4 Stars, Ariel Tachna, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel

Review: The Partnership in Blood Bundle by Ariel Tachna

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Partnership in Blood Bundle: Volume One

Author: Ariel Tachna

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count:  1285 Pages

At a GlanceA massive and interesting take on wizards and vampires.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Book One: Alliance in Blood. Can a desperate wizard and a bitter, disillusioned vampire find a way to build the partnership that could save their world? In a world rocked by magical war, vampires are seen by many as less than human, as the stereotypical creatures of the night who prey on others. But as the war intensifies, the wizards and the vampires forge an alliance based on blood and magic, hoping to turn the tide of the war against the dark wizards. As the war rages on and heartbreaking casualties mount on both sides, the dark wizards keep searching for clues to understand and counter the strength of the Alliance, while the blood-bound Alliance partners hunt through ancient prejudices and forgotten lore to find an edge that can turn the tide of the war once and for all.

Book Two: Covenant In Blood. The wizards and the vampires have forged an alliance based on blood and magic, hoping to turn the tide of the war against the dark wizards. A few wizard-vampire bonds are as successful as Alain Magnier’s and Orlando St. Clair’s, but some are much less so, leading to arguments, resentment, and outright fights between the allies despite their mutual goals. Following his best friend Alain’s example, Thierry Dumont determinedly forms a partnership with vampire Sebastien Noyer, despite the wizard’s discomfort with being so close to a vampire a man so soon after his wife’s death. But they find that desperation may be the key to forming a covenant that works: Thierry and Sebastien are almost immediately devoted to one another’s safety. With new strength behind it, the Alliance’s leaders move to announce its existence to the whole world, hoping to rally support against the dark wizards who threaten to destroy life as they know it. Struggling to find its way in the expanding war, the Alliance discovers that despite its advantages, the partnerships are affecting the balance of magical power in the world, which may be an even bigger threat than the war itself.

Book Three: Conflict in Blood. As the Alliance wizard-vampire partnerships grow stronger, the dark wizards feel the effects and become increasingly desperate to find enough information to counter them, unaware of the growing strain of the blood-magic bonds on the wizards and vampires alike.

The conflict is spreading. The strife of uncomfortable relationships, both personal and professional, is threatening to tear up the Alliance from the inside, despite the efforts of Alain Magnier and Orlando St. Clair, Thierry Dumont and Sebastien Noyer, and even Raymond Payet and Jean Bellaiche, leader of the Paris vampires, who is fighting to establish a stable covenant with his own partner so he might lead by example.

As the war rages on and heartbreaking casualties mount on both sides, the dark wizards keep searching for clues to understand and counter the strength of the Alliance, while the blood-bound Alliance partners hunt through ancient prejudices and forgotten lore to find an edge that can turn the tide of the war once and for all.

Book Four: Reparation in Blood. The war is at a fever pitch with both sides stretched to the limit, when the dark wizards score a shocking victory and capture Orlando St. Clair. Haggard with worry and grief at the separation from his lover, Alain fears that even if they find Orlando, the vampire’s heart and mind may be far too broken to save.

Knowing the Alliance teeters on the brink, Christophe Lombard, the oldest, most powerful vampire in Paris leaves his self-imposed seclusion to join the fight. Alain’s lost friend Eric Simonet, who betrayed him to join the dark wizards, is faced with a choice between revenge and redemption. And Jean, enraged by Orlando’s capture, faces the most agonizing decision in his unlife as the final battle looms: Will their actions lead to the shattering of the Alliance or the salvation of the world?

Dividers

Review: Partnership in Blood is an omnibus edition of four novels: Alliance in Blood, Covenant in Blood, Conflict in Blood and Reparation in Blood. In it, Ariel Tachna has created a massive world involving magic and the paranormal. The books are each rich in detail, and the world building is vastly impressive. There is also a fair bit of angst involved, and tolerance, acceptance, prejudices, sexual consent, and romance are themes throughout the series as well.

I enjoyed this take on the paranormal, and I like Tachna’s writing; however, there were so many characters introduced that I nearly got lost trying to keep all the relationships straight. Then I had a difficult time trying to remember the details of the war going on, too. I think if the author would have focused on one or two pairing per book, I wouldn’t have been so confused much of the time.

There are many pairings in this verse, not just the M/M, but also M/F and F/F couples. Each story adds more and more characters as the war progresses—this is one long story broken into very large and long chapters. If you enjoy detailed stories with a huge number of central characters, and you don’t mind f/f and m/f storylines and a good cry, you’ll find this series highly satisfying.

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5 Stars, Ariel Tachna, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Historical Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Nicki Bennett, Reviewed by Maryann

Audio Review: Checkmate by Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna – Narrated by Peter B. Brooke

Audio Gem

Title: Checkmate

Author: Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna

Narrator:: Peter B. Brooke

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 10 Hours and 18 Minutes

At a Glance: There is never a dull moment and there’s a good pace to this story!

