A MelanieM Review: The Firebird and Other Stories (Beings in Love #5) by R. Cooper

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Being(s) in Love Stories

The Firebird and Other Stories coverMagical creatures known as beings emerged from hiding amid the destruction of the First World War. Since then they’ve lived on the margins of the human world as misunderstood objects of fear and desire. Some are beautiful, others fearsome and powerful. Yet for all their magic and strength, they are as vulnerable as anyone when it comes to matters of the heart.

A firebird in 1930s Paris is drawn to a writer with a haunted past. Upon returning from fighting in the Pacific, a jaguar shifter finds a third-gender human on his doorstep. Early rock ‘n’ roll DJ Hyacinth the fairy shocks his listeners with his admiration for his quiet assistant. During the AIDS crisis, a gruff, leather-wearing troll dreams of a settled life with a mixed-species elf across the bar. An imp, who remembers only too well how cruel the world can be, tells himself he’s content to stay behind the scenes—if only his chaotic, impish magic would stop getting in the way. And a shy human tending his poisonous and carnivorous plants is convinced no one will ever want him, certainly not the handsome werewolf grieving for a lost mate. Human or being, all must overcome fear to reach for love.

I have loved R. Cooper’s imaginative series from the moment I found his story, A Boy and His Dragon, a couple that make an appearance here at the end.  From the magical beings Cooper brings forth looking for romance to the sly, rich, and subtle manner in which the tales are told, R. Cooper’s stories have enchanted me, delighted me and in the case of some of the tales told here, left me more than a little haunted.  Let’s look at them one by one.

The Firebird.  4.5 stars. 1934, Paris, France. Kazimir, a lone firebird, perhaps the last of his kind, sings on the famous stages along side Josephine Baker, in a tragic opera written for him.  He knows little of his kind, only what his previous deceased owners have told him. Now free he sings, then retires to his flat, always filled with people, magical beings, and flowing champagne.  Until a starving ex pat American editor/ writer invades the soiree, with a book he needs to publish and stories he refuses to write.  Rifkin is drawn like everyone to Kazimir.  But now for the first time, the attraction starts to be returned.  But the war is coming, sides are being chosen, and firebirds are immortal, aren’t they?

Such a perfect bittersweet story to set the collection with.  The Firebird will appear again, as well others in this story.  Kazimir has been used, those that want him, who seek to own him often find themselves lost.  What happens when love is finally part of the firebird’s existence?  Quite a story if not exactly a romance.  The threads laid down here appear throughout all the other tales.

The Warrior’s Sacrifice. 5 stars.  1947.  Los Cerros. Mexico? Or Mexico/California combination.   Teo has been taken, beaten, tied up and dumped at the doorstep of the tehuantl—the jaguar, left there as a sacrifice by the neighborhood gang, one of which Teo has just rejected.  Thugs really who never understood Teo, the way he dressed, or acted.  And now it had come to this.  Teo has had a crush on the jaguar for most of his life, even before the jaguar had been sent to fight in the Pacific.  War over, now the Jaguar was back, dangerous and often bloody.  And Teo had been offered as a sacrifice to the one he wanted more than anything. What would the jaguar do?

This is an amazing blend of mythology, culture, and romance. Teo is such a special character, that I hesitate to give him definition here. The jaguar too is a strong, engaging character, one that pulls you towards him because you need the answers to the questions he poses. Combine Teo with mythology come to life in the tehuantl, a warrior back from the Pacific in a vibrant little village, well, this story has so many layers and hidden “notes” that it is one you will want to revisit to again and again to see what you  missed the first time around.  I would change nothing in this story, not even the length.  Unforgettable.

Hyacinth on the Air Rating  3.5 stars.  1961.  Los Cerros Fairy Hyacinth and human Walter work on the air at  a radio station in Los Cerros. Hyacinth has been among the humans for 70 years and still has no regard for human censorship, especially on the air.  Something he can often get away with just a small fine as a fairy but poor Walter could lose his job over.  And Hyacinth does find Walter so very attractive, even if that’s something he’s also not supposed to notice.  Strange humans!   But once Hyacinth realizes Walter is noticing right back, all bets are off!  Its sexy, kinky and even sweet. Its  light-hearted and whimsical tone  sometimes worked against other elements of the story of gay rights to take away its power.

