A collection of three stories by three authors relating to paranormal ‘Claws’…
Author: Eli Easton, Jamie Fessenden and Kim Fielding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG
Rating: 5.0 of 5 Stars
Gothika: Volume Three
Beasts lurk in the shadows of wild and forgotten places and in the hearts and souls of men. They are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, but are they feral and savage, or just misunderstood? Creatures of myth and legend stalk these tales of dark desire and animal passions. Three men come face-to-face with such creatures and find they are much more than they seem. While there is danger, there might be unexpected benefits as well, if they can accept the impossible and dare to venture into the primordial regions where nature and the beasts still reign. Three acclaimed authors of gay romance explore the boundaries between man and beast and the place where their worlds overlap.
Isolation by Jamie Fessenden
When Sean’s marriage breaks up, he returns to his hometown, hoping to find the childhood friend who meant everything to him in his teens. He finds Jack living in a cabin, surrounded by the forest he always loved, and the two begin to tentatively repair their damaged relationship. But a large animal has been seen prowling around the edge of town, and soon Sean comes face-to-face with the beast. Jack insists the creature isn’t dangerous—it’s been coming around the cabin for years. It isn’t long, however, before Sean discovers a far more disturbing connection between his friend and the beast.
Transformation by Kim Fielding
After being caught in bed with another male student in 1886, Orris Spencer is declared an abomination by his wealthy father. Orris is promptly banished from their Fifth Avenue mansion and sent across the continent to Oregon. Now Orris must try to find a place for himself on his brother’s farm and figure out how to deal with life as a pioneer. When he’s called on to help protect the livestock from a predator, he’s not at all certain he’s up to the task. Then he meets Henry Bonn, a strange and intriguing man who lives in a cabin in the hills. Orris’s attraction to Henry may not be an abomination—but it may prove a greater danger than banishment.
The Black Dog by Eli Easton
Constable Hayden MacLairty is used to life being dull around the tiny hamlet of Laide on the north Scottish coast. They get occasional tourists, “monster hunters” interested in the local legend of the Black Dog, but Hayden thinks that’s only a myth. A rash of sheep killings, a murdered hiker, huge footprints, and sightings of the Black Dog force Hayden to rethink the matter. With the help of Simon Corto, a writer from New York doing research for a book about the Black Dog, Hayden tries to figure out why the enormous hound is reappearing. Hayden finds himself strongly attracted to another person for the first time in his life. But between the danger stalking the hills, Simon’s inevitable return to New York, and Hayden’s mother’s illness, true love may be more of a phantom than the Black Dog.
The Black Dog – Eli Easton Review by Beverley
I adore this story of loveable police officer Hayden MacLairty, and the village, in the Scottish Highlands, of Laide. The writing is really good and I congratulate an American author getting the idea of a Scottish brogue so accurately…
I have to mention that it did remind me very strongly of the pairing Tyack and Frayne and Once Upon a Haunted Moor by Harper Fox, but that being said I really became invested in the lives of the good policeman and the author Simon Corto who turns the village and Hayden’s life upside down.
Not only do we get a good shivery mystery regarding The Black Dog, but also the tender love of Hayden for his mother who is going downhill fast suffering from dementia. We also see how Hayden cares deeply for the people of the village and the beautiful craggy landscape and lochs that surround them. Simon Corto could only be seen as a bright and exotic newcomer to this ancient landscape and small place, but he certainly turns Hayden’s head and the feelings are mutual. Considering this is a short story, the relationship between the two MCs never feels rushed or forced and the mystery concerning the Black Dog had plenty of twists and a great surprise.
I had such a good time reading this and highly recommend it – maybe we might see more of this pairing in the future?
Isolation by Jamie Fessenden Review by Queue
This was a hard review to write, not because there was anything wrong with it but because there was so much right with it. I enjoyed it so much as I read it I barely took any notes. I was totally sucked into the engaging tale from beginning to end.
At the start of the story Sean shows up at the isolated cabin of his high school lover/ ex best friend. Sean is somewhat of a mess because of a failed marriage and the realization that he made a mistake years ago when he pushed Jack away. Jack allows him to stay but insists Sean sleep on the couch, which makes Sean’s plan of a reunion that much harder.
Jack isn’t ready to forgive and forget just yet, but Sean is determined and not about to give up. If the story was only about Sean and Jack it still would’ve been a great story in the hands of the talented author. But there is a supernatural tale that is told alongside Sean and Jack’s reunion.
The local sheriff warns Sean and Jack about a large beast being seen in the area. Jack insists it’s just a bear, but does warn Sean to keep the front door locked. One night Sean forgets to do so and is visited by a creature.
I loved the description of the monster which was both descriptive and vague, allowing the reader to form their own image. The scene is terrifying to both the reader and Sean.
The tension of the mystery of who or what the creature is builds at the same pace as Sean and Jack’s relationship. Fessenden did an amazing job balancing the romance, the mystery and the horror.
I thoroughly enjoyed the short story and was so invested in the characters I was sad when it was over.
It was an excellent ending, even though I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to know what happened next.
Transformation by Kim Fielding – Review by Brandilyn
This novella is part of Claw, installment three of Dreamspinner Press’ Gothika series of anthologies. The theme for this installment is werewolves or canine shifters of some sort.
I debated for a long time on how to rate Transformation by Kim Fielding. I will probably get crucified for this, but I found Fielding’s contribution to Claw to be boring. Maybe I went in expecting something different that what Fielding offered, and I was unable to shift my paradigm to appreciate fully what was offered. However, I am not sure that Transformation really met the spirit of the anthology.
First of all, we don’t even get to see a wolf until about 3/4 of the way through. We basically have a historical tale of a gay man kicked out of his posh east coast family for his proclivities. He is taken in by his homesteading brother in the west. There is a mysterious canine attack alluded to a few times, and since we know this is a wolf shifter story, we know that is our wolf. However, we don’t get to see him for so long, that when we do see him, finally, I have lost interest.
We harp on Orris’ “proclivities” for so long that we only have a few pages to meet and connect with the love interest, Henry. We know Orris was caught with a lover, David. We also know more about David than we ever do about Henry. There isn’t a lot of book left when Henry and Orris finally get together for their one encounter. (For those scoring at home, it is a pretty tame scene by sexytime standards. Take from that what you will). Orris is then told a brief history of werewolves and given a choice.
While I can appreciate the story Fielding was trying to tell, and I had sympathy for Orris’ plight, too much time was spent on the backstory and not enough on the relationship between Henry and Orris. I don’t know why Orris is drawn to Henry. I don’t know why Orris would choose the way he did.
If I had not been expecting something else, the story of Orris’ attempt to start over in the west with his brother was actually quite interesting. I enjoyed getting to know him. I enjoyed seeing him interacting with his brothers family and trying to make a life for himself. I just didn’t feel the wolf shifter part of the story enough. That part was just too quick to fully appreciate and almost felt tacked on.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
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