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Zagreus (Zack), the son of Hades, and his former guardian angel, Michael, live a quiet life of gardening, animal rescue, and playful sexual experimentation. They have a house near the beach, family close by and each other. This should be the happily ever after of every god’s dreams.
But lately, strange misgivings have plagued Zack, a sense of something dark and powerful approaching. Since he can’t pin down a source, he dismisses his instincts. Why borrow trouble? That is, until Michael begins to have strange mood swings and a dark stranger appears in the garden one night. Zack will need to battle time itself or lose both his hard-won peace and the love of his immortal life.
Described as “A Brandywine Investigations Universe Story”, Angel Martinez’s contribution to this year’s annual Goodreads M/M Romance Group free stories event “Love’s Landscape” shares the same universe to her last year’s release Canines, Crosshairs, and Corpses. I have not read that one – a fact that I have to remedy immediately – but I think it’s very easy for readers to dig into this one without having to read it. The published story is about Hades and his new human lover. In this free story, it’s about Hades’s son, Zack (original name Zagreus) and his long-time lover, Michael, the fallen angel.
I decided to review this story for the blog because it has easily become one of my top favorites among so many stories written for this event and worth (I hope) a slightly larger audience. Ms. Martinez has created a charming ‘urban fantasy’ world, where Greek Gods are living in a contemporary world.
On top of that, this story features an established couple and a theme that might have been rehashed many times over, but nonetheless still powerfully spoke to many romance lovers out there. It is “fighting to save your loved ones”, even if it’s painful, even if it’s heartbreaking. If there is a beacon of hope to save the people you love, you should grab it and hang on to it tight.
That kind of heartbreaking fight is what Zack is facing in this story – when an evil power is taking his lover away to the brink of insanity. Zack refuses to back down. Zack knows that his gentle lover, the angel that is willing to fall for him, is still in there somewhere. Zack has to make a difficult decision, but it’s one that he needs to take to save Michael, and oh he will take it. My heart was in pain for him.
For those who worry that this would be nothing but bleak-themed and action/adventure as Zack goes to try saving Michael, there is still a lovely and quite HOT moment in the beginning, where Michael is giving sounding to Zack. Yes, that is right, sounding. I usually relate this activity to some sort of non/con or dub/con story. But somehow, Ms. Martinez is able to write this as a very tender yet consensual activity between an established couple who has been together for so many years. That could be counted as the romance part, and gives readers a glimpse to the happy life this couple have, which also includes small things like how they try to call each other outrageous endearments in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
So I love the characters, I love the writing, I love the description of that foreboding sense when Zack realizes something is wrong (so enthralling), I love the relationship between Zack and his father and his cousins, I love the way Zack fights for his Michael … conclusion, I just love everything in this story.
I’m giving this story a near perfect rating because of my greedy heart. This story ends in a strong ‘Hopeful For Now’ and I really wish that Ms. Martinez is willing to expand few more pages just to assure me of HEA. I will also be delighted if Ms. Martinez could write a separate story on how Zack and Michael met and how they became lovers and the ‘fall’ that happened to Michael to be with Zack. I think it will be a beautiful story as well.
Last year’s contribution of Ms. Martinez “Prisoner 374125” was one of my top 10 favorites of the similar event. I think it is safely to say that this year’s, No Enemy But Time will be on this year’s list.
Title: No Enemy But Time
Author: Angel Martinez
Release Date: July 20, 2014
Download Links: MM Romance Group (multiple formats available)