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REVIEW: “The Morning Star” by M Chandler


Simon Drake is an up-and-coming young FBI hotshot, an agent with a personal track record so outstanding that it borders on unbelievable. Not yet thirty, he’s already the leader of his own special ops team; a ragtag bunch of talented but nigh-uncontrollable lunatics, it’s true, but under Simon’s inspired leadership they’re a force to be reckoned with, a team with an unparalleled success rate, a team with an almost unblemished record–until now.

Jeremy Archer is the brilliant and unpredictable scion of a long line of international art thieves, simultaneously a phenomenally wealthy English socialite and one of the most infamous criminals in the world. At twenty-seven years old he’s already wanted on nearly every continent for thefts totalling more than ninety-one million dollars, and yet no one has ever come close to catching him–until now.


May the best man win.


My bar with free online fiction is pretty low. Was the story compelling? Did the characters sound realized? Was I able to sink into the writing? Was there some use of grammar and punctuation? Did it have an ending??? (Instead of being lost in the depressing wasteland of broken dreams known as “Abandoned Works-in-Progress”…?)

Even with my low free fiction bar, The Morning Star, part one of Shadow of the Templar series, was a nicely solid read, and is easy to recommend for m/m fans of capers and action romance.

The story follows Simon, who leads an FBI team of specialists who have talents that range from fast driving, to explosives, to hacking networks. They’re brought to a swanky party to prevent the potential theft of a huge diamond, and here is where Simon comes face to face with professional thief Jeremy Archer, a smooth-talking, ceiling-scaling operator who knows, to Simon’s chagrin, how to work around even the most skilled of FBI teams.

But even smooth Jeremy can be surprised, and soon he and Simon are working together to prevent that precious gem from being the igniter in a terrorist attack.

The word for Simon and Jeremy is “UST”—unresolved sexual tension—as these two banter and play against each other. Jeremy is the most overt with his flirtations, which confuses Simon at first. Is my enemy coming on to me? BUT thankfully Simon doesn’t stay too icy to Jeremy’s raised eyebrows and sneaky smiles, and slowly starts to allow Jeremy to worm his way into his mind and maybe be something more than just a criminal.

I really enjoyed Jeremy and Simon’s interactions in the story, and the second half of the book flew by with lots of action. I will say that the first half felt much slower though, and my main beef with it is that the author really loves her team of characters, which is great, but a team of six is hard to juggle and introduce at once, and for the first 50% or so, they felt very interchangeable, except for Sandra, the one woman on the team. Even in the second half, only a few of them felt very distinct.

It’s good to know for high heat lovers that there is no sex in this story, although things progress in that direction. (There is a free short story coda to this book that does have sexy times, but I would save it for after.)

The Morning Star is the first in a complete four-part novel series, and I am intrigued enough by Jeremy and Simon to continue on.

Interestingly enough, the first book is also the shortest, less than 200 pages, where books 2-4 are between 300+ to 500+ pages. (Normally I LOVE long books, although I am a little wary that these might be full of banter between the many characters, but still, Chandler’s writing is compelling enough to take the plunge.)

If you’re wondering how you can get in on this action romance, you can read this book and the sequels for free from Chandler’s websites here or here. They are also very affordable (less than $1 each) on Amazon, which is a pretty sweet deal, especially with the later, longer books.

And for those already on Team Templar, you may enjoy knowing that just like any other series, it has fanfic on AO3.



Ami – 2.5 stars


7459958Title:  The Morning Star (Shadow of the Templar #1)
Author:  M. Chandler
Publisher:  freefic
Pages: 138
Release Date:  May 13, 2009
Purchase Links:  Free on authors website, Can purchase from Amazon, Lulu

10 comments on “REVIEW: “The Morning Star” by M Chandler

  1. Majken
    March 11, 2014

    I love this series, especially book 4, I think I read it from scratch about once every 10 months, and book 4 once again in between ;-)

    Obsessed? Who, me? Nooooo :p


    • TracyTG
      March 12, 2014

      Heh! I like your obsession! Hearing about how much you like the series is a total boost! I’m looking forward to reading #2 in the series. :D


  2. shelley
    March 11, 2014

    I am most certainly going to be reading this series this year. I’ve had it for a while and I just, need to PICK IT UP! Thanks for the shove Tracy :)


    • TracyTG
      March 12, 2014

      Yeah. Team Bingo helped push it up my queue. It’s a good read, especially for being free.


  3. helenajust
    March 11, 2014

    I love the banter among Simon’s team and between him and Jeremy. I read all the books online originally and have since bought them for my Kindle.
    The other thing worth knowing is that on the author’s website there are short stories by her, and also what she calls “lacunae” i.e. scenes (often sexy) which aren’t in the original books but which fit into them. I think it means that the books have a lower rating than they would otherwise, but if you want the higher-rated scenes they are there, written by the author. So check them out and read them as well! Taken altogether, the additional stuff really rounds out the characters and explains some things.


    • gaycrow
      March 11, 2014

      Yes, one of things the author addressed was why there aren’t too many explicit sex scenes in the books. She felt that they might have interrupted the pacing. That’s why she’s done a few extra out-takes for those of us who needed some spice in our lives. ;)


      • TracyTG
        March 12, 2014

        I don’t mind the side stories being separate (and sexy.) I’m didn’t miss the heat in this. (Although the side stories ARE nice!)


  4. gaycrow
    March 11, 2014

    Oh, I LOVE this series! I used to read it in a loop – as soon as I’d finish the last story, I’d go back and start from the beginning again.

    Secretsolitaire has a great post on Live Journal, where there’s a big discussion about the series, and the author (Tsukikoushi on Live Journal) answers questions. Beware of Spoilers(!) if you check it out. Tsukikoushi comes in about half-way the page:



    • gaycrow
      March 11, 2014

      *half-way down the page* And I can’t believe that discussion happened almost five years ago. It seems like yesterday.


    • TracyTG
      March 12, 2014

      Oho! I don’t want to be spoiled, so I’ll have to come back to this review later to check your link! :D The discussion sounds rad!


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This entry was posted on March 11, 2014 by in Mystery / Suspense, Reviewer: Tracy and tagged , , , , .

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