A Lila Review: Soul on Fire by Tal Bauer

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

A deadly virus burns through the jungle, leaving nothing but corpses in its wake. Everyone flees from the outbreak—except for the terrorists intent on weaponizing the catastrophe.

Lieutenant Elliot Davis, US Navy SEAL, is sent to rescue CIA officers from their clandestine base in Goma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and evacuate them out of the country. What they’ve uncovered sends Elliot back to the Congo, trying to prevent an attack that could spark a global pandemic.

Dr. Ikolo Ngondu runs a refugee hospital caught between the advancing rebels intent on slaughtering everyone in their path and Elliot’s mission to find and capture their leader. In the chaos of a surprise attack, Elliot’s target slips away, and the only way to find him is to plunge into the Congo’s dark, dangerous, and fevered forest with Ikolo as his guide.

Together they track a burning shadow through Africa’s broken heart, and Elliot struggles to reconcile the world he finds with the life he’s lived as a black man in the West. He looks to Ikolo for answers and finds a man with a core so bright and fierce he scorches Elliot’s soul.

Even as they race against time, Elliot and Ikolo have no idea what’s been set in motion with their mission: a dark secret lies at the center, one that leaves billions of lives hovering between life and death.

And through it all, a question burns inside Elliot, one that only Ikolo may hold the answer to.

Soul On Fire is more than an MM Romance.  It’s a piece of fiction that crosses the edge into non-fiction. The characters could be any two men searching for the meaning of selflessness in many forgotten parts of the world. The essence of the story can take place anywhere from Africa, Latin America to the Middle East.

As always, Tal Bauer delivers a complex story. Full of descriptions, some not too pretty, but very realistic; mix with a touch of unbelievable events and fantasy tidbits. The combination creates an interesting read.

There’s romance present but isn’t the main focus. Elliott’s self-discovery, the world around them, and Ikolo’s strength take priority. The love between them becomes organic and a consequence of their actions, not something that consumed them. Their souls are one by the end, only after their slice of world is placed back to rights.

The only drawback for me were the extensive descriptions, necessary as they were. I wanted it to move faster in some areas as slower in others. The resolution came out swiftly and from a separate source. I simply needed something else. In the end, the balance may work for other readers.

The cover by Ampersand Book Designs goes well with other covers by this author. It has a sense of belonging to the story even when it’s a bit generic. It’s central to the book’s main premise.

Sale Links: Kindle Unlimited

Book Details:
ebook, 280 pages
ASIN: B07VLWSNNM
Published: July 27, 2019, by Tal Bauer
Edition Language: English

On Tour with Ariel Tachna and ‘Talking in Code’ (‘Recognition’ guest post)

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Talking in Code by Ariel Tachna
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ariel Tachna here today talking about her latest story, Talking in Code. Welcome, Ariel!

✒︎

Talking in Code starts in media res. Eric, Tim, and Richard are already well and truly involved with each other, but the story includes references to moments before the book begins, moments that are not fully explored in the novel itself.

This is the third of those moments.

Recognition

“Some days I don’t know what to do with Newton,” Tim said as he climbed into the shower with Richard. It had been one hell of a mission, but they’d all made it home safe, and he couldn’t ask for more than that. “How hard is it to follow one simple order?”

Richard snorted as he directed the spray onto Tim’s back. “To listen to you talk about him, impossible.”

Tim flushed. He probably talked more about Eric than he should, but he couldn’t seem to stop. If Richard had noticed, though, he needed to tone it down.

“I’ve been on a lot of missions with him recently.”

“You have,” Richard agreed. He pulled Tim into his arms. Tim went willingly, tucking his head beneath Richard’s chin and resting against his broad chest. Other than their height, they were of a size, but it always felt like coming home to lean on Richard this way, like he was safe for a few hours in the craziness of their lives. “I’ve had to listen to you bitch about him after every one. It’s a damn good thing he’s good at his job, because he’s hell to work with, from what I can tell.”

“He’s not good at his job. He’s brilliant at it,” Tim said automatically. He’d spent months arguing with anyone who would listen, until he’d finally just said fuck it and started taking Eric on his own missions. He appreciated him even if none of the other team leaders seemed willing to acknowledge his effectiveness.

“So you’ve said. Repeatedly.”

“Is that a problem?” Tim asked, feeling defensive. He hadn’t done anything wrong by taking Eric under his wing. He’d just made sure they kept him as part of Strike Force Omega instead of losing him because of people who couldn’t see past his attitude.

“Not unless you tell me it’s one,” Richard replied easily.

