: Carved in Flesh
: Blaine D. Arden, Angelia Sparrow, Naomi Brooks, M.A. Church, Logan Zachary, Kaje Harper, and T.C. Mill
: Nathie Block
: Storm Moon Press
: Publisher | Amazon
: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Contemporary
People often say that the true perfection in the human form is in its imperfections. Scars are visceral reminders of a person’s past, a sign of an event that can never fade. Whether it was gained in combat, a traumatic experience, or part of a ritual with a lover, scars are the ultimate labels. They leave a permanent mark on the body and spirit that, one way or another, change a person forever.
Veld is an Elf who has known for years that his mute friend Oren is spoken for; the design of scars spanning Oren’s torso reminds him with every look. When Oren’s vowed, Haram, is killed, Veld must not only help to prove his own innocence, but also tread carefully as he discovers Oren’s Right and Haram’s last request. Next, Tiocfaidh Ár Lá—”our day will come”—was the cry in Joe Colson’s heart, even as he fled his beloved Ireland to hide from his sins in the States. He’d assumed his chances for love were long past when a much younger man rekindles something in him he’d thought long dead.
A near-fatal car accident leaves superstar model Ashley’s face permanently scarred and his career into a tailspin. Only his lover, Will, can pull him out of his depression, provided his affection hasn’t turned to Faded Love. Young Timothy has come to Larry for Scar Therapy. But Tim is seeking healing of a different kind, and Larry finds that he has his own wounds that need tending. Garvin’s scars are a Gift of the Goddess, seared into his skin as a beacon to find his kidnapped love, Nyle. Rescuing him, though, may entail a deeper wound than even the Goddess would bestow. Finally, when Kanovan returns from his off-world tour, his lover Mirin finds a lover’s mark he hadn’t expected. Mirin must re-evaluate how much Kanovan means to him, and what he must do to make Kanovan always Sojourn Home to him.
This was a tricky anthology to rate, every story had its good and bad and the bad was enough I couldn’t ignore them but that’s a personal thing. There were a few stories that started out great then fizzled as they neared the end which saddened me they really were good stories. I think there is enough variation of story types that everyone will find one or two or three that are special to them.
Oren’s Right by Blaine D. Arden
This story is set in the magical world of fairies and elves it’s a great little fantasy that tells of friendship and love. Veld is an elf that is in love with his mute friend Oren but Oren is avowed to Hasam. Veld knows he can never have the type of relationship with Oren as he would like but he can be the friend that Oren deserves after his Hasam is killed. When Veld is arrested for the attempted murder of the Healer Rames the story turns into a mini who done it.
Oren and Veld were such endearing characters the bond of friendship between them was strong and I could tell that Oren loved Veld the same way that Veld loved Oren. I thought this story was well written and it drew me in from the start. It was a short magical story that I wish was longer, the world Blaine Arden created was intriguing and I was very sorry to see it end. This one was special.
Tiocfaidh Ár Lá by Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks
Joe runs to the States from his home in Ireland after he gets caught up in some trouble there. He wants to escape his past with a new home and name. His life has been a tragic and lonely one until he meets young Ryan.
This is a sweet and at the same time heartbreaking story. I did enjoy reading it but I did think it moved along a bit too quickly there was too much story put into such a small space. I loved Joe and Ryan, at first they seemed an unlikely paring but they soon won me over. Theirs is a May December romance with Joe being almost twice Ryan’s age. Ryan is an amazing young man. He was able to see past Joe’s visible scars from his violent past and love the man for who he is. This story has a very sweet HEA but fell a bit short with me.
Faded Love by M.A. Church
Ashley’s a young man that is on top of the world both professional and personally. He’s a big time model who wants for nothing including men. Will is a bit older and hasn’t had his big break yet but he loves Ashley with every fibre of his being. When an accident turns Ashley’s life upside he needs to learn to start again his old life is gone or so he thinks. He depends on Will to see him through the after math of the accident.
