I came across SALT MAGIC SKIN MAGIC by Lee Welch on my Twitter feed. I will freely admit I’m not a voracious reader of Victorian-era m/m romance novels, but this one had an added paranormal fantasy element and my curiosity was piqued. I wasn’t disappointed.
Overall, I loved the eerie atmosphere of the estate and the house (all those dusty corridors and rooms) and John’s magic especially. While I started reading for Soren, I most definitely stuck around for John Blake. I particularly enjoyed his relationship with his tools and environment. His working-class magical background worked well against the backdrop of the Yorkshire estate and the noble-born family.
I did have a soft spot for redhaired Soren, Lord Thornby, who is tormented by his father keeping him prisoner and seeking to marry him off. I enjoyed their antagonistic relationship and the lengths to which each man was willing to go. I liked the whispers of redemption that may or may not have come to fruition (I won’t spoil it). The eventual twist isn’t a total surprise, clues abound, and yet reads completely surprising. I liked Soren’s arc. His character didn’t feel settled initially, but that worked for me, given what he was going through. I liked how he came into his own throughout the novel.
The romance worked for me as well. Soren and John took their time (as did the plot). They stumbled and failed and eventually learned to trust each other. Their relationship grew naturally and evolved at a good pace. Their ending was satisfying.
I was surprised to learn this is Welch’s debut novel. I had no idea when I read it. The writing is flawless. The pacing worked. Setting and characters were multidimensional. Overall, I can fully recommend this novel to anyone interested in a Victorian-era m/m paranormal romance. And I will most certainly read more by this author.
I stumbled upon Hailey Turner’s Soulbound series purely by chance. It was book 3 that caught my attention first, but I took the time to read from the beginning and I’m glad I did, especially since I can’t say no a redhaired mage.
I love a good flawed character and Patrick is certainly that. All too often authors use “flaws” to excuse uncharacteristic behavior, but Patrick stayed true to himself and never lost sight of what was important. He remained Patrick, so to speak, throughout all three books in the series thus far, all while growing in his relationship with Jono and friendships with the rest of the cast. I particularly enjoyed that his magic wasn’t “magical,” it followed rules and had limits.
I thoroughly enjoyed Turner’s worldbuilding. Her setting felt well lived in. Patrick’s world isn’t just Patrick and Jono, but rather the gang, their friends and foe are clearly part of a larger urban fantasy universe.
Overall, I felt this title had some rougher edges and less polish in the first half than the first two books in the series. I don’t know if there was a rush to get book 3 to market. I’m certain casual readers won’t notice, and it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the series. I’m looking forward to more from Hailey Turner.
I stumbled upon Hailey Turner’s Soulbound series purely by chance. I wasn’t in the market for an urban fantasy/paranormal read, but I’m not one to say no to a redhaired mage and am I glad I didn’t. I devoured the first book in the series and jumped on the follow-up fully expecting more mischief and mayhem. I wasn’t disappointed.
I love a good flawed character and Patrick is certainly that. All too often authors use “flaws” to excuse uncharacteristic behavior, but Patrick stayed true to himself and never lost sight of what was important. His attraction to Jono is undiminished, which is good, because he’s stuck with the werewolf for the long run. I like how they navigate their life together. They’re adult men with lives of their own, jobs and responsibilities, and making that work. Their actions from the first book had repercussions. There are no easy answers.
I thoroughly enjoyed Turner’s world building. I love how her setting feels well lived in: it’s not just a stage on which Patrick and Jono act. Their actions don’t happen in isolation. It’s clear they live in a larger urban fantasy universe populated with people and creatures in all corners of the world.
I stumbled upon Hailey Turner’s Soulbound series purely by chance. I wasn’t in the market for an urban fantasy/paranormal read, but I’m not one to say no to a redhaired mage and am I glad I didn’t.
I love a good flawed character and Patrick is certainly that. All too often authors use “flaws” to excuse uncharacteristic behavior, but Patrick stayed true to himself and never lost sight of what was important. I enjoyed how Jono became important, too. I wouldn’t characterize their romance as a slow-burn, the attraction was there right from the start, but I like how they took their time: here were two adult men who had lives and jobs and responsibilities and no easy answers. Their actions have repercussions.
I thoroughly enjoyed Turner’s world building. Her setting felt well lived in rather than just a backdrop upon which stuff happened. She gave out information and backstory as needed, creating a tantalizing glimpse into a larger urban fantasy universe that just happened to center on Patrick and his new friends, but clearly encompassed the rest of the world as well.
It was the cover of Allison Temple’s COLD PRESSED that caught my attention. Bearded, long-haired hipsters are my thing right now.
COLD PRESSED is book 2 in the new-to-me Seacroft Stories series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Oliver, the former lawyer, and Nick, the former firefighter, have a lot going on individually: one has a new career, one has old family troubles, both are recovering from past failed relationships. Since neither is quite ready for a new love, they settle for a no-strings-attached arrangement. Naturally that’s not going to work.
What I enjoyed most about this novel was the maturity Oliver and Nick exhibited. They were adults acting like adults. When a misunderstanding threatens their budding relationship, I was worrying it would be one of those “if only they talked about it” situations, but they did talk about it and moved forward. Major props to the author for having the men behave like that. Their lives were complicated enough, they didn’t need artificial conflict.
Speaking of complications, if Oliver hadn’t been so hung up on his ex, he might have figured out the direction of his new business sooner (and seen Avery coming). I liked where he ended up instead, a much better fit for him.
Hayden needed a swift kick in the proverbial butt, but as mother of teenagers, I know that’s easier said than done.
Overall, the writing was easy and casual. The burn and pace comfortably slow, nothing here was rushed. Recommended read if you’re looking for realism and not every question being answered by the end.
Two of my advance reviews have arrived, and I am so thrilled:
Sexy, sizzling—and sweet! NL Gassert manages to combine the tenderness of first love with thrilling action in The Protector. The tropical setting on Guam is fresh and beautifully evoked, and the engaging characters of Mason and Soren will keep readers turning the pages, rooting for these lovers against tropical storms and terrorist agents.—Neil Plakcy, author of Mahu and Mahu Surfer
Literary chef Gassert serves up a delectable nine-course meal of murder, mayhem, money-laundering, terrorism, temptation, brutality, bisexuality, scandal, and sadistical father-son abuse.—William Maltese, author of the Stud Draqual mystery series