A MelanieM Review: Dragon Magic by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Four strangers. A shared moment long forgotten. A bond forged in desperation.

On the first day of the Festival of Counting, the beginning of the royal census that takes place every ten years, the royal city is filled to overflowing. Everyone is happy, excited, and proud to be counted amongst those who live in the glorious kingdom of Orhanis.

Then a demon strikes, killing thousands in mere seconds and leveling the city. As the royal castle burns, only four men remain to drive the demon away—and in their desperation, accidentally bind themselves together in a legendary Oath, unable to part ways until they find and kill the demon once and for all.

Mahzan, the King’s Jester, an orphan who clawed his way to the top and hides a fearsome magic… Sule, the notorious North Captain, who sacrificed everything to live as a strong, capable, highly respected man… Cemal, a priest who traveled the continent bent on revenge and now lives lost… and Binhadi, the mercurial shadow mage with a dark history and bloody ties to the throne…

Four men used to standing apart, standing alone, who must learn to stand together if they hope to save themselves and all of Orhanis.

When it comes to fantasy, Megan Derr is  one of my go to authors.  I love her marvelous ability to transport me out of the mundane and into realms where dragons soar,  wounded mage’s seek reparation and love, and unique bands of warriors go forth on sagas that have continued to live on in my heart and mind long past those words…The End in book after book.

In Dragon Magic Megan Derr brings together another unusual band of mages.  This time, they will form not only a working relationship but a romantic one between the four of them.  Not something of a norm in her stories. Or in the stories I normally read because I haven’t found many authors that make a  polyamorous relationship work within a storyline to my tastes.  Here, among four strong mages, who fight the bonds between them from the beginning, watching the emotional ties form, along with the lust and love feels natural.  It helps that they can “feel” each others thoughts and emotions, so the instinctual walls  others erect start breaking down or are broken between the four of them from the start, laying their “secrets” out before the others.

Derr switches the story back and forth between the emotional vulnerability and revelations that is happening between the four as they become a true “family” and the perilous state they find themselves in while searching out the demons and those responsible for the destruction of the Capitol.  I expected to “like” one of the characters more than the rest, maybe Mahzan or Sule, but each mages here is a little broken each in their own way.  Each strong as well.  Turned out I loved them equally.  Semal and Binahdi  no less than Mahzan and Sule.  What great characters all.

The only thing that kept this from a 5 stars story was the odd little out of timeline break at the end.  I understand why the author did it but it still felt jarring.  And honestly asked more questions than it answered.  I didn’t need it.  And in my opinion the story didn’t either.  But that’s just me.

Either way, if you are a lover of high fantasy, Megan Derr or both,  Dragon Magic is a book you won’t want to miss.  And yes, once again she has created some wonderful demons for our mages to fight against.  Can’t miss out on those either!  Put this and this wonderful band of mages on your TBR list today!  I highly recommend it!

Cover art:Phillip Lloyd Simpson.  It’s colorful.  Don’t know that it’s my favorite of Megan Derr’s covers.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: March 28th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312016
Edition LanguageEnglish

In Our Holiday Spotlight: Santa Baby (Minnesota Christmas #4) by Heidi Cullinan (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Santa Baby (Minnesota Christmas #4) by Heidi Cullinan

Cover Art by Kanaxa

Buy links

AmazonAll Romance Ebooks Barnes & NobleiTunesKoboSmashwordsHeidi’s Patreon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is so happy to have Heidi Cullinan agree to answer a few questions for us about her latest story, Santa Baby in the wonderful Minnesota Christmas series, a favorite here at STRW.  Along with the interview, we also have 2 giveaways for our readers to enter and an except to read. Now lets get started.

My interview with Heidi Cullinan

 

  • I was surprised to see another story in one of my favorite series, what was the inspiration?

Well, I’d always thought there would be at least a little hanky-panky after the way they made eyes at each other during the end of Winter Wonderland, and I thought maybe I could write a short story for fun this Christmas. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there was something deeper between them, particularly between Gabriel and Dale. That was quite a revelation, and I couldn’t resist the rabbit hole.

