Review: Retribution (Triple Threat #2) by L.E. Harner

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Triple Threat Retribution coverWhen Archer Wilde gave Zachary, his husband of 15 years, a submissive named Jeremiah for a year, he never anticipated the fallout that was to come.  Both Archer and Zachary are Master Doms, and only within their relationship, does Zachary take a submissive posture.  So Archer thought a  submissive of his own would make Zachary happy.  But the reality was exactly the opposite and it threatens to destroy their happy and balanced loving relationship of 15 years, one they have worked hard to achieve.

Submissive Jeremiah has a signed contract and nothing else.  He had hoped to find a loving home and a Master Dom to teach him the ways of the lifestyle he needs in order to be whole.  Instead he finds a household in discord because of his presence and the very real possibility that he will be asked to leave before he even is given a chance to prove himself.

Jeremiah’s predicament leads him to make a disastrous decision.  He calls on an abusive Dom who has a grudge against Archer and Zachary to train him. When Jeremiah disappears, Archer and Zachary race against time before the damage inflicted upon their boy is too deep to undo.  This time, their retribution is personal.

What an astonishing book and series!  With every new development, the characters and their relationships just get more layered with an authentically human  feel to them.  Retribution picks up exactly where Triple Threat left off.  Zachary and Archer have retired to their bedroom ostensibly to talk about Jeremiah but instead they proceed to have white hot sex. Sex that will both reassure them of their love and reestablish a connection that Archer almost broke with his unwanted gift of Jeremiah to Zachary.  That Jeremiah is not exactly welcome is now obvious to Archer’s dismay.   Harner’s characterizations are perfection.  We can see Archer Wilde making this error in judgement because he so rarely doubts his own brilliance that he thinks he knows what is best for all around him.  Plus Archer has made that all too human mistake of forgetting just who his partner is because the years together has lulled them into complacency.

As with Archer, Zachary too is a beautifully realized portrait of a man stunned by his lover’s actions.  It shakes him to his core and not just because he didn’t see it coming.  It turns out that a  past trauma involving a prior submissive of Zachary’s have left Zach scarred and unable to make that commitment again.  All of these mens flaws come to the surface with one bad decision and the one to pay is Jeremiah.

L.E. Harner certainly knows how to build the suspense into a plot.  When Jeremiah disappears, the reader immediately knows something awful has occured. But what had happened and where was Jeremiah?  The answers to those questions are guaranteed to raise the reader’s anxiety, making us despair for Jeremiah’s safety.   Harner’s narrative threatens danger at every curve and a certainty that violence is lurking near the end.  I loved every minute of Retribution.  And that includes the ending.

The characters here have issues to settle amongst themselves,  and by the end of this story, Archer, Zach and Jeremiah are on their ways to resolving some of them.  But not all.  And those unresolved issues will be carried into the following stories.   This aspect of the series continues to give these characters and their relationship a very human feel.  I have always felt that it is a human being’s flaws, not their perfections, that help to connect them with their fellow beings.  And that is as true in fiction as it is in real life.  L.E. Harner recognizes that fact and builds it into her stories and people.

So go and pick up this story and make a commitment to this remarkable series.  But make sure you start at the beginning story, Triple Threat, and work your way through as these are not stand alone tales and need to be read in the order they were written.  For those of you who hesitate when seeing that elements of bdsm (D/s relationships) and threesomes are present,  don’t let this stop you with this series.  It works, it feels real, and you will come to love the men involved just as I do.

Books in the Triple Threat series to date are:

Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1)
Retribution  (Triple Threat #2)
Defiance (Triple Threat #3)
Crucify (Triple Threat #4)

Book Details:

ebook
Published April 1st 2013 by Hot Corner Press
ISBN13 9781937252489
edition language English
series Triple Threat

Review: Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #3) by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Series Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Fifty Fifty Chances Are coverChance Dumont, owner of Chances Are bar and his lover, Rory, are still trying to deal with the aftermath of Rory’s attack and the return of Cannon, Chances’s former boyfriend.  It’s not going well.  Rory, a cop, has still not been declared fit for duty.  But truthfully the trauma of the attack has left Rory fearful and he may never heal enough to be a cop again.  And Chance?  He’s trying hard to be the lover Rory needs but their relationship is strained and fragile, just like Rory.

