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The Harvest: Taken by M.A. Church

The Harvest TakenThe Harvest: Taken by M.A. Church
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Novel:  70,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

In the year 2050, humanity finds out they are indeed not alone.

Massive space ships appear without warning above the capital cities of all major nations. The planet Tah’Nar is dying. Chemical warfare has reduced the once-intersexed warrior race to sterility. They need fresh DNA in order to reproduce and have an idea for a harvesting program… and so they turn to Earth.

Earth governments negotiate a lottery, and Dale Michael assumes he’s safe since he’s under the Harvest age limit. How wrong he is. He’s illegally harvested and claimed by Tah’Narian starship captain Keyno Shou. From the moment Keyno sees Dale, he knows he must claim the spirited human male for his own. What he doesn’t expect is a spitfire with a mind of his own—and a deadly disease that will require a risky procedure to cure.

Excerpt

This is futuristic story based on humans finding out we are not alone and the aliens are more advanced than us.  When the aliens come to Earth wanting mates the governments of the Earth hush it up as a short term need of human DNA to save the alien race since they have been rendered sterile.  Dale is a male that is “harvested” with this intent.  He is under the age limit set and cannot understand why he has been picked.  This is quickly explained to him by the alien race, he has been picked by the captain of the starship to be his mate.  Dale is horrified to learn it is a permanent situation and he would not be returning to his heartbroken family.  He is also told he was injected with alien DNA; he was actually double dosed because he was ill.  This DNA is mutating his body to make him able to have children.   His “mate” is Keyno.  Keyno is gentle with Dale and tries hard to make Dale happy even if he has been forcible taken and mutated without his permission.

I think some readers will be upset that Dale didn’t fight the situation more than he did.  I think he is still furious over it all but knows that Keyno isn’t directly responsible for it.  He hasn’t forgotten or forgiven what happened to him though.  He mentions it a lot and talks badly about it with others.  I think Dale’s change is related to the fact that since he is mutated he knows it really isn’t possible for him to go home again.  Earth will NOT accept him now that he has changed.  He also is deeply attracted to Keyno and his new physiology makes it near impossible to really stay away or mad at the man.

There is a lot that happens in the story.  The plot is very good and keeps you reading the story.  It is hard to put down because of wanting to know what would happen next.  I was disappointed it ended when it did but reminded myself that there is another coming out, which I hope happens soon!  The author did a wonderful job with describing everything.  You could picture the scenes quite clearly.  I had wished a little more went into describing Keyno.  I still don’t really have a clear picture of him.  The details that the author give really fill in the world for the reader and makes the book come to life.

The characters are quite fun.  Dale, Chad, and John are an interesting sample of the mates.  Dale is different though and always opening his mouth and letting fly before he knows everything or even if it is safe too.  I think he will be out causing trouble in the next book.  He drags Chad along.  John is a little less defined.  He brings the wonder and curiosity to the group though.  I hope he is a little more involved in the next book.  Keyno and the other aliens introduced are quite gentle and possessive.  I have to say when Keyno is protecting Dale he is massively scary!  The aliens are very interesting and I can see why the humans are so fascinated by them.

The book overall was a wonderful read with a creative and interesting world provided.  The characters bring it all together to give the reader a chance to live a great adventure.  You get a fun read that creates an emotional rollercoaster of a ride.  I really enjoyed this read and look forward to the next.

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Tiocfaidh Ar La by Angelia Sparrow and Noami Brooks

Tiocfaidh Ar LaTiocfaidh Ar La by Angelia Sparrow and Noami Brooks
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Short Story:  14,300 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

NOTE: This book was originally included in the Carved in Flesh anthology from Storm Moon Press.

After enduring a brutal assault, IRA explosive expert Seosamh O’Brien, fled his war-torn homeland for America. Now Joe Colson, he wears his scarred face like armor and keeps out the whole world, protecting the meager little life he’s carved out for himself as an illegal immigrant in the Boston slums. But a night programmer with a face like an an angel and an elfin grin full of mischief gets past the armor and scars, and into the softer places of Joe’s heart, before he quite realizes what is happening.

