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    REVIEW: The Necromancer’s Light by Tavia Lark

    Radiance: The Necromancer’s Light – Tavia Lark

    He’ll die without touch.

    As a necromancer, Shae loses a little more of himself every time he uses his magic. Always cold, always touch-starved, the only thing that helps is human contact. But that’s hard to come by when those same dark powers scare everyone away from him. Nobody likes a necromancer.

    Especially a paladin of the Radiant Order.

    Arthur’s still bitter and broken after his last lover stabbed him in the back, and the last thing he needs is another brush with evil. When he agrees to escort the wandering necromancer north, he’s just doing a public service.

    But he never expected Shae to be so clingy. Or distractingly attractive.

    Shae has never felt an aura as warm and safe as Arthur’s. He craves the man’s touch—and more. But everyone he’s ever known has left him, and it’s just a matter of time before Arthur leaves him too.

    Assuming the soul-stealing monsters don’t kill them first.

    The Necromancer’s Light is a gay fantasy romance, with magic, hurt/comfort, and bed sharing for Reasons. First in a series but can be read alone. 56,000 words, HEA guaranteed.

    When I was in college, I was introduced to the Dragonlance books, and predictably, I was drawn to the anti-hero Raistlin. His twin was the golden boy, and so blah, I didn’t bother with him (couldn’t even remember the name).

    The Necromancer’s Light opens the fantasy series, Radiance by new-to-me author Tavia Lark. The titular character, Shae Nightven, reminded me of Raistlin. Too pale, too thin, and wrestling with the temptation to give himself up totally to dark powers.

    Rather than a twin, Shae is paired with golden boy and devout paladin, Arthur Davorin. Happily, Arthur is much more memorable, an all-around sweetheart who couldn’t resist taking care of prickly marshmallow Shae. The book is told in their dual POV.

    The plot is a quest to slay the demon that played a pivotal role in Shae’s tragic past. He has to travel north to his hometown. To do this, the necromancer has to employ a bodyguard because he needs human contact to replenish his soul. He hires Arthur, who is currently in exile, as penance for a crime his ex-lover committed against the Order.

    There is a play of opposites, as well as themes of religion, betrayal, appearances and building trust. Necromancers acquire their powers by dealing with a demon, while paladins worship the Goddess and her light. People are afraid of necromancers and welcome members of the Radiant Order with open arms.

    Shae is dark and perpetually cold because his magic saps his soul. Arthur has an aura that glows as bright as the sun and has the warmth that Shae craves. And Arthur is very much willing to give, which means lotsa bed sharing!

    The world-building is executed adequately with minimal info-dumps. However, they only scratched the surface of some elements, such as the Radiant Order, guilds, the lay of the land, pantheons, and the different magic systems. The spot-on pacing and great writing did the trick of keeping me engaged because they kept the momentum going, even with flashbacks and internal dialogues.

    LOVED how the romance blossomed! Our golden boy is true as an arrow and kept coming back for his prickly marshmallow. There was one frustrating moment where our necromancer let his insecurities get the better of him, but I totally feel for Shae. Because after a decade of being shunned, double-crossed, and reviled, I’d have massive trust issues too.

    Usually the necromancer is the villain, so I am beyond thrilled to peek inside their head and the inner workings of their magic. It’s nasty business, and I hoped Shae washed his hands after. Sadly, there’s no mentioned of this after he stuck his hands inside a week-old corpse. But germs aside, it’s fascinating stuff! And the darkness tempting him makes it even more exciting!

    The Necromancer’s Light is a magical adventure, a single-minded quest for atonement, and a sweet hurt-comfort love story between two men with traumatic pasts. All in all, well-written, fun, and cuddly!

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Sunshine
    Artist: Teenage Wrist
    Album: Still Love

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    REVIEW: Winter Of The Owl by Iris Foxglove

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    Seasons Of The Lukoi: Winter Of The Owl – Iris Foxglove

    Sava has the best house in all of Lukos. He built it himself, dreaming of the day when he and Milan, the man he loved, could live there and brave the harsh winters of Lukos together—only to be devastated when Milan was found dead in the spring. Fraught with grief, Sava resigns himself to spending his winters alone.

    Then a stranger appears on his doorstep, and everything changes.