  • Does this mean we might get even more?

I do want to do a spin-off series, probably not linked just to Christmas exactly. I’ve thought of calling it Minnesota Summer, or maybe it’s simply Christmas Town. This way we could go out on the lake in the summer, etc., and see some of the tourism Dale is drumming up. But yes, we’ll go back to Logan in one form or another. Eventually. I have a long writing list.

  • You’ve added a third to one of my favorite couples, was that a surprise to you or something you  always saw the potential for?

It was a surprise. I wasn’t planning on it any more than Gabriel or Arthur. But it all worked out for the best, I feel. I hope readers do too.

  • What’s next for Heidi Cullinan?

 Right now I’m working on book two of the Roosevelt series, Shelter the Sea. It will be a continuation of Carry the Ocean, not yet David’s book though that had been my original plan. This is a theme, you may have noticed. My plans are not always the plans that happen. I’ve learned not to argue. After that I have a long list of what’s coming, but what is precisely next and in what order depends on a lot of things. I intend to publish novels in February, May, July, September, and November if I can, though. We’ll see if I can be that ambitious or not.

For those of you who love to follow along with Heidi’s playlist for each novel, here is her playlist for Santa Baby:

For Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review of Santa Baby, visit here

About Santa Baby

santa-babyTrimming the tree is more fun with three.

Twin Cities developer Dale Davidson has come to Logan, Minnesota, to turn it into Christmas Town, not to give in to Arthur Anderson’s offer to join him and his fiancé, Gabriel Higgins, for a Christmas Eve threesome. Dale is polyamorous, but it’s clear Arthur is offering a night of fun and nothing more. Maybe one night with the couple he admires so much won’t hurt…

Together the three of them light a fire hot enough to boil Lake Superior in January, and one night of fun becomes an extended engagement as Dale puts down some tentative roots in his new hometown. Everyone loves Dale, Logan’s own Santa Claus, and somehow no one knows what wild times are happening right underneath their noses. No one knows, either, the complicated ways they’re falling in love with one another.

But a shadow from Dale’s past emerges, an abuser threatening him with violence and shame. Ronny doesn’t want a happy ever after for Dale, only to draw him back into a consuming darkness. It will take the love of not only Gabriel and Arthur but all of Logan to convince their Santa he has nothing to be ashamed of—and that he will always have a home in their hearts

Excerpt from Santa Baby

Dale put a hand on Gabriel’s other leg, appearing concerned. “Are you all right?”

Now the two of them were touching him, sending their heat, their intensity into him, both of them laser-focused on his comfort, his needs, his pleasure. Suddenly he had a clear idea of how this evening was going to go. Gabriel held up his hands and let out an unsteady breath. “I’m fine. Shall we eat?”

He was relieved to find they settled into a rather normal meal, giving him a respite to collect himself. His body was a little sleepy from the orgasm, and he declined his second glass of wine, opting for water instead. The food was familiar, simple, and delicious. In the year they’d been together, Arthur had perfected the set of spices for venison steak, knowing just what and how much to season with to bring out the flavor in a way that made the meat exactly right. It was the same meal as the disastrous first dinner between the three of them—had it been deliberate? Arthur’s way of giving them a complete do-over? Probably. Except all Gabriel needed from the spread was the steak. The potatoes and salad, as far as he was concerned, were there for show—though he did try Dale’s bread, since he’d gone through the trouble to make it himself and since it happened to be Gabriel’s favorite.

It was quite good, in fact, especially since Arthur had kept it warm in the oven. Gabriel slathered it with butter and ate several large pieces, to the point that he put himself in a conundrum of which did he finish, his meat or his bread.

Arthur nudged him with his elbow. “Don’t make yourself so full you’re sick. Plenty more coming later.”

Gabriel understood what he meant by more—activity, not dinner, but Dale said, “Oh, is there dessert?”

