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Friday, March 5, 2010

Silver Bells by Hunter Raines

Silver Bells by Hunter Raines
Publisher: Loose ID LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (76 pgs)
Other: M/M, Multiple Partners
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Cholla

Jud Hess has loved Derek Gentry since they were children. When they became lovers in college, he thought they were destined to be together forever. All that changed with Derek’s tragic death only four years later, on Christmas Day.

Now, more than a decade after that horrible event, Jud clings to a promise he made the night before Derek died. He vowed that he would never, ever, be with another man. And he’s clung to that vow with every bit of what’s left of his heart.

But Derek’s death brought an unlikely gift. After his lover died, Jud began to see spirits. And although ghosts have become his constant companions, the one spirit he longs to see only appears to him at Christmas. Or at least, he used to.

This year, Derek doesn’t come. But someone else does; a man who brings with him the kind of erotic temptation and a need of his own that Jud is helpless to resist.

To end a decade of loneliness, Jud will have to give in to the sultry seduction of a stranger… and betray the spirit of the man who should have been the love of his life.

Jud is stuck in the past. Since losing Derek, he’s refused to move forward and find happiness again. His inner turmoil haunts him, keeping everyone but his spirit-bound companions at bay, setting himself up for almost total isolation. He is intense and emotional, a truly devoted lover. I love that he can suddenly see spirits after Derek’s murder and, instead of ignoring them or something equally drastic, he helps them find justice and, eventually, peace. It’s a fitting occupation since his own soul is in such a state of turmoil. You hope that helping so many others would help him heal. However, he takes all the passion and drive he’d once put into his relationship with his former lover and pours it into the solving of mysteries instead.

Ty is Jud’s total opposite. He wants to move forward, but is being held at a standstill by a stubborn ghost. He’s tired of being alone and is eager for a friend, or a lover, to come into his life. I enjoyed the way he sticks to his guns and refuses to let Jud weasel his way out of helping him. He lets his desperation talk and Jud is no match for it. He’s just the kind of man that Jud needs in his life—stubborn, strong, and steadfast, able to weather the storm of Jud’s past tragedy. Also, all this frustration and annoyance on Ty’s part creates a lot of tension between the two men, making their meeting that much more enjoyable.

The passion between the two is explosive, full of pent-up emotion and pure animal lust. Jud and Ty make a sultry combination that is just ready to explode. Their struggle to find balance is a real one, one that we have either experienced ourselves or have witnessed in others. Moving on after the demise of a relationship—whether it was ended by death or just mutual separation—is one of the hardest things we’re ever faced with. Slowly, as all the pieces of the mystery fall into place, you’re treated to a real gem of a story. Hunter Raines outdoes herself in this heart-tugging story of acceptance, forgiveness and moving on.

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