ancientreader's favorite authors on Smashwords

Aden Ray
Latest book: Crossroads of Desire.
Published June 4, 2023.
Amy Rae Durreson
Latest book: In Heaven or Earth.
Published December 21, 2019. (5.00 from 1 review)
John Tristan
Latest book: The Assistant.
Published August 24, 2020.
Kris Ripper
Latest book: Threshold of the Year.
Published December 7, 2022.
S.B. Barnes
Latest book: Heart First.
Published December 5, 2023. (5.00 from 1 review)
Sidney Bell
Latest book: Your Mileage May Vary.
Published April 18, 2023. (5.00 from 1 review)

Smashwords book reviews by ancientreader

  • The Uses of Illicit Art on June 23, 2023

    The Uses of Illicit Art first appears in disguise as a lighthearted entertainment, much as its chief protagonist, Kit Whitely, appears in disguise as a charming and fey petty criminal. This misleading impression rapidly dissolves as Kit's history comes into view, along with Alex Locke's (the other MC's) reasons for arresting him and Alex's sister Lucinda Llewellyn's reasons for wanting to exploit his magical ability to cross thresholds and open doors. Neither Alex nor Lucinda is quite as they appear on the surface, either; among the book's preoccupations are questions about disguise, secrets, masks, lies and truth (and masks that tell the truth, as in Lucinda's case: she's a trans woman, so in disguising her male body she tells the truth about who she is). Kit and Alex have every reason to mistrust each other, and mistrust each other they do, but they're also powerfully attracted to each other. I wasn't 100% sure I believed Kit's attraction to Alex would overshadow his captivity, but the more I knew about how little basic kindness Kit has known in his life, the more credible Alex's appeal became. As it turns out, all their logical reasons to mistrust each other are chaff; it's the unreasonable attraction that tells them the truth about each other, if I can put it that way -- the truth that both of them are loving and brave. A central conflict of the book is that between justice and revenge. Lucinda has excellent reason to want revenge against the villain-in-chief, but events give Kit sharp insight into what he himself might do if he gave in to a desire for vengeance, however excusable; to protect Lucinda from, as he puts it, drowning in blood, he performs a breathtaking, heartrending act of self-sacrifice. Ugh, I teared up again just thinking about it. A couple of loose ends left me hoping for a sequel. For "hoping," read "willing to beg."
  • Bastard's Grace on Sep. 30, 2023

    I don't know if I can exactly say that I loved Bastard's Grace in the way that I love a KJ Charles book or a Jess Whitecroft book or a Kris Ripper book: that kind of joyous delight in a story and its people. Bastard's Grace is too dark and too morally complicated for that kind of enjoyment. But I was compelled by it, I was fascinated by it, I was enthralled by it; I've already started the sequel, Six Feet of Ridiculous, and yep, Wendy Palmer is an auto-buy.
  • Heart First on Dec. 27, 2023

    The opening struck me as a tad rushed but there was also something appealing about the POV MC and the prose was looking good, so I took a flyer on it, and let's put it this way: I am 100% buying the next in the series when it comes out. I don't think I have it in me to write an extensive review tonight, so resorting to lazy itemization: - murder mystery in which the perspective is decidedly suspicious of the police as an institution - academic (Daniel Rosenbaum)/ auto mechanic (Tony d'Angelo) - but the auto mechanic isn't an Alpha Male - neither is the academic - oh yeah, the passages describing the academic's field and his research interests are (wait for it!) smart and interesting! NO REALLY - Daniel's cat is named Worf - Worf loves tuna but "Daniel tries to keep the tuna for special occasions out of a halfhearted hope he’s somehow helping with climate change and chronic overfishing at least a little bit." - Tony doesn't have a thing for cars just because he knows how to fix them - there are no hardbodies to be seen (Tony's muscly, for example, but he's also got a bit of a belly, and Daniel's self-conscious about his own looks) - character growth! - what I think of as unaffected diversity, in that there are characters of color who are actual characters and whose experiences of race aren't just life lessons for the white characters - lots of slyly funny bits, like "the 9W Motel, which is scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as Daniel’s concerned. Naming the motel after the road it’s on is tantamount to admitting its only claim to fame is being better than sleeping rough." Mind you, there were annoyances! Daniel's anxious overthinking leads him into pointless suspicions, to a degree that I found exasperating; also, a couple of the things that make him suspicious have blindingly obvious explanations -- as in, so blindingly obvious that I spotted them, and I am pants at solving murder mysteries. I never know who did it. . . . I knew who did it. Though, to be fair, S.B. Barnes dropped the clues neatly and subtly; I identified the murderer only by meta means, namely that (view spoiler). Also the denouement was a bit OTT (but maybe that was intentional? I'm not sure). So, you know, 4.5 stars? But rounding up, because this was a delight even though I read it while visiting my er challenging mother-in-law, and then in coach on the itty-bitty jet home, and a book that you can enjoy under these conditions has a lot going for it.