Review: Going Up by Amy Lane

Every dreary day, Zach Driscoll takes the elevator from the penthouse apartment of his father's building to his coldly charmed life where being a union lawyer instead of a corporate lawyer is an act of rebellion. Every day, that is, until the day the elevator breaks and Sean Mallory practically runs into his arms.

Substitute teacher Sean Mallory is everything Zach is not—poor, happy, and goofily charming. With a disarming smile and a penchant for drama, Sean laughs his way into Zach's heart one elevator ride at a time. Zach would love to get to know Sean better, but first he needs the courage to leave his ivory tower and face a relationship that doesn't end at the "Ding!"

I'll let you onto a little secret. One of the saddest fairy tales I have ever read was Rapunzel. Talk about isolation and loneliness. I know, I know you could probably say Sleeping Beauty or Snow White but forget about those broads because they were never conscious during their sleepy times. They were awake and BOOM they are knocked out. And then BOOM some twerp in a leotard comes and makes their day. *rolls eyes* Whatever. But Rapunzel was trapped in a tower for years, living a daily life trapped in a tower with no friends, with nothing to do but growing that ridiculous amount of hair. Could you imagine being trapped in a tower for days on end, years with no companionship? (And no the crotchety mean witch does not count.)
I felt so sad for Rapunzel because she was raised in captivity and alone.

Why in the world am I discussing my sads about Rapunzel when I could be talking about Amy Lane and "Going Up!"? I'm getting to it, gimme a sec. It's going to tie in together.

If you are new to Amy Lane, she can write her ass off. It's been proven. She wears a writer goddess crown made of knitting needles and hot naked men writhing all over each other. (She doesn't? Well she does in my book) And she can deliver the goods, make you feel for her characters. She writes some angst ridden stories that will make you curl up in the fetal position begging for hugs like they were cotton candy. That's not "Going Up!". It is Amy Lane light, promise. Your innards are safe to read this. I actually ration my Amy Lane reads due to the fact she can death grip me by my ovaries with a few choice words.

In less than 100 pages, we are taken to the lonely worlds of union lawyer Zach Driscoll. He's rich, has a great job, lives in a posh penthouse in San Francisco with a killer view, has no friends, has to schedule appointments just to meet with his parents and pays for companionship of the rent boy/escort variety. And he is most certainly living inside a trapped closet. His Republican father with political aspirations would not approve of his son being gay. So he hides his true self, a walking, barely breathing ice sculpture, living high up in Driscoll Towers (yep his Daddy owns it too) with no real friends until a chance encounter in an elevator.

Enter Sean Mallory, sweet, plucky substitute teacher who is a world full of color to Zach's dull and colorless world. The court during their brief elevator encounters for not expect any insta-love here. Oh no! these two and their cute interactions chip away at the ice that surrounds Zach Driscoll. Sometimes the most damaged are the ones without visible scars. They are carriers of damaged souls. I loved seeing the world through Zach's reopened eyes.

"He felt something unfamiliar stretch his cheeks, but it wasn't until the wind hit his teeth that he remembered what it was."

I like that Zach aka my 2013 version of Rapunzel (without the dreadful hair) gets a sweet HEA without gingerbread men lurking at each corner waiting to drown you in Christmas icing. The holiday is just background Muzak, if you will, to the important tale of Sean and Zach's relationship. The story is told from Zach's point of view. A POV switch from Sean would have been sprinkles to the "Going Up!" cookie, not totally necessary but it would have been cool.

Sean was zany without being cloying. He was the perfect knight/ prince for Zach. And for the solitary detailed sex scene? It was totally worth the long courtship. Loved, loved, loved the secondary character that is Leah. She's the best and not a meddlesome annoyance. This is a great short story with a satisfying ending. and while it is lighter in tone, it still leaves a deep impact. Well, it did for me. Maybe for you?

Fans of contemporary, fairy tale-esque stories should give this a try.

Review: Strain by Amelia C. Gormley

In a world with little hope and no rules, the only thing they have to lose is themselves.

