Posts Tagged ‘interspecies’

Reviewed by Taylor

The Scarlet Tide by Stephen Osborne eBookTITLE: The Scarlet Tide
SERIES: Duncan Andrews Thriller #3
AUTHOR: Stephen Osborne
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 200 pages
BLURB: Duncan Andrews, a private detective who specializes in paranormal cases, is back, along with his usual gang. Robbie Church, his boyfriend, is a ghost. Gina, a centuries old witch, is his best friend. And Daisy, Duncan’s bulldog, just happens to be a zombie. Odd man out seems to be Nick, a history teacher. He’s a normal, living human.

Duncan’s latest case leads him to a rock band in Indianapolis called The Scarlet Tide. It doesn’t take Duncan long to realize all of the band members are vampires. He sets out to destroy them, but runs into trouble with the charismatic leader of the band, Dominic Hunt. Duncan ends up under Hunt’s psychic control, and is forced to examine his relationships with Robbie and Nick, as well as his attraction for Hunt. Can Robbie and Gina help Duncan break Hunt’s psychic grip? Is there any hope the vampire can be destroyed once and for all?

REVIEW:

This is the third book in the Duncan Andrews Thriller series which focuses on Duncan, a private detective that takes on generally unusual paranormal cases.  He’s got a dead boyfriend that hasn’t moved on to the afterlife, a centuries old witch for a best friend, a zombie dog, and his human friend, Nick, along for the ride.

In this installment, Duncan is investing a series of vampire attacks and he believes a local band called The Scarlet Tide comprises of the culprits.  He aims to kill them all, but he starts falling under the spell of lead singer, Dominic Hunt, as well as dealing for his feelings for Nick and his love for his boyfriend Robbie.

It’s going to be difficult explaining my feelings about this book without giving major spoilers, but I will say, the series isn’t really going where I want it to go relationship-wise.  I can absolutely understand both sides, I can see the reasons, but I don’t have to like it.  It broke my heart.  I think when two characters fit so well; I just can’t see them with anyone else.  Nothing is definite with this author and series because every time I think a final decision has been made it twists, so I’m still holding out judgment until at least the next book, but I don’t know if my poor little heart can take it.  There is a lot of love there, and a lot of care and respect given to these characters, so I appreciate that.

That’s not to say that this book is all sorrows, though.  It’s still crackling with Duncan’s quick wit, his ability to be both effective and efficient, yet awkward, and his observations are hysterical, especially when they occur in completely inappropriate times.  An example is when he notices another character’s endowment and how large he is and he notes this in an almost surprised, high-five, yeahh-buddy-oh-wait-let’s-be-serious-detective manner that had me snorting with laughter.

There aren’t any new fancy tricks with the vampire plot, and it felt a bit clichéd to have them as a rock band (I swear I read vampire rockers almost every time I read about vampires), but I still thought all of the characters held their own and brought something fresh.

I liked the parallel plot lines of a young couple and one dies, and the other grieves and feels guilty at the idea of moving on coordinating with Duncan and Andrew’s position as a couple.  It was nice that the reader could see what might have been Duncan’s life had Robbie not stayed around for the last 11 years.

I hope the author switches it up a bit in the following book(s).  The reader still gets a recap of all the characters, and Duncan still keeps stressing and bemoaning his lack of sex and intimate touch with Robbie.  I get that it’s important, but it’s getting a bit stale.  I’d like to think in the next book a final decision is made on their relationship, and I’m praying it goes the way I’m hoping.

Recommend because I still adore Duncan’s personality, the mysteries are fast-paced and interesting, and Robbie will always be on my ‘fictional-husbands’ shelf.

Taylor rates it – 535px-3-5_stars-svg

BUY LINKS: Dreamspinner Press

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

To read all her reviews, click the link: TAYLOR’S REVIEWS
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Reviewed by Elizabetta

SERIES: Mongrel
AUTHOR: K. Z. Snow
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press

Book One: Mongrel

Mongrel (Mongrel, #1)

LENGTH: 202 Pages
BLURB: Hunzinger’s Mechanical Circus, a rollicking seaside carnival where imagination meets machinery, shines as the only bright spot in the dreary city of Purinton. A shadow is cast there one day when a tall, cloaked figure approaches the stand of Will Marchman, a young patent-medicine salesman. Fanule Perfidor, commonly known as the Dog King, isn’t welcome at the Circus. No resident of Taintwell is; they’re all Branded Mongrels, officially shunned. But Will is beguiled by the stunning, mysterious Perfidor. Their mutual wariness soon gives way to desire, and a bond forms.

Soon the naive but plucky pitchman becomes embroiled in a dangerous quest. Fanule suspects Alphonse Hunzinger and Purinton’s civic leaders are responsible for the disappearance or incarceration of countless Branded Mongrels. But why? As Will’s passion and regard for his tormented lover grow, he’s determined to help Fanule get answers and prevent any further persecution… or worse. They just have to stay together—and stay alive long enough—to see their plan through.

REVIEW:

Mongrel is a steam-punk fantasy about a world divided between the haves and the have nots

Human (pures) vs. Mongrel (tainted)

Puriton vs. Taintwell

the privileged vs. the shunned.

