A VVivacious Review: A Sniper’s Devotion (Cuffs, Collars and Love #5) by Christa Tomlinson

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Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Miguel has managed to get himself out of an abusive relationship and he is in need of help and who better to provide it then the very guy who protected him on the schoolyard and who Miguel always thinks of as his protector.

Hector and Miguel were close prior to Miguel’s relationship with his now ex-boyfriend. As Hector finds himself in close quarters with Miguel, a lot of those old feelings are coming up along with a whole lot of suppressed desires.

One crazy night opens a whole new can of worms. Is Hector ready to embrace his sexuality? Is Miguel ready for another relationship given how his last one ended? Is their relationship going to take off or is it doomed to fail before it even starts…

Okay, first of all, I just need to get this off my chest. That epilogue is on fire. Oh My God! It has been two days since I finished this book and the first thing that comes to mind when I sit to write this review is that epilogue. On Fire! I tell you. God it just gets me, how confident and secure Miguel is in their relationship like nothing can touch him. It is actually a pretty good indicator of how their relationship turned out and I must say it was one hell of a ride.

Friends-to-Lovers is one of my all-time favourite troops and this book just took it to another level. Miguel and Hector were such amazingly well-written characters and what I loved most about this book was that it let these two characters develop outside of their relationship as well, especially with regards to Miguel.

Miguel has just gotten out of a bad relationship and he needs to stand on his own two feet before he can commit to another relationship and I personally loved the fact that he stood up for himself every time. It was so good to see Miguel find his way back to being self-confident and independent.

I loved Hector and I have no idea why. I never paid much attention to him in the previous books and I had no special interest in Hector’s story as such, it would have been okay for me if the series ended with “An Officer’s Submission” though I will never say no to more Logan and Clay. So reading this book and liking Hector so much was a surprise. Hector is a bad-ass and I loved his character so much. I especially loved all his soul-baring conversations with Clay and Ryan and it was damn good to see the team.

Hector and Miguel always had chemistry, like off the top sizzling chemistry, so, I loved the fact that what they struggle with is not how to get in a relationship or be in it but how to get rid of their own hang-ups before they can commit to each other. Personally, I loved the book and how it plots out each characters’ journey and I especially loved where they end up.

The only reason this book is not a 5-star read is because I am docking half a star for getting me all hot and bothered and not delivering on it.

All in all an amazing book in a very amazing series.

Cover art by Melody Simmons of eBook Indie Covers. I really like the cover, it really fits the aesthetic of the series.

Sales Links: 

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Kobo | iTunes

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 268 pages
Published November 7th 2017
ASINB076GP7TDK
SeriesCuffs, Collars, and Love #4 settingHouston, Texas (United States)

 

Need a New Romance? Check out A Sniper’s Devotion (Cuffs, Collars and Love #5) by Christa Tomlinson (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  A Sniper’s Devotion

Series: Cuffs, Collars and Love #5

Author: Christa Tomlinson

Publisher: Self published

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 77,500

Genre: Romance, Friends to Lovers, Multicultural Romance, Hispanic Main Characters, Spanking, Stand Alone

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Synopsis

Officer Hector Castillo, a sniper on Houston’s elite SWAT team, is content living alone as a perpetual bachelor. But when he opens up his small apartment to a friend in need, their close quarters awaken long suppressed desires Hector can’t help but acknowledge.

Miguel Delgado’s unfortunate detour down a road he never intended to travel ends in a big wake up call, but he vows to get himself back on track. Though he’s always looked up to Hector, Miguel isn’t a kid with hero-worship anymore, and his schoolyard protector has matured into a strong and caring man – who happens to look damn sexy in his SWAT uniform.

Though their physical attraction to each other is undeniable, Hector and Miguel try hard to resist and protect their friendship. Until one night changes everything…

A Sniper’s Devotion is a loving and sexy, friends to lovers erotic romance. Hector and Miguel’s story is part of the Cuffs, Collars and Love series, but it is a stand-alone novel.