Rhys Cooper is a dead man. Cut off from the world since childhood, he’s finally exposed to the lethal virus that wiped out most of the human race. Now his only hope for survival is infection by another strain that might confer immunity. But it’s sexually transmitted, and the degradation he feels at submitting to the entire squad of soldiers that rescued him eclipses any potential for pleasure—except with Darius, the squadron’s respected, capable leader.

Sergeant Darius Murrell has seen too much death and too little humanity. He’s spent a decade putting plague victims out of their misery and escorting survivors to a safe haven he can never enjoy. He’d rather help Rhys live than put him down, so when Rhys can’t reconcile himself to doing what’s necessary to survive, Darius is forced to save Rhys in spite of himself.

But with each passing day, it looks less and less likely that Rhys can be saved. Which means that soon Darius might have to put a bullet in the head of the one person in years who reminds him of what it means to be human.

This ain’t your mama’s love story!

This is dystopian fantasy at its finest.  It’s dark.  It’s intense.  It’s gruesome.  

It’s devastatingly beautiful.

The story is woven into a pattern that is complete fantasy yet somehow utterly believable. 

I was captivated.

I was stunned.

Such amazing depth to the characters, even the secondary ones.  Each one of them flawed, each distinct, each so incredibly real.

The storyline, the action sequences, the dialogue, they all held me in thrall.  I eagerly anticipated getting to the next scene yet I hesitated as I was afraid of what would come.  I didn’t know if I could take much more.  I spent the last quarter of the book smiling through my tears.

This story is about survival and the endless struggle just to live, not knowing if your next breath will be your last.  It’s about overcoming the sheer hopelessness in a bleak, unforgiving world.  Yet underneath all of the violence and tragedy there is a subtle feeling of hope and companionship and camaraderie.  And love.  Yeah, it’s there too if you look closely enough.  Because of it I was able to get through the entire story without once feeling depressed. 

This book is certainly not for everyone.  Please, please read the blurb carefully before you decide to pick this up.  If non-con, dub-con, exhibitionism, voyeurism, BDSM, blood play or multiple partners is not something you can handle then I beg you not to read this story.   I could not bear to see it get low marks because it hit someone’s trigger points.  The story is too beautiful to receive a low rating just because someone is misinformed or not informed enough.

The storyline flowed so well I felt a part of it, like I was there with them.  I was fighting alongside these men and women.  I laughed with them.  I cried with them.  I walked with them.  The writing is exquisite.  I want more.

I made a promise to myself that in the new year I would be more critical in my reviews and hand out four and five stars more sparingly after careful consideration.  Imagine my frustration (and my joy) after reading this damn near perfect book.  I would give this more than five stars if I could.  I’ve been so moved by this story that I feel sorry for whatever follows.  Everything else is going to pale in comparison for a while.

I applaud you Ms. Gormley.  Thank you for sharing such an amazing story with me.


ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



Review: Dark Space by Lisa Henry

Brady Garrett needs to go home. He’s a conscripted recruit on Defender Three, one of a network of stations designed to protect the Earth from alien attack. He's also angry, homesick, and afraid. If he doesn’t get home he’ll lose his family, but there’s no way back except in a body bag.

Cameron Rushton needs a heartbeat. Four years ago Cam was taken by the Faceless — the alien race that almost destroyed Earth. Now he’s back, and when the doctors make a mess of getting him out of stasis, Brady becomes his temporary human pacemaker. Except they’re sharing more than a heartbeat: they’re sharing thoughts, memories, and some very vivid dreams.

Not that Brady’s got time to worry about his growing attraction to another guy, especially the one guy in the universe who can read his mind. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just biochemistry and electrical impulses. It doesn’t change the truth: Brady’s alone in the universe.

Now the Faceless are coming and there’s nothing anyone can do. You can’t stop your nightmares. Cam says everyone will live, but Cam’s probably a traitor and a liar like the military thinks. But that’s okay. Guys like Brady don’t expect happy endings.


