A MelanieM Review: Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) (Pulp Friction 2014 #19) by Havan Fellows

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Ratings:  5 Stars out of 5

Final Blow coverRowen Smithe fought his demons, in this case the people who turned a 14 year old boy into a warped nightmare of a man.  But Rowen escaped them but never the darkness they created inside him.  Now, with the events of the past weeks behind them, Rowen is finally prepared to start living again, this time with Mick, the man who helped free his soul and stole his heart. But in the aftermath of the horror and killing, things have changed and now its Mick that the darkness has swallowed and Rowen is uncertain how to help the man he loves regain what he has lost.

Mick Rutger was a happy-go-lucky type of guy, a feeling he liked. But his encounters up close with Rowen’s past and the events that followed have left Mick with feelings of hatred and rage, feelings he is unprepared to deal with. Drowning under his fears, nightmares, and anger, Mick closes himself off to the outside world in a drastic measure of protection.  Just when Rowe has finally opened up to him and Mick had hopes for their future together.

Both men will have to battle the darkness one more time if they hope for that HEA and trust that their sanity won’t be lost forever.

Final Blow is the penultimate story in Havan Fellows’ Whispering Winds (PF2014) series.  I have loved both of her characters, but especially the damaged Rowen Smithe from the very start.  Mick Rutger was Rowe’s opposite, always he seemed to be that affable and lighthearted golden bouncing after the haunted, dark soul that was Rowe.  It was Mick who drew Rowen out of the cabin, or down from his tree, ever so slowly out of the silence and isolation that Rowen had wrapped himself in.  It was a beautiful balance between the sun and the night, a twilight journey the reader was thrilled to be on along with Mick and Rowen.  For every heartbreaking reveal from Rowen, Fellows gifted us with an endearing scene of Mick beckoning Rowen further out of his shell.  Remember this scene from Blown Kisses?

Huh?

Rowen sat quiet for a second, wondering where the extra noise came from when it happened again, and he looked up to the right.

“Shit…” he muttered under his breath. Someone was knocking on his door.

He turned his body, slowly moved the curtain out of the way, and with only his right eye, peered out the window. He couldn’t see the front door from this window, but he wondered if a certain.

Two clear pale blue eyes stared back at him, crinkled around the edges undoubtedly because of the smile Rowen couldn’t see from this close. Mick moved back enough to lift up Filigree—no, the stray cat—and wave her paw at Rowen.

I laughed about that scene all the way through the terrors that followed, and the glimpses of hope for a future together that the author allowed us to see.  Consistently, just when things were at their worst, Fellows incorporated lighter elements to alleviate the heaviness and strain that has been a major factor in this series.  And always it was Mick who was the bearer of light tidings.

But in Blown Chance, there was a major reversal of roles between Mick and Rowen, the dynamics of which are just being felt here in Final Blow.  Now we see the trauma and rage those acts have visited upon Mick as well an uncertain Rowen trying to reach out and  save the man he finally acknowledges that he loves.  It’s an unsettling turnabout for all and it heightens the vulnerabilities and frailties of both characters like we have never seen them before.

Havan Fellows reveals Mick as a character far more complex and layered then he originally appeared to be.  It makes the relationship we have seen develop between the tortured Rowe and Mick more authentic and believable.  If there is to be a yin to his yang, then it also needs to be on equal ground with matching complexities and overtones. The author accomplishes that hard-won balance in Final Blow.  Here her characters find themselves in situations that require them to achieve a certain amount of emotional growth and healing in order to move forward, hopefully together.  It was painful and wonderful and immensely satisfying to see characters we have come to love reach out for each other and more, much, much more.

I love Final Blow as I have all the preceeding stories in this series.  But there is one last story to come.  There are still monsters at play and demons to vanquish.  Who and what they are is still to be revealed.  I can’t wait for December to come.