Arthur didn’t move his gaze from Gabriel’s. “Yeah, I was thinking some cream.”

Gabriel blushed scarlet.

Dale chuckled and eased into his seat. “Goddamn, Arthur, but I love how you don’t muck around.”

“Not something I’m known for, no.” Arthur poked at the last few potatoes on his plate and swept up the remaining juices with the crust of his bread. “And since we’ve brought it up now, let’s lay out some rules for this evening’s entertainment. First, as a reminder, I’m making all of them. Second, and most important, if anybody doesn’t like what’s going on or needs us to ease up, we use yellow and red.” He rested a hand on Gabriel’s shoulder and toyed with a lock of his hair. “Gabriel does enjoy, in the right circumstances, saying no when he means go. But obviously it’s a risky game, and if we end up going there tonight, you’ll be following my lead, Mr. Davidson.”

Dale nodded, his expression hooded. “Yes, sir.”

Arthur glanced across their plates. “It looks like we’re all pretty much finished. Let’s get this table cleared, shall we? And then we can have a little fun.”

Gabriel carried the bread to the counter, because it was the only thing he dared carry for fear he’d drop it in his shaking hands. He wasn’t fearful, really, simply so stimulated and primed, aware both Arthur and Dale were focused on him. It made him excited, but it was overwhelming too. Part of him wanted to throw up his hands and tell them to leave the leftovers, for God’s sake, but for the first time ever he hadn’t finished his steak, and he watched it go into the fridge, thinking of when he would like to eat it next.

Then everything was put away, and they were heading into the living room.

Here we go.

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Giveaway Times 2

We are giving away one copy of Santa Baby to one lucky reader.  Leave a comment along with your email address where you can be reached. Giveaway ends December 9th at midnight.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter both contests.

There is also a Rafflecopter giveaway of  Books 1-4 of the Minnesota Christmas Series (Let It Snow, Sleigh Ride, Winter Wonderland, Santa Baby), Santa Hat, Handkerchief, copy of American Gods) from Heidi Cullinan.  To enter that  giveaway use the Rafflecopter code below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Heidi Cullinan head shot (1)

About the Author

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

How to find the author:

Twitter

Spotify (pretty much entirely work in progress soundtracks, and past stories)

 Facebook: Author Profile (more posts, more randomness, easy to tag)

Facebook: Fan Page (not as many posts, sticks to largely books and the occasional interesting bit)

 Instagram (mostly my kid and cats)

Blog (lots of back content, not much news)

Goodreads

A MelanieM Review: Shield of the Dragon (Dance with the Devil #6) by Megan Derr

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Ratings: 4.5 stars out of 5

shield-of-the-dragonIf the aftermath of destroying two powerful syndicates and joining league with the last person he expected, all Ken wants is a chance to catch his breath, and maybe regain the attention of the man who said he wanted Ken as more than just a Steward but now seems to have lost interest. But every other day bring a new crop of people wanting to kill them, and it’s only a matter of time before they succeed.

All Amr wants is time—time to move his clan and settle them into their new home, time with the dragon he never thought he’d own, and most of all he wants time for his Steward, to see the man rest and recover and stop getting himself almost killed every week. He wouldn’t mind a chance to rekindle their fragile relationship either.

Diamond wants a life that feels worth living. The one he left behind wasn’t all that great, but it beat waking up to the nasty results of a curse that should have killed him and working as a hitman for the Cambry Syndicate. Then he goes to fetch someone for his boss, and gets dragged even deeper into the strange paranormal world he’s still learning to call home.

Note: contains poly

Another story in one of Megan Derr’s Dance with the Devil series is always cause for rejoicing.  Its a huge universe of stories she’s built, full of worlds and characters and their mates.  They are intertwined of course, sometimes loosely, or sometimes the threads that hold them together are tight, knotty, a balled up mess of relationships and politics and genetics.  Dragon genetics.  But whatever the story, its always compelling. The plots and world building so weirdly captivating and the couples a mesmerizing blend of beings that sometimes has you blinking in disbelief and delight at the same time.

