A MelanieM Review: Firestorm (SoulShares #4) by Rory Ni Coileain

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

FirestormFinalCoverCuinn an Dearmad is the last surviving Fae Loremaster, and he’s just seen the beginning of the death of the Realm, the land the Fae fled to after the battle with the Marfach.  The Fae sealed off The Realm from Earth to protect the last of the Fae and insure that the Marfach didn’t follow them.  The method they used cost them all the Loremasters but one.    But now cutoff from Earth’s magic, the Realm is dying and the only hope of stopping it starts with Cuinn finding the Prince Royal of Fire, a baby he stole from the cradle, and lost in the human world, many years ago.  But where to start looking?  It seems that Fate and Fae have combined to make the impossible happen.

Rian Sheridan was found and adopted by a Northern Irish Catholic family who whose Da was already deeply involved with the IRA and the liberation movement in Belfast. For all his 21 years, fire has been Rian’s companion and curse. His human parents loved him without knowing who exactly Rian was, a Prince of the Demesne of Fire and the hope of the Fae Realm. But fire was both his pain and salvation when his world and sense of self was destroyed by the Orangemen on July 12.  Now all Rian knows is pain, and a need for punishment.  But he is about to get something more…much, much more.  A future and a name for who and what he is.

Cuinn an Dearmad or Cuinn the Exiled and Prince Rian Aodan whose signet ring, Croi na Dothan, means he’s the heart of the Flame, are on a collision course with Fate and each other.  For Cuinn and Rian are SoulShares, something Cuinn thought only happened between Fae and Human, not Fae and Fae.  But will Rian be able to accept Cuinn, the man responsible for stealing him away from his Fae mother and the agony he experienced on Earth?  And Cuinn?  Can he overcome his guilt and foresworn duty to heal his SoulShare and with him save both worlds?

Firestorm is the last and, quite naturally, the most incendiary book in the SoulShares series by Rory Ni Coileain.  Through three stories and elements, we have watched the Fae of the Demesnes of Earth (Tiernan), Air (Conall), and Water (Lochlann Doran) find their human SoulShares and engage in battle with the Marfach.  Now time has run out for The Realm and Earth with the last of the magic dries up killing The Realm in the process and the Marfach plans for Armageddon on Earth.  Three couples stand prepared but they are incomplete without the last element of fire.

Having brought her characters and readers to this highly suspenseful and anticipatory state, author Rory Ni Coileain ups the stakes with her last two major characters.  One is Cuinn an Dearmad or Cuinn the Exiled, the last Fae Loremaster, the missing chink in the Pattern.  The absent Fae of the Demesne of Fire? A Prince stolen at birth from Queen Nuala, the Fae ruler and deposited with a human Irish family.  The culprit?  That would be Cuinn an Dearmad who to the day carries the burden and guilt of the pain he inflicted on an innocent.

Ni Coileain’s complicated plot becomes even more convoluted with the pairing of Cuinn and Rian, each carrying with them a past and foretold future even more tortuous and tangled then any of the others.  Cuinn has been the willing puppet of the Loremasters  plans and manipulations with Rian one of their subjects in the harshest way.  Rian has paid in anguish and torment just as he turned 21 and came into his magic.  Now Cuinn must not only heal Rian, convince him  about the reality of Fae and his own true birthright but get all of them prepared for the final stage of the Loremasters machinations.   Rory Ni Coileain is quite the puppetmaster herself to keep all these major themes and plot threads unreeling simultaneously while building the suspense and anxiety for all involved.

The point of view changes from the SoulShares (all of them)  to Marfach’s zombie host and back again.  Its effective and harrowing if a little complicated. But it’s Rian who captures our empathy and shared pain with his constant, overwhelming need for abuse and  sexual punishment.  The basis for this need is shattering for the readers and for Cuinn who by then has become his SoulShare.  Cuinn also has secrets he has been hiding and all must come out. Not just to Rian but all the other couples involved in the battle against the Marfach and the ley lines under Purgatory, the DC leather bar.

