Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review by Jodi: Sacrifces by Chris T. Kat

Title: Sacrifices (A Jeff Woods Mystery) 
Author: Chris T. Kat
Publisher: click logo to purchase from pubisher

Rating: 4.5/5 Smooches


Sequel to Attachment Strings
A Jeff Woods Mystery

When he was outed on the local news, Jeff Woods gave up his dream job as a detective to become an on-air radio personality. The sacrifice was worth it to keep Alex and Sean in his life, but Alex lost his job, too. Jeff can tell Alex worries he’s pressuring Jeff too much, first with Sean and now the lack of money, but he has no idea what that will lead Alex to do. Desperate times bring out the stupidity in some people, and when Jeff discovers Alex is in over his head in a situation he can’t handle, he needs all his self-control to stay calm.

Life is not easy with the Church of Virtue still spouting venom wherever they go, homophobes at the police department, a gangster who wants Alex in the worst possible way, and a bed that barely holds one grown man, much less two (and a child), but Jeff is there to stay for good, and he’ll do what it takes to make Alex believe him.


        When readers first meet Detective Jeff Woods in Attachment Strings, book one of the Jeff Woods Mystery series, we are presented with a gritty and arrogant detective. At the opening of that book, Woods and his partner, Detective Parker Trenkins are at a murder scene of a disabled man. Trenkins is crude and abrasive. Woods is not much better. Although Woods seems annoyed with his partner’s lack of tact for the dead man they are examining, it seems his concerns are more about appearance than compassion. He reprimands Trenkins for not being politically correct, but he does not seem offended by Trenkins’ prejudicial slurs.

As Woods’ character becomes more developed, it is clear he is a bit of an arrogant jerk. He is a closeted cop with a severe chip on his shoulder and a serious prejudice against disabled people, who, as he admits, disgust him. His attitude and life changes dramatically when he meets Alex Fisher, a hot, sexy, younger man and his severely disabled younger brother Sean. Alex is the yin to Woods’ yang, and ultimately Jeff Woods is not the same man at the end of the book.

Sacrifices opens after Woods has left the police force. During the break between books, Jeff and Alex have grown closer, and the reader sees that Jeff has continued to evolve. The book opens with the two men exploring a monogamous, committed, yet somewhat strained relationship. Jeff and Alex are both taking care of Alex’s brother, Sean. Life is far from rosy.

“For some people, I was a hero—for rescuing Sean and Alex, for having been a cop, for being outed and standing by my man, or whatever other reason. For some people, I was scum for exactly the same reasons. There’s just no pleasing everyone. The members of the Church of Virtue definitely didn’t like me. They didn’t like a lot of people, especially gays.”

Jeff is in love with Alex and will do what it takes to get his young lover to relax and trust him. That is no easy task. To say Alex is skittish is an understatement.  Jeff’s mantra regarding his new family and love for Alex is presented on the first page of the novel: “Mine to protect. Mine to love.”

With Attachment Strings and Sacrifices, Chris T. Kat has written a realistic love story between people who have had a difficult time fitting into society and accepting love. Real life is messy and Kat explores this concept in this series. Both Alex and Jeff are battling internal and external demons. In between the love and tension, Kat throws in quite a bit of drama. She also tackles homophobia and prejudice against the differently abled in a dramatic way.

Sacrifices is written in first person point of view from Jeff’s perspective. As a result of this, Alex’s thoughts and motivations are often hidden from the reader. His actions and conversations with the other characters are the readers only hint into what is going on within his insecure and immature mind.

Both Jeff and Alex are dynamic characters who go through a lot of changes throughout this book. While Jeff does a lot of changing in the first book, Alex is forced to change more in this one.

Jeff’s evolution seems hard fought as does his trying to convince Alex it is okay to depend on him. Jeff’s evolution in this series is dramatic and Kat does a good job making those changes realistic. Although the drama in the book is a bit over-the-top in some areas, it is compelling.