Excerpt

This is a hard book to review.  I admit to knowing nothing about the IRA and the rest that the main character was involved with/in so I don’t know the kind of research done on that subject so I can only come at this as a pure fictional work.

Joe is a man nearing 50.  He is badly scarred and believes with his past he will have no chance at ever having a relationship.  Along comes Ryan who seems to see past the scars and age to the man beneath.

This was a very shallow read.  We learn some about Joe and really nothing on Ryan.  It makes it hard to understand Ryan and his devotion to Joe.  Joe is ran down.  He just coasts day to day.  He really has no goals other than to get through each day.  Ryan is the one to bring him out of that.  Ryan gives back a little happiness to Joe.  Joe is a pessimist though and with good reason.  He has seen and done some bad things.  Life is not all sunlight and roses and especially not for him.

I thought the writing was well done.  It wasn’t overtly flowery and it was just dark enough to set the tone for the whole of the story.  We really get so very little of Ryan he really isn’t all that impressive to the reader.  Joe is the main character and we catch glimpses of his background and what he was and is now.  I think it would have helped to understand a little more of his time in Ireland.  The writings lack of character information or really emotional involvement made it difficult to connect to the characters and story.  I never really got into the story and so it didn’t really stick with me like good writing can do.  I think the idea was sound but the characterizations were lacking.

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Oren’s Right by Blaine D. Arden

Orens RightOren’s Right by Blaine D. Arden
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Short Story:  16,900
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

NOTE: This book was previously released as part of the Carved in Flesh anthology from Storm Moon Press.

Veld, tree elf and Forester, fell in love with mute baker Oren, also a tree elf, when he first set eyes on him two turns ago, but Healer Haram, Oren’s vowed, made it clear that he had no intention of sharing Oren with Veld. Now, with Oren in mourning after Haram is killed, Veld is torn between Haram’s unwillingness to share and his desire to make Oren his. But when Haram’s death turns out not to be quite the accident it seemed to be, Veld is drawn into the investigation. At the same time, others appear to claim Oren’s independence, and Veld is forced to face his insecurities or risk losing Oren… again.

Excerpt

This story starts out on a sad note with what appears to be an accidental death of an Elf.  He leaves behind Oren his “vowed” which seems to mean spouse.  Oren isn’t just this Elf’s lover, he is also his submissive.  Oren is a service submissive.  He needs someone to serve and who will care for him.  He is lost without that.  Veld has been in love with Oren since he first met him.  (The relationships are open in this world but Haram, the dead Elf, wouldn’t share.)  He is yearning to go to Oren and help him but is kept back by custom and bonds of friendship.

This story has a D/s element in it.  Oren is a truly, deeply submissive man.  Most of the other elves don’t understand what and how his submission works.  Oren is a service submissive.  Haram and Veld are both into scarification.  Haram has put his “art” on Oren and some of the other elves believe this means he was abused.  Veld longs to put his own marks on Oren.

I think the author did a very good job in showing how scarification appears to those who love it and those who don’t.  It is easy to see and show the disapproval of the practice.  I did think the author did a good job in showing how that kind of attention is wearing and impossible to take for a true submissive.  The other side of this is a little harder and I think the author did well at showing some of it.  The art, love, and possession that these marks are is mentioned many times in the story.  Also I think the story is a good example of how those who are different are easily mistreated.  Veld is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit but it is easy for people to believe because he is different.  Those women wouldn’t leave poor Oren alone because he was different.  For a short story the author does do a good job with all this.

The bad in the book was the lack of any real in depth knowledge of the characters.  I would have liked to have known more about Oren and his background.  Also the ending was wayyyy too abrupt.  The characters are just getting together and it ends.  The whole of the book seemed to slowly build up to the moment these two get together and we never see it.  We get a to know it happened but that is about it.  I would have liked to see a little more of that fire that seemed to be waiting there between these two.  We actually get an epilogue of sorts that just down played the whole thing and almost ruined the whole book.  This was very disappointing to me as a reader.

