Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Note: After reading the other two books in this series, Melanie has updated her thoughts based on the series as a whole. Check out her updated review that covers the entire Precogs in Peril series here.
Standing along side his grandfather’s grave, Gray Vecello feels little sorrow over the loss of the man. After all, Graham Vecello meant nothing to him, just an isolated, bitter old man he rarely saw. But when Graham’s lawyer calls to say that Gray’s presence is required at the reading of the will, Gray finds himself agreeing to come after his initial refusal. Turns out that Graham deeded his houseboat, The Constant Companion, to Gray along with a letter with specific instructions as shocking as being given the houseboat itself. Graham wants his grandson to quit his job as a hairdresser, live on board the boat, and pull up anchor to go visit his friend, the Crystal Lady.
Gray realizes his life is at a crossroads. He has always had the gift of sight and his dreams have shown him living aboard the boat. But when Gray checks out the houseboat, someone is already living aboard her. A young man named Cooper Key whom Graham saved from a gay bashing and gave sanctuary. Cooper is young, gorgeous, and shy. Gray is attracted to him immediately. When Cooper hands Gray yet another letter from his grandfather, Gray realizes he never knew the real Graham at all. His grandfather was not only kind, but also at the heart of a mystery that includes multiple murders, mysterious keys, and a group of men and women bound by their extraordinary gifts. The deeper Gray and Cooper get pulled into Graham’s strange group of friends, the greater the danger to them both. Can Gray use his sight to help them solve the mystery or will his fear of his gift get them both killed?
Three of Swords is the first book in Theo Fenraven’s new Precog in Peril series and I loved it. In Gray and Cooper, Fenraven gives us two wonderful characters who engage our affections from the start. Gray is much older and while he loves being a hairdresser, he can’t stand the salon where he works or the person who owns it. Gray’s gift of sight is accessed through the use of a pack of Tarot cards given to him by his grandfather and Gray rarely uses it. He saw the death of his grandfather and didn’t stop it much to his shame and he fears the future he will see. But Graham’s death puts Gray in motion in more ways than one. He had a vision of himself happy aboard The Constant Companion with Cooper at his side as his lover. Graham had also told Cooper about Gray, hinting that Gray is the love that Cooper has always wanted. And we desperately want that to be true for Cooper has gotten as under our skin and into our hearts as he has Gray’s. Thrown out of his house and family because of his sexuality, Cooper avoids becoming another gay statistic when Graham saves him from being beaten to death by thugs and gives Cooper a home and becomes a father figure to him. We fall in love with Cooper’s innocence, his love for music and books, even as he struggles to learn to read. Everything about Cooper makes us care about him deeply and we hope that Gray is up to being the protector Cooper needs, as well as the lover he deserves.
I have to admit that Fenraven almost lost me right from the start when he mentioned that Gray’s sister Harper lives in DC “the murder capitol of the country.” Kindle went down in a huff while I am thinking does this person do any research before committing sentences like this to the page? That hasn’t been true since the mid to late nineties. OK, mini-rant over. But it was the character of Harper Vecello, Gray’s lesbian sister, that brought me back with her pragmatic outlook. Loved her and hope that we see more of her in the future. I also admired Fenraven’s ability to bring The Constant Companion and life lived on board houseboats vividly to life, letting us see how the cramped spaces and tight quarters from bedroom to bathroom, or head as it were, are overcome by the appeal of life on the water, and the camaraderie of the others who live on boats. Fenraven describes it so realistically that I could feel The Constant Companion gently rock the two men to sleep amid the sounds of water lapping at her hull.
I am not familiar with the cards of the Tarot and will take Fenraven’s card interpretations to be correct. I like the psychic elements the author has introduced in the story and can’t wait to see how it all plays out over the series. I am certain that Cooper’s last name is not a casual choice as keys are a primary component to the mysteries here. So why, given my love affair with this book, is the rating not higher? That would be the ending that goes something like this… Cooper and Gray lean forward to look into a safe and see ~ To Be Continued ~. Yes, that is correct. Fenraven went there. That scream of irritation you heard was mine, although others have been heard too. I think that serial stories are great….on blogs, on the radio…any where but in a format you are expected to purchase. And I am far from alone in this opinion. I want to see a finished story and had this one stopped just paragraphs before, it would have been fine and been given a deservedly higher rating. But Fenraven obviously felt compelled to take it just that much further which was unnecessary. We already knew another book was coming and that the mysteries introduced here were far from solved. So why the hokey ending? I can only hope that the author discontinues it in the next book. It will stop some from purchasing and reading the books until the series is complete or all together. And while it won’t stop me from reading the next story, it might stop me from reading to the last page. And that would be a shame because these are compelling characters involved in a terrific mystery. Too bad the author shortchanged them all in such a melodramatic fashion.
Cover: The cover art was designed by Theo Fenraven. While the use of the Tarot card as a graphic design is a good one, the color choices of red and black make the cover hard to look at and seem less than professional. I have seen this exact font in this exact color used before in self published novels and the end result is always the same.