Monday, January 6, 2020

Year End Review Blitz (Part 2)

In case you have not noticed, I review a lot of books over the course of the year. What you may not know, however, is that I read even more than I review, and get asked to read even more than I could ever find time for. It is a nice problem to have, so please do not think I am complaining!

Sometimes, whether it is due to distraction or procrastination, those reads do not always make their way into a review. Not because there was anything wrong with them, but simply because work, writing, editing, or just plain life demanded a shift in priorities. So, with that in mind, I want to take a few days to catch up and share some thoughts on those stories I missed.

You can check out Part 1 here.

Special Inquiries by Chris Archer is a free ebook that I really have no excuse for waiting so long to review. I finally read it back in October, which was late enough a it is, but letting it linger since then without a review . . . well, let me just say this is long overdue. This is what I would describe as a romantic police thriller, one with a focus on the characters and their personal drama. We see coworkers become friends, and then watch as that friendship deepens into something else, will-they/won't-they romantic tension.

Nick, Detective Sergeant with the London Metropolitan Police, is an interesting man. He is kind of disorganized, resorts to humor in tense situations, and is given to awkward moments of deep thought. He takes a while to warm up to, but ultimately reveals himself to be a decent guy. Abi is the primary draw here, a transgender woman with Klinefelter’s Syndrome. She is sweet and smart, but a little insecure and reluctant to trust her head much less her heart to others. They make a cute pair of coworkers, close friends with a bit of a spark, but where that spark might lead is the question.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. I found the balance a bit odd, with most of the crime story crammed into the final chapters (it felt rushed), and I had a minor issue with the justification for Nick being so open-minded (not the justification itself, but the need for it), but I liked the personal aspects and I will admit to feeling rather teary-eyed at the end.

The Raven and The Aspen King and The Wilderness Years close out The Dark Pool Trilogy by Monika Carless. I found the second book suffered a bit from the lack of novelty, feeling very much like a middle book that deepened the plot and further developed the complex relationships, but it was still magical and romantic. It interweaves characters and stories across the ages, revealing more about who they are and who they once were. The mystical aspects are even more powerful in these subsequent volumes, and that makes the romance (and erotica) that much more intense.

I went into the third book with slightly higher expectations, knowing that the story would be wrapped up and that we would have answers to the 'why' and the 'how' between all the love and magic . . . and I was not disappointed. By this point, the characters - Aiden, Sahara, Holly, and Iona - are as vibrant as real friends and lovers, and their past selves are just as fascinating. While I almost resented the interference of the past in the first book, here I almost did not want to return to the present. I thought the way Carless closed the circle on the story, fulfilling expectations while still offering new surprises, was wonderful.

If you ever thought there was more to sex than just physical passion, ever felt there might be something magical about passion, then you owe it to yourself to immerse your heart and soul in the wanton wonder and wondrous witchcraft of The Dark Pool.

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