Friday, March 9, 2018

Blog Tour: Dead Wrong by Gillian St. Kevern (Review + Giveaway)


Dead Wrong  
Gillian St. Kevern  
Thorns and Fangs, Book Four 
Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, vampires, werewolves, alternate universe, demons, occult, suspense 

Nate’s no supernatural expert, but even he knows a murdered man coming back to life to kill him can only mean one thing—the necromancer is back and out for revenge. 

Nate’s no supernatural expert, but even he knows a murdered man coming back to life to kill him can only mean one thing—the necromancer is back and out for revenge.

Recruited by Department Seven in a desperate attempt to stop Peter before he claims new victims, Nate quickly realizes he’s in way over his head. His powers are failing him, he’s haunted by Peter’s ghost, and he can’t even remember how he stopped Peter the first time—or why he feels that someone very important is missing from his life.

Ben is fighting for his afterlife. Trapped in the supernatural version of solitary confinement, he knows freeing himself will destroy New Camden’s fragile peace—but what choice does he have? The longer he spends in his magical prison, the harder it becomes to resist his inner vampire. But if Ben wants to help Nate prevent Peter taking over the city, he has to prove himself to his sire—Saltaire, a thousand-year-old vampire with no qualms about using his immense power to suppress Ben’s free will.

As the casualties mount and the city descends into chaos, Ben and Nate must overcome their worst fears and impossible odds—or be written out of existence entirely.

Add to Goodreads

5 Stars!

Dead Wrong is the thrilling conclusion to the Thorns and Fangs series and it needs to be read in order, so you're warned that this review might contain spoilers, although I'll try my best not to include any.

I have to say that Ms. St. Kevern managed to surprise me with this installment, which very well might be my favorite of the four books. Not only did she manage to tie all the loose ends quite neatly, but she threw a few twists and turns that I so wasn't expecting. 

The books are long, detailed and there's a lot going on. There are some storylines that run throughout the four books, some that are dealt with in the particular book they're contained in, and still, somehow the author managed not to lose me or make me feel confused with all that was happening. 

I loved the progression of Nate and Ben's relationship, their growth both as individuals and as a couple and how they finally seemed to be on the same page. While there wasn't all that much sex in Dead Wrong, the chemistry and connection that the two of them shared were palpable. 

I really liked the secondary cast, even the so-called-villains, really helped move the plot along and keep things interesting. 

Overall, this was a great way to end the series, although I wouldn't mind catching up with Nate and Ben in the future to see how they're doing. ;) It was well-written, engaging and a series I have no trouble recommending!

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***



Dead Wrong
Gillian St. Kevern © 2018
All Rights Reserved
Chapter One

The afternoon had all the gloom of a funeral. The pavement and the drab external walls of the surrounding buildings extended to the gray sky above. Nate and Aki stood in silence in the alley beside their apartment building and contemplated the dead.

Nate, at six feet tall, had to bow his head to look down at them. “You’re sure it’s not, I don’t know, some kind of vampire cat?” He winced. The question sounded even worse out in the open.
Aki looked up at Nate, his hazel eyes flat. “You’re kidding me. Have you ever heard of a vampire cat?”

Nate made a helpless gesture toward the bodies. “Look at them.” There were two desiccated rats and, nearby, a shriveled up bird. “Animals don’t eat like this.” He turned the nearest rat over, noticing what looked like a puncture wound. He crouched to get a closer look.

“Maybe they were sick. Rats are riddled with disease, and pigeons are not any better—don’t touch them!” Aki made a disgusted noise. “Ugh. Keep your gross, infected hands away from me.”
Nate set the rat down and turned his head, giving Aki a speculative look.
Aki stepped backward. “Touch me and I promise I will dump you.”

Nate snorted, turning his attention back to the dead animals. “You can’t dump me. We’re not dating.”
“I can friend dump you—and I will.”

“I co-signed the lease. You’re stuck with me.”