But until then, grab up this marvelous series if you haven’t already.  Make the acquaintances of Rowen Smithe (who definitely give Wicked Templeton a run for the money as favorite Fellows character) and Mick Rutger.  Start at the beginning, enjoy the journey to love  and HEA.  Its one of the top series of the  year, along with its interconnected Pulp Friction 2014 series, all of which are listed below.

Cover artist:  Laura Harner consistently delivers a great branding job with the series and the PulpFriction 2014 logo.

Sales Links:  All Romance eBook (ARe)   amazon   Final Blow

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 50 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Appleton Publishing Avenue
original titleFinal Blow (Whispering Winds #5) (Pulp Friction 2014 #20)
ASINB00OII4ZRE
edition languageEnglish
seriesPulp Friction 2014 #19, Whispering Winds

About Pulp Friction 2014

Pulp Friction  2014 Authors: Laura Harner ~ Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ T.A. Webb
The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends.
The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth.

Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment. All stories have been read and reviewed at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

The Pulp Friction 2014 series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and plot:

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1)by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Whispering Winds: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Round Two:
Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Whispering Winds #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by TA Webb

Round Three:
Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blown Hard (Whispering Winds #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by T.A. Webb

Round Four:
Flare-up (Fighting Fire #4) by Laura Harner
Out In The Cold (In From the Cold #4) by Lee Brazil
Blown Chance (Whispering Winds #4) by Havan Fellows
Aftershocks (Earthquake #4) by T.A. Webb

Round Five:
Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5) by Laura Harner
Cold Day in Hell (In From the Cold #5) by Lee Brazil
Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) by Havan Fellows
Terra Firma (Earthquake #5) by T.A. Webb

Sixth Book Series Finale Written by all the Authors coming in December.

Side Stories or Interludes:

Taking Chances by Lee Brazil (a In From the Cold story)
Wicked Winds (Whispering Winds 3.5) by Havan Fellows – bonus book, Whispering Winds
Frankie’s Knight (Elemental Connections: IV) (Earthquake #3.5)
Kismet & Cartwheels – bonus book, Fighting Fire

Review: Ball & Chain (Cut & Run #8) by Abigail Roux

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

???????????????????????????????????????Ty Grady and the others in his Sidewinder crew are finally home.  After an emotional welcome at the airport, Ty finds he has returned to a world that moved on without him.  As Ty deals with the emotional fallout from the their last black op mission and his reunion with Zane, Deuce, Ty’s brother arrives with wedding news.   Deuce asks Ty to be his best man.  And the wedding?  It’s on a remote island in Scotland. And someone’s been threatening his future father-in-law.

Clearly help is needed and Ty calls on Kelly Abbott and Nick O’Flaherty, his Sidewinder brothers, for assistance, a team with their own secrets to hide. When Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott join Ty and Zane at the wedding on a private island in Scotland, the remoteness of the location and poor cellphone reception gives them jitters.  But none of them are prepared when the bodies start falling and the killer or killers identities is someone on this small island, either friend, family or close acquaintance.

With all the families jeopardy, including Ty’s young  niece, Ty and Zane, along with Nick and Kelly, must sort through past cases, old enemies, and unknown alliances before more murders occur, including their own.  Weddings are supposed to be happy occasions but who will survive this one is anyone’s guess.

 

Well, here we are.  The penultimate story in the Cut & Run series.  With Ball & Chain (Cut & Run #8), the bells are starting to ring down the end of this remarkable series and Ty Grady and Zane Garrett is starting on the road to their finale. The penultimate story in any series is a tricky one, but even more so in a series as beloved as this one.  It must start to wind down a multitude of plot threads, but not too many, mind you, because you must save the most for the last story.  The penultimate story must layout clues, guidelines as it were, for all the events to come without losing sight that this story must have its own legs to stand on. Its own storyline and its own resolution.

Does Ball & Chain and its author, Abigail Roux, accomplish this daunting task?  Yes, I think it does. Although I think some readers will be disappointed, others will love it, and the rest are just waiting for that last story and nothing will be able to satisfy them before that story arrives.  What a tough audience this book will face as most readers have been with this couple and series from the first book, Cut & Run, and are quite fanatical about Ty and Zane.