Excerpt

“Aaaagh!” Miguel squeaked again, ducking his head into Hector’s shoulder as a mass of zombies burst into the shop where the hero and his family were hiding. “How are you not dying at this?” he asked in an agonized voice.

Hector held back a grin at Miguel’s over-the-top reaction. After the things he’d seen on the police force, it would take more than a jump scare to freak him out. “I’m trembling on the inside,” he said.

“You are not,” Miguel answered with a dry laugh. He started to pull away. “Sorry about that.”

Hector stopped him. “You’re just going to jump back on me anyway. Might as well stay here where I can protect you from the zombies.”

Miguel snorted another laugh, but after a moment’s hesitation, he settled back against him. He rested against Hector’s chest, with his bent legs laying half over one of Hector’s. As the movie played on, the hero and his crew making a perilous escape from the zombie horde, Hector brought his hand up from the back of the couch, absently running it through Miguel’s hair. The curls were soft, sliding through his fingers.

Eventually the action on screen slowed, giving both the hero and the viewers a moment to breathe. Hector’s attention wandered from the screen, and he realized it was strange to have his hand in another man’s hair. He and Miguel were so close, and it was such a habit from watching movies with dates that he’d done it without even thinking. He abruptly stopped. Sitting there stiffly, his hand frozen in Miguel’s hair, he wondered if he should apologize. Before he could decide, Miguel turned his head slightly, his lips brushing Hector’s neck as he spoke.

“That felt nice,” he said in a soft whisper. “Keep going.”

His chest suddenly tight, Hector relaxed his fingers and slowly started playing them through Miguel’s hair again. His eyes were on the TV, but he wasn’t really watching the movie. Neither was Miguel. His face stayed turned into Hector’s neck, warm breath softly blowing over his skin. It was a surprise and yet not when Miguel pressed a kiss to his throat.

At that moment, Hector should have moved away from Miguel. Hell, he should have gotten off the couch altogether. But he didn’t. He sat there, letting Miguel brush more kisses up and down the side of his neck. A hand landed on his thigh. Hector swallowed hard, then turned to look down at his friend.

Purchase

Self published | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

Christa Tomlinson is an exciting up and coming author in erotic romance. Her first self-published novel, The Sergeant, was an Amazon Best Seller for Gay and Lesbian Erotica for seven weeks straight.

Christa graduated from The University of Missouri-St. Louis with a degree in History. She loves to create stories that are emotional and lovely with sex that is integral to the characters’ romantic arc. Her books include straight couples, curvy couples, gay, and multicultural couples. Love is love and everyone should have their story told.

Christa lives in Houston, Texas with her two dogs, and is a retired roller derby player

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail | Instagram | Newsletter | BookBub

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A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Hawaiian Fragrance (The Hawaiians 3) by Meg Amor

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Danny’s a fourth-generation Big Islander from the wealthy Lucerno ranching family. He’s gorgeous–a mix of Portuguese male and Argentine passion, all dark-haired, smoldering sensuality. His family disowned him for being gay, and now he’s part of the Masterson-Mahikoa “lost boys” family.

When he meets the wealthy, sophisticated, sensuous Brazilian, Paolo Bastini, he’s swept off his feet into a glitzy Las Vegas lifestyle of money and luxury–the world he grew up in. But it takes Danny away from Hawai’i where his soul roams free and his family lives. He struggles as Paolo plays loosely with their partnership and thinks Danny is being “a baby” for wanting a monogamous relationship. And who is this past lover firmly wedged in Paolo’s heart?

Zane is severely deaf–finding new dance partners is hard. When he loses another one, Danny steps in to dance the tango competitions with him. Jealousy flares and things reach dangerous levels between Paolo and Danny. His adopted and birth family must bond together in a daring rescue of Danny from the depths of Brazil.

But he’s not completely out of danger. Now he’s fighting an attraction to the feminine Zane, who’s always annoyed him. Which man has his heart?