A romance fantasy with a theme of social injustice and discrimination running through it.

The story beginning is wonderfully done and Snow is in top form with her depiction of this world in full, rich Technicolor. She brings to life an oceanside boardwalk carny; a Mechanical Circus with its line of stalls manned by hawkers pushing their wares, and buildings housing steam-powered mechanisms to entertain. The Circus is the one bright spot in dreary Puriton, home to the human population.

“… the overdone facades… all strung together like a lineup of gaudy, aging whores. Colorful pennants snapped above their roofs… elaborate cornices and quatrefoil windows, little gargoyles… the permanent carnival that stretched along and beyond the boardwalk…”

Fanule… the Branded Mongrel, part human/part something else… he is mysterious and exotic and nobody’s mongrel. He has been elected Eminence of Taintwell, home to the Mongrel population. Fan has been chosen to represent and protect their interests. He has a troubled side though— has mood swings from euphoria to depression. He’s also as tough as he is vulnerable. He’s a captivating character with some very interesting friends: a randy vampire, Clancy Marrowbone, who has convenient teleportation skills, and the witch, Lizabetta, a revenant— murdered and dismembered— but existing in a spirit form, she’s a jumble of disjointed body parts that are given to floating about at random. Oh, and her equally dismembered cat, Lickshank, who is often preceded by his tail…

“… Lizabetta’s torso, draped in a simple chemise with drawstring neckline and scalloped hem, sat serenely on her sofa… (her) head, semi-translucent and wearing a happy smile, floated from a high shelf at the back of the room…”

Fanule and Clancy had a long-ago affair but when Fan meets Will Marchman, a comely snake-oil salesman at the Circus, he is quickly attracted. Theirs is a sensual, sweet love story, hot and yet somehow innocent. When Fan meets Will, he finally feels hope. I love that the two pursue a love affair despite public censure about humans “mixing” with Mongrels.

Snow is an adept storyteller— the opening chapters, so rich and thick with imagery, are a hard act to follow. There is certainly a lot to cram into a mere two-hundred pages and at times things felt a bit rushed. While they were wonderfully evil, I would have liked a little more detail about the no-good, bad guys. The threat would have seemed greater if those characters had been more fully drawn, especially towards the end. Still, Mongrel was a stylish, very enjoyable read and I look forward to more stories in this world.

Elizabetta’s Rating:

BUY LINK: Dreamspinner Store :: Book Store

PRE-RELEASE REVIEW

Book Two: Merman

Merman (Mongrel, #2)

LENGTH: 207 Pages
BLURB: When vampire Clancy Marrowbone returns to Purin province after nearly two years, he intends only to visit with his dear friend, Fanule Perfidor, and find out how his former lover, the unfortunately mortal Simon Bentcross, is faring. But two developments change Marrowbone’s itinerary: the appearance of a drastically altered man from his past, and the reawakening of his passion for Simon.

Both of these unexpected reunions become increasingly complicated. The connection between Simon’s new creation, a bathysphere-like submersible, and a clandestine underwater-research project results in Marrowbone and Bentcross becoming hunted men. But sometimes, it takes danger to make a star-crossed affair seem worth saving.

REVIEW:

The story continues about two years after the end of Mongrel, the first book in this series. I really liked the camaraderie in this, the playful banter between the four main characters, Clancy, Simon, Fanule and Will. This was the highlight of the book for me— Snow’s deft touch as she skillfully lays the brushstrokes, drawing these guys and their supporting cast; she sets up simple, quiet scenes between them that feel real even in this fantasy world. I really appreciated this.

So, we settle back into Snow’s hybrid steampunk-pnr world and get more development of the main characters. In the prequel we got a good feel for Will and Fan— who they are and the dynamic between them. But this show belongs to Clancy, the sensitive and fastidiously refined vamp, and Simon, his brawny, blue-collar working stiff. We get to find out more about what happened between them in Mongrel, that there was and remains a sparky, magnetic attraction. It’s slow going at first though, as Clancy distances himself from Simon because of qualms based on his own insecurities when it comes to commitment or love or acceptance of himself.

As in Mongrel, there is another mystery, this time about nefarious goings-on and the abuse of prison inmates on Floating Brick Island, just off the coast of Puriton. Simon, who now runs his own mechanic shop, is commissioned to build an underwater vessel, a “bubble” or bathysphere, to be used to explore the deep ocean trench next to the island. There could be a link between this project and the appearance of a strange part-fish/part-human mutant creature found washed up on the shore. A creature who used to be an inmate of Floating Brick Island prison many, many years ago…

The connection between the project and this merman creature is left pretty vague though. And, in the middle section of the book, “Separation,” there is an awful lot of explaining about the merman and how he came to be, and whether he is nefarious or a victim of circumstance. The action slows way down with a series of convos between various characters. Ugh. Fortunately, things pick up in the last section of the story when all the characters work together toward a satisfactory ending.

This book did not feel as strong as its prequel. Perhaps this is due to some pacing issues and my ambivalent feelings about the merman. Nevertheless, I greatly enjoyed, once more, the wonderfully descriptive writing found here.

Elizabetta’s Rating: four-stars_0

PRE-ORDER LINK: Dreamspinner Store

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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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