Sunday, 7 June 2015

Author in the Spotlight: Blaine D. Arden

Oren’s Right by Blaine D. Arden

Length:        60 pages / 17.700 words
Date:           June 6, 2015
Details:        A ‘Tales of the Foreststory.
Copy received from author

The blurb:


Forester Veld loses a piece of himself to mute baker Oren when they first meet, but Oren is vowed to Haram. When Haram is killed, Veld denies his heart to respect the mourning period. It’s the right thing to do.

During Haram’s funeral, Oren proudly bares the brands that show the nature of their love; Haram owned him, heart and body. The elves pity Oren and think he’s broken.

Veld has no intention of dishonouring Haram’s memory, but his death may not have been an accident. Only a forester can learn what the trees have seen. However, Oren’s independence is threatened, and if Veld doesn’t offer what Oren needs, Oren may never be his to claim.

My thoughts:

Oren’s Right is part of the ‘Tales of the Forest’ series and, if I read the author’s website right, the third book in the sequence. I can’t say it mattered. This fantasy world captured me from the moment I started reading and at no point did I feel lost or wondering if I’d missed something – Oren’s Right works very well as a stand-alone story.

And what a story it is. We’re given fantasy, a mystery, tension, pain, loss and love. There are subtle messages in this story about dealing with people who have different customs from our own or take their pleasure in ways we don’t understand and can’t imagine. I loved that those weren’t preached and spoke all the more loudly for it.

I adore Veld and his patience despite a desire he’d been hiding and suppressing for years. Oren – the gentle giant with a deep need to serve - was an adorable character and like Veld all I wanted was for Oren to be safe and taken care off.

Despite this being a short story it is a fully fledged tale without open endings or unanswered questions. The fact that the book ended with a few bonus scenes was a very nice and welcome surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy and highly recommend this award winning book.

The Fifth Son by Blaine D. Arden

Length:        76 pages / 24.000 words
Date:           June 6, 2015
Details:        Copy received from author

The blurb:

A prince without power

In a land where magic is commonplace, Prince Llyskel has none. He can’t command spells, he has never been taught to fight and as the fifth son of the King, he will never rule. Everyone believes he’s a weakling, most of all himself.

Powerlessness ins Llyskel’s problem – and his pleasure. In his secret fantasies, the prince dreams of nothing more than finding himself helpless at another man’s hands...particularly the hands of Captain Ariv of the Guards

Then Ariv makes Llyskel’s dream a reality and as the powerless prince surrenders to the soldier’s desire, he finds his own true strength at last. But a web of royal politics is closing around Llyskel, threatening to tear him from his lover, and it will take all his newfound courage to escape.

My thoughts:

I loved this story, I loved the world it was set in and I loved Llyskel and Ariv. I find myself amazed at how the author manages to create a vibrant and vivid picture of a fantasy world in such a short story. At no point while reading was I aware of world-building, never mind information dumping, and yet I had a clear picture of where I was and how that world operated, almost from the very first paragraph.

Llyskel and Ariv’s story almost reads like a fairy-tale and I loved that aspect. The combination of angst (minimal), love story, sexy times and danger was just about perfect for me. And the writing is so smooth the story almost read itself. In fact, reading The Fifth Son was a pure pleasure.

Before I forget I have to mention the illustrations. They are beautiful. I would have loved for them to be in colour but, thanks to the beautiful and full colour cover, I have no problem imagining what those images would look like. And how appropriate is it that a story in which one of the main characters is an accomplished painter should come accompanied by such wonderful pictures?

The very last line in this book put a smile on my face. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful read.

About the Author:

Blaine D. Arden is a purple-haired, forty-something author of gay & trans* romance mixed with fantasy, mystery, and magic who sings her way through life in platform boots.

Born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, Blaine spent many hours of her sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with her Barbies. After seeing the film "An Early Frost" as a teen in the mid-eighties, an idealistic Blaine wanted to do away with the negativity surrounding homosexuality and strove to show the world how beautiful love between men could be. Our difference is our strength, is Blaine's motto, and her stories are often set in worlds where gender fluidity and sexual diversity are accepted as is. 

When not writing or reading, Blaine has singing lessons and hopes to be in a band someday. Supporting Blaine in pursuing her dreams and all matters regarding household, sons, and cairn terrier, is her long-suffering husband for over twenty years.

Blaine has been published by Storm Moon Press, and has recently signed contracts with Less Than Three Press and Wilde City Press. Her scifi romance "Aliens, Smith and Jones" received an Honourable Mention in the Best Gay Sci-Fi/Fantasy category of the Rainbow Awards 2012.

Blaine can be found on her websitetwitterfacebookgoodreads, and by email.

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