How I loved this part.  I adored having all the couples I have become so fond of here at the final installment and still managed to make more room in my affections for the tormented couple of Cuinn and Rian.  Rian is fire!  The images that Rory Ni Coileain uses to build his portrait are as combustible as his element.   Hot, powerful and quick tempered, Rian is as incendiary as it comes.  But the center of Rian is total darkness and pain and the author brings that to life as well.  Cuinn is all cold guilt and responsibility to Rian’s heat. Cuinn’s character is more removed from emotion, more bound to service and the change that happens to Cuinn is purposeful and believable.  Great characters both of them, Ni Coileain balances the growing relationship between Rian and Cuinn against the ever increasing desperation of the Marfach and the Realm.   And at times, the balance is undone by the emotions and events that are occurring within the story.  The march towards action or Rian and Cuinn?  More of the story  comes down on Rian and Cuinn here and while that works beautifully towards making their SoulShare real, it takes away from the Marfach’s impact at times.

Never more so than at the ending.  Some will love it,, others not so much.  Yes, there is resolution to be found here and yet there are also plenty of openings for this series to continue.  I wish I knew which way the author was leaning.  I was almost satisfied and yet….I left the story and the series with a vague sense of  incompleteness and a bit of irritation.   Normally, that would bring the rating down considerably.  But Firestorm and the entire SoulShares series  is so beautifully woven through with its lore, imagery, characters, and plot, that its hard not to celebrate Rory Ni Coileain’s writing in this series with a high  rating.

Do I recommend this book and series?  Absolutely.  Its remarkable, its entertaining, and its magical, full of pain,obstacles,  heartache and love.  Don’t miss out on any of the four stories and like me, continue to hope for a fifth.

Cover artist:  Allen Penn.  Of all 4 covers, this is my favorite.  Dramatic and hot!

Sales Links:        Ravenous Romance          All Romance eBooks                 Amazon        Firestorm

Books in the SoulShares series in the order they were written and should be read are:

Hard As Stone (SoulShares #1)
Gale Force (Soulshares #2)
Deep Plunge (SoulShares #3)
Firestorm (SoulShares #4)

Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 248 pages
Published February 27th 2014 by Ravenous Romance
ASINB00IOWB2BW
edition languageEnglish
seriesSoulShares #4

Review: Gale Force (SoulShares #2) by Rory Ni Coileain

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Rating:  4.75 stars out of 5

Gale ForceConall Dary is the most powerful mage born to the Fae race since the Realm was parted from the human world, over two thousand years ago. But that very power condemns him to a lifetime of celibacy, because sex calls to power, and he has power enough to drain a world. When he refuses to use his talents for a Noble lady’s petty revenge, he finds himself shanghaied to the human world, his soul torn in half and his magick blocked.

Josh LaFontaine is the beautifully inked owner of Raging Art-On, a Washington, D.C. tattoo and piercing parlor. While taking part in New York City’s Pride march with a former lover’s dance company, his world changes forever when the man of his dreams materializes out of nowhere at his feet . Josh’s sensual and loving touch, the first Conall has ever known, may be enough to give him back the magick he’s lost. But before they can complete their Soulshare, a terrible accident leaves Conall bodiless, lost, and invisible, to everyone except – maybe – the human with whom he shares a soul. But Josh will need to find him before the ancient evil of the Marfach does or everything they have – and more – will be lost.

Hard As Stone, the first in the SoulShares series, pulled me wholeheartedly into Rory Ni Coileain’s amazing collision of fantasy and contemporary urban American society.  I found her world building amazing, her characters complex and compelling and the drama and pain of a soul ripped in two irresistible.  How was she going to top it, I wondered?  Gale Force is the answer and an outstanding one to boot!

