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REVIEW:  Indigo Footsteps, Spatters of Red by J.Fally

REVIEW: Indigo Footsteps, Spatters of Red by J.Fally

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At first glance, Carter Cross and Josh Lessard seem like an ordinary couple. They make love and fight, know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, deal with the “in-laws,” and share their life and home. They even work together. One day, they’ll probably die together – possibly a lot sooner than they’d prefer, given their profession as members of a paramilitary special unit formed to thwart a gory apocalypse. While Carter and Josh are used to cheating death on a daily basis, this time the odds are stacked against them. Between a deadly mission to complete and Josh’s grandma coming for a visit, it’ll take a miracle to get them out as horror invades not only a major city but also their home.

Dear J. Fally,

Right after I have read “Bone rider” I went searching for any indication that you were planning to write another book – any book. I did not find much, but I did remember you mentioning in one Good reads interview that you were writing a short story about Carter and Josh and that possibly, maybe you would write more novelettes about these men. If this is still holds true, I cannot wait for more stories, if not, I think this short story/novelette (length is listed as 45 pages) stands alone very well.

I practically stopped reading m/m short stories because I was tired of finishing a story and thinking something along the lines of: I need more character development, I need a less abrupt ending, and why oh why does this read as an outline of the long work…again. But after “Bone rider,” if you were to write a medical prescription, I would have said that I will give it a try and I am happy that I gave this story a chance.

Carter and Josh are a couple, and the story starts with a funny domestic scene showing them fighting over what color to paint their living room.

“VIOLET.” Carter stared at the can of paint on the floor, clearly doubtful. “You’re going to paint our living room violet.”
Josh, undaunted, tossed him a brush. “No, dickhead. We are going to paint our living room violet. Unless you want to do it in green instead, but the only green they had was this weird pea-soup shade, so I do not recommend it.”
“What’s wrong with white?”
“I don’t know.” Josh shrugged and went for the paint can with a screwdriver. This was going to end badly, Carter could tell but he made no move to intervene yet. He did not put down the brush, though. Just in case. He might have to move fast to prevent total disaster. “Don’t know, don’t care,” Josh elaborated, distracted as he tried to figure out where to apply his lever. “Memere wants gay bliss, Memere will get gay bliss. Gay people like color; we are painting the walls. Can’t be that hard.”
“Who says gay people have to like color? I’m gay. I like white. It’s neutral. It’s a non-color. You can paint over any stains and nobody will ever notice.” It also made for a very pretty contrast when he put his dark hand on Josh’s winter-white ass, but this was not the time to get distracted. A horrible suspicion reared its ugly head.
“Wait. Did you go on the Internet again? Did you google?“

***
“Josh. How many cans of paint did you buy? How many fucking colors did you buy?”
The handsome face half-buried in the crook of Carter’s shoulder nudged a bit closer, the first hints of an afternoon scruff scratching lightly against his throat. “Dunno. How many colors are in the rainbow?”
Christ on cracker”

I think readers will see easily that Carter and Josh are deeply in love, but we also see and hear mentions that their professions are very dangerous. At about the fifteen percent mark of the story they are called to participate in a mission – we do not know the details right away, but we know that they will have to neutralize a mob. We learn a little later just how very dangerous this mob of the paranormal variety is and how many of those missions Carter and Josh and their team have done in the past and will do in the future. The story becomes a heroic action/adventure at this point and I loved how seamlessly domestic bliss was transformed into something else, but I wonder if some readers may dislike the change of focus.

“They were, after all, only playing at being civilians. It was an indulgence, a gift for a couple of soldiers likely to die young and horribly. They could’ve asked for a mansion if they’d wanted one, and they’d have gotten it…private airstrip in their backyard included.”
Except I did not feel that the focus ever changed completely – even though the action sequences are given every attention they deserve, we never stop seeing just how very much these two men are in love and how even amongst the darkest horror they try to keep each other safe while doing their job.

