Posts Tagged ‘carina press’

Reviewed by Heather C

SERIES: Agamemnon Frost Trilogy
AUTHOR: Kim Knox
BOOKS: 3
PUBLISHER: Carina Press

Agamemnon Frost and the House of Death (Book One, Agamemnon Frost Trilogy)

BLURB: Liverpool, 1891

Click image to view full coverDecorated artilleryman Edgar Mason was forced to find new work when the British Empire replaced its foot soldiers with monstrous machines. Now he waits on the Liverpool elite as a personal servant. He has just one rule: he won’t work for fashion-addled dandies.

Agamemnon Frost, however, is far from the foppish man-about-town he appears to be. He’s working to protect the Earth from an alien invasion being planned by a face-changing creature known as Pandarus. And on the night he plans to confront the aliens, he enlists Mason to assist him.

For a man to love a man is a serious crime in Victorian England. But when Mason meets Frost, his heart thunders and his blood catches fire. And when Pandarus drags the two men into the torture cellars beneath his house of death to brainwash them, Mason’s new passion may be all that stands between him and insanity.

REVIEW:

Okay, this was crazy!

The cover is what first drew my interest to this story, but when I originally read the blurb for this, I was immediately turned off by the Victorian England-slash-alien invasion concept.  Then, something kept pulling me back to it over and over, and when I finally realized it would be a trilogy, I decided to give it a try.

It’s Liverpool in 1891, and Edgar Mason, a former soldier, has been hired for the night to play manservant to Agamemnon Frost, a well-dressed gentleman *cough* and guest at Sir Randolph’s dinner party.  Mason soon realizes that ALL things aren’t what they seem and the two men soon find themselves on the run…from Martians!

I’m going to separate my review into parts: first half and second half…

For the first half, the entire first half, I was so lost and confused I almost gave up.  There was a lot of “alien speak” and I couldn’t figure out what the other characters were going on and on about.  Plus, all the Greek references were lost on me.  I couldn’t visualize any of the alien contraptions, nor could I picture what the bad guys were doing to the MC.  It was like all this was written for a higher level of intelligence and my measly, human brain could not comprehend the complexity of it.  Like I said, it was a real struggle for me to continue reading.

Then, for the second half, like right AT the 50% mark, something changed, and all of a sudden, it was making sense and I was really interested in what was going to happen.  The story was still crazy, but by then, it was a fun crazy in a creative and unique way.  I now believe that the beginning was meant to be confusing and hard to follow, since we are getting the story from Mason’s third person POV, and not necessarily a poor execution from the author.

My favorite part of this story was the sexual tension between Mason and Agamemnon.  There’s lots of heat there that I really hope will finally reach a climax in the next book. (Yes, I can’t wait to read it; I must find out what happens).  I am really, really intrigued by Agamemnon and want to know more of his secrets; and I want to know what’s really going on in Mason’s head.

I’m giving this one 3 stars for the fact that it failed to hold my interest for a large part of the story.

Don’t let the historical aspects scare you if that’s not usually your thing, because the feel of the story is more science fiction, alternate universe.

Heather rates it – 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINKS: Carina Press :: Amazon

Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships (Book Two, Agamemnon Frost Trilogy)

Click image to view full coverBLURB: Edgar Mason is ready to embark upon his new life at Agamemnon Frost’s side. But all is not perfect. His Martian overlord, Pandarus, has implanted a dark voice in his mind, a voice that urges betrayal. And though Mason can keep close to Frost, there’s little room for romance under the watchful gaze of the engineers from Station X.

That changes when Mason and Frost reopen their investigation into their old enemy’s whereabouts. Posing as double agents and investigating cryptic rumors of “hollow ships,” they find him impersonating a London banker and worm their way into his confidence.

But their success brings them trouble in spades. Pandarus takes them into the belly of his ships, where he plans to transfigure them into mindless automata. And with Earth on the brink of invasion, Frost’s old flame Theodora reappearing and Pandarus’s brainwashing growing more effective, Mason and Frost will find their bond tested as never before.

REVIEW:

I’ve come to the conclusion that science fiction just might not be the genre for me.