At the end of Hard As Stone, after Fae Tiernan Guaire and human Kevin Almstead have united in the SoulShares bond, we were informed that more were Fae coming and that Tiernan, Kevin and the bar Purgatory had to be ready.  But no one could have been prepared for the next Fae to be hurled through the Pattern, his soul ripped in two.  That would be the most powerful mage ever born, Conall Dary.  If there is a complete opposite of the sexy, sarcastic Tiernan, it would be Conall Dary.  Virginal, lonely, he is so powerful that he has kept everyone at bay and himself isolated because he feared the damage he could inflict.  That isolation has also made him a target and somewhat naive as to what the other Fae are capable of.  That outlook and a refusal to use his power for petty revenge gets him tossed out of the Realm in the worst way possible.

The author’s descriptions of the Fae Realm and its inhabitants are sharp and complete in both the emotions and characters involved.  Their pettiness is on a scale we find horrific as is the manner in which they demand their “requests” be attended to.  That Conall is too good for this Realm is immediately understood, although not by him.  He has internalized the Fae culture’s image of himself and the damage that has caused his self image is acute.  I fell in love with Conall here and that love only deepened once he fell at the feet (literally) of Josh LaFontaine during a Pride parade.

Josh LaFontaine.  Here is another character to love. Covered in his own ink, magic swirls around him.  I loved him for his bravery, compassion, and determination.  Such a remarkable character and those tats of his…well, that’s one of the highlights of this story and I won’t spoil it for you here.  With each new couple and their passage to a SoulShares bond, the series gets better, the evil that is the Marfach becomes more diabolical, and the scope of the plot widens to show that the author’s plan for all her characters is more complicated and delightful than I had anticipated.

Yes, that magnificent monster, the Marfach is back and even more determined to return to the Realm of the Fae.  Rory Ni Coileain’s ability to drive up the suspense and impression of evil is marvelous.  The Marfach is so twisted that you can almost smell the stench.  What a creation!  And now that it resides in the poor reanimated flesh of the bouncer, we get the thoughts of both beings in one.  That aspect of this story only serves to amp up our anticipation of the evil to come.  Love that about this stoy too!

Gale Force is one wild fantasy ride!  It has it all.  A virginal hero (and Fae at that), magic, a monster, and a forever love waiting to be found.  Rory Ni Coileain delivers  it all in a fast paced, vividly described and beautifully detailed story you won’t want to put down.  I am on to the next in the series, Deep Plunge.  Put this book and the other SoulShares stories on your TBR list.  It is one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Must Reads!

Cover art:  Not credited which is fine because there is nothing that really speaks to the story within on the cover.

Buy Details:          Ravenous Romance                   All Romance eBooks (ARe)                    Amazon    Gale Force

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages

Published March 12th 2013 by Ravenous Romance (first published March 10th 2013)
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/gale-force.php
seriesSoulShares #2

Books in the SoulShares series in the order they were written and should be read are:

Hard As Stone (Soulshares #1)
Gale Force (SoulShares #2)
Deep Plunge (SoulShares #3)
Firestorm (SoulShares #4)

Review: Hard As Stone (SoulShares #1) by Rory Ni Coileain

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Hard as Stone FinalLawyer Kevin Almstead has just been told he doesn’t have what it take to ever make partner. Apparently he has “no fire, no ambition”. That’s what he has just been told and Kevin isn’t sure that he doesn’t agree with that assessment. Depressed and unsure of his next step, Kevin heads out for a drink and wanders into Purgetory, a gay bar in Washington, DC. What and who he finds there will forever change his life and his outlook on the world.

All leather, long blond hair and sexy hot, Kiernan Guaire spells trouble for Kevin Almstead in every way.  For starters, he isn’t even human.  Kiernan Guaire is Fae,a Royal from the Demesne of Earth who was banished from his realm for the only crime the Fae will not tolerate…kin killing.   For killing his brother, Kiernan’s soul was sundered and he was sent through The Pattern to Earth.  One hundred and sixty five years later, Kiernan has wandered, lusted and lived clear of attachments and beholden to no one.  Then Kevin walks into Purgetory looking to drown his problems and finds Kiernan instead.  Kiernan’s life and everything changes for him as well.  For Kevin is his SoulShared, his other half.

