Author: S.P. Wayne
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: T.K. Hunter
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Everything Carries Me to You is the third and final act in the Axton and Leander series. What started off as a sweet story about a reclusive gay werewolf finding love has become a high stakes action packed drama, and now lives are on the line.
Love is all you need–unless love is not enough. In Los Angeles, Axton and Leander were blissfully, peacefully in love, navigating the warm, deepening waters of their relationship. But a man from Axton’s past took it all away in an instant. With Dana threatening Leander’s safety, Axton has no choice but to leave in order to save his human lover’s life. After a painful good-bye on a hospital bed, Axton goes away for what might be forever.
Axton knew the price was high: a life for a life. But Axton has no idea how much higher the price can still get. Dana might still be in love, so he claims, but mercy will not temper his hand. How far can Axton be pushed before he snaps? How much can Axton take before he’s out of his mind with pain and grief? And when he snaps–not if–then who will land the killing bite? Axton? Or his ex-boyfriend turned jailer?
Left with two broken legs and a shattered heart, Leander nonetheless knows what he must do. He swore to Axton that they would be reunited, and Leander is a man who keeps his promises. Physical recovery might be slow, but love doesn’t wait. Leander sets his plans in motion before he’s even out of the hospital. Before he can follow Axton, Leander has to find him…
Separated and longing for reunion, Axton and Leander reach for each across the sprawling American landscape. They live under the same moon, they might wish on the same stars, but nothing is easy. Working apart, they will nonetheless have to fight together, fight for each other, fight for their future–or else the good-bye is forever.
Sometimes bleak and despairing, sometimes soft and tender, sometimes spitting with rage, Everything Carries Me to You spans the full spectrum of human emotion. From the sublime and lonely mountains of Montana in Winter Wolf, to the friendly and welcoming community in City Wolf, the Axton and Leander series has been a fresh voice in the werewolf romance genre. Though often serious, the story still finds time for subtle humor, and also very unsubtle humor. With a growing, varied cast of characters, the story has kept on evolving.
By turns brutal and bloody and then benevolent and beautiful, Everything Carries Me to You is an epic, heart wrenching finale. It’s a tale of fighting, of friendship, of freedom. It’s romance and angst and action. It’s about love measured against loss, about revenge against mercy. Ultimately, the lesson is this: not all fights are the same.
There’s more than one way to be a hero.
Some of my initial reactions, all within the first 10% of this book:
~ Oh… potty mouths abound, me likey.
~ I’ve missed these people.
~ No!!!! Leander, no… no.
~ C’mon Axton, Dana is no match for you, neither physically nor in humor and intelligence.
By the time I’d reached the end, say the last 20%? Here are some of those reactions:
~ Omg Leaaaanderrrrrr, you’re fabulous!
~ I love jizz flavor jokes! (I’m still waiting for it, just FYI)
~ Banter!!! Teamwork!!!
~ Oh… Dana… how did you manage that? all of this?? And now, you bathturd, I want to know more.
~ I have over seven pages of notes. O_O
So, what happened during alllllllllllllll of the most of the rest of this book? Here it be and, I promise, I’ve pruned much from those seven pages in the interest of our collective sanity.
Just as City Wolf (book 2) was different from Winter Wolf (book 1), this third installment is different than either of those. Tone, structure, focus, all of them and more are different. The consistencies come in the forms of the characters, the humor, the writing, and this unique take on werewolves, their “society” and rules. This still ain’tchur Grandma’s shifter story.
Longing for Leander lived in Axton’s chest, throbbing dull and sharp in the exact spot Axton had been stabbed, near his heart. There was no scar on his skin, and Axton ached for one. He wanted memories of his lover scrimshawed onto his skin.
