Submerging Inferno, (Men of Myth #1), Brandon Witt
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Gay NA Romance
Tags: Paranormal/Fantasy Witches, Other, Contemporary Setting, Romance, Series
Length: 344 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
I had always lived in the water. I felt safer in the ocean than I did on land. The fish and the animals always swam with me, and it was never a problem.
When Submerging Inferno begins, Brett Wright is at a funeral. We fairly quickly discover that it is his grandfather’s funeral, but he is hiding out. Brett has not seen his grandparents since his grandfather told him to leave when Brett came out. His grandmother did nothing. Said nothing. She is a devout Christian and he doesn’t feel that being seen or speaking to her now will make any difference to what happened. So he stays in the background, mourns in his own way, particularly for his grandmother, and then leaves.
Twenty three year old Brett feels at home in the water. He has a real affinity with it. He swims a lot, he’s a lifeguard and he lives with his best friend, Sonia. His mother left when he was younger and his grandparents raised him, until he came out. Alone and with little means is when Sonia took him in and they have lived together ever since. Apart from the beach, Brett doesn’t go out a lot and it has been a drought for him sex wise. But he isn’t looking for love, so….
Sonia convinces him to come down to Rascals, where she works, and maybe get some action. It can just be a quickie, nothing more. Soon enough, he finds an attractive guy that seems to be returning the interest. The guy follows Brett out when he leaves Rascals and they end up at the beach for a late night swim. When things start to hot up, and they literally do heat up as the guy Brett has hooked up with starts to broil and blister in the water, no one is more shocked than Brett. More than that, the guy coughs up half an ocean of water. He freaks out, tells Brett to go and Brett hightails it out of there not at all sure of what the heck just happened. There have been other signs lately – feelings like something is watching him when he is in the water, he felt like he lit up under water on another occasion, which is not possible, and of course the whole broiling your potential nookie is not a good sign.
The day after the late night ‘swim,’ Brett goes back to the beach to see if there are any signs of what happened. Maybe this was something he imagined or overplayed in his mind. It can’t be real. Eventually, when Brett feels calmer about what may or may not have occurred, he goes to his favourite restaurant to find that the co-owner has decided that her brother would be a good match for Brett. He’s there, Brett is there, he can just talk to her brother and see what happens. Her brother comes over, is stunned by how attractive Brett is and strikes up a conversation only to have Brett get up, walk over to another guy and leave the restaurant with him, totally ignoring everything he has said to Brett.
Finn de Morisco is shocked that someone would be so rude as to completely ignore another person and just get up and leave, but once he gets a look at the other guy’s eyes he works out that the other ‘guy’ has put Brett in thrall. He is a vampire and he has targeted Brett for some reason. Finn is a warlock and he knows a bit about a few paranormal folk, especially vampires. He follows them out as quickly as he can, but he cannot spot them. He searches for Brett, all the while sending out a locater spell, but he doesn’t know anything about Brett to help him cast a strong enough spell. By pure deduction, and going back and forth, Finn eventually finds Brett and the vampire. The vampire that is now on fire in an alleyway with a shocked Brett on the ground. The vampire has raped Brett and drunk blood from him but, even on fire, he manages to get away. Finn is more intent on helping Brett and getting him somewhere safe to recover. Furthermore, what the hell was that all about? How did Brett set the vampire on fire? Vampires are pretty powerful and even as a warlock he cannot cast a spell like that, so he doubts Brett is a warlock. When Finn takes Brett home his family are none too happy. His mother, Paulette, casts a spell to bind Brett in place and his sisters living at home are pretty pissed, particularly Caitlin, she wants to call the Vampire Cathedral – the governing body of the paranormal world – and report what has happened. Caitlin wants to get Brett away from their house and their family before all hell breaks loose.
From here, things start to go in a whole new direction in Brett’s life and for the de Moriscos, to a certain extent. Brett is being called a demon by Finn’s family. Perhaps he’s a fire demon. He is feared for being something that is usually vile and uncontrollable – a fallen – with little feelings for others, paranormal or human. Brett is majorly spooked, he has always just thought of himself as a human, he didn’t know vampires existed, let alone witches, warlocks and demons. He cannot be something that doesn’t exist. None of this makes any sense. Isn’t it bad enough that he has been kicked out of home and lost the love of the people who raised him for being gay? Now he is being castigated (yet) again for being a demon. Things go from bad to worse for Brett as people he knows, and some he doesn’t, start being targeted by the vampire that attacked him. The only bright light is that Finn is there for him and supports him. I would have to say that Finn was a goner for Brett when he laid eyes on the gorgeous blonde the moment he saw him at is sister’s and brother-in-law’s restaurant.
There are parts of Submerging Inferno that I loved and parts that didn’t work so much for me. Let me break those factors down and then close off.
