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review 2017-03-22 21:05
It seems the circus has come to town...
The Mystery of the Curiosities (Snow & Winter Book 2) - C.S. Poe

While I enjoyed 'The Mystery of Nevermore' book 1 in C. S. Poe's Snow & Winter series a tiny, tiny bit more than this one that does not mean that 'The Mystery of the Curiosities' was anything less than enjoyable. 

 

I think possibly part of my added enthusiasm for the first book was just the joy of discovering a new author who was writing a new series that I wanted to read...see all the shiny new that's going on here? I was dazzled...that's right I suffer from magpie syndrome. However, while this book isn't the shiny new of a first book in a new series by a new author it still holds it's own with a well written story about characters that I truly like solving a well done mystery. Ms. Poe had me guessing right up until the end when I knew who did it and why only to find out things were not as they seemed...well done, I love a mystery that keeps my brain guessing from start to finish.

 

While I did get a bit frustrated with Seb for his perpetual lies of omission and half-truths, I do have to admit were I in his shoes I'm not sure I would have done any better and I think that while I don't advocate his behavior I probably felt a little more lenient towards him once my initial frustration wore off and I was force to admit that while his decision making skills weren't always stellar neither were they malicious or intended to do harm...in fact, it was quite the opposite he wanted to resolve things in the hopes of keeping anyone else from being hurt...so his intentions were good...mmmmm...I think there's a road somewhere paved with good intentions...just sayin'

 

Apart from the mystery and just the story in general one of the things that I truly loved was the approach that the author took with Calvin's PTSD. It wasn't made light of with implications that little more than some good sex would fix it. While Calvin doesn't want to seek medical help neither is Seb willing to give up on getting him to reconsider this decision. There is real concern for Calvin on the part of his partner, Quinn and Seb's father and not just Seb, but as we all know you can't help someone until they want to be helped. So to me Seb was being realistic about things in that he wasn't forcing Calvin to do something he's not ready to do but neither was he willing to stick his head in the sand and just hope it'd go away.

 

I love Seb and Calvin the passion is there and it's wonderfully tempered with humor and sweet yet sometimes awkward moments of them sharing their feelings whether saying 'I love you' or when Calvin is trying to explain how much he needs Seb to be safe or Seb seeking Calvin's forgiveness for something that he new he shouldn't have done long before he ever did it. These two tug at my heartstrings and make me smile contentedly as I travel along with them to solve their latest mystery.

 

While 'The Mystery of Nevermore' gave us the shiny new 'The Mystery of the Curiosities' proved that this author's candle is still burning bright.

 

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An ARC of 'The Mystery of the Curiosities' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-03-21 21:54
I think the world might have tilted on it's axis a bit...
Seven Summer Nights - Harper Fox

Oh, Ms Fox how I adore your writing. You bring stories to life for me as few other authors are able to. 

 

This one started on a bit of a challenging note for me. It was ok and I was enjoying it...possibly because "Buddy Read" with my awesome besties Josy and Christelle and initially I think perhaps this story was appealing more to them than me on a certain level. But as always I was still being drawn in by the wonderful word poetry of Ms Fox and that alone was enough to keep me reading but needless to say the more I was drawn into this web of words the more I wanted to read until I found myself happily devouring this story. 

 

'Seven Summer Nights' is not a simple story about a post-war romance between two men...oh no, it's not even close to that because for one thing a romance between two men at that time in history didn't have a snowballs chance in 'you know where' of being simple.

 

While the story between Rufus and Archibald (Thorne for the remainder of this review) is very much the main and central part of the story. It is surrounded by a explosion of colorful and often 'eccentric' characters set mainly in a small English countryside village. The struggles that are faced by both Rufus and Thorne on an individual level and as two men trying to find a place for their fragile relationship in a world that would see them jailed or worse for their feelings, for sharing words spoken in the still of night as gentle as a summers breeze meant only to offer comfort and ease...

"No more gods, no more war. I'm not a vicar, and you...you're not a soldier.