“I’m pretty sure Grant can find me a legal loophole involving pestilence.” Aki stuck his hands in the pockets of his plaid trousers. He drummed one foot against the pavement, the movement making his keychain rattle. “Come on. Let’s go.”

Nate stood slowly, still looking down at the animals. “There’s got to be some kind of explanation for this. Maybe we should call Department Seven?”

“They’d laugh in your face. This isn’t even a case for animal control.” Aki heaved a theatrically loud sigh. “If you’re that desperate for excitement, ask George to take you hunting. She’d jump at the chance.”

Nate frowned at Aki. “I’m not desperate for excitement.”

Aki raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t you? This is the longest we’ve gone without any supernatural mishaps since you got mixed up with the necromancer, and for the last month, you’ve been glancing over your shoulder, listening to sounds that aren’t there, and watching the news for anything paranormal. If that’s not desperation, I don’t know what is.”

Nate shivered. How to explain to Aki that for the last month, he’d had the constant suspicion that there was something there, just on the edge of his awareness? “I’m not desperate.”

“Then why are we hanging out in a shadowy alley, acting like revenant bait?”

Nate blanched. Revenants were the most basic form of the undead, recently deceased with a taste for blood and no thought beyond acquiring it. Nate had been closer than he wanted to hungry revenants. “Bait implies I want to find one. I don’t.”

“Then can we please leave before one finds us—”

Something crunched in the shadows beyond the dumpster.

Nate’s breath froze in his throat. He didn’t dare turn his head to see what Aki was doing, concentrating all his attention on the shadows.

He heard a second crunch, as if something shifted on the stones beyond the dumpster. Nate stepped toward it.

“Don’t.” Aki grabbed his arm. “Please, Nate. This is a seriously bad idea.”

“Stay here.” Nate disentangled himself. “Get ready to call Department Seven.”

“And after that, I’ll call the funeral home.” Aki had his phone in hand. “I’m having them put ‘I told him not to do it’ on your gravestone.”

“Quiet.” Nate knew a revenant couldn’t kill him. At least he was pretty sure he was safe. His experience with the necromancer had woken Nate’s own supernatural side. Being part plant could be inconvenient at times, but it did mean that he was impervious to things that were fatal to ordinary humans. But being a card-carrying psychic wouldn’t protect Aki from becoming monster chow. Nate edged his way around the dumpster carefully. If it was a revenant, he’d have to act fast to stop it preying on Aki.

Nate rounded the corner.

Nothing there? The newspaper was spread out as if someone had been sleeping rough—never a good idea in New Camden, the city with the largest monster population in the world—and it crackled under foot. Was the sound just the wind rustling through its pages? Nate turned to leave and caught a dull glow out of the corner of his eyes. He grinned. “Aki, come and look at this.”

“Is it more dead animals? Because I can pass.”

Nate crouched down. “Here, kitty. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“A cat?” Aki snorted, and Nate heard his footsteps on the stone behind him. “All that over nothing.”
Nate clicked his fingers. “Come on.”

The cat watched him balefully. She stretched, displaying her claws, before taking a step into the light. She flicked her tail, watching Nate out of her one good eye. Her left eye was milky white, with the lines of an old scar above and below. She was skinny, her fur bare in patches, and her tail was crooked. Part of one ear was missing, looking like a tattered flag on a pirate ship, with her prominent ribs the hull.

“Whoa. That’s the ugliest cat I’ve ever seen.”

“She can’t help that. Poor thing. Who knows how long she’s been living out here?”

Aki smacked Nate’s hand away from the cat. “Stop risking animal diseases! Look at it. Probably crawling with fleas!”

“It’s just an old stray cat.”

Aki scoffed. “I was wrong. That’s definitely some variety of hell beast.”

Nate clicked his fingers, succeeding in drawing the cat closer to him. “You’re so mean. Just because she’s been on the losing end of a few fights…”

“More than a few. It’s probably got every disease in the book.”

Nate extended his hand, and the cat cautiously sniffed it. “I think she likes me.”

Aki leaned against the dumpster to watch. “Haven’t you learned anything from the disaster that was you adopting the last stray?”

