Saturday, 30 May 2020

The Little Grey Girl (The Wild Magic Trilogy #2) by Celine Kiernan




Pages: 217
Publisher: Walker Books

Blurb

The old queen and her raggedy witches have fled Witches Borough, and Mup’s family has moved into the cold, newly empty castle. But the queen’s legacy lingers in the fear and mistrust of her former subjects and in the memories that live in the castle’s very walls. While Mup’s mam tries to restore balance to a formerly oppressed world, Mup herself tries to settle into her strange new home with her dad, Tipper, and Crow. When an enchanted snow blankets the castle, Mup’s family is cut off from the rest of the kingdom, and the painful memories of the old queen’s victims begin to take form, thanks to a ghost whose power may be too much for even Mup and Mam to handle. 

Review

I took my time before picking up The Little Grey Girl and I’m not sure why. The only thing I do know for sure that it didn’t have anything to do with any reluctance to read the story on my part. I adored Begone the Raggedy Witches and was very much looking forward to the rest of the story. But, given how ‘only’ reading the sequel now means I literally only have two days to wait before the third book releases, I think I may have accidentally (and subconsciously) made the right decision because I can’t wait to read The Promise Witch, the third and final story in this fabulous trilogy.

I loved reuniting with Mup, her parents, Tipper, her little (doggo) brother, and Crow. The mystery of who the little grey girl might be and what she’s up to or why had me on the edge of my seat. It was fascinating to watch Mup as she tries to figure out what is going on, who is causing it, and overcomes her fear to solve the situation. But most of all I adore Mup. She is one of the most engaging, well-rounded, and fabulous characters I’ve read in recent times because, despite her magical powers, she is a very real little girl trying to figure out life, adults, and herself. I’m so delighted she’s not perfect. She has her moments when she’s unreasonable and reacts or lashes out before thinking, but they are beautifully contrasted with instances when Mup realises what she’s done and learns from the experience.

Why do I love these stories so much, you ask? Well, the short answer, as illustrate above is: because they are captivating and thrilling reads. What’s not to love about a story filled with danger and mystery in which a charming and smart little girl with magical powers saves the day (and her family and friends). The longer answer goes something like this. These books blow me away because there is so much more in them than ‘just’ the compelling story (and trust me, I’d read and love them for the story alone). What makes these books truly magical (pun intended) for me is Celine Kiernan’s amazing skill when it comes to writing books, aimed at juvenile readers, without ever writing down to them. What’s more, she manages to introduce subjects such as friendship, loyalty, grief, fear, and bravery without ever preaching about them. They’re just there, an integral part of the story while at the same time conveying subtle messages to the readers, showing them that it’s okay to be afraid, that there’s no shame in anger, that it is possible to be upset with a friend without it meaning the end of the friendship. And, maybe the most valuable ‘lesson’ in this book, that it is important to try and understand what motivates others, that first impressions don’t always reveal the truth, and that often an act of kindness, understanding, and compassion may achieve what anger and violence can not.

Long story short. I’m in awe of this author. I want to live in her imagination and, failing that, I can only be grateful that she shares her fabulous creative vision with us through stories which are, without fail, captivating page-turners. Only two more days before I’ll be able to get my hands on what will, without a doubt, be a grand finale. 

Bring. It. On.




Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff




280 pages
Publisher: Tinder Press

Blurb

LAST ONES LEFT ALIVE is the story of Orpen, a young woman who must walk on foot across a ravaged Ireland in the desperate hope of saving herself, and her guardian Maeve, from the zombie-like menace known as the skrake. Sarah Davis-Goff's strikingly original debut will appeal to readers of dystopian literary fiction such as STATION 11 or THE END WE START FROM.

Watch your six. Beware tall buildings. Always have your knives.

Growing up on a tiny island off the coast of a post-apocalyptic Ireland, Orpen's life has revolved around physical training and necessity. After Mam died, it's the only way she and her guardian Maeve have survived the ravenous skrake (zombies) who roam the wilds of the ravaged countryside, looking for prey.

