A MelanieM Review: Running with the Wind (Mermen of Ea #3) by Shira Anthony

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Sequel to Into the Wind

Running with the Wind coverWith the final confrontation between the island and mainland Ea factions looming, Taren and Ian sail with Odhrán to investigate a lost colony of merfolk in the Eastern Lands. Upon their arrival, the King of Astenya welcomes them as friends. Odhrán, however, isn’t so quick to trust the descendent of the man who held him prisoner for nearly a decade, especially now that he has someone to cherish and protect—the mysterious winged boy he rescued from the depths.

Armed with the knowledge he believes will save the Ea, Taren returns to the mainland. With Ian at his side, Taren convinces Vurin that their people must unite with their island brethren before it’s too late. When Seria and his men attack, Taren must call upon the ancient power of the rune stone to protect his comrades. But using stone’s immeasurable power commands a hefty price—and Ian fears that price is Taren’s life.

This is the final installment in the Mermen of Ea Series from Dreamspinner Press.

With Running with the Wind, Shira Anthony brings her Mermen of Ea Trilogy to a close and what a ride it has been!  From the moment I met the endearing Taren, I was hooked on this imaginative saga of discovery, loss and love.  From a simple seaside tavern where we find the young slave,Taren,  who is ignorant of his true nature as a merman, through the pirate ships, tumultuous relationships and discovery of a divided Mermen culture, Anthony has built a deeply layered and magical universe to go along with her complicated fantasy characters.    That a series of relationships is built upon the plight of a divided people and the renewal of a culture who had lost its way just gives this trilogy added depth and heartfelt angst. The author’s world building is equal to the creativity shown with the characters, all of whom she made it easy to fall in love with.  And cry over.

Writing the final story, whether to a series or trilogy, is always tricky.  Readers have built up certain expectations in their mind that they bring to any final installment and meeting those high expectations is almost always impossible.  How does Running with the Wind measure up to mine?  Pretty darn well.

We have multiple couples and their relationships to bring some closure to, in one case its two couples in one.  That would be Taren Laxley who is also the reincarnation of the Ea priest Treande and his lover Ian Dunaidh, captain of the Ea ship the Phantom, who is also the reincarnated Owyn, Ea priest and lover of Treande.  We get both the past and the present with these two.  And then there is Odhrán and Bastian, who natures I won’t reveal here but these are two powerful characters, so much so that I almost think they “stole” the story away from Taren and Ian.  I loved the slow development and revelations that occur with these two.  They surprised me, confounded me and I thought their part of this tale was among the most powerful of elements.

But the Mermen of Ea also includes the unforgettable Jonat Rider, and Vurin, and so many others.  Anthony’s creations are so well developed that you come to care for them all deeply throughout the course of the series and their various fates pull at your hearts at the end of the story.

As stated, the final story, especially one with as many plots as found here, has much to tie up and the narrative got a tad crowded along the way.  The colony had to be brought back to its true destiny, a huge evil had to be overcome,  and some of our major characters had transformations to go through in order to survive and win out at the end.  I did find that some passages dragged on a little too long for me but the battles at sea and on land were vividly described,  painfully believable and suspenseful.  The air and sea felt charged with energy and the drama was everything I could have hoped for and expected of this writer.   And yes, I cried some too.

A truism that most writers recognize and address in their stories or fables is that a price is almost always extracted from each hero/major character who uses a ancient or forbidden power.  Somewhere towards the end of a tale, the hero will have to pay   a  profound personal cost that is the consequence for the use of magic. That happens here in Running with the Wind but not to the extent that I think the readers were lead to believe would happen by the events leading up to the last battles.  Some will be happy about that and others will be let down that the price Taren pays is more of a tap to the wrist then a major sacrifice.  How a reader feels about the element will dictate how they feel about the end of this story and series. I have to admit to feeling a bit disappointed, but only a little.  That is my only real gripe here.

This is a wonderful universe in which to spend hours of time.  And Shira Anthony has left enough room and questions that should she ever wish t0 return to it, perhaps to see how Odhrán and Bastian and the others are getting along, including a certain King, well,  I would be more than happy to journey back along with her.  But if that never happens, we still have the wonderful mermen and humans of  the Mermen of Ea saga to keep us happy and involved in their lives.  Read them all in the order they were written.  Enjoy the journey and end up happy as I did as to how it all played out.  It was a wonderful ride, I loved every minute and word of it.

