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    Whyborne & Griffin: Balefire – Jordan L. Hawk

    Whyborne’s Endicott relatives have returned to collect on the promise he made to help them take back their ancestral manor from an evil cult. In exchange, they’ll give him the key to deciphering the Wisborg Codex, which Whyborne needs to learn how to stop the masters.

    To that end, Whyborne, his husband Griffin, and their friends Iskander and Christine travel to a small island off the coast of Cornwall. But when they arrive at Balefire Manor, Whyborne must not only face the evil within the ancient mansion, but the painful truth about his own destiny.

    I can’t believe we’re almost at the end…

    It has been quite a ride and ten books in, I’m still feeling the thrill. In fact, I think Balefire is the best book yet! 

    Reading the previous installments is definitely a must and I strongly recommend the Whyborne & Griffin series for those into paranormal historical because this is one of the best series out there.

    Balefire has our quartet, Whyborne and his husband Griffin, Iskander and Christine, traveling across the Pond to help the Endicotts take back their mansion in exchange for the key to the Wisborg Codex. I love that the story almost instantly gets into the action with some major laugh out loud moments to break the tension. And there is tension aplenty. Whyborne and friends do not trust the Endicotts, the Endicotts consider Whyborne an abomination and the ketoi are making demands.

    Hell yeah, Christine! Our girl is in dire need of sustenance. In her condition, she’s craving for lemons but she’s still fighting monsters in that devil may care badass way of hers. I’m also glad to see Heliabel has a major role in the story as Persephone’s emissary. The Whyborne Matriarch can fight as ferociously as the best of them.

    The romance was not the focus in this installment but that is understandable. Saving the world took precedence and I greatly approved the fact that Jordan L. Hawk did not push the usual romance conflicts as Whyborne and Griffin are already married and it would be tiresome if they go through big misunderstandings or almost break ups every time. Instead we are treated with tender moments that speak volumes of the deep love between the two. Even Iskander and Christine had their moments.

    Jordan L. Hawk did a great job connecting all the threads and then amping up the volume by introducing another interesting magic system, having Whyborne do more mindblowing spells and just generally making things more action- packed and fast-paced. 

    The author not only made good use of Lovecraftian mythos but she was also able to deftly include Arthurian legends to the mix.

    Our favorite bad guy from the Outside made his appearance and he is still bent on making Whyborne surrender. Whyborne, stubborn man that he is, is holding his ground with some help from an ancient being. Although it still seems we are not any closer to seeing these Masters, I am already feeling the excitement of the final showdown.

    And now for some burning questions:

    How would Widdershins be now that the Endicotts are in town? What would their lives be like when our quartet becomes a quintet? What would Whyborne find in the Wisborg Codex? And who would survive the battle with the Masters? 

    The adventures of Whyborne, Griffin, and their friends will conclude in
    Deosil, Whyborne & Griffin Book 11.

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect 

    Soundtrack: Long & Lost
    Artist: Florence + the Machine
    Album: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40281878-balefire)

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    Seven Summer Nights – Harper Fox

    It’s 1946, and the dust of World War Two has just begun to settle. When famous archaeologist Rufus Denby returns to London, his life and reputation are as devastated as the city around him.

    He’s used to the most glamorous of excavations, but can’t turn down the offer of a job in rural Sussex. It’s a refuge, and the only means left to him of scraping a living. With nothing but his satchel and a mongrel dog he’s rescued from a bomb site, he sets out to investigate an ancient church in the sleepy village of Droyton Parva.

    It’s an ordinary task, but Droyton is in the hands of a most extraordinary vicar. The Reverend Archie Thorne has tasted action too, as a motorcycle-riding army chaplain, and is struggling to readjust to the little world around him. He’s a lonely man, and Rufus’s arrival soon sparks off in him a lifetime of repressed desires.

    Rufus is a combat case, amnesiac and shellshocked. As he and Archie begin to unfold the archaeological mystery of Droyton, their growing friendship makes Rufus believe he might one day recapture his lost memories of the war, and find his way back from the edge of insanity to love.

    It’s summer on the South Downs, the air full of sunshine and enchantment. And Rufus and Archie’s seven summer nights have just begun…

    Seven Summer Nights is a standalone novel featuring a disgraced archaeologist and an atheist vicar. The story could be split into two. One thread follows Rufus’ struggle with PTSD, his endearing friendship with Archie, Archie’s rescue and Rufus and Archie’s awakening.

    That rescue scene in particular had me crossing my fingers and praying really hard for Rufus and Archie. Theirs was one of the most wholesome relationship I have seen so far and a delightful combination of insta-love and slow-burn. They were so kind to each other from the beginning, there was never any moment of unnecessary drama between them. The second thread was archaeology and witch craft. From the island of Sabros to the rural village of Droyton, mysterious labyrinth and mysterious women kept their secrets for centuries. Rufus and Archie uncovered these mysteries to reveal tragedy and bloodshed. But even with the cruelties, the book was overflowing with kindness and humanity. I felt sad that Archie had to give up his post. He was one of the kindest, most humane persons I have ever come across with. 

    Women were one of the most significant aspects of the book. I love the rest of the cast. Mrs. Nettles, the level headed, very practical housekeeper, Drusilla, the mystical priestess, Elspeth, the precocious changeling, even the difficult Mrs. Trigg. Together, they form a sort of network or sisterhood that went back to millennia before Christianity and patriarchy took over. The antagonists were  effective as well. I felt a significant amount of schadenfreude when that ass of a brigadier had his Wizard of Oz-like comeuppance.

    Clocking at around 16 hours, the book was, admittedly, a tad too long but god was it beautiful! At the hands of another, less talented writer, the pace might have been called glacial but Harper Fox imbued the story with so much charm and appeal that I was swept along its languid pace. That summertime ambiance, the easy camaraderie, the small town quaintness, I was effortlessly transported to post-war rural Sussex. Living in a small rural town myself, I could easily relate to both the simple, hospitable, kind-heartedness and the religious narrow mindedness of small town folks.

    I also have a special shout out to the narrator. Chris Clogg’s calm, measured delivery and the voices he created for the characters were perfect, especially Rufus’ mild-mannered, very polite and proper Englishman tone. 

    I think Seven Summer Nights is one of Harper Fox’s best books. Soft, surreal and pure with tight, suspenseful episodes that left me on the edge of my seat. I am not familiar with any archaeological expeditions of the 1940s so I am not sure how close to the facts the details are, but the mystery combined with the romance, post-war struggles and archaeological adventures make a potent brew.

    4.5 – perfection is only half a step away 

    Soundtrack: Sparks
    Artist: Beach House
    Album: Depression Cherry

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33116450-seven-summer-nights)