I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a total Rhys Ford fan girl. I have mad love for both of her ongoing contemporary m/m romance series. For those of you not familiar with this author that is the Cole McGinnis series, with the same couple in each of the installments, and the Sinner’s Gin series, which will be about different couples as the series progresses. I love her characters, I love the dialogue between the main protagonists and secondary characters, I even love the mysteries and action scenes. So when I heard she was self publishing a m/m UF series I immediately shot off an email to Sophia asking her to get information on it for me please, please, pretty please! Then the moment I got my ARC I sat down to read.
My reflection in the bathroom mirror surprised me, as it always did. I forgot I wasn’t human. When I caught a glimpse of myself, I expected to see rounded eyes and flat planed cheekbones. In my mind’s eyes, my face was squarer, rougher in features. The androgynous purple-eyed, black-haired alien I saw was a shock. It was the face of my nightmares, of monsters that stalked me in the darkness when I was weak.
Kai Gracen is the only elfin stalker working southern California after the merge of Underhill and Earth. The elfin and humans have a cantankerous relationship, full of prejudices and mutual dislike. Kai straddles the line, having grown up around humans after being won in a poker game by the stalker who raised him, but always being reminded that he is something else. His only memories of his time with his people are blood soaked and full of pain. Life after the merge is full of monstrous creatures and stalkers are more often than not the ones called out to kill the monsters and find lost loved ones. Kai’s life works for him, he’s created a comfortable home, surrounded himself with a small group of friends and is good at his job.
Everything changes when Kai is forced to take a job picking up and transporting a pregnant human woman across dangerous terrain to find sanctuary with the new elfin Dawn court. First of all, the land they have to travel across is right in the middle of dragon mating grounds. Second, his companion for the journey is a sidhe lord named Ryder who gets under his skin. And lastly, this journey will put Kai right in the middle of elfin politics and bring back parts of his past that are best left forgotten.
Being around another of his kind brings out all sorts of feelings in Kai that he doesn’t know what to do with. Elfin are normally touchy feely with each other and enjoy each other’s unique smell and presence. Kai is different and has absolutely no desire to integrate back in with a species that has caused him nothing but suffering. Ryder tempts him greatly, but he is constantly pushing him away and trying to separate himself from his unwanted desires. As they make their way across the treacherous landscape, fighting off dragons, outrunning hounds of the wild hunt and birthing babies on the run, Kai’s secrets start to come out and Ryder’s involvement in changing the future for the sidhe will follow them all the way home.
He made me itch and want more than Dalia did. More than any whore ever had. I wanted to crawl into his mouth, down his body and possibly under his skin.
Right from the start I was plunged into this gritty, dark world and raced along at high-speed with Kai as he battled for his life over and over. Some of my favorite UF characters are ones that are both strong and capable, while still having vulnerabilities and experiencing failures. This description fits Kai to a T. He’s smart assed and difficult at times, but does the right thing even when he doesn’t really want to. Every time he fell down, I rooted for him to get back up again. He has a brutal past and some pretty jacked up relatives, but through the force of his personality has forged a new life and has plenty of people who love him. It seems like he’s the one who is always holding himself back from any kind of relationship. I was a little unsure of Ryder starting out, but every time he was gentle with Kai and openly showed his admiration and support I fell just a little bit in love. I can’t wait to see how these two interact in the future.
Readers should be aware that this isn’t the usual sexy Rhys Ford romance, but is truly an urban fantasy. While there is some flirting and kissing, Ryder and Kai are very much still dancing around each other and feeling their way into maybe starting something over the course of the series. This made me happy because one of things I love about this genre is that the relationships move slower and have time to develop. I want the action and fantastical creatures. I want my hero to be put in impossible situations, but still manage to come out on top. I also want them to have passionate relationships that develop over the course of several books and are believable because they’ve taken the time to come together. Black Dog Blues gave me everything I want in an urban fantasy.
Any lover of urban fantasy will definitely find this to be a must read series. The world building is fantastic, the plot compelling and the characters so interesting that you will find yourself counting down the days to the next release. Final Grade: B+
“I don’t want to tame you, Kai. I just want you.”