Alex is smart and insightful, but his innocence and insecurity heighten the drama and conflict. In order to appreciate the reasons behind his personal drama, one needs to have read the first book in the series. Alex has never been in a romantic relationship, and as the sole care provider for Sean, Alex is stretched like a rubber band emotionally and physically. He is fearful of losing both Sean and Jeff. And his fear of losing Jeff causes Alex to make some pretty bad and dangerous decisions.

“The authorities hadn’t gotten involved, but the damn Church of Virtue had published an article in our local gazette, accusing Alex of neglect and worse. I wanted to throttle each and every member of this Church because they hurt the people I loved. Alex had been devastated that day and ready to give up. He’d questioned whether he was equipped to raise Sean, and nothing I’d said seemed to get through.”

Sean is more fully developed in this book, and his love for Alex and Jeff seems to be the cement for this developing trust in this relationship. Parker Trenkins, Jeff’s former partner on the force, plays a more important role in this book also. Parker’s relationship with David, although not fully developed, is complex and leaves the reader curious for more information about them.

Kat has a talent for writing sparse prose and engaging dialogue. There is a lot present between the lines of the story, especially when it comes to Alex. The background of the characters is paramount for understanding their actions. The dialogue and sex scenes are intimate and help the reader better understand the characters’ motivations. The subplots in the story help develop the characters’ personalities and help explain some of their seemingly erratic behaviors. Drama with a side of romance makes Sacrifices an engaging story.

Reviewer Note: Thank you to Chris T. Kat for providing an advanced review copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Buy Links: 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Guest Post: Jodi Interviews Christ T. Kat

Welcome Chris T. Kat to the Smoocher’s Voice blog. We want to thank Chris for taking the time to answer some questions about herself, her writing and the Jeff Woods mystery series. The second book in the series, Sacrifices, released on Dreamspinner Press on April 28. [Yesterday]

Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, together with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there's any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks, or crafts.

Jodi: Welcome to the blog, Chris. Tell us a little about yourself.

Chris: “I never know what to say here... Okay, let's try: When I don't write, I work as a Special Ed teacher, which I enjoy a lot. I'm specialized in dealing with kids with physical and learning disabilities. At the moment, I work at a primary school where special Ed students also attend. Other than that, I love to spend time with my family, spend time outdoors, and also read lots and lots of books. :)”

Jodi: How long have you been writing in the m/m genre?

Chris: “I started writing fan fiction in 2008, and did that for about three years in various fandoms. In 2011, I decided to write original fiction. And since April 2012, I'm a published author.

Jodi: What made you choose this genre for your stories?

Chris: “I've always been attracted to same-sex romance stories, even as a very young teenager. However, I do read m/f stories as well, although I generally prefer the younger man older woman trope.”

Jodi: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Chris: “Oooh, what a nice question! Let's see, Dean Koontz, Lynn Flewelling, David Eddings, James Rollins, and the newest addition is Megan Derr.”

Jodi: What inspired you to write the Jeff Woods series?

Chris: “In 2011, I visited my best friend in the US. Everything was new and exciting and wonderful. I was pretty overwhelmed by all the impressions because U.S. cities are so much different from European cities. We took a walk along the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, and I just knew this area had to be the setting for my next book. My poor friend had to suffer through my interrogations about locations of bars, stores, and so on, and she even drove me in and out of Atlantic City, so I could get a better handle on distances.

“For a long time, I wanted to write a story with a severely disabled child (Sean), and the difficulties the families have to face on a daily basis. I also wanted to show the difference between a character who is devoted to the child (Alex) and another character (Jeff Woods) who has a hard time getting over his prejudices.
“I knew right from the beginning that this was going to be a series, and planned for three books. I wanted to show the characters from getting to know each other, to forming a family, and eventually to getting their happily ever after.”

Jodi: Are your characters complete fiction, or are they modeled after real people?

