Book Review: Tales of the Dark World Book 3: Fire Season by Lex Valentine

FireSeason-150 Title: Tales of the Dark World Book 3: Fire Season
Author: Lex Valentine

Author Site

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Publisher: Pink Petal Books

Genre: Erotic Paranormal Romance

Length – # OF PAGES: 105

Other: M/F * M/F/M * M/M Multiple Partners

Card Rating: 3 out of 5 tarots

Review by: Kim Clune

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About The Book:

Holden Antaeus is the smart and charming chief counsel for the family business, Antaeus International. He is also a black dragon living in human form and a true ladies’ man destined to mate for life with a green dragon. While dragon pairings are predetermined by natural forces, the fruition of Holden’s match requires intervention. Failure to mate would result in a life of unbearable solitude and, according to the powers that be, failure is a strong possibility.

Sean Antaeus, Holden’s older brother and head of the company, is aware that his younger brother may judge his match based on human cultural stereotypes rather than dragon ideology. To intervene, Sean orchestrates a corporate retreat, dashing Holden’s plans with his “girlfriend du jour” under the guise of business to pair Holden with an intelligent, driven and attractive bisexual, Garret Renquist.

Garret is Antaeus International’s latest acquisition, a hot-shot financial expert strategically hired as a company asset and, more importantly, as Holden’s known dragon mate. Unwittingly accepting the position for professional reasons, Garret immediately senses the chemistry between himself and his match during their first meeting. Holden, on the other hand, has his world turned upside down when he realizes that, while his sense of self is deeply rooted in heterosexuality, his predetermined mate is male.

During the first day of the retreat, Holden’s resistance remains firmly embedded in disbelief. Garret, frustrated and disheartened over his mate’s initial rejection, has a one night stand with another man to soothe his soul. When Holden accidentally walks in on Garret and his date, his anger and unexpected sexual stirrings plague him long after he storms out of the room. By morning, Holden decides to give Garret a chance. While the majority of his reasons are based in fear of lifelong desolation, they are also peppered with a strong sense of natural connection and curiosity.

Throughout their short retreat, the two men intellectually explore their physical desires, the mating bond of dragons, the purity of love over gender and the intensity of intimately feeling the other’s heart and mind as part of their own. Laced with receding trepidation, their sexual experiences become exploratory and intense, as do their intimate conversations, but whether love will successfully follow suit is a concern for them both.

Complications with an Australian corporate takeover separate Holden and Garret temporarily after an explosive run-in with Holden’s homophobic ex-girlfriend. Will the demands of life and/or social criticism break their new and fragile bond, or will these men find their way to love as lifetime mates? You have to find that out for yourself. I offer no spoiler here.

The Review:

Author Lex Valentine has all the makings of a beautiful, gay-for-you love story in Tales of the Dark World Book 3: Fire Season. Set against the corporate backdrop of an Anteaus International business retreat, the powerful passion and exploration of eroticism between Holden Antaeus and Garret Renquist is playful, steamy and endearing. Inserting her characters within dragon lore and pitting them against the exclusivity of human social construct is an interesting and thoughtful way for Valentine to challenge gendered stereotypes.

What Valentine illustrates best is the full spectrum of feelings Holden grapples with after learning, as a heterosexual human, that his natural dragon mate is male. As these green and black dragons tread carefully in new waters, sometimes literally, Holden’s journey with Garret is riddled with restless confusion and respectful recognition for the natural order that pairs them. The push and pull between these conflicting emotions eventually creates sexual tension so hot that the reader is grabbed and drawn in by the scruff of the neck.

While playful interactions lead to intensely erotic scenes, this relationship cannot be based on lust alone. Intimate friendship, love and equality are integral in the success of a natural dragon match. The book highlights the ultimate bravery required for each lover to become open and vulnerable, allowing the other to sense the emotions that lie beyond the physical connection. This deeply intimate link can only be sustained if Holden is able to see his lover as a complete person, not simply a male.

What is most unfortunate about Fire Season is Valentine’s awkward writing style and the ways in which it detracts from the story. Amateur mistakes are prevalent within the first 5 chapters as though only half the book has been proofread. Grammatically finessing basic comma usage, inserting missing words and removal of redundant sentences would do this piece a great deal of good. Equally beneficial would be a variance of vocabulary as the word sardonic is used 8 times in a 100 page span and variations on the terms “Machiavellian, manipulation, machinations and top honors” are used repetitively within the first chapter or two. This work is far too short for repetition.

While ill chosen vocabulary and grammatical mistakes are consistent, the flow is significantly inconsistent. Breaking the first rule of creative writing to “show, don’t tell,” our narrator does a great deal of telling at the start. Additionally, more thought should be given to who the narrator is. When he or she abuses words such as “completely, just, even” or “sorta” to speak of a corporate world filled with highly functioning professional people, the narrator becomes a dubious source of authority.