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Obedience Classes by Sean Michael

Obedience ClassesObedience Classes by Sean Michael
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Short Story:  10,500 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  1
 

When his pack alpha becomes fed up with his rebellion, werewolf Trevor is overdue for an attitude adjustment. Lone wolf Dirk is charged with this task, as a favor to the pack. Dirk, though, seems more interested in claiming Trevor for himself, by any means necessary. And regardless of Trevor’s feelings on the matter.

Excerpt

Trevor is rebelling as most kids his age do.  Unfortunately that is not allowed in a werewolf pack.  This is a danger to Trevor and humans.  To “tame” Trevor his alpha sends in Dirk.  Dirk is more interested in the fact that Trevor is gay like him so he takes the chance to have a mate.

I think for the dub-con to work the story needed to be longer and more involved.  I just couldn’t believe Trevor would have any emotional attachment with Dirk except hate and fear.  There is no real attempt on Dirk’s part to build anything.  It was just assumed by the story that suddenly having sex would magically fix everything.  Ok, I get that for this world having sex with another wolf must create a bond because it is inferred but I don’t buy that it magically fixes everything between the two men.  This was basically sex with no plot.  The sex scenes aren’t even believable, sex and no lube, not even spit…..O_O  Yikes.

The writing itself was ok, nothing bad or good.  I just couldn’t connect with either character.  I just didn’t get enough of THEM.  Overall the story just didn’t work for me.

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Dark Menagerie by Katya Harris, Lor Rose, Caitlin Ricci, and Arielle Pierce

perf6.000x9.000.inddDark Menagerie by Katya Harris, Lor Rose, Caitlin Ricci, and Arielle Pierce
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Short Story:  49,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

A shifter leads two lives: one as a human, and one as an animal. Sometimes these lives are intertwined, and sometimes they are not, but always the shifter has to find a way to reconcile one with the other. Dark Menagerie follows characters as they explore the darker side of what it means to have one foot in the animal world and one foot in the human world. Some struggle to keep the animal starkly separate from their lives as a human being, but for others, their shifting leads them to a darker corner of the mind where human and animal are nearly indistinguishable.

First, in Dominant, Kade has left everything he valued in his life behind; his family, his fiancée, his entire future. He tries to make peace with what he has become by running away to a small town, but fails. Then, a monster in a suit walks into his life, a monster just like him. Then, the four in The Four of Us devised a game: pick two humans, lure them in, and hunt them down. The game, the shared thrill of the hunt, was what brought them together, but also what threatens to tear them apart.

Justin, of Horsefeathers, had one job—to get a new Mustang for his boss’ ranch. But at the holding pens, he can’t look away from a stunning stallion. He isn’t at all what the boss wants, but Justin can’t say no. He soon learns that he’s brought back much more than simply a beautiful horse, and that there are some legends that he wished weren’t based in truth. Finally, Breathe concerns a young dolphin shapeshifter who has to deal with his own hateful feelings about himself, a deadly dull partner, and the presence of a new shifter in town. And a hurricane bearing down on their home in Key West, of course.

Excerpt

“Dominant” by Katya Harris

This was a short but interesting little story.  To me it felt more like a teaser.  There is definite room there for a longer more in depth version that I would like more.  Considering its length it was very good.  I really loved the writing and the characters.  I wish there had been a lot more to it.  It felt incomplete the way it ended.  I would actually love to have more of this story.

Roses:  4

“The Four of Us” by Lor Rose

This is a creepy read, interesting, but creepy.  Podagros and Deinos are legends along with their companions, Lampon and Xanthos.  They are all monsters who hunt and eat humans, especially the heart which they need every other month to live.  They can each nothing but human flesh.  The two are sent out to seduce their next two prey.  Unexpectedly they find emotion and feeling/touch again.  Now what to do.

This was very well written.  I actually felt for the characters and considering what and who they were that says something.  No the characters aren’t deep but they still allow the reader to bond with the story.  I can say I really enjoyed this creepy read.

