Guest Review: Smolder by Remy J. Alan

The fire. The burn. The smolder.

Haunted by who he is and what he refuses to become, Mike returns annually to the hotel where he first succumbed to his deepest desires and realized his greatest fears. Falling in love was so easy so many years ago, when Luc’s masculine vitality and tender acceptance sparked feelings in Mike he’d never before imagined.

Torn between his true passion and his religious indoctrination, Mike confronts his struggle and suffers the tragic consequence, branding him heart and soul. Can he find redemption before his Family extinguishes the final, smoldering ember?

Guest Reviewer - NeRdyWYRM

Highly Unexpected

I was pleasantly surprised by this short. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting the twist, although the MCs names did tweak my hmm-meter enough that I was surprised but not in cardiac arrest when things shook out the way they did. There was a thread of sadness running through this little nugget of a story which, paradoxically, morphs into an oddly hopeful ending where things remain mournfully unresolved.

The ending left us with some hope that something might eventually work out even though it’s not at all clear whether or not that is ultimately advisable. What can I say? I always root for the underdogs and I’m a firm believer that ‘bad’ guys aren’t always all ‘bad’ and ‘good’ guys are rarely all ‘good’. I’m morally ambiguous that way sometimes.

The fact that the present, chronologically speaking, is one-sided on-page and there’s no HFN or HEA is not necessarily a bad thing. The lack of resolution isn’t strictly a drawback here because the plot is inherently a long-game kind of scenario despite the relative brevity of the story itself. The possible ramifications of making a bad decision in the scenario the MCs are enmeshed in are, quite literally, potential world-enders. Like, Armageddon world-enders.

I did knock the rating down a notch because the ‘relationship’ part of the story was all flashback and nothing new happened in ‘real time’. However, none of my observations thus far are meant to be construed as criticism. So, unless any of that is a dealbreaker for you as a reader … well, this title is worth reading just for the fact that it’s surprising. In the world of repetitive themes and predictable plots, in my opinion being ‘surprising’ is enough of an accomplishment to make reading it a no brainer.

Given the limited page-time, I’m ultimately satisfied with how it ended, but I was a little disappointed because I was intrigued enough to want more. Hopefully that’s something on offer in the future from this author, but who knows? If nothing else, I got to read a little bit of a mindbender and connected with the character(s) enough along the way to care what happens to them. You can’t ask for much more than that from a short story.

This review is cross-posted on Goodreads here.
More reviews by NeRdyWYRM can be found at Goodreads on my review shelf.

Images (when present) may be subject to copyright.

An ARC copy of this title was provided for an honest review.

Trivia Question: Name the bittersweet historical tale that features two Spartan warriors. 10 pts

Random winner will be chosen 11/24. I'll be traveling all will so I will try to have winners notified no later than 6 pm EST.

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