Chris: “[They are] partly fiction and partly modeled after real people. Sean is based upon a boy I had the pleasure to work with years ago. Even as a teacher, you always meet some kids that touch you deeply, and he was definitely one of those.

“Jeff Woods is based on people I met that just couldn't deal with disabled children/people. When I told folks I wanted to become a Special Ed teacher, most of them looked at me as if I'd just grown a second head. The job would be too difficult. How would I cope with all the misery around me? These arguments still make my blood boil. Even nowadays — and I've worked in my job for about fifteen years now — people still either pity me or tell me how brave I am. I grit my teeth through these observations because I don't get it. I love working with kids, whether they're disabled or not, and that's it.

“Anyway, I've met a lot of prejudiced people in my line of work, and also as a mother of an autistic child. I channeled all the prejudices, etc. into the character of Jeff Woods in the first book. My way of dealing with all the insanity, I guess.”

Jodi:  The mistreatment and prejudice against the severely disabled is a theme in some of your books. Why did you choose to attack this subject?

Chris: “Like I said above, I have some strong opinions on the subject. I get that if you've never seen or spoken to a severely disabled person, the first meetings will be awkward. Especially with non-speaking kids, you need patience and regular visits to be able to interpret signs. But if, after years of working at a Special Ed school, you're still whining about the kids drooling and how you always need to change your clothes after work? Ugh! Maybe you've chosen the wrong profession.

“Okay, as you can see I get riled up easily. ;-) Writing about disabilities is something I want to do to help create awareness.”

Jodi: Have you received some negativity about your treatment of this subject in your books?

Chris: “Absolutely. Several people didn't finish the first Jeff Woods mystery because they hated the main character. That's fine by me, I stop reading books too if they're not to my liking. The only thing that really irked me was that some people confused the character's opinion with me as an author. I admit that hurt, but that's the way things go.”

Jodi: According to your blog, there will be one final book in the Jeff Woods series. When is that scheduled to publish?

Chris:   “I'll submit the book today or tomorrow and hope DSP will offer me a contract for it. If that happens, then I assume it'll be released early 2015.”

Jodi: Will Parker and David get their own story?

Chris:  “I'm still torn about that. I'd love to write their story, but I'm thinking about cutting down on my writing time, so I'm not sure which stories will become my priority.”

Jodi: Why did Jeff need to leave the police force between the two books?

Chris: “He didn't need to leave per se, but for the overall story arc, I felt compelled to have him change his profession.”

Jodi: While Jeff and Alex are both dynamic characters, it seems Jeff is presented as more evolved at the beginning of Sacrifices. What makes it so difficult for Alex to trust his feelings, Jeff, and the relationship?

Chris: “Alex has been Sean's sole caretaker for a long time. He's been used to dealing with a lot from a young age on, and for the past years he’s only ever relied on himself. He's had his sexual encounters, but no real relationship. It's a big transition for him to depend on someone else, and he also feels out of his depth since he's never been in a relationship before. In that regard, he’s a very young man, overwhelmed by strong emotions and no knowledge of how to deal with them.”

Jodi: Is the Church of Virtue a metaphor?

Chris:   “Caught that, huh? :) When I named the Church, I checked several Church names, but I knew that I wanted a name that sounds good even though the Church members aren't good people, and definitely not virtuous people.

Jodi: Has it been a challenge to write these books in first person point of view from Jeff’s perspective?

Chris:   “Many of my books are written in first person point of view because it's my favorite point of view. It has its limitations, but generally it's the easiest way for me to slide into a story. These are also the stories that flow best when I write them.

“Writing from Jeff's perspective was a challenge, however, especially in the first book, because I didn't like him much in the beginning. He was a prejudiced asshole, but I always reminded myself that fear and the lack of knowledge guided his actions, not maliciousness. Let's say, writing book two and three was easier since he's now more relaxed and open.”

