No cookie cutter is being used by Jami Gold and her muse to create excellent reads. What do I mean? While her four "mythos legacy" books are, as the word 'mythos' implies, about creatures from myths and legends, each has a different type of heroine and hero, and each features a different type of myth or legend. This is not a series in which the same old tropes and themes get recycled if a first book is successful. (By the way, this also means that each book is a standalone gem.)
If you have just stumbled across Jami Gold's books, I should tell you how I found her books: A writer whose work I enjoyed mentioned in her blog that she'd received creative writing advice from Jami Gold. Ms. Gold has the writing mojo to go with her creativity. Her characters have the quality defined by the term "agency." They make things happen. The are far from TSTL (too stupid to live).
The book is erotic without being lewd. (Hope that doesn't turn off potential readers at either of the ends of the human sexuality spectrum.) Romantic, without sap.
Sorry, Ms. Gold, but I must pan - pun intended - one thing: I've liked your book covers. Readers are creatures of the mind; we play out the stories we read in our heads, filling in the details we need. In my (male) mind, Kira is way more vivacious and beautiful than the cover woman. Just saying.
I always add a disclaimer. For Ironclad: I don't know the author, although I have sent her writing blog a few emails; I wasn't asked to review the book and I didn't receive a free copy in exchange for a review. I reviewed it because I highly recommend it.
Jami Gold has done a fantastic job creating the characters and settings for all her Mythos Legacy novels. Each set pairs a human with a supernatural, but contrary to expectations, the issues that arise between the protagonists could easily apply to any ordinary human bond. The scenarios developing out of these situations provide an excellent platform to reflect possible approaches to current themes in how sentient beings could respond to one another to achieve a deep and fully satisfying relationship.
Furthermore, each of these characters carries some very negative past baggage that needs to be addressed before truly open communication can be achieved. The sexual intimacies detailed in each are tender without being saccharine but also underlie the notion that expressing love in this way is more than a physical release. As a result, Gold avoids the vulgarity of many other similar descriptions, creating a deeper level of connection and sympathy for individuals undertaking the risk of committing to a relationship built on trust.
In addition, Gold has a keen eye for detail, turning what might easily be overlooked as a minor aside into a key pivot point for major action further along in the story. She does this in all four of the full novels, which, after encountering them in each book, alert the reader to pay attention--something significant involving that object or being will be seminal in moving the action to resolution. She also effectively uses secondary characters or objects to tie everything together. Throughout the tales, her worlds remain consistent, and the the locations of each (Chicago, IL for Treasured Claim; Arizona for Ironclad Devotion; St. Louis, MO for Pure Sacrifice; NYC for Stone-Cold Heart) resonate with authenticity and an intimate knowledge of location--all suggesting copious research to have achieved that level of accuracy.
In Ironclad Devotion, Kira, the Faerie Princess disguised as a biker chick known as "Prin," meets artistic blacksmith Zachary Chase when Prin's custody and attempted adoption process of six-year old Emily, whose mother has been murdered, reveals him to be Emily's biological father. Prin has not had good experiences with any man other than her foster father, Moose, and when she first meets Zac, it appears that pattern will continue. Furthermore, though Zac is part Navajo and has some paranormal abilities of his own, he firmly denies these and prefers to see the world in concrete terms--no "spiritual mumbo-jumbo" of the kind he assigns to his “out there” Navajo shaman grandfather.
The child Emily is central to how these two unlikely characters find their way into each other's hearts. The past nightmare Kira has to deal with is having watched her parents be murdered. For Zac, it's betrayal and abandonement from significant women in his life. Both need to work through these past events to learn to trust, and the actions that unfold in the story arc highlight that theme very well. Throughout the story, the reader is treated to all kinds unexpected developments that keep this work a fast and furious page-turner. Even the skeptical Zac comes to accept his abilities as a seer. Eventually he finds himself able to follow Kira into her faerie world to rescue her and her world from death and destruction as the story culminates in driving out the dark faerie Lirdeag.
The work is generally very well edited, though once again, there is at best an inconsistent use of the subjunctive ("if I were" vs. "if I was..." "as though he were" vs. the incorrect "as though he was..."). The split infinitives are also an irritant ("to not do something" vs. "NOT to do something"). The other thing I stumbled over was the pace of developments and the speed of recovering from near-fatal injuries--especially for the humans. And then, after surmounting this near-impossible list, everyone is cheering triumphantly at the end when the enemies are apparently vanquished--the "happily ever after" impling the end of all difficulties from now on to throughout the future. After all that's happened up to that point, such an implied outcome is rather jaring. It adds a lot of excessive melodrama to character interactions, but I'm not sure if this a limitation inherent in the genre or an honest critique of the writer's abilities.
Regardless, Gold has managed to create stories that are imaginative, compelling and thoroughly enjoyable. I've re-read all of the books in the series multiple times and can easily envision these four couples meeting up on the Mythos plane to battle some gigantic threat to their world. And through that process, they would overcome whatever leftover enmities existed among their different species that originated from the past. Highly recommended!
Ironclad Devotion is another winner from Jami Gold! I devoured this book, just like I did with Treasured Claim and Pure Sacrifice earlier this year.
The short version - Keeping promises is really really important. Not just promises to kids (althouh those are critical), but keep all your promises.
The characters in this story were well drawn and believable, as well as being hugely likable (or hate-able) due to their actions during the story. The settings were well drawn and easy to picture...
Other highlights... yummy showers, much better magical zoo trip than in the Mary Poppins book,generally great interactions between Fire Fairy and the animal kingdom, magic that all felt organic and real, consequences for decisions we make. I wish that the iron Dragon that Zac had made for Emily had come into play again in the climax (or somewhere).
Oh, and having your face melted off is still too good for some people.
This book wasn't quite as prone to make me go wake up hubby, but the sexy scenes were well written and quite hot. (blushes).
I've been a fan of Jami's blog for years. She's very knowledgeable when it comes to the industry, but I had never read her fiction until now. I'm so glad I can finally add her novels to my keeper shelf. Her story telling ability is top notch. It kept me turning the pages well into the morning (had to be up early, but I simply couldn't put Ironclad down) I love how real her characters seem. They speak and act with deep emotion that jumps from the page, snares you and doesn't let go. And her world building talent blows my mind. I am looking forward to reading the other books in this series, and hope to continue to read Jami Gold's works for many years to come.
Usually, paranormal or fantasy romance stories are just pure entertainment for me. But this book added another level to that with all of the fascinating and interesting details of blacksmithing, the Bikers Against Child Abuse organization, the psychology of how to help an abused kid, the foster care system, and Arizona's crazy desert setting. Jami Gold must have done a crap ton of research and it paid off because this book is amazing. Beautifully written with ample emotions, complex characters, imaginative fantasy world-building, and a perfectly woven romance.
I've followed Jami's blog for a while and out of curiosity, downloaded the free sample she was offering when this book came out. It was only supposed to satiate my curiosity for what her fiction was like but after reading the sample, I couldn't stop wondering what happened next in the story and got the entire book. Admittedly, I'm a reluctant reader in the sense that I'm not always very open to reading new books or new authors (out of fear of being disappointed) and what's more, I don't typically read romance, but I sped through the entire book in one night. Jami's writing is fast-paced, compelling, and her characters are interesting, complex people all with their own issues that we can relate to. Definitely looking forward to reading more of Jami's work!