Things that did not work for me:
Submerging Inferno is more like a New Adult book. New Adult is aged seventeen and up (usually targeted at 17-25 year olds) and this book most definitely does slot into that age category. Both of the MC’s were young for their age – they are twenty three and twenty five but both seem younger and realistically that was well written by the author. Why? Because Brett had been raised in a religious and strict household until he was kicked out, and then Sonia looked out for him. Finn is the youngest of a large and extended clan. Things about the darker side of their world are kept from him by a nice family who embrace mostly human style businesses and ways of living. So, that part was right, BUT…the sex is mostly off page, which is fine for a romance paranormal aimed at a NA market, but not for a MM romance paranormal. If it were strictly a dark paranormal, or an UF? Different story. But the relationship between Brett and Finn is very much an integral part of this book. It wasn’t just the sexual aspects, but the way they interacted. They kissed and they cuddled, they got interrupted, and they declared the “I love you’s.” They didn’t want to have sex under Finn’s parent’s roof, even though they were so physically and emotionally attracted and it was the beginning stages of their relationship. No, sorry, at their age(s) I would have done it on the freaking kitchen bench, in the dining room, or the shower, on the roof….anywhere I could have gotten it I would have been getting it. For a younger market? Fair enough. For an older market? Not right for a romantic adult book. I don’t mind if sex is not in a book (look at my number one book of 2013) but it needed to be on the page in this book. There was a lead-in on several occasions, in the graveyard it started to sizzle, and then I just felt disappointed.
It started well but there were sections where I felt that the differing POV did not progress the book. And, at times, it did slow down and circle around a bit. But by the 60% mark (roughly) if took off again with gusto.
What worked for me:
I liked the characters. Truth be told, I loved Finn de Morisco…loved, loved, loved him!! I wanted more and more of him. Finn – my heart ached for him. He wanted Brett so very much. He wanted to help him and ease his pain. He is so kind and gentle and decent and brave and supportive, and loyal…and…and…and….I think I am getting the point across on Finn. He is a very good character and I am sitting on the fence on reading book #2 because I am scared about what he will go through. That translates into what I will go through. Yes, Kazza is a BIG chicken.
I thought the beginning to near the middle was very well executed. I thought the latter part of the book saw Brandon Witt really hitting his stride in a lot of ways, although the ending was not exactly good for this Finn-lover. But, being honest, if he had gone any other way he would have sold out his characters and his series, or there would have been too much crammed into one book.
The world building really did heat up as the book progressed. The vampires are divided into two classes, there are weres, fae, nymphs, demons, witches – good and bad – that all make an appearance, and I feel will make more appearances in the next two books. The Square was only just touched on here. The Square is a place where the darker souls within the paranormal community, and human fringe dwellers, hang out. When Finn cast out a locator spell, when Brett had taken off at one stage, he seemed to connect with a darker spirit, whether that gets explored more time will tell. There were indicators of more coming.
I mentioned it before, the characterisations were good given the MC’s backgrounds, in spite of the NA feel. I liked Brett, felt sorry for him. He fell apart as something new would hit the fan in his life. And things did hit the fan in major ways. And he did fall apart. It has a very realistic touch to it. How would most of us react with so much to digest? You are not who you think you are, what you think you are. There also seems to be a very strong theme of being gay in life in general and within religion. There was a very poignant piece of dialogue between Finn and a struggling Brett who is still not sure of his place in society being gay, let alone being a demon. This seems like a double whammy to him. How can God love him if he is gay? How can he even contemplate His love if he is a demon on top of it? Parts of this book pertaining to religion seemed quite personal and quite sad to me when I read them.
“And the gay thing?”
“Well, God let me be born a warlock and be born gay. Why would he have a problem with either?”
“Well if you really grew up in the church, then the problems with that should be obvious.”
“I said I believe in God, not everything preached from the pulpit. Although the church has good intentions, for the most part, I don’t believe that what is preached and God’s true nature are necessarily the same thing.”
It seemed a little oversimplified but at the moment, simple worked. I wanted to believe in a God who loved me. Loved me in spite of being gay, in spite of being a demon. In Finn’s way of thinking, not in spite of, but maybe because of those qualities.
I wiped my eyes and awkwardly turned in Finn’s arms so we were facing each other. “Kiss me.”
I am a big paranormal reader and I am picky on what I read. There is quite a bit going on in the well named Submerging Inferno. I can’t talk about everything otherwise it gives things away and I don’t want to do that. Apart from the events I have mentioned, there is a vampire hell bent on stalking Brett and no one knows why, but as the book progresses it becomes clearer. Brett is very much a lost soul and gives up much to search for who he is and where he came from, and why. Being gay and a demon dog him. There are a couple of turns that weren’t really a surprise, but were interesting, and then there are events that are a surprise. There are threads left wide open for the next books to complete. All in all I really liked Submerging Inferno because of the world building, the story being told, the absolute potential, the paranormal aspects and FINN. A solid 4 star read.
“Please, Brett.” I couldn’t help pleading again even as I despised myself at the sound. He was too important. What I had with him was too important. “Don’t throw us away because you’re confused or scared. Please.”
Book supplied by the publisher in return for an honest review.