Well, here we are on book 3 of The Hawaiians and if you’ve been following my reviews, you know that I’m completely and utterly gone on these stories.  Totally besotted!  Hawaiian Fragrance just adds another layer of love.  Its Danny’s story.  Danny Lucerno is one of the “lost boys” of the Masterson-Mahikoa household, a group of older throwaway teens that one by one were found and gathered under one roof by Kulani Mahikoa (the Orchid).  It’s now a two dad household with Rob Masterson added (Hawaiian Lei).  Of course, in Meg Amor’s universe, no one is an island, literally. So while it is Danny’s story, its also Zane’s (another throwaway) and Zane’s connection to Danny,  Danny’s past tumultuous relationship (non existent at the present) with his birth parents as he calls them and the new man in his life, Paolo, who his family isn’t all that comfortable with.  So we get Danny, Zane, the twins (how I love them), Kulani and Rob, Matty and Beau, everyone who’s entwined in the lives of the Masterson-Mahikoa family.  The family dynamics, as complex as they are loving, have a real family feel to them.  Danny is older but when Rob and Kulani are arguing about Paolo and his relationship with Danny, the love and decisions on how to handle the situation feel both “fatherly” and responsible while still treating Danny as an adult.  I love the way the different situations are worked through here, the communication avenue is left open to the teens, letting them know at all times they are loved and safe, no matter their age.

Another thing I can’t get enough of?  The author’s love of Hawaii and her ability to envelope her readers with her deep affection by way of her vivid descriptions of the flora, fauna and locations around the BI.  It’s lush and tropical and I can almost see and smell the beautiful aromas coming through the pages…

I pull out from Banyans and drive us out to Honaunau on the South Kona coast. In the small town of Kainaliu, I stop and buy us a pink can each of Pass-O-Guava Nectar-POG-at Oshima Drug’s. Zane points at the “buying cherry” signs for the ripe red coffee berry, and we both fill our lungs and exhale loudly, laughing. We always do this when they’re roasting Kona coffee, and the rich scent fills the air. If we continue along Mamalahoa Highway, we’ll get whiffs of fresh hot oil frying local Kona Chips too but today we wind down Napo’opo’o Road.

I love this road; it always relaxes me. Lush jacarandas snow their purple blossoms everywhere, and the flaming orange flowers of the poincianas are popping. There’s thick tropical growth either side of the road, towering avocado trees, coffee farms, and ocean views around every curve, all the way down the hill.

We cut across the flat bottom road to Honaunau. It’s a good time of the day to be here. Not many people getting into the water at Two Step, mostly just locals catching a late afternoon swim or snorkel. The energy will be good for Zane too.

 

Ah, the combination of Danny and Zane.  Its Danny’s story, but it needs Zane too.  Zane’s deaf so his speech here is that of someone who is deaf.  No it doesn’t take any getting use to and in the acknowledgement and dedication, Amor explains the speech pattern she uses for Zane and the friend  she based Zane’s speech pattern on “… Janet from years ago who had never worn hearing aids. Sam heavily consulted on this book and the upcoming Hawaiian Ginger to give accurate portrayals of sounds, speech, and things that go wrong with hearing aids.”  To me, it makes Zane that much more authentic and real.  I love Zane and together with Danny, they have become two of my favorite character in this series.

Danny has a lot of things to work out here, emotionally, intellectually.  Parts of this story are suspenseful, gripping and gut wrenching.  I was not expecting that in this story.  Plus Amor throws in the wonderful element of dance.  Zane is a dancer, but so is someone else, totally unexpected. The beauty of expression and desire of a certain Latin dance is explored here and it’s so well done.  There were so many surprises here.

Really, the characters are so beautifully written, the storylines incredible and the locations from BI to Las Vegas to places I can’t tell you without spoiling it are wild, real and will make you want to take flight and be there (mostly).