I liked the bending of history here. They are talking about “the war”, and other 60’s facts like Lee Dorsey music but  with all sorts of twists and turns.  I like it but when put along side some of these other stories it just pales by comparison.

A Giant Among Men. Rating  4 stars out of 5.  1982.  Los Cerros.  Tank, a troll with his Viet Nam MIAs/POWs Never Forget and Love Is A Many-Gendered Thing pins on his lapel, is a lovely character. Tank is his own neighborhood watch, but Mami Wata’s a  neighborhood bar is a special place because of Simon.  Tank’s in love with Simon, the bartender.  Simon, best described as elf and ?.  Delightful Simon was a bit more of a question mark but intentionally so.  They made a great couple in the end and I would love to have seen this story expanded.

The story basics are recognizable but the manner in which R. Cooper has folded a AIDs like virus into this story, a similar fear environment infecting the country, it all feels so very relevant.   R. Cooper’s touches to indicate the 80’s vibe which includes mentions of the movies about a murderous fog were just terrific.

The Imp and Mr Sunshine.  Rating: 4 stars out of 5  2005.  Los Cerros.   Rennet (the child imp from The Firebird) is now grown and Los Cerros is a liberal city seeming to embrace its magical beings.  That includes trying to see imps as  something less demonical, and more as beings to be accepted, like fairies and elves.  What Rennet likes, or moreover loves is John Summers, the deputy mayor “The Incredible Unflappable Mr. Sunshine” who he sometimes does odd jobs for.  What follows is a tale of a closeted politician coming out of the closet in his love for an imp.  Its charming, Rennet is endearing and the reader will have no problem connecting with the romance and the characters.

The Wolf in the Garden. Rating 4.5 stars out of 5.  2014 Los Cerros.  Miki (who has a definite connection to the Firebird).  Miki is a gardener who the reader will adore.  Miki grows the plants needed for sale in Cassandra’s magic shop.  The gardens and greenhouses exist behind the shop and they are Miki’s domain, the plants are Miki’s companions and confidants.  The reason behind Miki’s shyness are easily guessed at,and  his gentleness and huge heart bring the reader easily over to his side.  Then Diego the werewolf arrives, mourning, dying of loss and a shocking thing occurs.

Again, what an amazing story.  It moves with an awareness of the fragility of life, how easily things change, along with the need to accept new paths when they open up before you.  For a story that contains so much pain, it is also full of hope and sweetness.  I loved it.  And would love to see more of this couple down the line.

  The Dragon’s Egg.  4.5 stars out of 5.  Present.  Bertie the Dragon and his Arthur are back from A Boy and His Dragon.  The egg appears after a night of passion.  More than that I will not say.  I fell back into their relationship easily, and loved seeing where the two had  progressed since last time I had seen them.

But for those unfamiliar with their story, this might be a little problematic.  A Boy and His Dragon built Bertie and Arthur’s relationship with great care, its foundation that of Arthur’s abandonment and ill treatment as well as Bertie’s love for his Boy.  Without that background, someone new to their history and story might flounder a bit, which would be a shame, because this is a darn good story.  Tender, emotionally revealing, and deep as R. Cooper’s stories tend to be.   That ending was priceless, and of course, it made me want more.

From a story full of fear and despair to one that ends on such promise and love, R. Cooper takes us on a incredible journey with The Firebird and Other Stories, its one you won’t want to miss.   Pick it  up and being your magical voyage today.  I highly recommend this collection and the other  Beings in Love stories.

