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In Pain and Blood (Spellster Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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The writing had me hooked by the second chapter. I found the main character’s narration to be interesting and well-woven. He had a unique voice that made me want to keep reading. The plot was put together and interesting and even though it had some predictable elements, it had just as many that took me by surprise, giving the novel a sense of comfortable familiarity without lending itself to being boring.
That being said, there were a few elements that simply didn’t work for me personally. The dialogue, especially the hammy flirting, fell flat and I don’t know if that’s my lack of sentimentality or the writing itself. I suspect it might be me, as it’s a style of dialogue that a lot of books use and one that a lot of other people seem to enjoy. Also, the way Tracker spoke grated at me after just a few chapters, especially his habit of addressing everyone as ‘my dear spellster/warrior/woman/etc.’ It had me replacing the phrase mentally with ‘old sport’ to keep myself from getting annoyed. I also didn’t anticipate the length or detail of the book’s numerous sex scenes. They weren’t poorly written by any mean, although the plot did sometimes stumble into them without warning and a few times the implausibility of the acts themselves took me out of the story a little. My final complaint really comes from Dylan’s denial of his attraction to men, as same-gender relationships come without any kind of religious or social stigma and Dylan himself has no issue with them. He eventually names a few reasons, including a fear of rejection, but all them left me a little unmoved.
Those aside, I don’t have many complaints with the book and the issues I did have weren’t enough to dull my entertainment or the warm fuzzies I got while reading the interactions between Tracker and Dylan. I enjoyed watching Dylan learn about the world outside the tower, the casual representation of other LGBTQIA identities, and Tracker’s tragic past, guarded exterior belying a desperately soft interior, and his single-minded determination to keep Dylan safe. I definitely enjoyed the side quests into dwarven runes and the show-don’t-tell approach to worldbuilding. Any moments of exposition tended to work into the plot, considering that one character came from another country and another had lived his life segregated from the world’s general populace. At times, some of the characters tended into unadulterated archetypes, but the writing style and plot were enough that I didn’t mind and, given that these tropes usually only have cishet representation, I feel that the queer community is entitled to their share of non-tragic predictability. In the end, I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good epic fantasy and I’m definitely interested in the sequel.
So after his military group is attacked he's alone and I guess this is the start of a journey. The very first person he meets is a hedge witch and the first thing he does is kiss her on the lips. I don't care how he feels about it afterwords; that was just stupid. Things don't go farther there cause it seems hedge witches aren't sexual active people.
So next he meets a female warrior named Authril. She seems to hate him, but for some reason she sneaks into his tent and has sex with him... apparently she was emotional and feeling insecure? So they start some sex based relationship.
Then there is Marin. Their group meets up with her and after some weak flirting from the main character, Dylan, things don't go any ware because apparently she is a lesbian. But if she wasn't I'm sure they would have seed it up to.
Finally there is the male elf, Tracker. Lots of forced feeling flirtation there focused on males bathing together and such. Basically Tracker gets undressed infront of the main character as much as possible in an effort to seduce him and somehow that works?? It at least makes Dylan uncomfortable.
Anyways, the author seemed to go overboard with the eventual sex scene with the main character and the elf. I guess they wanted to fit all of it in at once. Basically they both ejaculated 3 times, which involved a handjob, oral, and anal. The funny part is they topped each other. It was a lot of sex for one scene and seemed a bit much for the MCs first gay experience.
I would have preferred more focus on the story and less on the awkward character relationships and sex being thrown at us.