Hawaiian Fragrance (The Hawaiians 3) by Meg Amor is a deep joy of a book.  Its has romance, family, suspense, and the possibility of a new love on the horizon.  It ends like a Fred and Ginger movie, lightly, lovingly, and getting us ready for the next one in the series, Hawaiian Ginger which is Zane’s story.  I have it now in my hands.  Review coming soon!  But if you haven’t found or started any of these great books yet, get started!  I love this  whole series and the author has promised more to come.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art by Syneca Featherstone is again gorgeous and as lush as Hawaii itself.

Sales Links:  Loose id LLC | AMAZON

Book Details:

ebook
Published May 2nd 2017 by Loose Id
ISBN13 9781682523568

Hawaiian Lei (The Hawaiians, #1)

Hawaiian Orchid (The Hawaiians, #2)

Hawaiian Fragrance (The Hawaiians, #3)

Hawaiian Ginger (The Hawaiians, #4) coming soon

Review of Alone In A Crowd (Cattle Valley #27) by Carol Lynne

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Rating: 4 stars

Sheriff Ryan Blackfeather has worked hard to overcome his torturous past to get where he is today, successful in his job as Sheriff, in a town where he has friends and is respected, and most importantly, content and happy, in love with his two partners, Nate and Rio.  But a phone call from Oklahoma revitalizes old memories, bad ones that upset his hard won equilibrium and makes him pull away from those he loves.  Ryan’s mother has died and the landlord wants the trailer moved off his lot or the rent paid for.  Without telling either Rio or Nate why he is going, Ryan leaves on a trip back home, to face his past and confront the abusive father who raised him.

When Nate and Rio realize that Ryan has been withholding the truth about his travels from them, they are hurt and worry about the man they love.  How can they help with when Ryan doesn’t realize he needs their help to begin with.  As the emotional turmoil of Ryan’s past starts to tear at his relationship with his partners, Ryan understands that only by returning to Oklahoma and confronting his demons can he save all he has now, including the men he loves.

Carol Lynne’s Cattle Valley series were some of my first books when I started reading m/m fiction.  As I have said back in our Series week, I love starting a novel and then discovering that I have a slew of books yet to read in the series.  So there is a huge reservoir of affection that wells up in me when Cattle Valley is mentioned. I think there was six books in the series when I started and now it is up to book #27, each running anywhere from 98 to around 130 pages.

Cattle Valley series began in 2007 with All Play and No Work (Cattle Valley #1).  In this book, Lynne introduces us to Cattle Valley, Wyoming, a gay haven established by a man mourning the death of his gay son.  The millionaire wanted to build a place where everyone was gay, and safe, and could build a meaningful, rewarding life among others just like themselves.  So he deeded his land to the town and the GLBTQ community came.  Lynne starts off her Cattle Valley series as Ryan Blackfeather arrives from Texas to take the job as Cattle Valley’s first Sheriff. Ryan is a part of a triad, his other partners being Rio Adega and Nate Gills.  When their small Texas town’s disapproval of their relationship becomes overwhelming, Ryan convinces his men to make the move with him to Cattle Valley.  That move and the trio’s adjustment to Wyoming starts the river of books that are the Cattle Valley series.

In each book, Carol Lynne concentrates on one or two pairs of men and their relationships.  It is also a staple of Lynne’s that the characters for the books that follow are introduced in the current one.  And then as the town fills up with people and businesses, during the course of book the characters we have already met continue to pop up again and again in every story.  So Ryan as Sheriff, Nate (who eventually becomes the Mayor) and Rio who runs the local gym are focal characters for the series.  These men and their relationship were also my first introduction to m/m/m!  Lynne has taken their relationship and reexamined its dynamics throughout the series and she does so again in Alone In A Crowd (Cattle Valley #27).