Cover artist: Paul Richmond.  I love the cover,  Vibrant, unusual, but I wish the Firebird had more of the story elements.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages
Published September 18th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press

Review of Poison (Lost Gods #4) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.75 stars

“Nine gods ruled the world until the ultimate betrayal resulted in their destruction. Now, the world is dying and only by restoring the Lost Gods can it be saved.”

It has been two years since Ailill, the White Panther of Verde returned home from Pozhar with the jewels needed for the ceremony of The Tragedy of the Oak.  He had been poisoned on his mission there and it had taken all the skill of Gael, the mortal avatar of the Unicorn, to heal him.  Verde has been ruled by the mortal avatars of their Lost Gods, the Unicorn, the Pegasus, and The Fairy Queen killed 900 years ago at the base of the Sacred Oak.  Every 100 years, the moment comes to right the wrong but is lost and the Tragedy repeats itself. Now all of Verde waits as the time for The Tragedy of Oak grows near once more. All of Verde hope that finally, after 900 years, the ceremony will finally be completed and their human incarnations of The Unicorn, The Pegasus, and The Fairy Queen become gods again.  But someone doesn’t want that to happen and the White Beasts of Verde are being poisoned, the people of Verde are becoming crazed as their White Beasts fall, and even their three God incarnations themselves are threatened.

Gael asks Ailill to investigate the poisonings and stop the person responsible before it is too late and the Tragedy starts all over again. As the people start viciously fighting each other, Vanya arrives from Pozhar.  Once a mercenary, now a noble, he has never forgotten Ailill and has come to see if their feelings for each other are the same after a two year absence.  Ailill too has been missing his mercenary and hates the lifestyle that comes with being a White Beast of Verde.   Ailill and Vanya’s  investigation leads to old secrets kept from the White Beasts by the reincarnations themselves.  Old lies and treachery must be revealed if they are to stop The Tragedy of the Oaks from happening again.

Poison is the fourth and penultimate book in the Lost Gods series that began with Treasure.  As this incredible journey through all manner of Kingdoms and their Gods draws to a close, more of Megan Derr’s complex saga comes together as another large piece of the final puzzle is put in place.  Like one of those fabulous wooden puzzle boxes, each book puts more elements in place to solve the complete puzzle using elements and characters from each of the previous stories.

In Poison, one of my favorite characters, Ailill the White Beast of Verde becomes a central piece of the puzzle to the Tragedy of the Oak and the key necessary to open the door on the mystery of the deaths of Verde’s Gods. Previously a deliciously slutty being when we first meet him in Treasure, Ailill has evolved through all the stories, his character deepening, his gravitas, the seriousness of his mission, becoming evident even through the frivolous manner he exhibits. In Burning Bright, Iilill meets Vanya, the wolf of Pohzar, who along with his gang of mercenaries, helps Ailill recover Verde’s royal jewels.  In a short amount of time, both men strike up an affair of lust that quickly becomes something more than either ever expected to have, an affair of the heart.   Towards the end of the story, Ailill is struck down by a sorcerer of Schatten, poisoned by dark magic.  Helpless to heal him, Vanya must watch as Ailill sails for Verde and the hope for a cure from The Unicorn, Pegasus, and The Fairy Queen. Now events bring the two men back together again as the Lost Gods are returning.  This time it is the Kingdom of Verde’s Lost Gods time to be reborn and again a war is fought between Order and Chaos.  Vanya, a character I came to care about as much as Iilill, too has grown and developed since we last saw him.  All the skills he has acquired as the head of a band of mercenaries are now being employed as a Duke of the Kingdom of Pozhar to his and ours amusement.  I had hoped to see these two reunited and Derr does not disappoint here with the reclamation of their romance, their feelings for each other burning as brightly as before.  Whether Derr meant to or not, these two become the heart of the story for me and their love affair more important to me than the Gods restoration. I suspect that is part of the quibble I had with this book.