Roses:  5

“Horsefeathers” by Caitlin Ricci

Nohatu is a Native American that is also a shapeshifter/skinwalker.  He was turned long ago and had remained a horse for a long time, enjoying the openness of the prairie to the closeness of a city.  Unfortunately for Nohatu the BLM has gathered up mustangs in an effort to save them from overpopulation.  Nohatu and many of those horses are up for adoption.  Justin adopts Nohatu, as a mustang, for his boss even knowing his boss won’t be happy.  Nohatu returns to human shape demanding to go back and senses something within Justin.

Justin is an interesting character.  Nohatu is very mysterious though we get a good glimpse of the man when he tells Justin his story.  Again this felt very incomplete, like an excerpt for a longer book.  I enjoyed the small glimpse I got and hope the author plans on more for these characters.

Roses:  4

“Breathe” by Arielle Pierce

Nathan is a spotted dolphin shifter.  He lives on an island in the keys where there are a lot of other shifters.  Nathan has traded most of his life as a skinwalker to live with a man that abuses him so he can be an artist full time.  He is on a self destructive path that includes very rough, rape like sex with others.  This is when he meets Jacob’s.  Jacob and he are instantly attracted to each other but Jacob refuses to take what he wants from Jacob.

Jacob is a sweet man and poor Nathan is terribly messed up.  I feel the same thing with this that I felt with most of the stories in this book, that it is just part of a story.  A teaser to more weather with this particular story or with other characters within the story.   This was a sweet story that is very simple.  I liked it but it was missing something.  I just didn’t connect like I thought I would with it.  Still it is a cute story.

Roses:  3

Overall these stories mostly felt like a smaller part of bigger stories.  I liked them and most of them I would love to see more.  It is a bit frustrating for a reader to read this though not knowing if/when we might get more.  That is why overall the stories as an anthology will get a lesser rating than the individual stories call for.  If you don’t mind feeling this frustration this is a wonderful read!

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Serve Me by Anna Hedley, Fox Lee, Gabriel Belthir, and Lor Rose

Serve MeServe Me by Anna Hedley, Fox Lee, Gabriel Belthir, and Lor Rose
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Novel:  53,000 Words
Purchase at Barnes and Noble and Storm Moon Press
Roses:  4
 

For some people there’s nothing more appealing than the idea of a man forced to serve against his will, as a second-class citizen: a slave. Despite the dark history surrounding forced servitude and slavery, there remains a growing desire for depictions of fetishized slavery fantasies. Like rape fantasy, the appeal for readers in slave fiction lies not in a desire for the actual act, but in the ability to explore such things in a safe space. Many people harbor a secret wish to be forced into certain acts that they know they want, but have been socially conditioned to abhor. Such is the core of the Serve Me anthology. Be warned: these are not stories of consensual, negotiated power exchange. The stories in this anthology focus on true sexualized, erotic slavery: stories of men forced, coerced, or otherwise bound into a second-class life servicing another in whatever ways their master sees fit.

Idris is part of The Spoils of war: the last surviving member of a barbarian clan, he is famed in the gladiatorial arena for his bloody ruthlessness and outside the arena for his carnal appetites. His inner beast is calmed by the presence of his slave and lover, Theo, but to be true to his heart, Idris may have to risk breaking it. Samuel has spent years striving toward the Viscount’s circles, where rich and fantastical parties are given and elaborate slave auctions held. He thinks he wants a young lover, but when he buys an Adonis known as Apollo, he realizes what he was truly missing. Now Apollo gives the orders, and it is Samuel saying, As You WishLife is Unforgiving for Aidan and Aaron, criminals who have been doomed to live as slaves to vampire masters, whose appetites can be agony… or bliss. When Aidan is given a new lease on life with a benevolent Master, his relief is tainted by pain at leaving Aaron behind; pain which only his Master Ryce has the power to end. Yuta is a gentle giant who joins a local gang for the sense of family that they can provide, but when they leave him high and dry in the middle of a failed heist, it’s his captor, Takashima, who shows him what family can really mean as the vicious gang enforcer tenderly turns him into Takashima’s Pet.

Excerpt

“The Spoils” by Anna Hedley

(Warning:  For those that know what a “maenad” is you may have trouble with matching it to the story.)