 Never again. There's just us, dear fellow---here we are."

 

'Seven Summer Nights' shows us a world that many of us never knew first hand, some like myself may have a bit of second-hand knowledge because of parents and grandparents.

 

Much of this book was ironically a reminder for me of why I'm not a huge fan of historical novels not because they're bad or uninteresting...in fact quite the contrary. I love history but unfortunately with history comes the reminders of the wrongs and injustices that have been committed and so often these transgressions are hidden behind such noble causes as God, King and country forcing men who would live in a world of tolerance and peace to fight those would control it through fear, bigotry and sheer brute force. This is what happened to Rufus and when he could fight no more his mind chose to forget. Ironically Thorne who is a man of god also fought but his terrors were not so dark and his memories were very different than that of Rufus.

"Yes. Oh, Archie, it seems terrible to talk about it.

To destroy your peace of mind with such a story."

 

"You won't. And even if you did, isn't that part of my job from now on--

  to share your wars and your peace?"

 

Two men fighting for the basic rights and freedoms of the same people who would deny them theirs. Just as they would deny the women who did their part their rights (it wasn't until 1928 that British women achieved full suffrage 3 years after the end of WWII and while this is an incredibly interesting topic...google is your friend). This is the setting of 'Seven Summer Nights' but we're not done yet because as well as the climate of the times Ms Fox has given us glimpses of Britain's cultural background through it's archaeology and it's folklore. We see the intertwining of England's religion with it's pre-christian days. There are subtle references to Anglo-Saxon paganism, England's witch hunts during the 1640s and things don't end there we are also reminded of the nightmare that passed for modern medicine specifically psychiatry during the early 1900's. 

 

You're probably thinking this sounds like a lot of gloom and doom right about now but it wasn't because woven in between these things was the strength of the human spirit and it's struggle for love in the form of Rufus and Thorne, the desire to govern ourselves and make our own decisions in the form Thorne's sister Caroline and Alice Winborn. There were characters of strength and courage in Maria who quietly took charge and gave people what they needed, Drusilla whose struggle to find her way back to herself, her child and her faith nearly cost her sanity and of course there were those who should have been hero's and failed.

 

'Seven Summer Nights' is neither a simple nor an easy story to read or explain...was it fantasy? No, not for me, there were no magical creatures...was there magic? I suppose of a fashion there was, but it was the magic of a world long gone. A world of faith so strong that it could alter the very fabric of ones reality...so yes there was magic. Then again isn't there always a little magic involved when it only takes words to transport us through time and space to a place we've never known to share an adventure with people we'll never meet? You're a wizard Ms Fox, a wizard I tell you.

 

"Oh, Archie. You and I both know--everyone who went to war knows--

the one thing none of us can be sure of is time..."

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review 2017-03-20 22:33
Definite cuteness factor here...
Adrian - Caitlin Ricci

I liked this one probably more so than the first one. Technically we've got an established couple here. Adrian and Corrin were matched up six months ago (before the start of the story) by the Faeted Agency and none other than Dyslander, himself did the matching and Dyslander never...never makes mistakes and yet, something has gone wrong and Adrian is going to make him fix it.

 

It seems Corrin has cheated on Adrian. Sadly Adrian knows he still loves Corrin but he also knows that when Corrin kissed that Dragon shifter...dragons!!!! I love dragons...wait, he kissed Corrin and Corrin's with Adrian...oh, bad, bad dragon. You need to go back to your cave until you can learn to behave...now, where were we? Oh, yes Corrin kissed the dragon and Adrian was standing right there...this did not end well. But I had faith in Dyslander, he'll fix things but his fix was totally not what Adrian had in mind but then again when faced with a naked and restrained Corrin, Adrian soon realizes that maybe this wasn't what he had in mind but he can be as open minded as the next dryad when it comes to matters of the heart.