Many more characters become front and center here.  One is Noir, the Royal Voice of the Gods.  A young black panther whose deep love for Gael, the Unicorn is doomed to failure if Gael continues to keep their love secret, hidden from all at Court even from the other avatars.  Noir is endearing in his innocence and youth, a perfect foil for Gael, the mortal reincarnation of The Unicorn. Gael and his sisters, The Fairy Queen and Pegasus, rule Verde from an incestuous relationship that is taking its tole on its members.  We also meet all the other White Beasts that comprise the Court of Verde and are quickly swamped with character sketches and lightly layered beings.  After a while it was hard to keep track of cast.  Gael is perhaps the most fully realized of all of them which is not surprising as his relationship with Noir is on the same level of importance as Ailill and Vanya’s. As Noir watches the interaction and  outright displays of affection between Ailill and Vanya, the inequality of his own relationship with Gael is emphasized and Noir’s insecurities deepen.  Megan Derr does a great job with making all these relationships and their flaws seem realistic to the reader as the characters juggle their expectations with the reality of their situations as the City falls into flames as the White Beasts are poisoned.

I always keep in mind as I read each related story of the Lost Gods saga that even the smallest detail is of significance in the construction of the whole picture.  So I was dismayed that I realized who was behind the poisonings almost from the start.  It was the only person who made sense, as Vanya discovers later on in their investigation.  I also came to the right conclusion as to the methods used to conceal their identity from all the others.  That was unlike any of the other puzzles presented in the other books so I was a little stymied that I figured it out so soon.  The only thing I can come up with is that timing is everything and that it all had to happen exactly during the ceremony of The Tragedy of the Oak and Derr had planned on that character reveal early on to ramp up the anxiety and anticipation of the race to the end.  And perhaps the final piece will fall into place during Chaos, the last in the series.  It is not like her to give away plot points so easily unless she means to do it.  So color me a little confused here.  That’s my main quibble.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still an incredible book. The richness of her descriptions, the vivid portraits of the inner sanctum and gardens, the sheer grand scale of mythology building that is the Lost Gods is astounding. Was I happy and totally satisfied at the end?  Absolutely, just with some quibbles this time.  Again, the themes of sacrifice, reincarnation and forgiveness are played out but not exactly as they were before. Not all are forgiven, not all are sacrificed as the Gods return to Verde.  I suspect Derr is completing her stage upon which all the characters from all the books, along with new ones will converge in the final battle between Order and Chaos.   I cannot wait for it to start and the saga come to its convoluted end.  The Lost Gods saga is a real Treasure as I suspected from the start! Bring on the Chaos!

Cover:  Another perfect cover from London Burdon to go along with the rest of the Lost Gods saga.

Review of Hawaiian Gothic by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane

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Rating: 4. 5 stars

Gregorio “Ori” Reyes has just arrived home in Hawaii after doing time in Leavenworth and given a dishonorable discharge from the Army for his crime.  In disgrace with his military oriented family and with dwindling funds in his pocket, Ori has come home for only one reason.  Kalani, his boyhood friend, the reason he joined the Army and the only man he has ever loved.  Thoughts of Kalani were his constant companions in Iraq and his images haunted Ori’s nights in Leavenworth.  Everywhere Ori looks Kalani appears, which is crazy.  Because Kalani is lying comatose in a hospital bed on Honolulu.  Kalani had been attacked by a gang of men and left for dead while Ori had been in prison.  And now feeling guilty and grief stricken, Ori has returned to Kalani too late to tell him how much he loves him.  Or so Ori thinks.

After one of his visits to Kalani’s bedside, Ori’s visit to a gay bar ends with him taking a guy home.  As things heat up, a loud noise stops the proceedings and Kalani appears.  Or actually Kalani’s spirit appears although he feels so very real to Ori.  While his broken body remains in the hospital, Kalani visits Ori, the man Kalani has loved even if he wasn’t ready to accept that it was romantic love.  Unsure why Kalani is able to physically appear to Ori, neither man wants to question the miracle until Kalani starts getting attacked in the spirit world.  Together Ori and Kalani must explore the secrets of Kalani’s past and venture forward into Hawaii’s ghost world to set Kalani free, either to return to his body or join his ancestors in the clouds.  Something must be done quickly or Kalani will be condemned to everlasting pain in between.