So, Mason is still trying to adapt to his “changes” and is working as Frost’s valet, but now they are stuck at Station X and really can’t explore any of that unresolved sexual tension that’s been building up between them.  Mason is also still struggling with the whispers in his mind that keep telling him that Frost is a traitor and urging him to report that to his master.  Nestor decides that Mason and Frost need to go check out the “hollow ships” and see if they can find Pandarus.  And that’s where things begin to fall apart…

I didn’t think it was possible, but this story was even more difficult for me to follow than the first one.  I couldn’t picture ANYTHING that was happening to the characters or the setting around them.  There were chambers, and spikes and ships made out of human skin…I think.  It was all over the place!  Mason kept thinking he was dying and then he would wake up and I would be even more lost. Then, I think there may have been some kind of time travel to an earth made of living skin…or was it dead skin?  I have no idea because then it was gone…I think.

The sexual tension/romance was much more lacking here than in the first book.  Previously, Frost was all ready to fuck Mason, and then when he finally has a chance, he turns him down!  But not before giving Mason a hand job that I couldn’t even see in my head. And Mason keeps going on and on about how Frost needs to be with his former fiancée, Theodora, even though Frost has told him over and over that he wants Mason and not her.

I struggled reading this from the first page to the last, but I’m still going to read the third book to see how this mess ends.

Heather rates it – 

BUY LINKS: Carina Press :: Amazon :: All Romance eBooks

PRE-RELEASE REVIEW: Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers (Book Three, Agamemnon Frost Trilogy)

Click image to view full coverBLURB: Edgar Mason is losing Agamemnon Frost despite everything they’ve been through–the passion, the torture, the heat. Frost’s fiancée, Theodora, is back, and Mason can feel his lover gravitating toward her. Every day he sees them together, it tears at his heart.

Frost feels raw himself. His brother and sister-in-law are missing, and his guilt about failing to save Theodora from Pandarus eats at him. His feelings for Mason, whom he has put through hell twice already, just twist the screws tighter.

On top of that, Pandarus and the Martians are back to make their final push to Earth, and Frost and Mason are duty bound to fight them. People are vanishing. Bodies are turning up burned beyond recognition in the slums. The bleak, human-less future Frost and Mason saw in the hollow ships has nearly come to pass.

And in order to prevent it, each man will have to make a final choice: lose his lover or doom the world.

REVIEW:

Probably my most favorite book of the series and the most coherent…for the most part.

After rescuing Theodora, Mason and Frost are now protecting her at Frost’s home, Greenbank Hall, and trying to keep the darkness in her mind from taking over. Then, Frost’s brother, Menelaus, and his wife go missing and Frost decides he must take action against Pandarus and discover what the puzzle of The Crown of Towers really is, and choosing between Mason or Theodora’s safety.

For about the first 75% of this book, I was really liking it and was able to follow what was going on.  We get to see more of Frost’s vulnerabilities when it comes to the safety of Theodora; and Mason’s jealousy of Frost’s “engagement” to her.  We also get to see a resolution to all the sexual tension between Mason and Frost…and it’s totally HOT!!

For the last 25% of the book and the big climax where earth is saved from the invading Martians, well, this is where I got confused again and I’m still not sure I understand what really happened. Somehow Mason was the brain of Pandarus’s ship and then Frost’s cravat pin somehow becomes the key to saving the world. Huh?

In the end, Mason and Frost are free from Pandarus and Theodora and can now live happily ever after.

So probably, this kind of science fiction just isn’t for me.

Heather rates it – 3-stars-out-of-5-300x70

BUY LINKS: Carina Press :: Amazon :: All Romance eBooks

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Heather C. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: HEATHER’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Katinka

Trick of TimeTITLE: Trick of Time
AUTHOR: J. L. Merrow
PUBLISHER: Carina Press
LENGTH: 27000 words
BLURB: A lover from another time

When Ted Ennis steps out the doors of the Criterion Theatre for a cigarette and finds himself in Victorian London, he begins to doubt his sanity. At first he thinks it’s all a film set, and is sure that the strikingly handsome young man leaning against a lamppost must be the leading man…

What starts as a sordid transaction with a beautiful rent boy quickly turns into something much deeper, drawing him back again and again as he gets to know Jem and craves meaningful encounters with him.

