22 Oct 2019

A Wonderful 5 Star Review

Hello readers!

I am excited to share with you today a 5 star review I received from Rion on Goodreads. I am reprinting here on the Magical Realm with permission. It’s a long read, so buckle up!

In Rion’s own words...

I received an Advance Review Copy of Fallen Love by Alex Stargazer in exchange for an unbiased review. This review contains no spoilers.

Prior to receiving this Advance Review Copy of Fallen Love, I had never heard of Alex Stargazer. After finishing Fallen Love, I definitely plan on remedying that lack of knowledge. Alex bills his book as a futuristic M/M romance, but it is so much more than that. Let’s stop there for a moment and make one thing clear: when you think of romance novels, you typically think one of two things: the flowery language describing acts of unfettered passion... you know the ones I’m talking about. The bodice-ripping, burgeoning manhood kind of romance novels. Alternatively, you might think of the dark, glittering covers of the 50 Shades books that are so titillating to bored housewives who, without realizing it, propagate the idea that the BDSM scene is for everyone (not knocking the BDSM scene at all... just saying that it’s not for everyone). Don’t get me wrong these are two types of romance novels that the public in general is used to seeing. Further, the public is definitely not used to seeing LGBQ+ romance novels. That is changing for the better, and it is in part due to authors like Alex Stargazer. Since this is a review of Alex’s book, I won’t start in on a sociology lecture about other LGBTQ+ authors that are out there and writing awesome stuff. I will, however, tell you that Alex definitely deserves to be named among those other authors.

Fallen Love is neither a bodice-ripper (cod-piece ripper?), nor is it a book about the darker side of sexuality. Fallen Love is absolutely what it is billed as... a male-male romance novel set in a futuristic world where one’s station in life is where one stays unless they fall. In Alex’s book, the caste system is very rigidly enforced by The Party. The Party is a virtually Orwellian construct that ensure that the population stays where circumstances put them. The members of The Party are obviously the upper echelon, and don’t mind a little slap-and-tickle with those beneath them, called the Fallen. They certainly wouldn’t set housekeeping with them, but for a member of the Party, to have a kept man or woman isn’t frowned upon. It’s not generally accepted, but The Party turns a blind eye if you have enough status and power and you don’t rock the boat with your outside-the-bedroom affairs.

Alright, the background stage is set. What I didn’t mention was the world-building that went into the creation of Fallen Love. One of the things that I found so fascinating about the world of Fallen Love is that if feels like a mash-up of Victorian Ireland and a certain science-fiction movie franchise whose mode of transportation starts U.S.S. (I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about), but without all the rough edges that such a mash-up of cultures would usually create. This world is a smooth blend of the anachronistic and the futuristic and I absolutely loved it because it felt so real and possible. And that, my dear readers, is what I look for first in a story. If I am paying more attention to keeping the old and the new straight, I can’t focus on the characters, their developments, and the plot in general. The world-building in this book is superb.

Next up, we have characters. Characters can either fit the world setting or they can be a constant discordant note that sets your teeth on edge. Some characters are supposed to set your teeth on edge and be so contemptible as to be loathed. When that is what a writer is going for and has this character in a solid world, with other solid characters, it works great. Other times, the characters stand out so much that they overshadow the other characters and even the plot. I am pleased to say that the characters in this book fit and meld like a well-loved recipe. They aren’t predictable or so false that all you can do is roll your eyes. Alex brought these characters into a well-built framework, and made them real. The characters are realistic given the situations that they find themselves in, and grow and act in a manner that is realistic.

Side note: I have to be perfectly honest here (not that I haven’t been thus far)... there was a certain point in the book that I almost lost faith. The circumstances were set for a plot-line that appeared to be going in a direction that I didn’t care for. I won’t go into the details, but I was virtually gnashing my teeth because the book had been so good up to this point and I was preparing myself for disappointment. The plot-line continued and I found myself disappointed alright... disappointed in myself for even entertaining the thought. After the book is out, we can talk about this part and I can describe the direction I thought the book was going and what thoughts I entertained, contrary to the storyline thus far. I admit it... I was utterly and completely wrong to have the doubts that I did, because nothing in the book led me to believe that it would go in that direction.

So, we’ve got a great world, filled with believable characters, a political system so rife with the potential of abuse, and then the Big Bad appears (yes, that’s homage to a certain girl with a pointy wooden friend and whose show was the one that I first saw two people of the same sex kiss). Even the introduction of this character was foreshadowed so well that you’re prepared for something, but you’re not exactly sure what or who to be prepared for.

I saved the best part for last and what you’ve all been waiting for: the sex! Here’s the deal: I don’t mind sex in a book unless I’m turning pages so that I can get back to the plot (a la a certain necromancer who shall remain nameless, but who has recently found the middle-ground between plot and sex). Sex has to move the plot forward for me. It can’t just be a mid-scene cutaway describing a couple, or more, banging each other for no clear or apparent reason. That said, the sex between characters in Alex’s book was real, raw, visceral, and hot! It gets a little bit graphic, but hey, we’re all adult’s, right? We can all handle different words for different body parts and how they fit together. I will 100% say that the sex scenes in Alex’s book moved the story and mire it down in a bunch of unnecessary and gratuitous sex; which, in my opinion, made the sex scenes that much more powerful.

Overall, the pacing of the book is realistically paced, the development of characters and plot both mature nicely, the love scenes were well balanced between sensual and sexual, and the supporting characters storylines were developed to a point of wanting to know more about them (unlike some supporting characters, the characters in this book aren’t little blocks of wood trotted out just to flesh out the plot, they have their time in scenes and the were interesting backgrounds that make you want to get to know them too). One thing that really stood out to me was that Alex’s “voice” and “tone” were very strong without being overbearing, that he had very deft turns of phrase that were evocative and intriguing and those added to the other elements of the book make this an enjoyable and memorable book. And, I can definitely attest to the fact that I want more!

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