Purchase from: 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Review by Cam: Double Takes by Kimber Vale

Title: Double Takes (Book 2 in the Shooting Stars Series)
Author: K. Vale
Publisher:  (click to purchase from publisher) 

Rating: 4/5 Smooches


Sex, drugs, rock and roll … and now reality TV! As the lead singer in a nineties-era band, Giovanni Savale is used to seeing his name in the headlines, but now, as the star of a new reality TV show, his life is on display for all to see. From the custody battle for his son to a “made for TV” romance to the possibility of a future with the sexy owner of the local antique store, Giovanni’s life has just gotten complicated in ways he had never imagined. You’ll loveDouble Takes, the hot new romance from author K. Vale. 

Ah, the life of a rock star. Everyone thinks it’s nothing but sex, drugs, and rock and roll. 

Not for Giovanni Savale. 

For the lead singer of Three Deaf Mice, a band that reached its pinnacle in the late nineties, it’s nothing but an ugly divorce with a custody battle, money trouble, and now the nightmare exposure of starring in a reality television show. When his producer decides to cash in on an infamous interview Gio did years ago, and give the self-confessed bisexual rocker an onscreen boyfriend, things really hit the fan. Gio is certain his sexual experimentation back in his drug-abusing days meant nothing — after all he’s been married for nine years, clean and sober for nearly as long, and he has a son. And Gio is not remotely attracted to Kyrie, the funny, flamboyant actor they choose for his love interest. Of course, Lance Garrett, the mysterious and sexy owner of the local antique shop, Double Takes, is a whole different story. The guy has Gio planning out a future he never imagined. With the threat of losing all custody of his ten-year-old son, ghosts from the past returning for revenge, and the cameras rolling, can Gio keep his head above water and his heart from getting broken? 

Content Notes: Hot, Anal Play, Anal Intercourse, GLBT, Music, Musicians, Contemporary 


I love complicated plots, and this book certainly has that. Both main characters are deeply flawed men. Gio wears all his flaws on the outside for the world to see. From his drug and alcohol addictions to his all too public custody battle, not to mention the reality show dogging his every step, Gio has his hands full. Especially when the reality show decides to cast him a male love interest Kyrie, who he isn't attracted to at all.

Lance Garrett, on the other hand appears to have it all together on the outside, despite being somewhat reclusive. Lance has his reasons for staying out of the limelight, and when all is said and done it might prove their undoing. 

I liked the concept of this story, and I enjoyed it immensely. I think the issues of mental health, abuse, and addiction were all treated with the delicacy that they deserved, which is a big thing for me. If I have a complaint, it was that at a couple points it was a little difficult to keep up with everything that was going on, but the threads were quickly brought back in. 
Both characters were likeable. The secondary characters were well written, fleshed out and added a lot to the story. I was invested. I can't wait to read more. 

This is the second book in the series but it could read as a stand alone. Both books however are great. K. Vale is going to be an author that I'm looking out for, because she sure does know how to weave a story. 

If you like Rock Star stories, then pick this one up! 

Buy Links:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Author Post: Kimber Vale: Lyrics, dude. Recite ‘em some lyrics.

Welcome Author Kimber Vale to the blog! 

Kimber has a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card (winner’s choice) up for grabs! So check that out at the end of the post!

Lyrics, dude. Recite 'em some lyrics 

By Kimber Vale

When I was a kid, rocking out to Tiffany and George Michael via copied tapes on my cheapo Walkman, I occasionally enjoyed penning my own songs. They were cheesy, sappy, rhyming things that I sometimes even wrote music to using my little Casio keyboard.

A few years later, I’d graduated from writing (and listening) to pop. The grunge scene had swept the country and I embraced my alterna-chick status. I wrote angsty poetry, blasting the boys who broke my heart, or simply didn’t know I existed.

