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Myths, Moons, and Mayhem: Paranormal Gay Menage and Erotic Romance Paperback – October 11, 2017
About the Author
Dale Cameron Lowry's number one goal in life is getting the cat to stop eating dish towels; number two is to write things that bring people joy. Dale is the author of Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love and a contributor to more than a dozen anthologies.
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Editor – Dale Cameron Lowry
Star rating - ★★★★☆
No. of Pages – 212
Cover – Gorgeous!
Would I read it again – Yes!
Genre – LGBT, Erotica, MMM, Menage, Paranormal, Supernatural, Romance
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine
This collection combines two of my favourite sub-genres within the LGBT genre: Paranormal and Romance. On top of that, it provides an equal measure of authors that I am and am not yet familiar with.
WARNINGS: Contains stories that involve possession, animal sex (not beastality, as it's between three consensual werewolves), and cheating.
Inside Man, by Clare London
POV: 1st person, one character
Theme: Ghosts, Possession, Established Relationship
The story takes place in London and gets right to the point; ghosts can't touch themselves! Which, with Clare London's brilliant writing style gives you a kick to start off the story, then that little hint of just why it's so important to this particular ghosts; two hot men that he can't touch and can't even touch himself while watching.
I love the sincerity and reality of Benjy and Jake's problems and really love the simple, yet completely effective way that the ghost solves it. When Benjy finally sleeps and cries, it tore me up inside. The characterisation was just so good, even through a outsider's eyes that I knew and understood the stress and struggle he'd been under until then. To see Jake so understanding, so supportive, was just beautiful.
The ghost never gets a name of his own, but he doesn't really need one. I think that would shatter the illusion of him being temporary, of him being insubstantial and lost within his death. Yet, I love how much emotion he has, that he sees and feels everything. When he possesses Jake and Benjy, you can feel the relief of finally being real again, of finally being able to feel again.
Overall, a brilliant short about a couple who really needed that little nudge from a third, to save their relationship and their sanity.
“I want that. The visceral connection: the belonging again. I want to feel everything again as a living man. My need reaches out to the two men, as if with a mind of its own. I can't grasp them with my arms, but my senses ache to touch.”
The Secret of the Golden Cup, by Rebecca Buchanan
POV: 3rd person, three character POV
Theme: College, Magic, Archaeology/History
This was a really cute story about a professor who gets drawn into a world of magic that he didn't know existed and can't believe is as real, and dangerous, as it proves to be. Grover is your typical professor; stuffy, nervous and shy around the one student he can't keep his eyes or mind off. Yet, Dominic is that student and he's so much more than he seems; confident, forward, yet keeping the secret of a husband that works on campus. While Steffan is in the background, he's a bit more surfer-boy and laid back than either of the other two. When his POV comes around, that's when the story really kicks off. Steffan is the introduction of magic and the danger that goes hand in hand with it.
The fact that all three get their POV is a great idea, however it did feel less than equal. Grover took up the majority of the POV, with Dominic and Steffan only adding in one or two moments to explain the magic that was going on, and to explain their relationship before Grover was told later. I do love that Dominic and Steffan were on the same page about the seduction of Grover and that Dominic confessed to having a husband who was okay with any seduction that might proceed, before he did anything with Grover. Up until that point, I was worried that he'd end up being duped and that wouldn't have been any fun at all.
I have to admit, that I had some trouble starting the story, because the author tried to introduce us to a concept within the first page that really wasn't necessary at the time and ruined the flow. I actually had to re-read the first page a few times, wondering if I'd missed something. I'm talking about the paragraph of introduction to the Minoan Linear B Cup that – after reading the story – I understand was the way of introducing us to the main plot point, but could have been handled better. It was so off topic, at the time it was mentioned, and told in short, choppy statement sentences that had no relevance or explanation that it took me a few pages to really get into the story. The explanation could have waited until a few pages in, when Grover denies Michelle the chance to translate the Cup. That would have been a perfect introductory point, rather than on the first page, out of context.
