- Paperback: 376 pages
- Publisher: Noble Romance Publishing LLC (July 30, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1605922099
- ISBN-13: 978-1605922096
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,598,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Last Gasp Paperback – July 30, 2011
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Now if you are a reader who may share my likes/dislikes in fiction you may also find yourself having difficulties emotionally relating to some of the characters in these stories.
Blurbs are adequate, I do not think any more plot description is needed. However you will see some VAGUE SPOILERS below.
Erastes' story Tributary was my favorite in this anthology as far as writing is concerned, I could clearly see places, characters, I felt as if I was standing right there when the action was happening. I love Erastes' writing, however since I had been burned in the past with her endings, I made very sure I knew how her story ends before I got the anthology (and yes, her story was the main reason why I got the anthology. See above, I love her writing). I found the ending perfectly appropriate despite its uncertainness. See in historical romances I am quite willing to settle for the lack of **immediate** danger to the protagonists (and them being together). It is when the danger is unescapable or when there is a death then I do not consider such story a historical romance just historical fiction. This one in my opinion IS historical romance.
The characters are very vivid and to somebody with my background are easily recognisable (and this is a good thing, honest). Characters like Guy who wonder aimlessly through life exist in every century and every generation. Guy seems to feel he lost his chance to fight in First world war, thus he cannot find his purpose in life anymore. Luis ironically seems that he lost his chance to fight in this war, which is for now war in Spain.
Guy especially for some reason reminded me of Eugene Onegin and Grigoriy Pechorin, characters which I grew up with and who also could not find their places in a different society in a different place.
They meet each other in Italy. As I said I was perfectly fine with the ending, however in some ways Erastes' story was the first for me in a sense I could never ever expected.
See, I have read quite a few of romances where I was annoyed with the guys when I was reading it and seriously I am quite okay with it. I even read one romance where I despised one of the protagonists when I was done with it. I however never read a Romance yet when I despised both protagonists when I was done with it. Till I read Erastes' story that is. I wanted to slap both Guy and Louis and as far as I am concerned they can both go and die now for all that I do not want to see deaths in Romances. All I could think of when I was done was "poor Calloway". Of course Guy at least only met him (still I do not see how decent person can behave that way), but Louis? Oh my god.
Now, do not get me wrong, this is NOT a criticism of the story, quite the contrary and of course less than perfect people fall in love too and theirs stories should be told. But I don't know, to me these two crossed the lines from likeable flawed people to selfish bastards. And yes, I know they are going to do noble fighting at the end, still to me they are selfish bastards.
Cris Smith' story was well written too, but bored me to tears. I am sorry but it did. I understand that before author got to romance part she took a great care in developing Edgar's character, and normally I would be overjoyed, I love multilayered characters. I could not wait to be done with it. I don't know why, maybe because I did not care much for the settings, maybe because I did not care much for the Edgar, I needed something more from him to relate to besides him feeling bad for the people who needed opium. Story picks up in the last quarter or so, when his relationship with Archie develops and I know we are supposed to feel suspense and excitement as to whether Archie will live or not, but as much as Edgar's character was developed, I wanted to know more about Archie in order to care for both of them together and I did not learn nearly enough about him to care since he only develops in the last quarter or so of the novella.
Interestingly Charlie Cochraine's story was also the first for me in a sense. This was the first story of hers that I really enjoyed. Maybe I will go back and try her longer series.
And Jordan Taylor's story was probably my favorite one in the book from all points of view, writing, unusual settings (at least I have not read too many stories set in it) and likeable characters.
I really liked the emotional play between the three main players: Guy, Louis, and Louis's employer, James. They've all been damaged in different ways, either by the war or by not having fought in the war. James's feelings for Louis were the most painful for me to read, but I found Guy and Louis's growing relationship to be comforting and believable. All in all, this was a satisfying, well-written story.
It was really fascinating how I came to like the two characters in Chris Smith's "The White Empire", because at the start, I was sure that I wouldn't find anything to like about or sympathize with Edgar. He's... well, to put it simply, he has issues. He tried to escape scandal in England by joining a mission in Hong Kong, only to find that scandal threatened to follow him there. His isolation, despite the motley group who work at the mission, makes him sink into depression. The only thing that can give him a new sense of purpose in life is his passing encounter with the man in the peacock waistcoat.
At this point, the story picked up in pace considerably, culminating in a tense attempt to escape the corrupt British authorities. The complex moral struggles in Smith's story give it a depth that's sometimes missing in short stories.
Charlie Cochrane's "Sand" feels more like a traditional romance to me than any of the other stories in this collection. It follows a familiar pattern of boy-meets-boy, boy-likes-boy-but-is-wary-of-saying-anything, dangerous-thing-happens, boy-realizes-that-the-attraction-is-mutual. Just because it follows this pattern, though, doesn't mean that it's not enjoyable or original. I actually enjoyed this story the most out of the anthology.
Charles and Andrew orbit around each other in a way that's enticing to the reader. As Charles becomes more comfortable with the desert landscape and Andrew's beloved archaeology, I found myself silently cheering him on. The two characters meshed together well; Charles's quiet temperament made him an excellent counterpart to the confident Andrew, and when they did get together, I practically cheered. The story seemed to end a bit abruptly, and I wish it had gone on a bit longer. Actually, I wish that these two could have their own novel. I am partial to historical fiction dealing with Egyptology, though...
The final story in this anthology, "The Ninth Language" by Jordan Taylor, is definitely an unusual one. It does not focus so much on the development of a relationship between the two characters, Mitsrii and Troy, as it does on the broadening of both characters' perceptions of the world and people around them. Their growing relationship feels almost incidental to their other eye-opening experiences.
I particularly like Troy's development as a character. Through Mitsrii, he begins to understand the tribes' connection to the land, and through this, he becomes a much more responsible individual. It's obvious that Taylor did a lot of research for this story, and being a nerd for well-researched fiction, I really appreciated that.