Reviews, probably some ramblings. I'm, uh, new on this site. Bear with me.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Also, this review originally appeared on Hot Stuff for Cool People.
'Blowing Smoke,' the fifth book in Rory ni Coileain's SoulShares series, focuses on Lasair, the fae master of the hounds, who is about to be banished from the fae realm to the human one. He winds up in the basement of Bryce, a man who's been cruel and rude and pretty much just all around terrible to everyone around him, for his whole life. But what Bryce and Lasair don't realize is that, when Lasair crosses into the human world, his soul is ripped in half. And the other half ends up lodged in Bryce. Suddenly, Bryce realizes how awful he's been to everyone. And at the same time, he's fighting a growing attraction to Lasair, which Lasair seems to return.
I'm kind of in love with this series. Unfortunately, I haven't been reading it in order. So, although Bryce was a character in another of the books, I hadn't read that one, and I didn't know about what had happened to him. It ended up not mattering too much- even though this is definitely part of a series, everything that was going on was explained well, all the character gradually reintroduced, so I didn't feel like I was missing too much. It was easy to follow the plot, and, at the same time, nothing felt like too much of an info dump.
And I just really enjoyed the book. There was a lot that went on with the fae who were living in the human world- it's actually a plot filled with a lot of excitement and action- but I felt that the story really revolved around the growing romance between Bryce and Lasair. And I think this is really where the author excels in her writing- her romances are sweet and intense and they draw you right in. The book, and the romance, are totally engaging. I didn't want to put it down. It's fun and dramatic and, almost where you least expect it, sincerely touching.
I can't say this is a perfect book. Although I adored the romance and thought it was just about the sweetest thing ever, it does feel a bit rushed. Since it take place over just one day, saying it only feels a bit rushed is probably pretty good- it should feel really rushed, and unbelievable, but it doesn’t. I do, as usual, wish the author had gone into a bit more about the sharing of a split soul. Maybe she’s done this in another book I haven’t yet read and I missed it. But it seems like such a complex thing, and, at the same time, honestly feels a bit narcissistic. I mean, would Lasair have loved Bryce even if his soul hadn’t split? Or did he only love him because Bryce had something of his? I just feel it deserves a bit more attention. But I still liked the romance! Don’t get me wrong. I just wanted a bit more explanation.
I also felt like some of the action-y bits that were happening were a little… convoluted. Not that I couldn’t follow, but I didn’t always understand, exactly, what was happening or why. It’s quite possible this is because I’ve missed a couple books, and really, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book at all. But I do remember thinking, with the last book in this series I read, that sometimes things, action and excitement and conflict, happened without an explanation for why they were happening, and were resolved in a similar manner. This particular book is much more straightforward, but I feel it could still be clearer. The same goes for some of the dialogue and inner thoughts of the characters- there were a few places where the characters were really trying to get at something, explain something, and I could tell they were trying, but whatever they were attempting to get across was just a bit too choppy to make it.
On the other hand, a lot of the flaws or minor issues I’d had with previous books, especially the first book in the series, were fixed. The plot, and the romance, were neater and tighter. The book didn’t ramble- it was a straight, clear shot from beginning to end, fast paced, and completely addictive. The characters were real and alive and their motives were also very clear. And they stayed in character for the whole book.
Overall, this was just sweet and fun and I loved it. I loved the characters, I loved the way they cared for each other. There were definitely a few moments, amidst what is a relatively light story, where what was happening between Lasair and Bryce, or what one of them was remembering about their past, really struck me. Mixed in with the sweetness of the romance and the excitement of the action, there were some very deep thoughts, and it was a nice balance. I look forward to not only going back and reading the books I’ve missed in the series, but reading anything else the author writes.