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review 2014-06-14 16:47
Evelyn Shepherd – Summoner’s Dirge (The Last Canticle #1)
Summoner's Dirge (The Last Canticle #1) - Evelyn Shepherd

Reviewer: Eladio

 

Summary: : Because of the strange tattoos that decorate his body, Damir Rosen has lived a secluded, quiet life on his farm outside of Canaan. But the peace and calm of his daily life is shaken when he finds a broken and half-dead man in his field. Taking a grave risk, Damir heals Balin and discovers a passion he never thought possible in the exotic stranger from another land. On a mission to kill the king of Pheor when his airship crashes in the mountains, Balin grieves that he’ll die before he ever finishes the job. An unexpected angel—who glows with the strength of the stars—saves him, though, and now Balin must decide whether remain with the sensual man who brought him back from death or finish the job that could stop a war.
 Tragedy strikes, forcing Balin and Damir onto the run. With the aid of a group of sky pirates, they begin a journey, one Damir only dreamed of ever taking. If Damir can overcome his grief, and learn to trust Balin, they may just be able to uncover the truth behind Damir’s healing powers, save the world, and each other in the process.

 

Review: : Balin is an assassin sent by an emperor to kill a king who is about to start a civil war, and if Balin fails to do the job, he will pay with his life. After an airship crash strands Balin near the isolated farm of sweet, innocent healer Damir who takes him in and tends to his wounds, Balin decides to blow off his mission and settle down with Damir for the rest of their lives. However, trouble comes a-knocking in the form of the warring king’s insistent general who recognizes Damir as a being with special powers who can aid his cause. This puts Balin and Damir on the run to discover what Damir is and what they should do about it.


The competently written story is not a witty steampunk romp as I had hoped for after reading the blurb, but more of a derivative high fantasy, which is especially derivative in one of the later chapters when it helps itself to the spiders-of-Mirkwood scene straight out of the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The plot is too meandering for my tastes, though it works to the usual high fantasy standards with the little band of questing characters roaming about the landscape and wasting time on little side excursions to come to the aid of other characters that they meet along the way.


The writing style is florid in the usual high fantasy tradition (“His eyebrows grew high and tight on his forehead like acrobatic caterpillars,” and “He could taste his terror, a sour sludge that weighed his tongue down,” and “His amber orbs would glaze over like candied ginger”). But the dialog is jarringly modern and laced with American slang such as when one character says, “Well, who’s ready to get the fuck out of Dodge?”


And there are long, detailed sex scenes in almost every chapter that feature clenching assholes, puckered entrances, one-two-three fingers, and pulsating dicks, and all this slows the book to a crawl. On the bright side, the story does have a show-down and a real ending before setting up for the next book, so readers who hate cliffhangers won’t have to worry about that here. Though this book wasn’t my thing, I would recommend it to fans of derivative fantasy series like The Sword of Shannara, readers who like frequent sex scenes, and those who love long meandering quest stories.

Source: heartsonfirereviews.com/?p=27186
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review 2014-03-26 03:58
Summoner's Dirge - Fun Fantasy with a few issues
Summoner's Dirge (The Last Canticle #1) - Evelyn Shepherd

Overall, I thought this was a very imaginative and fun fantasy adventure romance that’s set in this alternative world with magic and flying ships where an assassin stumbles upon a mysterious farm boy, and together they get caught up in each other and a coming war.

What I liked: I LOVE fantasy, and I really love m/m fantasy, and Shepherd’s story is filled to the brim with creative word-building, fantastic settings, and LOADS of adventure. One thing I liked was that I didn’t remember the blurb much outside of “airships, yay!” so I was nicely surprised as the story twists and turns around how assassin Balin’s meets with gentle, sheltered Damir and their building life and relationship, and what happens when the more violent outside world comes crashing down on Damir’s idyllic farm and forces both of them to make some tough choices.

For the most part, I could not guess at all where the story was going. Shepherd has imagination to burn, and this book is most reminiscent of a big fantasy journey story as our heroes embark on their quest.

I really liked the characters, both main and secondary. The main MCs of Balin and Damir were sympathetic and readable, and I enjoyed watching loner Balin get attached to someone just as I enjoyed watching Damir open up to new experiences (and unfortunately, also to some tragedies that change him.) But fortunately, he is not facing them alone, and he and Balin make a fiercely strong couple (and have a lot of hot romantic times along their journey.)

