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review 2017-05-26 06:38
Consider me impressed... again!
The Poison Within: An Order Universe Short Story (Inspector Skaer Book 1) - Kasia Bacon
FOUR HEARTS--And once again, I'm impressed with this author's writes.



Two for two, both short stories that left me wanting more but enjoyed the hell at what was given.

Set in the Order universe, a fantasy based world with supernatural beings and humans coincide, The Poison Withinis another creation from the author where the characters took a mind of their own.

And I'm not mad at it.

In fact, I need to send a bottle of bubbly to those blokes for getting their stories, or should say, start of their stories out for public consumption.

Clandestine human lovers of two years, low born Inspector Käyru Skaer has been meeting whenever he can with his lover, Count Ellydhar Finn-Jánn. Käyru worries that his lower class status will call an end to this love affair with his "Elly". He knows one of these days Elly will wise up and leave him, even if it would crush his heart. He'd let his lover go. He tries to hide his feelings and takes all that he can get. Did I mention there is a noted size difference? And D/s undertones? Someone has a penchant for writing hints of D/s.

*stares*

The world they live in is xenophobic, some humans regard non-humans are lesser. Political warfare and unjust treatment runs rampant. Case in fact, nymphs are living on Elly's land due to being ousted by a power hungry, racist power that fuels on scaring the masses (sounds familiar?) Käyru is called on duty from his lover's thighs to a solve a multiple murder. And it gets a little graphic when described which I liked.

The suspense is very quick. Justice is met swiftly--hooray! And we're introduced to a new being, cousin to the vampire, the Furia. What they can do is cool! (And if this character shows up in future works, I'll have excite)

I can go either way with established couples. This couple wasn't boring in the least. The story is told from the Inspector's POV, so the reader has to rely on his feelings for Elly to get a sense of their relationship.


I craved his proximity to a degree that would've been mortifying if I hadn't long stopped caring about hiding my want for him.


I thought the author succeeded on that front. There was even snatches of snark. I don't want to include my fave snippet as it'd give away a key part to the action/suspense bit.

Now my nitpick: despite the story being short, there were two instances where the scene ended weird. Like there was either something more to be said or done or shown. Both instances are when Inspector Skaer leaves Elly. The last time, after such a pivotal moment, seemed off. The love of his life just survived, and he leaves quietly? It's a minor nitpick and most likely a me thing. The inspector has a bit of an issue with his self confidence with his lover... so it could just be his way,

This is the start of a serial, by the way. The story ends with: to be continued . After 'the end', has there ever been more cursed words?

The writing is sharp. The sense of setting is just right. The story has a way of pulling the reader in. This story has a little bit of a lot of things I enjoy reading: hint of kink, strong main characters, interesting worldbuilding, cool concepts and a hint of dark. (I wonder how dark this author could get, hm?)

A suggestion as this world and the beings seem to be intricate; a glossary of the types of beings wouldn't hurt. Especially if there are going to be more detours from the main event.

I've fold my napkin.

I'm holding my utensils.

I'm waiting super patiently.



So patiently.

Consider me there once the novel drops, which I hope is soon. Or maybe I'll need to chat with the characters a bit, ask them to plague the author.

The Order universe has facets. I'm curious to read them all. And looks like I'm victim of another serial. ;D

Recommended.

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review 2017-04-03 07:41
Fantasy lovers, this is one to read! O_O
The Mutt: An Order Series Short Story - Kasia Bacon

4.5 HEARTS--


I wanted his attention, but he refused to give it to me.
So I had to find a way to claim it.


This story... listen, this story? It's phenomenal. And for just 41 pages, it packs a wallop into a fantasy world I want to be a part of.





The Mutt by new author Kasia Bacon is a prequel of sorts set in the Order universe, a fantasy based world with a contemporary feel. The author begins with a note stating the characters would not let up until she told their beginning. I personally want to thank Lochan and Ervyn. And I also want to let them know, I hope they nag the author (I mean it in the sweetest way possible) because this a winning concept and the novel needs to be out like yesterday.

Highland Dark elf, Ervyn, sees his man at training camp and wants his eyes on him. His man, Lochan, half human/half elf aka mutt, doesn't know it yet but he's been claimed. The aloof, talented assassin in training doesn't notice anyone and it perplexes and frustrates Ervyn. Nothing gets the blue eyed half breed's attention. Ervyn is set to be an archer once training camp is completed. It's a family tradition. Watching Lochan tests what he wants, Lochan's skills are some of the best seen. And he just wants to bask in his greatness.

And kiss him too.


"There was a fair amount of feral in that grin. I longed to be the one to tame the predator in him."



Fantasy fans this is going to be a winner. The world building, the taste that the author introduces is layered. There is even a language! And if you love reading sexual tension as much as I do, this story is filled with it. That even a mere kiss blew my top.

Plus the elves are reminiscent of Prince Nuada from Hellboy, who I have a major nerd boner for. So anything remotely written like the (misunderstood) bad guy with dark elves, emotionally stunted communication, baggage, sword and killing skills...I am ALL over it.





