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Audiobook Review ~ The Downs



Title: The Downs
Author: Kim Fielding  Narrator: K.C. Kelly
Publisher: Phyllis Gerstenfeld
Release Date: 09-30-2016
Genre(s): Fantasy, Dystopian
Length: 3 hours and 37 mins
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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As the son of a wealthy man, Enitan Javed has spent his life frivolously – drinking, fighting, and making love. But after his father dies, Enitan is unjustly accused of murdering him and is given the harshest sentence possible. Judged irredeemable, he is banished to the Downs. As even young children know, nothing lives in the Downs except demons who delight in torturing the condemned. Brutalized by the men who transport him to his fate, Enitan has nothing left but his thirst for vengeance.

His plummet to the Downs nearly kills him, and Enitan finds himself battered and helpless in a frightening, mysterious land. But many surprises await him there, including a strange man named Rig. And the realization that the demons he must face aren’t at all the ones he expected.


This story was originally written as a part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Love is an Open Road” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

The story is still available for free on Goodreads.

“He stood, head bowed, body tense, waiting. No matter what happened next, his life would never be the same…”

A naked man stands with his back to the viewer, a plain white floor beneath his feet. Ahead of him, a pair of large black doors are ajar, revealing a glimpse of bright light. The man’s shoulders are slightly hunched and his head is bowed; he appears hesitant to face whatever fate awaits him through the doors.

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five-stars

The magical combination of Kim Fielding’s lovely prose and K.C. Kelly’s superb narration never fails to entertain. I listened and followed the text at the same time because I just love Kim’s writing. This certainly is an outstanding story. Her imagination creates wonderful new worlds with flawed yet beautiful characters.

K.C. Kelly’s delivery perfectly suits this tale, its steady pace, and the gradual revelation of the fantasy world. He brings the story and characters to life, imparting the right emotions and tone throughout.

I particularly enjoyed this fantasy story and the excellent world building. It’s similar but on a smaller scale to Brute. There’s a clear contrast between Enitan’s luxurious life in the city and the basic and sometimes frighteningly dangerous life in The Downs, with its demons, caustic fog, and venomous creatures. For all its harshness, the people who inhabit the Downs appear to be unselfish and more accepting of others. They live in a world where same sex relations are the norm.

The two main characters come across as believable and real. They are both physically and emotionally imperfect, but together they slowly find love and healing in each other. It’s not instant and that’s what I love about Kim’s stories. She gives them time to get to know each other and build a friendship first.

Enitan is the proverbial rich kid who likes to fight and fuck. He is wronged by his sister and judged as unredeemable. He hankers after revenge.

Like Brute, Rig is big and lumbering and disfigured. Both Rig and Brute have a heart of gold and consider others before themselves. Rig’s backstory is heart-wrenchingly sad and when his future with Enitan is in doubt I could see him being broken all over again.

This is a story of love and hate, revenge and redemption, and of finding peace and happiness with your lot in life and with the person you love. A story of second chances and discovering what’s important in life.

“I don’t want to die. But if I have a choice between a few minutes with you or an eternity without, well … I choose you … I will always choose you.”

A slow and steady yet beautifully sweet romance set in an imaginary world. Highly recommended.

 

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Audible.com | Audible UK

FREE ebook on Goodreads

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Audiobook Review ~ Guarded by Kim Fielding

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Title: Guarded

Author: Kim Fielding

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Length: 3 hours and 38 minutes (Word Count: 36,754/111 pages)

Release Date 8-30-16

Genre: M/M fantasy

Tags: royalty, military men, enemies to lovers, hurt/comfort, prison/captivity

Warnings: non-con/rape, kidnap, and torture

 

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A brutal war left Volos Perun with physical and emotional scars and with a reputation as a hero. Now he’s a soldier stationed at the palace, desiring Prince Berhanu while receiving only loathing in return. But when Berhanu foolishly refuses the king’s request to let Volos accompany him on a peace mission to the neighboring country, Berhanu is kidnapped and brutalized. Now Volos must risk his life as he works to save Berhanu and help his country avoid another devastating war.

 

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4.5*

This story was written as a part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Love’s Landscapes event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors selected a photo/prompt that spoke to them and wrote an accompanying short story.

I enjoyed this beautiful tale of honour, bravery and love. It is set in an alternate world, the Kingdom of Weydata, which is sort of a mix of medieval and Georgian times with fantasy. There are stage coaches and inns, fortified castles and sword fights, kings and princes, mention of wars and political intrigue. There’s no magic or fantasy creatures, so the world Kim Fielding created almost appears historical.  I particularly liked that a person’s sexuality and partner were not an issue in this reality. Any relationship was accepted without question and seen as commonplace.  The sights and sounds of this kingdom ooze from the tale, painting a clear picture of life for these people. There’s plenty of details about the culture and costumes woven into the story, which we see as events unfold.

This enemies-to-lovers story follows Volos, a war hero and guard in the king’s castle, who willingly risks his life to rescue Berhanu—the rude prince who apparently despises him—after he is kidnapped while on a secret peace/trade mission to a neighbouring country.