Some of the couples even bleed (literally) into each others novels, as they do here.  For those who are loving followers of the series…I won’t spoil the surprise, just be prepared to see a couple from a previous novel play a major role here.  It also sent me running to read their story all over again.   Truly, this is a series that keeps on giving from one story to the next. It keeps reigniting your interest in all the past novels you’ve already read as well as launching your imagination anew for the next book to come.

I haven’t even gotten to Shield of the Dragon (Dance with the Devil #6) yet.  If you haven’t read the other stories that included the Dragons and the Dragon shifters in the Dance with the Devils series, you can still read this novel.  Derr does a wonderful job of explaining the culture, the genetic history just enough to engage a new reader’s imagination and connect them immediately to the story.  Those of us who have been with the series all along,  well, its a lovely quick refresher course.  But as always, its the characters who pull us into the drama and the plot lines here.

As with any Derr story there are layered story threads running parallel to each other, intertwining throughout the novel.  One is the tale of Amr who is moving his clan during a time of upheaval. Amr has been claimed by a dragon that’s the key to power and therefore much sought after.  His own life is in just as much turmoil as he seeks the companionship of Ken, his Steward.  Ken, a person of action instead of words is confused by the one person he wants and now thinks has rejected him.  And still their  clan must be settled into hostile territory and their dragons kept safe.  Little do they know of the plans being hatched against them.

Diamond is an unusual hitman/thug for the Cambry Syndicate.  Who and what he is makes him all the more deadly to everyone around him..and it brings him no peace.  His latest mission is about to change everything.  For himself, for the Syndicate, for all he knows.  In Diamond, Derr has created another memorable character.  A cursed being, done in by his own brother, with more of his history waiting to be revealed later in the plot, the revelations that flow from this character’s plot thread are extraordinary.  From his lover to those that he meets, Diamond is the key of the Shield of the Dragon in so many ways.  Derr has layered him in such a way that its a delight to watch him grow and change, especially  when one event occurs.

Ken is probably as close as they come to being Diamond’s twin.  And when the plot works in tandem, their threads twisting together, the book explodes with power.

One thing that should be mentioned is that the dragons are able to shift into human form, while remaining dragons in thought.  Part of the bonding process is sex and it continues to be part of their relationship.  So there is sex, not only between couples but between their dragons and the couples, as neither can be excluded from the others relationship, naturally.  This includes female dragons too.  So don’t be surprised to have a M/M/M/M/F/M…I think I left a M out of there somewhere… pairing at the end.  But it all felt very natural  given the relationships between each other and the couples.  Really with the dragons, its all about who they choose.

By the time the novel comes  to its HFN conclusion I was so deep into this world once more that I was shocked to see it was time to leave again.  Hate it when that happens.  Derr always does  it to me.  I’m never ready.  And of course, seeing that other couple again made me ready to pull out their story for round 2.

I loved this story.  If you are a fan of Megan Derr, you probably have already grabbed this up.  You don’t need my recommendation.  But for everyone else, if you love fantasy, dragons, dragon shifters, outstanding world building and all of the above, here’s a series to sink your teeth into.  Very sharp teeth!  And a book you will love.  You can start here or go back to the beginning.  I have listed them all at the bottom of the review.  I’ll be waiting for the next to arrive.  Meet me here.

Cover art is dark and is hard to make out but helps brand the series.

