Series: Kai Gracen 01
Author: Rhys Ford
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Fantasy
Length: Novel (237pgs)
Publisher: DSP Publications (5th March 2019)
Heat Rating: Low
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4 – 4 ½ Hearts (combined)
Reviewers: Tams & Pixie
Blurb: Ever since being part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figures he used up his good karma when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races are left with a messy, monster-ridden world, and Stalkers are the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy appears.
It’s a hard life but one Kai likes—filled with bounty, a few friends, and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him of his past. And killing monsters is easy. Especially since he’s one himself.
But when a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego, Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It’s supposed to be a simple run up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary. Easy, quick, and best of all, profitable. But Kai ends up in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.
No one ever got rich being a Stalker. But then few of them got old either and it doesn’t look like Kai will be the exception.
This Third Edition features new cover art by Chris McGrath.
Tams’ Review: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts
Dark, gripping, intense and imaginative, Black Dog Blues is the first book in a new somewhat Urban and slightly Dystopian fantasy series full of paranormal creatures that will surprise you.
Kai Gracen is an Elf with a dark past, living as a human and working as a Stalker. He was won in a poker game by his boss and sort of father figure, Dempsey, who is now retiring so Kai is taking over the family business. Kai is an enigma. He was born an Elf, but prefers to live his life like a human. His parentage will surprise you, but he wants nothing to do with that part of his life. And while Kai would be considered bi-sexual, he is far from someone that confines his sexuality to a title or a box.
When Kai is hired to retrieve a pregnant human woman it is supposed to be an easy job, that is until the sidhe lord Ryder shows up on his door step, intent on accompanying Kai on the job. Secrets are revealed on both sides and the job turns out to be more dangerous that Kai assumed, and then there is the lustful way Ryder eyes Kai that sets his teeth on edge. Unanswered questions prove deadly for the Elfin Stalker. Who is this human pregnant woman that Ryder is hell bent on protecting? And why is Kai’s father suddenly intent on bringing his wayward son back home?
I think I just fell in love with a fictional, slightly psychotic elf with a death wish and a snarky sense of humor. Kai is unapologetically brash and intense. He loathes his past and is determined to live his life in his own way, make his own rules. Ryder is very mysterious and secretive but the one thing he doesn’t hide is just how much he wants Kai. While there isn’t any romance per say in this story, there is an undeniable attraction between these two that Kai does an impressive job of ignoring.
There was a lot going on throughout this story, Dempsey retiring, Kai taking over, the safe transport of the pregnant woman, Ryder’s involvement in her life, Kai’s past merging with his present and the link he has to Ryder. While I was completely engrossed in this story from start to finish, I got a little confused at times with everything that was taking place, but all roads intersected along the way. There were a few unappealing secondary characters as well, but I’m thinking Ford may have plans for them somewhere in the context of this series, so I’ll file them all away for later.
Overall I thought this was a great read. As I said it is dark, imaginative, mysterious and engaging. The way Ford merged the human and Fae worlds, the history and lore of the sidhe that was told, I’m anxious to see where Ford takes Kai and Ryder and possibly Alexa in the next story. This book reminded me a lot of Holly Black’s Modern Tales of Fairy series, which is one of the best Fae series to date. If you read multiple genres like I do, or you are thinking of dipping your toe into the warm waters of the MM genre, then this book would probably be the perfect start for you.
Pixie’s Review: 💖💖💖💖💖 4 ½ Hearts
Elfin Kai was won in a poker game by a human Stalker, Dempsey, and was trained to be a Stalker, he is the only Elfin Stalker in southern California. Now with Dempsey retiring due to injury Kai has set up shop in San Diego, contracting out to the local SoCalGov depot to kill the monsters that were released when Underhill merged with Earth. Kai is so merged in the human culture that he sometimes forget he was Elfin but when he is contracted to work for sidhe lord Ryder he is reminded of his past. Kai’s new contract was supposed to be an easy run, but heading up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman is anything but simple when he is dragged into a bloodline feud and his own past comes back to haunt him.
This is an absolutely brilliant Urban Fantasy story that has danger, horrible monsters, tempting sidhe and intriguing heroes. Kai has a mysterious past that is filled with horror, he wants nothing to do with any other Elfin and is perfectly happy with his life in the human world, it is dangerous but nothing that he hasn’t faced before and he lives by his own rules. Being forced to take a job for the sidhe lord Ryder is far from his idea of fun but if he doesn’t do it his Stalker licence could be pulled, gritting his teeth he sets out on an action packed journey that brings his bloody terrifying past back to him.
Kai is a brilliant character, he faces so much in this story and his reactions are just perfect. Kai is scarred by his past in more ways than one and his fears reach out and grab you, he has good reason to never want to see the Dusk Court again. Kai’s sexuality is fluid, male/female doesn’t matter to him he enjoys both, but some people he will steer clear of. Ryder and the other characters are there but more in the background, this is Kai’s story and although it is a great with the action, danger and Kai’s history being revealed, nobody really jumps out like Kai does so we are left wondering as to who could really catch Kai’s eye because it isn’t only Ryder who wants a taste of Kai.
It left me wondering just what direction this series would head in with Kai’s love interest because Kai seemed much more receptive to the females, because even with his detailed reaction to Ryder he still seemed to welcome the females touch more than Ryder’s.
This story is very much focused on the Urban Fantasy with any romantic/sexual interest taking a back burner, the imaginative settings and terrible creatures pull you into an exciting adventure and discovering Kai’s life is interesting. There’s plenty of danger from the black dogs, dragons, Dusk sidhe and Dawn sidhe, and Kai gets dragged into the Elfin world even as he tries to stay out of it.
We get a dark gritty story that makes you wonder as you turn the page just what Kai will face next, and you wonder just how much more his poor body can take before it gives up.
I recommend this is you want a dark, gritty, danger filled Urban Fantasy, incredible world building, fascinating characters and just a slight hint of sexual attraction.