Overall, I loved the historical, archaeological knowledge and the way it was used. I liked the magical element and how it brought everything together. I loved the hints of chemistry that we got to see between Dominic, Steffan and Grover, and how the story ended with an opening to continue somewhere in the future. I'd be intrigued to read more about these characters.
“Grover hated running. He had not run since his disastrous attempt to impress Timothy Grant by trying out for the track team in ninth grade. Now, he ran. Down the hall, down the steps, across the campus toward the library, Dominic and Steffan pounding along beside him. And the bee. He was fairly certain the bee was following too.”
When the Big Moon Shines, by Carl Redlum
POV: 3rd person, one character
Theme: Werewolf, College Age
Right from the start, I felt sorry for Henry. He was so afraid of everything; his own room, his feelings, his senses, how his life had changed; and it was all because of a single moment he couldn't even remember. The characterisation is so well done that I already felt like I knew him and cared about him before the end of the first scene. Then when he stumbled across Alex and Bruce, the hope and fear were tangible.
It's a shame his parents treat him like a dangerous, unpredictable animal instead of helping Henry cope, but I could always understand their fear. Of him. For him. Their child had just turned into someone they didn't know or recognise anymore and they were doing everything they could, even moving, to try to keep him safe.
Wow, I totally have to admit that this is the first humanoid-werewolf sex I've read. They're fully wolf, but werewolf in a sense that they still have a fairly humanoid body, similar to the Underworld movies, so it's a little yiffy, but not downright animal-sex.
I loved that the story was more about Henry's journey towards answers than the relationship, though that was still hot and new and exciting. I also kind of like that it's left open about what the menage meant and how far it would go. It's a hopeful ending, one full of promise and excitement for the future.
“Bruce reached out his beefy mitt of a hand, Henry wanted to yank it up and lick it to see if it tasted as good as it smelled.”
Careful What You Wish For, by Elizabeth Coldwell
POV: 1st person, character
Theme: Magic, Room Mates, Cheating
This was a cute story, but I just felt like something was lacking. Maybe because it all centered around sex. Maybe because there ended up being a real and a magically created version of the same character, both completely adoring Josh. Maybe it was the fact that Aaron willingly cheated on his boyfriend, because of a surprise revelation and a fleeting thought. I felt nothing real about their chemistry, though there wasn't much until they started having sex. For me, the plot was too thin and the sex too overpowering to give me the kind of characterisation and development of relationship that I wanted for these two. A decent story, but disappointing.
The Cave, by Dale Cameron Lowry
POV: 1st person, present tense, single character
Theme: Expedition, Magic
As an archaeology nut, I loved the amount of detail and knowledge that went into this expedition, though it's not a field – sediments and lemurs – that I'm familiar with. It made the whole expedition feel like one of those old fashioned movies, like Solomon's Mines.
The plot was intriguing, being infused with both archaeological matter, magic and a whole lot of hotness, yet it wasn't over-your-head or bombarded by technical data. It was a fun, intricate plot that was easy to follow, easy for non-archaeological brains to follow, and with a really nice progression of chemistry.
All three characters – Ethan, Joseph and Mendrika – had equal weight in the relationship they shared, all sharing subtle hints about their interest. When it came to wielding magic, it was a really hot and spicy, but almost tender chemistry they shared. This was one of those romances where the truly magical moments where in the small slips of information that leaked through perfectly normal moments. A great story with great characters. I'd love to read more of their adventures.
“We're here to study biological evidence, not create it.”
The Endless Knot, by Morgan Elektra
POV: 3rd person, present tense, single character
Theme: Halloween, Vampire, Werewolf
This was a fun, super hot, snippet of the life of two paranormal creatures who desperately love each other but are a total personality clash. I really love the way that Jackson and Rafael's history was shown through little snippets here and there, all in Jackson's recollections, yet with enough emotion that I felt the pain and hurt that had been caused. Then enters Beau, the hottest of the hot at a Halloween parade and they have the glue they need to keep them together; the balance to counteract how similar they are, adding a buffer they desperately need.
It's both a story of newly discovered love and a story about reconnecting with an old love that never faded. Sweet, hot and spicy, it had all the elements of a story that I love. Plenty of chemistry, great detail and characterisation, and lots of hope for the future.