Nate looked up. “The last stray turned out to be Grant, who we saved from his evil stepdad, getting you a boyfriend in the process.”

“We’re not dating,” Aki said immediately. “If you’re so stuck on Grant, ask him out yourself. I don’t want him.”

Nate smiled to himself, stretching out his hand to the cat’s tattered ears. She hissed, and before Nate could react, sunk her teeth into his hand. He jerked his hand back. “Ow!”

“Ha! Told you!”

Nate sat back on his heels, nursing his hand. “Are you grinning?”

“It’s called schadenfreude.” Aki nudged Nate with the toe of his sneaker. “And you deserved it.”
Nate looked back down, but at his exclamation, the cat had darted back into the shadows. She squeezed into the narrow gap between the dumpsters. All he could see of her was the gleam of her dead eye. “You’re a bad best friend.”

Aki just shrugged. “You should have checked the fine print. It’s too late now. You’re stuck with me.”
Nate stood, dusting off his hands on his jeans. “Maybe Grant will find me a legal loophole.”

Aki elbowed him. “Not allowed. It’s ‘best friends forever.’ Not best friends until Aki hurts my feelings.”

Nate draped his arm over Aki’s shoulders. “Since when is BFF legally binding?”

“Well it is. So it’s a good thing I plan on keeping you around.” He leaned comfortably against Nate’s side. “That’s your cue to say there’s no one you would rather be stuck with.”

Nate paused, guiltily conscious something wasn’t right. There was something—someone—missing.

Nate realized he’d stopped walking.

Aki was watching him with an expression of concern on his face. “I was only joking.”

Nate grinned. He leaned over, tapping Aki on his shoulder. “Got you.”

“You!” Aki demonstrated his feelings of friendship by trying to kick him.


NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

One of the things that I enjoyed most about writing Dead Wrong was that it allowed me to revisit a wide cast of characters. In the three previous books in the series (Thorns and Fangs, Uprooted, Life After Humanity), the characters have been introduced and established. Now we get to see them really coming together. This was exciting because we really got to see their personalities come into play. As a writer, this felt like the fulfillment of something I'd wanted to write for a very long time—a group of friends who disagreed but were still friends. Okay, maybe friends is too strong a word in some cases—a cast. A cast with divergent opinions. Why is this something I've wanted?

I think it started in one of my early stories that I wrote for the M/M Romance Group. I got the following feedback from a beta-reader: "I don't understand why these characters would disagree. They’re friends."

Um. What?

I don't know about you, but 100% complete agreement at all times is not a quality I look for in my friends. True, we usually meet in the pursuit of a common interest and we are bound to have some overlapping opinions. I'm not the sort of personality that thrives on conflict, so for me to want to spend time with you, then we have to have a reasonable amount of common ground. But to never disagree? Much like the first argument is a milestone in a romantic relationship, surviving the first disagreement is a hurdle that any friendship worth having has to overcome. If the relationship can only be sustained by scrupulously avoiding any possible conflict, then it quickly become stifling—to both parties. That's not a healthy relationship by any means.

In real life, I tend to be a shy sort of person and I have to be pushed to get out of my comfort zone. So I didn't learn to appreciate friends with vastly different points of view until fairly late in life. The first town I was in as an English teacher in Japan had enough of us foreign teachers that cliques formed. I found a group of friends with similar interests and similar values and very rarely went beyond that group. It wasn't until ages later when I was living in a completely different part of Japan that my boundaries were pushed.

There were only ten of us in our town and we were forced by the fact that we were the only foreigners in an extremely rural community to get to know and to support each other. This made for some major culture shock. We had really sheltered teachers and really out there teachers. We had teachers who were fresh out of college all the way up to a mature married couple. Some of us had come from money, some of us were buried under the crushing weight of multiple student loans. For most of the foreign teachers, coming to Japan was the first time they’d left their home country. For some of them, it was the first time they’d left their home state.