When a man is found naked and dead in the bathroom stall in the men’s room, his identity points to Chance and Rory as suspects.  Chance knows he didn’t do it but did Rory?  That’s the question and no one likes that the answer might be that its a fifty fifty chance that Rory did.

This series is just amazing.  It continues to get better with each new story.  It deepens in intensity and in emotional layering and I can’t get enough. We left Chance and Rory trying to pick up the pieces of their relationship after Rory has been attacked in Second Chances Are, and it’s not going very well.  And it can’t because the relationship started on tenuous terms and has never found a firm foundation.  The men aren’t communicating, primarily because one is traumatized and the other doesn’t want to upset him further.  It’s a realistic portrait of two men at the very first stages of recovery and they are still trying to find their way past the pain.

Lee Brazil packs a lot into 34 pages.  Great characterization, wonderful plot, and tremendous dialog and with each new story it gets better, more layered, more authentic.  Chance was a complicated man in the first two books but not always likable, something the character himself acknowledges. But here as Chance struggles to put Rory first instead of giving into his impulses for revenge, he becomes more human, more understandable.  He is so frustrated, as is the reader that we instantly relate to him.

Trust is the issue and focus here.  So many areas where trust is lacking.  There is the trust missing between Chance and Rory. Plus Chance still doesn’t trust Gerry, his bartender who stole from him and both men are struggling with that fact.  Rory can’t trust himself or anyone other than Chance, maybe.  Then Brazil shatters the tentative trust established between Chance and Rory with a murder that either man might have done.  The emotional detonation that occurs reveals to all involved just how fragile the binding was that held them all together.   It’s angry, it’s hurtful, and it’s damaging on many levels, but is it permanent?  That’s the question that Brazil gives us to answer and the answer remains elusive by the end of the story.

Again there is an element of bdsm and D/s but it absolutely works for the characters and story.  Don’t let it put you off.  And for you  romance lovers, well, it’s coming.  Romance and love is not an easy thing for Chance Dumont. Its hurt him deeply in the past and he hasn’t been able to get past that emotional trauma.  Now he is finally ready but is the man he loves?  Brazil is stringing that aspect of the series out for us and it is making it  even more enjoyable to anticipate the outcome.

It’s hard for me to believe that Fifty Fifty Chances Are is only 34 pages in length.  It has the breadth and scope of a larger book.  So does the series.   Really, the author’s work here is immaculate.  Pick it up but start at the beginning and work your way through.  There are four stories so far and I know that more are coming.  Lucky us.

Books in the series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and events within:

Chances Are (Chances Are #01)
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #02)
Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #03)
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are #04)

Book Details:

ebook, 36 pages
Published May 1st 2013 by Lime Time Press
edition language English

Martin Luther King, Jr., I Had A Dream speech, and This Coming Week In Reviews

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MLK on the MallIt’s the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s speech on Wednesday and yesterday tens of thousands of people gathered to commemorate that momentous occassion and to remind  the world that his dream still needs to be fulfilled.   Racism still exists and we as a nation still have such a long way to go for all to be equal under the law and in each other’s eyes.

Just in time for his anniversary, the MLK statue on the memorial was “fixed” so that awful truncated version of MLK’s speech is now gone,  That was just another example of how this man and his message is still misunderstood by some, in this case the Chinese artist and a group of architects responsible for that statue..   IMLK statue am not a fan of that statue.  To me it belongs in Tiananmen Square not Washington DC, it exemplifying the type of statuary so often seen in the communist nations.  Where is the man of passion?  Where is the man of fire and vision?  I don’t see him in the statue but instead look to his speeches where he and his dream will live forever.

Martin Luther King’s “I Had A Dream” speech:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Now to the week ahead in book reviews.  I have the second series from the Pulp Friction authors and a guest blog from Lee Brazil this week.  I love these series and can’t wait to bring the third one to you the week after next.  That will be the Triple Threat series by Laura Harner.  I also have two books by authors who are always on my TBR list, Astrid Amara and Josephine Myles.  Be sure to grab those up as well.