Only by the end of Chapter 5 does Valentine’s strength in developing well executed dialogue and descriptive action dominate the page. A sense of relief washed over this reader when I no longer had to plow through textual unpleasantries and the characters finally came to life.

I find it disappointing for the writing world in general that other reviewers have avoided the topic of form altogether and highly commend Valentine strictly on her substance. This review reads like a writing workshop critique rather than an evaluation of content, speaking volumes about the inconsistencies present in the self-publishing world. While opening the door to topics deemed unpopular by the traditional publishing industry, the system also lacks oversight and invites unprofessional contamination.

Effective writing requires a strong, seamless command over both content and form. Together, these are what make writing an art. Fire Season needs some significant work before it can be considered as such.

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Disclaimer: Due to FTC regulations, any book reviewed on this site was sent for free by the author to The Pagan & the Pen. We are not paid to give reviews by Author or Publisher. Once review has been made, said books are deleted.

Book Review": Chastity Flame by C. Margery Kempe

KempeChastityFlame Title:  Chastity Flame
Author:  C. Margery Kempe

Author Site

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Publisher:  Ravenous Romance
Genre:  Thriller, Erotica
Length – 206 Pages
Other:  M/F, F/F
Pagan & Pagan Elements: YES/NO
Card Rating:  — 3/5 cards
Reviewed by: Monica

About The Book:

Chastity Flame loves her job as a secret government operative. She
foils criminal masterminds, travels the world, and finds new lovers in every city. Then she meets art historian Damien Michelet in front of one of her favorite paintings and discovers there’s more to life than just lust (although there’s plenty of that, too).
But Chastity doesn’t have time to think about what this sexy distraction means while she’s trying to uncover a vast computer virus scheme that will destabilize European currency and amusing herself with various lovers across the continent.
It’s hard work saving the world-it can be lonely, too. Before Chastity can make a decision about what to do about Damien, she takes part in a daring rescue of a geek genius, only to discover that the fellow operative lending assistance is none other than Damien! On the plus side, now she won’t have to explain her job-but what to do about that rule about no romance between agents? Will she risk the security of her country for some really wild sex-and the possibility of love?

The Review:
Chastity Flame by  C. Margary Kempe was a pretty quick read. One thing that was ever present was the fact that Chastity is a slut, and has sex as much as she eats and sleeps. Not a bad thing, just an observance. Chastity is a strong female character and is totally confused by the feelings she develops when her lover starts to become more. The feelings Chastity develops arrive pretty quickly and without explanation in my opinion, but Damien and Chastity have a ton of heat. Damien is the perfect partner for Chastity, he is strong enough to keep her on her toes but not so strong as to over power her sense of freedom.
Speaking of heat, this book is practically radiating steam. There are lots of different things to chose from, Ms. Kempe doesn’t write the same scene over and over, and even throws in some F/F love.
The villain in this story is practically seething evil, right down to the evil, maniacal laugh. He’s got everything you could want in a villain: betrayal, treason, kidnapping, etc. He has it all. If you like lots of steamy variety and a thrill ride that keeps you on your toes, this book is most definitely for you.

Pagan Elements:  NONE, however the author is Pagan. 

Cover (Rated 1-10): 7 Cover isn’t too bad and fits with the story.
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Disclaimer: Due to FTC regulations, any book reviewed on this site was sent for free by the author to The Pagan & the Pen. We are not paid to give reviews by Author or Publisher. Once review has been made, said books are deleted.

Book Review: Shell Shocked by Angelia Sparrow & Naomi Brooks

shellshocked Title: Shell Shocked

Author: Angelia Sparrow & Naomi Brooks

Author Site

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Publisher: Juniper Gardens Press

Genre: GLBT, Romance, PTSD discussion, Paganism

Length – # OF PAGES: 130

Other: M/M * Light Spanking

 

Author Pagan & Pagan Elements: Yes/Yes

Card Rating: – 4 Tarots &  **Reviewer Top Pick**

Reviewed by: Jes L’Heureux

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About The Book:

Sean Dempsey came home from Iraq with artificial knees, scorched retinas and a lot of baggage. He supplements his disability checks with money made writing romance novels under a female pseudonym, ironic as he has grown very nervous around women since a certain suicide bomber. When he meets Gabriel Herne, legless phone psychic, the sparks startle him. It’s everything he’s written about and never believed.

Swept into a whirlwind romance, Sean has to learn about his newfound bisexuality and his lover’s pagan faith at the same time. And when he has a religious experience of his own, he discovers everything changes in its time, just like the Wheel of the Year.