It's really tough living in another culture especially if you don't speak the language. Japan welcomed us, but we still needed the chance to speak English and vent with people who got what it was like being a foreigner in Japan. Because we were our only support, we spent time together and got to know each other in ways that would have been hard to imagine in any other circumstances. And for the first time, I was making friends with people whose point of view was often radically different to my own—and learning lots. True, there were times when I felt extremely annoyed at my colleagues. But most of the time, I was amazed at the experiences and knowledge they had to share. While it was often a challenge, we were able to successfully overcome our personal differences and work together on numerous citywide projects and keep in touch beyond Japan. This experience is something that I think is really valuable and I wanted to share that.

Too often, especially around divisive events like elections, I'm disheartened by the number of people I see practicing exclusion. "If you don't agree with me then get off my Facebook feed." While I do understand and support anyone's need for a safe space where they can express themselves online or offline, and I am certainly not advocating maintaining toxic friendships in any circumstances, this makes me sad. The underlying assumption that only one way of thinking and only one perspective is valued seems like a loss.

Defending yourself or justifying your very existence time and time again, day after day is hard work and it can quickly become exhausting. I get that. But if that is what Facebook or your other social media has become, I don't think the answer is to close down an avenue of discourse. My advice would be to disconnect from that social media until you have the capacity to engage productively with it again, or restrict your Facebook feed to certain groups or people until you’re ready to engage again. Personally, I’ve had some tough events in my personal life to deal with, so while I’m more than usually fragile, I’m keeping off Facebook. Taking care of myself is important—but I think it’s possible to do that without closing the door to those interactions altogether.

Friendships, especially those that challenge us or test us are really important. Arguments don't change minds — friendships do. And I don't mean purposefully befriending people in order to change their minds. I mean going into a friendship with an open mind, seeking to learn more about the person and the experiences behind the opinion while knowing that you may never succeed in changing them. Friendship doesn't come with expectations.

That's why in the Thorns and Fangs series we have Charlotte, the pacifist, and Vazul, the supernatural equivalent of an MRA. Ben, whose reaction to everything is reasoned and analytical, is in a healthy romantic relationship with Nate who dives into everything heart first. Aki, Nate's best friend, dislikes anyone that Nate dates but especially Ben and goes out of his way to let Ben know this at every opportunity. Gun is egalitarian in that he is equally offensive to everyone. He has differing views on protocol to his deputy Kenzies, who has differing views on the rights and responsibilities of werewolves to Grant, recently emancipated from his pack and looking to rewrite the supernatural laws.

The group disagrees and disagrees often. But in Dead Wrong we get to see them united by a common purpose. In the three books so far they’ve met each other and made connections despite sometimes totally opposing points of view. In Dead Wrong, it pays off. We see the group working together, leveraging their different strengths and pulling everything towards a common goal. They believe they can improve their world. And they can. Yes – it's fiction. But I don't believe it's beyond the bounds of reality.

Meet the Author

Gillian St. Kevern is the author of the Deep Magic series, the Thorns and Fangs series, the For the Love of Christmas series, and standalone novels, The Biggest Scoop and The Wing Commander's CurseGillian currently lives in her native New Zealand, but spent eleven years in Japan and has visited over twenty different countries. Her writing is a celebration of the weird and wonderful people she encounters on her journeys. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers, and a member of RWNZ.  

As a chronic traveller, Gillian is more interested in journeys than endings, with characters that grow and change to achieve their happy ending. She's not afraid to let her characters make mistakes or take the story in an unexpected direction. Her stories cross genres, time-periods and continents, taking readers along for an unforgettable ride. Both Deep Magic and The Biggest Scoop were nominated for Best LOR story in the 2015 M/M Romance Groups Member's Choice awards. Deep Magic also received nominations in Best Cover, Best Main Character and Best Paranormal, while The Biggest Scoop was nominated for Best Coming of Age. Thorns and Fangs came third in the 2016 Rainbow Awards Bisexual Paranormal/Historical category. 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail | Pinterest

Tour Schedule


a Rafflecopter giveaway

  Blog Button 2

No comments:

Post a Comment