Messiah 1: The Three of Cups by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine




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Messiah 1: The Three of Cups by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine


In the year 2039, the world is a better place thanks to one man.

Fresh from college, Malcolm Wilder had managed to engineer a cheap, efficient fix to fossil fuel dependence. The new energy-for-all economy allowed for world peace among humans to blossom and flourish. As the Earth and its people began to heal, creatures once thought to be the stuff of myth and legend decided it was finally safe to reveal themselves.

A decade later, Malcolm is a corporate giant living in exotic Dubai on the Persian Gulf. He’s on the cover of every magazine, his name on everyone’s lips. It’s a good life but a hectic one. Malcolm’s business partner and lifelong friend, Levi Tanner, is concerned that Malcolm isn’t getting to enjoy his fame and fortune. Levi finally insists on taking Malcolm to Mortal Sin, a local hot spot that caters to those looking for something a little different in the way of adult recreation.

Little does Malcolm know, but the world still has a few problems of Biblical proportion and all hell is about to break loose.



Messiah is a thought provoking and evocative dark urban fantasy tackling controversial ideas with clever ingenuity and skill. From the outset Messiah is not a romance, even though it has elements of romance within the story. The authors unfortunately are doing their story a bit of a disservice being published at such a heavily romance geared publisher given the content of their work. As with other books and authors, Valentine and MacLeod are not so much m/m romance authors as dark urban fantasy authors that write books with elements of horror, romance, fantasy, and controversy. There may be a happy ending or may not, there may be a grand love affair or there may not. These are mostly works of fiction rather than the more classic romance. For this particular offering, controversial elements are certainly woven into the plot in an incredibly clever and skillful way.

Unfortunately due to the inherent twists in the story, and oh there are quite a few, it’s almost impossible to write a review talking about the different aspects the book tackles. So instead I’ll try to talk about what was successful and not in broader terms; although every reader will most likely have a different interpretation, which is one of the best aspects of the story. The plot is intricate without being too complicated and convoluted. The basic premise is actually pretty simple but inventively woven into the characters and setting so small complexities and details shine elevating the premise from more simple origins. There are a lot of details though so be sure to pay attention because the authors have very few, if any, frivolous words and scenes within a tightly packed 80 pages.

The various characters are many and diverse, but not all completely fleshed out. This is in part due to the length of the story and the fact that there is at least one more sequels – personally I think this should be a lengthy series. There are so many ideas and provocative statements elicited that this setting and characters could easily extend to a seven part (or more) series, affording the characters more definition and thorough examination. That’s not to say any of the characters were flat or one dimensional but several had more cursory introductions while focusing on only a few in this introduction, which was smart rather than overwhelming the reader with people and information. Those few that were highlighted and defined stood out with charisma and interest while generally being three dimensional with vivid descriptions.

The one caveat I had with the characters was the main character of Malcolm. He was given the most depth of the cast but still felt contradictory and ill-defined to me even at the end. He is the sole character with an included background, yet his reactions and thought process made little sense at times and seemed too easily accepting of certain statements. Due to his background, I expected Malcolm to fight some premade conclusions and expectations of others but he easily agreed with nary a concern. This contradiction and others had Malcolm feeling ill conceived at the end but I’m willing to see where his character is taken in the sequel for a more fully elucidated explanation.

Several of the characters fairly leapt off the page from Odessa to Lucifer and truly you won’t want to miss this creative take on religious themes in urban fantasy. The writing is solid and concise with vivid descriptions and vitality to the prose that keeps the story absorbing and interesting. The actual setting of Mortal Sins was surprising and well done with the richness of the luxury and decadence easily being translated to the page. The additional detail of the Three of Cups tarot card was nicely incorporated, especially in a line where many authors neglect to add any mention of the tarot card at all. This level of attention to detail is shown clearly throughout and will entice readers into the complex and fascinating world.

Even with the character problems I had with Malcolm, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story especially for the theme, plot, writing and other characters. Romance is certainly a part of the story and there is a happy ending with the plot threads dangling and the story still calling out for more. Hopefully Malcolm and his decisions, actions, and thought process will be more fully explored in future editions to perhaps explain his contradictory character. Or perhaps I was the only one with that issue and either way, I highly suggest fiction readers who enjoy urban fantasy featuring gay characters with thought provoking issues to pick up a copy of Messiah. You won’t be disappointed.

Get it HERE!

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