Autumn, by Cole McCade
Series: Crow City, Book 2.75
Release Date: March 27, 2017
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
There are worse things in life than loving a man who hates you.
Unfortunately, Walford Gallifrey can’t think of many.
Ever since a ghost from his past kidnapped his niece, Willow (THE FOUND, Crow City #2), Wally’s life has been nothing but grief, turmoil, and loss. With no idea if Willow is dead or alive, Wally’s only comfort is in caring for his grieving brother-in-law and Willow’s father, Joseph Armitage. For the past twenty years, Wally has never hoped to be anything but the backdrop to Joseph’s life; between marrying Wally’s sister and decades of mistakes building walls of enmity and resentment between them, Joseph has been firmly cemented in Wally’s mind as unattainable.
But the pain of Willow’s loss forces them to face the demons sleeping between them, find common ground—and more. Together, they explore mutual grief. Shared memories. Quiet respect. Warmth. Camaraderie. The joy of learning to live again.
And an unspoken attraction, buried beneath the scars of hurtful words and terrible missteps.
Yet even as they work through the thorns and tangles of old wounds, Joseph has his own struggles to face. The struggle to leave his ex-wife in the past. To let his daughter go. And to trust Wally to love him, to see him as more than just his multiple sclerosis, when so many have treated him as less than a man. The only way forward for them both is forgiveness. Trust.
And a second chance to discover what it means, to truly be in love.
Note: This novel, while a standalone, follows in the aftermath of the events of THE FOUND (Crow City #2), and ties in to the events of THE SAVED (Crow City #2.5), which detail—respectively—the events of Willow’s kidnapping and Walford’s prior relationship with her kidnapper, Vincent Manion.
Enemies to Lovers
Disability/Chronic Illness (Multiple Sclerosis)
As a fan of the Crow City series, curling up with Autumn was like basking in a precious spot of sun on a cold, blustery day. It featured the gorgeous prose and unadulterated emotion that has so far been a hallmark of the series (and its author, Cole McCade aka Xen Sanders) yet Autumn was drastically distinct from its predecessors in mood and tone. If the other books were sketched in bold strokes of gritty charcoal, then Autumn was a lush watercolor done in warm golden hues. It was light and airy and whimsical and altogether magical.
That’s not to say there wasn’t any angst. This is after all, a Crow City novel.
The book was originally meant to be a novella, and I had my reservations when I learned that it had expanded into a full-length novel – partly because the novellas in this series are worth their weight in gold but also because I like sweet endings, even if they’re only HFNs. As I was reading, I could even imagine the spot that would’ve made a tidy stopping point if it had kept its original format. I admit I was nearly afraid to carry on reading, but I’m so glad I did. Wally and Joseph deserve all the joy and so much more, but nothing comes easy when you have a recent loss and 20-odd years of animosity to overcome. Without getting into the nitty gritty, let’s just say that I’m so happy the author followed his instincts and granted them a much-deserved HEA.
I confess I was a complete goner for Wally’s old-world charm and quiet grace right from the start – well, from The Saved, if I’m being honest. Thankfully the refined ringmaster turned shopkeeper was more debonair chic than circus flair, and if the author’s goal was to make me fall madly in love every time he described Wally, then job well done. I also loved the way he spoke and his old-timey exclamations, but not gonna lie, it was odd. Which is why I laughed out loud when Joseph called Wally out on it.
“Oh,” he gasped, digging his fingers into Joseph’s hair. “Oh, dear.”
Joseph stilled. That tormenting mouth left Wally’s flesh, leaving his nipples tingling and peaking as cool air tickled at the dampness of his skin. Joseph pulled up on both arms, looking down at Wally flatly, the corners of his mouth twitching.
“Really? Really,” he panted roughly, half-growling. “I’m doing everything I can to curl your toes and all you can say is “oh dear.”
It took a bit longer for me to warm up to Joseph. Just going by memory, I did not expect him to be so in tune with his feelings and neither did I expect him to embrace his bisexuality so easily. And I certainly did not imagine his first words to Wally to be so introspective and vulnerable. And yes, I realize it’s odd that I had a hard time wrapping my head around a 47-year-old curmudgeon in touch with his feelings but had absolutely no problem with a former circus ringmaster with whimsical airs. Obviously, I did not give Joseph enough credit. I admired his determination to pick up the pieces of his life and I thought his day-to-day challenges with MS were well-portrayed. But most of all, I couldn’t help but love him a little bit more every time he teased Wally and lovingly called him “weirdo.”
“I suppose I should tell you now that I’m really a Russian spy, and the circus was but a cover to escape being killed by my rivals.”
Joseph groaned. “Wally?”
“Yes, darling dear?”
“Shut up, you weirdo.”
Autumn is marketed as a standalone, and while it is an alluring gateway book, I personally feel it would be a shame to read it by itself. For the uninitiated looking to dip their toes, I would recommend reading this along with companion novella The Saved. If you’re already familiar with Crow City, well then Autumn is an absolute must-read. It felt like a deep, calming breath and a much-needed reprieve before we’re plunged back into the dark but beautiful world that is Crow City.
COLE MCCADE IS A NEW ORLEANS-born Southern boy without the Southern accent, currently residing somewhere in Seattle. He spends his days as a suit-and-tie corporate consultant and business writer, and his nights writing contemporary romance and erotica that flirts with the edge of taboo—when he’s not being tackled by two hyperactive cats.
He also writes genre-bending science fiction and fantasy tinged with a touch of horror
and flavored by the influences of his multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual background as Xen Sanders. He wavers between calling himself bisexual and calling himself queer, but no matter what word he uses he’s a staunch advocate of LGBTQIA and POC representation and visibility in genre fiction. And while he spends more time than is healthy hiding in his writing cave instead of hanging around social media, you can generally find him in these usual haunts:
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/ColeMcCadeBooks
Website & Blog: http://www.blackmagicblues.com
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.