Putting Down Roots by Tam MacNeil (review)

Tagline: Bookstore clerk gets a teaching job in an isolated manor rooted in a haunted village

Putting Down Roots Book Cover Image

Title: Putting Down Roots
Author: Tam MacNeil
Genre:  Paranormal M/M Romance
Format:  Short Story (9k words, 29 pages)

Series: Walk on Wild Side

Publisher: Dreamspinner (June 2016)

ISBN: 978-1-63477-512-0

Retail:  $1.99

Also available:  Walk on Wild Side Anthology

Rating:   star star star star   (I really liked it!)

Dreamspinner’s 2016 Daily Dose anthology includes 30 romantic male/male shifter stories released to me one per day during the month of June.

Synopsis: Working at a dead-end job in a bookstore,  Mark is lonely, unhappy, 29, and waiting for a chance to use his teaching certification. However, when a professional opportunity finally turns up, it is with an unhappy, isolated student in a village that is rumored to be haunted. His experiences at the rural manor, and with the student’s  strangely attractive father, begin to make him think there might be something about those  rumors.

Review:   It’s almost difficult for me to call this a romance, as it was the slow exploration and realization of the nature of the “haunted” village and manor that was the focus of the story.  I thought the author did a great job of quickly teasing out a different and interesting paranormal setting.  I am generally not a fan of “haunting” mysteries and stories, but the balance of the supernatural, personal, and intriguing characters worked very nicely for me.  The sprouting of attraction and a potential relationship was fine, but the real pull of the writing to me focused on the nice hints and superficial but very intriguing revelations of the nature of the fae blessing/curse covering the setting.

Recommended for fans of: lightly haunted villages and houses; May-December (or maybe July-October) gay pairings; alternate, fae-flavored shifter meme.

Explicit Heat: fire – The promise was there for two lonely men.
Passion: heart  heart   – There really wasn’t much chemistry between the characters to be found in the exposition, but the overall story seemed to portray genuine attraction to me.
Genre:  Romance

Other Comments (with spoilers):
I found the image describing the area to be nicely enticing, a biscuit box bringing back fond memories: The village was the type most often seen on biscuit boxes and old postcards.
I absolutely loved the idea of a fae-influence turning people into trees.  The anthology series presents a nice range of shifter themes, and the idea of a tree-shifter was particularly cool.

Faerie Riddles by Cassia Rose (review)

Tagline: Human scholar of the fairies beyond the wall runs into an enthusiastic changeling puppy, riddles, and plenty of fae trickery and danger…

Daniel's Lynx Book Cover Image

Title: Faerie Riddles
Author: Cassia Rose
Genre:  M/M Fantasy (Fae)
Format:  Novella (17k words, 51 pages)

Series: Walk on Wild Side

Sites:  Publisher | Goodreads
Publisher: Dreamspinner (June 2016)

ISBN: 978-1-63477-496-3

Retail:  $3.99

Also available:  Walk on Wild Side Anthology

Rating:   starstarstarstar  (I really liked it!)

Dreamspinner’s 2016 Daily Dose anthology includes 30 romantic male/male shifter stories released one a day during the month of June.

Synopsis: Alastar the scholar studies the fae creatures who live beyond the Great Iron Wall, and he is assisted by the puppy-like but also mischievous Gadhar.  When his changeling friend presents a riddle that stumps him, the researcher must continue to seek answers in the changeling village.  The problem of riddles at first fade as an injury, a misunderstanding, and encounters with extremely dangerous creatures all glower over Alastar. Eventually riddles become front and center again, in a way only a fae can make things happen.  When a difficult and dangerous turn takes Alastar’s need to care for the bouncy fae-ling to a new level, danger erupts from a wide variety of unexpected places including, perhaps most chillingly, Alastar’s own short-sighted words.