Hawaiian Gothic is an remarkable story.  From the start, authors Belleau and Vane submerge us in the Hawaiian culture beginning with the language of the islands flowing throughout the dialog.  It mingles effortlessly as one would expect from a local speaker. Belleau and Vane actually created an Hawaiian Gothic glossary of Native Hawaiian and Hawaiian pidgin terms used in the story.  It can be found here. And there’s the locations. The Hawaiian settings are so authentically rendered that I would think that the authors are natives themselves, right down to hidden beaches and non-touristy sites.  I almost felt like I had to wipe the sand off my feet at times so complete was my immersion in the islands.

The next outstanding elements in the book are the Hawaiian creationist myths and beliefs that swirled and rolled like the waves of the ocean around all the characters of the story, especially the main ones of Ori and Kalani.  Here the Hawaiian myths rise up and become real, able to rip one apart like the flashing teeth of a shark or the mandibles of a caterpillar or sooth like the lomilomi.  Before I started this book I was only familiar with one of the Hawaiian creation myths.  By the end, I was seeking out more resources so fantastic, so addictive did the Hawaiian gods and stories become.  Great job by the authors in seamlessly fusing mythic and contemporary worlds so that both stood on equal footing with the reader as far as realism and tone. The authors almost did too good a job with their descriptions so frightening were the keuwas, Hawaiian dead hungry souls, that the very thought of them lingered on into my nightmares that night.

Belleau and Vane give us great characters to inhabit a great story.  Ori is especially believable.  He is a former Army Ranger and MMA fighter (that’s mixed martial arts for those of you unfamiliar with the MMA) who has completed two tours of duty in Iraq.  He is a victim of PTSD, ashamed of his discharge, isolated from his family. He feels he has little future and helpless, especially with Kalani comotose.  He hid his love for Kalani and ran from him rather than force Kalani to face it for what it was -romantic love. It was so easy to empathize with Ori and I became invested in his character early on. Kalani is a little more of a mystery as the book starts and then the reader becomes more familiar with him as Ori’s memories of their shared past surface and you come to love him as much as Ori does.  All the secondary characters are as fully realized as Ori and Kalani, giving the story the depth it needs with all its complicated layers of flashbacks, memories and spirit worlds.

So why not give this story 5 stars?  Well, it certainly came close and I am still debating the rating even now.  But I am still quibbling over two things.  One concern is an m/f/m element here that was required for the exposition of a plot point. But for me its extended narrative went on too long and removed us from the main storyline unnecessarily. Plus I know that for some readers any m/m/f or combination thereof is not something they want to see in their m/m fiction. And usually I would agree with them.  But I absolutely understood its inclusion by the authors here.  My second quibble involves the numerous flashbacks used by the authors to highlight certain elements of their story.  Did it work well in most instances? Yes.  Most of the time it was a satisfactory method to better understand the main characters pov and history.  But then its continued use and varied time frames (1988, 2004, 2010, 2009, etc) started to become a little irritating and less effective, distracting rather than contributing to a captivating and addictive storyline.  And trust me, this is such a great story that nothing should ever divert the reader away from  the saga at hand.

So pick up Hawaiian Gothic and visit the islands. Whether you be Malahini or Kama’aina, this story will have you ohana in no time.  Make no mistake Hawaiian Gothic is da kine or the best in every way.  Aloha!

Cover.  I love this cover by artist April Martinez.  Its beautiful from its model to Hawaiian cloth.  Perfect for the story.

Review of Stone Rose (Lost Gods #3) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 5 stars

It has been nine hundred years since the death of the Basilisk and the Kingdom of Piedre has continued to pay the price for the loss of their god. The kingdom is being torn apart by feuding religious factions.  The Brotherhood of the Black Rose wants to make sure that the Basilisk never rises again, using its assassins to kill all that stand in their way.  The Brotherhood of the White Rose is using all its resources to try and bring the Basilisk back permanently.  And standing in between them is Prince Culebra, the latest mortal incarnation of the Basilisk, God of Death.