My one complaint is probably going to be it should have been longer. But that's the greed talking.

The author states this is a beginning and it reads just like that. We know the two men (late teens at this point, the cusp of adulthood) will have a deeper story as they hint at the future from the beginning. The story while filled with sexual tension, doesn't have an overabundance of sex. This works highly because it made me want to know more and appreciate every second either two interacted.


"What are you doing?" he breathed.
"I want to kiss you. If you want that too, you'll say, "Please, Ervyn."
[...]
"Please, Ervyn," he said in a guttural voice.


Have I mentioned there is a hint of future D/s? Someone's possessive. I'm all about it.

I haven't been as impressed with a short story in sometime.  If the author continues with the rich writing, she'll have a fan in me. I'm kind of in love with this couple already.





Highly recommended especially for fans of fantasy, elves, assassins and cool concepts.



A copy provided for an honest review.

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review 2017-01-08 21:27
A King and a Pawn (Leader Murders #3) by Liv Olteano
A King and a Pawn - Liv Olteano

This book is all over the place. I am not even sure I am attaching correct tags here.

- Urban history, for example. This could have taken place anywhere. In the woods or in the mountains, for all I care. But there was a mentioning of some humans in cars and apartment complexes so... I guess it's on an urban-y side.

- Law enforcement, PI. Not really. Bert is a beta (read: a butler and a cook and a nanny) to an asshole who happens to be in charge of PBI (paranormal bureau of investigations).

- Secret agent, spy, politician, diplomat. Same - Bert, the PBI asshole's beta, is sent on a diplomatic mission he has no prior training for, obvisly (see "beta" definition above).

*

There is no chemistry between MC's. None. Except for Will proclaiming his undying love for Bert every couple of pages or less.

And then there is all this talking.... I am surprised the characters (all of them, except for the babies) didn't talk their heads off.

A very frustrating and disappointing read :/ 2 stars.

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review 2016-10-19 06:11
A broken hero, dark urban fantasy and a magical world can be found in here...
In the Twist - L. A. Stockman
3.5 Hearts--Debut novella urban fantasy with a religious/mythology tinge, In the Twist, is the first in the Wild Hunt series. It's definitely a story that is not for everyone. Read the blurb. Still think you're ready? The story begins with a gory start...a disemboweled junkie child kind of start. Still with me? There are triggers up the wazoo, potential readers are heavily warned. While the subjects are dark, the story isn't as dark as it seems. (Think light-ish DMC read)

If you don't mind viscera here and there.

Anyone, still here with me?

You are?

Great. :)

Irish ex-priest, now American detective David Shaughnessy is a damaged soul with so baggage he could probably run his own department store. He's fairly young but has lived a lifetime of pain, shares a home with a sister and houses unwanted orphans. He was an unwanted once. And was used and abused by those who he should have trusted.

Present day David can care for those in need but doesn't care about himself, he's scarred and tattooed. While on a case, he meets older and worldly Interpol agent Dallan Jaeger. Dallan and David see the world...differently. Together, they uncover the mundane and magic world, open a new way of life for David and meet the 'The Wild Hunt', a group of the world's best warriors of legend.

The first 30% was a struggle for me. In fact, it took me days to get through. It wasn't the subject matter (because this barely scratches my dark meter) but the POV is muddled. At one point eye colors changed from ice blue to green-grey. And I thought it disemboweling was going to be as good as it got. But something pushed me to keep reading.

And I'm glad I did.

After 30% or so, the story got less muddled and more interesting, especially the urban fantasy world, religious and historical undertones brushed through. There was action, magic, romance, horror and mystery. It might've also been the swords added in too. I'm a sucker for swords. There's more to Dallan, David and his family. I like the mythological/fantasy world created. And I enjoy anything with a hint of heaven/hell thrown in made interesting. I enjoyed the author's take on it (the hints the reader gets).

Bare bones, this story hits an appropriate checklist of romance: man meets man, they share interests and mutual attraction, fight said attraction while uncovering a mystery and falling for one another for a solid HFN.

Not bad, right? What's the difference from all the other urban fantasy romances? The Wild Hunt, for one. Picture international badass immortal warriors from the ages. The faeries in this book are evil. And there are dukedoms in Hell.

I thought all of that was cool.

But I have quibbles.

My main quibble with this novella is it could have been longer.

For someone with David's depth of damage, the rapid way he gets over his hangups for love? I want to buy it. I really do. But it takes time. His mental abuse is so ingrained, the hurt and pain were written so well (a bit too well in aspects) that I ached for him. We get novel length feelings and major declarations in a novella. And some really lovely words, that I normally flutter like glitter fairy to I really enjoy. But the time span the men spend together is days. It's not like we're talking normal human relationships here. I can turn a blind eye for fated mates (not the case here).

I liked the attraction between Dallan and David. The romance was nice when I overlook the muddle. Because the conversations that Dallan and David had, really had when trying to overcome the hardships of their past (namely the abused), oh...those were sweet. Like laying jewels on your damaged feet kind of sweet. I basked in some the words when the muddling lessened.