 

So basically that's our premise and it was cute. I really enjoyed it. My biggest issue this story comes in at about 21 pages (the story started on page 7 and finished on page 28 of my e-reader) I really would have loved more from this pairing. In the supernatural world how often do we get stories about a Dryad and a Fire Mage? Cute and unusual make for fun and there really was more to the dragon than it seemed but you'll have to read the story to find out and the next one too...because Caldren is next and he's a Brownie and Dyslander seems to think that his Faeted mate is...a dragon...a dragon who maybe kissed someone he shouldn't have...is there any doubt that I am so there?

 

If you like stories that are cute, light, fluffy and just a bit of fun reading check out Caitlin Ricci's 'Faeted' Series the matches are interesting and there's dragons...really, you can't go wrong with dragons ;)

 

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An ARC of 'Adrian' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-03-20 21:52
I have to say if you loved this book...
Talking in Code - Ariel Tachna

mine is probably not the review you'll want to read. I was really looking forward to this one I like Ariel Tachna and still do for that matter. It's just that this was not the book for me. It sounded good but once I got into it things just didn't work.

 

We have an established relationship here Richard Horn and Timothy Davenport have been together for nearly 20 years and 4 years ago they added a third to their relationship, Eric Newton. Initially it was Tim who wanted this young man but Eric quickly attracted Richards attention as well and neither Dav (as Tim is often called) nor Richard have looked back since. Unfortunately, Eric is a little less secure. Eric's not had an easy life and it's left him with a few issues add to that the fact that his exit from the military was less than amicable in spite of the fact that he's a top notch weapons expert and probably the best sniper that anyone's come across in a while and it's a recipe for PTSD and Eric's got it in spades. Unfortunately there are times when Peaches (yep, that's Eric's nickname) feels like more of a needy, whiny child than anything else.

 

This book opens up with a lot of things going on. When we first meet these characters Richard and Dav are in the middle of executing two missions one to be led by Dav, who nearly doesn't make it back from his mission alive. While at the same time a covert op is taking place to rescue Eric, who's been held hostage for the past 4 months by some pretty sadistic terrorist.

 

So here I was dropped into the middle of one pretty epic clusterf*ck. this all happened before the 20% mark (16% to be more accurate) and judging by the other reviews that I've seen out there I will freely admit I seem to be in the minority when I say 'I didn't really enjoy this.' It wasn't so much the fast pace as the fact that I just never felt a connection between any of these men. Initially Richard and Eric are left trying to muddle through things because Dav's always been the one to look after Eric when he comes back from a mission so Richard has no idea what he needs at this point and 4 months in a hostage situation with people who enjoyed torturing him, you can be pretty certain that Eric's going a little more screwed up than usual. Meantime Dav's no help because he's in the hospital in a medical induced coma recovering from multiple gunshot wounds.

 

Now I know it seems like I've given up the ghost here on this one but if you read the blurb I haven't really told you anything that isn't already out there. So while the first part of this story steamrollered right on over me the remainder floated past at a far more sedate pace and was taken up with Richard and Eric  basically getting to know each other and finding their way in a menage relationship that effectively has been reduced to a couple and while some of this was good,  I was a little hard pressed to buy into Eric's issues post-crisis being basically resolved by a bowl of stew, getting shaved by one his partners (Richard in this case) and some pretty good sex...yep, that was it a new twist on the 3 S's...Stew, Shave & Sex. Apparently it's a PTSD cure-all...no, I'm sorry. I couldn't suspend my belief enough to buy that if Eric was as tortured and abused as we are to understand that he was, this was all he needed to restore his balance...really?

 

What the hell are doctor's learning in medical school these days if they couldn't figure this one out sooner? I guess what bothers me is the idea that thousands of men and women are out there suffering from this condition and basically this story is saying 'suck it up buttercup, you just need a good shave, some stew and you're ass nailed to the mattress and you'll be fine.' I realize that these things are suppose to be symbolic of love and acceptance and home and safety, comfort and security all those good and positive things but realistically if that was all it took, don't you think we'd have fewer people suffering from PTSD than we do? Not every person who experiences this is without a loving support system and yet, many still suffer from it. Needless to say I was a little disappointed in how PTSD was dealt with in this story and that took a bit of the shine away from things for me. 