The journey and search for the prince culminates in a tense and exciting rescue. There’s a gang rape scene during this time that Volos’ witnesses. I’ve wondered about the purpose of this plot point because Berhanu appeared to suffer only from the physical after-effects of this ordeal. I think it helped the two men connect because Volos had received similar brutal treatment previously while in prison. Perhaps it was also there to justify Volos’ slaughter of the captors.

Volos ensures Prince Berhanu succeeds in his original peace mission and gradually the prince moves from treating Volos with cruelty and contempt to showing him love. Their early sexual encounters are very much like their relationship—rough and desperate. Yet as they become friends they gradually grow closer. There’s more tension when the two men return to the castle. But we are treated to a happy ending which includes a beautifully romantic scene. I liked Volos’ noble character from the start and gradually came to like the prince as he showed his more tender and compassionate side. I did wonder early on if Mato, the innkeeper, would win Volos’ affections. Mato now has his own separate love story.

With all the unusual names and places, this was one of those stories where I was glad that I’d read the story first and seen the words before listening. Not that the story was difficult to follow. Greg Tremblay gives a steady and professional performance as always. His voice is generally clear and easy to listen to, with plenty of emotion where needed, which helped me picture the characters, events, and places. I found one or two of his character voices were a little inconsistent at times, though, which threw me. Some had a cross between an Irish and a Scottish accent, although it varied. Overall, it was a very enjoyable audiobook and one I will listen to again. 

 

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Audible.com | Audible UK | Amazon.com | Amazon UK

The ebook is FREE ON GOODREADS if you are a member of the MM Romance Group.

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Connect with Kim Fielding on Facebook and Twitter

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Find out more about Kim’s books on her

 Website

 

Release Day ~ Standby by Kim Fielding

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Synopsis

Who’d have thought being stranded at the airport could possibly have some long term benefits?

Certainly not Tom.

But then he hadn’t bargained on meeting Rafael…

Buy Links:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon AU / WIP / B&N / ARe

Standby

excerpt

Rafael’s hand was very warm and his handshake firm.

“Where are you headed?” Rafael asked.

“Iowa. If I can. I’ve been on standby forever.”

Sadness flitted across Rafael’s face. “I know how that is.”

“Oh, you too? Where are you trying to go?”

“Nowhere.” Rafael sighed. “I just come here to watch the airplanes.”

Considering Tom’s admission about magic in flight and cell phones, he was in no position to judge. “Are you into planes? As a hobby, I mean?” He was vaguely aware that just as some people were obsessive about cars or trains, some had a thing for aircraft. Freud would likely have a good explanation for that.

Rafael gazed out into the darkness. Tom could see Rafael’s reflection in the window. He looked very far away.

“I used to fly,” Rafael said quietly. “But I… I made mistakes. I was grounded. Now I can only watch.”

“Doesn’t that make it worse? Like being on a diet and visiting a bakery?”

After considering this for a few moments, Rafael shook his head. “No. It’s a reminder. A small consolation. Is there something you truly long for, Tom? With all your heart?”

Tom’s chest tightened. He stared down at his shoes and gave a small nod. “Yeah.”

“And do you avoid any mention of it? Or do you seek it out because even a shadow, even a tiny taste is better than nothing?”

Fine. Tom might have spilled about his magic hypothesis, but no way was he going to admit to this stranger that he regularly sniffled over the kinds of movies where the main couple ended up clinging tearfully to one another. Usually in the rain, for some reason. Sometimes one of them was dying or had to go to war, or some other tragic circumstances intervened, but it didn’t matter because they’d found True Love. Tom would further not admit that his Kindle was filled with books whose covers generally featured two naked male torsos floating over a landscape, books in which an HEA—or at least an HFN—was guaranteed.

“I don’t avoid it,” Tom admitted to his shoes.

For five, maybe ten minutes, they sat silently beside each other in the empty concourse, looking at the motionless planes outside. Tom imagined they looked like a scene in a film. Not a rom-com, but something moody and artsy. Coen brothers. Kubrick. Sofia Coppola? Maybe even something French.

Finally, Tom had a question. “To get this close to the planes, don’t you need a boarding pass to get through security?”

Rafael laughed gently. “It’s not a problem for me.”

Perhaps he still had his old ID, or else the security people knew him from his pilot days and let him through.

Tom scratched the stubble on his cheek. “Um, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but… are you grounded permanently? Or just for a while?”

“I’m not sure. I keep hoping my superiors will reconsider, but it’s been a long time.”

“I’m sorry,” Tom said sincerely.

“Thanks. I guess I’m sort of on standby too.” Rafael patted Tom’s shoulder and a very strange thing happened. Right through the stupid sport jacket that had been all wrong for the interview and the pale blue button-down that had been even worse, Tom felt a jolt where Rafael touched him. It was a little like getting zapped by static electricity, but it was more painful and more pleasant. Way more pleasant, actually, in a way that made Tom’s khakis (also totally wrong) immediately feel far too tight.

about_the_author

Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Website: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/KFieldingWrites

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KFieldingWrites

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