From the sticky sweet to the gritty hell-fire, I’ve always loved writing lyrics. In my next life, I’m definitely joining a band. And I’ll be a bisexual man. And I’ll own a pot-bellied pig.
Needless to say, one of my favorite parts of writing my Shooting Stars series has been coming up with lyrics and song titles. Chance, of “Forever is Now,” is a metal head, and I wrote more song titles than lyrics for that book. Now, Gio, my rocker in “Double Takes,” is actively recording a new album, and his sound is a slightly mellower funk-rock blend. I included a couple of songs in “Double Takes.” Even though Gio’s band, Three Deaf Mice, isn’t as head-splitting heavy metal as Chance’s band Armageddon Showdown, I still wasn’t writing about two hearts beating as one like I did back in seventh grade.

Nope. Gio is knee-deep in an ugly divorce and custody battle. He’s a recovered junky and alcoholic. He’s trapped in a reality TV show he hates. Gio’s a forty-one-year old dude who has seen all life has to offer and is pretty freakin’ jaded by it. His lyrics definitely reflect that.
Here’s the end of TDM’s song Quit You:

Tell me a story
And make it sound real
I’m holding my breath
And watching you steal
Miles below you
But lifetimes above
Bite, chew, and spit
Is your kind of love

Of course, by the end of Double Takes, Gio realizes he hasn’t seen and done it all. He figures out that even a has-been rocker can sometimes get a second lease on life and love.
I wonder if his lyrics are going to change as a result.


Ah, the life of a rock star. Everyone thinks it’s nothing but sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Not for Giovanni Savale.

For the lead singer of Three Deaf Mice, a band that reached its pinnacle in the late nineties, it’s nothing but an ugly divorce with a custody battle, money trouble, and now the nightmare exposure of starring in a reality television show. When his producer decides to cash in on an infamous interview Gio did years ago, and give the self-confessed bisexual rocker an onscreen boyfriend, things really hit the fan. Gio is certain his sexual experimentation back in his drug-abusing days meant nothing — after all he’s been married for nine years, clean and sober for nearly as long, and he has a son. And Gio is not remotely attracted to Kyrie, the funny, flamboyant actor they choose for his love interest. Of course, Lance Garrett, the mysterious and sexy owner of the local antique shop, Double Takes, is a whole different story. The guy has Gio planning out a future he never imagined. With the threat of losing all custody of his ten-year-old son, ghosts from the past returning for revenge, and the cameras rolling, can Gio keep his head above water and his heart from getting broken?


Lance’s hand on top of his stopped Gio from silencing the irritating voice.

Gio sat down heavily next to Lance, one hand still burdened by his dinner plate and the other sandwiched between Lance’s palm and the remote. He didn’t dare pull it away, and Lance apparently wanted to see the entire commercial because he kept Gio trapped there until it finished.

“What was that all about?” Lance’s warm fingers slid from Gio’s, leaving his hand cold.

“Ah, it’s dumb. The world’s most degrading way to make a paycheck.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure.” Lance stared at something past Gio’s shoulder.

“The producers took some stupid poll and found out the viewers want to see me…” Gio paused in search of the right word. What the hell did people want to see? “They wanna see me squirm. They want to see a supposedly bisexual man drowning in the same-sex dating pool. It’s all bullshit—just for ratings.”

“So, you’re not really dating that guy?”

“No! Well, yeah, I have to for the show. But not really. It’s just a publicity stunt, you know?”

“So, you aren’t bi, then?” Lance cocked his head and skewered Gio with those intense hazel eyes.

“Yeah! No! I mean … it’s not like I…” What the fuck was he even trying to say? You’ve screwed around with guys before, ass munch.

The confused squint of the eyes staring back at him—moss-green with spikes of brown radiating from his pupils—told Gio his answer didn’t exactly make sense to Lance, either.

“I always wondered if those rumors were true before you got married.” Lance made it sound like a question.

“Well, you know how it is … when you’re young, and you party too much. Sometimes you do shit you wouldn’t normally do if you weren’t fucked up, right?” Gio gave a weak laugh.

Lance’s face was introspective and finally he shook his head. “When I was young and I partied too much, I never ended up in bed with a woman, so no … I don’t know.”

