Buy Link: Song of Oestend
Author: Marie Sexton
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing
Length: Novel

Rating: 5

As Song of Oestend opens, Aren Montrell is leaving his city life to take a job as a bookkeeper on the BarChi Ranch, deep in the Oestend prairie. He needs a break from his university life, wanting more than the men who care little for him and just want to use his body for their own pleasure. At the BarChi, Aren meets Deacon, the ranch foreman. Deacon is a strong leader, overseeing the hands and keeping the ranch running smoothly.

At first Aren isn’t sure about his decision.  Life in Oestend is so different from his urban life on the continent.  He doesn’t fit in with the rowdy ranch hands, and he finds himself sought after desperately by the available women as one of the few “eligible” men around.  And there are threats bigger than marriage-minded women.  Oestend is haunted by wraiths, spirits that wander at night, stealing the breath of those not protected by the wards and generators.  Not to mention the ghost that seems to live in the cellar of the abandoned house he takes as his own. Yet over time, Aren comes to love the BarChi and the beautiful lands.  He gets to know the formidable Deacon, and the two form a bond that starts with friendship and ultimately leads to love.

One of the things I loved about Song of Oestend is that it was an unusual combination of scorchingly hot, along with being an incredible comfort read.  The pacing of the book is just perfect with the tone of the story.  I felt the ebb and flow of ranch life, the peacefulness of the prairie, the long nights in front of the fire, the thrill of being outside on a beautiful day.  The story is not slow by any means, but it just felt comfortable and easy.

Aren and Deacon, on the other hand, are off the charts hot.  I loved how the story turns your expectations around about the men.  Aren is small, weaker, and less used to a country life, while Deacon is the strong, powerful leader of the men, the person everyone turns to for solving problems.  Yet in the bedroom, Aren is the dominant partner.  After so many years of being poorly used by men who didn’t really care about him or his enjoyment, he revels in the chance to control Deacon’s pleasure and to make the strong man come undone.  And Deacon needs a place he can release the burden of power and decision making.  He has a strong need to submit and put himself in a position of not being in control.   The men are unbelievably hot together and these scenes totally burn up the page.  [Note: There is one m/m/m scene. Definitely not a menage story though.]

I will admit I was a bit nervous that the story would veer too much into fantasy, as that is not my favorite genre.  But to me this book felt much more like a historical western, albeit one that takes place in an alternate world.  Even with the wraiths and ghosts, it doesn’t feel like a supernatural or fantasy story, especially as you learn the origin of the wraiths and more about the background of Deacon and Olsa and the indigenous people.

If I had a small niggle, it would be that I think Aren’s history with other men and the differences between the way they treated him compared to Deacon was hammered home a little hard. It began to feel a bit repetitious and I think most readers would understand the comparison without having it mentioned so often.

I really was blown away by this book and couldn’t put it down (seriously I was reading and cooking at the same time).  Those of you who read my Paris A to Z review know that I love Sexton’s Coda series.  <whispers>  So please don’t tell my Coda boyfriends, but I think this is my favorite of her books.  I really enjoyed learning about the history and culture of the ranch.  I loved the added suspense at the end and was totally caught up in the intensity of the story. And I really loved Aren and Deacon. I especially appreciated how sensitive and thoughtful Aren is, particularly when dealing with Frances.  We could see it too in the way he responds to Deacon when he is anxious or stressed, knowing exactly how to best reach him and care for him.

I am not usually so gushing but this story really stuck with me (and not just the images of a tied up Deacon!).  Lovely romance, beautifully built setting, interesting alternative world, wonderful characters.  Definitely a recommended read.