Drawn into the SoulShare bond after one passionate night together, they separate unwilling and uncertain what that explosive moment meant to each other.  But strange things are happening at Kevin’s work.  Kiernan is having problems staying away from Kevin. And under the ground in Washington, DC an ancient enemy waits for its chance to free itself and walk the earth and Fae realms once more.  And bonding of Kevin and Kiernan might just give it the magic it needs….

Hard as Stone is the first in the SoulShares series and my first by Rory Ni Coileain.  My introduction to this amazing world building talent, creativity, and  Rory Ni Coileain’s marvelous characters had me staying up late until I finished the story and then grabbing immediately for the next in the series.  Just the mention of a storyline that includes a Fae thread and I’m involved.  Then upend that Fae into the modern world and let the fireworks begin or not, depending upon each author’s take on the subject.

Ni Coileain’s Fae may be magical but they are not terribly likable, especially to each other.  Ruthless, mercurial, and imperious.  Yes.  Gorgeous and forever young. Yes.  Dispicable?  Yes, that too.    Particularly, as I said , with each other.  The only rule they seem to abide by?  Dont’ kill each other.  Torture, maim, and terrorize, yes.  Killing? No.  Even if it is warranted.  They may not kill but they also don’t love.  This is a society of beings you want to avoid and they fall more along the lines of the old Fae of Irish lore.

Hard as Stone (and all the others) open in the realm of the Fae, a universe they walled off from ours, pulling the magic from Earth when the Fae left.   There we first meet Kiernan Guaire, already bound in silver and awaiting his fate.  We learn his crime and watch his tortuous passage through to Earth.  It’s a great start and it draws us into his pain and the scary place that is his people and home.

Waiting on Earth is Kevin Almstead.  Tall, kind, and gorgeous, Kevin’s life is on shaky ground.  Groomed to be a partner at a prestigious law firm, it now looks as thought that won’t happen and Kevin is pondering his next step.  Kevin is immediately someone we can identify with.  He is approachable and his disheartened state of mind is one that anyone who has been rejected or stymied at work can recognize.  I loved this character and thought he was a lovely balance of vulnerability and strength.

Hard as Stone takes place in Washington, DC and although there aren’t a lot of local flavor mentioned here outside of Adams Morgan, there isn’t any errors either which I appreciated.  In fact, I wish Purgatory actually existed.  The closest thing I could think of was The Crucible.  But Purgatory is vividly described from its lighting to the bar and floors.  It feels real and that successful element is a must here because Purgatory has a huge part to play in the stories so its ability to feel alive and present is as necessary to the series as the characters that drink there.

There are monsters here.  Human, fae and something far worse.  It speaks to Rory Ni Coileain’s ability as a writer that the dread she creates and the horror that is the Marfach will make you recoil from the pages and the terror that is rising from them.  And the fight against it is as desperate and wild as you can imagine.   I am still cringing just thinking about a passage or two when the Marfach comes to mind.  That’s a job well done indeed.

There are a number of plot threads introduced here that set up the books to come.  They will spark your interest and anticipation for the next story, Gale Force, in the series.  I loved the SoulShares concept and the idea of finding your other half against all odds.  A wonderful rationale behind an instant love/instant attraction…the fact that you recognize something so familiar about the person in front of you.  It’s a compelling thought and a great storyline.  I can’t wait to get to all the books in the series.

If you are a lover of a Fae/human connection and a fantasy that stretches into our world for unexpected consequences and love,, this is the story and series for you!  I highly recommend them but make sure your journey starts with this one, Hard as Stone.

Buy Details:                All Romance eBooks (ARe)            Amazon                           Hard as Stone

Cover artist isn’t credited but while the models are great, the use of fire doesn’t make sense as ice blue, and earth are major factors here.

Book Details:

 

Kindle Edition, 185 pages
Published October 18th 2012 by Ravenous Romance
original titleHard As Stone
ASINB009SX91JQ
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/hard-as-stone.php?
seriesSoulShares #1