The weather is exquisite.  Present are those clear blue early autumn skies that make you smile and stay outside until twilight falls.  I heard my first flock of snow geese go trumpeting overhead last night, the first of many that signal an early fall.  The whitetail deer herds are also reforming early.  That would account for the over 15 of them in my neighbors yards last night.  Did it make the terrors three crazy?  Why, yes it did!  As well as every other dog in the neighborhood.  Almost time to start winter proofing my gardens but not just yet.  I will enjoy them for a little longer.  So its time to gather up my Kindle and my knitting (and of course the dogs) and head outside to enjoy the day.   I hope you will enjoy yours too.

Monday, Aug. 26, 2013:                     Fifty Fifty Chances Are by Lee Brazil

Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013:                     Ghost of Chances Are by Lee Brazil

Wed., Aug. 28, 2013:                            Author Spotlight: Meet Lee Brazil

Thurs., Aug 29, 2013:                           Demolished by Astrid Amara

Friday, Aug. 30, 2013:                         Handle With Care by Josephine Myles

Sat., Aug. 31, 2013:                              A Summary of Scattered Thoughts August Reviews

Review: Chances Are (Chances Are #01) by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Chances Are coverChance Dumont, owner of Chances Are bar, is at a stalemate in his life.  Years ago, an injury cost Chance his job as a cop but it is an emotional damage that has kept him from moving on.  Chance’s grandmother always told him that “Chances are you’ll come to no good, just like your pa.”  That’s how he got his name, nick name actually.  His real name is Aaron, Aaron Dumont.  But Chance is what he goes by.

Its time for a change in Chance’s life but how to go about moving on is the question.  Chances are that nothing good is going to come of this too, but its more than past time for Chance to make a change.  Now to make that happen.

Chances Are introduces us to another memorable character in the Pulp Friction stories being written by three different authors. This time its Lee Brazil and Chance Dumont, her damaged ex cop.  Chance is one of those marvelous personalities you find behind the counter in their bars throughout noir fiction.  A deeply damaged man, Chance is an ex cop who still operates from a vague set of morals he can barely remember. Chance’s life has been in stasis for some time, the result of past events that are never really defined for the reader. Brazil just offers us tantalizing bits here and there as to the source of all  Chance’s pain and emotional scarring.  It’s a great character made even more enticing and mysterious by not giving us too much of his past history.  It dribbles out slowly, teasing the reader with glimpses of Chance’s past and imparting clues to the reasons behind Chance’s current state of mind and heart.

Another surprising twist to this character is Chance’s sex life.  He likes his sex with a kink, and that kink being that Chance is a Dom in the BDSM lifestyle. In fact the story starts out with Chance and another young man in the middle of a sexual encounter.  It’s white hot, and truthfully kind of sad at the same time, a great touch.  Primarily because it is Chance that is unsatisfied, and not just with his current partner.  Brazil leads us directly into Chance’s mindset even as the sexual goings on heats up.  You can feel Chance’s frustration with his life even while he appreciates his partner’s attributes (which are many).  It’s a great portrait and a complicated one.  And I loved every second of it.

Those of you expecting a romance here, well, you aren’t going to get it.  At least not yet.  I expect the real romance has already happened in the past and that Chance is still reeling  from its detonation.   I also expect to see it or someone pop up sometime in the series to muck everything up again for Chance, a delicious element to keep our anticipation high and idling.  How lovely and a great change from instant love.

For some of you, the BDSM element might make you hesitate when deciding on reading this series.  Don’t.  It is very well done and not extreme in description.  While I am not a fan of this element in my stories, Brazil’s treatment of Chance’s sexual choices are matter of fact, an aspect of Chance’s character which works perfectly with the core of his character.  It’s just one more need from this incredibly complex man.

Again, this is a short story, one of four in this series.  And that’s my only quibble. We only just get into Chance’s mind when the story ends.  We are beginning to see the possibilities ahead even as his past threatens to drag him back down.  The tension is wonderful, the character mesmerizing, and the heat white hot.  I can’t wait to see where Brazil will take Chance next.  Luckily I will be there for the journey. Join us.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I liked this cover much better than the one she designed for the Wicked’s Ways series.  The glass on the bar works for Chance  and helps brand the series.

Books in the Chances Are series in the order they were written and should be read:

Chances Are (Chances Are #1)

Second Chances Are (Chances Are #2)

Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #3)

Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are #4)

Book Details:

ebook, 42 pages
Published December 30th 2012 by Lime Time Press
edition language English
other editions
None found