The Review:

This is an excellent tale woven by Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks that focuses on war vet Sean Dempsey who has returned home from Iraq with destroyed knees, eyes and PTSD. Throughout the story, Sean is faced with the challenges of living with PTSD and a severe addiction to Valium, which is lessoned when he adds Gabriel Herne to his life. Gabriel “Gabe” Herne is a paraplegic phone psychic who meets Sean through the same clinic and introduces him back into the world.

The story unfolds as Sean deals with his PTSD and new relationship, learning about his bisexuality and about his lover’s faith. Ms. Sparrow and Brooks creates a very believable world and characters where the reader is learning alongside, as well as feeling Sean’s pain and Gabe’s frustrations as they work through each event in their lives.

What I found interesting about this book is that the story is one that could be happening right now, talking about the mundane day to day that we all go through; the struggles of being poor in this current economy and doing what is needed to survive. The characters are not wealthy, or able to do whatever they wish. They have to save, they struggle, they fight, and they love. This is a very real and touching story I enjoyed, and would recommend to anyone interested in reading what I would call a pagan love story.

Pagan Elements:

This novella has a definite undercurrent of paganism in it as Gabe Herne is a practitioner and as the story unfolds it talks about the coming celebrations, with some spell work and worship throughout. As Sean learns about the practices and worship Gabe goes over a few of the mythos involved. The authors deal with the Wheel and each of the celebrations through the year, showing how someone might practice as both solitary and some in a coven for the larger events.

Cover (Rated 1-10):

8

I really liked this cover it was intriguing and spoke to the book itself, if it were on the bookshelf I know that the symbol for the horned god would draw my attention over anything else.

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Disclaimer: Due to FTC regulations, any book reviewed on this site was sent for free by the author to The Pagan & the Pen. We are not paid to give reviews by Author or Publisher. Once review has been made, said books are deleted.

Book Review: Beyond the Looking Glass by AP Miller

AP Miller BeyondTheLookingGlass

Title: Beyond the Looking Glass

Author: AP Miller

Author Site

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Publisher: Red Rose Publishing

Genre: Fantasy

Length – # OF PAGES: 107

Other: BDSM * M/F * Voyeurism

Pagan & Pagan Elements: yes/no

Card Rating: – 4 Tarots

Reviewed by: Gabrielle

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About The Book: What happens when Walt Disney meets the Brothers Grimm in a series of twisted, dark, horror-filled fairy tales in a world of Vampires, Werewolves, Goblins, and the Gnome King.

In the dark forest, Rhed Riding Hood finds her way to Granny’s house. Years later, her passion is awakened by something so dark and sinister that no form of witchcraft can ever prevent. Prince Charming’s Princess is thrown to the ground as her once elegant coach turns into a pumpkin and becomes surrounded by mice at the stroke of midnight. Suddenly Charming isn’t so charming.

Snow White is sent into the woods to be put to death, but the woodsman has other ideas, and the pure step-daughter is thrown into a realm where even evil itself cannot touch her, but becomes her.

Beyond the Looking Glass finds Alice set in an underground world she would never expect through the very nature of it, which forces her to find her way back through Wonderland with the help of the Cheshire cat.

Will you take a look thru the glass to see what pops out?

The Review:

Just about everyone has grown up hearing those wonderful happily ever after fables. Stories set in beautiful worlds with grand characters and loves. What if those worlds were filled with other, darker beings? Who or what would be your favorite?

In Beyond the Looking Glass the reader is treated to a wondrous world full of those dark creatures and desires. Snow white is no longer so pure after the woodsman has come to her. Prince Charming leads in a very different way and will have his woman no matter what. While visiting her grandmother Rhed Riding Hood finds her dark side. Alice finds herself in another world full of things she never even thought existed.

Although every story is a good read in itself, Rhed Riding Hood’s story would have to be my favorite. Rhed grows into a strong and smart woman who takes her life into her own hands and decides to get what she wants and needs. Learning from her grandmother to respect the forest as well as protecting those that dwell there. Rhed decides she is tired of being alone and goes after what she desires.

Each of the stories are fast-paced and well-written, piquing the readers interest and making them want to know more about the characters and their world. I truly enjoyed these stories and would love to see more takes on many of the other old tales. These stories have a great partnership of horror and eroticism that make for an enjoyable read.

Pagan Elements: no

Cover (Rated 1-10): 8

Cover makes one interested in the book; making you wonder just what does the young lady see in the forest.

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Disclaimer: Due to FTC regulations, any book reviewed on this site was sent for free by the author to The Pagan & the Pen. We are not paid to give reviews by Author or Publisher. Once review has been made, said books are deleted.