But Ted doesn’t understand the exact conditions necessary for his trips through time—and for Jem, time may actually be running out. Now Ted has one last shot to get back to Jem and save their relationship, before it’s too late…

REVIEW:

Question: you step out of your house one day to go to work and..WHAM..suddenly find yourself in 19th century Victorian London. Astonished, you suck the grime, dirt and decay into your lungs and then…you lock eyes with a pretty boy who casually leans against a lamppost. He’s a prostitute and it shows.

Now would you or wouldn’t you get your freak on with him?

I have to say, knowledge can be a bitch. I confess to being somewhat of a history nut and thus can’t help associating Victorian rent boys with filth, lice, fleas, Syphilis and Gonorrhea. Victorian fashion may ignite romantic fantasies, in reality a large number of the London population bit the dust before even turning 30, among other reasons due to outbreaks of cholera, smallpox, typhoid and scarlet fever. What’s amusing, is that physicians back then apparently considered STD ridden prostitutes a blessing. They believed that Syphilis was “inflicted by the Almighty to act as a restraint upon the indulgence of evil passions”. So yes, I personally find it a little difficult to indulge in the idea of smutting it up with a Victorian prostitute.

Luckily, Ted Ennis has no such objections! More than a year ago, his husband and parents got killed in a car crash that left him with a permanent head injury and slurred speech. A family friend landed him a job as a jack of all trades at a London theater. Ted’s still in the process of trying to bounce back when he — much as in the case I described above — steps out of the theater on his cigarette break and finds himself in….Victorian London. In case you were wondering…… YES, he does get his freak on in what you can only call a school example of instant love. A rent boy leads him through a labyrinth of dirty, dark alleys, gets on his knees and….Ted’s been done for (if he wasn’t already). When he heads back to the theater and to our modern world, he realizes that his life cannot ever be the same again.

He has to see his historical lover again.

This being a novella, I decided to keep my review reasonably short (my kinda short anyway :p). A Trick of Time is a sweet, gentle romance with a hint of suspense and the time travel element to spice things up. Merrow has a pleasant writing style and paces her story well. I found myself rooting for Ted and his prostitute and had no troubling whatsoever finishing this book in a few hours.

On the other hand, this one was nowhere near as clever or quirky as Merrow’s other book; Muscling Through, which really put her on the map for me. If you haven’t read that one already, please make sure to check it out! Trick of Time was very much a middle of the road romance, and a somewhat shallow one at that. So if you enjoy picking your books apart and analyzing the author’s decisions, this one will leave you unsatisfied. Quite a few questions remain unanswered. The odd time travel thing and how it all played out will raise an eyebrow or two. Same with how the rent boy’s harsh life apparently doesn’t stop him from hopping onto the instant love train and taking all Ted’s crazy ass stories and his obvious handicap for granted. Then there’s the fact that this story is too short to allow Victorian London to come alive. Something that applies to the MC’s as well.

And yet, if you’re ready to leave your criticism at the door there’s a lot to enjoy about this cute piece of historical fiction with time-crossed lovers. I would therefore definitely recommend it as an uncomplicated feel good read in between your ‘larger meals’.

Katinka gives it: 535px-3-5_stars-svg

BUY LINK: All Romance eBooks

The main character of my new novel, The Adorned, is a courtesan…and that’s a wriggly little word, isn’t it?

Originally, it meant an attendant to a ruler, someone “of the court”, but these days it wears something different than the stately robes of a courtier–something slinky and red, maybe. When you hear the word, what do you see? Maybe a geisha, face painted ivory-white. Maybe a woman in an powdered wig, hiding a wicked grin behind a painted fan. Maybe a blond in a mink coat, simpering on the arm of an older man.

How about a beautiful young man?

Over the course of The Adorned, Etan, the beautiful young man in question, becomes a part of an elite class of tattooed courtesans–the playthings and objets d’art of a semi-divine aristocracy. Some of his patrons appreciate him solely for the decorative, near-magical art that he wears on his skin, but to be sure he’s expected to fulfill other duties as well.

Adorned are somewhere between living canvases and high-class escorts, and they can be both male and female–I knew that when I first started writing. I wanted to see what a courtesan class might look like in a world where the lines between gender roles are bit more permeable than they were in, say, Elizabethan England or Ancien Régime France.

