Title: Cabaret Rollo Rouge
Author: Sydney Blackburn
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 125 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
At a Glance: In essence, Cabaret Rollo Rouge was built on an interesting premise but had too little depth to really make it soar. I think this author has great potential to become an incredible writer, primarily because this book reveals the depth of imagination and some definite finesse in crafting an interesting tale.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Rouge wolves are outcast, labeled red to mark out the broken ones, the mistakes. They’re cursed to never know a true mate, to never find shelter in a pack.
Garnet Lyall defied common knowledge by forming a pack of rouge performers, but he struggles to give them the things a true alpha would. His precarious balance of wolf nature and human law comes tumbling down when another rouge wolf comes to town aiming to claim Garnet’s pack for his own. And since he’s a natural born alpha, it’s a fight Garnet is likely to lose…
Review: Author Sydney Blackburn is a first time read for me, and I must say I enjoyed many aspects of the novel Cabaret Rollo Rouge, particularly the fresh look at bisexual and gay wolves. It’s their sexuality that labels a wolf “rouge” and subsequently “curses” them to both a packless and mateless life. Or so they have always been informed. For Garnet it means being pseudo alpha to a small gang of misfit wolf performers that make up their cabaret act. Having just purchased their own building on the outskirts of town, life is good for this group, even though the spectre of Garnet’s past hangs over them as an ever-present threat.
For some reason, the mate of Garnet’s oldest sister has an intense dislike for him—one that has bordered on near-death encounters and left Garnet both fearful of and angry with his brother–in-law, Holt. When Holt’s son is discovered with his childhood buddy in a seemingly compromising position, Holt’s anger drives the boy straight into his uncle’s arms, where he remains with the blessing of his mother, unbeknownst to his father. If all that isn’t exciting enough for Garnet, a drifter arrives in town to challenge Garnet for the position of alpha over his ragtag pack.
Carn himself is also rouge and was thrown out by his father at the age of fifteen. After a brief stint with a gang and a few months in prison, Carn got his GED and began work as a mechanic. However, the restless and lonely life without a pack has eaten at Carn more steadily over time, and he figures if he can take control of Garnet’s group, his life will at least be less solitary. When the two men meet, more than fur flies, and long-held beliefs are shattered. Now Carn and Garnet must decide who will be alpha and how they fit into each other’s lives, if at all.
While I loved this idea of “rouge” wolves, that plus a few other plot vehicles were never as fully developed as I might have wanted. Instead, much like the unreasonable anger (read: murderous intent) that Holt had for Garnet, we heard much about it but there was never really enough back-story given to understand it. I think my one complaint with this story, overall, was the shallow feel the history of these wolves had. I really liked Garnet and Carn together; their attraction developed beyond the fierce feelings produced by the mating call to one of easy camaraderie laced with flirty behavior and a dose of good old lust. The side characters surrounding them all had great potential as well, but again we danced around them, barely learning who they were in terms of their place in the troupe and never what life events actually brought them to the cabaret.
In essence, Cabaret Rollo Rouge was built on an interesting premise but had too little depth to really make it soar. The relationships between various characters really stood out and were a major strength of the novel, but the limited view into their current and past lives made them feel more shallow and incomplete. I think this author has great potential to become an incredible writer, primarily because this book reveals the depth of imagination and some definite finesse in crafting an interesting tale. I will be sure to check out other works by this author in the future.
You can buy Cabaret Rollo Rouge here:
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