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GUEST REVIEW: Cold Front by Ann Somerville

The following is a guest review from Sirius, one of the reviewers for Reviews by JesseWave site. Sirius loves all kinds of mm/gay books – contemporary romances, romantic mysteries, fantasy, scifi, historicals.

Warning – there is a long and horrible torture scene. I was not able to re-read it when I was re-reading the book in preparation for this review. However, I thought it was an integral part of the story, not gratuitous in any way, but beware if it upsets you.

Cold Front by Ann SomervilleFirst, a disclaimer for readers: – I am a *huge* fan of this author. Her writing works for me in a vast majority of her books, out of her rather long back list I have only read one book that I disliked (and not because I found it badly written) and just one book which I was not able to finish. Every other book of hers I liked, and quite a few of her books I truly loved. What I am trying to say that I am probably a bit more biased than a “regular” reader, so please keep this in mind and consider seeking out other reviews as well.

And now, on to the review. As the blurb says, this book is the first part of the Pindone Files series. It could easily be read as a standalone, but in order to get the complete picture of Dek and Ren’s journey towards each other you should also read the sequel , which is called “Unsettled Conditions.”

Deklan (Dek) and Rensire (Ren) are basically cops of the future, who meet each other in BDSM club and have a very memorable one night stand. They end up working together and investigating the series of gruesome murders. I do not want to reveal more of the plot because of the possible spoilers.

In terms of genre I would characterize the book as a romance and mystery set in a complex world in the future, with some important paranormal elements built in.

The world is very vividly drawn. There are empaths, telekinetics, para-kinetics in this world and how they treat people with the talents is one of the major themes in the book. In fact, I would say that people with talents are the “others” of this world and this is where the tolerance of the rest of the population gets tested in a major way. But this is just one feature of this world. The world-building overall was superb in my opinion. I could feel the harshness of the weather. Religions were one of the most interesting that I ever encountered in sci-fi/fantasy books, it was a world which stayed in my head for a very long time. One of the major religions in this world is Spiritism. One of the major beliefs in this religion is that spirit survives the body and can undergo multiple reincarnations.

The story is told from both Dek’s and Ren’s POVs. They are amongst my favorite mm couples because in many aspects these guys are my ultimate romantic heroes, but one of the main reasons why this book left such a strong impression on me was because of their sex life.

It is ironic because much more often than not I prefer less or no sex scenes in my mm romances, but this story has influenced the way I choose my reading material. Basically, this book made me start reading BDSM romances again. I have zero personal experience with BDSM, but I have read some really bad books that I hated and I decided that if every book portrays BDSM like that, I am not interested.

But when I read this book, I saw two men who may have never seen each other before they met in the club and decided to have sex and engage in some BDSM fun, but who treated each other with respect. I saw a Dom whose main desire when they were playing seemed to please the Sub. Of course Dek enjoyed their encounter, but he was not making stupid assumptions about what Ren wanted to get from their encounter before Dek actually asked him. This was such a breath of fresh air for me.

There are not that many sex scenes in this book. Most of them are in the first two short stories/chapters of the book, which take place before the main story “Cold Front” begins, but each of them was passionate and fun to read for me.

The book is as much a mystery as it is a romance, in my opinion. I loved the mystery; I thought it was very well done. Both Dek and Ren are basically police officers and unlike the case in some mystery-romances, they actually investigate their cases. The investigation was long and , complex, and the resolution of the mystery managed to fool me. It is very hard to fool me in mystery novels, if I may say so, but this author managed to do that.

Another reason why romance worked so well for me is because it was woven into their mystery investigation. We get to know the main characters not only as two people in love, or two people falling in love, but we get to know them as individuals, while they are doing their jobs, and we can see their fallings and their successes. In other words, we get to know what is important to them outside of bed and they also get to know each other in more depth because they were working on the case together.

As I mentioned previously, the book can be read as a standalone, but I cannot recommend the sequel highly enough as well, especially in light of what is happens toward to the end of the book. [spoiler]There is no cliffhanger of any kind and it ends as happily as it could in order for the ending to work, but the second book takes the events of this book to the all new level.[/spoiler] There were several supporting characters (both men and women) whom I wanted to get to know better, and I would have enjoyed reading their own stories as well. A

Sincerely,

Sirius

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Sirius

Sirius started reading books when she was four and reading and discussing books is still her favorite hobby. One of her very favorite gay romances is Tamara Allen’s Whistling in the Dark. In fact, she loves every book written by Tamara Allen. Amongst her other favorite romance writers are Ginn Hale, Nicole Kimberling, Josephine Myles, Taylor V. Donovan and many others. Sirius’ other favorite genres are scifi, mystery and Russian classics. Sirius also loves travelling, watching movies and long slow walks.

25 Comments

  1. Tamara
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 12:22:52

    I’ve enjoyed several of Ann’s novels, but haven’t read this one yet. I tend to avoid bdsm because I still have trouble understanding the romantic angle. I will, however, admit that your review intrigues me.

  2. Sirius
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 13:31:14

    Hi Tamara, have you read Remastering Jerna? If you did and were okay with BDSM angle, I am pretty sure you will be ok with it in this book, because it significantly less intense IMO. Torture is intense though, not sure how high your tolerance for that.

  3. Sunita
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 13:35:14

    Nice job, Sirius! I don’t read BDSM in romance either, but like Tamara I’m leaning toward this one, in my case for the mystery angle. I somehow missed this book in her backlist; I’m always looking for good mystery-romances. I read Interstitial and thought it was pretty good but her voice didn’t really gel for me. But for a mystery …

  4. Sirius
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 13:38:21

    @Sunita: Thanks Sunita for your help :-). Check the sample on smashwords, it gives either 20 or 30% to sample, I believe and should be lengthy enough to figure out whether in this one her voice will work for you or not. I am assuming Amazon’s sample will be just as long I guess, since the book is self published, but have no idea.

