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REVIEW:  The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper Huguley

REVIEW: The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper Huguley


“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Oberlin, Ohio – 1844

Lawrence Stewart is a rare man. Raised with his grandmother’s Miami Indian tribe, as a Negro he has consistently walked between two worlds most of his life. He devotes his time and study to becoming a lawyer, fully intending to obtain justice for the ousted Miami Indians. No Negro man has accomplished these things before, but he is not daunted. He studies for his exams as he rides circuit through the backwoods of Ohio, handing out justice to people who cannot easily reach a courthouse. His life is perfectly set until one June day….

Aurelia “Realie” Baxter made her way from enslavement in Georgia to the free land Lake Huron in Ohio. Far from happy as a slave doing the bidding of a woman cooped up in a house all day, Realie is a bona fide tomboy with a special gift with horses. Now, she is so close to freedom in Canada, she can smell it, but her plans are interrupted when Lawrence shoots her…by mistake….

Lawrence cannot study encumbered with the care of an enslaved woman, but he’s responsible for her injury…

Realie wants to get to Canada, but Lawrence won’t let her get away in trying to help her…

One chance meeting can change your life from what you thought you wanted….to what you really need.

Dear Ms. Huguley,

Your recent post to our Open Thread for Authors brought your historical series to my attention and when Sunita mentioned she was looking into the full length novel, I decided to try the novella.

I was slightly put off by some awkwardness in the first chapter – Lawrence seems to be intensely searching for his horse but initially only staying on the tavern porch while doing so and then frets about the time it will take him to chase it down and thus risk making him late for his next circuit justice appearance. He’d certainly be much later if he has to walk, right? But Realie’s take-no-nonsense attitude towards this “fancy man” made me want to persevere to see more of her. Thankfully once the story really gets going, I didn’t notice much more of this.

Lawrence and Realie are from two different worlds yet not. Though Lawrence has never known slavery, as a mixed race, brown skinned man he’s had an uphill climb in getting people to accept him as a lawyer. Realie’s blunt truths about life as a slave make him realize how little he truly knows about the sort of life she’s endured and what drove her to run. Although she can irritate him with her attitudes and assumptions, he slowly comes to admire her determination and fierce will to be free.

Realie can’t understand how Lawrence might be able to help her legally and finds his notions and genteel mannerisms bizarre in contrast to what she’s experienced at the hands of men up until then. She trusts no one and only reluctantly stays with Lawrence, or Lawyer as she calls him, while giving everyone else the side-eye. Even the people who help shelter her still speak in front of her as if she’s not there and it’s only through their loan to Lawrence that she can be bought to freedom.

I thought the initial clash between the two – she’s trying to steal his horse to make the last push to Canada and he accidentally shoots her in the arm – and their subsequent misunderstandings were realistic. Realie can’t afford to let down her guard and Lawrence bristles at what he sees as her stubbornness and views of him as a man who must be paid back in kind for helping her. Though they had started moving towards an understanding and appreciation of each other, they were separated shortly after at a point where, from how I saw it, their feelings were still forming. Then suddenly when they’re back together, they’re in love. That part felt too rushed to me.

Realie’s experience as a slave is not sugar coated and the very matter of fact way it’s described made all the more impact. Subtle touches drove home her reality – she gets mad at Lawrence for not caring enough to know the horse’s name, just as her master never could keep his slaves names straight and she always has to weigh and judge everyone’s actions because words and promises are cheap and often not kept for slaves. Just walking down a street in Ohio where and when she wants to go is new and wonderful experience for her.

I was confused by Lawrence’s white mentor and Realie’s former owner. The Ohio abolitionist still thinks Realie might steal the silver and only reluctantly loans Lawrence the money to free her while Mr. Milford seems almost happy that Realie will be free and has found love. Perhaps it’s just that neither is quite what I expected.

Lawrence and Realie both believe in God though Realie feels she’s seen little evidence of God caring much for her. Lawrence on the other hand is a deeply religious man who prays with meaning and is determined to not enter any physical relationship with Realie before a Christian marriage.

