Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publication date: September 19, 2016
Length: 167 pages
Reviewed by Morningstar
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.
Bitterwood is a high fantasy set in a world that has magic and castles, and lords and ladies. And because it is high fantasy and modern world problems are not included; same sex relationships are not forbidden although families would still like to carry on their line it is also something that isn’t exactly wanted either. It is a medieval historical timed story that includes magic which are two of my favorite things in this story.
One of my favorite parts was the quest; the author's descriptions and world building were detailed enough to suck you in but not overwhelm you. Magic in stories is always one of my favorite and this one did not disappoint. This is a new to me author but they handled the illustration of the adventure of finding the elusive lion like beast, the cold and the woods fantastically. It was vibrant and intense! The author gave just enough information about the history of the manor and its lands to keep the reader intrigued but not over run with too much detail.
The story is told from two different third person POVs of Farran and Meric. Farran is the captain in the King’s guard who gets all hot and steamy with Joss, the Lord of Bitterwood Manor. It’s an inst-lust for these two men and oh boy does it burn hot! Meric, the young mage who is ill and needs the beat to cure him falls instantly in-love with Joss’s young son Eissa, who is 16 years old to Meric’s 17 years. There is a love story between these two with a few stolen kisses but not much else. Meric loves that although Eissa takes care of him he doesn’t treat him as though he is crippled. And although there was an insta-love between these two young men it was something of an innocent young love that makes sense for the characters.
This story is definitely more suspense and action based but with romance thrown in there and although not a long book each couple gets their HEA. One couple has to work more than the other to achieve it. All the characters are well written and developed even for a short story. Rowan Speedwell is a great writer and this story proves that statement! I will be definitely looking up more of their work.
About the Author
An unrepentant biblioholic, Rowan Speedwell spends half her time pretending to be a law librarian, half her time pretending to be a database manager, half her time pretending to be a fifteenth-century Aragonese noblewoman, half her time . . . wait a minute . . . Hmm. Well, one thing she doesn’t pretend to be is good at math. She is good at pretending, though.
In her copious spare time (hah) she does needlework, calligraphy and illumination, and makes jewelry. She has a master’s degree in history from the University of Chicago, is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and lives in a Chicago suburb with the obligatory Writer’s Cat and way too many books.
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To celebrate the release of Bitterwood, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Amazon Gift Card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 24, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!