Tour & Review – Mastering The Flames by SJ Himes

A big welcome to SJ Himes as part of her blog tour with Vibrant Promotions for Mastering The Flames.

Review

A couple of pages into this story and I remembered why I love this series and these characters so much. I love the title. It’s a very clever play on words about Isaac and Constans.

The world building is fabulous, with a rich history, and described in such detail that I had strong visuals as I was reading. I love the vampire mythos, and in particular the way their culture works. It’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into how magic and everything related works in this world.

Nevermore is a brilliant name for an addiction clinic. I also liked the idea of the blood magic addicts. That part of the plot plays out very cleverly.

The wonderful thing about reading a series is that each new book is like revisiting old friends, and making new ones. I was very happy to see Angel and Simeon again, and Eroch needs a special mention. He’s so adorable and yet I wouldn’t want to get on his wrong side by threatening those he cares about as he’s fiercely protective of his family. And he has a hoarde! That made me very happy. I loved how Scáth, Simeon’s hellhound, is treated like, and acts like the family pet, yet is still very formidable. I liked seeing Daniel and Rory again too, and am already looking forward to Daniel’s book, which is the next in the series. I thought Daniel’s ability was very cool, and I want to learn more about Rory. Milly is wonderful as usual. Ellora rocks, and so does Beryl. I hope we’re going to see more of both of them.

I really felt for Isaac in this story, with his painful journey back to sobriety, and him constantly wondering why Constans would love him, as he’s convinced he’s broken. Poor Isaac doesn’t get a break. He’s barely home, and is already under attack. I totally approve. I thought his addiction was very realistically and sensitively written. It felt very real, especially his reaction to alcohol, and his continuing therapy sessions. It comes across as a continuing process, which is how it would be.

I loved how Constans’ story was told in flashbacks as it really gave insight into who he is, plus had the added bonus of having that part of the plot tie into the main storyline. The historical part of the story was obviously well researched and felt very real. I also liked that as Isaac gets to know Constans, he gets glimpses of the 26-year-old mortal he was before he was Turned.

Isaac’s ability is very cool, and he is just as powerful as his brother, but in a different way. I loved how he slowly came into his own with his ability and magic, and also as a person. I really like him and Constans together as I thought they complemented each other well. Their romance is sweet, and it’s obvious how much they care about each other.

Angel is going to take some time to get used to having to tone back his overprotectiveness of his younger brother. I love the sibling relationship between him and Isaac, with their banter, and obvious love for each other, against the backdrop of their growing family. I love the various relationships and friendships in this series.

The final showdown with the bad guy made me happy, and I liked the hint of what might be coming in the series.

I’d highly recommend this story to readers who enjoy urban fantasy/paranormal stories with fabulous world building and layered characters. I own all of the series so far in paperback, and will be adding this one to my collection in that format too. 5 out of 5 stars.

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Mastering the Flames

The Beacon Hill Sorcerer Series

S.J. Himes

M/M Urban Fantasy

Release Date: 10.04.19

Masting The Flames E-Book Cover

Blurb

Guilt-ridden after the massacre of his family, Isaac Salvatore turned to binge drinking to escape the pain. Now twenty-four years old, Isaac is a recovering alcoholic woefully out of practice in the magical arts, leaving his fire affinity hanging on the edge of disaster. After a month of rehab, he returns to Beacon Hill and his family, determined to remain sober, learn to control his magic, and figure out a plan for his life that doesn’t involve drinking.

Constantine Batiste is the oldest, most powerful vampire in the city. Born in ancient Gaul, the bastard son of a Celtic king, his long life has been shrouded in tragedy and horrors. Recent mistakes have left him wary and determined to guard his clan from all foes. When two of his clan members fall victim to an ancient evil, he summons the Necromancer of Boston for aid. Accompanying his older brother to the Tower is the handsome young fire mage once wounded by Constantine’s arrogance, and their encounter reignites an attraction that burns within both Constantine and Isaac.