One obstacle that I think this book must surmount are the scenes/storylines readers have written for Ty and Zane in their minds since they finished book 7, Touch & Geaux.  This is the reunion book, the one we have been waiting for since that heart-wrenching exit at the  end of Touch & Geaux.  You know, the one that had  people pulling out their hair in tears while wailing in dismay.  That scene.  I have been waiting for that along with you.  Did it live up to my expectations?  Not on the first reading.  Maybe the second.  Again, how could anything beat the glorious, and totally unrealistic scenario I had created in my head for Ty and Zane?  Cue the swelling music,  passionate glances and mad sex acts that happen immediately upon reuniting!  What Abigail Roux came up with was so much better and in keeping with the characters, Ty and Zane.  It was done with humor, affection for all those returning home and, of course, the love that Ty and Zane held for each other. And I loved it, once I got past the purple prose of my imagination.

I loved the location, that isolated island off the coast of Scotland in the Inner Hebrides.  It’s a perfectly spooky place for dead bodies, startling revelations, and hidden passages, of the building and of the heart.  It took all the main characters out of their comfort zones (if they still have any by now), and forced them to look closely at what each of them has become, and at the relationships that have carried them through so far.  Not a particularly happy time….a sexy one but not a happy one for the most part.  Abigail Roux has these precious characters exposing some hard truths about themselves and what their past actions have done to others they care about.  Plus this last mission has clearly damaged all the men involved, Digger, Owen, Nick and Ty, all are showing symptoms of PTSD or signs of other trauma that is the result of their final secret mission.  The stress is overwhelming them and each is trying to deal with it in their own way.

Ball & Chain is a hard book to review because any detail given can lead to a spoiler.  Still there is a lot on Abigail Roux’s agenda for this story.  There is the reunion we have been waiting for as Ty returns, along with the rest of the Sidewinders, from a mysterious mission.  And the reader is just getting settled into familiar surroundings and the FBI office when we are thrown out of the action and into unfamiliar territory.  At the end of the last book, Ty and Zane have outed themselves to their colleagues and bosses and now we wait for the repercussions to hit.  And they do but only for a short while and then we are  whisked away to Scotland.  That felt too abrupt and left this reader feeling a tad unsatisfied about the lack of resolution to this story element.

The wedding in Scotland brings together not only Ty’s entire family, including Ty’s grandfather and his shovel, but Nick and Kelly and the Director too.  As loyalties are divided, and old secrets revealed, ties between people begin to unravel as past histories and relationships surface. Sometimes, however, I felt that so many plot threads, one piling on top of another, almost overwhelmed the story.  At moments, Ball & Chain almost felt like an extension of the 12 Little Indians movie, with corpses piling up everywhere as it looks bleaker and bleaker for those left on the island.  But in true Abigail Roux form, the plot tightens, the nonessentials are pared away, and we are left with Ty and Zane and their fight for each other and a relationship.

Still Ball & Chain is as much about Nick and Kelly as it is about Ty and Zane. It’s about couple dynamics as well as the other complex relationship issues at play here. Sibling brother to brother, Sidewinder brother to brother, lover to lover, fathers/and father figures to sons….Abigail Roux threw it all into the wedding melting pot with explosive results. And this multitude of players, main players, will raise objections from those readers who want Ty and Zane, and only Ty and Zane. And I get that, I really do.

But think back to Touch & Geaux,the preceding story. What a great mess of a book! Full of emotional land mines, psychological quagmires, and quests for revenge to fill several novels, it brought all the Sidewinders together along with Ty and Zane and other important characters only to leave several major plot threads dangling at the end along with character fates. And remember, this includes a mole in the FBI. With that story, everything got tangled up together, people, histories, and past events returning with traumatic results. Now Abigail Roux only has two books to pull it all together. So in my mind, Ball & Chain, as well as the final story, can’t be only Ty and Zane. Because in order for Ty and Zane to have their future, a number of supporting characters have major roles to play for that to happen.  So it has to be about those characters as well, even if that makes some readers unhappy about the loss of page time for Ty and Zane.

