3.5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Loose Id, Lyn Gala, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Without a Net by Lyn Gala

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Amazon US

Title: Without a Net

Author: Lyn Gala

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 266 Pages

At a Glance: Without a Net just needed a bit more attention to details in order to work out a few inconsistencies in the story.

Blurb: Oliver Robertson has been assigned to go undercover in one of the shade clubs that litter the seedier parts of town. He has never engaged in the sort of edge play found in those places, preferring the BDSM in the more mainstream control clubs. However, to find the criminals behind a series of kidnappings, he must go in undercover as a shade sub. The mission becomes more complicated when his captain asks him to collect evidence against a lieutenant who might be a dirty cop.

The case quickly gets out of hand, and Ollie finds himself caught between wanting to do his job and not knowing who to trust. That confusion grows worse when a number of sexy and dominant men challenge his assumption that he prefers safe, contractually negotiated sex. It turns out he has more of a wild side than he expected, and given that he’s surrounded by dangerous men, and he can’t distinguish the good guys from the bad, that’s terrifying.

When Ollie gives his trust to Travis Goode, a dominant who appears to be a federal agent, he might be making the connection of a lifetime or dooming himself forever.

Publisher’s Note: Contains dark BDSM elements.

Dividers

Review: This is my first Lyn Gala novel, and I will say that I knew in advance that she writes about BDSM—her work being edgier and often allowing for a good deal of introspection on the part of her characters. In Without a Net, the author uses the vehicle of a mystery/police sting operation to explore a cop’s awakening realization that he likes to walk the edge of consensual D/s experience. In fact, Ollie Robertson will discover that he has a much darker side to him then he has ever fully explored before, while trying to remain an active participant in the center of a sting operation to bring down corrupt law enforcement officials–namely his own captain.

Ollie is supposed to pose as a submissive seeking employment in one of the rougher shade BDSM clubs in the city. Along with a whole heap of scenarios where submissives are losing themselves in dangerous and dubious consent relationships with abusive Doms, the shade club in question also has been noted for a series of disturbing kidnappings. When the game shifts and Ollie is asked by his captain to continue his undercover work in the club, but also to expand it by allowing himself to be backed up by fellow officers who may indeed be dirty cops on the take, he reluctantly agrees to continue. Then, Ollie falls into the hands of a man who has decided to break him and remold him into a shade submissive, all in order to achieve his own revenge against the captain.

Suddenly, Ollie finds himself bound and being brutally trained, his entire fix on who he is sexually and professionally is thrown into a tailspin, and whom he can trust is murky at best. When a former neighbor visits the compound where Ollie is being held, it is hard for our hero to decide if Travis is one of the good guys or another corrupt agent. Not knowing whom to trust, and rapidly realizing he is not the controlled sub he supposed himself to be, Ollie’s life is spinning out of control…and Agent Travis Goode may be the only true anchor Ollie can trust.

There were many layers to this story of corruption and greed. First and foremost this was a story revolving around the corruption and shake down practices of a law enforcement agency. Ollie had already gone on record calling out fellow officers who were biased or bigoted against the gay community within the force; therefore, the story line that had him being the eyes and ears of what seemed a genuinely concerned captain over potentially racist officers was very realistic and valid.

The tensions created between he and other officers were very well written and gave Ollie’s fears over a lack of support from his back-up team credibility. When Ollie was finally taken into captivity by a seeming bad guy, the flow of this mystery novel deepened, and the plot twists and subsequent “breaking’ of Ollie’s resistance and spirit was on target. However, there were several elements in this story that were muddled and left unclear; for instance, the time frame of the story. There was talk of life on Mars about three quarters into the story that made me really jerk in surprise. At the onset of the novel, I got the feel that the setting was a bit different or other worldly, given some of the technology the cops were using, but I never got the idea it was definitely a world set in the future. It was a shock to me that I was now also reading a futuristic novel with possible sci-fi leanings.

Secondly, Ollie’s near constant internal dialogue, which had him self-doubting all that happened, was sketchy and stretched the bounds of believability.  His accepting the fact that he was brutally handled and involved in several non-consensual scenarios just because his captor was seeking revenge on those who had allowed his lover to be brutally treated, left me shaking my head in disbelief. I feel the guilt that Travis felt would have been a bit more justified if there had been even the slightest anger on Ollie’s part against his captors.

All in all, Without a Net seemed unfinished. I am not sure if I ever fully understood who was doing the kidnapping and where those people ended up in the story. If it was explained, I must have missed it while trying to get a handle on Ollie’s evolving reactions to being forced into submission to a man who mocked and used him repeatedly.

I will definitely be visiting this author’s backlist. I believe she writes in depth characters and exciting stories. Without a Net just needed a bit more attention to details in order to work out a few inconsistencies in the story.