Review: I am a sucker for fairie-inspired stories with the right balance of trickery and enjoyable whimsy, and this story had a wonderfully faelike exploration of these lighthearted, devious, flighty, and dangerous creatures.  The author has a somewhat straightforward story wrap around plenty of fairie-inspired twists and turns for such a short piece.  Alastar’s earnest and serious scholarship is a nice contrast to Gadhar’s puppy-like enthusiasm.  Through quick moving plot developments, interesting characteristics of the changeling village, dangers to changelings from human inventions and prejudices, and threats to Alastar’s well-being due to his own misjudgment and fae trickery, all these elements are woven nicely into a flowing story.

Recommended for fans of: Fae; riddles; dragons; serious scholars who need to lighten up a bit.

Explicit Heat: fire – Not explicit: A coupling central to the story that is mostly fade to black, a nice moment but not a page burner
Passion: heart  heart –  Some passion:  decent chemistry is definitely struck, although the step to the next level is a bit awkward.
Genre:  Fantasy / Romance

Red Light Special by Rhys Ford (review)

Tagline: Fae and elves and a succubus, oh my! (In Detroit)

7&7 Anthology Book Cover

Vice #6: Lust
TitleRed Light Special
Author: Rhys Ford

Genre:   Urban Fae Fantasy
Format:  Short Story (38 pages)
Series: 7&7 Anthology

Publisher: DSP Publications (May 2016)

Bonus:   Free on publisher’s site

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

DSP Publication’s anthology covers 7 virtues and 7 vices, and the theme of Rhys Ford’s story is the vice of lust.

Tam the Fae is the Knight of Detroit, exiled by Oberon to keep an eye on all things supernatural in this struggling city.  When a graffito insults the mighty Fae overlord, and suddenly a Knight of Chicago comes poking around, things get complicated for the half-breed, semi-snarky hero.  Throw in a succubus that makes his dick get hard over the most unlikely of souls (including a barely sentient tree – splinters!), and the fae’s day becomes more than a little complicated.

This author’s lightly snarky, street-sounding dialog seemed particularly authentic to my not-so-delicate (unless, apparently, it’s horror) sensibilities.  The characters were enticing and fun, with plenty of attitude that did not undermine their basic likability (for me).  The setting was brief but compelling, begging for further exploration for fans of Urban Fantasy, especially Fae-centered stories in modern times.  (I absolutely love Fae characters with the right mix of haughtiness and sympathetic qualities, and this writer does an excellent job in creating interesting and likable-enough Fae.)

Writing –  Clearly this is my kind of writing.  I bitched and moaned about the lack of intemperant, pissed-off language in the “Canadian nice” story on anger, which is to say I am accustomed to a different (south side of Chicago) brusqueness to language.  This Detroit-Chicago story certainly had an authentic, sometimes over-the-top, chuckle-inducing writing that matched the setting for me.  I’m not sure how Fae are supposed to sound, but the main character sounded like he was from Detroit or Chicago to me:

Favorite, fun quotes (sometimes sounding a bit like an adolescent trying to be street):

  • “Detroit was a wasteland. Sure, there were pockets of the city refusing to acknowledge it was dying, kind of like watching a chicken running around the yard after its head’s been cut off. Lots of feathers flying, wings churning, and legs kicking up dirt—that was Detroit.”  Unfortunately there is plenty of truth in that statement, as I recently commented on in a reblogged post. 
  • “But then my dick was the most elven thing about me, and kind of an arrogant, self-serving ass hat on most occasions.”
  • “Death not only touched him, it skull-fucked him, slam-dunked his worthless ass into the end zone, then danced through his entrails”.
  • “Just… get your dryad to stop leaving orange spooge all over our bed. It’s kind of creepy.”

Excerpts From: 7&7 – A DSP Publications Anthology of Virtue and Vice. Dreamspinner Press, 2016. ePub.

Looking over the comments that amused me, apparently I have a bit of a thing for juvenile, street-sounding, snarky comments.