I loved the sci-fi parts of this book. Loved it! The Faceless were these creepy-ass aliens and, honestly, I would have loved to see more of them in the story. Maybe all the time. Having sex. I don’t know. Something. Hell, they could have been washing dishes the entire time and it would have been better than Cam and Brady. 

Because the sci-fi rocked my socks, I loved the beginning. I was ready to settle into an action packed, futuristic love story. Cam, the only person ever to return from being captured by The Faceless, returns in this pod-like thing filled with some fluid. Weird AND creepy. Loves it. I do. So, Brady and his superiors, knowing next to nothing about the Faceless, decide to just rip it open to save Cam. Abort! Abort! Bad idea! He basically died and now has to rely on another human, Brady, in order to survive.

Now! Ugh, now Cam and Brady have to touch in order for Cam to survive. How convenient. And look! It’s even better when they’re having sex. How very convenient for you both. *eyeroll* What, just because they have to touch that means they have to have chemistry? Uh… no they don’t. I didn’t feel any chemistry and didn’t believe a second of their forced relationship.  The beginning was awesome, and then Cam and Brady just lay in bed next to each other, talking telepathically, but not really saying anything since I don’t feel like I know who Cam is. Who is Cam? Besides the guy who was released by the Faceless and loves being probed by aliens? I don’t know. After the awesome beginning, not much else happened.

So, I was bored throughout most of it. I was bored and waiting for the Faceless to arrive and they did! They finally came to rescue me from my boredom! Then I realized there are only 20 pages left. NOOOO!! Where was Kai-Ren 50 pages ago? 100 pages ago? Where I could have enjoyed his weird creepiness? He used the term ‘pet’ a lot, so I’m pretty sure I would have loved him and how he dealt with his …erhm… pets. 

The ending was confusing and rushed. There was a lot left for the reader to assume and I would have liked something a little more solid. Especially, if it were to include Kai-Ren.

This was a whole lotta meh. But I’ve read and really enjoyed Lisa Henry in the past, so I am nowhere near done with her just yet.

Review: Where You Lead by Mary Calmes

ATF agent Peter Lomax isn’t a hearts and flowers kind of guy, but he can be possessive, and it caused problems until Carver Fleming. Carver may be part of the art world, but he gets Peter, loves belonging to the man, and Peter treasures the way Carver understands them together.

Carver loves Peter, but he's fully aware that six months doth not a commitment make. Carver wants to make the relationship last forever, but he’ll have to leave their life in Chicago to take care of the family he loves. He wants to do it with Peter by his side, but going from the city of Chicago to tiny Colt, Kentucky is a big change.

Carver has only one Christmas wish: Please, oh please, let Peter fall enough in love with Carver's family to follow Carver home.

Ahh!! The power of Mary Calmes! Christmas style!

Actually this was not a heavy jingle bells-coming-out-your-arse short story which for a reader who does not crave copious amounts of Christmas sugar cubes in her stories, it was great. With this author, I like knowing what types of lead characters I will get. I know I'm going to get a possessive alpha-type, a man who loves him and some hot man loving. This book delivered that. Yes it could be considered insta-love, but the story really starts after the happily ever after.

Peter is thirty-four, has a great job (ATF agent), good friends and never had a chance to settle down until he met Carver Fleming, artist and gallery owner, at a party one night in Chicago. The two hit it off immediately and BOOM! insta-love. Plus hot alley sex! Intense and yummy and always a plus in my book. Cut to these two men six months later and Carver has made some important decisions for both he and Pete without consulting like leaving Chicago and moving to Colt, Kentucky aka "Mayberry" as per Pete (I can't hate on the nickname).

The couple has minor quibbles but they are ironed out. Colt, Kentucky doesn't look as bad as Pete immerses himself in the small town life, meets Carver's parents and learns about the importance of family. Carver has to move home to help take care of his mother. And that is touching but I was not that keen on the way he just dropped it on Pete. Relationships work when communication in not one way. Granted the move was necessary but I understood Pete's reaction.