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When sword for hire Teodoro Ciéza de Vivar accepts a commission to “rescue” Lord Christian Blackwood from unsuitable influences, he has no idea he’s landed himself in the middle of a plot to assassinate King Philip IV of Spain and blame the English ambassador for the deed. Nor does he expect the spoiled child he’s sent to retrieve to be a handsome, engaging young man.

As Teodoro and Christian face down enemies at every turn, they fall more and more in love, an emotion they can’t safely indulge with the threat of the Inquisition looming over them. It will take all their combined guile and influence to outmaneuver the powerful men who would see them separated… or even killed.

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Review: Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna did a fantastic job with this old world adventure romance story set in 1624 Madrid, during the Spanish Inquisition. I read this novel in 2012 and enjoyed it then, and was eager to hear it on audio. I was not disappointed. There is never a dull moment and there’s a good pace to this story! Tension, jealously, danger, adventure, humor, love and passion run rampant, and, given the time and setting, there is what I consider to be some mild violence. I would have loved to hear some feisty Spanish music from that era, and some clanking to go along with the sword fighting; it would have been an added enjoyment to the audio, but, alas, we can’t have everything.

Peter Brooke does an amazing job with the narration and the performance of accents and emotions of at least six major characters, the tones and accents so distinct. Christian Blackwood is twenty-three and has an English accent, Esteban is fifteen and Spanish; both have young sounding voices but very different personalities and accents. Teodoro Cieza de Vivar is older than Christian and even though he has a smooth, calm tone at times, it also reflects his maturity and the passion shared between Teo and Christian. Raul is a gypsy and former lover and friend to Teodoro; his voice has a very distinctive accent and expressive tones to match different situations. Gerrard Hawkins, Christian’s former protector, has a gruff, Cockney accent.

Teo is actually a very upstanding character with much pride and stubbornness. He is worldlier than Christian, older, and has served in the war and has killed. He is loyal to the end to anyone he has to protect. Christian is a surprise to Teo. Even though he is young, he’s not as spoiled as Teo thinks he is. He’s smart, generous, passionate and also loyal to his new found friends. It was fun to see the jealousy that first takes place between Estaban and Christian, and Christian being jealous of Raul.

I would also like to mention the beautiful cover by Ann Cain. It reflects the old world feel and the caring of Teo by Christian.

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4.5 Stars, Ariel Tachna, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Cherish the Land by Ariel Tachna

Title: Cherish the Land (Lang Downs #5)

Author:  Ariel Tachna

Publisher: 220 Pages

Pages/Word Count:  Dreamspinner Press

At a Glance:  A fantastic ending to a wonderfully written and heartfelt series.

Blurb: Seth Simms never wanted to be a cowboy, although to listen to his best friend, Jason Thompson, tell it, he isn’t one. He just happens to have lucked out in coming to live on Lang Downs with his brother ten years ago. He found enough stability to finish high school and go off to university, but he never really believed Lang Downs would be the same haven for him that it had become for so many others. He’s too messed up in the head. No one would accept someone with his issues.
All his life, Jason has had one goal: to come home to Lang Downs as resident veterinarian when they need his skills and jackaroo when they don’t. And it means he gets to spend time with Seth during his occasional visits, even though his dream of going from friends to lovers is hopeless since Seth is straight.
When Seth unexpectedly comes home to stay, Jason takes it as the boon it is. But juggling a relationship with another jackaroo and his friendship with Seth isn’t easy, and that’s before Jason realizes how deep Seth’s issues run and how dangerously Seth chooses to cope with them.

Dividers

Review:  Can I just say that I love Ariel Tachna’s writing? Because I most certainly do. I know when I see her name that I am in for a wonderful read.  Almost everything I’ve read by this author has been extremely well written and wonderfully engaging on all levels.

Cherish the Land is just that, too. I didn’t realize when I chose this book that it was the ending of the series, but I soon figured it out after reading the first few pages of the book. As such, I had to start back at the beginning. Although Tachna weaves the backstories of the rest of the books in with a deft hand, I don’t think this book could be read as a standalone.

Just a little background, which, I hope won’t spoil the series too badly. Lang Downs is a sheep station in the Southern Tablelands, New South Wales, Australia. Many people have come to work at Land Downs to find out that Lang Downs is a home that welcomes the right type of people. In this series, it is home to several men who just happen to have a troubled past, and are gay. But, there aren’t only gay couples on Lang Downs, and it is this mixture that adds richness and realism to not only this final chapter but the entire series overall.

Jason grows up on Lang Downs and is in love with his best friend, Seth. He leaves to go to school to become a vet. It is his desire to return to home to Lang Downs and be as happy as possible with or without Seth.

All Seth wants to do is escape—his past, his issues, and the feelings he’s harboring for his best friend. He’s good with machines and leaves Lang Downs after only living there for three years. He goes to Sydney to become an engineer, only to discover he really wants to be back on Lang Downs with Jason. Both boys, individually, decide to return to the sheep station, and their pining begins. With the help of a jilted lover, Jason and Seth come to realize their feelings for one another.