    Victor is a scholar from Gerakia, a land known for its long summers and vibrant history, and he has never been more unprepared in his life. Abandoned on the inhospitable island of Lukos after a disastrous relationship, Victor has to adapt quickly to survive. It helps, of course, that he’s taken in by Sava, who has the biggest heart of any man Victor has ever known. Victor and Sava start to make a home together, growing close as snow falls outside, but the true danger of a Lukos winter is closer than they suspect…

    Winter Of The Owl is the first book of the fantasy series, Seasons of the Lukoi. It is also my first from author duo, Iris Foxglove. I couldn’t have picked a better book to start with because I couldn’t get enough of the Cozy Husbands!

    The series is set in the Starian world. Even if I haven’t read the other books, world-building is effortless and intuitive. It was easy to picture the cold, frigid island with its survivalist community.

    Lukos is an island way up north. Not much is known about it by the rest of the world. It was built by exiles who established laws that helped them survive the harsh territory.

    The Lukoi has a strong sense of community and family. They have their own unique culture heavily influenced by their environment. They are welcoming to those who were abandoned. They mate for life and are fiercely protective of children. Despite the toughness of their living conditions, I found Lukos almost like a utopia the way the Lukoi thrived and flourished.

    Like the related series, Seasons of the Lukoi also has its people born as either dominant or submissive. Sava, being a dominant, is responsible for providing all the best that he can give to his potential mate, Milan. He did it so well, his house was considered the best house in Lukos.

    But then, Milan died and he was left all alone in his very nice abode. One day, the kuvar, their leader, drags in a scholar they found on the beach and requests Sava to house the poor man. Thus begins a sweet and achingly tender love story built on mutual care and trust.

    Victor is from sunny Gerakia. He is a beautiful, pure-hearted soul, a veritable “sweet summer child”. Cast aside by an abusive lover and left for dead, he still found joy and wonder everywhere he looked. I could practically see him lighting up at the sight of the first snowfall. His enthusiasm for learning is boundless.

    Sava was so kind, attentive, and patient with Victor from the very beginning. He teaches him skills to survive winter. The man is a total sweetheart. He’s a selfless gentle giant who gives the adorkable scholar a ride on his back whenever the clumsy dork had a hard time navigating rocky paths.

    I loved how they comfort each other and prop each other up whenever one is beset by insecurities. They helped the other rediscover their self-worth and find closure. Victor had to process the betrayal and the mean things his ex did. Sava had to deal with guilt over Milan’s death.

    One of the best moments for me was when Sava, first time to see eyeglasses, asked Victor what those are for. “To make your pretty eyes look bigger?” Then, later in the story, noticing how Victor complains about them slipping, quietly ties a ribbon to keep them in place. The megane moe is strong!!! I love it! Especially when it was revealed Victor’s ex hated his glasses.

    Sava and Victor are just too adorable!!! Then they adopted Speedy, the snowcat, who stole the show. I died from fluff overload!

    There are some BDSM elements present. The authors wisely deployed them at a minimum. It kept the story’s vibe cozy and wholesome in harmony with Sava and Victor’s dynamics.

    I loved how the book was written. It’s detailed yet easy to read. The characters were fully fleshed out. The relationships were given time to develop properly. The plot is deceptively straightforward, almost conflict-free. Most of it is Sava and Victor getting to know each other, enveloped in domestic bliss.

    Far from feeling nothing is happening, we see Lukos coming alive through Victor’s fresh eyes. His openness and curiosity were contagious. He made me want to visit the island. It has a rich culture and a chockful of intriguing characters I’d love to know more.

    The book has mentions of suicide and cultural misunderstanding of mental illness so take note of the CWs if they are triggering for you. This is in connection with Milan, which leads to a not-so-surprising twist and the suspenseful climax. The book nicely wraps up with Victor’s ex getting his comeuppance. I think they let him off too easily. They should’ve just dropped him in the sea.

    Winter of the Owl is a feel-good, forced proximity story filled with kindness and affection. It’s about finding joy in the mundane and looking at the world with wonder. It’s about seeing the good in other people and rediscovering self-worth. Immersive, compelling, and hella squee-tastic, it may be set in the dead of winter but it certainly warms the heart.

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: The White Owl Of Winter
    Artist: MIKL
    Album: The Life And Death Of The Effervescent Lover

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