When Maeve is bitten and infected, Orpen knows what she should do - sink a knife into her eye socket, and quickly. Instead, she tries to save Maeve, and following rumours of a distant city on the mainland, guarded by fierce banshees, she sets off, pushing Maeve in a wheelbarrow and accompanied by their little dog, Danger. It is a journey on which Orpen will need to fight repeatedly for her life, drawing on all of her training and instincts. In the course of it, she will learn more about the Emergency that destroyed her homeland, and the mythical Phoenix City - and discover a starting truth about her own identity.

Review

I finished The Last Ones Left Alive yesterday, and found I had to let it sit for a while before trying to write a review. I have many, many, thinky thoughts, but not all of them can be shared because they would spoil the story for those who haven’t read it yet. So, this review comes with a warning: it will at times be vague and I don’t rule out that it may leave you scratching your head ones or twice.

But, before I get to the confusing part, let me focus on the story as a whole.

As the blurb illustrates, The Last Ones Left Alive is set in a post-apocalyptic Ireland where, as far is Orpen is concerned while she’d growing up, she, her mother Muireann and Maeve might as well be the only ones still living. On their small island there are no other people, and while there are reminders of the world as it used to be, the disheveled state those are in, indicates that the island has been mostly uninhabited for quite some time. Yet, despite being on their own, Orpen spends her years growing up preparing for the worst as she trains to gain strength, learn how to fight and use her knives.

When the story starts, we find Orpen traveling through the deserted Irish countryside, travelling to the east where she hopes to find Phoenix City, a place she knows very little about except that it exists or used to exist and that there might be other survivors there. Orpen pushes a wheelbarrow which holds necessities as well as Maeve, who is obviously not well and potentially a danger to Orpen. The world Orpen finds herself in is filled with expected and unknown threats, and her journey is often tense, and danger-filled. But, despite Orpen’s desperate situation, she also discovers beauty in the countryside, and a form of joy as her horizons expand.

It was fascinating to watch Orpen as she adjusts her ideas and world view according to what she encounters. All she has to go by is the little Maeve and her mother have been willing, mostly reluctantly, to share with her in the past, but it has formed her expectations. When she meets three other, uninfected, humans, her perceptions slowly change. Especially since she no longer has Maeve with her to colour her views.

There are several deeply emotional scenes in this book which, given the setting, was only to be expected. What I really admired is how the author managed to portray Orpen dealing with devasting losses and shocking new experiences without falling apart. It was a necessary and brilliantly executed portrayal of Orpen coming to terms with what’s happening, without leaving her so broken that she’s no longer able to keep herself alive.

I saw some review describing this as a ‘fiercely feminist novel’, but I’m not sure I can fully support that assessment. Sure, Maeve, Orpen, and her mum are strong, self-sufficient women, well able to take care of themselves. But the way Maeve opposes Phoenix City, to the point where she won’t tell Orpen anything about it or its location, indicates that this place, reportedly run by women, isn’t necessarily a fairer, safer, or more equal society than the world as ruled by men is/was. The glimpses we get later in the story, after Orpen runs into Cillian, Nic, and Aodh, indicate all is not harmonious in Phoenix City. A further encounter, near the end of the story, only enhanced that impression for me.

The story is told in alternating chapters, one taking place in the ‘present’ with Orpen on her fateful journey, and the next describing events that led up to her making that long track.  It was executed really well. The current storyline and the ‘flashbacks’ tie in closely, and illustrate each other, but… Most (if not all) chapters end on a mini cliffhanger. Don’t get me wrong, this is a recognized and popular fiction device. It is just that while reading this book I discovered that ending a chapter on a cliffhanger doesn’t work for me unless the next chapter immediately picks up the thread again. A chapter in between the conflict and the conclusion makes it easier for me to put a book down, to walk away. Which almost certainly isn’t what’s meant to happen, so maybe that’s just me being quirky.

The story left me with a few questions. Unfortunately, I can’t voice them here without resorting to spoilers. I just hope that the promised sequel will provide the answers I need. As a general statement, this post-apocalyptic world could do with a bit of building, more background as to how it ended up in the state we find it in, and what happened in the various other parts of the world/Ireland.

