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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

One Good Year by Rowan McBride

One Good Year by Rowan McBride
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (100 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

Ten months ago, Spade was won in yet another high-stakes poker game. But Ace Donovan was different from his previous masters—kind, generous, possessed of a playfulness that only Spade can see. His new master was also broken, slowly crumbling under the pressures of undeserved guilt and pain. As Senai—a genetically engineered servant—Spade had the ability to sweep the anguish from his soul, to fulfill his every desire, and to set Ace’s spirit free.

He hadn't known doing these things would grant him the human’s love, or create an answering emotion within him.

There's no greater pleasure than Ace in his arms, and Spade will hold on for as long as he's wanted. Even when the orders given to him hurt, even when they make him lonely, even when it becomes clear that his master no longer needs a servant. He’s Senai. What he has now should be enough. Yet it’s not. He wants more.

One good hand brought them together. Could one good year entwine their souls?

Spade and Ace are back as Spade has to convince Ace that they truly belong together, against all odds. Ace and Spade have been together for a very blissful year so far. Happily in love and crazy in lust, the two seem to have a rock solid relationship, so much so they’re planning to get married. They truly think nothing can come between them. Their bond is tested, though, when Spade’s new friend starts to challenge their bond. It’ll take a lot of soul searching and one hell of a bet for them to finally know if they belong together.

One Good Year picks up a year later after the first book in the series began. I’d recommending reading the first book, One Good Hand, first to fully appreciate and understand the dynamics between the main characters. You can read this as a stand alone but there are definitely details and comments that will lack context or be missing entirely. In the sequel Ace and Spade are happily, deeply in love and proceed to have a lot of sex. This isn’t bad but there are some hints of trouble of in paradise which lead to Spade meeting a new friend, another genetically engineered alien like himself. Now this new character, introduced late in the book, is responsible for casting doubt and problems in the relationship.

On the one hand it’s quite nice to see Ace and Spade again and this time Spade is the narrator so I thought we’d understand more from his perspective. We do, in a way, but he remains pretty remote and one dimensional. He’s in love with Ace, will do whatever it takes to make Ace happy, and wants to stay with Ace. That is the sole depth to Spade. Ace on the other hand is the same charming, witty, and charismatic man as he was in the first book but since the story is told from Spade’s POV, Ace feels remote and not present in the significant way. I found I truly missed Ace’s narration in the face of Spade’s rather robotic and unemotional event telling.

Another issue is that the story feels entirely told with manipulated drama. It’s all a good idea and creates some definite tension and drama, especially in light of Senai’s powers, but it also feels too late in the story to really mean much. We never really understand this newcomer’s motivations or emotions and the end effect is showing that yes, Ace and Spade are incredibly in love. This bit of information is something we’re told at the very beginning and it’s disappointing something new or interesting doesn’t develop in their relationship as a result. It’s still sweet and lovely but mostly empty.

While One Good Year is a decent sequel, it pales in comparison to the original. It doesn’t have the same charm and whimsy, although the clean writing and easy reading is still there. This will be best for fans of the series. The author is a good writer with some clever ideas so I’d be interested to see what is done next.

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