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Garrett Davidson is, on the surface, an unremarkable man. He is admittedly not a bad looking man who until recently had a well paying job. What he also has though, is a broken heart. Having watched his lover die two years ago from illness, Garrett has decided to keep a promise he made his beloved: to write the story of their love. Marc is still everything to him, and his one tie to the world of sanity is the book he is to write. With that in mind, he arranges to rent a cottage in a remote part of Hawaii, away from any and everything that could possibly distract him from his task, as well as remind him of Marc. What he doesn't count on is one wise old man, the local shaman whose bungalow he not only rents, but whose apprentice shaman grandson is assigned to act as his housekeeper.

The old kahuna is also weary, ready to pass on the mantle of responsibility, and has previously had his grandson Songaree participate in a ritual involving altered mind states. The purpose is not only to call forth godlike spirits, but to set in motion events that will bring one who can bring change and save the island from itself. With Garrett's arrival shortly after is a catalyst that not only affects the disbelieving Garrett and various locals on the island, but even friends from the mainland, new and old. Young Songaree is a sensitive, kind youth who loves to care for wounded people and animals, and Garrett is no exception. Reaching out to heal this man's spirit, they unwittingly step into a veritable maelstrom that sends the current of fate rippling across the island. Grandfather may be stopping at nothing to fulfil the ancient Polynesian prophecy, but modern prejudices stand in the way and some will stop at nothing to tear the two apart. Will destiny win out in a happily ever after, or has the end come?

I have to admit the premise was rather intriguing to me, and I was rather curious about this title on several levels. Firstly, the whole spiritual aspect drew my attention. I was curious as to how that would play out, and whether or not some fantasy would overshadow the whole affair. I have to say I am actually delighted in how Chin has approached this. While not outright dismissing or validating the ancient Polynesian beliefs, he nevertheless sympathetically portrays the ceremonies and feelings of the participants. It's an objective view, settling for neither side, and it works very well. We get the curious anthropologist come estate agent's views and how it affects her views on local culture and how the locals see and accept her. We also get he local shaman and other native Polynesians and their various views on the matter. We even get the local church pastor, come as a sort of missionary in years past, and his personal views on not only this, but several other issues. It creates a vibrant view of the inner workings of the community, and helps set up the conflict that is fast approaching.

The other thing that piqued my interest was because of the author himself. Many m/m romances are written by women, for women. Alan Chin, on the other hand, is a male, and one that is in a committed relationship with his male partner. I was VERY interested in seeing how this would have the story play out, especially romance wise. I have to say here right now that I discovered I was in for a real treat. Chin's character's emotions play out true, giving a great sense of pathos, longing, and even exuberant joyful passion. He hit all the right buttons for fans of romance. From the exotic yet familiar locale to the almost fantasy like settings at key romantic points in the story, all married to prose that avoided the trite without a single misstep. Make no mistake about it, the man knows how to write; the romance seems to flow naturally and will doubtless appeal to romance fans of either gender, as he weaves a tale that transcends gender. Romance fans would be wise to pick this up, and yaoi manga fans who enjoy light novels should as well. It is not illustrated, but it will grip you enough that you won't miss the pictures. Simply unmissable.
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Garrett Davidson is, on the surface, an unremarkable man. He is admittedly not a bad looking man who until recently had a well paying job. What he also has though, is a broken heart. Having watched his lover die two years ago from illness, Garrett has decided to keep a promise he made his beloved: to write the story of their love. Marc is still everything to him, and his one tie to the world of sanity is the book he is to write. With that in mind, he arranges to rent a cottage in a remote part of Hawaii, away from any and everything that could possibly distract him from his task, as well as remind him of Marc. What he doesn't count on is one wise old man, the local shaman whose bungalow he not only rents, but whose apprentice shaman grandson is assigned to act as his housekeeper.

The old kahuna is also weary, ready to pass on the mantle of responsibility, and has previously had his grandson Songaree participate in a ritual involving altered mind states. The purpose is not only to call forth godlike spirits, but to set in motion events that will bring one who can bring change and save the island from itself. With Garrett's arrival shortly after is a catalyst that not only affects the disbelieving Garrett and various locals on the island, but even friends from the mainland, new and old. Young Songaree is a sensitive, kind youth who loves to care for wounded people and animals, and Garrett is no exception. Reaching out to heal this man's spirit, they unwittingly step into a veritable maelstrom that sends the current of fate rippling across the island. Grandfather may be stopping at nothing to fulfil the ancient Polynesian prophecy, but modern prejudices stand in the way and some will stop at nothing to tear the two apart. Will destiny win out in a happily ever after, or has the end come?

I have to admit the premise was rather intriguing to me, and I was rather curious about this title on several levels. Firstly, the whole spiritual aspect drew my attention. I was curious as to how that would play out, and whether or not some fantasy would overshadow the whole affair. I have to say I am actually delighted in how Chin has approached this. While not outright dismissing or validating the ancient Polynesian beliefs, he nevertheless sympathetically portrays the ceremonies and feelings of the participants. It's an objective view, settling for neither side, and it works very well. We get the curious anthropologist come estate agent's views and how it affects her views on local culture and how the locals see and accept her. We also get he local shaman and other native Polynesians and their various views on the matter. We even get the local church pastor, come as a sort of missionary in years past, and his personal views on not only this, but several other issues. It creates a vibrant view of the inner workings of the community, and helps set up the conflict that is fast approaching.

The other thing that piqued my interest was because of the author himself. Many m/m romances are written by women, for women. Alan Chin, on the other hand, is a male, and one that is in a committed relationship with his male partner. I was VERY interested in seeing how this would have the story play out, especially romance wise. I have to say here right now that I discovered I was in for a real treat. Chin's character's emotions play out true, giving a great sense of pathos, longing, and even exuberant joyful passion. He hit all the right buttons for fans of romance. From the exotic yet familiar locale to the almost fantasy like settings at key romantic points in the story, all married to prose that avoided the trite without a single misstep. Make no mistake about it, the man knows how to write; the romance seems to flow naturally and will doubtless appeal to romance fans of either gender. Romance fans would be wise to pick this up, and yaoi manga fans who enjoy light novels should as well. It is not illustrated, but it will grip you enough that you won't miss the pictures. Simply unmissable.

I'd like to thank Alan Chin for providing me with this review copy. You can find out more about the author and his works at Alan Chin's homepage. This book is available both as a paperback (look for the new Dreamspinner edition as it has been updated) and as an Island Songebook.
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