Cover art by Anne Cain.  I have loved all the covers for this trilogy.  This one is lovely as is the first one.  But that second cover is so indescribably gorgeous and incandescent that this one suffers a little in comparison.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press –  All Romance (ARe) –  Amazon   Buy It Here on June 8th.

Book Details:

ebook, also available in paperback
Expected publication: June 8th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634762151
edition languageEnglish
seriesMermen of Ea #3
charactersIan Dunaidh, Taren Laxley, Odhrán, Bastian, Seria..

Books in the Mermen of Ea Trilogy are in the  order they were written and should be read:

Stealing the Wind coverIntoWindRunning with the Wind cover

 

A MelanieM Review: Truth & Tenderness (Faith, Love, & Devotion #6) by Tere Michaels

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Truth and Tenderness coverNewly promoted police captain Evan Cerelli takes command of his own precinct as Matt Haight’s security business begins to expand at a rapid rate. Both of their careers require more and more of their time—away from home and each other. When his most famous clients, Daisy and Bennett Ames, suffer a traumatic breakup, Matt is drawn into a dangerous and dramatic situation. With attentions diverted, Evan and Matt’s tight-knit home life begins to unravel.

As Griffin Drake’s movie nears final edit, his thoughts turn toward building a home with his new fiancé, Jim Shea—and maybe even starting a family. Before he can think of a new family, Jim is caught up in his past. The possibility of putting Tripp Ingersoll in jail once and for all beckons, and Jim wants the closure that has long eluded him. As a new lead spurs him on, Jim begins to lose sight of the future by chasing an old ghost.

Both couples struggle to remember that “happily ever after” requires hard work, trust, and tender, open hearts.

Truth and Tenderness by Tere Michaels brings the terrific Faith, Love & Devotion series to a heartwarming and totally satisfying close.  After discovering the amazing characters Michaels introduced in Faith & Fidelity (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #1), I soon became “obsessed” with these complicated men and their often tortuous path to love and HEA.  What a tough path its been for all involved, and that includes the reader.  It’s been a A Ticket Ride all the way to the end and I loved every word of it.

First there was New York City Vice Detective Evan Cerelli, a widower with a passel of kids.  He’s the character I most often wanted to slap upside the head….over and over again.  Evan has been one continual PITA in this series but I grew to love him mostly because Matt did.  And his kids did…as well as his sister.  Evan has lots of redeeming features that kept the readers involved in him, no matter that we often felt like giving him a boot to the rear.  He quaffled, and quibbled and ran from a character we loved immediately.  That was former Homicide Detective Matt Haight, a veritable Rubik’s Cube of emotions and doubt.  Both men had shied away from the fact that they were attracted to men and to each other.  Between Evan’s massive load of guilt over his treatment of the  dead wife he loved (although not in the way she wanted),  his kids and his wife’s parents, Evan’s journey to another relationship, let alone one with a man, was strewn with emotional land mines.  Ones he stepped on time and again.  Matt too came with enough baggage dragging behind him to outfit a trip to deepest Africa.  He had problems with trying to solve his issues with alcohol, he got fired from the police department, a job he was made to do and loved. Plus he was a total womanizer in order to hide what he felt towards men.  And it took books for these men to come together with any sort of equanimity or solidity.   There was doubt and fights even through this last story.  Man, love is hard for these two.  But also, in Tere Michaels hands, rewarding, believable, and fierce.   Through every hard won battle and advancements made, it seemed as though this pair then took as many steps backward.  And the reader was dragged back and forth along with emotional journey, becoming even more committed to their happiness along the way.

And not only did these men need to find out how to make their relationship work with their strong personalities, they had Evan’s kids to contend with and fold into their relationship as well.  That would be the twins, Danny and Elizabeth as well as the older girls, Katie and Miranda.  How I loved that Katie! In fact, these kids acted and sounded…well, like kids..ones still trying to recover from the loss of their mother. Again this was handled so authentically by the author that you wept and laughed and loved all the interaction among this family as it enlarged to include Matt.  Some kids loved Matt, others not so much seeing him as a replacement for their beloved mother.  Sound familiar?  Yep, it does.   And because it does, the stories worked even better due to the recognizable rivalry and reality they reflected back at us.