Josh and Carter come back from this mission alive, and the last part of the story again shows them in their home and dealing with Josh’s relatives. But I would argue that now both aspects of their lives are shown to be intertwined together, and the fragility of their happiness is something that made me choke up a little. Heck, I cried over their dead comrades and I only had known those characters for several sentences. I thought the overall pacing of the story – the excitement of the adventure and the domestic banter switching up was done very well.

Recommended.

Grade B

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REVIEW:  Club Justice by Mara McBain

REVIEW: Club Justice by Mara McBain

Dear Ms. McBain:

I have heard it number of varying opinions about these books but someone gifted me a copy and once it was on my Kindle I couldn’t resist. The most intriguing part of this book is that it surrounds an established couple who have been married for over 20 years.

Club Justice (Trinity Falls #1) by Mara McBain
After Zeke Brawer got out of the Marines he returned to his small town, joined the Cleveland Police Department, and started up a motorcycle club with a few other Marines with whom he had served. When he shoots pedophile during the course of investigation, he comes under scrutiny of internal affairs. There is one specific officer, Kramer,  in internal affairs who dislikes Brawer quite a bit and wants to see Brawer taken down.

Kramer from IA begins to apply pressure at every point in Brawer’s life. His books are audited.  Warrants are served at the Lord of Mayhem club house.  The state health inspector does a surprise visit to the bar and restaurant Brawer owns with his wife. And everyone associated with the motorcycle club begins to suffer petty harassments from government officials.

Fortunately the club is clean but each pressure point strains the relationships that Brawer has, not only with his wife and his children, but his associates in the club.  Worse, his wife becomes a target for physical danger.

There are a lot of surprising things that happen in this book a couple of them very shocking. I do question the author’s decisions as a relates to the explicitness of some of the scenes that were included. The opening scene, for instance is a very explicit sex scene between a pedophile and his young victim as he is violating her (ball gag and restraints are used). Strangely this forced sex scene and a later one is almost  more explicit than the love scenes between the two main protagonists.  I felt the first one, in particular, was quite gratuitous because while there were dark things that occurred, those dark moments were quickly glossed over.  For instance, Zeke does not suffer any emotional repercussions from seeing the rape.  In later scenes following other dark moments, the emotional fallout seems limited to a few words.  The easy compensation of the emotional conflicts serve to do two things.  First, they make the conflicts seem gratuitous and second, they diminish those moments and lessen the impact.

While the story does deal with Zeke and Ginny’s marriage, the story is more about the larger family created by the Lords of Mayhem and their bonds and loyalty.  Moriah Jovan equated motorcycle clubs with werewolves.  You can really see the dynamic that she’s referring to in this particular story where you have a family outside of the family created by these bonds within the club. The story is definitely about the king and queen of the Lords even go so far as to refer to them both affectionately and disparagingly in those terms.

One of the weakest parts is Zeke because he acts so foolishly throughout much of the book. He does not view the internal affairs person as much of a danger despite how this individual is able to an act all sorts of problems in Zeke’s life. He also knows that he helped create animosity between himself and the internal affairs individual.  His inattention to this person led to some very terrible consequences and you really didn’t see suffer emotionally in the way that you would expect that someone in his position to have done.

“Simply put, I made his life a living hell,” Zeke said, eyes narrowing defensively. “I took every opportunity to best or humiliate him, to show him that I was every bit as good as he was, if not better.”

How Zeke could not recognize that in return Kramer would want to do everything to bring down Zeke seemed quite odd.  And, given how Zeke was willing to circumvent the law in the beginning, his determination to let the law run its course later on seemed odd.  But I loved watching Zeke and Ginny interact even though their roles are largely traditional ones.

One of the most interesting characters is Mox, their son’s best friend and a boy that they took in at the age of 12. His storyline has a big impact in the story and I found his character to be so interesting at times that he dwarfed the hero.  The storytelling voice is strong and if a reader is interested in reading about family dynamics, motorcycle clubs, and established marriages surviving some of the worst occurrences, this is worth picking up.  But it’s a flawed story.  C+

Best regards,

Jane

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