The secondary characters were also interesting, and I particularly liked the secondary couple of Zephyr, an airship pirate captain and his right hand man/lover Israel. (My suspicion is that they may be a lead couple in a future book, which I wouldn’t mind. They’re interesting, and have yet to have their backstory explained.)

What was harder: The three things that brought down my reading a little are--

1) I’d recommend another round of proofing. There were quite a few editing errors, including misused names a few times. Also, a few anachronisms that seemed odd in this fantasy AU world, like when a character says, “Let’s get the fuck out of Dodge.” (Which refers to the old Kansas boomtown of Dodge.) Some of those threw me out.

2) The book is chock full of awesome adventures, and I did really enjoy that it spooled out in this great fantasy epic adventure way. I knew it was part of a series, but I didn’t know how much of series it was going to be. (Is it a series of one-shot stories in the same land? Will it have a cliffhanger? Etc.) Around the 60-70% mark, when the characters were going on a new side-quest that I could tell wasn’t going to resolve the main arc, I had the sinking feeling that I was in the long-term fantasy trilogy land, and from there, I stopped thinking that things would get resolved too much by the end of this one. (And they weren’t.)

BUT for those who hate cliffhangers (like me. I HATE them.), please note that this book does not have a cliffhanger ending. It’s very much in the middle of the journey—our heroes have much to do going forward, but it’s HFN and safe enough of an ending for now, that you won’t be gnashing your teeth too much about what will happen next.

3) Balin and Damir have some awesome sexy times in the book as they explore each other and their relationship. I did think some of the sex could have been culled out. Sometimes it slowed the pacing down, and at times felt like, “big action” -> “chill out after” --> “sexy times” --> back on the road --> “Mmm, a hotel bed. Sexy times!” --> “Action!” --> “healing and comfort” --> “Consoling sexy times!” etc. Probably 2-3 scenes could have been cut without losing the story’s (and the characters’) steaminess.

Will I read the next book? Yes, definitely. Even with my caveats, it was still a really fun read, and definitely hit my fantasy-romance buttons, so I’m on board for the next book, no matter if the author sticks with this book’s main couple or gives Israel and Zephyr the spotlight. Either would work for me.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, especially to other big fans of m/m fantasy. It wasn’t a perfect read for me, but I did enjoy it. Just know that it doesn’t end the journey in this volume, so it’s better to have that expectation of the “long view” for fantasy epics going in. (My assumption is that this will be a trilogy, but am not certain.)

This is the first pro book that I’ve read by Shepherd. (The other work I read by her is one of her earlier pre-pro fictionpress stories Kingdom Come.) This novel is definitely an improvement over her pre-pro writing. I did sometimes find the story almost…over-stuffed, either with action or sex or extra plot or characters, but I think it’s partly a sign of a bursting and vibrant imagination. A little restraint might not be bad, but overall, she has a fun style. (I do think it’s cool that she keeps up her pre-professional work on FP. Not every writer does that.)

A fun read. I recommend some more proofing, but I definitely look forward to the next book, and for big high fantasy romance fans, it may hit many of your buttons.

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review 2013-12-31 17:32
...
I Am Here - Evelyn Shepherd

DNF

Argh, I can’t!
Too much puking, crying and fucking.

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review 2013-07-18 00:00
White Bone, Red Sky - Evelyn Shepherd 4 Hearts

Review written for MM Good Book Reviews

This story is part of a series and is best read in order. Theo and Carlos have just returned from their vacation when they are called in to investigate a madman who is butchering young children, the press and children of Columbus have already labelled him the Bogeyman and it is up to Theo and Carlos to stop him before a third victim is butchered. When the FBI steps in Theo is suspicious as the agent seems to be keeping secrets, but with very few clues to go on and with no answers in sight Theo and Carlos have no choice but to trust the agent. When Rhett Bishop gets in touch saying he has information, Theo discovers that the foe they face is extremely dangerous and deadly. As Carlos and Theo investigate Carlos also has to face problems in his pack as a contender comes forward to challenge him for the Alpha position, and Theo has to fight his own fears if he is to ask Carlos the most important question of his life.

