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4.5 stars Brandon Shire has completely WOWED me with his excellent prose and masterful storytelling Cold by Brandon Shire is not only the first book of a new series, but it is also the first book I have had the pleasure to read from this author This book is an excellent example of great storytelling, and I was totally enthralled from the start there is no flowery prose, nor is this a raw and gritty tale It is not a roller coaster ride and you will not find any angst or gratuitous sex thrown in for the sake of it, and for the most part we don t even get to see the romance So, by now you are probably wondering why I would even read this book Simple the WOW factor for me was the writing, just amazing and at times beautiful, especially watching the relationship grow between these two, their character development had me captivated and swept along on this journey with two men I just fell in love with In Cold, Brandon Shire paces the book perfectly and drip feeds the information allowing us to absorb and digest, running the ramifications through our minds before the next piece is slipped into place helping us build a detailed and vivid picture of Lem the gentle giant with a secretive past and Anderson the fallen media darling and nightclub owner, neither of which had the perfect upbringing and both of them have been damaged by the cruelties life has dealt them Not all the secrets are revealed in this first book and I still have many questions unanswered, the impatient side of me wants it all NOW but alas we will have to wait PRISON IS A HEARTLESS PLACE Even so if you are a renowned gay man, and five feet, seven inches of scrawny Anderson has spent eight years in prison for a crime that although he was culpable, he was not the instigator, he was betrayed by his lover and lost everything, but most of all he lost his freedom Now prison is a ticking clock, counting down the months to his release He has one objective, stay out of trouble and get out of prison Anderson is an open book and his thoughts fly freely enabling us as readers to understand him and we learn some of his secrets and the events that led up to his conviction.Lem, is not quite so forthcoming, he has spent eighteen years incarcerated and has created a necessary persona to survive, to others his size was immediately intimidating and follow that up with his steely gaze and stoical manner and Lem was to be avoided at all costs At this point in the series, Lem is still an enigma, his mind like the man is stoically guarded, internalizing and even hiding from himself We see the dangerous side to Lem and have yet to find out why, but in my opinion, this belies his true disposition, he is an intelligent, gentle and caring man who wanted nothing than to be left alone in his self inflicted isolation, maintaining his sanity with his passion for nature, working with plants and happy to while away his spare time reading magazines with his thoughts drifting to his one love and passion the forest, but to him it is an empty dream as Lem has nothing and no one and that s the way he likes it until Anderson Now Lem is confused by his own behaviour, for the first time since the death of his brother he wants someone to see past all the bravado and see the real him He stared at the bonsai on the table, lost in his thoughts He missed that kind of space, the thousands of acres he had to roam because he was charged to watch over it There were weeks when he wouldn t see a single soul It was just him and the forest There was one spot he particularly liked when he was out west He d camp out by Stillwater River and watch the wildlife come in for a drink while he held himself steady in a tree a hundred feet above their head, in awe of their beauty and grace Anderson fears Lem the murderer yet lusts for Lem the man who uttered the words I would never hurt you and battling with his conscience is only exasperating his longing for Lem and ramping up the fear factor But when he looks into Lem s eyes, he knows he is safe with his gentle giant and after eight years of living in fear and anxiety in that moment he feels free and the connection, although silent was palpable and he felt safe to just let go He took another step back and looked at Lem fully, studying him something which he had been terrified to do since he saw Lem the first time He had a rugged, angled face, weathered by pain and something he guessed was an internal misery He saw emotion and a deep hurt etched around Lem s eyes What I loved about the emotional and physical connection between these two men was the hope I felt, it was profound and my heart was full reading it, and to be honest, personally I can t say I felt it was hot sex, I almost felt like a voyeur, it was intimate and beautiful, the passion was intense, they were just grabbing a moment in time and it had to be perfect and Brandon Shire truly made me feel that emotion with his words, with an ending that made me both smile and cry yep, that would be me again with the ugly tearsI think I love you Anderson whispered