I’m a rather patient reader, I enjoy experiencing a story as it unfolds, especially one written well and by a storyteller I trust. All of these are the case with this author. However, I had none… none! I wanted Axton and Leander to find each other IMMEDIATELY. They’re such a formidable team. Their love is… as tall as that building over which only Superman can leap in a single bound. My impatience – and this is all me – was at such a heightened level that I threatened the book with great harm if it didn’t give me what I wanted RIGHTNOW.
I was made to wait. Tension would build and then slide away, falsely, mind you, only to return and smack me in the literary face mask. Wayne is very good at maintaining that underlying layer of tightly sprung tension, thrumming through everything. No wonder I was wound up.
The dialogue is smooth and made it so easy for me to hear these characters. The consistency in speech patterns, attitude and intentions, everything created conversations that find that subconscious spot inside all of us that recognizes truth when touched. I felt like I was right there, engaged in the discussions.
(insert dirty joke here – S’ok, I would, too.)
Axton has Dana’s number and it’s on speed dial. Or does he? Or does he but it’s not at all the number he thought it was? I can’t believe I’m saying this but… Dana is practically a revelation in this book. He’s the neon sign, amongst all of the other more subtle ones, that tells me this a very personal story. I feel like I want to scream like Taylor in Planet of the Apes, “Daaaaamn youuuuu, Dana!!!” Of course, the Dana part is the artistic license bit. Dana is one of the most well-written, believable, surprising, and complex in nature but not at all in motivation type characters I’ve encountered.
I had to keep reminding myself that, no, Wayne doesn’t actually know any werewolves, despite how well she writes them. Because she does and, ya know, because they don’t really exist. Her physical descriptions, always coupled with emotional filling, had me right there with whatever was happening, whether to Axton, Dana, Helen or any of the other wolves.
Axton coiled his body low to the ground and then leapt, the dull thud of his paws on the buck’s side lost to the air as he sunk his teeth into the jugular.
Along the same vein is Wayne’s talent for creating atmosphere. Her detail is meaningful and useful, melding physical description and emotion in a way that engulfs me, pulling me in deeper and deeper as I read.
Getting back to Helen. And Jack. And Trevor. And Ilias! And New York!! And Sarah, of course. The supporting characters are just as robustly portrayed as Axton and Leander. I mean, New York!! Some of the best humor fell from the interactions twixt Leander and New York. What. A. Treat! I laughed.
Family is a continuing theme. In this book, it’s approached from an entirely different perspective, filled with heart, pain, the past, and all that goes into working through all of these things.
Here is my conundrum: the first act of this story went on for well more than half of the book and, while I love spending time in this universe for all of the reasons I’ve outlined here, that was too long. It was filled to the brim with the wonderfully satisfying exploration of friendship, life and death decisions, history and how we all have to deal with it, motivations, and learning about one’s self and, ultimately, accepting that self, grabbing life by the hand and not letting go, reaching for what you want. I’m still going back and forth about whether this approach worked for the story. Maybe it’s a mix. I think it impacted the beginning of the second and final act.
What always works? Axton and Leander. Axton and Dana (what?! I know! It’s complicated). Sarah and Leander. Leander and New York. And now Jack, Trevor, and Helen.
Bottom line is, Axton and Leander build upon the incredibly strong, rather indestructible foundation that is their relationship. They do for each other that which they can’t do on their own. Their love does that. I wanted more of that. I got some, but I wanted more. I wanted more of the chemistry, inside the bedroom and out, shared twixt Axton and Leander. It’s the real fuel to this series. I wanted more of this:
”I’ll show you poetry,” Leander said.
“I don’t know if your mouth is going to be free for that.”
“Poetry in motion, motherfucker.”
The writing is emotional and grounded, all of the characters pulled me in, the humor is spot. ON., damnyouDana, and this is a personal story. I love this series. I love this universe. I love these characters.
I highly recommend you start from the beginning with Winter Wolf, revel and laugh and dance through the flowers (until…) of City Wolf, and then settle in for a cross-country train ride for Everything Carries Me to You. I’ll be making a return trip of my own. 😀
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
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.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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