I especially liked the duke. I kind of wished there was elaboration on the backstory about that. The story slowly unfolds David's background and his kids. It's more about him than Dallan, though both men are equally interesting.

Worth a gander (those who can handle the subject matter)? I think so.

Underneath the weaker start, rapid insta-love, beginning POV confusion, there's a solid plot. And it's too soon to call, but there were hints of something in the prose. It reminded me of a few urban fantasy stories I used to read in the past underneath my quibbles. And I think that if the author finds a groove, explains plot points and keep the POV separate...this could be an urban fantasy series to watch.

I'll be back for book #2, Titan's Watch, see what else the author has up her sleeve especially for these characters.



A copy provided for an honest review.
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review 2016-10-14 06:49
I'm ALL ABOUT this narrator...Mr. Davies, you have a fan in me. *wink*
Betrothed: A Faery Tale - Therese Woodson
A Hearts On Fire Review

4.25 HEARTS--Must love faeries, brats and faery tales.

Thankfully, I enjoy all of the above.

Fantasy is very much my go-to genre. My favorite magical beings after unicorns and mermaids are the fae. They're not just twee little folk when written right. (Yes, they're open for interpretation)

Therese Woodson did a very interesting version of faeries. They're separated by four elements: sun, water, air and earth. Each element ruled by their respective kingdom. Due to a war hundreds of years ago between the greedy Sun King and the other elements, a marriage treaty was created between the air, water and earth (the winners). The elements must be married to maintain peace...it's been arranged.

Enter Puck aka half-human/ half- earth faery, Prince Chrysanths who is sort of a black sheep of both the faery and human world. He doesn't fit in either realm. While faeries have tattoo like colorful markings all over their body that depict their base element, his human side mutes it to faint colors. And he doesn't have wings and can't fly like his full blooded mother or subjects. His ears are rounded like a human, his magic isn't as strong and he's regulated to seeing his father once a year, if that.

When his mother, Queen Bellis tells Puck it's time for his arranged marriage to air faery prince Sky to happen, in three weeks, Puck does the only logical thing. He runs to Earth. Thus begins a fish out of water like experience for (Prince Sky) because of course he has to follow his betrothed into the human world (where he's never traveled).

The story has a lot of great themes going for it that I like to read in budding romances. This reads like New Adult. Puck still has growing up to do. Sky is definitely more responsible. They're opposites in a lot of ways. But where the author created magic (despite the obvious subject) is the little moments. Puck is frustrating but Sky can't help but charmed by the color in his eyes, or the way he thinks about something. That makes or breaks a romance for me. I'm more of a small gestures kind of reader.

And the young men learn one another while virtually strangers in a short amount of time (about three weeks) in America (?) guessing by the narrator's accent.

And this narrator. He is 5 Hearts all the way I want him to narrate all the things for me, especially fantasy books. I can name 5 GLBT fantasy books I want him to narrate for me right now. It'd be epic. EPIC!
My list of audiobook narrators I've listened to isn't long, but I'm telling you Matthew Lloyd Davies is on my list of best narrators ever. He does the voices, the inflections, breaks at the right moment. He put thought into the characters, he breathed life into the characters. They were all distinct! I felt like I was at a production with my audiobook. (My favorite words Mr. Davies said? The dirty ones, of course!)

My one quibble with the narration is the American accents are read with a British pronunciation, so it made the American in me pause for a bit. Hearing the "mall" pronounced 'mell' rather than MALL with a long 'A' gave me acute screw face. Just for a teeny bit. Hell after awhile, Jim (Puck's dad) accent grew on me. I thought it added charm after awhile, Jim's accent like sounding syrupy British with marbles in the mouth. I was all for it.

Narration skills aside, the story is a modern day faery tale. We get an arranged marriage where love blossoms organically. Yes, there is a short amount of time. And there is a villain so to speak and a little outside action (very minor) But Woodson made sure to add little details from the Puck and Sky's first meeting to detail their attraction and chemistry.

So much so, I would have been fine if they didn't have any kind of sexual contact. And the story was strictly PG-13. Don't worry smutsters, it's not. ;D

I wanted to give this book 5 Hearts. It pains me not to especially with that top notch narration. Because all the romance details work so wonderfully. But...I can't. There were two areas where elaboration and development should have happened. The story is chugging along at a nice pace, a twist that I had a feeling was coming, happens. Cool. And then another plot twist happens, even better. But the way it just fizzled, to rush to a HEA. I need answers.

1) What the hell was the malady?
2) What the hell happened with the 'villain'? One doesn't just plot for so long and do...that.

Unless there is a sequel? (I wouldn't mind a sequel)

I really enjoyed the world Therese wooden created, the faery mythology and background. I even love the ingenious way faery babies are created. (So how are Sun babies made, just curious?)
This is different. Puck will try the patience of some - his brattiness can test the patience of a saint. I think Sky is a good foil for him and they make a great couple. The outcome despite the hiccups in the the last 20% or so was a good faery tale.

I'm charmed by the whole kit and caboodle that is Betrothed. I do hope to see more fantasy by this author, more from this world.

A copy provided for an honest review
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