I must say the way Pete's mother's illness was captured struck a chord with me. It was touching but also was done with respect and dignity. Sometimes authors fail with presenting certain illnesses when it comes to fiction or they play too much on the heartstrings without letting the character shine through. This was not the case in "Where You Lead".

Other than Carver's manipulative ways and not discussing life changing topics with his partner instead of for his partner, I enjoyed this tale. Quibbles were smoothed out into a continued HEA. It was light, funny, sweet and hot. Perfect for a quick in between read.

Happy Hour Chat: Thick as Thieves by Tali Spencer

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Review: The Rifter Series by Ginn Hale

When John opens a letter addressed to his missing roommate, Kyle, he expects to find a house key, but instead he is swept into a strange realm of magic, mysticism, revolutionaries and assassins. Though he struggles to escape, John is drawn steadily closer to a fate he shares with Kyle—to wake the destroyer god, the Rifter, and shatter a world.

I want to write a review that will really, really show how epic and mind-blowing The Rifter Series is.


How the hell do you review something like this? Something so all-encompassing that I was living and breathing John and Kahlil for days?


I don't know either. So I'll just gush.

Wow ...this is so ...just A huge, epic, amazing, mind-blowing adventure and love-story. Something I will be revisiting in the future, it's one of those that I just know will be better the second (and third) time around. Now that I know the answers to all my burning questions, I'll be searching for bits and clues in the reread.

Let me kind of set this up for you, I don’t want to give too much away but basically there are two worlds. One that is like our own where John is from. He follows his roommate, Kyle, to another place, planet, world, dimension ...something. This other world, Basawar, is so full of creeptastic awesomeness that I think everyone should go in not knowing much about it so they can experience all the creeptastic awesomeness on their own. Now John is in this new place, where he will learn so much about himself, his unbreakable connection to Kyle and his own baddassery, he has more than he could have ever imagined.

Our heroes. Oh, how I adored John and Kahlil. Both of them are men to be remembered with their bravery, courage, faith in one another and their devotion, not only to each other but to their purpose. They were willing to risk it all, and they did, to do what needed to be done. It was heartbreaking and gut-wrenching and made me love them even more. For the romance readers, it takes a couple of books (they're short books, you'll be fine) but once we get there, it's epic. Epic, I tell you. The love they have for each other, quite literally, has no end.

What I loved most was how the plot unfolded. How two worlds, two timelines, two stories melded into one, flawlessly. How there were so many unanswered questions, but the author knows that her readers are intelligent beings. Nothing was just given to us, Ginn Hale makes you work for it. She keeps you guessing and wondering and just wanting. Wanting to know more about John, Ravishan, Kahlil, Jath’ibaye. Where they are, what they are, when they are. Everything, anything, I wanted to grab any and all information about them that I could. She'll give you breadcrumbs and lead you on this path that you can't stray from, won't leave until you've reached what it is you want: answers.

Be ready, you'll have questions, questions that will go unanswered for quite some time. Be patient, trust the author, know that Ginn Hale will deliver. And she'll deliver big.

Happy 2014 & December's Winners!

Happy new year to everyone from the unicorns here at BMBR! We hope 2014 brings you good times, great books, and tons of unipornian fun. =D

We have winners for two December giveaways to announce. We have sent emails to the winners' listed email addresses, but just in case they landed in a spam folder somewhere, here are the names:

♥ The winner of the RJ Scott giveaway for an ebook from RJ Scott's backlist is... 

~ Lisa (this comment) ~

♥ The winner of the Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock giveaway for an ebook copy of The Boy Who Belonged is... 

~ Debra E (this comment) ~

Lisa and Debra E., we've sent emails to the addresses provided and forwarded that information to the authors. If anything has gone awry in the communications line, feel free to contact us at contactBMBR(AT)gmail(DOT)com, and we'll coordinate delivery of the prizes.

Thanks, and congratulations!

Review: The Decisions We Make by R.J. Scott

Daniel Keyes is an orphan, fostered by the Walkers. The product of a lonely childhood, he is thrown into the chaos of the Walker family and into the life of his new foster brother Jamie.