Bone white in coloration, eyes covered in black cloth, the Prince is a beautiful and deadly being.  He is also lonely, depressed and still grief stricken over the loss of his lovers, one to the mermaids of Kundou, the other to his grief over the loss of his brother.  It has never been harder to be the avatar of a God.  Targeted by assassins all his life, feared and hated by his family, Culebra moves through the castle with Ruisenor as his only confidant and protector.  That Ruisenor happens to be an enormous snake of unknown origin matters little to the Prince as snakes have always been his friends and companions. Lately the assassination attempts have increased in number as the anniversary of the Basilisk’s death approaches.  Only Ruisenor’s lethal intervention has kept him alive.  Culebra is aware that something must change and soon or he will surrender to his depression and death.Will the arrival of Prince Midori Kawa of Kundou spark that change?

Megan Derr’s Lost Gods saga just keeps getting better and better with each succeeding book. The Lost Gods series continues with the  outstanding Stone Rose, the third in the series and the third Lost God, the Basilisk. .  As the cover color indicates, the Stone Rose is a tale of darkness and death, from the land to the very God itself.  Piedra, the  kingdom on the map of the cover, is a hard land, covered in stones with rocky mountains and black forests that reek of death. Derr gives us a clear understanding of the kingdom with one sentence. “Piedre was more like a solemn temple, where no one dared to speak above a whisper.” Perfection.  The darkness of Piedre extends to its people who are dusky skinned with black hair and eyes.  As with the other kingdoms (Kundou and Pozhar), Piedre has been in decline since its god died. It’s populace is starving, the climate is changing, and its royal family is doing everything it can to hold onto power.

Culebra, like the Basilisk he embodies, has eyes that can kill which is why his have been bandaged since birth.  A reference to eyes and sight permeates the language of Piedra, an exquisite detail Derr has used throughout the Lost Gods to great impact.  “Eyes slay them”, “May kind eyes guide you” or “May you always gaze into friendly eyes”.  The colloquialisms  or expressions add to our understanding of  Piedre’s culture and gives the tale a layer of authenticity. And as Piedre is the land of death, those references color their speech as well.  Call someone a “corpse eater” or carrion feeder if you wish to be derogatory, “Bones and blood!” make a very satisfactory exclamation, and then there is the prayer “Blood the living to honor the dead. We live because you died. Life and death cannot exist without each other. In the name of the Basilisk, amen.”  Each phrase, each remark adds a layer to our understanding of the Piedre and their god.  I love the way Megan Derr builds her worlds from the little touches in the dialect to the population’s physical appearance, every detail is covered.  Once you enter into her world your immersion is complete, there is nothing to jar you loose.

Megan Derr outstanding characterizations continue in Stone Rose as well as a new twist to the saga.  In the previous books, Treasure (#1) and Burning Bright (#2), the identities of the Lost Gods were not revealed until the end of the story. With Prince Culebra as avatar, the Basilisk is already present at the beginning of the tale.  At least in its human form.  But again, nothing is ever as it seems.  What can appear to be a solid image can turn out to be a refracted likeness instead.  I love Culebra.  Every part of him isolates him from everyone around him, except for a selected few individuals and his snakes.  In a land of dusky skinned, dark haired people, he is the color of bleached bones from his skin to his hair.  The black bandages around his eyes only highlight his differences.  Culebra can taste death with a flick of his tongue and communicate with all the species of snakes who gather around him.  But he is also completely human in his need for love and companionship and his despair over his loss of his lovers.  Culebra seduces us from the beginning as he does Midori,