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

You can buy Without a Net here:

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2 Stars, DSP Publications, Lyn Gala, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Desert World Allegiances by Lyn Gala

Title: Desert World Allegiances (Desert World #1)

Author: Lyn Gala

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 240 Pages

At a Glance: To be honest, I struggled to get through this book.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Being condemned to slavery is a common enough occurrence on the desert planet of Livre, but this time, priest Shan Polli is determined to prevent the corrupt, soul-eating system from destroying one more life. Temar Grazer was sentenced for what amounted to a criminal prank—but Shan soon finds that the dangers extend far beyond Temar’s crime.

Caught between guilt and hope, Shan must find his true path in either the priesthood or in a man whose strength and survival defies the odds. Can the two men unravel a plot that threatens the entire world before Temar is broken by a system of slavery that has twisted out of control?

Dividers

Review: I knew going into this book that there would be no romance, so that aspect didn’t bother me. If you really want to read a romance, then this book is not for you, but if you want to read a science fiction novel with some terraforming and a world where water is scarce, then you might enjoy Desert World Allegiance.

To be honest, I struggled to get through this book. While the world-building is well done and the descriptions are vivid, I just couldn’t connect with the characters, and that’s what made most of the book so difficult for me. I didn’t care. From the first pages I was immediately frustrated because I knew how horribly wrong things were going to go, and it didn’t leave me in suspense. It just left me screaming at Temar for being an idiot. I knew everything was going to go from bad to worse. Temar and his sister are the victims of water theft, which is a big deal on a planet where water is scarce. An accident occurs and Temar’s sentence is short-term slavery. Enter Shan, who is against the sentence for Temar, and as he investigates the story he uncovers a conspiracy.

There is a lot of politics in the novel, which I have to be in a certain mood to read. I guess I wasn’t when I was reading Desert World Allegiance, because while it intrigued me sometimes, most of the time I didn’t want to read it. I often felt compelled to put the book down and do something else.

I also struggled with some of the concepts of the book. While I’m not averse to stories with slavery, in some it just doesn’t make sense. This book was borderline. On one hand I could see that as a severe punishment, the threat of slavery would be a deterrent to committing crimes. But on the other hand, for this society, which seems to be advanced, slavery felt a bit incongruous.

There is a second book to this series which I hear has more of a romantic aspect in it. Will I read it? Probably not. I don’t have enough of an emotional investment in the characters.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy Desert World Allegiance here:

OmniLit/ARe

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4 Stars, Loose Id, Lyn Gala, Reviewed by Lisa, Steampunk

Review: Clockwork Pirate by Lyn Gala

Title: Clockwork Pirate

Author: Lyn Gala

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 278 Pages

At a Glance: As alt-history steampunk adventures go, I’d say Clockwork Pirate is a fun one. As romances go, though, I’d say this one relied too much on telling rather than showing.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Alex hid his unnatural attraction to men for many years. That changes when the pirate Beche takes Alex after capturing his ship. At first Alex believes his fate is death and the only question a matter of how he might die. However, the longer he is on the ship, the more he realizes that Beche hates the world because it is unfair in ways Alex never understood. As Alex begins to respect this strong, independent man, Alex’s dormant desires begin to reassert themselves.

Beche hates the titled classes and their government enforcers. They might have outlawed slavery on paper, but they never came to the islands to free him or his family. Since his skin is black, society has little respect for him. Beche expects no more of this latest captive, but soon Beche begins to realize that Alex is a naïve and beautiful man who values family and struggles with his own place in society. That poses an even larger problem because Beche does not want to send Alex back to a world that will mistreat him, but he has no place for a lord on a ship full of pirates.

Dividers

Review: Lyn Gala’s Clockwork Pirate is a difficult novel to pinpoint exactly where my feelings about it landed when all was said and done. On the one hand, it’s a rollicking good, high seas adventure through an alternate history where airships rule the skies and sailing ships still run the seas. The story is not heavy on steampunk details, but offers just enough for readers to understand this is a world of invention and mechanical advancement that didn’t exist in its 1890s setting.

I love a good swashbuckling pirate story, and Beche and his motley crew of seamen give a good show of living up to the reputation of the anarchists of the aristocracy. They are hard men who have been wronged and beaten down by the nobility who once enslaved them. They live by their own set of rules and mete out justice as they see fit—and it usually doesn’t bode well for those they believe are due no mercy. In this, Lyn Gala’s writing was evocative and excelled at bringing to life the harsh climes and sometimes vicious existence these men lived in, and the danger they faced if caught and brought to justice by the society against which they rebelled.

