4 Stars, Amy Rae Durreson, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Lord Heliodor’s Retirement by Amy Rae Durreson

Title: Lord Heliodor’s Retirement (A Daily Dose 2015 Story)

Author: Amy Rae Durreson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 52 Pages

At a Glance: A sweet and sentimental story of second chances for two men approaching their golden years.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Unlikely hero Lord Adem Heliodor saved his queen’s life during the Screaming, a magical attack on his city, but his broken nerves have forced him into an unwanted early retirement to his country estate. Adem thinks his life is over, but retirement holds some surprises. First, there’s his new librarian, who turns out to be not just the first love he thought was dead, but also someone surprisingly knowledgeable about political intrigue. Then there’s the assassin in the orchard and the discovery that the Screaming was just the first attack on the city.

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Review: Amy Rae Durreson is one of “those” authors for me, those few authors we all have on our auto-read lists whose books we’ll pick up without even bothering to read the blurb. I first discovered her in 2013 when she wrote a short novel for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s free reading event, “Don’t Read in the Closet”. That story is called The Lodestar of Ys, and if you’re a member of the group, and someone who happens to love High Fantasy, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you to read this book.

But, before I get too far off track, this is how Ms. Durreson’s contribution to the 2015 Daily Dose anthology ended up on my Kindle, and why I will continue to read her work, sight unseen.

Lord Heliodor’s Retirement is a sentimental story with bittersweet undertones. In a departure from the usual M/M fare, Adem Heliodor is not an oversexed twenty-something man, but a fifty-six year old servant of the crown who has been forced into retirement because, in his service to the queen, he has suffered a terrible blow that not only left him with post-traumatic stress but also unable to control his emotional outbursts.

When the queen was attacked by a magical curse called the Screaming, Lord Heliodor may have saved Her Majesty but in having done so, has suffered the consequences of his bravery. Involuntarily retired to his familial country estate, Adem is feeling unsure of himself and rather resentful of his unemployable status. But, it’s his arrival at Worldham that will set him on a new course and on a path to healing the psychological damage he’s suffered.

In a resurrection worthy of Lazarus, Corun Larkspur has returned from the dead. Or, at least he was reported dead during the war that separated him and Adem some thirty-plus years ago. Corun has now secured himself a place as the librarian at Worldham, cataloguing and organizing the rather impressive collection of books in the estate’s library, and though their initial meeting is less than auspicious, things do take a turn for the better for Adem and Cory. And here is where I must say that while the fact Cory is now a librarian might have been enough to make me love him immediately, Durreson makes him all the more loveable in his tenacity and patience, and obvious loving and generous nature toward Adem.

While decades have passed and both men have changed, neither having spent those thirty years stagnating in the muck of loss and regret, but neither having found a love like the first love they shared either, this story’s sentimentality is firmly rooted in lost time and opportunity and second chances—those years unable to be regained but the feelings still buried close enough to the surface to give a man hope that a new beginning may be possible.

The connection between Adem and Cory is rebuilt rather quickly, which is a necessity dictated by the length requirements for this anthology, and while I felt at least half as many more pages would have served to better flesh-out both the characters and their relationship with each other, their charm and the obvious attraction that still lingered each for the other was both evident and believable.

In a climax where the danger of magic returns once again to threaten queen and country, Adem has the opportunity to become not only his own hero in this story but Cory’s as well, which goes a long way toward his ability to overcome the psychological scars he’s carried for so long. Again, while the ending was satisfying and sweet and romantic, I felt things were resolved rather handily, but those niggles aside, Lord Heliodor’s Retirement is a lovely novella that shows us the truest and strongest magic is, yes, love.

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Amy Rae Durreson, Dreamspinner Press

Amy Rae Durreson’s “Aunt Adeline’s Bequest” Is The Perfect Valentine’s Sweet


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Title: Aunt Adeline’s Bequest

Author: Amy Rae Durreson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 51 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: One snowy evening, wounded WWI veteran Jasper Pritchard arrives at Valentine Nugent’s sweet shop with an unusual request. Jasper’s deceased great-aunt has left him a fortune, along with a box of indiscreet letters she wants returned to the writer, and the only clue is a tin sold in Valentine’s shop over twenty years ago. As they search the shop’s records and uncover a love story from long ago, they find far more than the answer to the mystery.
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Amy Rae Durreson, Dreamspinner Press

The Heart Is The Greatest Treasure In Amy Rae Durreson’s “Reawakening”


“The World Changes. Empires fall, oceans run dry … and little desert spirits rise up to challenge the great powers of the world.” – Amy Rae Durreson


Title: Reawakening

Author: Amy Rae Durreson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 260

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: For a thousand years, since their defeat of the Shadow at Eyr, the dragons have slept under the mountains. Now their king, Tarnamell, has woken. Driven mad by loneliness, he hurls himself south until he finds and tries to claim the Alagard Desert. Unfortunately, the desert already has a guardian spirit, and he doesn’t want to share. Amused by the cocky little desert spirit, Tarn retreats, planning to return in human form.
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Amy Rae Durreson, Self-Published

“The Lodestar of Ys” Is Amy Rae Durreson’s Free Fantasy, And It’s Fabulous


“Unhappy the land that has no heroes? No. Unhappy the land that needs heroes.” – Bertolt Brecht



Title: The Lodestar of Ys

Author: Amy Rae Durreson

Publisher: The Goodreads M/M Romance Group

Pages/Word Count: 138

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Sjurd is convinced that Celyn of Ys is the most irritating man alive. It’s a good thing that Celyn is engaged to Sjurd’s brother, not him, because Sjurd loathes the brat, and it’s quite mutual. When an elopement and the threat of invasion force the two princes together, however, they have no choice but to marry and fake true love to keep their countries safe. Can warrior Sjurd and diplomat Celyn find any common ground?

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Amy Rae Durreson, Dreamspinner Press

“Gaudete” Is A Reason To Rejoice



“There were moments, he’d always believed, when you could feel your life changing around you. He could feel that weight in the air now, every crisp detail of the medieval walls around him heavy with significance.” – Amy Rae Durreson


Amy Rae Durreson is prepared to take you on a journey with the ghost of Christmases past in Gaudete, yet another holiday treat in the Dreamspinner Press Advent anthology. These are not actual ghosts, mind, but the figurative ones that are visited through flashbacks woven into the present tense of the story, relating the beginning of the friendship between Jonah Lennox and a boy named Callum, a once-a-year friendship that seemed destined to last forever. But then again, when you’re a boy who’s only just beginning to discover who he is and what he desires, forever sometimes has a way of ending abruptly, and all too often, painfully, for the fear of being different.
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