The synopsis ends with the following sentence:

“In the course of it, she will learn more about the Emergency that destroyed her homeland, and the mythical Phoenix City - and discover a starting truth about her own identity.”

As far as I’m concerned, that promise wasn’t (completely) fulfilled. I’m still not very clear at all about ‘the Emergency’, have only seen (not very enticing) hints about Phoenix City, and so far, only have suspicions about Orpen’s own identity. What is more, while I have my suspicions about Maeve and Muireann’s back story, I would love to see it confirmed (or refuted) and expanded.

I will always rejoice when I read a story in which a same-sex relationship just is, without the need for explanation, excuses, or a special ‘coming-out-like’ reveal. Maeve and Muireann’s relationship is just that, an established fact, right from the start. And while that lifted my heart, I don’t think it could have been written differently; not in this book. Since we read the story from Orpen’s perspective, and she has never known other people besides her mother and Maeve, there is no reason why the relationship would be remarkable. Prejudice is something we need to be taught (as Orpen’s distrust of men shows), not something we’re born with. Which doesn’t negate the fact that Orpen’s automatic acceptance of her mother’s relationship is a bright spark in an otherwise rather dark story.

I’m suddenly afraid the above makes it sound as if I didn’t like this book, which is not the impression I want to leave you with. In fact, The Last Ones Left Alive is fascinating, nail-biting, compulsive read. The story is well plotted and Orpen’s voice is clear, showing us exactly who she is and how she changes as life throws challenges her way. The book reminded me a bit of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, although it is decidedly less bleak. On one or two occasions I also flashed back to several of Margaret Atwood’s books. None of those (possibly perceived) similarities take anything away from The Last Ones Left Behind, though. This is an original, vividly written, tale featuring strong, proud, and independent women without ever falling into the trap of making them look too good to be true.

I listened to the first half of this book and read the last part. I made the change because I ran out of time, not because there’s anything wrong with the audio. Far from it. The audio was amazing. I feel the narrator captured Orpen’s voice brilliantly and voiced her various emotions with clarity. In fact, the narration was at times so tense that I now can confidently advice against listening to this story while talking a walk along mostly deserted Irish countryside roads. 😊

LOL. Before I started writing this review, I was curious about the sequel. Now that I’m done, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’m curious both because I want answers to my remaining questions and because I can’t wait to see what will happen next. Release date anyone?



Saturday, 9 May 2020

The Island Girls (A Heartbreaking Historical Novel) by Noelle Harrison





313 pages
Publisher: Bookouture
Buy Links: Amazon | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play

Blurb

I guess our life on the island was one which never fit you right. I like to imagine you some days when I look out the window across the harbour, all those miles of sea and land between us. But, sister, we are always connected.

When young nurse Emer loses her beloved sister, she is haunted by grief and desperate to escape her memories. Taking a job in Vinalhaven, a rocky outpost in the wild Atlantic, feels like the refuge she so badly needs.

Her patient, Susannah, has lived in isolation for many years, since the tragic death of her sister Kate caused her to withdraw from island life. However, when Emer discovers a bundle of letters in a rainbow quilt in her bedroom and shares the story of her own loss, Susannah opens up. She begins to tell the story of Kate’s brutal and secret past, and her marriage to a man with a heart as cold as the ocean.

But when Emer starts asking locals about Kate, the island air sizzles with hostility. There are people who would rather that Susannah kept quiet, who have no qualms about threatening Emer. But despite the warnings to stay away, Emer is determined to find out what really happened the night Kate died – and the final secret that is keeping Susannah a prisoner to the past.

Review

Everything Noelle Harrison has ever written has hit me in the feels…hard. The Island Girls is no exception to that rule. In fact, this story is laden with love and loyalty but also with pain, loss, grief, and guilt. And every single emotion is so easy to related to it’s impossible to read this book without having your heart both broken and restored. 

