Noble Heart: Salvation by Christa Kelley
Series: Noble Hearts #1
Source: Review by Request
Copy provided by the Author
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Noble Hearts is a Gay Romance series. This is not a standalone novella.
Lord Bryce Callaway is desperate. Abandoned and betrayed by those who vowed to support him, he’s forced to search outside the law to bring justice to his late wife and peace to his heart.
Ferren Bardin will do just about anything if the price is right. He’s reckless, but charming. Infuriating, but devastatingly handsome. He’s exactly the sort of distraction Bryce doesn’t need, but exactly the sort of mercenary he does.
Brought together by circumstance, two broken souls must save one another from a political plot that threatens to rip the country apart, and from the darkness in their own hearts.
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A lovely start to a series!
“We can’t choose who we love,” Ferren said.
A sage piece of advice from a mercenary. And from the way he said it, Bryce expected he had some idea about exactly what it meant to fall in love with the “wrong” person.
“No, I suppose we cannot.”
If you like a dose of MM in your historical romances, this book is for you. The first book in the Noble Hearts series sets up a story filled with murder, mystery, intrigue, and even a splash of sword-based foreplay 😉
Lord Bryce Callaway
There was no room for love in his life, no, but he didn’t expect there to be room for lust, either. At least not toward another man. No matter how charming.
Bryce is a widower with a young daughter. His beloved wife was murdered, but the surrounding nobles have been dragging their feet in the effort to help track down her killer.
There is a traitor in his midst.
His only course of action is to find a mercenary to take up his cause…
This was a bad idea. The worst idea he’d had in a long while. He wasn’t exactly known for his boundaries, and Bryce was… Well, Bryce was definitely his type.
Ferren is one of those Badass with a heart of Gold types. He’s a sword for hire and the tragic past he carries on his shoulders bears a striking resemblance to Bryce Calloway’s loss.
Bryce seems to be completely honorable and approachable, even within the walls of his castle. The way he interacts with his young daughter pulls at something deep within Ferren’s heart.
On top of all that, there seems to be a sizzling connection between the two men.
Ferren is completely out of his element with the enigmatic Lord – Bryce runs hot and cold – his desire for vengeance brings out a troubling side of his personality. Despite his better judgement, Ferren is willing to track down Lady Calloway’s killer, if only to save Bryce from traveling alone down the dark path of vengeance.
This book worked to set the tone and circumstances surrounding the series. There is a lot more in store for these characters, so don’t expect to have all your curiosity satisfied in this installment.
I expect to see more action, heat, and romance in the coming books of the series, but this was certainly a lovely launching point. This serial has quite a bit of potential – and you know I adore my MM Historical Romances – so I look forward to reading the rest of the books as they are published.
Christa Kelley tells me that the next episode is due out some time in April. I’ll be there with bells on!
“If you think my cause is so hopeless, Ferren, then you are welcome to leave,” Bryce began, the anger simmering beneath a mostly calm exterior. “I chose you because I thought you wouldn’t simply be here for the money. With what you told me tonight, I thought—” He shook his head. “Evidently I was wrong.”
Gods damn this man. He wanted to drag him back down to that jail cell and force him to look at himself. Force him to see what he’d been about to do. Then he wanted to show him the sweet, gentle man whose daughter had him wrapped around her little finger. And then… Well, then he wanted to shove him against the wall and kiss him senseless.
It might not have been such a bad plan, really. Bryce gave every indication Ferren wasn’t going to have this job for much longer, so he might as well try for one last perk. There wasn’t much else he had to lose. Except for the fact that Bryce’s opinion of him mattered, scratching under his skin and seeping into his soul.
Gods damn the man.
“Look, if you want to toss me out on my ass, fine. I told you I was going to say my piece, and I’m saying it now: You’re better than this. You’re better than whatever came over you earlier.” Bryce’s expression was unreadable. His chest rose and fell with hard breaths. His fists clenched at his sides. Any moment Ferren would probably get a fist to the jaw. Now seemed like the perfect time to keep up. “What happens after you catch this bastard, huh? It’s not going to bring Evie back. I don’t care if you kill him with your own hands, it won’t help.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” Bryce snapped.
“No, I don’t.” Ferren reached out to touch Bryce’s shoulder. “I just don’t want you to have to find out firsthand.”
Quicker than he’d seen the man move thus far, Bryce’s hand closed around his wrist. He started to thrust Ferren’s hand off of him, but Ferren pushed back. It was asking for trouble. Bryce had the power to have him locked up or worse. Not getting this job would be the least of his worries at that point.
