Title: Threadbare Gypsy Souls
Author: T.A. Chase
Cover Artist: Trace Edward Zaber
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Amazon: Buy Link Threadbare Gypsy Souls
Genre: Dark fantasy / Action adventure / werewolves
Length: 144 pages/52k words
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by ZenHarley
Review Summary: Lots of potential, but ultimately falls short of the mark.
Nashville Rocky Rhodes roars into Fallen Creek on his motorcycle one day, and nothing is ever the same again…
Nash is trying to find his path in life, after leaving Nashville and his biker gang in the dust. Fallen Creek, Wyoming, isn’t where he plans on spending the rest of his life, but it’s a nice place to rest for a while, and take stock of his life. Yet Nash has secrets he doesn’t want to share with anyone, especially not a taciturn, scarred cowboy.
Cullen O’Murphy is a lone wolf, and he’s been fighting a losing battle against the local shifter pack. He doesn’t want to become part of their pack, not knowing what they do for a living. Cullen’s not afraid, since he knows he can defeat the Alpha, but he doesn’t want to lead. He simply wishes to be left alone.
One night, Cullen goes for a drink at the Watering Hole, a local bar, and he meets Nash. The lust is combustible, yet both men are leery about trusting the other with all their secrets. Unfortunately, neither man might have a choice as circumstances spiral out of their control…
I really wanted to like this book, but unfortunately, the plot holes, logic fails, and unengaging characters meant that it ended up in the “meh” pile. And that’s a shame, because this had the potential to be a good read. There was plenty of action, some intrigue, a scarred, wary cowboy, a reformed biker gang member, and a healthy dose of the paranormal. What could go wrong?
Sadly, plenty of things. To start with, I just never connected with either of the main characters, especially Cullen. He’s described frequently as a lone wolf, a man whose childhood was spent on the move with parents who were themselves outcasts from the established wolf shifter packs (the reason for their disconnect was never given.) Cullen has more or less settled down in the town of Fallen Creek, Wyoming, where he maintains an edgy relationship with the local pack, whose Alpha is the book’s main bad guy: Robinson, a drug-dealing, woman-hitting, basic scum-of-the-earth kind of guy. This is where some of the logic fails start to creep in. It’s mentioned quite a few times that Cullen could easily defeat Robinson if he wanted to (apparently Cullen’s an Alpha, too — more on that later) but just doesn’t want the hassle of inheriting Robinson’s dysfunctional pack. And despite the fact that a dear friend of his died from meth abuse, he turns a blind eye to the drug manufacturing and dealing next door, since hey, not his problem. And Cullen — this big, strong Alpha wolf — somehow allows Robinson’s goons to beat him up. Repeatedly. To the point that he carries scars on his face from all the fights. Later on, we find that he is also inexplicably scared of Nash’s mother, a point which may have been intended as humor but seemed forced.
Nash is on the run from his former position as sergeant at arms of a biker gang. There are several reasons given for why he left the gang, (one involving a blond-haired, blue-eyed someone who was never mentioned again.) The real story is held until the Big Reveal, but is pretty obvious from the get-go. Nash is also a closet submissive, and enjoys having Cullen order him around. The poor guy also spends the entire book injured in one fashion or another.
Cullen and Nash fall in love in about a week. It’s not strictly “fated mates” but pretty darn close, at least from Cullen’s perspective. They boink like bunnies, with Nash enjoying Cullen’s bossiness, and Nash’s new-found ability to be more submissive in bed. The sex scenes are OK, but I felt they were lacking in romance. I just never got a sense of the two of them as more than guys who liked to sleep together, with a touch of “comrades in arms” thrown in later on.
The plot is full of dropped threads, disappearing characters, lucky coincidences, stupid bad guys, really paranoid townspeople, and an otherworldly deus ex machina that made me reach for a drink.
I could have overlooked almost all of this, except for one last issue: I felt like I was being manipulated by the author’s selective release of information. It’s one thing to protect the Big Reveal with a red herring or three — heck, we’d lose the whole mystery genre otherwise — but you shouldn’t put your readers in someone’s head and then purposely edit what they see in order to maintain the mystery. It’s a trust issue: as readers, we should be able to trust that if we’re told a character is thinking about pink elephants during a scene, we don’t find out later that he was actually thinking about green dingos. This comes up in the Big Reveal and was extremely aggravating.
On the plus side (yes, there is one) the writing was clear, the scenic descriptions useful without being intrusive, and the pacing appropriate. While there were a few typos in the text, they weren’t frequent or egregious. The cover art was nice enough, and I really liked the title.
So overall, I would very guardedly recommend this to anyone who is already a fan of the author, or who is looking for a quick read and untroubled by the types of issues outlined above. Others may want to steer clear.