Bitterwood by Rowan Speedwell ~ Book Review by Zane

2098892-1Title: Bitterwood

Author: Rowan Speedwell

Publisher: Riptide

Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 09/19/2016

Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)

Genre: Action/Adventure, Bisexual, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance, Romance


Outrunning a winter storm in the north, Captain Faran of the King’s Guard leads his men and a young mage named Meric to shelter at Bitterwood Manor, the ancestral home of the Daenes. Faran and his troops have been searching for weeks for a mysterious, lion-like beast that reportedly haunts the uncharted northern woods. For Meric, finding that prophesied cat is a matter of life and death.

Though Faran is deeply focused on their mission, the enigmatic Joss Daene, Lord of Bitterwood, fascinates him. Strong and proud, Joss is everything Faran wants in a lover. More, if he were honest. But Joss belongs to Bitterwood, and Faran to his duty.

Together they will need to brave the oldest, darkest part of the Bitterwood in the coldest, deepest snows of winter to find the legendary cat. But time is running out—for Meric, for the kingdom, and for Faran and Joss’s fledgling love.

My View:

Wow. Just absolutely wow. Rowan Speedwell has a mastery of the English language I have never seen from the gay romance genre. This is an author who has an intimate understanding of words and language.

I was immediately drawn into this book, sucked into the descriptive and vivid word Miss Speedwell has created. I could easily lose myself in the book and leave reality behind. For the first time in a long while, I’d found a book I didn’t want to put down.

Not only is the language simply beautiful, the characters are extremely well done. Even secondary and tertiary characters have their own stories, their own backgrounds, their own voice. Characters who only had a handful of words spoken felt like real people. I never once felt like anyone in the book was cookie cutter or flat.

The epic quest and hunt for a magical being was intriguing. Sure, it was a bit predictable, but with high fantasy, it’s hard to not be. But it didn’t matter if I knew how things would unfold. I wanted to watch them happen. I wanted to see how everything would manifest, wanted to see experience everything alongside the characters.

The only gripe I had with this book is the sex. There’s an overabundance of focus on sex and the sexual relationship amongst the characters. The book would’ve been so much stronger if almost all of that had been cut out and more focus given to the story instead. Part of me wants to chalk that up to being a byproduct of the book originally being released by Amber Allure, while the other part of me thinks the editors at Riptide should’ve addressed that issue.

I hope we eventually get to see the full story here. I want to see Faran and Meric come together. I want to see their quest from start to finish. I want the quest and world and characters to be front and center, not the sex.

Either way, if I had one thing to say to Miss Speedwell it’d be this: Leave the romance genre behind. High Fantasy is your calling and you could easily become a force of nature in mainstream, bringing gay characters to the front of the genre. A small genre and even smaller publishers just don’t do your work the service it deserves.

Readers, if you’re a fan of fantasy, then do yourself a favor: Buy this book now! Don’t even think twice about it. You won’t regret it.


Bitterwood on Goodreads
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
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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