This post includes reviews of books in the Spires series:
- Glitterland (#1)
- Waiting for the Flood (#2)
- For Real (#3)
Glitterland (Spires #1)
There’s a difference between being mentally ill and being an asshole, but it’s still entirely possible to be both. By the time I was a third of the way through the book, I was definitely reading it for Hall’s amazing writing and not necessarily for the romance plot. Darian is a cinnamon roll who is too pure for this world, but wading through the direct translation of his accent got annoying after a while. And Ash is…well, Ash is a train wreck. I split my time between empathizing with him (because I am too familiar with panic attacks) and rolling my eyes—a lot.
But as I said, Hall’s writing is always amazing. He has a way with words that brings not only characters but their entire world to life. Therefore, experiencing Ash’s narrative voice was like being on the knife-edge between melodrama and utter beauty. I appreciated his character arc, even if I didn’t always appreciate his love story.
I look forward to continuing this series, but it’s not a binge-read sort of saga. I highly recommend this book to readers who appreciate a well-written story but aren’t looking for a traditional romance story, whether or not they are already fans of Hall’s work.
Waiting for the Flood (Spires #2)
I haven’t quite figured out what ties the books in this series together, but I do know that I adored this stand-alone installment (all on its own, not necessarily just in comparison with the previous book). The arc of this book does follow the template for a more traditional romance—two characters meet, develop a connection, and end on a note that implies a future between them. Part of me is even sad that the story ends right when Edwin and Adam might be growing into something so much more than they are at their awkward first encounters amidst urban flooding. However, this story is also very much about the death of Edwin’s previous relationship and how he lets go of those last tangles keeping him in the past.
As always, this novella showcases Hall’s incredible writing ability, especially how he breathes life into characters (both primary and secondary) and the setting in which they exist. I thoroughly enjoyed Edwin’s character development, even separate from the romance aspect of this book, and I highly recommend this novella to those interested in a taste of Hall’s work without the investment of a full-length novel.
For Real (Spires #3)
One of my particular must-read tropes in the kinkier side of romance is the younger Dom/older sub combination. The power exchange dynamic is already a fascinating read to me and flipping the script with that unexpected age gap always introduces intriguing possibilities into a story’s potential relationship and external conflicts. Combining this element with Hall’s amazing writing means that I’ve been looking forward to reading this book since I first stumbled across it.
Laurie is kind of an emotional train wreck, but at least he realizes it. Toby doesn’t have much more than an attraction to Laurie and some pretty solid instincts. Together, they stumble into a relationship that consists mostly of hot weekend hookups and slightly awkward conversations. I loved that Toby’s nontraditional upbringing allowed him to invest so emotionally in Laurie before Laurie is ready to admit any feelings in return, especially as this is another trope inversion of what is often seen in kink-based romances (in which the sub usually falls for the emotionally unavailable Dom).
The way Hall brings these two men to life with such distinct narrative voices and tones almost made me feel like I was reading two simultaneous stories rather than one cohesive novel. And I don’t mean this as any sort of negative criticism. Instead, this highlights how different Laurie and Toby approach their developing relationship until they have no choice but to accept the depths of what they mean to each other. The result packs the perfect sort of emotional punch that not every romance novels pull off.
The previous books in this series are not necessary to enjoy this stand-alone novel. I highly recommend it to anyone also interested in nontraditional power dynamics in their romance, amazingly crafted characters, and solid emotional arcs – all of which include Hall’s exquisite writing as a through-line.
What about Pansies (Spires #4)?
I got about 20% through the story before I couldn’t read it anymore. I adore Hall’s writing and storytelling to a fault, but this story hit too close to home for me. As the bullied kid in school, I found it hard to connect with the bully character even as he tries to redeem himself many years later. Since I own the ebook, I might come back to this at a later date and try again.