This was a sweet story at times a bit too sweet. The characters were likeable and it’s definitely a story of love conquers all but something was missing. I felt the love between these men and was happy they were able to work through their problems to reach their HEA but it all seemed a bit too easy. Cute story though and it will resonate with a lot of readers I just wish there had been more meat to the story.
Scar Therapy by Logan Zachary
Larry is a Scar Therapist his new patient Tim is just recuperating from a violent attack, he’s nervous and understandably skittish. Larry is really good at what he does which is lessen the pain and appearance of scars and Tim has a lot.
This story hit me in all the wrong places. I have a lot of trouble with enjoying a story where there is a Doctor/Patient type relationship. I know these stories are just fantasy and a lot of people enjoy them but for me it’s something that crosses a line and has always made me uncomfortable. Larry is a Scar Therapist so not a Doctor but someone who should have the same ethics that doctors are supposed to have. Right from their first appointment Larry was ogling Tim and that set me on edge. It’s a bit difficult for me to review this short when I have those kinds of feelings. I did try to look past that and underneath there is a good story. I liked both characters, Larry less so, I felt so bad for Jim I just wanted to hold him in the worst way when he finally tells Larry how he really got those awful scars. This story also contains that witchy bitchy mother we see so often in stories and sometimes I admit to them being necessary but in this one I don’t quite understand why she’s in it. She has one scene where she does her bitch act (she did it really well) and that was pretty much it. She does pop up again but she’s just so unnecessary to this story she could have been removed completely and it wouldn’t have altered the story at all. Tim was such a broken young man and the type of character that I’m drawn to if only Larry hadn’t of been his therapist and their meetings hadn’t of taken place in Larry’s office complete with a hospital gown. In my opinion this story isn’t a romance either it’s just two guys lusting after each other and with Tim being such a damaged young man it made me squirm a bit. In short change the therapist/patient relationship, give Larry a different profession. Underneath I could see he was a generous and caring person which was something Tim desperately needed. With that changed this would have been an entirely different story one that I’m sure I would love.
Gift of the Goddess by Kaje Harper
Nyles is a blacksmith and Garvin is a young boy of 16 that is on a trek with his father and brother. The wheel on their wagon breaks and they go to Nyles to have it repaired. Garvin’s father is a tyrant he treats Garvin like a slave and has no use for him. When Nyles witness Garvin being beaten by his father he steps in and asks if he could have Garvin as his apprentice and a deal is made. Move ahead 10 years and we see these two as a couple. Nyles is kidnapped and Garvis pleads to a Goddess he doesn’t really believe in to help him find Nyles. That Goddess’s gift is scars that appear on him in the form of a map he must follow to find his one true love.
The story started out really strong, I loved Garvin and Nyles and the gift the Goddess gives intrigued me. The adventure and rescue Garvin undertakes was hard to read at times (yes tears were shed) but very well done. I loved how even though Garvin was a small slight young man he wasn’t portrayed that way at all. He had strength and heart galore and in some things he was much stronger than Nyles. His character was a definite departure from the stereo typical one that appears in a lot of M/M stories. It’s an interesting story and an enjoyable read with a few twists until the end, it fell short like something was left out and that left me a little disappointed.
Sojourn Home by T.C. Mill
Mirin and Kanovan are married and both are musicians but Kanovan spends a lot of time off world separated from his spouse. On his arrival home after one of his trips Mirin finds a lovers mark on Kanovan, it’s time to re-evaluate their relationship.
A bit of a scifi or maybe futuristic is a better word which is something I love to read but I really struggled with this story. The beginning was extremely hard for me to get into I found it confusing and hard to understand for a good part of it I had no idea what was really going on. That made it difficult to connect with the characters and their story. By the time I got to the end it did all made sense but by that time it was too late for me to feel involved in any way with the MC’s or the story. Knowing what I know now if I were to re-read this story I’m sure my thoughts would differ somewhat but for me stories need to reel me in at the beginning, there are some days I just want to read to escape and if the story makes me think too hard or confuses me you’ve lost me unfortunately.