This story is the journey of Daniel and Jamie finding their place in the world. Through Jamie being a victim of hate crime to coming out to family and friends, there are many decisions the boys have to make before they become men.

A heartwarming story about a grieving orphan and the foster family that helps him heal, and a sweet story about two boys who fall in love.  The characterizations were well done, especially Jamie's.   I could see him so clearly and I just loved him.  I also loved Daniel, so quiet and shy.  The author did a good job showing their feelings for each other, making it easy to see the attachment.  Although the transitions were a little abrupt, I also liked the flashbacks and how they let us see the strong bond between the boys.

After such a sweet set up, I was a little thrown by the craziness of Lucy's storyline. Although it did give us some touching scenes that showed more of the boys' feelings for each other, it was a little over the top for me. I also wish the aftermath had been shown more than told. The reactions and consequences that followed were mostly glossed over, with a quick summary of what happened.

Another storyline later on had the potential for more drama, but was also glossed over a bit. Although I understood Daniel's need for answers, his plan seemed to come out of nowhere. We weren't give any of that background until he put the plan into motion. It didn't help that the new character was particularly weak and I didn't buy her explanations. That whole scenario could have been a much bigger and better part of the story. 

Overall, though, I enjoyed this sentimental story. Full of tender emotions and warm fuzzies, it was an enjoyable read. For fans of feel good YA stories, it should be especially appealing.

Side note:
The boys were high school seniors, planning for college, but they both seemed so young, or at least more innocent than the boys I know and have known at that age.

Details like the foster care system could have done with more research, but I was more focused on the relationships, so I didn't think about it too much.

Find more info on BookLikes and Goodreads

Sunday Funday with the BMBR's M/M Memories!!

We all started reading m/m romance at different points in our lives, so some of us unicorns are taking this Sunday Funday to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce on how it all began...

Ann: Ahhhhh, the sweet memory of discovering the world of M/M. I’m with Breann. I read Lorilei James Long Hard Ride and was more interested in the secondary characters of Trevor and Edgard. I KNEW something was going on there and damn if they didn’t get their own book that was one of my favorites in the series. I was hooked on Sophie Oak’s books but the boys weren’t touching and I felt cock blocked and quickly learned to search for M/M/F instead of M/F/M. That search led me to Cameron Dane’s Hawkins Ranch series and Katie Allen stories. From there I went on a historical bender and discovered Samantha Kane’s Brothers in Arms series and one really now hard to find regency romance, Three to Waltz by Chloe Hanson, I was a goner in the best way.

Plus, let’s face it, too often heroines are mousy doormats or shrieky she-beasts . I’m TOTALLY generalizing there I know it, there are some amazing heroines out there too, but those books have a distinct lack of multiple dicks that I have come to require in my reading. I soon discovered there are A TON of books out there in the M/M realm just begging me to read them and I dove right in and haven’t looked back. I was so lucky to find and read some seriously amazing authors right from the start. I fired up my original keyboard Kindle to jog my memory as to which authors I stumbled on first and damn, it’s an impressive list and it’s no wonder I was addicted from the start: Kaje Harper, Heidi Cullinan, JL Merrow, Sue Brown, KA Mitchell , Harper Fox and AM Arthur are the oldest ones there. It took me forever to join GoodReads and become part of what I like to call my very own online Deliciously Filthy Book Club but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and I consider myself a very lucky Unicorn to be part of this corner of the interwebz full of all these awesome peeps.

Audrey: My first M/M read came into my hands completely randomly. One of my Goodreads friends raved about a tiny little M/M story that was absolutely hilarious, and because it was (a) short and (b) free, I figured I didn't have anything to lose by giving it a try. I read Caged by Tam Ames, loved it, and sought out more M/M stories. The M/M Romance Group on Goodreads is a wonderful resource for free stories, and their Don't Read in the Closet event was releasing anthologies at that time. I happened to pick up Kaje Harper's Like the Taste of Summer and was completely blown away by the emotions and heart in the story and the characters. I loved it, I kept reading m/m, and the rest, so they say, was history.