Hold the fucking phone. Something skipped inside Gio’s chest. It was nauseating and exhilarating all at once. Like a rollercoaster when it crests the top of a hill. He knew he was about to drop, he craved the intoxicating free fall, but was scared shitless at the same time.

Lance placed his dinner on the coffee table and turned to Gio.

What is going on? How do I even respond to that?

“So…?” Gio began, but then Lance’s right hand wrapped around his neck and pulled him closer to those amazing eyes, his mouth closer to Lance’s flawless one.

Lips, soft yet firm and unbelievably full, pressed to Gio’s and his eyelids dropped like they were weighted. Fingers carded the hair at the back of his head and lured him to kiss back. Or maybe it was the faint spicy smell Gio now associated with Lance that made his lips pucker and nibble against the other guy’s delicious mouth. Gio detected a hint of lemon poppy seed dressing as he sucked a voluptuous bottom lip between his own.

Lance’s tongue darted out to lick Gio’s closed mouth, and Gio opened to suck in a surprised breath. Gio’s tongue had a will of its own. It touched Lance’s wet tip and they swirled together, exploring each other’s taste, marking new territory in the other’s domain.

A low rumble came from somewhere; Gio wasn’t sure if it was he or Lance who groaned. He wanted to grab the man sitting next to him, wanted to slide his hand up the inseam of his jeans and stroke his dick into dripping hardness. Gio’s own cock was filling, twitching against the constraints of his pants with each meeting of their tongues.

Oh my God, what the hell am I doing? Nothing about this kiss—hot slippery tongues meshing and soft bristles tickling his cheeks—nothing about it was like his memories of other men. Those were hazy and unreal and this was vibrant—electric. His conscience had long ago associated those fleeting, drugged sexual acts with perversion. He had swept them under the carpets of history along with his ancient addictions. But this kiss didn’t make him think of sinfulness and mistakes. It felt right, like nothing before ever had. It flooded his senses and his prick and had him aching for more, everything Lance had.

Gio pulled away from his thoughts and from Lance’s lips. His breath came in shallow gasps that exposed him as much as the bulge in his pants did. Lance slid his warm hand off Gio’s neck and took a shaky inhalation. Gio swallowed hard as he swiped his hair back with trembling fingers. His plate was still in the other hand, tilting precariously but fortunately not dumped all over the floor. He set it down on the table just as a cheer went up on the television.

The Red Sox had scored a home run. I only got to first base, but man I was close to dropping to my knees and knocking this one out of the park. What the fuck?

Lance took a long pull off his water. Gio watched him out of the corner of his eye while he pretended to be enraptured by Big Papi jogging the bases. He had no clue what he should do or say. I’m not really into guys didn’t seem at all right anymore. Lance made it easy for him.

“Hey, sorry about that. I didn’t mean to freak you out. Just wanted to give you something to think about and you can get back to me on it.” He gave a half smile that was sexy as hell.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review by Jodi: Powerless (The Borders War #3) by S.A. McAuley

Title: Powerless (The Borders War #3)
Author: S.A. McAuley
Publisher: Totally Bound
Rating: 5/5 Smooches

The Blurb:

He was built to be invincible.

Merq and Armise return to the States after their mission to assassinate the remaining Committee members only to find the leadership of the Revolution isn’t as stable as they had thought.

Outside forces come crashing down on a Revolution stronghold, leaving two of their soldiers gravely wounded. Merq’s history with his brothers in arms Simion and Neveed forces him into making decisions that will impact his future with the Revolution.

Merq has always identified as a soldier first. Always known who deserved his loyalty and who didn’t. But with the uncertainty surrounding the leadership of the Revolution, the mysterious disappearance of the jacquerie and increased activity with the PsychHAgs, Merq knows there are few people he can trust.

The only man Merq wants or needs at his side is Armise Darcan. But his reliance on his former enemy may be a miscalculation that will threaten everything Merq stands for.


