Prieto L.M.


Cooking with Ergot

Luisa Prieto

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Dominic is a witch, Carter is a descendent of infamous witch hunters.  When Carter’s cousin attacks him in a parking lot, Dominic comes to his aid.  Just what can the two men expect from one another, especially when Cousin Simon is determined to eliminate another witch from the world?

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I think I’ve figured out why I love Prieto’s stories so much. It’s because she convinces me so easily that she understands what evil is. Real evil, not just monsters, although sometimes her characters wear that guise. She presents to her readers the kind of evil that ruins everything it touches and most often tries to cloak itself in justifications and lies, and yet, somehow, her protagonists prove over and over again that it doesn’t take superhuman powers to triumph over evil. She makes me believe in love.

Cooking With Ergot is a more humorous story than the After books, but it still holds all the things I love most about Prieto’s writing.

Dominic is a kitchen witch. I really liked the fact that Prieto gave him a style of witchcraft that one might expect to see in a Disney film and then gave him a career on the “Cooking Network” instead. I also liked the fact that he has a great sense of humor, he’s as practical as he is romantic, he’s brave but not stupid, and he doesn’t wait for the Prince to rescue him when he sees the opportunity to rescue himself. And he’s cute. I want to sigh dreamily and stare at him with heart-shaped eyes.

I also liked Carter. Despite the fact that he grew up in what’s obviously a family of utter whackjobs, he still managed to come out of it with only a dark edge to his sense of humor and no burning desire to murder his fellow men. He’s rational and sceptical and grounded in reality, but his mind is open enough to accept it when he’s proven wrong about witchcraft. Oh, and this really showcases Prieto’s deft touch – I never once frowned and thought to myself, “Well, that doesn’t sound right, he shouldn’t react like that.” Despite the fact that Carter is getting his ideas about reality knocked down left, right, and center, his characterization never breaks. His reactions are always perfectly true – not true for almost anyone else, maybe, but true to Carter, which is all that counts.
No wonder Dominic loves him. I would, too. Prieto’s pairings always make so much sense to me.

The villain is Simon, Carter’s cousin. The man’s a lunatic, pure evil. He believes that what he’s doing is right, good, for the benefit of humanity, and all that other crap that true evil likes to tell itself. It doesn’t matter that he’s murdering people, because the people he murders don’t deserve to live. He wants to save the innocent, so he leaves a swathe of destruction in his wake. There’s a certain irony in Simon. He’s almost desperate to force Carter to understand him instead of condemning him, and yet that’s exactly what Simon’s doing to the people he murders – condemning them, not bothering to understand what he’s trying to destroy.

It doesn’t really matter that Dominic is a witch, or that Carter has a deeply-buried ability for witchcraft himself, or that together they have True Love. It doesn’t matter that Simon wouldn’t be able to do what he does if he wasn’t a fictional character. Those things are just spices in the cake. Prieto has a knack for presenting evil as a fact of existence, and love as a goal instead of an unattainable ideal, and she does it all with grace, humor, and a stuffed tiger that has impeccable manners and a British accent. Good God, what’s not to love about this author?

Bottom:
Top said it all, really. We are die-hard fans of Prieto because she has yet to disappoint.
More importantly, Dominic, the witch, has a stuffed tiger with a Peter Cushing accent for a familiar. Did we mention that already? If that didn’t make you want to read the book, there is no hope for you. I’m sorry.

Prieto has such a wonderful writing style: easy but complex, witty yet can get darkly serious incredibly quickly. The darkness is always just around the corner. She always has me on my toes because I’m never sure what comes next. Formulaic writing is not really in her repertoire, even in this short story.

In Cooking with Ergot, Prieto shows off more of her funny side. The recipes included in the book were cute and used really well. The two men in the story are easy-to-like guys who make me smile and want to squish them. Much like the tiger. This isn’t just for the fluffers, though. It’s not a sickening sweetness, but a nice bowl of fruit after dinner.

The only minuses this book has are a few flubs in the editing department; a few missed words or a couple doubled words. Not enough to detract at all from the story, but for once I caught them instead of CW, so I’m going to say it and be smug to her.

In short, fun story to read! I would recommend this book to anyone in need of a light story with a bit of a bite for an undertone. Heck, it was good enough to get us to come out of our cave, wasn’t it? ‘Nuff said.

After DarkL.M. Prieto
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Years before, Andrew lost the man he loved under mysterious circumstances. He’s not about to lose another, even if his returned from the dead brother is determined to kill him and his werewolf lover.

After MidnightL.M. Prieto
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Devon’s a werewolf with no control over his change. Unless he wants to eat a human. Andrew, his lover, has begun using dark magics. The lovers have the power to protect one another. That power might also tear them apart.

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Awesome.
I accidentally grabbed After Midnight first, suckered in as usual by the promise of werewolves. It didn’t take long before I realized that there just had to be a story that came before, so I immediately hunted down After Dark. Readers, be aware: It is entirely possible to read and enjoy the second book without reading the first, but you’ll get a better experience if you read them both, in order. You won’t be sorry. Trust me.

In general, it’s the “bottom” in a book that immediately catches my
attention, that I suffer for and fall just a little in love with. And of course I immediately fell a little in love with Devon… what surprised me was that I wasn’t immune to Andrew’s charms. Maybe it was because the two of them are already in an established relationship. Maybe it was simply the equality in the relationship between the two men.

Devon may be gentle, considerate, supportive, with a certain sweetness in his character, but he’s definitely no weak, simple-minded dude-in-distress. He’s a strong, intelligent man in his own right, someone with interests and abilities and a history that are independant of his lover. Oh, and did I mention he’s pretty, has a slight British accent, and is a werewolf? Any of these facets of his character would have made him seem endearing and sexy to me, but with the grace, passion, and tenderness that is shown in Devon’s love for Andrew, it’s a lethal combination that I was powerless to resist.