Sales Links

Less Than Three Press

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Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 197 pages
Published September 12th 2016
ASINB01LZG7V02
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Dance with the Devil – add to your Goodreads shelf:

Dance with the Devil (Dance with the Devil, #1)
The Glass Coffin (Dance with the Dev #2
Dance in the Dark (Dance with the Devil, #3)
Midnight (Dance with the Devil, #3)
Dance Only for Me (Dance with the Devil, #4)
Risk it All (Dance with the Devil #4.5)
Sword of the King (Dance with the Devil, #5)
Shield of the Dragon (Dance with the Devil #6)
Twilight (Dance with the Devil #7)

Review: Bound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

BoundToBeAGroom_500x750_0Badajoz, Spain – June 1808.  Anna Redondo has ambitions that stretch far beyond the cloistered walls of the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, the convent she grew up in.  Instead of feeling safe, Anna feels confined and suffocated by the quiet, contemplative life she lives just because she had been born out of an affair her married mother had with an Englishman.  Only her forbidden love for Patrizia “Pia” Velasquez Carvajal, another girl who has grown up with her within the convent walls, has kept her from rebelling against the nuns and the harsh Mother Superior who rules the convent.

Inexperienced and without means, Anna has decided that the path to freedom and a future together for her and Pia is for Anna to become a wealthy courtesan.  It would give them money and her the life of pleasure she has been dreaming about.  But first she needs to acquire the sexual skills that all courtesans have and for that she needs a teacher. Two weeks after leaving the convent, Anna attends the wedding of another girl from the convent. At the wedding party Anna spies the handsome Sebastian de Montizon, a wealthy hedonist who also happens to be discreet and kind.  Just the sort of man who would make the perfect teacher.

Sebastian de Montizon is a Spanish aristocrat of great charm and large forbidden desires.  Surprised to be approached by a seemingly prim and proper convent miss, he is even more astonished by her frankness and her seductive entreaty.  But no one could have prepared Sebastian to find in Anna a Master for his need for submission.  One marriage proposal later and Anna has found a husband and a new life.  After the honeymoon, they set off to for the convent to retrieve an unsuspecting Pia who has been waiting for her lover to send for her.

Patrizia “Pia” Velasquez Carvajal was an orphan abandoned at the convent.  Kind and gentle, tall and beautiful, Pia found a deep and abiding love with Anna. Bereft of her love and alone, Pia has been waiting for Anna to send for her but never did she think that Anna would marry and betray her love.  When the newly wed Sebastian and Anna de Montizon arrive at the convent to pick up Pia, she does not know what to expect.  All she knows is that her heart is breaking. The truth of their union and their reasons for retrieving Pia are beyond anything Pia could imagine as is the threesome they soon become.

But Sebastian has a past with another and more desires than the girls realize or satiate.  And that leads the three of them to London and Farleigh, the Duke of Mandeville.  Farleigh and Sebastian became lovers when Farleigh visited Spain as a British envoy two years prior.  Since then Farleigh has had many male lovers but none of them have made him forget the beautiful Spaniard he left behind, one who so eagerly submitted to his every whim and desire.

Now Sebastian has descended upon London with a beautiful Spanish wife and her gorgeous friend in tow.  The three of them seem to have a special bond between them, one that Farleigh soon grows jealous of.  As Farleigh gets reacquainted with Sebastian, the old flames of desire reignite.  But Farleigh never expected to find that the bonds that Sebastian had with Anna and Pia would open up to include him and that three would become four and complete.

Well, what a hot, erotic, absolutely marvelous romp this book turned out to be.  Bound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry is a first for me on a couple of levels.  It is my first novel by this author and it’s my first historic erotic polyamory story, and there’s a description I also never thought to write. Mulry’s characters complete abandon and joy that they take in the many, many sexual acts that occur here, as well as its location in England, might bring back some fond memories of  Tom Jones or other libertines of that era.  But instead of one character who enjoys life to the fullest, we have four who become partners, lovers and family to each other.

