Wendy Reviews ‘Beware Mohawks Bearing Gifts’ (Cove Chronicles, Book 1) by SA Collins. Published by NineStar Press Oct 28, 2019.
Rainbow Gold Reviews is pleased to be part of the Blog Tour for SA Collins latest release ‘Beware Mohawks Bearing Gifts’ the first book in the “Cove Chronicles” series. Congratulations SA Collins!
*** Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter Giveaway at the end of this post***
It’s 1847, New York. William Matthias Hallett is a fashionable dandy of the Manhattan social set. His life is laid out before him: a world of soirees, riches and luxury. Yet all he wants to do is find an adventure so deliciously wicked that it would satiate his soul for an eternity. So, disguised in a lower-class manner, into the notorious Five Points he goes, seeking that spark of adventure. That is until it greets him in the form of his old schoolmates from Dartmouth College – a pair of Mohawk warriors who will up-end his world and all he knew it to be forever.
Set in an alternative Earth that deviates from our own known timeline, William Matthias Hallett, a Mohawk/British New York socialite and dandy, who wants very little to do with his upper-crust Manhattan set, sets out to the notorious Five Points, seeking an adventure so decidedly wicked to satiate him for a lifetime. He gets far more than he bargains for when he crosses paths with two Mohawk warriors from their days at Dartmouth college. Thrust into an unseen war that the Mohawks and the rest of the Haudenosuanee Confederacy has been fighting for over 600 years, William must come to terms with his maternal heritage that is pressing ever forward as their newly created sovereign nation rapidly expands, isolating the burgeoning United States along the eastern seaboard and now reaching a boiling point with the new Americans. Central to this sci-fi adventure is the creation story of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy where myth becomes reality in ways that William can scarcely imagine.
*A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review
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He leaned against the doorway with a slight smile upon his face and placed the message from my sister onto the desk nearest the door.
“So, are you planning to sleep upon the floor, or will you nest down in the kitchen?”
“Just be glad the bed I have in your room is large enough for us both. You will just have a bed mate until we can rectify the situation downstairs.”
“I could always sleep on your sofa in the receiving room, Will.”
“Certainly not. If I am anything, I am a superb host. I will not have you attempting to recline on a sofa that is barely sufficient to sit upon, let alone gain some much-needed rest.”
“Fancy little Indian, are you not?” He indicated the quality of my nightshirt and dressing robe.
“I walk in two worlds now; allow me my fashionable proclivities,” I replied as I began to change out of my clothing and into the nightshirt. For a few moments he stood there shaking his head and smirking at my nightly routine, though I did detect a blush moving across his face as I got down to my undergarments. As I pulled my shirt over my head, I noted he had slipped into the spare bedroom.
I carried the nightshirt and robe over to the spare room to join him as he began to slip off his leggings and mocs. After he shucked his shirt, I paused to appreciate the simple utility of the Haudenosaunee male wardrobe. Moments later, Joss changed from the comfort of his daily outfit into a simple loincloth suitable for sleeping, and here I struggled with overgarments, shirts, pants, undergarments, and various pieces that served only as ornamentation. I began to question for the first time the intelligence of my way of dress.
::But you wear your clothing so well. I do not judge your choice of them. This is simply what I know and have grown comfortable using. Why are you curious as to our way of dress?::
::Well, I suppose I should gain a better understanding of our people’s ways. I feel I know so little about my Mohawk life. I assume I can lean on you for that. Unless you find me a lost cause.::
::Will, have no doubt. You are Mohawk; your lineage is clear. You just have not had much in the way of guidance in our way of life. You can always turn to me for that.::
“Thank you. I cannot tell you how much that means to me. Since I came into this whole new world of the Guardians and Flintlings, I have felt little more than a leaf upon the raging river, with little hope of purchase with which to grant me some sense of security. You have provided the security I desperately need.”
“Wait here…” He gated out of the room, though to where, simply wearing his loincloth for protection against the elements, was beyond me. I did not have to wait long as he returned within a few moments with a beaded side bag in his hand. He threw it upon the bed and began to rummage through it. He extracted a beaded belt and a tightly rolled piece of blood-red cloth.
