Author: Jack Byrne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Rating: 4.50 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 10/05/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Historical, Paranormal, Western
It’s the late 1870s in Australia, and while bushranger Jim Kelly hates the idea of shooting anyone, his boyfriend Mark Turner wants to pull a train heist, so Jim has to make a tough choice. Years ago, he fell unexpectedly in love with Mark, but now Mark wants to put innocent lives in danger so they can get enough money to run away together.
Unable to resolve their differences, they decide to go their separate ways, but soon realize they can’t stay away from each other. In the end their hasty reunion gets them in trouble with the law. Luckily Mark’s brother, Ramone, uses his diplomatic privilege to free them from prison. They flee for Europe, but during the harrowing sea journey Jim is caught between his love for Mark and the terrible realization that Mark and his brother might be a greater danger to him and the captain and crew of the vessel they sail on than anything they left behind.
The opening to this story is sweet, funny, and it serves well in reminding us about Jim and Mark and their personalities. Yup, I was smiling, I was back in the Outback with these guys, ready for their continuing adventures, as well as maybe some answers to some elements presented in the previous books in this series.
Right off the bat, the dialogue reveals its easy rhythm, a steady flow that also works well in showing off Jim and Mark and their differing attitudes and shared feelings. It set things up for what was to come, in both conflict and compromise.
This has an American West tone to it, thanks to the setting, circumstances, and many of the action scenes that take place. I love me a good Western, whether American or Aussie, and this fits the bill.
The relationship between Jim and Mark is complicated by their individual imperfections, yet they feel perfect for each other. No matter where in history these two would find themselves, they’d find each other. Yeah, it’s that high level a love and intimacy and devotion they share.
One of the larger conflicts between Jim and Mark is somewhat predictable. What makes it interesting is how this author uses it to further his exploration of these characters. The emotional impact is there and it put firmly into place what could be called the major theme of this book and the series: someone important to you, to your life, has the power to change you, and for the better if you let them. Jim and Mark have changed each other and now those changes are affecting their lives, the life they share, in big ways.
I tend to stay away from declaring characters, or people for that matter, are destined to be together, but these two are. Not only are they recognizing that truth, they’re living it, it’s impacting their decisions and each thinks about the other while doing it. And it’s not portrayed as sickeningly sweet (you all know I don’t do the overly sweet), but instead as something very real, very alive, and very Jim & Mark.
I love love love the twists in this story. Creative, unexpected, and simply cool, just like a good ol’ 180 should be. This is but one of the spokes turning the wheel of this story, serving it so well. With each passing page, I fell more and more in love with Jim and Mark.
The paranormal elements hinted at in the previous books are finally brought to the forefront in this story. The various reactions to these by the different characters are the vessels on which the overall message of this book and series are fully realized: in being yourself, you can recognize the differences in others, realizing they are just like you because of those differences. On top of that, we get some answers, especially in regards to Mark and his family and past, as well as some unlikely alliances, and lots of plain ol’ fun.
I enjoyed the heck outa this story and these characters. Any rare moment of awkward phrasing or overly explained detail was quickly swept aside by what was happening at that moment, in that scene. This was as close as one can get to “reading a movie” and I loved it.
I also enjoy watching and experiencing an author’s marked progress in their storytelling abilities, and Jack Byrne is definitely demonstrating that here. The improved imagery and sense of place, extra crisp dialogue and focused plotlines – there wasn’t a slow point in the bunch – and the added layers of complexity to his characters, including Jim and Mark, all make for obvious growth and confidence. I love seeing that!
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,
|This post may contain affiliate links.
|Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews. The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.|