A LOVER OF LITERATURE WITH A PENCHANT FOR M/M ROMANCE, LGBT FICTION, SCI FI, FANTASY, PARANORMAL ROMANCE, AND PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING THAT IS A BOOK.
Jack of Thorns by Amelia Faulkner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jack of Thorns by Amelia Faulkner
OMG this book was sooo good!
I admit I was hesitant to read it at first because there are some themes that, while they aren't triggers, I do find disturbing; drug addiction and child abuse hurt my heart in a major way so I tend to avoid books with them in general. That being said I am SO glad I read this book!
Amelia Faulkner has created such an amazingly rich world and mythos in this book. The premise? What if the old Gods really do exist and interact with humans? What if demi-gods are still being born today? What if you accidentally call down a God that you don't mean to and you find out he's a massive DICK, a user and an abuser to boot? This is the world Amelia creates, a world where Herne the Hunter married a human and now has a line of descendants, demi-gods, with amazing abilities. A world where The Green Man is a great big douchebag of a God who is as flawed as any mortal. A world where men can move things with their minds and demi-gods can make things _grow_ like crazy. It's fantastical and amazing but also gritty and realistic because she makes the characters real and flawed and doesn't shy away from the darkness of addiction and abuse.
The story starts with one of our main characters Laurence (only my mom calls me Bambi!) Riley getting a heroin fix and nearly dying. It was his near death that triggers his 'inheritance', his gifts. Laurence is an addict, he knows it and despairs because he can't resist the white rabbit, whether it's through the marajuana he uses his ability to grow, or the heroin he scores when the need gets too desperate. His visions of the future show him going back to rehab time and again, so his self-loathing only increases, which only increases his need for a hit in a vicious cycle of addiction, overdose, rehab, regret and self-hatred. Until the day Quentin D'Arcy, Earl of Banbury, happens into his life after a chance meeting in a park.
Banbury is on the run from a life of privilege, wealth and family he loathes. Being an aristocrat doesn't protect you from predators, not if they're family members. The peerage protects itself and proclivities are overlooked for the 'greater good'. But Banbury knew nothing else and he was his father's heir so he stayed, he endured and he survived. Until his mother was murdered. Now he's in San Diego, flying under the radar, vowing to not set foot back on English soil until his father does the decent thing by dying. Banbury - or Quentin as Laurence calls him - despises bullies, is ashamed of his body and freaks out at the merest suggestion of sex. Except when Quentin freaks out bad things happen to the weather... and to the people trying to hurt him. Because Quentin can move things with his mind, not that he knows he does it. When Quentin is threatened he simply shuts down, escapes within himself, and his abilities protect him with wild fury.
A tentative friendship blooms between the two psychic's, but Laurence has a stalker ex-boyfriend and he might have accidentally summoned a God to help him sort out his life; a god who is an absolute dick and who will help Laurence for a price - he needs Laurence to 'feed him' by getting sex regularly. Problem is, Laurence is falling for a guy who's fear of sex is potentially lethal, so sex is off the table. Suffice it to say, the God does not react well and very bad things ensue.
In order to survive the wrath of the God, Laurence and Quentin must learn to control their dubious gifts, learn to trust each other, and face their pasts head on. Easy peasy right? Oh hell NAW!
This book had me on the edge of my seat, turning each page with bated breath. I was seduced by the way Quentin talks, my heart broke for Laurence time and again as I watched him struggle with the demon of addiction, and watching their relationship unfurl like a fragile bud and blossom into a beautiful, strong, plant with deep roots was amazing.
I can't wait to dive in to book 2, Knight of Flames, to see what happens to the boys next.
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Pounding Skin by L.A. Witt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pounding Skin wasn't at all what I expected it to be. It was better!
I admit it, I read the premise: hot Navy fighter pilot (afraid of needles) getting a bet gone wrong tattoo and falling for the artist who inked him and went - hot fluff story. I was so very right and oh so wrong. The story - hot as jet fuel on fire! But it was so far from fluff.
LA Witt has written a story that is a study in coming out, accepting yourself, accepting you deserve more in life and how to be true to yourself.
