Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wicked Reads Reviews – Touch of Salar by Alexis Duran

In a world ruled by tyrannical kings and fickle gods, the young monk M'lan finds himself at the center of royal intrigue as his healing powers attract the attention of his superiors. When he learns the handsome warrior whose body he’s tending to is not only a noble, but a king's assassin, any attachment to him might prove fatal. Despite the danger, he can't stop himself from falling in love. Can he risk the abandon of passion when a slip of the tongue might force his lover to execute him?

Major Jamil Jarka comes to the temple with one intention—heal his wounds so he can return to the fight against the rebellion. When the monk assigned to him turns out to be stunningly attractive, he sees this as a pleasant distraction, no more. But soon he finds himself becoming obsessed with M'lan and is torn between the fear of betrayal and the lure of love.

Sinister forces strive to turn the monk and the warrior against each other—a conflict neither will survive if they cannot trust their lives to love and the healing power of Salar.

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 Stars
I had great difficulty getting into this novella because of the way the information was released- new story, new world-building, and new characters. The flow and pacing of the information had me struggling, as it was written in a jarring fashion, laying it on the reader all at once. But it did lead to the overall validity of the storytelling, as this is a fantasy title. The narration felt as if it was from that era of time, in that type of setting, befitting the characters.

Not a mark against the book itself, just that I’m used to reading contemporary or historical books, so I had a difficult time with the flow and sentence structure. I felt I should mention this so that readers who are struggling as well will continue to read on. I should add, not only am I an avid reader of all genres, I'm a writer. In most of my reviews as of late, I'm commenting on how I wished the book was shortened. In the case of this novella, I wish it had been broadened, as it took a lot of concentration on my part to understand what was happening during certain scenes, as well as the backstory. In essence, I needed to be eased into some of the plot threads.

Touch of Salar was heavy on the fantasy, action, intrigue, political plots, and physical and sexual aspects, yet light on character development and eliciting emotion from the reader. With most novellas, you can only pack so much into so few pages, leaving some things out while making others feel complicated. With that being said, it was a quick read, sometimes difficult to understand, yet still entertaining.

The concept of this series is intriguing, with a well-thought out premise. I was a bit thrown at the declarations of love after a handful of meetings, sexual engagements, and absolutely no conversation to connect on a deeper level than the physical. For me, I had a difficult time reading after this moment, because there was no basis for love to be brought in as of yet. I understood the characters' physical connection, their chemistry, their need to be around one another to learn about each other, but love takes time to grow- over time and experience. I can't say this was an insta-love situation like in some books. It just felt out of left-field for this genre. While I enjoyed some of the sex scenes, the final one felt misplaced and repetitive, drawing this more into the erotic category instead of fantasy. The overall feel of the novella is deeply rooted in fantasy, so the sexual aspects didn't always flow well for me.

In all honesty, Touch of Salar was just not my type of read. I'm trying to be respectful without being critical by pointing out what was missing for me, in hopes others who read differently from me will find great enjoyment from this novella and the series as a whole. It was written well, with a great foundation of world-building, and I could tell there was tremendous thought put into this concept by the author. I just wasn't gripped. I didn't become invested in the story or the characters. This isn't a mark against the author, but just to my individual reading tastes.

Genre tag: Fantasy | Mythology | Religion | Sorcery | Wartime | LGBTQ | Male/Male | Romance | Political Intrigue- plots and conspiracy |

Sex level: Moderate yet not explicit. Sex scenes scattered throughout the novella, from beginning to end.

Will I read more by this author: I was offered the next in the series by my review group- Wicked Reads -and I'm strongly debating on whether or not to continue, as I feel I am not a good fit.

Also Available in the Masters and Mages Series

Book 2
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Psychic, photographer, poet, fairy godmother, writer, woman on a train.

I am a writer of fantasy, science fiction, romance and erotic m/m everything. Most likely my stories will have a paranormal element, but I’m dreaming up some “real world” recovery romances as well. I’m thrilled to be working with Loose Id on both my Masters and Mages series (Touch of Salar is Book 1) and my high fantasy novella, To Catch a Threeve.

Like my characters, I am a figment of someone else’s imagination.

I was conceived on the Orient Express, somewhere between Venice and Istanbul. That trip was one of many revival attempts at the old, romantic line and the year was 1965. Three years before the Russian crackdown, my father, a Czech diplomat, was traveling with a cultural delegation promoting socialist writers.

My mother was an American housewife on the run.

What was she running from? Boredom. Also from turning 30. From being old and boring, she ran. She’d won a national cooking contest for her Mexicali Macaroni and Cheese. She took her winnings and bought a one-way ticket to Paris. As often happens when you seize your dream by its uni-horn and jump the track, fate intervened to keep my mother alive and moving for over a year in a Europe she knew nothing about. She spoke very little French and no Czech. My father spoke a smattering of English, only enough to flirt with the vivacious Californian in the bar car.

My mother wasn’t sure about most of what he said, but she’s pretty sure he said his name was Alex Duran. She never saw him again after that fateful night, but they did exchange postcards for many years in code, via a post office box Prague. He signed his cards A.D.

Fate again played a hand because it was also on a train, this time between Prague and Munich, that I met my first star-crossed lovers whose tale demanded to be immortalized.

Though it might seem more natural for a writer to insert herself in the middle of her fantasies, I have been content to remain an observer, friend and biographer of my soul-bound friends. I spent three months in Sophia, Bulgaria with an old witch woman learning how to channel the many spirits and forms which they’ve taken over the centuries and dimensions, in order to record their adventures. I consider it an honor to be the woman on the train, and take my own pleasures where I find them. They often begin in the bar car of international high speed trains.

Connect with Alexis

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Touch of Salar (Masters and Mages #1) by Alexis Duran to read and review.

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