I really liked Jason when he was introduced in the first book of the series, and when Seth was introduced in book two, the boys became fast friends. I could see a love match in the making and was eagerly awaiting their story.  Though I really enjoyed how they came together, I felt a bit cheated that the story didn’t focus entirely on Jason and Seth. That isn’t to say I didn’t like the book, just that I felt there wasn’t enough about the two of them as adults in this book.

The other thing I liked about the book was how the issues and pasts of the characters fit with their age group. Seth and Jason are the youngest couple on Lang Downs, and the issues they face are normal for young gay couples, especially in a remote area where being gay isn’t always accepted. Once they are out, everything seems to happen very quickly with them. The fast, and permanent, relationship they make have Seth freaking out a bit, and he runs from both Jason and Lang Downs. Jason has no clue why this happens until we learn that despite Seth finding a home on Lang Downs, he still has issues he isn’t ready to face.

The issue kinda comes out of nowhere, but it is deftly explained by Tachna, and I could see how Seth’s characterization fit the issue. Trigger warning and a spoiler: the books all deal with some sort of real life issues, including but not limited to, homophobia, a bashing incident, PTSD, and rape, and this book’s specific issue is the subject of cutting. So, yes, hefty stuff, but all the issues are researched beautifully and wonderfully written so the reader gets both sides of the story with minimal confusion. I ran the gamut of emotions with this series, and this book especially, but I loved it all.

I adored how Jason stands by Seth even when he doesn’t fully understand why Seth does what he does. Seth eventually realizes that facing his problems, with the help of Jason and the family he’s made on Lang Downs, he can have his happily ever after with Jason. The story concludes with a roundup of all the couples on Lang Downs, bringing a happy ending to the series of this ragtag family.

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3 Stars, Ariel Tachna, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Nessa L. Warrin, Reviewed by Janet

Review: Dance off by Ariel Tachna and Nessa L. Warin

Title: Dance Off

Author: Ariel Tachna and Nessa L. Warin

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages

At a Glance: This book was disappointing for me personally, but I will be giving the authors another try.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: On the reality show Dance Off, pro rugby player Olivier Gautier and Olympic swimmer JC Webster each have one goal in mind: to stay on the show as long as possible to earn his charity of choice maximum exposure and a larger donation. As the competition heats up, their goals expand to catching each other’s interest, but Olivier is firmly in the closet and plans to stay there. JC is willing to be discreet, but not to hide forever.

Starting a romance with another man is challenge enough for any celebrity, but doing it under the microscope of reality TV—and one majorly intolerant costar—is even harder. Add in meddling dance pros, JC’s overbearing family, and the need to play up chemistry with dance partners to win America’s hearts, and JC and Olivier’s time together is looking more and more like a recipe for disaster.

As the pressure to stay in the competition mounts, JC and Olivier must face their inevitable separation at the end of the show as well as decide whether a relationship as complicated as theirs can survive in the real world, outside the bubble of the set and practice studios.

Dividers

Review: This was the first story I have read by either of these two authors, and I was pleased with the harmony of their writing. I felt that only one voice was speaking throughout the story, as it was smooth and flowed well, and the tone was consistent for the whole book.

The story was cute and a very fun idea. The MCs were believable in their roles; the family of characters that made up the secondary players surrounding them also resonated with me as being realistic. I got to know the characters well, and seeing a dance competition unfold was kind of fascinating, but at the end of the book I was not enthralled with the characters or completely invested in them, so I was left with a sense of disappointment in the story. I think this failure to engage was mostly caused by the tone of the dialogue. There wasn’t that much direct dialogue between the main characters that wasn’t overshadowed by description of the circumstances they were in, or the background to the scene that was playing out on the pages. There was a sense of being told what the characters were up to as opposed to the reader doing it with them. That feeling of distance is what kept this book from being great for me, as I am very partial to clever dialogue and revel in submerging myself in the characters through their voices. I missed being able to do that with this book.

I think the plot was the strongest feature of the story, and the idea of having a bird’s-eye view of a reality TV show centered on dancing was brilliant. The authors totally captured the conflicts between the different types of people involved in the show, and gave us fascinating glimpses of how it all plays out for the contestants in a very realistic manner.

This book was disappointing for me personally, but I will be giving the authors another try. There was too much good about this story not to check out some of the other books they have written, though I believe this is their only collaboration, so maybe separately first.

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2.5 Stars, Ariel Tachna, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Ariel Tachna’s “Testament To Love” Affirms The Idea That Love Ascends All Boundaries


“For truly we are all angels temporarily hiding as humans.” – Brian L. Weiss


Title: Testament to Love (2nd Edition)

Author: Ariel Tachna

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 80

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Blurb: Another mission to rescue yet another lost soul—Emmanuel isn’t sure how much more of the same old routine he can withstand. Get the fallen’s attention, save them from themselves, usher them back to grace, and return, simply to receive another assignment. But there’s something different about the troubled painter, Cameron Anderson, that grabs Emmanuel and won’t let him go. Continue reading

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