A Rope of Thorns by Gemma Files

Why I Read It: To Feed The Need – my Gemma Files addiction.

Where I Got It: From the publisher through Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!)

Who I Recommend This To: If your into sexy westerns, with some witch craftery thrown in, this is for you.

Narrator: Gordon MacKenzie

Publisher: Iambik Audio (2012)

Length: 12 hours 59 minutes

Series: Book 2 Hexslinger

I am surely addicted, and this new addiction has a name – Gemma Files. We had company over the weekend, company I adore and hadn’t seen in a year, and I still snuck in bits of this audio book. The author spins together imagery that is breath-taking in both beauty and terror. A Rope of Thorns picks right up where Book 1, A Book of Tongues, left off. Chess Pargeter and Ed Morrow have a whole posse of pissed-off folks after them and need to lay low. In a sleepy little town, they regain their strength, and also work out a few bits of their relationship. It’s hot and sweet at the same time. The night before a wedding, one of the local women, Yancy, demands that they take advantage of the celebration to slip out quietly. Things don’t quite as planned, and Yancy ends up leaving with Chess and Ed.

Meanwhile, Rook and his Aztec death Goddess wife Ixchel are still plotting and building their empire, summoning all hexes to them and taking worship in blood. As with everything in these books, nothing is black and white. The new Hex empire is a safe place for Hexes to raise families, something they couldn’t do in the open before. Speaking of family, Ixchel has a powerful brother, and it looks like these two are headed for a once-in-a-millenium confrontation. And I don’t think either cares about the term ‘collateral damage’.

Chess’s character really grew in this second book. At the end of Book 1, I was cheering him on, but in this book his personality is unfolding piece by piece, against his better judgement. Ed has to address the fact that he cares deeply for Chess, while at the same time being attracted to the opposite sex. Asher Rook, Chess’s former lover, did a very BAD THING in the first book (left out because it is a spoiler), and he struggles with loosing his friendship with Chess over it. Overall, these characters are not static; they hurt, grow, and morph into new people, forced to it by the extraordinary times they find themselves in. Throw in a few new characters, like kick-ass Yancy, and some allegiance-switching side characters, and you have a hoof-pounding, ricochet of a ride.

Our narrator, Gordon MacKenzie, did a fantastic job once again. Book 1 would be a challenge for any experienced and gifted narrator. Book 2, with further accents and more characters plus voices for dead deities and other monstrosities, is beyond what I have here-to-fore heard done well. Applause for Gordon MacKenzie please! He really brings this series to life with the effort he puts into the accents, regional and otherwise. He also had more female characters this time to play – which he did well. I can even picture him in a skirt when he does Yancy’s voice. In addition, there was some singing, and I love it when a narrator goes all out and actually sings the lyrics, instead of reciting them like poetry.

What I Liked: All of it – the dirt, blood, tears, betrayal, regret, love, trust, friendship; the sex was good too; Yancy’s character is a lot of fun; I love to hate the bad guys.

What I Disliked: This is really a minor thing, but I would liked to have heard more about Ixchel’s new empire and what she does in her off time (besides bedding Rook).

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