Breann: My first M/M experience was when I read Long Hard Ride by Lorelei James. I wasn't much into contemporary at the time but it was a freebie so I picked it up. This is a M/F book with a few M/F/M scenes between the MC, so I wasn't expecting anything ...erhm ...extra. Not only was this my first M/M scene, but my first really erotic romance. If anyone knows how to write sex, it's Lorelei James. Anyway, I'm already tackling my husband every 5 minutes or so because of all the hotness. But then. THEN! Trevor and Edgard are alone. And they start doing stuff. With their dicks and butts and I'm like 'WHOA! O.O THIS HAPPENS IN BOOKS!?!? I can, like, read about boy sex? All the time?' *searches for more M/M* Which then led to Marie Sexton, Tere Michaels, and JL Langley and I was hooked.

Jenni Lea:  My first foray into the M/M genre came about as a bit of a surprise.  I started reading a series by Carrie Ann Ryan and when I got to the third book, Trinity Bound I at first thought it was going to be m/f/m of which I had read plenty.  Imagine my shock when the two male characters start kissing.  And then... and then they do more.  I found that I liked it - a LOT.  After that I scoured B&N for more.  I started off with the freebies and that is where I found Lies & Consequences by some person with a weird name (Kaje Harper?  Who the heck is Kaje Harper?) and I fell in love.  I mean, here were two men - MEN! - and they were strong and tough and not helpless damsels in distress.  It was refreshing.  And smoking hot!  So, Carrie Ann Ryan baited me but Kaje was the one who reeled me in.  I have been hooked since.

Lorix: Hmm, my first experience reading M/M was a couple of books by the author Anne Brooke - Pink Champagne and Apple Juice & The Bones of Summer. Then a while later I was browsing aRE for something a little, er, steamier, and in amongst the books I downloaded was GA Hauser's The Boy Next Door. I read the crap outta that book! But it wasn't until I was looking for slash fiction about Scott Lynch 's Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen that I really got into the genre. The Don't Read in the Closet Anthology where I loved Piper Vaughn's story, Amy Lane books followed, then Tj Klune, Kaje Harper and Eric Arvin and - cue meeting the rest of the unicorns. The rest, as they say, is history. I love a good old-fashioned romance, well written characters and a storyline that gets me in all the right places!

SheReadsALot:  Reflecting back, I've been reading M/M for just about half of my life! :-O I've been reading M/F romances (contemporary, historical) since junior high school. And I remember finding an anthology that featured two guys together having erotic PWP sex. Was it smutty? Hell yes! Do I remember the title? Nope. But I remember liking it a LOT. And I kept going back to the library to find that anthology to read there because I would never have checked it out back then. Cut to me in high school, being an avid fan fiction reader (NSYNC, in case you're wondering), also of the M/F variety but being bored. And OMG one day the heavens shined upon me with an author who wrote both M/F and slash fiction (M/M). Babes, I dropped that MF fan fic super quick. There were hundreds of authors to read and I devoured them all! The slash community was a great net of writers and readers. Of course, I got recs for published authors and newly published fan fic authors. It was very hard for to part with fan fic. One of the very first M/M purchases I made (I was in a M/F historical fiction love fest at the time as well) was "Discreet Young Gentlemen" by M.J. Pearson because M/M and historical romance together was everything to me back then.
Look at this cover, don't you just want to mount something? LOL cute story too.

Sunny:  I remember reading a M/F/M series and wanting the two guys to get busy with each other but they were very careful not to cross those lines :(
Then, in early 2005, I read Suzanne Brockmann's "Hot Target" where one of my favorite characters, Jules, actually got a side storyline with another man. It was pretty mild, but I loved it. I had to wait over 2 1/2 years for Jules' HEA in Force of Nature, but I was hooked. I started looking for other M/M books, but it wasn't until I got my kindle that I learned about authors like Jordan Castillo Price and Josh Lanyon. It was like winning the book lottery, all those back lists :)

And now we unicorns want to know....what brought all of you to the m/m romance reading world? :)