Bound to be a Groom is set against the backdrop of the Peninsular War (1808–1814) when Bonaparte invaded Spain and usurped the Spanish throne, making allies of the British and Spain. The ensuing political unrest and uprising by Spain is a perfect setting for the rebellion and emotional upheavals to come when a young convent miss, Anna Redondo, sets out to find a way for her and her lover Pia to be together outside the convent walls they were raised within.  Although the civil unrest and political intrigue of that time is used as a framework for Mulry’s plot, it only lightly intrudes here and there throughout the narrative that builds around four lusty gorgeous people and the polyamory bond they ultimately achieve. Lt.-Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley, commander of the British expeditionary force, makes an appearance briefly during a ball to meet with Sebastian.  Sebastian acts as courier to bring details of the French movements in Spain to Wellesley.  Other than a few more mentions of Wellesley’s battles with the French army and the subsequent outcome, nothing more is made of this fascinating era. With such a dramatic backdrop I couldn’t help but think what a deeper element of intrigue would have on this group.

Instead the plot concentrates on the plans of Anna Redondo whose motives start out purely as a means to achieve her goal of a life with Pia and enough wealth to support them both.  Then her plans are hijacked almost immediately upon meeting Sebastian a sybarite who teaches Anna to enjoy male/female sex and who finds he lusts to submit to her domination. The sex scenes are explicit and totally sensual no matter what combination is in play at the time.  As Mulry adds to the foundation couple with her other main characters, the bonds of intimacy and love grow along with the kinks that are explored between them.  As it happily turns out, there are two doms, one male and one female to two submissives and how that is juggled emotionally as well as physically is another wonderful element here.  The emotional scenes between characters carry as much dramatic heft as the sexual ones do, another reason I enjoyed this story so.

Because as Mulry makes clear, there is more at stake than just sexual gratification.  There is the emotional commitment all four people make to each other that’s of the highest priority. Given the times and the need to be circumspect, the couples have to find a way to hide their bond in plain sight and the resolution is one that will satisfy everyone.

As for the sexual hijinks, well then there is surely a kink here to satisfy everyone.  Spanking and flogging, ties and other bdsm play.  Anna, Pia, Seabastian and Farleigh do it all, including D/s by both sexes.  And as I said before the sex scenes are explicit no what what gender is involved so for those readers who wish to read only certain gender combinations this might not be the story for you.

For me, the only drawbacks to Bound to be a Groom would be that perhaps the author included more details than was  necessary.  I liked some of the historic information here about the Peninsula War but it played such a minor role (a small incident then it disappears) that I felt its role in the story should have been a little more prominent.

And then there are certain “nitpicky” things that pop up that are certainly irrelevant to the story (and most readers) but drive me a little crazy.  At one point in the exerpt below Sebastian and his friend are showing off their riding skills in Feria.  It is just a throwaway fact but it stopped my reading cold.

 After the two caballeros had finished showing off, one of the grooms brought out another pair of quarter horses in need of exercise. They were skittish and excitable. Anna watched quietly as Sebastian dismounted and traded the reins of the horse he’d been riding for the more frantic of the two. Isabella was right after all: he was powerfully handsome. He rubbed his big, strong hand against the horse’s satiny chestnut coat, following the contours of the quivering muscles along the beast’s neck.

What line? The mention of the quarter horses rode by Sebastian and his friend, Javi in riding ring.  In 1808, the Quarter Horse, a truly American breed, was still evolving into the hugely popular horse breed we think of today.   It was a horse of the frontier and of Texas where its breed was standardized.  The breed or types of horse that Sebastian and his friend more likely to have been riding would have been the Andalusian (PRE) or an Andalusian-Thoroughbred-Arab crossbred horse which was common then and immensely popular for use throughout Spain.  An insignificant notation?  Yes, it is.  But it’s inclusion was unnecessary in my opinion as its effect was that I had to stop and think about the statement. Then because I found the mention peculiar, I stopped reading to research the idea of  there being American quarter horses in Feria instead of concentrating on what was happening between the couples on the page.

Another quibble was the use of Spanish  terms (not proper nouns which would have made sense) in the dialog between Spanish main characters. We know Pia, Anna, and Sebastian are all Spanish and would assume they are speaking in their native language.  So why sprinkle Spanish words throughout their conversations when all of their dialog is supposedly in Spanish?  Here are some examples:

From Sebastian: “billeted in my father’s castillo in 1788..” why not my father’s castle? or here where the switch off is doubly odd:

“He hustled her into the castle along with the sea of other guests. He knew the layout of the alcázar from several visits in his childhood.”