So back to the question did Ball & Chain do its job?  Did it raise the right questions? And did it include all the right people?  Did it set the stage for the final story while giving you the reunion you wanted, the drama you expected, as well as the surprises and angst one expects from Abigail Roux and this series?  For me, the answer is yes, yes it did.

Repercussions from the events in New Orleans are still rippling through the group, the mole is at large, and a major player has just died. OK, i was pretty happy about that one.  Now everyone has returned to the US and the final battles can begin.  I can’t wait.

And Abigail Roux did give me an ending this time that I adored (at least as far at Ty and Zane were concerned).  One that starts to bring everything to a satisfying conclusion. There is a line towards the end that will be one of my favorite ones of the series.  I wonder if you will be able to spot it?

The author has said she won’t go past book 9 for the Cut & Run series, so I expect Ty and Zane to go out with a bang.  Maybe even a flashbang.  Only the author knows for sure.  Roux has made Ty and Zane deal with huge issues and traumas, from alcoholism and torture, lying and commitment, kidnapping and coming out, even claustrophobia and fear of heights. So I expect the final story to feature more of the same, more soul searching and scary events to come.

Maybe even Grandpa with his shovel.

And hopefully a wedding.  That would be lovely.

Until then I will search through the series again for more clues about the Mole and people we expect to pop up in the finale.  I will reread the moment they were pulled apart in Touch & Geaux, and then the moment they came back together in Ball & Chain.  And then I will read the end of this story one more time.

Ty and Zane are about to have their ending.  I will be there with tissues in hand to see how it all ends.  I will probably hate it in sections and I will love it.  That’s the way this series works.  And this couple.  All or nothing.  Bring it on, Abigail Roux!

Cover art by LC Chase continues the wonderful branding that is a mark of this series.  Love it although not as much as the tiger.

Book Details:

Paperback, 306 pages
Published March 17th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published March 2nd 2014)
original titleBall & Chain
ISBN139781626491076
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://riptidepublishing.com/titles/ball-chain-cut-run-8
seriesCut & Run #8
charactersTy Grady, Zane Garrett

Books in the Cut & Run series in the order they were written and should be read:

Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read:

  • Ball & Chain (Cut & Run #8) the penultimate story
  • Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run #7)
  • Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run #6)
  • Dine & Dash (Cut & Run, #5.5)
  • Armed & Dangerous , #5 – by Abigail Roux
  • Divide & Conquer #4,*
  • Fish & Chips #3, *
  • Sticks & Stones #2,*
  • Cut & Run #1 – *all of these written by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

Review: Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule #4) by Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley

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Rating: 4. 5 stars out of 5

Every Inch of the Way coverOne email has brought the mysterious Professor Carson back into his former student’s life and the consequences for Jamie Sheridan has just added to the confusion and unhappiness that is his life.  Jamie has two men in his life and needs very different things from each of them.  And neither of them appear to want to share Jamie with the other. Or if one is willing to do so, it must be on his terms…as always.

Satish Malhotra is crazy for Jamie Sheridan.  Jamie is sweet and intelligent and gorgeous.  But the welts on Jamie’s back and the reappearance of Jamie’s former Professor has forced Satish to make a decision as to whether he can keep Jamie in his life.  He doesn’t understand what drives Jamie’s submission and he is not sure that he can fulfill all of Jamie’s needs.

With the Professor and Satish vying for Jamie’s affections and attention, Jamie is divided between his need for love and his need for submission.  Will Jamie have to choose or will Satish make the choice for him?