This third book in the Border Wars series is intriguing and intense. In Powerless, S.A. McAuley has taken this series to a new and breathtaking level. In order to really appreciate this book and the intricacy of the plot, the reader needs to read this series in order: One Breath One Bullet, Dominant Predator and Powerless.

It is difficult to review this book without mentioning the rest of the series as each book builds on the previous one. The intensity of the story, characters and angst has built to an incredible climax in Powerless. While the first two books are well written and intense, Powerless presents a more concentrated sense of tension and purpose. This book brings the reader inside the troubled mind of Merq Grayson as he battles his training with his desire for free will.

Grayson’s mantra continues to permeate his thoughts even when he doubts his sanity and actions:

“One breath.
Hesitation is my enemy.
Solitude my ally.
Death the only real victory.

Grayson and Armise Darcan are not typical men in any sense of the word. They were bred to be soldiers. Their genetics have been modified. They have been trained to kill and follow orders. Their loyalty is supposed to be to their leaders only. Independent thought and emotional connections to others are not part of their makeup or training. Their backgrounds are set in the first book as defined by the following descriptions:

“Merq Grayson has known only war. He is an orphan, a skilled Peacemaker, soldier, and sniper. And it is his destiny to right the wrong created by his grandfather six generations removed—the man who invented the sonicbullet. 

Armise Darcan is his enemy. A sniper and Dark Ops officer who fought for the People’s Republic of Singapore in the Borders War, Armise may be the only person on the planet strong enough to keep Merq from completing his mission.

McAuley has done a wonderful job developing these characters and having them evolve throughout the series. There are no two ways about it. These men are intense, passionate and, at times, unbelievably frustrating. But even when the reader is tempted to give up on one of the men, an expert plot twist or implication thrown into the dialogue reels the reader back.

In this series, McAuley has created a complex, multi-dimension world, where not everything is at it appears to be. The political turmoil and violence are palpable as is the tension and magnetism of the protagonists. The plot twists are surprising and sometimes extreme.

Grayson and Darcan are sublime protagonists. Their relationship takes the reader through an emotional roller coaster in each of the books. In biting prose and often uncomfortable dialogue, McAuley has developed these two men who display characteristics of power, strength and vulnerability. The emotional and physical connection between Grayson and Darcan is electric.

“I looked to Armise, not even having to spend one second searching his reaction to know the truth of everything between us. I trusted Armise. Because he had earned that trust from me through words and action. And while Neveed believed he could still manipulate me with this, I’d seen through his bullshit so long ago that his taunts no longer help power over me.

Grayson believes he knows the truth, but as Darcan declares, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Grayson’s world is soon turned upside down. Both Grayson and Darcan are tragic heroes in the sense that they both possess a fatal flaw, or hamartia. McAuley reveals Grayson’s flaw in this book. Darcan’s flaw is clear yet not overtly stated.

“’I hurt Armise. I’ve never hurt as much as I have in the last year and a half. I still hurt even with you standing right in front of me, because I have no idea where we go from here. How do we forget all of the awful shit we’ve said and done to each other? We’re bad people, Darcan,’ I snarled. We’ll always exist more in the darkness than the light. But if we’re going to make it, we have to find some way not to be bad to each other.”
Powerless grabs the reader and pulls that reader head first into the vortex of McAuley’s fictional world. In this book, the reader learns more about Grayson’s relationships with Neveed Niaz, the President and PsychHAg. The added information helps the reader understand why Grayson is in so much emotional turmoil throughout the book. Like the other two books in the series, this book is filled with action, violence and, surprisingly, compassion.

McAuley is an expert storyteller. Her prose is dynamic and realistic. This must-read book (and series) is passionate in every sense of the word.

*A copy of this book was provided to the reviewer in return for an honest review

Buy Link:

You can purchase this book EARLY from Totally Bound.
It's set to release to other markets on 25 April 2014