“Their attraction has always been potent. No matter how many times it ends in bitter recriminations and crushing disappointment, the desire eventually drives them back to each other.
Yet their time together gets shorter and shorter, and the years in between stretch longer and longer.
Perhaps this will be it. The last time. When they walk away in the morning, maybe it will be forever.”
Squatchin', by Greg Kosebjorn
POV: 3rd person, one character (with one scene of alternative POV)
Theme: Sasquatch hunt, Hiking, Loss
I liked the initial relationship between Jason and Dan; they had great chemistry and I liked that they were new together but had a rhythm already. I loved that Jason was this highly intelligent, reasonable guy who was searching for the Sasquatch, and Dan was just so head over heels that he was willing to go along with it, despite not really believing it. That was great to see.
The bit where I have an issue is when Martin enters the story. I found him really creep right from the get go, then they suddenly pounced on him while he was crying over his lost lover. Then, to make matters even more squidgy for me, he demanded that Jason f*ck Dan even though Jason said he didn't think he was ready yet; he literally ignored that comment and roared his demands, but it was eased away with Dan's POV thoughts that it was okay, because he was totally ready, anyway.
The last scene was a great addition, but I just didn't like Martin at all. I loved the two guys, Jason and Dan together, but it didn't feel right or natural to add in Martin, who I already didn't like. It was just too much about the sex, for my liking.
Celyn's Tale, by Rhihian Brenig Jones
POV: sort of 3rd person, but sort of...I don't even know!
Theme: Fae, Fantasy? or Historical?
This one didn't work for me and, despite a problem with continuity and the POV, I really can't put into words why. It just didn't feel right, to me. It didn't feel complete or properly explored, in terms of setting, description and characterisation. It may be a case that this writer and I just don't mesh and that's fine. It just bugs me that I can't figure out why I didn't enjoy it.
The POV confused me, because it began as a 3rd person, but fell into omni-present and then felt more like a storybook telling than any character's POV. There was also a continuity issue in that we're told that Celyn's parents will never see him again, then two pages later he's with his father in the pastures, meaning that they did see and speak to him again, at least one more time before he disappeared.
Other than those issues, I'm sorry to say that I can't figure out why, but it didn't work for me. I missed something in the characterisation that would connect me to Celyn or the two Fae, Taliaris and Cai, and I missed the world building that usually comes with this kind of fantasy style story. Maybe it's because it was too short for the type of story it needed to tell, I don't know.
Close Encounter of the Three-Way Kind, by Rob Rosen
POV: 1st person, one character
Theme: Aliens, Alternative Future, Scientific Experiment
This was a hilariously cheeky switch on an age-old idea of aliens coming to Earth and taking over the world. Hot, funny and cute in places, it manages to be thoroughly entertaining while offering good characterisation and chemistry between all three.
And despite my tendency to wax lyrically about books/stories, that's all I need to say about this one. It was fun, hot and brilliant. I'd read it again any day and it was a perfect ending to the anthology.
“I turned to Hans and grinned. “You know, I watch you walk around your house naked,” I told him.
The smile rose northward on his face. “I know. It's why I walk around the house naked.””
Each story is a really nice length; enough to give the author time to delve into plot, characterisation and offer some depth to both, without being drawn out and overly long. Some of the authors I knew did an excellent job of reminding me why I love their work and some that I didn't know will be appearing on my bookshelf again, very soon.
Overall, it was a combination of interesting, alternative romance stories with a menage twist, with varying degrees of hotness, world building and length. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
It's not quite a paranormal "bodice ripper", although clothing does tend to be removed
frequently and in quick fashion by ghosts, ETs and creatures of the night.
The writing is consistently good throughout the anthology and the atmosphere is palpable. One particular story stood out
in terms of tone and writing style: The Big Moon Shines.
This is not "one handed reading"; if anything it's a gay, erotic romp through the paranormal/ horror/ sci-fi genre.
Who knew such a category existed?
Keep this book by your bedside and each night treat yourself to a bit of lavender titillation before you fall asleep.
I received a complimentary ARC of this collection. This is my honest, voluntary review.