Review: Breath: A Dark Fantasy MFM Menage Romance by Jean Lowe Carlson

Reviewed by Ronelle

Gryffine lives a solitary life, devoid of human touch, and all because of a curse. When the simple touch of your lips will kill someone, you tend to hold yourself apart…except for the one night a year it is nullified.

On one such night, Gryffine meets the dashing bartender Jessup, who steals her from her isolation and returns her pleasure. Yet when Gryffine’s soulmate arrives on her doorstep with her same curse, can she refuse the pull to be with this dark lover… and her own demise?


Argh! With the unique premise, interesting characters, and solid romance, Breath SHOULD have been an effortless A—but there were so many editing issues that they really detracted from my enjoyment. A few typos are just par for the course and something I can look past, but when simple things are allowed to eff up a great story, it just pisses me off.

As far as premise and characters, Breath was unique and unexpected. The idea of a curse that is nullified one day a year and always appears in threes was pretty intriguing and the mashup of New Orleans-esque culture with Victorian-era London fired my imagination. Ms. Carlson’s characters were fun and likeable and varied, though I wish Luc had been present earlier so we could get to know him before shit got real. The romance between Gryffine and Jessup was sweet and moving, even if we think it was an insta sort of thing. We get some information later that reframes their initial meeting in an interesting way without taking away from their love. There was a sort of twist/shift around the halfway point that I did NOT see coming and it added a completely new layer to the story.

As an aside: Don’t hold your breath for graphic sex in this one, folks, though I know the title might lead one to expect it. Also, while there is technically an instance of MFM ménage, it’s a singular, brief instance and the way it plays out, for me at least, didn’t really count.

I’ll admit that at first, I found Ms. Carlson’s rather repetitive descriptive choices to be annoying, but they quickly became… almost soothing, I suppose (until she changed something, like whether Henri’s eyes were gray or blue—please fix that, thanks). I’m also not sure if the language she used is a real one (I thought French at first, but after trying to Google some of the words, it isn’t), but it was understandable and added to the ambiance, for the most part. There were places where it felt a little like Ms. Carlson changed the spelling of words for the sake of change rather than necessity.

Now this is the angry/disappointed part of my review and, wait for it… IT’S ABOUT THE EDITING! Shocking, right? Oh, the editing—or, in this case, serious lack of. The typos were pervasive and frequent and many of them were just inexcusable. Seriously, when “ot” instead of “not” and “demonsand” instead of “demons and” make it into a final published manuscript, it makes me question whether the author even bothered to run a spellcheck. And there were missing words all over the place! Add to that some glaringly inconsistent time frames around Gryffine’s stay with the dottore, demon and demonne being used interchangeably for no discernable reason, titles like “miss” not being capitalized (plus inconsistent capitalization of things like ‘father’ and ‘mother’), and you’ve got a hot mess that sadly mars an awesome story.

Bottom line: A lovely story so tainted by edits that I was tempted to DNF it. I can only hope that Ms. Carlson will go back and fix them so that future readers can enjoy the full beauty that “Breath” can be.

Rating: C-

*I originally received a BookFunnel ARC from the author in exchange for my honest review, but due to some BF-specific formatting issues, I ended up purchasing a copy on Amazon.

Click to purchase: Amazon

 Breath: A Dark Fantasy MFM Menage Romance
by Jean Lowe Carlson
Release Date: March 23, 2015

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