In previous stories we learn Nate and Rio’s history. Here we concentrate on Ryan Blackfeather who has always come across as the rock of their relationship.  Ryan has always seemed so controlled and steady while not detracting from the deadly abilities he gained in the military. So it’s interesting that it’s Ryan who starts to fall apart when confronted with his past, a real switch of rolls within the triad.  Lynne’s descriptions of the reservation and the living conditions Ryan faced growing up in a derelict trailer are both heartbreaking and realistic. Any one familiar with the plight of Native Americans on reservations today will recognize the authenticity Lynne brings to the scenes in and around Tahlequah, Oklahoma, capitol city of the Cherokee Nation.  Whether it is Ryan confronting his father in the nursing home or both men facing their pasts in a dusty cave on the reservation, the descriptions brings the men to life and we feel the anger and pain of their conjoined past rise up around all of us.

In addition to Ryan’s story, another character from the past comes back to Cattle Valley.  Smokey Sharp from Rough Ride (Cattle Valley #4) reappears in town, sober and hoping to make amends to the people he wronged in the past.  That would be Erza James, Palmer “Wyn” Wynfield (a favorite of mine), and Elliot Simmons, owner of the grocery store. Smokey is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis which limits the work he can do.  Ryan finds Smokey work on Robert “Oggie” Ogden’s Second Chance Ranch as a ranch manager.  Carol Lynne uses Smokey and Oggie to set the stage for the next book in the series.  Oggie’s ranch will become home for GLBTQ youths homeless and/or in trouble.  She is already lining up the characters: Drake Smith, Chief of Security of Montgomery Enterprises who wants to help financially, and maybe even Joseph, Nate’s ex boyfriend who runs a GLBTQ youth center in NYC.  And then there is Dean Grooper, former school custodian, using alcohol to drown his pain over the loss of his long time partner.  We meet him here too.

And this brings me to my main quibble with Carol Lynne’s stories lately.  Too many characters crowded together into books too small in size to adequately give each character sufficient attention. In the first 6 or even 8 books, the town is still small and Carol Lynne concentrates all her wonderful powers of characterization into a small group of people. With a small focus group, it is easy to become invested in them and their stories.  And quite frankly, easy to remember who is with whom. I love those people and can remember each and every detail from their backgrounds.  Then the town got bigger (as towns will), more people came and Lynne left behind the one couple/one book format for multiple pairings in a novella sized book.  After a while I felt I needed a town chart and name tags for everyone who showed up in a scene plus all the newcomers making their debuts to get them in place for the next in the series.  There were so many people crying out for attention that my brain hurt and characters were forgotten.

Another quibble for me is the pairings. Lynne took Cattle Valley from strictly m/m or m/m/m into other pairings such as m/f/m which doesn’t interest me. Multiple relationship combinations make sense in that Cattle Valley is set up as a town of tolerance so any pairing outside of m/f  would be acceptable in town, I am just not interested in reading them specifically. And yes, you can skip those books like I did but as each book moves the series forward, we miss out on events that will be mentioned down the line. It also seemed to bring in an element of “MarySue” into her writing that had been absent up until then.

Carol Lynne packs a lot of emotion into a story and her characters.  She also packs a lot of sex. She has dealt with sex when one partner is paralyzed, sex with multiple partners, interracial sex, fem gays, Bdsm, D/s, you name it and Lynne has probably addressed it in a story .  Her sex scenes are vivid, hot and never unintentionally funny.  In Alone In A Crowd, she had the boys do things with an ear of corn (ok that was funny but intentionally so) I had not read before and still left me able to have corn on the cob at my next meal!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that as I love corn.  She also mentions a douche attachment for the boys shower, something I think should be brought up more as it is a realistic part of anal sex.  Carol Lynne did a great job here while still giving us realistic elements.

I had stopped reading Cattle Valley around Neil’s Guardian (Cattle Valley #17), overwhelmed by too many characters and too little plot in too few pages.  With Alone In A Crowd (Cattle Valley #27), Carol Lynne returns to the form that made me a fan to begin with and does it with the characters that started it all. I hope this continues with the next in the series, #28 whatever that may be.  And in the meantime, I might just have to go back and pick up the ones I missed.  I still love Cattle Valley and its vision of a town of tolerance and equality.  Alone In A Crowd brought that all back.  If you are new to the series,start from the beginning.  See Cattle Valley as it gets off the ground, meet  all the inhabitants as they find their way to town, watch as the romances form and carry over, story after story.  You will have 27 to go and counting.  For those who got lost along the way like me, pick it back up again and remember why you loved it.  And for those who never left,  here is a gem of a story to treasure as Cattle Valley continues to grow.