As the blurb describes, The Island Girls tells the parallel stories of two women who, more than a generation apart have their lives turned upside down by the loss of their dearly beloved sister. It’s a story about the things we do for love, the sacrifices we are willing to make for those who are dear to us, and the often high price we have to pay for loving with all our hearts.

There are many parallels between the Susannah and Emer’s story; the depth of the love for their sister being the main similarity, but not the only one. Caring for Susannah is both Emer’s attempt to redeem herself after she’s made what she considers an unforgivable mistake, and a form of refuge. Travelling to Vinalhaven is Emer’s attempt to get away from everything and everybody, including the man she loves, who remind her of how she’s failed Orla, her sister.

Susannah’s continued presence on Vinalhaven is a similar form of self-punishment. Her reasons for staying (as revealed very late in the book, so I won’t mention them) are no longer valid, but she’s sacrificed too much for too long and has given up on any hope of getting back all she lost.

Learning Susannah’s back story is Emer’s opportunity to find her way back to herself, to salvage her life and herself, if she’s willing to see, listen, and learn the lessons. The question whether or not Emer will be able to put herself back together is as tension-filled as the slow but relentless unfolding of Susannah’s history.

As always, Noelle Harrison has created a glorious novel. Her sentences evoke images and emotions. She paints vivid pictures with her words, be it of the landscape the story takes place in or the emotions motivating the characters. It is impossible not to get taken in by Emer and Susannah. Their heartbreak, their loyalty, and even their stubborn refusal to put reality ahead of their feelings, all bleed off the page, into the reader. It left me wanting to slap both women almost as much as I wanted to hug them and tell them ‘it’ wasn’t their fault.

Ultimately this is a story about love, about loyalty, and about learning to live with the fact that sometimes love and loyalty aren’t enough to combat the very real horrors of life. The Island Girls is a heart-breaking yet glorious and ultimately uplifting story that will stay with me for some time to come. This is not the first time I whole-heartedly recommend a story by Noelle Harrison, and I’ve got a feeling it won’t be the last either.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Beautiful Beast (Those Other Books) by Roe Horvat




Buy links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Also Available to read with Kindle Unlimited

Blurb

Beautiful Beast is a light tale of lust and love, about a beautiful dancer who keeps a wild beast locked inside him, and the man who sets it free.

Kevin used to hold himself back, trying to keep his less conventional desires to himself. With Joakim, he feels free. It’s almost as if Joakim can read Kevin’s subconscious, touching the right places at exactly the right time, and whispering the most shameless things…filthy, and oh so satisfying.

Falling for Kevin is easy. Joakim can feel it happening and he’s powerless to do anything about it. With every touch, his desire grows. Men have chased him for his money and status before, but Kevin doesn’t seem to care about any of that. Maybe this time, Joakim should let himself fall, and hope the landing will be soft. 

Review

This story starts with one of the most delightful and maybe even best opening scenes I’ve ever read. Joakim falls straight into love at first sight in a shoe shop while…. No actually. I love that scene too much to spoil it for you. Go read it.

In fact, go read the whole book. In my opinion this is the perfect story for the troubled times we live in. If I had been able to order my perfect romance it would have read pretty much exactly like Beautiful Beast.

What’s not to love about a story about instant lust, maybe even ‘insta-love’ as far as Joakim is concerned, in which the two main characters simply give in to the mutual attraction, follow their instincts, and create something gorgeous.

Beautiful Beast is an effortless and tender story. While both characters occasionally question what’s happening, whether they are moving too fast, and why they are so comfortable being completely open with the other, there is no angst. Two men follow their hearts, without conflict or concern, and it works, because there is no doubt they are perfect together.

While all the Those Other Books are sensual and sexy, I want to say this one wins the ‘steam award’. Joakim and Kevin’s journey, as they explore each other, is glorious. Every want of Kevin’s is a need in Joakim, every dream Joakim’s ever had is answered by Kevin’s desires.