as he heard his footsteps fade away I can only guess as to why Brandon chose the title for this series, my own impression would be the Cold that had for so long rendered Lem numb to anything but existing and Anderson was the warmth that was slowly melting the ice within the man and fanning the flames of desire that had long ago been forgotten that would be the romantic in me, but I am sure Mr Shire will enlighten me at some point I also wish that Anderson could have a nickname or something shortened as Anderson seems so formal, unfortunately our two MC s barely had time to get to know one another let alone for them to develop endearments, something that I am hoping will change with the coming books in the series I know I mentioned before that Brandon Shire blew me away with his writing and believe me he did, I am all kinds of wowed by his literary skills, however my only gripe would be some repetition which in this case became noticeable, a couple of times I had to look back thinking I was reading the same page again, plus the use of the word short referring to his stature and time to serve, I think Anderson was obsessing about the two and understandably because his main focus was to get out and repeating it was becoming a mantra and his size he was than aware of because he lived in fear This is an excellent book and I am suitably impressed with this start to the Cold series, we are also introduced to a few well developed secondary characters that I would like to see of, I was pulling a high five for Anderson s Mum at one point and his sister although she seems innocent and naive, I can see the fierce protector in her, and Officer Jefferson he has already won a place in my heart Also, check out this song from ZZ Ward it s from the soundtrack to the book, Loved it so much I and bought the whole album Very atmospheric and I will listen whilst I read.http www.youtube.com watch v TiPL2S This book was provided by the Author in exchange for a fair and honest review false spring.a fragile romance by turns brutal and tender.unfolds gracefully, with hypnotic passages and wild surges of vivid imagery gorgeous, in other words.the pain you know is coming is no less beautiful or savage for being forewarned it ends the way it is supposed to, and we are better off for it.recommended. You know when a character just gets you grabs your heart doesn t let go snakes under your skin and weaves into your mind and you just won t, don t, can t forget him Meet Lem Porter He s a convicted murderer He s a lifer He s a loner He s a mystery And I love him.When you get this affected by a character, it s hard to review the book as a whole Much of Cold is about Lem and his life in prison, his refusal to hope, his secrets, his resignation to his fate.Much is about Anderson, just months away from being released, trying to look forward, keep to himself, and rebuild his life on the outside Some of this book is about the two of them and their unlikely relationship, their attraction, and the brutality AND beauty of their short time together And some secrets just remain untold Yes there is some repetition, some suspension of what I assume to be prison reality is required, and some holes to the story BUT the characters are just so well written and impossible to forget Lemstop invading my dreamssome people have asked if this is dark or violent like other prison books I would say there are some dark parts and some suggestions of violence, but it s not in your face or uncomfortably so Hope that helps Brandon Shire donates 10% of the proceeds from the sale of any of his books to Lost n Found Youth,Inc andGLBT Advocacy Youth Services,Inc About the only thing of beauty he had seen within these walls in a long, long time was Anderson, and like most others in his life, Anderson had looked at Lem like he was someone to fear. When Brandon Shire said he wanted to write a character based prison story he was serious I couldn t believe how caught up I got in Lem and Anderson The prison is there, no doubt, and, at least for Lem it s not going anywhere But the focus is on the internal dialog these two men have The emphasis on who they are, their fears, their passions, their regrets and that s what makes this book work.If you ve ever read Brandon Shire you know he connects you to the characters This book proves his mastery of this skill THE CHARACTERS All these new faces he would forget when he hit the door in eight months, every single one of them He was sure of it Eight months It was the only thing that ran through his brain Eight months. Anderson Passero Although we only get to see Anderson in the last eight months of his incarceration you are able to see how he changes Always wary of others because of his smaller size, he s been living a nightmare where he trusts no one, keeps to himself and analyzes everything You ve spent almost twenty years behind bars, don t you think it s time you forgave yourself Lem Porter I don t think I have ever wanted to reach out to a character than I do with Lem Days, weeks later I m still thinking about him A beautiful, unique