This is a mix of Graeco-Roman culture and mythology with a dash of other.  The world has very dehumanizing slavery for all creatures.  The thing I thought was interesting was that they had a one line about a shortage of women that was recent but no other explanation or any other mention.  I thought the world was interesting and brutal.  The events that happen sound just terrible and sad but ultimately our “hero” gets redemption.  This was a good read that was well written but missing something.

Roses:  3

“As You Wish” by Gabriel Belthir

This was a much sweeter tale than the last story.  The writing was good, nothing outstanding but good.  The world was a steampunk one, which had a subculture of slave owning.  It seemed that it wasn’t strictly legal but underground and to a degree accepted.  I liked the characters.  Samuel was a cutie and Apollo was a gentle guy.  It seemed to be an unlikely part of his character that he had killed.  I enjoyed the story but it was a little predictable and shallow.

Roses:  3

“Life Is Unforgiving” by Lor Rose

This was another sweet tale.  I really liked this one.  It was really a warm tale all the way through.  When I first started this story I thought it would end up being much grittier.  I still don’t understand why Ryce starts his “relationship” with Aidan the way he did.  I would have liked to hear why.  The rest of what he did makes more sense.  Ryce seems like a romantic guy which with Aidan’s past is nice.  I really liked the ending.  Would love to see a more expanded version of this tale but as is it is a nice comfy read.

Roses:  4

“Takashima’s Pet” by Fox Lee

A bit of rough stuff in this story.  Yuta is a boy in a gang in Tokyo.  He doesn’t really want to be in the gang but wants the companionship and friends it provides.  Takashima is the second in command of Tokyo’s yakuza.   When Yuta is ditched by his so called gang “brothers” while trying to rob Takashima, Takashima takes Yuta.  Yuta is a virgin and after when Takashima realizes this he tells Yuta he belongs to him now.  This is a cute tale actually.  Yes, it has BDSM in it and Takashima called Yuta his dog but they are both very happy in their relationship.  It was actually very sweet.

Roses:  4

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City of Foxes by Cornelia Grey

cityoffoxes_3d_500 

The last thing Jake Sullivan wanted to do upon returning to the city was get involved in the ongoing struggle between the organized militia and the fox people. After saving a fox child from bullies, however, he finds himself in the heart of the foxes’ slums, where showing his face as a human can be just as dangerous as messing with the militia in the city proper. The proximity of Liam, a white fox with healing powers, certainly doesn’t make things any easier. The attractive fox throws his own powers into an uncontrollable overdrive, not to mention his libido.

When several of the fox people are captured by the militia, Jake’s presence is like salt on old wounds. Prejudices and politics flare, and Jake’s secrets threaten to ruin his shaky alliance. If they are to save the foxes taken by the militia for experimentation, it will take all the cunning and power the clan can muster. Unfortunately, that also means they’ll have to put their trust the one place they’d never imagined: in the hands of a human.

Expert

This is a short story that I find I like but I wish was much longer.  Jake is human and comes across some bullies that are mistreating a child who turns out to be a fox, he gets injured and meets Liam, who is  a  white fox and is acting as the leader of his group  in the absence of the chief who was taken to the “lab”. This is a story that is told from Jake’s point of view and the humor between the characters is fast pasted, and has some lines that just makes you laugh out loud. The story is fast over all, grabs at you and is almost impossible to put down, the only sad part is that it ends, but it ends and leaves you feeling like what?? I know I wanted to flip a page and find out more so I Hope another book is coming and this is the first. The author has made me a true fan with this story the writing is humorous, fast pasted and just fun

A very sweet love story that I would have to keep  in my re read bag.

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An Angel’s Soul by S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet

An Angel's SoulAn Angel’s Soul by S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Short Story:  12,000 Words
Purchase at Barnes and Noble and Smashwords
Roses:  1
 

This is a free read.

Cole had everything: a great education, his own company, money, and Daniel, his lover since college. But in gaining everything, he lost the one thing he’d been building that life for: Daniel. Now that Daniel has moved on, Cole is without direction or purpose. Turning to alcohol and drugs to fill the void left behind, Cole dives head first into a downward spiral, unaware that there is another who loves and cares for him.