But, the beauty in this book goes well beyond the mesmerizing love story and the enticing sex scenes. The writing is smooth and engaging, and the descriptions, of our men and the world they move in, are stunning. What’s more, while these two men found each other through the kink they share, there was never any doubt — not for the reader and not for the characters — that what they shared went beyond bodily pleasures from the very start.

It was wonderful getting glimpses of the characters from the previous Those Other Books, simply because I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of these men. Each and everyone of them has worked his way into my heart, and Joakim and Kevin have joined the crew. I adored both of them, their sex-fest enthralled me, and the deep, instant connection between them made my heart soar.

If there was any doubt (spoiler alert, there wasn’t) I can now confirm that Roe Horvat has earned himself a place near the top of my ‘must read list’.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

The Priest (Original Sinners #9) by Tiffany Reisz




Publisher: 8th Circle Press
Pages: 432
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

New Orleans, four months after the events of THE QUEEN...

Søren has been suspended from the Jesuits for a minimum of one year after confessing to fathering a child. To say he's struggling with his newfound freedom is an understatement.

Kingsley is about to be a father again and is convinced something very bad is about to happen. Nerves? Or is he right that the time has come for the Sinners to pay for their sins?

And if things couldn't get worse, a handsome private detective shows up and tells Mistress Nora that a priest has just committed suicide, and she was the last person he tried to call. He would like to know why...

She doesn't know, but Nora and her new detective friend will turn over the city to find out, meeting liars, vampires, and witches along the way. When she finds what she's looking for, she may wish she'd never stepped foot in New Orleans.


Review                     

“They were more like a spiderweb, all of them, made of filaments so fragile and fine nothing could put them back together if one of them was torn away…”

… and Nora decides to help investigate a suicide that may well cause those filaments to shrivel up and die.

Oh my God, what a book. I’m not sure how I’m going to put my thoughts and feelings into words, especially since I want to avoid spoilers, but … WOW. Not that I’m surprised. Tiffany Reisz is yet to let me down. But I’m not sure I was ready for this story. Then again, maybe I was. Maybe I’d been waiting for this story ever since I first read the Siren.

I’m sorry, I’m reviewing in riddles, and I can’t promise that’s going to get a whole lot better as I go on. I want to say all the things, and I don’t want to risk spoiling even the tiniest of details.

As always with Tiffany Reisz, this is a story with many layers; quite possibly more than I managed to discover on a first read. There’s the mystery Nora gets pulled into after a priest commits suicide. The last number he called before pulling the trigger was Nora’s old number and when Cyrus, the private detective trying to find out why the priest took this drastic action, approaches her, he pulls her into the case. A case which will bring them into contact with fascinating characters, vampires, and witches (well, what would you expect in New Orleans?). A case that will show Cyrus a way of life he barely knew existed, and a case that will turn two people who, at first glance, have very little in common, into friends.

But there’s more…so much more. There’s Søren and Nora and their complicated, fascinating, scary, and stunningly beautiful, yet fragile relationship.

“Twenty-three years together, and he could still make her toes curl and give her goosebumps and scare her down to the bone.
It was a sacred thing to be loved by a sadist like Søren. Sacred like a sacrifice, like a vestal virgin offered to a god. What was a god, anyway, but one who held the power of life and death in his hands? By that measure, surely Søren qualified, if only when they made love.”

And there’s the thing I don’t want to mention except to say that it answered something I’d been wondering about for as long as I’ve been reading the Original Sinners’ books. I approve of the way that ‘issue’ was resolved. It made sense and I had been anticipating it. And it was a wonderful illustration of how we sometimes don’t allow ourselves to see the full picture of who we are and how we reached a certain point in our lives until something from the outside forces us to open our eyes.

Again, I’m sorry. I’m being horribly mysterious but, if you are still to read the book, you wouldn’t thank me for saying more.

There was so much to love in this book. Kingsley, Juliette (expecting her second baby), and Celeste are delightful secondary characters. I adored Nora’s dog, Gmork. But I think I loved the developing friendship between Nora and Cyrus best. These two have little to nothing in common and Cyrus is definitely not a part of Nora’s kinky world. But their differences allowed them to be exactly what the other needed at various points in the story and I can’t help hoping that we’ll see more of Cyrus and his fiancée Paulina in future books.

