain is becoming increasingly debilitating and he loses all hope.  Powerful stuff.  The reader just aches as Starwick gives up and prepares to die, his pain made worse by having to be so close to the man he loves unrequitedly.

Here is the problem.  Frostwick is just too short to wrap up this intense, complicated story.  The end comes before you are prepared for it, and in a manner that leaves far too many questions unanswered, including who the thief was and why he wanted the Crown Prince dead.  The ending was so abrupt that I couldn’t quite believe it when I reached the last page.  The shortness of length also hurts when it comes to explaining who all these characters are, their backstories and interlocking relationships.  If you come to this book without first reading Wick, you will be utterly lost. And if you come to this book after reading Wick, you will end up a little frustrated at having so little time spent with characters you love.

But did I love this book with all the quibbles I had with it?  Yes, I did because even a short time spent with any and all of the wicks is time well spent.  And there is always the promise of more books in the Wick universe.  So yes, pick this book up but not before you start with the first one, Wick.  Or pick them both up and settle to indulge yourself in a remarkable universe full of vivid locations, wild and wonderful creations and wicks  of all sorts.

Herre are the stories in the order they should be read:

Wick (Wick #1) – read my review here.

Frostwick (Wick    #1.5)

Lovely cover designed by Megan Derr.