Pre-Release Review: Love Rising (Isla Sagrario) by Piper Vaughn

An Isla Sagrario Story In the 1700s on the island of Sagrario, men who love other men find safe haven. For Francis Holland, an escaped indentured servant, Sagrario offers nothing but loneliness. His life begins to change when he finds Wick, a merman, washed ashore. When Wick awakens under Francis’s care, Francis returns him to the sea at his request. Soon after, they begin to meet in secret, and gradually, Francis blossoms under this new companionship. However, a merman is a difficult creature to entrust one’s heart to. With one trapped on land and the other at sea, the differences in their species threaten to keep them apart forever. It may not be long before Wick is gone, taking Francis’s reason to smile with him.

Fairy Talenoun: Narrative centered on magical tests, quests and transformations A type of short story that typically features European folkloric fantasy characters and usually magic or enchantments.

Love Rising was not at all what I expected and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to read a true fairytale about loneliness, love and a little magic.

Love Rising is the story of Francis, an escaped indentured slave who toils away on Isla Sagrario. He doesn’t really live, he just gets by, surviving, but terribly alone. The island is a safe place, at least a reasonably safe place, for men who prefer the company of other men. It is isolated and relatively self-sustaining so the inhabitants live quiet lives and some are lucky to have found love. Francis is not one of those lucky ones. He has spent his life feeling invisible, except of course to the worst possible men before he arrived on Isla Sagrario. So he expects very little for himself and has learned to accept random connections with passing sailors when he can, but those moments are few and far between.

One evening he is sent to the shore to salvage a mass of debris that has washed ashore to look for anything of value. After sorting through the flotsam some bright colors catch his eye and after clearing away more of the mess he finds a merman has been caught and he is stunned and intrigued by the beautiful creature he has discovered. I loved how he immediately felt protective of the merman and his first instinct is to hide him away to recover and then return him to the ocean. Francis is a good man who has lived a hard life with no breaks and this bit of unexpected beauty and excitement is well written and I could feel his excitement and trepidation in turn.

We learn the merman’s name is Wick (or at least that’s as close as the language barrier allows Francis to figure out) and Francis spends the night and following day nursing Wick back to health to be able to return him back to the sea under the cover of night. They can’t communicate in any real way, but their time together is still sweet and meaningful and when Francis releases Wick I couldn’t help but be heartbroken for the loss of the brief moment of light in Francis’ otherwise bleak life. Francis is devastated in the fairytale way that is all consuming, dramatic, but totally believable given the setting of the story. Reading about his torment is awful but he never comes across as pathetic or over the top in his misery.

One night he feels an inexplicable calling to the sea where he had released Wick and HAS to return there immediately. It is very dark, the waves are crashing and Francis walks straight out into the ocean, he doesn’t really know why, he just does because there is something there he must follow. The moody feel of the moment is well written and adds to the trepidation I felt for Francis and what was to come. Francis is whisked away to an underwater cave and discovers it is Wick who has come for him.

Wick and Francis end up spending every night together in their underwater sanctuary and while they can’t carry on a conversation, they fall in love, again in that fairytale way that makes the implausible possible. Francis is the ultimate gentlemen with Wick and while they get physical, the depth of the respect and love they feel for each other is obvious.

One night their meeting feels different to Francis and the sense of foreboding is overwhelming and after their night together Wick tells Francis, in the halting English he is slowly learning, something that Francis doesn’t completely understand, but he gets the gist enough to know that the happiness he has known the last couple of weeks are coming to an end and the sorrow and heartbreak I could see coming were just too sad and my heart broke for Francis.

I can’t tell you what Wick said, or say any additional specifics about the story because this is a fairytale you have to read. It had all the elements I want to read in a grownup fairytale, there was a true gentleman hero, an enchanted love and a setting that I could feel as if I were there. The emotions were big, big love, big heartbreak and there was a magical happily ever after in the truest sense of the words. I highly recommend this short story to bring a little fantasy interlude into your reading.

A copy of this story was provided by the author for an honest review.