I’m going to leave it here. Nobody is going to get anything out me making more vague yet gushing statements. Just go and read the book. And if you’ve so far managed to miss the Original Sinners’ series (what stone have you been living under?), all I can say is, pick up The Siren and start on a journey that will mesmerize and captivate you. Nine books in, and all titles still feature at the top of my ‘extra-special list’.

“If anything in the world was truly a sin, it was letting one’s own mild discomfort interfere with someone else’s healing.”



Friday, 17 April 2020

The Interrogation – a Hunter Dane Investigation by Adira August




196 Pages
Buy links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Also available in Kindle Unlimited

Blurb

Hunter’s most twisted killer. Cam’s most dangerous case.


“SO WHO GOT DEAD?”
Twee asked, taking a pastry. Merisi pulled the plate away from her and closer to himself.
“Three little boys," Hunter told them. "The fourth went missing this morning. If this killer’s M.O. hasn’t changed, the boy’s not dead yet.”
“You’re talking about the Wilderness Killer?” Diane Natani asked. “That’s McCauley’s case. How is our unit getting it?”
“The victim is the governor’s nephew. McCauley and his team haven’t gotten anywhere in a year. The governor requested us, and we’re taking over.”
“Well, that shouldn’t cause any resentment.” Merisi dunked half a doughnut into his coffee.
“It’s a recipe for a clusterfuck, Boss,” Twee said.
"True. It’s also exactly the kind of case this Unit was created to handle."
Natani tossed down her pen. “We have political interference, departmental incompetence, personal resentment, and a boy who will die within eight hours. Somewhere.”
"No problem. We find the killer and get him to tell us where in the 1200 square miles of Colorado wilderness he staked out the governor’s nephew.” Merisi punctuated this with an eyeroll.
“The first part got done about an hour ago.”
Assistant District Attorney Natani perked up. “We have a suspect?”
Hunter nodded. "We do. Now I just have to get him to talk.”
“Just get him to talk?” Merisi tilted his chair back. “He’ll lawyer up before you can say ‘You have the right’ and a keyhole satellite couldn’t find this kid.”
“You're forgetting the Boss’s cardinal rule.” Twee pulled the plate back toward herself and Merisi’s chair came down with a sharp bang.
“Yeah? What's that?"

“Never assume.”


If you like a master gamesman for a detective and a few twists in your criminal cocktail, you want to read this.
A STAND-ALONE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

 Review

Unless you’ve never seen one of my reviews before, you probably know I’m a HUGE fan of Hunt & Cam. I’ve been with them from the very start and eagerly await every subsequent book. These two men are glorious together. Made for each other, Hunter Dane and Camden Snow come to life on the pages of these stories, and worm their way into your heart and head…well, they did for me.

But, if you’ve read the previous stories, you probably need to know that this book is different from the earlier titles. Where the older stories focus on the relationship between Hunt and Cam and their D/s dynamic with Hunter day job taking a (growing) backseat, The Interrogation is a pure and simple thriller. While the feelings they have for each other are still vivid, there are no on-the-page sex scenes to be found in this story.

As for the crime? When a young boy disappears, Hunter is put in charge of the case. The kidnapper is soon apprehended, but there’s no sign of the boy. He’s been left, somewhere in the wilderness to die a slow and horrible death in a blizzard that’s about to strike in a matter of hours. In a race against time, Hunter must get the man to talk while Cam is out searching for his victim. As the snow starts to fall, more than one life is at stake.

I have to admit that before I started The Interrogation I wondered if I would miss those extremely enticing scenes. Would Hunt & Cam be able to captivate me as much without getting their clothes off, without their ever so imaginative sexual encounters?

I’m very happy that I’m able to answer that question with a whole-hearted ‘YES’. The investigation in this story, the search for the young missing boy, and the tension during the interrogation were so intense that I didn’t have time to miss the sex. In fact, the timeline in this story is so tight that any time-out for private escapades would have felt wrong, contrived, and shoe-horned in. And yet, even without describing any explicit intimacies, the reader is never in any doubt how much these men mean to each other, how they live and breath for and because of the other.