The answer to who is targeting the vampires of Boston is buried in the dark, early days of Constantine’s transition to an immortal life. Isaac finds himself saddled with a painful insight into the evil cutting a swath through the supernatural population of Boston. While his brother, Angel, takes over the hunt to find and stop the threat to the city, Isaac struggles to find a balance between helping his brother and finding his own purpose and place in the world, free from his brother’s shadow.

Falling in love wasn’t part of his plan, but mastering the flames that burn between him and Constantine soon becomes the most important thing in his life, even as an ancient evil seeks to destroy them.

Mastering the Flames is the fourth book in The Beacon Hill Sorcerer series and is not a standalone. The series should be read in order for maximum enjoyment and understanding of the plot and characters.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon AU: www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon FR: https://amazon.fr/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon DE: https://amazon.de/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon IT: https://amazon.it/dp/B07YM2XF52

Amazon ES: https://amazon.es/dp/B07YM2XF52

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Excerpt

Isaac woke to an incessant pounding in his head. He groaned, sat up, and realized his mistake. Someone was pounding on his door and he wasn’t hungover. Being back in his bedroom in the apartment after so long was fucking with his mind.
He tossed back the covers, brushed his long brown hair out of his eyes, and got out of bed. The sun poured through the bedroom window, warming the floor beneath his bare feet as he went to the door. He flung it open and scowled at the impish grin on his best friend’s face. Daniel flung himself forward and Isaac caught him, hugging the apprentice tightly. They were nearly the same height, and both were built lean with similar frames. If not for the hair and skin coloring, they could pass for brothers. Daniel was fair and bright, and Isaac had naturally darker skin that was tanned as if he spent his days under the sun, his hair dark brown with remnants of fire-red highlights.
“You’re home! I’m so glad!” Daniel cried, and Isaac chuckled.
“Hey, Danny,” Isaac replied in greeting. “Angel said he made you go out last night. Lemme guess, Rory was lonely again?”
Daniel pulled back, Isaac’s teasing making him blush. Daniel was a pretty man. Isaac suspected Daniel was entirely unaware of just how gorgeous he was, as there wasn’t even a hint of vanity to be seen in his personality.
“I wanted to stay and see you when you got home, but Angel said you were probably going to crash.” Daniel hedged, biting his lip. “Rory is all alone out there. He still refuses to stay in the Mansion, sleeping in the greenhouse instead. I feel bad for him.”
“I’m sure that’s all you feel,” Isaac teased, and Daniel’s blush went inferno. “My first night home and my best friend bails to hang with a super-hot fae.”
“Hey!” Daniel glared, but his eyes were twinkling. “I am glad you’re home. Going to Nevermore to visit was awkward.”
After the chaos of the first week of his stay, and when his horrific withdrawal was over, Daniel came to visit three times a week, bringing news from home. The High Council was booted from New York City, Portland, Seattle, and Miami, after those cities refused to cooperate with the consulates and magisters stationed therein. They took the chance after Angel defeated the High Magister, forcing the Council to abandon their footholds in Montreal and Boston. In two weeks’ time, half a dozen American cities declared their independence, and rumors swirled that New Orleans was next, with a certain female necromancer and her undead army leading the charge. Angel was being credited with a major shake up in world governments, and he was grumpy about it.
Isaac grabbed his shower kit and a towel and left his room for the bathroom down the hall. He and Daniel shared the hall bath, since Angel had his own in the master bedroom. Daniel followed him in and sat on the sink while Isaac used the toilet then stripped, turning on the shower and waiting for the hot water to start. They didn’t really have any boundaries, not like Isaac and Angel did. Angel was big on personal space and privacy. Isaac really didn’t care. Daniel chatted away, sharing that he’d taken Rory to the City Museum, watched the Marathon at the finish line, and convinced the fae to let Angel front him some money and a credit card.