But the couple that really, completely stole my heart?  That would be Detective James “Jim” Shea, a Seattle cop, and Hollywood screenwriter Griffin Drake who met over a horrific homicide case, an investigation that runs the length of the series and is resolved finally here. Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love, & Devotion #2) was the book I went back to multiple times because this pairing was so hot, so gripping that I couldn’t get enough of them.  They were an odd pair, on the surface, but underneath, Michaels showed us two men who fit together so well, that imagining them ever parting was heartbreaking.  Jim Shea has so many  layers to him, one of which was a somewhat cold exterior he shed only with a few close friends.  Watching Griffin climb inside that barrier was such a joy of this story.  Equally so was watching the impact Jim made on Griffin’s life.

Tere Michaels created something remarkable with this series.  She brought these men, their lives, and struggle to make a difference and find love real and memorable.  I was so invested in these stories I often lost track of the fact that they were characters on a page (or screen).  I got angry over their actions (see Evan), I got frustrated when their relationship got stymied by their jobs (see all of them) and by their doubts and inability to communicate that caused them to stumble and fall repeatedly.  But then I was also there to cheer when they got it together enough to pick themselves back up and try to make it all work one more time.  How this series and the author put me and these marvelous characters through the wringer more times than I can count.  I love/hated every minute of their relationship waltzes.  How sorry I am that its finally over.

In Truth and Tenderness, all the pairings are looking fairly stable (at least for this group) when Jim decides he just can’t let go of the case that brought them all together.  There is Daisy and Bennett, Shane and Helena, Miranda and boyfriend Kent, Evan and Matt, Jim and Griffin.  While that may sound like a crowd, it’s not.  It’s all one giant extended family. But the explosions are about to start, and they happen everywhere, small and humongous just as Evan is getting his captaincy.  It’s the evil that is Tripp Ingersoil, the killer who got away with the murder of Carmen a teenage hooker, that is occupying Jim’s thoughts and time when they should be turned towards his new life with Griffin.  This is the case that brought them together when Griffin made a screenplay out of the story. It also made Jim a close friend/surrogate son of Ed Kelly, Carmen’s dad, another reason he can’t let go of this case. Well, that and the killer walked.

If someone asked me to point out one reason why this series resonated with me so, I’m not sure I could do it.  Yes, the dialog is snappy, believable and relevant in every aspect, from the “police speak” to the manner in which you talk intimately to someone you love.   Their words and conversations come at you with all the force of the grittiness that life and living entails. It’s not always pretty, flowers and hearts.  Sometimes its ugly, and painful and raw.  It’s stubbornness and silence, slamming doors and phone calls not returned.  Michaels gets that too about love and life and lays it all out here before us.   It’s not just that the characterizations are multidimensional and real, its that these men and the people that support them breathe, emote, and scream with an energy and vividness that captures you in every scene and situation.  Jim, Griffin, Evan, Matt and the rest work because we believe in them as well as their dynamics.

Same goes for the various plot threads and overall theme.  Michaels carries them all logically and authentically to the satisfying climax, including several white knuckle action scenes and situations.  Really,  you know, we wouldn’t have been happy with less.  These are police officers, detectives and killers so whatever happens need to reflect those professions, actions and accountability.  And it does.  Thank you, Tere Michaels, for that procedural attentiveness to detail as well.

Did I hate to see this end?  You betcha.  But was I happy with how it ended?  Almost.  Of course, it’s Evan and Matt who leave with that little bit of snarkiness you have come to expect from them.  I left them all 99.9 percent happy and that works for me.  It will for you too.  But if you are new to these men and their Rube Goldberg path to love and HEA, please run dont’ walk back to the first story and see how it (and they) all begin.  I have listed the stories below, use it as a list to check them all off.  And let me know which story was your favorite as you now know mine.

I highly recommend Truth & Tenderness and the entire Faith, Love, & Devotion series by Tere Michaels.  This book and this series will be on my Best of 2015 list.  Read them and find out why they should be on yours.

 Cover art by Aaron Anderson.  I don’t think I would be happy with any cover here because of all the elements I would want to see.  I thought it was ok but wanted so much more.  Probably not fair to the artist.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback      All Romance (ARe)   Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632167118
edition languageEnglish
seriesFaith, Love, & Devotion #6
charactersMatt Haight, Evan Cerelli, Jim Shea, Griffin Drake

Faith, Love & Devotion Series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, relationships and plot threads:

  • Faith & Fidelity (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #1)
  • Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #2)
  • Duty & Devotion (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #3)
  • Cherish (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #4)
  • Cherish & Blessed (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #4 & #5)
  • Truth & Tenderness (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #6)