This is one of those stories that forces the reader to pay close attention. Nothing is exactly what it seems. Nothing unfolds as you might expect. And you’ll find yourself torn between wanting to read slowly, just to make sure you don’t miss anything, and the urge to rush along and discover how it all ends. Between a manipulative perpetrator, policing politics and rivalries, an innocent young victim, a race against time, and a heroic dog, there really isn’t anything in this book not to love. But, best of all, as always, are Hunter and Camden: two heroes so perfect they shouldn’t work and yet manage to be memorable and incredibly more-ish.

Can I have the next book, please?


Monday, 30 March 2020

Third One (Those Other Books #3) by Roe Horvat




Buy links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Available in Kindle Unlimited

Blurb

It could have been just an innocent crush. Something guiltless and fleeting. But Luke spends every day with Marcus; they talk, touch and dance together, they create and perform together. They know each other inside out. As a consequence, Luke has been in love with his very much taken choreographer for years. Seeing Marcus and his partner Liam together has become increasingly painful, and Luke needs to leave. His dancing career is nearing an end anyway. He will start university, reinvent himself, forget Marcus and find happiness elsewhere.

Except Marcus loves him back. And Liam knows. Liam’s dark eyes and his imposing silhouette begin haunting Luke’s dreams. Drowning in both lust and sadness, Luke is swept into a passionate triangle with two men who couldn’t be more different. Suddenly, instead of fear or caution, there’s just a mind-numbing desire for more.

Review

“This is how I look when I’m happy.” – Luke

Third One is the third book (but fourth story) in the Those Other Books series. In my review of One In Between I wrote: “I do hope there will be a Liam, Marcus and Luke story.” And what do you know? Not only did I get my wish, but the story I wished for surpassed all my (very high) hopes and expectations.

Like all of Roe’s characters Liam, Marcus, and Luke feel deeply, love fervently, and enjoy sex/make love with a burning passion. This author always takes his readers deep into his main characters. Not a thought is hidden or vague, every feeling is described in terms that awaken the same emotions in the reader. It’s impossible not to feel Marcus’s need, Luke’s desperation, or Liam’s occasional (and uncharacteristic) doubt. The language allows the reader to emerge themselves in the story, lose themselves there, and find some much needed and deeply appreciated relief from the real world.

Few authors I know write sex with as much depth, feeling, and eroticism as Roe Horvat. The words ‘this story made my Kindle steam’ are a cliché and yet, that’s the only way I can describe it.  Every touch, and the reaction it elicits, is vivid to the point where the reader can almost experience them personally. There is no shame, sex is never dirty. Quite the opposite in fact. Touch, penetration, claiming, surrendering, are so much more than a hot act on these pages. They describe the growing feelings between these three men with maybe more clarity than their thoughts and words do. In each other, in their shared passion and release they find each other as well as themselves and it’s a beautiful sight.

Not that this novella is ‘just’ a sex-filled romp. Becoming a throple is always going to be more complicated than two people coming together. When two of the three have been an established and happy couple for a decade before their third enters the relationship, it only makes things more fraught. And yet, while there certainly was some concern on Luke’s part about being the ‘odd one out’, when these three men come together it heralds the end of their angst rather than the start. Not that all concerns instantly vanished, as if by the magic of peen’, but once these men open up to each other (in more ways than one) and start talking, the stomach-churning disquiet, eased both for the characters and for me. And the moment Luke fully realizes he’s found happiness had tears stinging my eyes.

I could go on…and on…and on… But, in the end all that matters is that with Third One, Roe Horvat once again delivered a beautifully written story about men finding their perfect happy-ever-after. The fact that he also managed to push me out of my reading funk is a very welcome bonus. Not for the first time I highly recommend this book by a wonderful and favourite author.

“It all began and ended with Liam. Without Liam, his love for Marcus made no sense. By giving himself to Liam, he was redeemed.” – Luke