It would have been so easy for Prieto to cast Andrew as a stupidly macho and infuriating hero. Certainly he’s a strong-and-silent type, someone who’s first instinct is to protect his loved ones even at enormous cost to himself. With the addition of a phenomenal magic power, it would have been easy for Prieto to let Andrew “take care” of everything, solve all the puzzles, defeat all the bogeymen. But, no – Andrew is an incredibly, awesomely human hero – a bit of a geek, even. He has weaknesses, he makes mistakes, he gruesomely murders a villain or two, but even at his darkest point, loving Devon is the thing that drives him forward. How do you get more romantic than that?
Prieto managed to make me slow down and cherish the moments of tenderness. It’s not often I’ll sit still for the characters’ “I love yous,” but in both of these books, I lingered over the gentler scenes with a misty, goofy smile on my face.

These two books aren’t just romantic. They’re also creepy, scary, and
exciting. I was often bouncing in my desk chair, shrieking things such as “Eeeek!” or “Devon, watch out!” or “NO, Andrew, BAD MAGE!!!” Mildly annoying for my household, maybe, but tremendously enjoyable for me.

Considering that these two books are packed with vampires, werewolves,
villains, and an astonishing amount of blood, Prieto managed to create a very unique story with these two books. She stinted at nothing – action, adventure, romance, mystery, monsters, and a masterful characterization and attention to detail. I was blown away.
There’s a kind of elegance to this author’s style that is instantly
attractive to me, a balance between rich detail and exciting pace, and an assumption on the author’s part that challenges the reader to use their brain instead of slowing everyone down just to let a few stragglers keep up.
Luisa Prieto joins Lanyon and Bryce on my list of most-beloved-authors, and I’m eagerly awaiting her next release. After Dark and After Midnight are two stories that I absolutely recommend as the next must-have items to go into your shopping cart.

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After Dark:
After Dark is by no means for the faint of heart. I would categorize this as a Gay Horror novel. I have never read anything like it. The closest, in my experience, would be to say it gives the same feeling as the early Anita Blake novels by Laurell K. Hamilton. The warning for violence should be taken seriously. There is gore to go along with it, as well.

This is an intense book. I was immediately thrown into the story and had to figure out which way was up. I was slowly fed facts along with back histories to both main characters. I wasn’t given clues before hand and couldn’t quite figure out what was coming next.

I love this style of story weaving!

Prieto assumes that the reader is smart enough to catch up. I appreciate that. The writing is done in a clean way with no extraneous information or explanations thrown in. The way the story unfolds is with necessary trips back and forth through time and yet at no time was I left confused. Actually, I take that back. There were moments in which I couldn’t figure out what had just happened but that was because the character hadn’t figured out yet what had happened. This is not only an engaging form of writing, but an exciting one. It left me dying to know more, salivating to scroll down to read the next bit, and it definitely had my brain buzzing with possibilities as I tried connecting the dots along with the characters.

Devon and Andrew were two great characters. It was nice to see slow and loving sex in a book. There were no quickies in public or cries for “Harder”, as nice as those are. Theirs is a quiet and comfortable love and relationship, and I think this is what really adds to the story and makes it seem like a romantic horror. These two really love each other in a solid, long-lasting way and rely on each other even as questions and doubts creep in. It was a wonderful feeling having these two characters lead the way in the story.

There were a few typos, but nothing that was particularly distracting. I wish that the editor had been a bit more considerate, but that seems to be an ongoing longing with this publisher.

This book ends with an abruptness that made me very happy CarvedWood had already made sure we bought both books first. It wasn’t a bad abruptness, but it definitely leaves you craving more.

After Midnight:
After Midnight picks up five months after After Dark. Andrew and Devon are now trying to come to terms with the aftermath and their new identities.

This story is told with a clever emphasis on their love while at the same time pretty sick things are being done in the name of that love. Powers are being gained and denied and Prieto really shows how very confusing it all is, without leaving the reader confused. There were no good or bad actions, per se, as Andrew and Devon struggle to understand their places in the new world they find themselves in. Devon is desperate to hold onto every shred of his humanity while Andrew finds more and more reasons to get stronger… and darker. I felt for both of them and couldn’t make a judgment on what was the right course. Their relationship begins to change and the sweetness begins to get edgier. The fact that Prieto changes their sex scenes is poignant and demonstrates these changes. They aren’t bad changes, but you can see the relationship changing and shifting, as it has to do. If Devon and Andrew didn’t begin to change, then the story wouldn’t be as real or as emotionally investing.

Again, Prieto expects the reader to keep up. After Midnight wasn’t as disorienting as After Dark because I now had a grasp on back stories and characters, but I couldn’t just lay back and expect to be fed every detail. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy that style of writing? It just sweeps you right into the story.
The world of mages and vampires and werewolves is revealed bit by bit and made me more and more curious to figure it all out.

This book ends on a definite cliffhanger. A “Oh man! I can’t believe he just… Crap! Where’s the next book? Quick, I have to go tell someone all about this book right now to relieve the tension over the cliffhanger” kind of cliffhanger. The major plotline in After Midnight has been resolved, but there is still more to the tale and the ending is merely a door just being opened. Literally. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate any announcement as to when we can expect the next book. But I just know it’s coming, just have to be patient.

I recommend these books to anyone who craves action, intensity, and writing that expects you to pay attention and keep up. Even as horrific as this tale is in places, it’s still a fun and exciting ride!