human who lets his guilt rule him How Mr Shire created a murderer that I would trust with my children I don t know.He s a smart, tender, gentle man who is one with the natural world Locked within cement walls, he has given up on beauty Lem s nature will speak to you and reach you in ways only very memorable characters do He truly touched me THE STORY You need to know this isn t about prison brutality or guard dominance, this is a beautiful love story in a prison setting While there is a brutal act, it isn t the focus While there is heart ache that had me crying for a full chapter, you shouldn t be afraid to read this because of the setting I ve said it before, I have a true fear of prison This book made me want to stay inside THE WRITING Brandon Shire uses this technique which counts down the time until Anderson is released It is extremely effective in causing a certain tension It plays with your head because you want Anderson out, but there s not enough time, he s short. I know that doesn t make sense, but that s why its brilliant.Shire s writing feels perfectly paced I didn t find any lag He weaves in enough questions to have us demanding another book, while completing everything he set out to accomplish I think this author has found his stride here There s less poetry than in his previous books, but solid story telling He drove this with perfect pacing, stellar characters and gripping emotions It s the god of vegetation and plant life, the Green Man He symbolizes life and rebirth after the long hard winter and predates many religions, Lem offered So why do you have him on your back Anderson pressed him.Lem held him for a moment before he answered Because when I looked out at a forest from the top of a ridge, I saw the cycle and beauty of life It was something I used to believe in And you don t now It s a cycle I m not a part of any, Lem finally replied What about us, right here and now Anderson asked, Lem cupped the side of his head and ran his fingers through his hair A false spring, Lem answered, a sincere sadness in his eyes I sincerely thank Brandon Shire for allowing me to beta read this book and providing me an ARC in exchange for my honest review Take a look at my Male Male Romance Book Blog ( Download Book ) ♍ Cold (Cold, #1) ♫ Cold Series, Book Prison Is A Brutal, Heartless, And Demeaning Environment No One Knows This Better Than A Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder Lem Porter Is A High Profile Prisoner Who Had A Solid Career Ahead Of Him In A Field He Loved Until He Killed His Brother He Has Spent Almost Eighteen Years Behind Bars And Doesn T Have Much Hope LeftAnderson Passero Had It All He Built A Career, A Name, And A Relationship With A Man He Thought He Loved Only After He Very Publicly Landed In Prison Did He Realize How Ignorant He D Been He Has Eight Months Left On His Sentence And He Is Eager To Go Home And Put Prison Life Behind Him He Doesn T Know It Yet, But He Will Always Carry These Eight Months With Him, And They May Just Help Him To Understand What Love Really Means There better be a book 2 currently in the works involving the same characters or I m gonna beat someone s ASS SPOILERS Have you ever wanted to cry for all of eternity I have It began moments ago when I finished this book and now I m sad that Anderson and Lem aren t together and have so much unresolved business I need It s not even an option I m so sad.WARNING This is not what I d call a HEA It s a GREAT ending, but not your typical HEA I want to cry In the rain.Edited review to add awesome, appropriate gif.Awesome book, awesome characters, and I was totally engaged the entire time Love it. I loved this story, has a nice build up to the flaming romance that perfectly suited the characters Even if the attraction was present at the start, it wasn t insta love But Cold is a little different from other romance is not a typical one, we have a lot of surprises , the story is set within the confines of a prison it s a harsh world so to see a love story built in such a environment is a pleasure to read I loved Lem He was so strong, yet tender and vulnerable inside What a delightful combination And them together Hmmmm So If you re looking to get lost in a Man romance with a bittersweet ending and characters that just grab you, then I would definitely recommend that you read this book. 4.5 stars I was totally glued to the pages of this story to the point where several hours passed before I even looked up from the book It s the gripping story of two prisoners, one due for freedom in 8 months and the other resolutely determined to stay on the inside They are both at the end of their tether when a dangerous incident puts them at risk The chapter headings counting down Anderson s last few months are really effective When I got to Two Months I could feel my heart sinking to my boots and when I got to Last Days I could feel the anxiety kick in The ending is a cliffhanger but I don t even care because this story was so interesting and involving Can t wait till book 2 and I might go back and take a second look at