men of ramshireRating: 2.75 stars
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Length: Novel

Rafe Desjardins is a stoic young man, closed off with hardly any friends. But when a man bursts into the classroom, covered in blood, and heads straight for his teacher, Rafe is intrigued. The man is Paris Romero, the professor’s brother and a hunter known as the beast of Ramshire. And he notices Rafe too. A weird connection sparks between them, one that can’t be ignored. Against his family’s wishes, Rafe sees Paris again, and then tentatively agrees to let Paris court him. But the decision puts him at odds with his family, and Rafe has to decide if he’s going to do what his family wants, or if he’s going to make his own way.

Meanwhile, Marius Amberwood is pleased with the new play the theater he works for is going to put on. As the costume designer, Marius knows it’s going to be a challenge, but a good one. He’s especially happy when Ezra Scarlett is cast as the third lead. The man has really been coming into his own, and Marius has a soft spot for Ezra, even if he turned down Ezra’s offer to court five years before. But Ezra’s confidence is shaken and Marius makes it his mission to help Ezra overcome his doubts. Secrets are revealed, and Marius helps Ezra begin to heal, but in the process, puts himself directly in Lazarus Kane’s sight. And things shift beyond Marius’s control, but Ezra is there to support him.

Lazarus Kane’s twin sons are in a quandary of their own, especially Simon. Because Simon is in love with his twin brother Leander, though he’ll never admit it. He begs the gods to lift the curse from him, and when Alexei shows up, Simon thinks it’s the answer to his prayers. Alexei is bright and vivacious, and exactly the opposite of Simon. But he’s drawn to the man, and they begin courting, while Leander decides Alexei will be his closest and best friend. The three of them spend time together, but Simon and Alexei move quickly, the intensity of their feelings winning out over common sense. But Simon’s feelings for his brother don’t go away, and he needs to reconcile that with his growing feelings for Alexei.

A soap opera-esque story with over the top drama and a hint of the paranormal, all taking place in a town where there are only men. Just the description had me intrigued, and I was fully on board with getting involved in this world. Unfortunately for me, this story fell short in just about every way.

So the characters were the best part of the story. I didn’t like all of them, of course, just for personal preference. And I felt that some of them could have been fleshed out more to really understand their thoughts and motivations. But in a serial like this, one which is continuing in a second season, I could forgive a lot of that as they will continue to develop as the story goes on. Rafe was endearingly quirky, in a closed off way, but he was beginning to come into his own. Paris had no filter, and his raw honesty and the layers to his character were great to see. Simon was struggling, but so earnest. Alexei a bright pop of color. The author does a good job of having a very diverse cast, and that definitely worked to the story’s advantage. As much as I liked the characters, though, I did have a problem with their general attitude. They all seemed to be overly emotional, and while that in and of itself isn’t a problem, when it was the entire cast in most situations, it got to be way too much.

Then there was the world building. There was very little of it at all. Elements seemed dropped in at random, with little to no explanation and with no basis. Perhaps that will be rectified as the story grows, but the promise of maybe an explanation someday was not enough for me. I need to know how things work. I need to understand. Otherwise I’m just lost. And if I’m feeling lost, I’m not going to enjoy each element as it suddenly appears. So basically this is a contemporary world in that there is modern technology. But there’s also some paranormal stuff going on, which was absolute NOT explained in any way, and that was dissatisfying in the extreme. And there’s also this weirdly formal patriarchy going on that I really didn’t understand. Sort of Victorian, but not exactly. Ultimately there were rules for how one conducts himself, but I didn’t know exactly what they were, so I was left confused about why certain characters were acting the way they were until I figured out that it was one of those strange customs.

The world building was not helped by the writing style. It’s hard for me to criticize an author’s voice, as I feel each author has their own style for telling a story. However, this book read largely juvenile in tone. A lot of info dumping, a lot of histrionics, and a lot of weirdly formal dialogue that did not endear me to the characters. I’m certain others would not find the style as problematic as I did. But it made it very hard for me to just be absorbed in the story. And there was a serious lack of commas in this book. Now, that may seem like a nitpicky critique, but when I was mentally editing every other sentence because the commas were missing, it pulled me right out of the story.

I hate to give negative reviews. I try to avoid it at all cost. But there was just way too much working against this story for me to truly enjoy it. I’m sorry to say it, but you’ll probably want to give this one a pass.

Note: This book is a free read and can be downloaded from the author’s website

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