Community Service

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CommunityService72lgTitle: Community Service (Broken Mirrors 3)
Author: Vaughn R Demont
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publisher Buy Link
Amazon Buy Link: Community Service (Broken Mirrors)
Genre: M/M Urban Fantasy
Length: Novel
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 rating stars

A Guest Review by Raine

Summary Review: This Spencer and James double act – balancing on the frenetic edge of disaster – works the trick.

Blurb: Never forget what you are.

Broken Mirrors, Book 3

The King is dead, long live the King. And, uh, could you float him a couple bucks?

Life as the only human sorcerer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for James Black, the Lightning Rod. Between gremlins in the closet, paladins crashing through skylights and working spells in a storage locker, hunting a body-hopping spirit is a welcome distraction. If only he didn’t have to partner with a Coyote.

After being punted to the curb by his roommate (with benefits), things are looking dire for trickster Spencer Crain, until an old friend offers him a shot at a big score scamming the best of marks: a vampire. Thing is, he’ll have to work with his worst enemy to pull it off.

With lives in the balance, James is learning the hard way what being a sorcerer really means—and that he picked a hell of a time to quit smoking. Spencer is faced with the choice between his future and his friends. Yeah, like he’s never seen that movie before…

Product Warnings
This is a work of urban fantasy containing arguments for and against Dungeons & Dragons, a closeted My Little Pony fan, awkward flirting, switching POVs, heist-movie logic, and a Dwarf who can’t hold his liquor.

Review:

Back in the day when I reviewed Coyote’s Creed I recklessly assumed it was a one off novel. I have a bad relationship history with disappointing series – cough Charlaine Harris choke – so while I was obviously excited on finding out there was second book set in this amazing world I was also a little apprehensive when Lightning Rod appeared. I found the new main character, struggling sorcerer James a little less appealing than sensational coyote trickster Spencer. However this, oh so very convincing, writer still sold me most of that book. So now we are ready to go with book 3. The problem here was with another of my reckless assumptions; that three books equal resolution, conclusion and if the author knows what is good for them a HEA, or at least a HFN. Well, those thoughts turned out badly. I have now got my slow brain round the interesting fact that this is a series rather more in the ongoing mayhem style of the Dresden Files. So having finally dumped my assumptions I can review the book free and clear of expectations, except the one concerning a good read. I easily got that.

I also discovered some of the author’s influences, not withstanding endless Dungeons and Dragons references and The Hitchhiker’s Guide which had special play this time round, but the beginning of the book homages Terry Pratchett while Joss Whedon’s stuff bounced about too. I am sure I missed loads of sly references to heist movies and songs by artists I am unfamiliar with. Demont is that kind of intensely layered writer and I really enjoy his referential style.

The alternative POV’s worked very well for me. Not only because Spencer rocked this book again, but I also found James more appealing as we saw him through Spencer’s warm eyes. Spencer brought with him a huge dollop of heart and crazy uncommon sense that acted as a conduit of emotion for the whole book. His version of Coyote game plan is very revealing,

As Coyotes, our purpose in life is to get people out of their ruts, take a long look at their priorities and try a road less travelled. I like directing people to a couple choice places where the odds of buying a winning scratcher is crazy high. A bit of extra money can change your outlook, take off some stress and take your life in a new direction. That’s my method and I’ve got no complaints.
Thornton likes getting people fired.

My emotions were far more engaged with this book than the last, so don’t get me started on how much I dislike his brother Thornton. Another high point for the Spencer cheer leading section was his personally risky but emotionally brave rant to his Coyote god grandfather about the stupidity of the ‘family first’ set in stone rule.

The whole issue of family and childhood is brought heavily to bear on James throughout the action as he also struggles dealing with the loss of his mentor and lover. There is a clever symmetry in the use of childhood fears and memories to fuel life which acted very effectively to give depth to James’ personality. I thought he developed really well in this story. Sorry to return to the Spencer praise fest, but he articulated exactly what I felt about James’ previous relationship. While I previously found a whole book concentrating on James a little too much, acting in this narrative partnership he was far more convincing. His tentative romance with Ozzie is a lot of fun, except for where it impacts on my hopes for my favourite character, dammit. In terms of romance and / or sex this book is distinctly on the light, as in there is not much happening, side. The scenes between Spencer and Rourke had a bitter sweetness, while the break up sex particularly reminded me of Whedon’s Xander and Anya when they realised it was really over. I found Spencer’s oddly pragmatic moment of emotional revelation at the end of the book was just about sustainable given some of the back history, but it took a second read through to convert me. I am also rather inclined to go with the school of literary criticism that says what Spencer wants he should have.

The real concentration of attention here is on the community of friends that are better than family. The frantic action of magic power, lost, found and desired adds to the tension as tricks and scams are planned and played. It has all the self referencing trademark confusion of side plots and fate orchestrated chaos of the previous books, but this time it felt like it was multiplied by two. I now understand why it is going to take a series to raise these guys and finally sort out their lives.

Recommended

9 thoughts on “Community Service

  1. jax

    Thanks for addressing how much romance is in the book. That was the first question that came to me when I saw that #3 was out. The first two were very romance-lite and I was hoping for more in this one, but I love the story & the characters so I will continue with the series in any event.

    1. Raine

      Hi Jax,
      Yes, this one is light on romance too, even for the Urban Fantasy genre. :sad: However it does have all the characters you loved from the first book and a few good new ones. :grin: Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  2. Lasha

    So, Spencer is not with the guy from the first book, Rourke? I bought book one, but never got around to reading it, but if the author switched pairings and put Spencer with some other guy in this book or breaks them up, guess I’ll have to skip it. The revolving bedroom door even in a series is not my thing. I am very OTPish. *g* So confused. Maybe you could clarify? Thanks, Raine.

    1. Raine

      Hi Lasha,
      First this is not a romance series, once I got my head round that the books fall into place as great examples of action Urban Fantasy with gay protagonists. I certainly couldn’t describe any of the books as having revolving bedroom doors, but relationships do break up and Spencer and Rourke are not together as a couple in this book. If you want more details email me Raine1@hotmail.com and I’ll share. :grin:

      1. Lasha

        Thanks, that’s all I needed to know. Even in a series, I like the MCs who start as a couple to end as a couple. They can have ups and downs, but my HEA is mandatory for me, so going to have to pass on books two and three. I like romance books, urban fantasy is really not my thing unless there are bonding werewolves in it. :) Thanks for saving me some money.

  3. Sirius

    I love these series and third book was preordered the moment I saw it, but I am so pleased Spencer is back in top form and I looooove your review :)

    1. Raine

      Thanks Sirius, it is an exciting read again and Spencer is really one of my favourite all time characters as he is so original. Hope you enjoy it. :grin:

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  5. Aimee

    Great review!! I’m so glad to find someone else who’s a fan of this series! I don’t think this series gets as much exposure as it should- there are hardly any reviews for this third book on GoodReads. I didn’t think I would be interested in an urban fantasy series, but Spencer won me over too. I think it’s refreshing that the series is focused more on plot instead of romance and I feel people are really missing out on a great story with a wonderful cast of characters if they let that fact push them away. But the romance aspect does interest me a lot of course, since that’s the main genre I read. x) I’m only halfway through this book but curious to hear your opinion-I was disappointed to learn of Rourke and Spencer’s abrupt break-up, does it seem like there’s any hope of a reunion for them or is it definitely over? I also like Ozzy with James, even though they make an unusual pair, but I’m not sure they will last. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but if R is really gone, I’m thinking James and Spencer will eventually make it together once they grow up some more. x)

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