 

Overall I found that if anything these characters were flat. There was a lot of stuff going on and yet somehow for these guys it always came back to sex. Eric's been held hostage for 4 months and comes home to find that Dav who really is his anchor is has been seriously injured and is an induced coma and it seems like his most prevalent thought is getting Richard to have sex with him, Dav's barely out of his coma and he's talking about how it's going to be a while before sex is possible for him but he's handing out directions like it's the set of a porn movie. I don't have a problem with sex in my stories and I do believe that a healthy sex life is very often indicative of a healthy relationship but I also believe in balance and with these guys it just felt more like the sex life was the relationship and not just a part of it. Maybe if I'd felt like any of the other stuff going on in their lives had even the same amount of relevance as the sex and there was some pretty life altering stuff happening, I wouldn't have felt like these characters were quite so flat. I have to admit I knew this wasn't going to end well when I realized that I was actually relieved that some of the sex scenes were off-page and/or fade to black which is what I feel like I need to do now as well...fade to black...

 

I loved this author's Lang Downs series, Overdrive was the first book that I read by her and I still think it's awesome, I've been enjoying her series 'At Your Service' as well, but this one just didn't work for me...hopefully I'll enjoy whatever comes next.

 

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An ARC of 'Talking In Code' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-03-15 20:06
Would you do anything for love?
Guns n' Boys: Bloodbath - K.A. Merikan

If you're looking for something cute, fluffy, sweet, mushy and adorable...carry on because this is probably not for you. However, if you're interested in edgy, dark, intense and gut clenching...well, pull up a chair. I think you've just come home.

 

'Bloodbath' is to say the least an accurate title for what happens in this story. Dom and Seth are embroiled in a world that is harsh, cruel and dangerous on a daily basis. Any day that's good is a day that you survive. But Dom wants more than survival and Seth...Seth wants whatever keeps him at Dom's side. But being with Dom has a price and the real questions are 'is Seth willing to pay that price?' and 'does Dom really want him to?'

 

As always there are really two stories being told here. The first one is the obvious one. It's about Seth, Dom and their struggle to reclaim the life they had to give up. The second one while maybe not quite as obvious I think is still fairly apparent to anyone who follow's this series. It's about Seth and Dom's struggle to retain who they are as individuals and what they have together as  a couple. For me Seth is the light to Dom's dark. These men balance each other. Seth brings a light and promise to Dom and makes him remember that there are good things in this world and that he in spite of all he's had to do is still a good person worthy of being loved. Dom keeps the dark from Seth and protects him from a world that would easily consume him and from having to lose the light inside him that Dom so passionately loves. 

 

The events of 'Bloodbath' tested both of these men as we watched Seth lose himself in a world of violence that seemed to be consuming his soul little by little and left Dom conflicted between what he needed Seth to do and what he could live with Seth doing. 

 

Once again I was all in on this one from start to finish. Dom and Seth share a love that is incredibly intense and ultimately binds them to each other above all else and it was at the point where Dom found himself pushing Seth to become what he was never meant to be that Dom realized the how and why of his love for Seth that things became so clear for him and he pulls Seth back from what would possibly be a point of no return for Seth and their relationship.

 

I love the passion and intensity that the authors have given to these characters and each story allows us to see them grow as both individuals and as a couple. The challenges that they face are not the norm and I certainly wouldn't want all my books to be as intense as Dom and Seth's stories are I find myself enjoying this series more and more with each subsequent release and I'm already anticipating what comes next in Dom & Seth's story. 

 

As with the last couple of books that I've read in this series when I reached the end I found that there was a song rattling around in my brain that for me became the theme song for that particular story and this time the song was another rock classic...

I Would Do Anything For Love by Meatloaf  (take a minute and enjoy)

 

********************

An ARC of 'Bloodbath' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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