The tattoo artist - Matt - has spent his entire life saying 'I'm not gay'. Except he's bi. And it takes a birthday threesome and then meeting fighter pilot Jon to realize maybe, just maybe, he's been denying himself a lot of joy because of baggage that was dumped on him by a father prone to toxic masculinity and the cruelty of kids labeling him as gay before he'd even realized what sex was.
But Jon has his own issues - he's a self-proclaimed manwhore and proud of it. Jon has always slept around, he was there for a good time, not a long time. His best friend and RIO has been happily married to his husband for 10 years and Jon has never understood the need to settle down and have your wings 'clipped' by stability.
But then he loses a bet and has to get a tattoo as payment. And so he walks into Pounding Skin Inc. and into Matt's life. Matt decides he wants to explore his attraction to men, Jon is profoundly attracted and figures what the hell, he'll teach Matt a few things, they can be f*#k buddies and no strings would be attached. Except one time becomes many and days become months and Jon can't imagine sleeping with anyone but Matt while Matt is realizing that Jon is pretty amazing too and he's never been happier.
But then Nate, who's Jon's RIO and best friend, catches his husband in bed with another man and as Jon watches his friend fall apart all of his own insecurities comes crashing in. He and Matt have a talk about the status of their 'non-relationship' and Matt breaks it off because he says he wants more - and he knows he deserves more. It takes losing Matt and Nate reaming Jon a new one for Jon to realize what a mistake he's made. If heartbroken Nate could still believe in love and finding someone how could Jon walk away from his perfect person just because he was scared of what might be's?
The book has a lot of humor and hot sex, Halloweeen shenanigans, and New Year's revelations. L.A Witt has written rich and believable characters that tug at your heart strings, make you root for them and make you sniffle along with them.
I recommend this book.
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Where the flaming heck are Alexie's pancakes, woman??? That man deserves pancakes! :D
In all seriousness, Hailey has done it again with this novella. Given how In the Blood ended this book was also extremely needed. Don't get me wrong, I loved In the Blood but OMG the angst, the ouchies, the sheer emotional trauma that Ms. Hailey inflicted on me left me needing this book. Not to say that Out of The Ashes was a cavity inducer or anything.
Out of The Ashes takes place three months after In the Blood finishes and it's an Alexei/Sean centric book because those two boys were left beaten and bloodied at the end of the last one. Sean has just been cleared to return to active duty and Alexei is about to go on his own recertification testing. On the MDF front they've recovered enough from their capture and torture to return to work. On the emotional front? Sean still has nightmares, still feels guilty, and Alexei doesn't know how to convince him that it wasn't Sean's fault. They haven't been intimate since before Boston and both men are fraying at the edges.
On the surface, they're living together, they sleep in the same bed, they love each other more than ever but... knowing that someone from _your_ past hurt your lover in order to hurt you? Sean's guilt is eating him alive. Alexei is trying to be patient, to be an understanding supportive partner. He doesn't blame Sean for any of it and he's committed to _them_. But sometimes the distance growing between them leaves him exhausted.
But once Alexei passes his re-evals there's not time for them to ease back in to work because there's a mission... and it centers around Pavluhkin. Sean's meta ability makes him the ideal person for the mission. Infiltrate a party, retrieve an encoded drive that could link the Pavluhkins to Splice, and get out. The party is in London so Liam Wessex is brought in to act as their contact and way into the party. Alexei is sent along for the ride to test that both men truly are ready to go back into the field.
But as is usually the case with Alpha Team, things go FUBAR FAST! Janssen is at the party and the men have to fight their way out after retrieving the data. A car chase, Alexei setting things on fire, Sean phasing them and a tube ride ensue. Basically normal Alpha Team Chaos. But the end result is that Sean and Alexei finally find their balance and each other again... and Sean finds out that he has a bigger family than he realized, because Alpha Team has his back.
Hailey's characterizations were perfect, as usual, and the book was full of the lovely blend of humor, action, romance and explosions that I've come to associate with Hailey's writing. She is a master of detail and Out of The Ashes is a great example of a well-timed, well thought out plot. I am so thrilled to be able to say I know this author because I expect to see amazing things from her in the future!
But there were no pancakes for Alexei. Sadness :( (Hailey teased us saying Alexei was getting pancakes and then denied us the pancakes if y'all are wondering why I keep referencing pancakes. there's even a hashtag for it now #JusticeForAlexei!)