  5. Estara
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 13:42:11

    *Ann Somerville Love* I haven’t read as many of her books yet, but her Darshian Tales (which are set on the same world as the Pindone files, only hundreds of years earlier) are some of my most favourite epic fantasies (and there’s one rape scene in the third book which is incredibly well-written and awful and I flip past that – but it really was needed for the development and everything). Kei’s Gift is my favourite of the four but Home Ground is a close second.

    I also liked the standalone fantasy Many Roads Home a lot and the sf cop story for Samhain, Somathestesia.

  6. Sirius
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 13:46:24

    @Estara:

    I love, love Darshian tales and Kei’s gift. Arman and Kei are also amongst my all time favorite couples. And I enjoyed Somathestesia as well. Going Home I do not remember, do you mean Many Roads Home? If that’s the one, I liked it okay, but it is not amongst my favorites.

  7. Estara
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 13:49:01

    @Sirius: Yes, I misremembered the title, luckily the edit function allowed me to correct it ^^. I also liked her two “Fluffy” contemporary m/m romances and the first two Encounters books. I didn’t like the plot of the third one at all.

  8. Sirius
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 13:50:57

    @Estara: I adored the first Fluffy book, second one I liked a little less, but also liked very much, it is just animals felt less magical in that one, but human story I really enjoyed.

    Huh, you reminded me that I have not read the third Encounters boook, thanks.

  9. DS
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 14:53:24

    She writes well. I haven’t read all of her books, but I have no qualms about picking one up.

  10. Sirius
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 15:48:55

    @DS: I hope you enjoy it if you decide to give this book a chance.

  11. Raine
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 16:41:42

    Great review and I’ll be checking out the extract to hear the voices. Whereever you go Sirius you end up costing me money……….

  12. Merrian
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 17:51:39

    Another example of our similar book loves Sirius and Estara:) I haven’t read ‘Cold Front’ and ‘Unsettled Conditions’ for awhile but they are on my re-read list this year. One of the things Ann does really well is realise her character’s world in a nuanced way that engages me as a reader in wanting to know about the place and culture. I really love how the characters are shaped and influenced by their cultural worlds.

    ‘I was an alien cat toy’ sounds light hearted but it isn’t. It illustrates this strength really well though. As a story about a lone man, Temin crashed and isolated on a planet we get a story about how love alone isn’t enough and that doing the hard thing is the right thing. All this is driven by our immersion in an alien-to-us the reader and to Temin, culture. There isn’t any action the lovers can take that overcomes this bigger reality and yet this is a really lovely and hopeful story.

    I think Ann’s books are most often about friendship.

  13. Sirius
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 18:21:48

    @Merrian: Oh “I was an alien cat toy” is my other favorite of hers, although for romance reader I would have issued a warning about ending, if I were writing a review. No, am not giving out the ending here :-).

    I absolutely agree with you that her” characters are shaped and influenced by their cultural worlds” and that this is one of the strengths of her work. Too many books that I have read have the characters living, acting their love story in such thinly built worlds that one wonders how they became the people they are.

  14. Sirius
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 18:24:20

    @Raine: Awww you are sweet, thank you :)

  15. Heather Massey
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 19:07:10

    Sold! Downloaded! Thank you!

  16. Sirius
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 22:03:26

    @Heather Massey: I hope you will enjoy it.

  17. Estara
    Feb 04, 2013 @ 09:10:05

    @Sirius: “Too many books that I have read have the characters living, acting their love story in such thinly built worlds that one wonders how they became the people they are.”

    This! Very eloquently put. I’m losing patience with these sort of books more and more in recent years.

    @Merrian: Hehee. This means the books must be good.

  18. Ann Somerville
    Feb 04, 2013 @ 20:19:18

    Thanks, Sirius, and DA, for posting this – what a nice surprise! Just commenting to let people know that if the BDSM/torture stuff is a bit too strong for them, there is an AU of the Cold Front story (for which you need no pre-knowledge or to have read Cold Front), called ‘Walk a Lonesome Road’, which doesn’t have the same ick factor, but does feature the same characters.

  19. cs
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 16:45:26

    I read another series by this author and whilst I thought it was okay it was too short and lacked depth. I’m not a big fan of reading sci-fi and I definitely don’t like reading BDSM either. I wish the author wrote contemporary on a selfish point, but I’m glad you enjoyed the book and it’s great to see another mm review up on at DA.

  20. Sirius
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 19:43:54

    @cs: Thanks. Definitely, if you do not like scifi and BDSM this book is not for you. Just out of curiosity may I ask which series of hers have you read? Simply because while I have read some shorts by her, I have not read any short series, and vast majority of her works is very very long. Just wondering if there are other stories by her that I may have missed, thats all.

  21. Sirius
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 19:45:33

    @Ann Somerville: Thanks .

  22. Sirius
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 19:57:27

    @Estara: We keep agreeing with each other :-)

  23. cs
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 08:49:55

    @Sirius: I like her writing style which is a shame because she writes genres I don’t like :( I read her Unnatural Selection series. I bought the bumper edition, but each story is quite short despite having an interesting plot and characters. You may have read it?

  24. Sirius
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 10:23:52

    cs, oh thank you. Yes I have read those, or I should say I have read the first and second book in the series. I liked the first one a lot, second one I thought mystery was okay but too prosaic and the third one was the book I could not finish. I read only a little bit of that book though.

  25. cs
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 18:23:46

    @Sirius: I liked the idea of the vampire-thing but I didn’t find Anton developed enough. I also liked book one but the rest suffered from their length and there was lack of overall story depth.

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