The Cattle Valley Book Series covers by Posh Gosh are my favorites in a series cover.  They brand the series while still conveying the subject of each book.  Great job.

Here are the stories in the order they should be read to understand the series and the characters.

Cattle Valley: All Play & No Work,Cattle Valley: Cattle Valley Mistletoe Cattle Valley: Sweet Topping Cattle Valley: Rough Ride Cattle Valley: Physical Therapy Cattle Valley: Out of the Shadow Cattle Valley: Bad Boy Cowboy Cattle Valley: The Sound of White Cattle Valley: Gone Surfin’ Cattle Valley: The Last Bouquet Cattle Valley: Eye of the Beholder Cattle Valley: Cattle Valley Days Cattle Valley: Bent-Not Broken Cattle Valley: Arm Candy,Cattle Valley: Recipe for Love Cattle Valley: Firehouse Heat Cattle Valley: Neil’s Guardian Angel Cattle Valley: Scarred Cattle Valley: Making the Grade Cattle Valley: To Service and Protect Cattle Valley: The O’Brien Way Cattle Valley: Ghost from the Past Cattle Valley: Hawk’s Landing Cattle Valley: Shooting Star Cattle Valley: Confessions Cattle Valley: Shadow Soldier

Review of Fallout by Ariel Tachna

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Rating: 4.5 stars

When NASA Robotics Engineer Derek Marshall hears that a tropical storm is headed his way, he decides to ride out the storm at home.  After all, living in Texas’ Gulf Coast he had been through plenty of storms, what was one more?  Then the storm strengthened again and again, until Hurricane Elsa roared ashore as a Category 4, decimating everything in her path, including Derek’s neighborhood.   Derek has just rescued an abandoned dog left behind in a house on his street when he gets a call from his boss telling him that his skills and special robot are needed now at a damaged nuclear  reactor to help contain the situation.  One helicopter ride later and Derek, Fido and Number Five, his robot, are deposited in front of Dr. Sambit Patel, professor of nuclear engineering at Texas A& M. Dr. Sambit has had his services volunteered by the university in hopes he can help cool the reactors.

Sambit Patel is astonished to see a grubby jeans clad man with a dog trotting beside him hand over some suitcases and prepare to go inside the power plant. Sambit’s attempts to stop him from bringing the dog inside end in a argument as weary stressed out Derek comes up against reserved, quiet Sambit.  Adding additional fuel to the instant antagonism is the fact that Dereck is out, proud and in your face gay while Sambit is reserved and closeted about his sexuality.

But the dangers of radiation poisoning, isolation and poor living conditions start to bring the men together. Derek finds that the more he listens and works with Sambit, the more he appreciates his quiet introspective ways, intelligent mind and  subtle beauty of his Indian physique. Sambit learns that the prickly, obnoxious front Derek presents to the world is a barrier that hides a sensitive, hurt soul. Plus he doesn’t miss the fact that Derek is gorgeous to look at either. Each man has a past that is holding them back from a closer relationship. And time is against them as they race against the clock and lack of information to cool down the reactor and keep the plant from having a nuclear meltdown.

Fallout spoke to me on so many levels not the least of which is the unexpected plot which revolves around a nuclear accident brought on by a hurricane.  Ariel Tachna dedicated this novel to ” the heroes of Fukushima Dai-ichi, whose willingness to risk their lives to save others inspired this novel”, so it is clear who and what prompted the storyline for this novel.  Natural disasters and nuclear power plants has been a hot topic in the news and rightly so given the extreme weather patterns we are now seeing.  I myself sit 1 1/2 hours from the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, Maryland and the protests in Japan are on the rise as their reactors come back on line. The relevance of this storyline is all around us.