Of course, it wasn’t quite a serious exploration of gender roles that I was after; more than anything, I just wanted to tell a good story. And I’ve got my shallow reasons, as well: I’m rather fond of good-looking guys, covered in tattoos or not. But there was something fascinating going on, I thought, and it kept cropping up here and there.

In the first draft of The Adorned, there were a few characters who I didn’t like very much–they were flat, stereotyped, wooden. In the rewrite, I upended their gender…and suddenly they came to life. Even today, our minds will often automatically assign a gender to ostensibly neutral words–words like housekeeper, nurse, cook, and, of course, courtesan–and when you flip that expectation, things can get pretty interesting.

~ [.:.] ~ [.:.] ~ [.:.] ~ [.:.] ~ [.:.] ~

THE ADORNED by John Tristan

The AdornedBLURB: My name is Etan, and I am Adorned.

A living piece of art, I exist to please the divine rulers of Kered. With nowhere to turn after my father died, I tried my luck in the capital city. Little did I know how quickly I would be robbed, beaten and forced to sell myself into servitude. But I was lucky enough to gain the attention of Roberd Tallisk, an irascible but intriguing tattoo artist who offered to mark me with enchanted ink for the enjoyment of the nobles. I was given a chance to better my station in life, and I could not refuse.

But the divine rulers want not only the art but the body that bears it. In their company I can rise above the dregs of society and experience a life most only dream of, at the cost of suffering their every desire as a pawn in games of lavish intrigue. Their attention is flattering, but I find I’d rather have Tallisk’s.

Caught between factions, I learn that a revolution is brewing, one that could ruin Kered—and Roberd and myself along with it…

EXCERPT:

The date of the feast had been set for a week hence. A single day after the contract had been negotiated, one of the Count’s servants had brought us the news, along with our display-clothes. Those had been brought in lovely wooden boxes, which we were casually informed we could keep as gifts, and wrapped in thin tissue-paper.

The paper was blue and white, the colors of Karan’s house, and soft as silk. With Isadel’s he had sent a silver pomander. It fell out of the folds, unremarked upon, as she unwrapped it, regarding his choice with a businesslike expression. It was a long skirt of crimson velvet, slit high to the hip. She held it up. “Well, it’s a good thing the flame on my stomach’s finished now. This will expose it for sure.”

We were in the dining room, which was empty save for the two of us and the two boxes on the table. Yana and Doiran were busy with their own work, and Tallisk could not be disturbed to fuss over our clothes, so Isadel took the task of it in hand. I looked over her shoulder at the skirt. I could see no other clothing in the empty box. “Are you to wear no, uh, no…”

She laid the skirt back in the box, careful of its delicate seams. “No, of course not. We don’t get hired to cover our Adornments.”

“Still,” I said, “you would never see a woman in the street so bare.”

“Well, no, but she would have nothing to show, Etan. When we do our work well, no one sees our bodies as bared flesh. We are moving art.”

I chewed this over. “Count Karan—”

“Count Karan,” she said, “might be our patron, but he is not who I bare my Adornments for. He has us made because it is…the done thing, not because he is a connoisseur of art.”

I traced my fingers over the lacquered top of my box. I had not yet opened it; I half feared to. “Do you know what he asked? What the Count asked of me?”

“Yes. I know.” She closed her box with a snap.

My mouth had gone dry. I bit my lip. “Do you know what he expects of me?”

“Yes, Etan,” she said, more gently. “He asked the same thing of me.”

“Was itwas he?” My face felt furnace hot.

She shrugged. “It heis tolerable enough.” A quick grin lit her face. “Sometimes, it can even be a pleasant diversion. But don’t dwell on it so much; your true work is the display. His Grace may not appreciate the art as much as the skin it’s inked on, but be sure that his friends have eyes.”

READ THE 5 STAR REVIEW (LINK) <—||—||—> BUY THE BOOK (LINK)

GIVEAWAY

Would you like to win a free copy of The Adorned? Leave your e-mail address and your preferred format (PDF or epub) in the comments … and, if you’d like, what sort of design you’d want tattooed on you if you were one of the Adorned! The giveaway will end on August 20th, when the winner will receive their book.

