4 Stars, Amber Allure, Reviewed by Taz, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Vivien Dean

Review: Savage Estate by Vivien Dean

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Title: Savage Estate

Author: Vivien Dean

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count:  272 Pages

At a Glance: I would recommend this book without reservation. It kept me on my toes, and I stayed up later than I probably should have to find out how the book ended.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: For his twenty-fifth birthday, Alec Savage gets the gift of a lifetime—the chance to meet his father for the very first time. What he finds upon his arrival in Washington, DC, however, is a smashed window, an empty house, and a scrawled note with only his name and a phone number on it. Panicked, he dials the number and talks to an uncle he never knew he had, one who insists Alec is in danger if he stays in the house. That’s when everything starts to get really weird.

Within minutes, he’s teleported all the way to nowhere Montana, in the company of the most gorgeous guy he’s ever seen, hearing about how he’s the latest mage in the Savage line. Alec doesn’t want to believe Rowan Bouchard, but it’s hard to argue with the reality of his new snowbound location or the confirmation from the uncle who greets him. He even thinks staying on the estate while they hunt for his father won’t be so bad if he has Rowan as eye candy.

Except Rowan is more than that. He’s a shifter, the most beautiful black panther Alec could imagine. And according to his Uncle Martin, he’s now Alec’s familiar, too…

Dividers

Review: Savage Estate has so many of the things I love: familiars, mages, magic, action. One character discovering he likes guys. All-in-all, a very satisfying read. For the most part, this story follows timid Alec, someone who’s kind of lost until he meets Rowan, right at a crucial turning point in his life. He’s about to come into his powers and, therefore, come under direct threat by those who would rid the world of mages. Rowan, a stoic and dutiful man, arrives on scene to save belligerent Alex, and the story rolls on from there.

Alec and Rowan start a little like oil and water, but feelings quickly develop. While Rowan is supposedly “straight,” or at least had been up until he met Rowan, the instant bonding of mage and familiar unlocked something in him that he’d not known existed. Once the plotline began to unfold, the story took wings. Dirty politics, not knowing who to trust, estranged father reconnected with abandoned son.

While the book was an enjoyable read, and I became more and more engrossed in the story as it unfolded, there were still certain aspects of the storyline which seemed a bit too convenient for my tastes. Primarily it seemed a bit of a cop-out to have Rowan become gay once he connected with Alec. People don’t become gay, they either are or aren’t…or they’re bisexual or asexual, or some other combination of the many identifications out there. I would have preferred that Rowan had discovered his true nature as a gay man, even if his attraction was only, and would always be, for one man. Also, I wish a bigger deal had been made of Alec coming into his powers. The fact he was about to receive his powers at the onset of the book created the conflict necessary for the plot to move forward, and we do get a taste of his powers, but in the end, his magic isn’t what brings us to the climax and ending.

With all that said, I would recommend this book without reservation. It kept me on my toes, and I stayed up later than I probably should have to find out how the book ended.

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4 Stars, All Romance Ebooks, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Vivien Dean

Review: Unison by Vivien Dean

Title: Unison

Author: Vivien Dean

Publisher: Amber Quill Press

Pages/Word Count: 60 Pages

At a Glance: Time travel and magic collide to right a wrong in history.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Freddie Valek is a dreamer. He dreams about the fantastic as a means to escape, about finding the perfect man, about anything his imagination can conjure. When he falls asleep after work one day and finds himself in pre-Civil War Louisiana, he can’t say that he’s surprised. The only part of the dream that shocks him is that it’s taken him ten years to have a dream about the history of his most prized possession—a water-logged portrait of a man named Ezekiel.

All he knows about Ezekiel is what the woman who gave it to him said. That Ezekiel was the son of a plantation owner and a slave. That nobody ever found out what happened to him. Freddie’s dream thrusts him into the parents’ lives and their demands that he’s been brought to them to find their runaway son, a mission he is more than happy to accept.

But the closer Freddie gets to finding Ezekiel, the more he’s convinced that none of this is actually a dream…

Dividers

Review: Anyone who finds themselves staring off into space and daydreaming will likely relate to Freddie. As a way of escaping the tedium of life, he often dreams of fantastic things to keep his mind occupied, and that’s just the way he likes it. How many of us can relate to that? I know I could.

In this short story, Freddie’s dreaming takes him to Louisiana, before the start of the Civil War. At least he thinks it’s a dream. But when he doesn’t wake up, he realizes he actually is there. And the man he’s fantasized about, the man from a painting he was given, is there too. And needs his help. What follows is an interesting tale of time travel and magic, where spirits are called upon and work their magic on the unsuspecting. But more than that, it’s about connections across time.

Freddie and Ezekiel are wonderful characters. I really felt for them and their situation. Freddie lives in the present, and Ezekiel is just a portrait on his wall. According to the woman who gave the portrait to him, Ezekiel was a slave, the son of a plantation owner, and one of his slaves, who disappears for the family history. Freddie is so caught up in his fantasy that he talks to the portrait hanging on his wall and dreams up new lives for Freddie. And when the two finally meet, you discover Ezekiel heard everything Freddie told him.