How real does the nuclear disaster feel?  Unbelievably so. I was glued to the book wondering where and how far Tachna was going with the meltdown. I don’t know where Ariel Tachna got her information about the inner workings of a nuclear power plant, the technical jargon, and the emergency repairs necessary to cool the rods but I felt as though I was getting insider information at all times.  As Sambit and Derek maneuver the robot Number Five through debris strewn corridors, taking radiation readings as they calculate the quickest way to get coolant into the reactor without plant maps or detailed plant malfunctions, I never once doubted the authenticity of the information the author was giving us. In fact I began to wonder when and in what capacity she had worked in the nuclear field.  Most of the time I felt like I was an interloper looking over the shoulders of the men as they scrambled to find the solutions they desperately needed before the power plant, themselves and all of Bay City became another statistic like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.  You do not have to be a science geek to appreciate the drama and the technology that goes into this part of the story, all you need is your imagination and a reminder of the pictures we saw transmitted from Japan to feel the impact of each and every scene.

The second element of the novel that drew me in was the multicultural romance between Derek Marshall and Sambit Patel.   The author’s  close connections to India and its people comes alive through the character of Sambit Patel. The more we learn about Sambit the better we understand him and eventually come to love him as we do Derek. Tachna uses his thoughts and actions to acquaint the reader with some Indian customs,  dress, cultural beliefs and even native cuisine such as sambar. We learn about Sambit’s past which had made him think that most relationships will not work out for him, his daily use of Yoga to relieve his stress that started in his youth, and where his reticence about his homosexuality stems from.  The character of Sambit Patel could have easily been white but we would have been missing out had that been the case, and this book much less rich in flavor and dimension.  I cannot stress how much I loved this part of the story and the character Sambit Patel.

Derek Marshall is also a wonderful creation.  There are so many layers to his emotional makeup, including a horrific incident from his high school days that has shaped his outlook and his approach to society in general.  Brilliant, abrasive, he strikes out before someone can hit him, yet he is also reflective, sensitive and more willing to take chances than the reserved Patel.  He is full of dichotomies and that both appeals to and repeals Sambit.  It is a delicate dance they engage in as their close proximity and 24/7 work hours starts to bring them to an understanding and acceptance of each other’s nature that changes into appreciation and need.  And all the while, they never lose sight of the reason they are both there, that their individual talents need to mesh to help bring the power plant under control.  It may be crazy but in many ways this is a rushed slow relationship built under pressure that exposes the best of both men to each other.

The rest of the story takes place with Derek once more at home having to deal with boredom and the ravaged remains of his neighborhood and infrastructure while Sambit has stayed behind, a choice made by a homophobic bureaucrat in charge of the recovery operations.  We see Derek’s neighborhood start to clean up after the hurricane as he worries about the radiation levels Sambit and the others left behind are encountering. And as Sambit deals with the loss of Derek after his continual presence, we learn about Sambit’s insecurities and the past history that threatens the fragile foundation of their relationship. Again, Ariel Tachna’s description of how these men build their relationship, the barriers they have to overcome within themselves is as real as the natural disaster that brings them together.

If I had any quibble with this story, then I believe Derek answered it himself.  Number Five is a robot that has a special place in Derek’s heart. The name comes from the movie Short Circuit which I loved. He hoped to patent it and has kept it close to him all this time. And part of me wondered how Derek felt about leaving it behind. But then Derek himself answered that he builds robots for space and came to terms with the fact that they would never come back at the beginning of his career.  Plus Number Five was helping Sambit stay alive and healthy which would have been number one priority with Derek.  So that quibble wobbled and vanished.  There is no angst here but the story of a real,wonderful relationship between two men caught up in a natural disaster. This is an outstanding story that should not be missed.

Cover.  This cover by Shobana Appavu is easily one of my favorite.  Dramatic, beautiful and intense.  Great job.