Tim almost wished Richard would make an issue out of it. He could feel it between them, the silent elephant in the room, but he was the one in the wrong, not Richard. He was the one who couldn’t stop thinking about another man when he already had the best man in the world in his bed.

“Do you remember when we had shore leave in Bangkok?” Richard said. “We’d been together for a couple of years at that point, but nobody knew, not even our families.”

Tim remembered it. Well, parts of it. Other parts were nothing but a drunken haze. They’d been twenty-four. Stupidity was expected. “What about it?”

“You remember Chaisai, then. He caught my eye, you thought he was pretty too, and we spent several days taking turns fucking him senseless.”

“That was a long time ago. We haven’t done anything like that since then.”

“Only because nobody’s caught our eye,” Richard said. “Newton has caught your eye.”

“What about yours?” Tim asked, hardly daring to hope this conversation would go where he wanted it to.

“He’s easy on the eyes,” Richard replied with a shrug. “It would be no hardship to take him to bed.”

Tim swallowed hard. “He’s not just another fuck. He works for us, and I’d like him to keep working for us. It’s not worth losing his skills for a night of fun.”

“Maybe I’m reading you wrong, but I think it went past the realm of a night of fun a long time ago,” Richard said. “You kicked Warren’s ass after he insulted Newton one time too many and made such a fool of him that he quit. The last time you did that was for me. You talk about him all the time, even if half of it is complaints. You worry about him when he takes a mission with someone else, and you fuss over him worse than a mother hen with her chicks if he comes back with so much as a scratch on him.”

Tim froze. “And that doesn’t bother you?” he asked slowly.

To his surprise, Richard laughed. “It might if he didn’t look at you like you hung the moon, or if you had started treating me different because of it, but as it is, all I can think about is what a lucky bastard I am to have you when a young guy like Newton is lusting after you too. I can imagine it already. We’d get him in bed, and I’d just sit back and watch for a bit. Watch how much he wants you, all while knowing you’re mine. He can have you for a bit, but only because I agreed.”

The thought took Tim’s breath away. He could imagine it so easily—Richard’s gaze on him as he fucked Eric. Or maybe Eric was the one doing the fucking. Tim didn’t care. He’d take whatever he could get. Or if that wasn’t Eric’s thing, he’d try something else. He gave a damn fine blow job, according to Richard. And all the while, Richard would be there, leaning against the headboard, stroking himself while he watched, until his control finally snapped and he took charge. His big, hot hands on both of them as he directed their actions, bending them to his pleasure because they’d already seen to their own. “You’d do that for me?”

“I’d do it for us,” Richard corrected. “If that’s what you want. If you have a different scenario in mind, I’m all ears.”

Tim had more scenarios in mind than he was willing to admit, but one recurred more frequently than the others. “Him between us. Doesn’t matter what we’re doing to him, but sandwiched between us so that every thrust against him drives him into you and or drives him against me. So that whatever we do to him, we’re doing to each other by extension.”

“We can do that.”

God, he loved Richard. There weren’t words enough in any language he spoke—and he’d learned enough to be conversational in several—to say how much.

“And if one night isn’t enough?” Tim asked. “If this isn’t like Chaisai and something we just get out of our system?”

“Then we’ll need a bigger bed.”

Talking in Code blurb:

Some things crumble under pressure. Others are tempered by it instead. For three former soldiers, a tragedy might be the catalyst that binds them together—stronger than ever.

Richard Horn and Timothy Davenport met in the SEALs twenty years ago and have been lovers ever since. Now running their own paramilitary organization, Strike Force Omega, they work in the shadows to protect their country and its people. When Tim falls for Eric Newton, a deadly sniper and strategist on their team, Richard accepts that Tim’s heart is big enough for two men. He respects, admires, and even desires Eric enough to accept him into their relationship—and their bed—but he’s never been fully a part of what Eric and Tim share.

Then Eric is captured by terrorists and Tim is gravely injured in an op gone wrong, bringing Richard’s world crashing down around his ears. Even if he gets his men out alive, Eric must face the aftermath of months of physical and psychological torture—and without Tim to lean on, Eric’s PTSD is tearing him apart. Richard has to figure out the third leg of their triangle fast, or Tim won’t have a life to come back to.

About the Author

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When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.

She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands). The cat pretends they’re all beneath her, no matter what language they’re speaking.

Visit Ariel:

Website:   http://www.arieltachna.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArielTachna
Twitter:    @ArielTachna
 E-mail: arieltachna@gmail.comwszaa