“Get out of that precious royal swaddling you have encased yourself in,” he chided me as he unrolled the cloth, revealing it to be about the length of the loincloth he was wearing. I realized he had retrieved his spare clothing, though from where I was uncertain.
Reading my musings, he replied, “I have spare clothing set aside in various places. I can retrieve them when needs arise. These shall be yours now.” He indicated the bag on the bed as much as the belt and loincloth he held.
“Oh, Joss…” I gasped, filled with awe at his offering, knowing that to refuse would deeply mar our new relationship. Not something I was willing to risk, given our being inextricably bound to each other.
Forgetting my near nakedness, I knelt upon the bed, running gentle fingers over them, and watched as he completed the folding around the back of the belt. A small smile broke over his face, bringing his eyes to light. Clearly, he was most happy in his offering. I only wished I had something to offer in exchange. As if hearing my thoughts, he had a reply. “Just your wearing it will be more than enough,” he murmured as he
handed me the garment. “Come, let us have you try it on.” “I am afraid you will have to help me out a bit.”
Shortly thereafter, I found myself wearing my first Mohawk loincloth. My slightly burnished alabaster skin, with a dusting of freckles along my muscular shoulders that mellow as they wend their way over my bare torso, standing in stark contrast to the rich colored fabric of the loincloth.
He placed two gentle hands on my shoulders as we regarded my reflection in the mirror. I felt him course along our link with such gratitude and care that I was undone by his gesture.
Joss beamed, watching me take root in my heritage, pleased he could do this for me. After sheathing myself in some of the finest material and clothing the world could offer, I was amazed at how much comfort, both in movement and luxury, this simple natural garment afforded me.
He pulled out the leggings, a pair of mocs, and a shirt. After another few moments, I was fully clothed in my maternal heritage clothing. A sense of pride seemed to swell within me that I had not anticipated. I nearly wept from the sensation. I know Joss did not miss my eyes misting up from the transformation at his hands.
“Joss, I never knew just how comfortable these really are.”
“You wear them well; as if you were born to them,” he added with a bright grin, no doubt pleased with himself.
I paused, turning this way and that, before bringing Joss into a tight embrace, so thankful for his offering. He moved his head from my shoulder to place my forehead against his, his hands on either side of my face, gently holding me there.
::Like this, Ohnehta’kowa. When it matters most, this is how we share that moment.::
I nodded, thankful for his teaching and his generosity. I knew, being so linked with him, our intimacy would be something I needed to embrace and let flow. It was a part of who we are. If I were truly honest, I longed for it to go on into the night; spending this singular touching moment with him and to share it thusly shattered what I knew about myself and the world around me. Joss sensed this and gradually broke contact between us. I felt bewildered and in a slight stupor for the loss of him. I needed to regroup.
“Yes, well, now to bed, eh?”
Tell us one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
True story: Cher (yes, that Cher) thinks I am a broken gay. Piqued your interest yet?
It all began when I worked for a company here in San Francisco, where I live/work, and one of my co-workers, and great friend, Laura, was dating (then) Chas Bono. I got to know Chas (now, Chaz) a bit through Laura. One weekend Laura called me from Cher’s Malibu house because Cher was having a technical issue with her MacBook. As I am a trained systems engineer in the IT industry, I helped Laura walk through how to get Cher’s computer back up and running. Laura told me that Cher was pleased and wanted to know how much she owed me. I was only too happy to assist and told Laura to tell her that there was no charge. I was just glad I was there to assist.
She said Cher said thanks and I thought that was the end of it. A few days later, when Laura had come back to SF from LA, she informed me that Cher wanted to do something for me for being kind to help her out. I told her it wasn’t necessary. Laura asked if I wanted some piece of memorabilia (she suggested autographed lingerie or something along those lines). I laughed and said no, I am totally fine with just helping out. Evidently Laura called Cher later that day and relayed my message and supposedly Cher asked her, “Is he a broken gay?”
Laura knew I had a very favorite cookie from a local SF baker so she told Cher I might like a cookie from there and gave her the number to the bakery. Cher had her assistant call and had 200 of my favorite cookies sent within the hour of Laura’s call to Cher. There’s more to the story, but that’s the gist of it.