To be honest, I had to keep reading past the first scene as the way the characters act and – I’m not sure what the proper writing term is – move through the scene is a touch awkward. The ending felt a bit rushed and I didn’t truly feel I’d seen these two fall in love. Respect yes but the love was too fast. Still I enjoyed Realie’s grit and Lawrence’s core decency, the historical details and this opportunity to see persons of color as the main characters of the story. B-


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REVIEW:  No Angel by Clare London

REVIEW: No Angel by Clare London


BLURB: Felix’s life is full, juggling a supportive homelife for his disabled brother, a job as a care home assistant, a brand new boyfriend—and now he’s had his arse pinched by a lewd gay ghost on the late night bus!

If only that were the end of it. But Bryn the ghost follows him home and wheedles himself into Felix’s life. That includes sharing his shameless opinions on the patronizing way Felix treats his brother, on how Felix should eat more food and put some flesh on his bones, and—worst of all—exactly how Felix should be getting down to it with his seriously sexy new boyfriend Mickey! And in between all that, Bryn finds time to leer at Felix himself and make outrageous suggestions on what they’d be doing if Bryn wasn’t…well…ghostly.

Felix considers he’s a tolerant guy. But the last thing he needs now is to get wrapped up in the mystery of a missing teenage girl, the inhabitants of a local squat, and conversations with a fire-and-brimstone old preacher. Yet with a nudge or six from Bryn, the help of his brother Patrick, and some cozy loving from Mickey, Felix starts to wonder how he ever thought his life was busy before!

Genres: Gay / Paranormal / Ghosts / Hauntings / Voyeurism

Heat Level: 2

Length: Extended Novella (39k words)

Dear Clare London,

I like ghost stories and was very interested in reading one from you. Bryn the ghost was probably my favorite character in this novella. I liked his forceful, flawed personality, and I could see that he had a good heart. One could see the overwhelming loneliness he was hiding behind his sharp tongue and his attraction to Felix.

“::What do you mean, just one of those “out of body” things? That’s a shitty way to talk about a bloke you just travelled home with. Hell’s bells, if anyone’s got a right to talk about out of body things, it’s ME not you::
Felix said bolt upright on the bed, staring into darkness. “What the hell! You again? I left you on the bus!”
The Voice chuckled, though it sounded sharper than before. :: I was never really ON the bus, see? So you couldn’t really leave me there, could you? Besides , I enjoyed my chat with you so much I thought we might continue some more.::
“I’m going to sleep. I need to sleep.” Felix shook his head. “I’m talking to myself in the middle of my bedroom in the dark at two thirty in the morning. I’ve flipped”

I was ready to see where his character arc would go at the end, but unfortunately I felt that it went absolutely nowhere. I was left with the question – “what was the point?” I understand that this is a novella, but at 39000 words I thought that the ending did not have to be so abrupt.

I started wondering if maybe Bryn was supposed to be a supporting character and Felix was the main character, therefore Felix would be the one to have a character arc of some sort and Bryn was not due one. And Felix did have some growth and change, with Bryn helping him to achieve it. The problem was that I did not really care for Felix, so his character change did not make much of the impression on me if any. Actually, I think I should say not that I did not care for Felix, because he really was a good guy, I just did not understand him.

When we meet Felix, he is just about to pursue a relationship with Mikey, his best friend, only Felix is not sure whether he wants to take their relationship to a new, more than friendly level. A couple of times Mikey asks for more and Felix blows him of and I did not exactly understand Felix’ motivations. I know he kept saying that he was not worthy, but it just did not compute with me. As written on the page, Felix did not come off to me as lacking in self-esteem, him saying so couple of times notwithstanding – he did not *act* like that. In fact, he seemed to act the opposite way with Bryn, as well as when he involved himself in trying to find the granddaughter of one of his patients in the care home. In short, he confused me.

I thought Mikey was nice, but he was just not a very well developed character. He was a sweet, confident guy who clearly loved and wanted Felix very much. I guess I just wanted to see more of what these two saw in each other.

I actually thought that the suspense was the best part of the story. I thought that despite the seeming simplicity the couple of scenes in the house where they were trying to locate Sally (missing granddaughter) were really spooky. I thought that the story was paced really well too, but I just did not *get* the characters as well as I would have liked to.

Grade C.

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