this author s other books I DNF d one of them a year or so ago due to the over flowery writing but here it s pared down and a pleasure to read.Oh and who knew prison sex could be so shatteringly perfect Pounding passion Premium page turner Compelling con s.I was awed with the electrifying vibrations pulsating from the story I felt their struggles, their fears, and their passion With the focus on two unlikely souls drawn together by a magnetic force, the big house was merely the condition that brought them together, not the essence of the story The story was Lem The story was Anderson The story was forgiveness, courage and unforeseen love Per usual, the writing was pristine woven with a complexity that was astounding As if each letter had been carefully placed, words strung together creating a harmony of emotions I am always captivated by Shire s inclusive visions LemA manslayer who is than meets the eye A Redwood whose roots may have been cut, but his strength prevails Determined to keep his nose clean and justbe , he is mystified by continued efforts from all directions for his release back into society Convinced his course has been set, he is startled when a brown eyed beauty causes him second thought AndersonHigh society luxuries allowed him to sail through life Na ve mistakes snowballed into sticky trouble he couldn t shake off Wrapping up his time, he is pacing the calendar away until a terrifying incident flips his remaining days from tedious to fleeting I was petrified I was saddened I was hopeful Even secondary characters shone brightly and made a lasting impression I did not see any holes in the story, only meticulously carved room for interpretation I have hopes for their future and if I could be granted a single wish this year, it would be for a sliver of seclusion, and the freedom for a passionate reunion under the canopy of the forest Everyone deserves a second chance, most importantly from yourself 4.5vicious vibrant veiled starson a personal note I was apprehensive to give this story a shot because of the environment and panic of non con While there was a dose of terror, it was manageable and crucial to their coming together I am delighted I went out on a limb with this story Thanks to my girls the gentle encouragement that I needed , for I am forever touched by Lem He leapt from the pages straight into my heart I understand his desires to wander in the splendor of nature I studied Forestry at Michigan State University and I have a deep appreciation for his longing for a blanket of peace and content only the forest can provide And he s right I ve yet to see beauty that compares to the Upper Peninsula I very rarely reread I m still playing catch up with my ever growing tbr list But this was just what I needed Still good, maybe better the second time around. I love this story, the only negative is having it split between two books I need an HEA for Lem and Anderson After re reading in anticipation of the sequel, Heart of Timber, here is an actual review I struggled with this review because my love for the story is all emotional, and difficult to put into words My favorite MC, Lem, was serving a life sentence for killing his brother Determined to stay in prison, he sabotaged his parole interview Why There are hints of self punishment, and maybe lack of hope, but no clear reason why The other MC, Anderson, was eager to get out, and determined to keep his head down and stay out of trouble for the remaining eight months of his term.The two men, distinct opposites in terms of appearance, personality, and circumstances, came together in an ill fated romance I loved their initial observations of and reactions to each other, and when they finally got together Yikes, time out for a cool down.Mixed in with the hotness, though, was a sweet vulnerability that drew me in So gentle and hesitant, with some hope and even awe, overlaid with the bittersweet truth of reality Reality, because with prison as a background, they hardly had a chance The small details that showed the lack of privacy, the lack of autonomy in prison life, had me cringing in sympathy Other details weren t so small One violent scene had me flinching but even though it wasn t airbrushed, it wasn t overpowering, either.As the final weeks of Anderson s term wind down, there is a sense of imminent loss and sadness Every moment is dear, but overshadowed by the reality of their situation As expected, the ending was sad, but knowing a sequel was on the way, I was hopeful.Side notes I loved getting to know Lem through his love of nature, work in the nursery, and memories of his of old job The scene with Anderson and the bonsai was especially touching.Niggles The short business tripped me up, pulled me out of the story as I had to think about the unfamiliar meaning, and it s used a lot.Unless I missed something, Anderson didn t know old Lem was when he went to prison, how did he figure Lem s age from time served There were a few other niggles, but I set them aside to better enjoy the story and to wait for answers in the sequel.Previously published on