We first met Midori when he was a Captain in the Kundou Royal Navy. When we last saw him, his ship was transporting Prince Culebra and Count Krazny of Pozhar away from the Kumita after the mermaid attack.  He reappears in Piedre, demoted and banished for his efforts, mourning the loss of Prince Kyo.  With his green hair and blue eyes, Midori brings that wonderful world of Kundou with him, refreshing like a sea breeze. When Midori strides off the ship, he does so right into our hearts.  His banishment and demotions have made him more thoughtful and yet have freed him to become someone new.  With Midori, Derr also gets to have some fun.  In an altercation with soldiers, they call him a “fish” and “merslut”, he counters with “sharks” and the fight is on.  I loved that scene.  Midori was also the one who consoled Culebra on board when his lover  was devoured by mermaids.  Past, present and future are all tied up with Midori, a memorable characters among memorable characters.

Next is Cortez, the Black Princesa and Fidel the Dagger, both ex assassins for The Brotherhood of the Black Rose.  Next to Culebra, Cortez is one of the most commanding characters of the story and one of the most remarkable women I have come across in recent fiction.  Deadly and compassionate, hard yet still able to love, Cortez’s persona is so beautifully realized, so layered that I found it hard to find her equal in other stories.  Former whore, Cortez is a master of death but she only kills when the “killing” feels right.  She is as complex as Culebra, perhaps more so. When searching for a comparison Anita Black and Lara Croft came to mind, so did Xena.  But with her scarred face and body, what beauty she has left is buried deep within her and that separates her from the crowd. Fidel will get inside of you too but it takes a little longer. There is Dario, the lover left devastated by his brother’s death and Culebra’s dismissal of him.  I loved him too from the moment we see him in his drunken stupor. Can a enormous viper be a main character?  Absolutely.  Ruisenor slithers through the pages of the story, acting as puppy and predator, bodyguard and guide, a delightful addition to a great cast of characters.

Stone Rose diverges from the other stories in that the main romantic coupling is m/m/m instead of m/m.  Threesomes are not something I usually read but here it not only works but in some respects it is the only things that makes sense once the reader gets to know Culebra and understand his needs and insecurities.  You will mourn the loss of Granito (and go back to Treasure to pick up any references you may have missed then) and rejoice in the possibility of new love for Dario and Culebra.  Megan Derr has done just such an outstanding job with every element that I sit here in absolute amazement.  She has made me love and understand threesomes! *shakes head*

And while I wept all through Burning Bright, here she called up the laughter as well as sobs, all the more incredible in a book consumed with death and destruction.  There are still plenty of shocks and twists at the end, as sacrifice and rebirth are still major themes as the Lost Gods return to their lands.  What an ending!  I thought I saw the beginning of a quibble there but the more I thought about it, I know Derr is setting something up for us in the future and she hasn’t let me down yet. So the quibble wobbled and vanished in a poof of light and I am left, as I was at the end of the other stories, temporarily sated,  yet bereft and longing for more.  *shakes a fist at Derr*

So, now we journey next to Verde in Poison, the 4th book in the series.  Here I hope to see Allil, the White Beast of Verde and get reacquainted with one of my favorite characters in the series.  When we last saw him, he was gravely wounded in Pozhar and on his way back to Verde. It looks to be as traumatic, dramatic and addicting a tale as those before it.  I have no idea what to expect and I love it like that.  This series has had me mystified, incredulous, delighted, laughing hysterically and sobbing my eyes out.  Who knows what Megan Derr has in store for us?  I for one can’t wait to find out.  Bring it on!

Cover by London Burdon.  I love the covers in this series.  Each cover different and yet the same.  A map of Piedre on the cover and black for the death and destruction it stands for. Simple, elegant and perfect for the stories behind them.

Due to the complexity of the sage and in order to understand the characters and world building, the books should be read in the following order. Megan Derr’s Lost God series in the order they were written and should be read:

Treasure  (Lost Gods #1) Kingdom of Kundou  – read my review here

Burning Bright (Lost Gods #2) Kingdom of Pozhar – read my review here.

Stone Rose (Lost Gods #3) Kingdom of Piedre

Poison (Lost Gods #4) Kingdom of Verde (coming next)