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Monday, May 18, 2009

The Valde: Water by Astrid Amara

The Valde: Water by Astrid Amara
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (90 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Cactus

On Joel’s birthday, he watched his lover Charlie drown while saving Joel’s life. Since then, no other man has been able to match the erotic chemistry the two of them once shared.

But a year later Joel is shocked to discover Charlie alive and well, looking as mysterious and attractive as ever. However, Charlie is different. He has new, arcane superpowers. He doesn’t seem to remember Joel at all.

And he murders people with his bare hands.

Suddenly Joel finds himself on the run from both his lover, and a frightening group of dangerous individuals who can wield the elements at will, and who are determined to kill him to keep their secret safe. But the smoldering looks Charlie gives Joel reminds him of their former, heated passion, and even with Charlie’s new homicidal tendencies, they discover their bodies remember what their minds may have forgotten…

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual practices, violence.

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen when the elements themselves got into a war, then this book might appeal to you. When Fire, Air, Water, and Earth elements decided to not to get along, Air and Earth scored a win by bonding together and banishing the elements of Fire and Water into the fragile bodies of humans. These elements live dormant within humans until the bodies die by their nature (ie. water elements drown, fire elements burn) and the soul of the long ago element comes to life. If this sounds confusing, it is but the key to enjoying this story is to slide over the details and focus on the men.

The men are certainly hot enough to focus on too. Joel is charming and likeable as a man whose lover drowns during his birthday cruise. If that isn’t bad luck, Joel also runs into Charlie exactly one year later at a local bar, prompting Joel to follow his supposedly dead lover to understand what was going on. Unfortunately for both the reader and Joel, the author offers very little complex and through explanation for what is going on. There are dropped hints and bits of information sparingly given out between action scenes and hot sex scenes so the plot is still somewhat confusing. It focuses on the elements’ war and the key players within said ancient war being “awakened” in their human bodies. However, the awakening sounds pretty painful. None of the characters seem any worse off but being drowned or burned to death doesn’t quite sound like a good time.

However, don’t let those pesky details swamp you since the author doesn’t spend much time on them either. The focus is much more on Joel and Charlie’s unusual connection. Both men are interesting, yet the dichotomy and confusion on both sides runs a bit long considering one minute their old relationship is over and the next they’re in a motel going at it. Similarly, the action scenes are easily predictable and lack any realistic tension within the setting the author’s created. However, this is a fantasy so if you can set aside your qualms and questions and simply enjoy the ride you might like the unique themes used. Even without an adequate explanation, the idea of the Element War is interesting, just as the characters and their purpose in a renewed war sets up possible sequels.

Unfortunately the book leaves too many hanging threads and in conjunction with the ill-described world and characters, this may not appeal to all audiences. On the plus side the sex is hot and plentiful and dominates the book and the actual prose is tight and solid, even if the plot is weak and convoluted. So for an entertainment read, this might appeal but for an absorbing action read, this is a miss. I can still say I didn’t hate reading the book, didn't consider it a waste of my time and it certainly had me thinking as it will you. So, if this sounds like your type of book, go for it.

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