Isaac hopped in the shower, but left the curtain partially open, listening to Daniel. “I’m with Rory in the bank, and he drops a pouch of gold on the counter, and the teller’s eyes get huge! Some nuggets were bigger than a tennis ball! It was a mess though, since the bank manager thought Rory was his crazy brother, then the cops got called and I had to use the SOS on my phone and Angel came and made everyone leave us alone….” Daniel was excited and his run-on sentence was a non-stop adventure from beginning to end. “Angel puts his foot down, though by this time O’Malley has shown up, the cops are all like, ‘Where did all this gold come from, how’d ya get it?’ Some of them seemed to think Rory was suspicious—he told them his last name, and tons of the police know what Cian looks like, so things got really tense. Rory got all haughty and declared he’d got it from a Roman Caesar for dispatching an orc raid pillaging through a province over 1,800 years ago.”
Daniel shook his head, sighing. “When Angel arrived, I’d never seen humans get so quiet before. Everyone shut up, let Rory gather up his gold, and Angel gave Rory an account in his name from the Salvatore fund and the bank gave him a debit and credit card and a pile of cash.” Daniel was animated, talking with his hands, heels kicking against the cabinet under the sink.
Isaac laughed while he washed, dunking his head under the spray. Watching Daniel talk with so much emotion was enjoyable. His friend was blooming. There was a huge difference in him even in the last month.
Isaac rinsed, then hopped out, Daniel tossing him the towel. He dried off while thinking about the shenanigans his family experienced while he was going through boring group therapy and meditation sessions. “How did Angel get Rory out of the bank?”
Daniel grinned and flipped back a strand of bright blond hair from his eyes. “Eroch saw the gold, curled up on the pouch in Rory’s arms, and hissed at anyone who got too close. No one wanted to piss off the fire-breathing dragon, so Angel declared we were leaving. We went out to eat then took Rory home. Angel refused the gold in exchange for the modern currency, saying the currency was payment for restoring the gardens and the greenhouse. Rory gave Eroch a huge nugget of gold in thanks, and Eroch has it stashed in Angel’s bathroom on a stack of towels in the corner behind the toilet.”
“What? Oh, I bet Angel loves that!” Isaac laughed at the image of Eroch nesting on a gold egg, grumbling whenever Angel went in to use the toilet. Isaac stopped laughing, a sudden thought worrying him. “Wait. Eroch doesn’t think it’s an egg, right?”
Daniel shrugged, and his face fell with sympathy. “No idea. That would be sad, though. Maybe Angel knows. Poor Eroch, if he does.” Daniel paused, eyes wide in alarm. Isaac stopped drying himself, wondering what was wrong. Daniel leaned in and whispered, “What if we got Eroch’s gender wrong? What if he isn’t a he? What if he’s a girl?”
Isaac wrapped the towel around his waist. “We’ve been calling him a male for a year, Danny. If he cared at all, he would have made it known. I think we’re okay.”
“I don’t wanna assume. We’ve been so rude.”
“If he were humanoid and had human ideas of gender, then yes, we’ve been rude.” Daniel rolled his eyes at Isaac then slid off the sink. “Ok, fine. We can ask him at breakfast.” Daniel waved at Isaac over his shoulder as he left the bathroom, dismissing him. “What did I say? Make me some tea!” Isaac called after Daniel who grumbled back at him about being rude, but the water running and the clicking of the stove burner told him Daniel heard him.
Hopefully they didn’t make anything explode this time.

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My name is Sheena, and I have more pen names than I probably should. I write as SJ Himes, Revella Hawthorne, and Sheena Himes. I reside in the mountains of Maine (closer to Canada than I am to fresh lobster) on a 300-year-old farm beside a river in the woods.

My companions are my furbabies: Micah, my large dog who hates birds; and Wolf and Silfur, two cats who love me but hate each other. I write romances with an emphasis on plot and character development, and almost all my characters are LGBTQ+ and that’s on purpose.

To keep current on what I’m working on and where to find me on social media, go to my website: http://www.sjhimes.com

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About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at https://annebarwell.wordpress.com
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