Castle and alcazar are one in the same (or in this case  exactly same place they were strolling through), not a proper name of a particular site.  Then in some cases, the english/Spanish tradeoff is just plain informative. Ex.

“If anyone glimpsed them talking, it would appear they were discussing something of little importance, the violinist or the membrillo that had been served after supper.”

I get that the author was trying to bring us more into the setting by sprinkling some Spanish vocabulary throughout but it ended up seeming more out of place than a subtle use of location and nationality.   With this type of usage  then Anna would have said “Stupido, stupido woman!” instead of Stupid, stupid woman! Which was the line (and definitely made more sense than mine). And then of course,  this sort of thing disappears all together.

Would this bother most people? No.  Would it interfere with their enjoyment of the book?  Absolutely not.   But for me, it just shows that even the most insignificant detail can trip up a reader as well as the break in continuity.

Those two minor issues aside, I throughly enjoyed this story.  Mulry’s characters were well drawn, the dialog seemingly keeping with the times and her erotic descriptions downright sensual in conveying the delight and passion of all the characters in the joy of sex and the emotional commitments they make to each other.  Each main character had enough flaws and strengths to them that they felt alive in their confusion, bravery, and total determination to make their goals and promises to each other work.  I liked that the women were just as strong as the men and of course, they all got their HEA.

My enjoyment of Bound to be a Groom is going to send me running off to see what else Megan Mulry has written.  If you enjoy erotic stories whose participants expand past the m/m boundaries, then this sassy, sexy polyamorous historic tale might just be the thing (for fling) for you.

Cover art by LC Chase includes that absolutely gorgeous torso but nothing about it says historic novel.

 

Book Details:

ebook, 192 pages
Published April 14th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
original titleBound to be a Groom
ISBN 1626491127 (ISBN13: 9781626491120)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/bound-t

Review: The Blight by Missouri Dalton

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

The Blight coverNoah Abbott is the only one who knows he isn’t crazy.  He knows what he saw all those years ago when he was a younger was real just as he knows the fantastical beings, the trolls and the goblins he sees walking around him unnoticed are too.  The trouble is no one else sees them.  Just Noah.  And that fact got him a trip and long stay in a psychiatric ward when he was 16 and Noah’s not going there again.  Now Noah keeps his head down and his eyes to the ground, he works in a box factory doing menial work for menial wages, and he says nothing to anyone.

Then things slowly start to change.  One of his coworkers, Christian, follow citizen on the outskirts of society, takes an interest in him, one that goes far past friendship into that of potential lover, new ground for a virgin like Noah.  And a young woman, Hannah Regent, approaches him and asks for help.  Turns out she sees the trolls and goblins too and needs Noah to help fight them off and keep her safe.

And with Hannah’s appearance, Noah’s reality is shattered.  Turns out he’s an elf on the run. Hannah too.  And that monster he saw all those years ago?  Well, that monstrous troll is back and hunting them both.  With  a Goblin King,to aid them, Noah and Hannah flee to another  universe, one that is their home.  There awaits a mighty quest for Noah, and the fate of all the elves hangs in the balance. But Noah isn’t sure he is up to the challenge.

Wow, what a story.  It has been several days since I finished this book and I am still trying to decide how I feel about it.  Missouri Dalton brings a number of intriguing and thought provoking elements to this story of a “Magpie” child. Noah has been hidden in the human world to protect him (and Hannah) until he can be found and returned to his rightful place as one of the remaining elven royalty.  But that world, Noah’s  “human world”, is that of most people’s nightmares.  He sees things.  Awful things that do harm to others and they are coming for him.  A basic bump in the dark  nightmare that explodes into reality for Noah only no one believes him.  Dalton plays further into our fears by having Noah confined to a less than desirable  psychiatric ward for years, abandoned by family and friends.    This element of the story is so artfully conceived and accomplished that it kept me up thinking for hours on end.

