Author: James Cox
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
Rating: 4.25 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 08/06/2015
Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)
Genre: Alternate Universe/Alternate World, Apocalyptic/dystopian, Erotica, Fiction, Gay, M/M Romance, Science Fiction
What if bad guys ruled the world and the good guys were the outlaws?
The war on mars is almost over. A small band of peacekeepers are hiding from the Outlaw MC. Grim has held his past from the club since he joined. He punishes himself for his sins years ago, no relationships, no friends, nothing but taking the government down. Then he meets a member’s brother.
Valentine just escaped from the prison on earth. He’s too young for Grim but that doesn’t stop the pull between them. As the club hunts down the last of the peacekeepers, Grim and Valentine have sex. It isn’t until afterward that the truth of his past comes out. Grim was a guard at the very prison Valentine was in.
Can lies be forgiven as the peace of mars is shattered?
The set up made me sit up. I was grinning on page one. It also didn’t take me long to like Valentine’s voice as the narrator of our story here.
The prose is some of the best I’ve read from Cox. Nice flow and physical pace brought me immediately into the story, excited for the ride. He’s at his best when building anticipation like this, the rhythm fantastic and basically irresistible.
One of my favorite relationships to be explored in literature, and life, is that between two brothers. We get that here with Valentine and Romeo. It’s quickly obvious how they feel about each other and the emotional stakes are upped as a result. Cox demonstrates moments of brilliance with his economic storytelling, providing meaty connections to which I can add my own.
Add to the mix this thing between Valentine and Grim and you’ve got a great combination of story and character. These two could not be more opposite in so many ways and yet they work. I so enjoyed the winding indirect way their growing connection and attraction takes. Theirs has a feeling of unintentional pairing and I couldn’t keep from smiling. It’s quite a feat to portray the focused couple or possible couple-to-be as a surprise and Cox succeeds.
I inhaled again, feeling chatty which was unusual for me. Grim seemed to put me at ease without even trying.
The romance shines through. I’m tempted to rank this story as the most romantic in the series so far. Grim and Valentine have that “meant to be” kind of vibe. Is it to be the case?
There are some surprising turns, leading to conflict, some to rather emotional high points, with all of this resulting in tension that remains taut throughout. In other words, awesomely fun and enjoyable storytelling.
James Cox continues to demonstrate his evolution of that as a storyteller and I like what he’s serving up here. The plot is logical, benefitting from those aforementioned surprises, there is a nice balance between romance and action, and the character interactions are organic. This last point is particularly true in Valentine’s case, as we’re meeting him for the first time yet his personality fills a role unlike any of the other characters.
Grim and Valentine have great chemistry, aren’t perfect, and they try to do their best in all circumstances despite that imperfection. Even within a short time frame, their exploration of each other and what it might feel like to share a life all feel real within this Martian universe.
There is still an issue with the blunt overly short sentences that feel like statements of fact rather than attempts to maintain tension and steam as they’re intended. Example, as written:
Chaos kissed Beau. Their tongues battled.
Too staccato, too cut and dry, when Chaos and Beau are anything but. Instead, phrasing it like “Chaos kissed Beau, their tongues battling”, the action is current, right now, with a sense of urgency, not reading like a proclamation. This might be a style choice but it’s shortchanging the story.
Conversely, Cox shows some of his wonderful talent for description:
I balled my fists and squared off. “Why the hell did you give me… hope?” I paused, my breathing shaky. “You made me feel like I mattered. Like I belonged.”
We made our way to a plain of flat red dust. The place was empty. Nothing but sky and unobstructed views. The sun shined down on the quiet, uncolonized parts of Mars.
Maybe it’s the romanticized vision and feelings of curiosity I have about Mars, and its possibilities for the future, but I love that passage. Simple, clean, and yet it speaks to, not just the landscape but, the mood of specific characters in a specific time and place, within context. Lovely.
For me, this is the most well written book of this series. The excellent character development has returned, the plotting moved along at a good clip, and I was invited in by them both. Also, the sex is steamy, varied, imperfect, emotional, with a touch of over the top, as always.
This is an exciting, enjoyable, hot, and simply fabulous entry to this series. It’s a turning point for all of the characters, leading to what could be an either incredibly disastrous or life-altering reward for such a hard fought battle. Which one will it be? I’ll be reading the next story to find out!
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.
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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