If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose, and why?
It’s a toss-up between 1999 and 2014. 1999 because that’s the last year of my father’s life. We were close. I will always want more time with him. 2014 because that was the first inkling that I might have cancer. It was an odd moment. I remember it clearly; I was eating breakfast at home. As I wrapped it up, I watched my granddaughter, Keely, eating her breakfast in the TV room watching Saturday morning cartoons. As I watched her, a thought stole across my mind: I have cancer. I wasn’t feeling ill. I felt really good. I had no symptoms that I can point to at that time. It was fleeting and odd. I let it go.
Three years later, I was diagnosed. Why I didn’t pursue it at the time that thought niggled its way across my mind will always be one of the biggest regrets in my life. Now, I am happy to report I am NED (no evidence of disease) and going on 2 years of being cancer free, but still waiting for the other shoe to drop that it has come back. Fingers crossed, eh?
Were you a voracious reader as a child?
Yes, and one book more than any other was at the forefront, D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. I checked that book out every week from the school library from the fourth grade to the sixth. Thirty years later, my brother sent me the book for my birthday. It was one of the most heartfelt moments my brother created for me. Proof positive, that thoughtful gifts are always better than overly expensive ones.
What other artistic pursuits (it any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
I am a classically trained (opera) singer. Now retired, I had a great time as a union stage performer in the classical world. I trotted the boards for well over 40+ years.
Tell us one thing about your central characters that we don’t learn from Mohawks, the secret in their past.
The back stories among the quartet at the center of this part of the series have a much more complex romantic history that the book hints at but revealed to the reader what they are. That’s coming in later books—how past actions play out much later can affect the outcome.
In Beware Mohawks Bearing Gifts, who has been your favorite character to write and why?
I would have to say Joss Lightfoot. Probably because he is so close to my husband (who is Mohawk). It’s quite fun bouncing around inside someone you’ve been with for close to a quarter century and see what they would do in extra-ordinary circumstances.
This story has it all. All the elements that go together to make an epic saga, they start right here with this book.
I won’t lie, it’s a bit complex. There’s a ton of world building and I was grateful to find a little “readers helper” video from the author that puts things into perspective and is a handy reference to go back to. Here’s the video:
Back to my review…
This book needs to be complex because it truly is an Epic High Fantasy. There are historical elements since it takes place mostly in an alternative 1800’s but there’s a time travel element as well. I got a definite steam punk vibe that I couldn’t believe would blend so seamlessly alongside Native culture. Parts of the book are accurate to our world and parts are specifically the alternate world that Collins has created but unless you know for sure, you won’t be able to tell because it’s so well written and realistic. I felt like I was experiencing the beginning of the world and the 1800’s. The prose is everything I was expecting from a historical type novel. Even the magic is believable. A blend of science and, well, magic lol.
The characters are engaging and have so much depth. I’m loving the romance between Will and Joss (a timeless love) that starts as a slow burn but quickly becomes something very meaningful. The friendships they have with some of the secondary characters as well as the closeness to parts of each other’s families brought the story to another level of intimacy.
The secondary characters have me guessing… still. They seem to be one thing but hint at maybe, possibly not being that at all? Or is it all a ruse? I don’t know and I can’t wait to find out where this saga leads. It does end on a cliffhanger. SA Collins has a talent to leave his readers reeling. We may have to crown him the King of Cliffhangers if he keeps it up.
I adore this book and commend SA Collins on his phenomenal story telling ability. I can see this saga turning into something bigger than just a good Sci-fi read.
10/10 Pots of Gold or 100% recommended
SA Collins is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour. For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:
SA “Baz” Collins hails from the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his husband and Zorro, a character of a cat. A classically trained singer/actor (under a different name), Baz knows a good yarn when he sees it.
Based on years of his work as an actor, Baz specializes in character study pieces. It is more important for him that the reader comes away with a greater understanding of the characters and the reasons they make the decisions they do, rather than the situations they are in. It is this deep dive into their manners, their experiences and how they process the world around them that make up the body of Mr. Collins’ work.
You can find his works at sacollins.com, violetquillredux.com and as a co-host of the wrotepodcast.com series.
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