The Noah that is let out of the ward after learning to “play the game” is a person that anyone might meet on the streets today.  Head down, eyes averted, trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible.  His posture is exactly that of a person recently released from a mental institution.  That has also been his persona at work, a box factory that is one of the few places willing to hire excons and the mentally unstable.  Again Dalton has found the perfect setting for Noah and his post “crazy ward” life.  Her descriptions of Noah’s job and coworkers is grounded in the reality of such workplaces and it plays out that way in the story too.

Noah is such an interesting character because he is such a dichotomy himself.  A fake human, a false past, a newly reclaimed elf who just happens to be young by elven standards, a elf teen going through pubescence, it all throws Noah through the proverbial emotional and mental loop until he is not sure who he really is.  Is he a hero?  A virgin turned slut by his own Elvish pheromones?  It is a tumultuous journey that Dalton takes both Noah, now Neiren and the reader on.  Trust me when I say its not a real enjoyable journey, nor are some of the situations and events that happen along the way.

One issue I had with The Blight is that the multiple romances were all too new and shallow to become as meaningful as they needed to be.  Noah/Neiren is a highly charged hormonal elf, new to sex and possibly love.  And he behaves just like you think such a character would.  He is promiscuous, conflicted about love and relationships as well as what is truly acceptable behavior now that he is an elf once more.  So much of human morality has been ingrained in his mind and emotions but that has nothing to do with his current and true reality and quite naturally Noah/Neiren is having problems adjusting.   I thought the author did a great job in making Noah’s dilemma real but those readers who have issues with multiple sexual partners (m/m, potential m/m/m, m/f, m/?) as well as what might be seen as “cheating” will feel uncomfortable with these elements.

And the same can be said about the deaths that occur within the story as well.  They happen fast and the events that follow leave little room for grieving.  I think most readers will be shocked and hurt by these deaths.  We won’t see them coming and neither do the characters making their impact on all of us genuine and  pain filled.

There is something here to upset everyone.  Main character deaths, deaths of beloved characters,  characters behaving badly, polyamorous relationships (no one on one relationships here), and finally maybe a happy for now ending.  Missouri Dalton gives the reader instance after instance of moments and events that will have the reader wanting to put this book down and walk away.

And that would be a mistake.

Because as put out as all of above items will make you, there is also so much substance and wonder to be found here as well. The magic of the Goblin Kingdom, and the Goblin King himself.  The grotto of lost elves, shaking mountains and black dragons, its all here too. I can’t call this story heartwarming because its not.  But it has so much to recommend it, the lovely descriptions of magical place hidden away from our mundane human society, and all the beings trying to survive a calamitous time of war and race death.  The scope of this story and the descriptions make it worth your while to pick it up and decide for yourself.

For me, it was worth the journey.  Here is a taste of how it all starts:

“Noah Abbott, this court has found you incompetent and your parents have decided it is to your benefit to give over guardianship to the state of California. It is the decision of this court that you are to be remanded into the custody of the St. George Psychiatric Hospital until your twenty-first birthday, upon which time you will be re-examined for mental fitness.”

She banged her gavel down. “Court is adjourned.”

I felt the shock of it run over me; it was like being hit by a truck. As I’d been hit by a truck, I was able to make this comparison with some accuracy.

“I’m not crazy, I know what I saw! I am not crazy!”

“Bailiff, please remove Mr. Abbott.”

The men took my arms to take me away; I jerked in their grips, and my tired body protested.

“I know what I saw! I know what I saw!”

The bailiff and his friend dragged me out of the courtroom.

“I know what I saw!” I screamed, my voice hoarse. “I know what I saw!”

That cover illustration by BS Clay is magical.  I love it and think it is one of the best of the year.

Book Details:

ebook, 192 pages / 53000 words
Published September 11th 2013 by Torquere Press
ISBN 1610405714 (ISBN13: 9781610405713)
edition language English