They held at a standstill, gazes locked. The heat returned to Bryce’s eyes, searing through him. Before he knew what was happening, he felt Bryce yank him forward. The hand he put out to catch himself connected hard with the firm wall of Bryce’s chest, and in an instant Bryce’s lips crushed to his. Forceful. Desperate. Hungrier than anyone had a right to be, and Ferren’s shock lasted for only a moment before he returned every bit of it.
One of his arms wrapped around Bryce’s shoulders, hand gripping a fistful of the man’s hair. His lips were soft, but they didn’t yield. If anything, they pushed back with even more force. It was a battle as much as their verbal sparring had been. Apparently Ferren hadn’t imagined that attraction—either that or Bryce just had an odd way of trying to show he shouldn’t be questioned.
Bryce’s fingers curled into his shoulder, bruising the muscle through the thin barrier of his shirt. The larger man overpowered him, pushing him back against the desk. Something fell off of it, clattering to the floor. Ferren grappled one of his arms around Bryce’s neck, trying to wrestle back control. His tongue plunged between the man’s lips and he groaned as he tasted the heat of the brandy there. The kiss was hard. Masculine. Everything he could have wanted in a kiss. And he already wanted it to be more. His blood pumped fast and hot, and his cock strained against his pants. He bit back another groan when Bryce trapped him against the desk with his hard body.
Ferren’s free hand moved around to grip the man’s ass, getting a handful of firm flesh. He tugged him closer, and the moan Bryce lost in his mouth when their bodies touched sent a shudder and a flush through him. And suddenly the bid for dominance was gone. It didn’t matter anymore, lust overtaking the anger. Bryce’s hands bunched desperately in his shirt, and Ferren broke away from the kiss long enough to let him tug the garment up over his head, panting all the while.
His fingers curled into Bryce’s thick dark hair, pulling the man back down for another kiss. His own lips were bruised and swollen—he was sure he might have been bleeding from where Bryce’s teeth caught sensitive flesh—but he didn’t care. Calloused hands moved in a frenzy over his shoulders and back, tracing over muscle definition that flinched and flexed under the attention.
When the kiss broke again he gasped for breath, his gaze meeting Bryce’s once more. Those earnest blue eyes blazed with the clearest need Ferren had ever seen, and for right now, he wanted nothing more than to fulfill that need. Damn the consequences.
His hands moved to Bryce’s belt, undoing the clasp and starting to tug it free. But before he could capture the man’s lips with his own again, Bryce pulled back, a shuddering breath wracking his body.
“I can’t—” he said breathlessly, grabbing Ferren’s wrists. It wasn’t the harsh grip that had started all of this, though. This grip was practically tender, and he just held Ferren’s hands in place, keeping them from their goal.
“Yes, you can,” he found himself saying, struggling for a breath as well. He’d meant to be encouraging, but it came across as desperate. An ache spread through him at the absence of Bryce’s body against his; of his powerful hands exploring bare flesh. Gods, he’d forgotten what it felt like to have someone touch him like that.
He reached up, resting a hand on Bryce’ cheek. The man leaned into the caress, his eyes closing briefly. But when they opened again, the heat was buried; chased away by something that looked shockingly like shame.
“I shouldn’t have done this. I don’t… I don’t know what came over me.”
“Don’t,” he said, and this time knew it was desperation that gripped his voice, making its way into his tension-coiled body as he reached for Bryce’s arm. “Don’t fucking do this.”
“I’m sorry,” he said again, tearing his gaze and his arm away.
Bryce stole from the room quickly, and the door fell shut behind him, leaving Ferren half dressed, his hair still mussed from the Lord’s grip, his lips still sore and swollen, his body still aching to have some sort of outlet, and the rest of him completely and utterly confused about what the hell had just happened.
Christa Kelley has graciously offered to give away eBook copies of Noble Heart: Salvation to FIVE lucky Smutsonian readers! Click here to enter:
About the Author:
Just like every other woman in her family, Christa started reading romance at a young age. Originally drawn to historical romance, she eventually transitioned to fantasy. But the stories that held her interest the most always involved a strong element of romance. There’s just something about a well-told love story that makes the stakes a little bit higher.
Christa has been writing since she was young, but when she finally decided to start publishing her work, she set out to write the books she’d want to read: Romance in a strong fantasy setting. Currently she’s working on the Noble Hearts series, a gay romance that spans six novellas.