Every Inch of the Way is the penultimate story in The Professor’s Rule series that has followed the story of Jamie  Sheridan and his Professor Evander Carson through college and graduation.  A test message reunited Jamie Sheridan with Professor Carson after several years break.  Old games that the Professor had introduced prior in their relationship instigated a meeting and hot sexual encounter with clothier Satish Malhotra.  But Satish’s discovery of Professor Carson and his connection to Jamie served to demolish the fragile feelings that had been developing between the two of them.

Every Inch of the Way focuses on the emotions and feelings of Satish and Jamie as they try to pick up the threads of their relationship and see if a future is going to be possible between them.  Belleau and Gormley have done a terrific job in conveying the emotional minefield that was the result of events in Inch by Inch (The Professor’s Rule #3) for each man.  Both Satish and Jamie are coming from very different perspectives.  Satish’s idea of a sexual and emotionally satisfying romance does not extend to bdsm and a Dom/sub relationship.  Satish doesn’t understand it no matter how hard he tries.  Jamie, on the other hand, has certain needs that can only be fulfilled through his submission and the games involved in  a D/s partnership.  Normally,  they would part and go their separate ways and that, as they say, would be that.

But Satish and Jamie have an emotional connection that neither man is willing to give up.   And these authors make us not only see that connection but make it come alive for the reader to the point that we want these characters to find a way to make it work…even if we don’t understand it ourselves.

I have always believed that having a bdsm element in a story requires an extra effort from the author, in this case two authors, to help the reader understand what defines a bdsm lifestyle and also help provide an explanation as to why a particular character(s) need to have it in their lives.  The Professor’s Rule series allows the reader to achieve a certain understanding of that choice through Jamie Sheridan and the emotional journey he makes throughout the series.  The authors have constructed a history for Jamie (his drug use and more) that allows the reader access to his emotional state and the reasons why his submission and his need for a Master is so important to him.  And it delivers also in making Jamie’s Master, Professor Carson, more accessible by finally giving us his point of view about his own feelings as well as emotions about Jamie and their complicated relationship.  Although that does not fully spring to light until the final story, To The Very Last Inch (The Professor’s Rule #5).

In addition to these very complex men, authors Belleau and Gormley deliver Satish Malhotra, a character who might very well stand in for most readers because of the manner in which he views Jamie’s relationship with  his Professor and his lack of understanding of Jamie’s need for submission.  By giving the readers a character most can identify with, it then helps to bring the reader along with Satish  as he slowly starts to understand Jamie, the Professor, and the layers that a relationship with Jamie holds.  It feels utterly authentic to watch Satish wrestle with his emotions and thoughts as he juggles his affection and physical attraction towards Jamie with his rejection of what he initially sees as physical abuse, the welts on Jamie’s back raising Satish’s objections and vague disgust to go along with his concern.

And all this takes place in 42 pages.  Yes, there are 3 books that precede this one but I think you can read this story and still gather enough information about the events prior to understand and appreciate this story.  Does it help to have read them? Yes, but not definitively so.   Every Inch of the Way ends a bit unresolved so you will want to go quickly on to the next story.

The final story in the series is already out, To the Very Last Inch (The Professor’s Rule #5).   Follow me there to see how it all shakes out.  For those of you new to this series, decide for yourself whether to start at the beginning or continue on from here.  Either way, this is a delicious series, full of well written characters, sexy hot scenes and a fast paced narrative that moves all the events along concisely.  They come complete with covers guaranteed to draw you in!  Enjoy.

Book Details:

ebook, 42 pages
Published March 3rd 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published March 1st 2014)
original title Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule, #4)
ISBN13 9781626491274
edition language English
Book in The Professor’s Rule series.  It helps to read them in order to understand Jamie and all the relationships within.
Giving an Inch (The Professor’s Rule, #1) currently free where sold (Amazon, ARe)
An Inch at a Time (The Professor’s Rule, #2)
Inch by Inch (The Professor’s Rule, #3)
Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule, #4)
To the Very Last Inch (The Professor’s Rule, #5)