This is a great story continuing the turbulent relationship of Carlos and Theo, chasing a deranged killer and putting an end to the dissent in Carlos’ pack. There are quite a few things happening in this story that get briefly pulled together, it adds excitement and danger to a story that is already filled with it but it also adds confusion for Theo and Carlos. Theo is trying to build up the courage to ask Carlos an important question but his own doubts and fears are holding him back, but another brush with death convinces him to take the bull by the horns. Carlos is fighting to keep hold of his Alpha position but Theo’s actions are not helping his case at all, trying to get Theo to back off is especially hard.

Theo and Carlos are wonderful in this book, they have explosive chemistry and strike sparks off each other and when they have sex *wipes brow* they are smoking hot. The storyline was great and I really liked how Theo was trying to get into the head of the killer, trying to see how he would have done things but always coming up stumped on why the killer was doing it. Carlos’ power struggle and Theo’s reaction to it was great, we can see Theo wanting to step back and let Carlos handle it but the fear of losing Carlos has him acting in ways that cause more problems. How Carlos reacted to the undermining of his authority was superbly done but I am glad that forgiveness came quickly after.

All in all I really enjoyed this book but there was one big niggle for me, when they were all about to head off for the big confrontation against a killer with powers that had never been seen before, Theo was wondering if there was anything that could give them an advantage and I could only shake my ereader and scream ‘the bloody drug’. I won’t go into it any more than that, but something that took Theo out should have worked on the killer as well.

I have to recommend this book if you want a preternatural crime story, you love smoking hot sex, you want to see a lot of danger, some cool wicked powers, love and forgiveness, catching a killer in a wicked battle and a great ending.
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review 2013-07-14 00:00
White Bone, Red Sky - Evelyn Shepherd 4.5 starsIn this third book of the series -- after [b:The Hunting Moon|11862613|The Hunting Moon|Evelyn Shepherd|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320040539s/11862613.jpg|16819392] and [b:Event Horizon|13409270|Event Horizon|Evelyn Shepherd|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1326190222s/13409270.jpg|18642723] -- Theo and his lover/partner Carlos are dealing with horrific case: two kids are murdered, slightly mutilated, by a man that comes from these kids nightmares: The Boogeyman. No one seemed to see this man, even if he clearly had been watching the kids on public places before he snatched them. On top of that, Carlos position as Alpha of his werecoyotes pack is challenged -- and the threat extends to Theo as well.----------------------"Theo Bourne" is one of my favorite MM urban fantasy series. I love it more than average readers. It combined police procedural and supernatural beings; which is always something I enjoy.Like the previous two books, the story moves in fast pace. In chapter 1, Theo and Carlos have just landed from their trip to Madrid (this trip is related to [b:One Bad Day: A Theo Bourne Story|17867682|One Bad Day A Theo Bourne Story|Evelyn Shepherd|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1367298437s/17867682.jpg|25015667]) when they get the call from their Chief about the murdered child. And it goes from there very quickly, with investigation, and Casper challenging Carlos's position as Alpha. The two 'cases' keep both Theo and Carlos busy.The action part of this story just WINS me over. I think the climax is awesome (and action-movie material). There are two big climaxes here: one with Theo and Carlos against the pack members who want Carlos to step down from Alpha position, and the other one when they are facing The Boogeyman. Both are vividly written, supernatural powers being thrown in here and there. And I just LOVE it!It doesn't mean that the story lacks of the romance, even if this is about established couple. Theo and Carlos still hot for each other, and there are quite a number of sex scenes here. There is also a sweet moment of Theo wanting to propose (he already has a ring!). The ending part, when Carlos's family find out about the engagement, and then Carlos's sister-in-law and Theo's aunt starting to plan for the ceremony is such a delight to read!The only thing that keep this from getting the perfect star is the pet names (yes, I delete those "baby's"!) and the fact that I still don't understand the motive behind The Boogeyman's action. There is an explanation in the end, but it's not enough. It's more like deduction rather than the actual truth. I wonder why kids? What is the connection between the two murdered children? How does he appear in nightmares? It's all still a bit blurry to me.A solid follow-up that combined action, urban fantasy, and romance. If you enjoy the first stories of this series, I think you will like this one as well. I definitely cannot wait until the next book (there should be more, please! I want to read Theo and Carlos's wedding ceremony!)
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