As Cole’s guardian angel, Raziel has watched Cole since birth, and his love for his ward is deep and abiding. Witnessing Cole’s fraying life breaks Raziel’s heart, and when the thread that binds them together wavers during an overdose, Raziel breaks all the rules just to keep Cole alive. The consequences are unthinkable, but a life without Cole is a loss that Raziel simply can’t conceive. An angel’s soul was made to love, after all, and if he saves Cole, perhaps he can show Cole how the end of one great love doesn’t mean another waits patiently for him.

(Part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Love is Always Write event.)

I liked the characters and the writing style.  These two authors are wonderful writers and this one reflected that.  There is just one major problem I had with the story.  There wasn’t anything new to it.  It is just like you would expect the story to go.  No new twists or unusual events.  I was a little disappointed to see that as I was expecting some twist on an old plot idea.  It really isn’t worth going to read since you can read the blurb and pretty much know how the story is going to go.

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Apples and Regret and Wasted Time by Cornelia Grey

apples and regret and wasted time by greyApples and Regret and Wasted Time by Cornelia Grey
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Short Story:  6,100 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  5
 

He lives in the shadows of the law. Now, wounded and stranded in the city after a job only he could do, he has no qualms about climbing through the window his old lover left open—or stealing his shampoo, at that. He has, however, not taken into account the possibility of being surprised in the shower.

Three years is a long time to go between visits, especially if you’ve left so much anger and hurt and desire unresolved. They try to negotiate a truce for one night—over Chinese takeaway leftovers and apples, and between the sheets.

Excerpt

This is a VERY short book.   It is more a single scene or chapter.  The writing is superb.  The author is excellent with creating a scene.  The descriptive nature is amazing for a short.  Even though there isn’t much detail of the characters (not even their names) and most of their story is inferred, the author gets you feeling for them.  I’m a sucker for dark characters and the main character is dark.  I almost wish the author would make this a longer story because it so took me.

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Angel’s Redemption by Azalea Moone

Angels Redemption by MooneAngel’s Redemption by Azalea Moone
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Short Story:  31,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

Twenty-four-year-old Blaine Schneider is seasoned to hardship. Since the age of eight, he’s experienced nothing but a swarm of bad luck: from the funny electrical fire in shop class to failing grades and relationships gone sour. He believes he’ll never get past it; only his band, ‘Til Dark, and their dream, keeps him going through it all.

Shortly after he mysteriously inherits a beautifully carved angel statue, Blaine also finds an apartment big enough to display the lifelike sculpture, and he thinks his luck has finally taken a turn for the better. But when he discovers the spell inscribed on the statue’s base, he frees Lynsael from his stone prison, a handsome fallen angel who claims to be Blaine’s former guardian angel, and then his luck really improves.

But while Blaine is falling hard for the angel’s blue eyes and lively personality, in the shadows, dark forces are working to keep Blaine and Lynsael apart. It will take more than luck for the pair to come through unscathed—it’ll take a miracle.

________

Right off I will say the cover is what caught my interest.  Yes, it was a shallow reason for wanting to read a book but it’s a beautiful cover.

So a true review of what I thought of the book.  I loved the premise.  There have been variations of this theme before.  Who wouldn’t want an angel, right?   You combine that with musicians and it sounds like a really interesting and good read.  I’ll be honest though it missed the mark a bit for me.  The characters weren’t well written.  I felt they lacked depth and vividness.  They felt flat.  Also the writing, while good, didn’t give me any true connection to the characters.  I had no emotional investment into these men so really didn’t have a true “oh, no!” feeling when the main conflict of the story happens.

The plot has many holes as well.  We never hear much about Blaine’s past other than his bad luck.  Lynsael’s fall is never explained.  That seems to me to be very vital in the story but it is only glanced over never explained.

I enjoyed the story but will admit to have had higher hopes for the story.  The actual plot line still interests me and the story itself could be interesting if improved upon.  As it is it just misses the mark.

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