Genre: M/M Paranormal (Erotica)
Author: Jordan L. Hawk
Published: September 3, 2012
Blurb: Haint-working runs in Dan Miller’s blood. Not everyone can help the restless dead cross over, especially when the haunting threatens the Living. But the death of his parents six years ago forced Dan to give it up in exchange for raising his brother and sister, all the while struggling to keep their rural NC farm afloat.
So when the flamboyantly goth Leif Helsvin shows up on Dan’s doorstep looking for help with an evil necromancer, Dan’s first instinct is to turn him down. With two teenagers to look after, he’s already got all the trouble he can handle. Besides, the sexy Leif is too much of a temptation, and Dan is firmly in the closet.
But hiding from problems only makes them worse. When a friend dies at the hands of one of the necromancer's haints, Dan realizes that only by helping Leif can he keep his family safe.
What Dan doesn't know if that Leif has a terrible secret. And as the relationship between the two men heats up, it turns out that Leif's past may cost Dan everything he's fought so hard to save.
Firstly, do you SEE this cover?! Lovin' it! This is exactly as I pictured Leif - all German-goth-tastic and delicious. This was my first M/M and I really enjoyed it. Hainted was the perfect mix of sexy restraint, honest relationship building, and unique paranormal situations - engaging even the most well-read paranormal reader.
Dan, a straight-laced southern farm worker tried to get away from home and his family's haint-working ways but is now paying penance for his selfishness by refusing to openly acknowledge his homosexuality. Although he claims it's because he could lose custody of his brother and sister, the reader soon realizes that along with his responsibility to his them, Dan doesn't believe he is deserving of true happiness.
In drives Leif, a rich, city boy who's avenging a fallen friend by tracking a necromancer, a haint-worker who raises spirit instead of putting them to rest, who is terrorizing the dead and murdering innocents in the process. Leif has made many terrible choices throughout his life and he knows that stepping over the line by involving himself with someone who has as much to lose as Dan does, would just be going to far, so he vows to keep his hands to himself.
I really enjoyed both of our characters and the depth that I was able to uncover page after page.
What surprised me the most about the book is Ms. Hawk's descriptions of "haints" - which literally spooked me! I was a *little* afraid I'd be getting some nightmares from her grotesque details, but it was necessary for the story building. I completely understood why Dan wasn't a haint-worker. This is no Long-Island-Medium kind of spirit fighting.
I really enjoyed Dan's brother and sister's role though the story. Virgil cracked me up with his typical teen angst and sarcastic commentary and Bea's responsible sister role added another layer to this family dynamic. Moreover, I really enjoyed badass girl haint-fighter Taryn and am hoping that Ms. Hawk writes a *second* book more focused on her.
Overall, Hainted was a wonderful read with fantastic storytelling, captivating characters, and a unique refreshing take on the typical paranormal romance.
And here is an excerpt from Hainted:
" Leif snarled, his sword like a pure shaft of moonlight slicing the air.
The haint ducked and wove, everywhere and nowhere all at once. It let out a sound half scream and half old man’s cackle, driving into Dan’s eardrums like knitting needles.Dan darted in with the wand and was driven back again by the slashing claws.
Leif took advantage of the distraction Dan provided, his sword a streak of light in the dark forest.The haint was faster. It ducked under Leif’s guard and swung an arm into his chest with all the terrible strength of the dead.
Leif went flying back into a tree, crumpled to the ground, and lay there limp.No!Dan felt something snap deep inside.
An inarticulate howl rose up from the bottom of his lungs, carrying on it all the fear and denial he could muster. Without conscious thought, he hurled himself at the haint, using all the force his coiled muscles could summon to swing the wand in a deadly arc.
The tip of antler smashed into the back of the haint’s head, the impact jarring Dan’s shoulder in the socket. A terrible shriek rose up from the haint, and the savage nails slashed impotently at the air even as they began to disintegrate into a thick, black tar.
“Hecate of the Keys, Open the Way!” Dan shouted, willing the haint to move on with all the force he could muster.
It shrieked again, even as hounds bayed somewhere on the edge of hearing. The world unfolded, as if a door swung open onto some vast space—then closed again, the dead man gone on to whatever awaited him.
“Leif!” The wand fell unheeded from his hand, and Dan stumbled through the swirl of disturbed leaves, reaching for the other man. No, no, goddesses of the Underworld, please let him be all right.Leif struggled to his knees.
“I’m fine,” he gasped. “It knocked the wind out of me, and I’ll have a pretty good bruise on my back tomorrow, but I’m fine.”
Relief shivered through Dan. Leif made it to his feet, leaning against the tree for support. “Thanks. I owe you one.”
Dan took a small sip of breath, meaning to say…he didn’t even know, exactly. The moonlight cut across Leif’s features, revealing every plane of his high cheekbones, the delicate sweep of his brow. His long, pale hair tumbled about his face, tousled and utterly mad, like some fey spirit from the very dawn of time.
Safe. Safe, and relatively unhurt, and yet Dan’s hands wouldn’t stop shaking. Heat and cold boiled in his chest, until he wasn’t even sure where fear ended and relief began. Gods, Leif could have died if he’d hit the tree wrong, and Dan needed to say how fucking glad he was
Leif was okay, but he couldn’t get the words out past the storm of emotion in his chest. He took a step forward, and another, until he could practically feel the heat of Leif’s body. Leif’s eyes widened slightly, pupils dilating. The tip of his tongue licked his lower lip.
The unconscious gesture snapped the hair-fine thread of Dan’s control. He pressed Leif back against the tree, needing to taste those lips just once, to feel Leif’s heartbeat, to know they were both warm and alive. "
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*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*