Sunday, May 4, 2014

ARC Review: Stitch by Sue Brown, Eli Easton, Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding

Stitch (gothika #1)
From the blurb:

Stitch is an anthology of 4 novellas by m/m romance authors, each with a Frankenstein/Creature theme. It is the first in a series of gothic m/m romance anthologies called gothika. 
The stories in this volume are: 

Made For Aaron by Sue Brown As a teenager, Aaron Fox was sent to an asylum by his parents because he was gay, leaving him emotionally fragile after the treatment. However it gave him Damon Fox, the nurse he later married. For over twenty years, Damon’s devotion and strength has never faltered. When Damon is killed in a car accident, Aaron’s devastation soon gives way to confusion when he is shown Damon walking away from the hospital. Despite a desperate search, Damon isn’t seen again, and if Aaron can’t live with Damon, he may not want to live at all. But forces beyond Aaron’s understanding work behind the scenes, and if he can find the courage to unveil the secrets, he might get a second chance at happiness. 
Watchworks by Jamie Fessenden Harland Wallace made his name as one of the premiere watchmakers in Victorian London, so he isn’t surprised when a handsome young gentleman named Luke Prescott comes to his townhouse to hire him for a repair job. He is apprehensive when he discovers it is not a watch Mr. Prescott wants repaired, but a complex prosthesis he has in place of a hand. 
As further repairs are needed, Harland begins to wonder how much of Mr. Prescott is real and how much is mechanical, but he cannot deny the growing attraction he feels toward him. When he learns Prescott’s household servants pose a threat to the man they see as a monster, Harland must choose between what his culture tells him is wrong and what his heart tells him is right. 
The Golem of Mala Lubovnya by Kim Fielding In a small, 17th-century Eastern European town, a rabbi creates a man of clay—a golem—to protect the Jewish people from the threat of pogrom. Awaiting a call to duty, the golem spends a long time confined to an attic, lonely and sad. His only joys are watching the stonemason at work across the street and listening to a lovely voice singing prayers. 
When the golem meets the mason, Jakob, the two become friends, and Jakob names the golem Emet. But devout Jakob struggles with his attraction to Emet, and Emet dreads being used as an instrument for violence. Though Emet’s name means truth, honest love between a faithful man and a golem will only survive if they risk everything for a miracle. 
Reparation by Eli Easton On the harsh planet of Kalan, weakness is not tolerated. When young spore farmer Edward suffers an carriage accident that kills his mail-order bride and his factory manager, Edward has little chance of survival, until Knox—an enormous “reconstitute” labor slave—plucks him from disaster. 
Recons are part machine, part human remains from executed Federation prisoners. But Knox is different from other recons. He can read and has flashes of brilliance. With no one else to rely on over the bleak winter, Edward forms an alliance with Knox, and against social taboos, they become friends. Edward struggles against his growing lust for the large humanoid, and while Knox thrives in his new life, memories of his past torment him. 
A twist of fate brought Knox and Edward together, but there will be a price to pay in blood when they learn how deeply their lives truly intersect.

Heather's rating:

"The Golem of Mala Lubovnya" by Kim Fielding- 4 stars
Beautifully told and very atmospheric, Kim Fielding nailed this one. It read like a folklore tale and felt rich with history and meaning. It reminded me a wee bit of Truth in the Dark, and I enjoyed the religious aspect of it (more used to set the stage than preach anything). This story was expertly done but I wished for a little more (view spoiler). I also think this might have been more powerful if it had been left as a bittersweet ending but I think most people would prefer the current finale. Very nice, excellent start to the collection.

"Watchworks" by Jamie Fessenden- 4 stars
I always love Jamie Fessenden and this was no different. Here, he created a smart, sexy steampunk romance that worked on so many levels. As in the first in the collection, the story made me consider what is "human" and what is a facsimile, and where the lines become so blurred that they can't be distinguished any more. I found the historical setting to be erotic in that buttoned-up kind of way. Very nicely done.

"Reparation" by Eli Easton- 4 stars
I'm so on board with Eli Easton these days! First she wowed me with Blame It On The Mistletoe, and now she killed it with a great, sexy sci-fi story. This was really good. Again, the theme of human or not persists but this time it is in an intergalactic setting. I loved the little twists in the plot and Knox's chemistry with Edward was sizzling. Nicely conceptualized and executed and another winner from this author.

"Made For Aaron" by Sue Brown- 1.5 stars
Ugh, this ending to the collection left a bad taste in my mouth. This story felt clumsy and awkward, without that magical quality that the other stories had. I started off thinking that it was decent but the plot took a nosedive at around half way through. The way the story ended felt rushed and poorly planned. To top it off, I disliked the characters. Damon was a control freak (Aaron keeps worrying that Damon will get mad at him all the time), and his relationship with Aaron was a co-dependent hot mess. I wasn't rooting for them so it was difficult to feel satisfied with the story. Not a good one.

I'm still giving this collection 4 stars because the other stories were so unbelievably strong. I'm just going to pretend the Sue Brown story wasn't there....

** A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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