About the Author

John is a Transatlantic nerd currently living near Manchester; when he’s not writing about sexy men in strange worlds having adventures and falling in love, he’s probably reading, playing video games or changing the cat tray.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/johntristan Website: http://www.johntristan.com

Reviewed by Elizabetta

five-stars120205

The AdornedTITLE: The Adorned
AUTHOR: John Tristan
PUBLISHER: Carina Press
LENGTH: 280 pages
BLURB: My name is Etan, and I am Adorned.

A living piece of art, I exist to please the divine rulers of Kered. With nowhere to turn after my father died, I tried my luck in the capital city. Little did I know how quickly I would be robbed, beaten and forced to sell myself into servitude. But I was lucky enough to gain the attention of Roberd Tallisk, an irascible but intriguing tattoo artist who offered to mark me with enchanted ink for the enjoyment of the nobles. I was given a chance to better my station in life, and I could not refuse.

But the divine rulers want not only the art but the body that bears it. In their company I can rise above the dregs of society and experience a life most only dream of, at the cost of suffering their every desire as a pawn in games of lavish intrigue. Their attention is flattering, but I find I’d rather have Tallisk’s.

Caught between factions, I learn that a revolution is brewing, one that could ruin Kered—and Roberd and myself along with it…

REVIEW:

I’ve been looking forward to reading another fantasy work by this author after having enjoyed his “Forest of Glass” some time ago. I remember that work for its richly descriptive writing and world building, and “The Adorned” doesn’t disappoint. The story is laid down like a carefully crafted painting as brush stroke by brush stroke, this other world is revealed. Vivid and haunting, more than anything, it is the storytelling that sets it apart.

“When we do our work well, no one sees our bodies as bared flesh. We are moving art.”

The Adorned are youths chosen for their flawless, physical beauty. They are blank canvases for master tattoo artists, known for their exquisite and highly sought after designs. Those lucky enough to become indentured to these masters can also enter into a patronage by members of the ruling class, the Blooded. This mysterious clan, set apart and rumored to have descended from the gods, has an insatiable appreciation for beauty, and their pursuit of decadent pleasure and debauchery can make the reputation of an Adorned.

An Adorned is contracted by these wealthy patrons for display– as well as other carnal services– as their body art progresses. There is a mysterious something else that sets their tattoos apart and distinguishes them as ‘adorned’ but the story must be read to discover what that is. This is an outrageously rarified world these tattooed youths move in. And it’s risky stuff, considering the troubled times where many in the populace eke out meager subsistence and often go hungry– in fact, the story has a feeling of the last days of Marie Antoinette’s French court.

Nineteen-year-old Etan Dairan has nothing left in the world. His father has suddenly died and left debts that have eaten up Etan’s legacy. He has been softly reared and well educated but his options are limited and he finds himself on the street. Luckily for Etan, he comes to the notice of Roberd guild-Meret Tallisk, perhaps the finest tattoo-master in the country. Etan, becomes Etan writ-Tallisk, and over the course of a five-year indenture, turns his body over to the artist’s incredible designs… to become Adorned.

“I was like a midnight garden, my Adornments almost glowing green… here and there a barely-opening blossom in blue…”

Etan earns his keep by display contracts for the Blooded and in particular, Count Helsin Karan, a primary patron.

“There were men in the fine clothes of the Blooded and their companions, and with them were the Adorned, flashes of moving color in the dark crowd… the men laughed, loosened by wine, and their hands were freer with the Adorned than they would have been with ladies… I felt suddenly like a minnow in a pond of sharks, their toothy grins all turned on me… I saw the Count at last, and he—the sleekest, swiftest shark in the pond—saw me.”

Even though Etan can also be contracted for sex there is very little of it in the story. The story’s sensuality mostly exists in the writing and in the description of this world and the unfolding interaction between Etan, Tallisk and Count Karan. It would seem that Etan is set-up for life; he will be well cared for and be able to make a very lucrative living after his service to Tallisk is completed. But these are troubled times and Etan finds himself pulled between loyalty to Master Tallisk and the machinations of the Blooded.

The story moves sedately, carefully building the relationships and tension. There is intrigue, political scheming, and violence. And there is romance. Etan’s journey from penniless orphan to courtier and beyond is captivating. This was a treat to read, itself a work of art, and is highly recommended.

BUY LINK: Carina Press  ::  All Romance eBooks

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Elizabetta is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: ELIZABETTA’S REVIEWS
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