While some may not like that aspect, I thought it was unique. Freddie thought Ezekiel was just a figment of his imagination, a part of his usual dreams, and Ezekiel thought he was one of the spirits, or his guide. They didn’t realize the other was real until they meet.

If you’re a fan of time travel stories, I recommend this one. It’s short enough to read in one sitting, and it will leave you feeling good at the end. Though I would have liked more to discover what happens next to Ezekiel and Freddie, and how they deal with their new situations, where the author left off is a good stopping place; it felt natural rather than forced. I might want more, but I’m happy with what I got.

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4 Stars, Amber Allure, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna, Short Story, Vivien Dean

Review: Wild Fragile Vines by Vivien Dean

Small Gems

Title: Wild Fragile Vines

Author: Vivien Dean

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 13000 Words

At a Glance: This is a really beautiful and touching short story of a love that one man can’t let go, and the other can’t accept.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: When his boss’s twenty-year-old son announced he wanted to be more than friends, Tim Kammerling told him no. He wasn’t ready to have a relationship with someone more than ten years younger than him.

Devin, however, knew he couldn’t stick around Napa and honor the status quo. Instead, he left town, and he and Tim became long-distance friends.

Now, through the letters he’s kept over the years, clippings he’s collected, and the memories he’ll never shake, Tim stands on the threshold of a new beginning.

Yes, a lot can happen in eighteen years. Letters are sent. Calls get made. And lives are changed…

Dividers

Review: There is nothing better than a good short story that is emotional without being melodramatic. This is such a story.

Tim has had a rough life – always taking care of his loser father. He’s finally got a good job he loves and that he’s really good at. There is just one complication that comes up—Devin, the young son of the vineyard owner who is home from Berkley on holiday, declares his love for Tim. While Tim won’t lie about his orientation, he doesn’t advertise it either, and he certainly isn’t ready to take up with the boss’s son. They can be friends but nothing more. Devin is a musician, and he decides to drop out of college and moves to Seattle to get his career started.

But he keeps in touch with Tim, no matter where his life and music take him. This story is told largely in epistolary form, starting with Devin’s letters and, as the years go by, cell phone calls, texting and eventually emails to Tim.

What a beautifully poignant story of a love that smolders for many years before it can burn brightly. Wild Fragile Vines is highly recommended as a wonderful example of a complete short story.







 

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5 Stars, Amber Allure, Reviewed by Lana, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Vivien Dean

Review: A Soul Remembered by Vivien Dean

Title: A Soul Remembered

Author: Vivien Dean

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 126 Pages

At a Glance: I loved it and want more!

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: The Reborn project began out of the desperate need to keep a dying man alive. It turned into a century-long hunt for his soul.

Until everything changes one fateful night in a Bayside alley.

Bleeding out from an unexpected attack, prostitute Adam Silver is convinced he’s going to die again without finding the man he’s been looking for since his very first death over a hundred years ago. He gets lucky. Rescue comes in the form of Dr. David Bogart and his friends who happen to be in the area, but it’s in the ambulance on the way to the hospital that Adam sees the birthmark he created to designate the reincarnation of his long lost love. For the first time in years, he feels hope.

But it turns out, finding Bogart was the easy part. Staying alive as he fights to help the man the media has dubbed “Dr. Death” is a hell of a lot harder.

Dividers

Review: A Soul Remembered isn’t what I expected. It’s a gritty sci-fi gem, in the same vein as Blade Runner, that I didn’t want to put down. I was very pleasantly surprise.

The story’s plot and premise is a little bit complicated, so take your time reading. In the future, everyone has implanted chips that store information and memories. This all came about because one scientist didn’t want to lose the love of his life. Adam Silver started the Reborn project because his husband was dying; its goal being to save memories and transfer them to random fresh bodies. The people who hold those memories do not have access to them. Adam spent countless Reborn-lifetimes looking for him to be Reborn. The way he looks for his lost love is to work as a prostitute, because he’ll see his clients naked and will see the genetic mark, Alpha Letter, to let him know if he’s found his husband’s memories. There’s also a twist I can’t reveal, but it’s a good one.

Adam finds his memories on a man named David Bogard. Adam was attacked and bleeding out, and David was there to save him. David’s a doctor and has no idea who Adam is to him, or what Reborn is. They begin an affair, but there are obstacles, such as the fact that all David’s past boyfriends/girlfriends have ended up dead. There are twists and turns in the story. I kind of figured out what was going to happen, but the writing and storytelling just pulled me in nonetheless. The emotions just jumped off the page and I was totally drawn in. You could just tell how much Adam hurt at his loss, and how much he’d move heaven and earth to have his love back.

A Soul Remembered is an entertaining sci-fi read, and I’m so happy I found it. It’s a must read for anyone who likes gritty noir/Sci-Fi. I loved it and want more!






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