Beche is an interesting character, a former slave who’s become captain of the Yemaja and of his own destiny now he’s freed himself from his owner. As a pirate, Beche is everything you might want—fearsome but also fair, as he proves when he overtakes the ship Meili and captures not only some of its valuables but Alexander, the Margrave of Mergau, as well. His brethren, those who share a history and are closest to him, are even more formidable at times than their captain, as Beche shows mercy to his prisoner on a number of occasions, where others simply want to see Alex die a slow and painful death. What this element served to do, and do well, was contrast these men and the gentle and confused soul that is Alex.

Also serving as a contrast to Alex were his sisters, whom I liked a lot, for as much as we get to know them. Brilliant and independent women stuck in a society that has no use for them, they both served as another reminder that Alex truly was out of his element as the head of his family. One of their purposes, as well, goes hand in hand with Beche’s somewhat interesting ideas of an urning—this novel’s label for gay men—and exactly what the gender roles entail for a man who loves men. Those ideas were…thought provoking, to say the least, and I empathized with Alex’s affront each time Beche reminded him he had a woman’s soul.

Where this novel wasn’t up to snuff, in my opinion, was in the building of the relationship between Beche and Alex. It happens slowly, as it should have, given how deeply Alex had been forced to bury his natural desires and how well he mentally flogged himself for them. He had first to overcome the disgust he felt for himself and the fact he was attracted to Beche; then, once that happened, he was free to tentatively explore those burgeoning feelings. The problem is the connection built between the two men happens somewhere off page. One moment Alex was denying, the next it seemed he was giving in to Beche, and that gap wasn’t spanned by developing the relationship out loud so we readers had the opportunity to become invested in it. In the end, it was a jump that left me feeling only lukewarm feelings toward Alex and Beche as a couple in spite of how well I enjoyed them as individuals.

One of the things you’d expect from a good pirate novel is a grand climax, and Clockwork Pirate delivers in a capture that requires the staging of a well planned and exciting rescue, one that, dare I say, runs like clockwork? I’d have to say this was my favorite part of the book, as it brings together Aster and Philla (Alex’s sisters) and Beche’s brothers-in-arms, working together with Alex to help Beche and his ship’s contriver, Fabrice, escape certain death.

As alt-history steampunk adventures go, I’d say Clockwork Pirate is a fun one. As romances go, though, I’d say this one relied too much on telling rather than showing, and lacked enough exposition to draw the reader in and make us feel invested in Alex and Beche’s happy ending.






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Dreamspinner Press, Lyn Gala

Lyn Gala’s “Mountain Prey” – A Book That Sneaks Up On You

“Before you contradict an old man, my fair friend, you should endeavor to understand him.” George Santayana



Quite honestly, at first I didn’t like Mountain Prey. It seemed implausible and not well-thought out. Then, I realized that that was the whole point! Alex’s plan isn’t very well-thought out. And Stunt, poor Stunt. He always seems to just stumble onto trouble everywhere he turns.

Mountain Prey is set in the Appalachian Mountains, home to generations of moonshine makers. Stunt (Stewart Folger) received his nickname the hard way; he earned it. A bunch of dumb stunts as a kid and a known penchant for BDSM with other men has made him know as Stunt. He is a forestry technician. Basically he trims back trees so the trail is usable. But to the folks in the mountains, he is still a Fed. The federal government signs his checks, so he is a Fed, the moonshiner’s natural enemy.

One thing sure to bring the Feds to the mountains and expose the mountain folks’ moonshine businesses are drug dealers living nearby. Well, Lyn Gala sets up the perfect scenario for this to happen when she moves known drug king-pin Michael Garrido onto the land next to one of the oldest of the moonshiners, Elijah Pierpont. This is where Alex Soto comes into the picture.

Garrido ordered the murder of Alex’s brother while Alex was in jail. Alex has decided to take justice into his own hands and kill the man who ordered his brother’s murder. While scoping out the security situation, he stumbles upon Stunt. Alex ties Stunt up and puts him in the back of his truck. This is an enormous turn-on for both men. They are both gay and Alex is a Dom to Stunt’s sub.

Adventure and hilarity ensue. Alex and Stunt decide to enlist the help of Elijah to get revenge on Garrido. Elijah is willing to help, after some convincing and with some conditions attached. The three cook up a plan involving a real kidnapping turned fake, a forced marriage and the involvement of the dreaded local and federal law enforcement.

Somehow it all comes together. The Feds think the local sheriff is incompetent and the sheriff keeps accidentally on purpose losing evidence. Even he doesn’t believe for one minute that Elijah Pierpont worked with Stunt. But, the hill people protect their own and that includes the sheriff. Stunt has no memory of the details of his kidnapping because of a real concussion.

Even without the kidnapping evidence, justice is done. Mountain Prey is like a hillbilly crime caper. The book comes together because it is so inconceivable. Whether Lyn Gala intended it or not, that’s why it worked for me. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can buy Mountain Prey here:

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