The Family: The Brotherhood
By Donte M McNeal

Based in Michigan, Donte's Playground is a blog by Donte M McNeal. His posts range from nonsensical ramblings about anime, in-depth reviews of books and television/film, to random spurts of philosophical babble.

B. C. Burgess' "Mystic Side Stories"

B. C. Burgess' "Mystic Side Stories"

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit biased when it comes to Burgess' books. I go into each one with the expectation that I'll love them, and I've yet to be disappointed. The trail of stellar content continues with a lovely trilogy of side stories centered around Brietta and Kegan, side characters from the main Mystic Series stories.

Infatuation (Brietta & Kegan 1)

Mystic Series Story Book 1

Mystic Series Story Book 1

Infatuation finds Kegan dealing with a growing...ahem, infatuation with Brietta, a girl he's watched over, protected and cared for since they were kids. His feelings for her hit him out of nowhere when she returns from abroad, and despite them both being close in age, and both dealing with the raging hormones that plague nearly all teens, he struggles to come to terms with his feelings. He's always viewed her as a friend, his best friend even, and when feelings arise that are usually meant for significant others, you can imagine the inner turmoil he faces, especially considering how close Bri is to Quin. She's basically a little sister to Quin, and Kegan knows this and fears he won't have the acceptance of the older wizard, if he ever works up the courage to take the leap and confess his feelings that is.

We follow them both as they navigate relationships while holding a special place in the other's heart, and when things come to a head, it's quite magical. Hehe, I'm sorry, I'll see myself out. In all seriousness though, this relationship is one we see touched on in the OG series, but with this novella we get inside Bri and Keg's heads, and now I have a newfound appreciation for characters that I already had a fondness for. Burgess' staple emotionally-driven dialogue (be it spoken or body language) and steamy love scenes are top notch here, and I'm looking forward to continuing this side series to see behind the scenes of a bond that is unorthodox yet still touching. Watching these two grow will surely be a treat. I believe Bri and Keg's relationship can become as endearing as Quin and Layla's. Though it's hard for anyone's relationship to compare to those two; they're on another level. Still, I very much enjoyed Infatuation.


Submission (Brietta & Kegan 2)

Mystic Series Story Book 2

Mystic Series Story Book 2

Submission picks up a while after Infatuation ends and Bri and Keg are both adults now, their casual, care-free relationship having worked for them for the past few years. However, with the death of Bri’s parents, the relationship is put to the test. Grief and pain threaten to overwhelm Bri, and as a result, her relationship with Keg suffers. What was once easygoing and effortless is now difficult. Despite how perfect they are for each other (seriously, it’s like they’re made for one another), the tragedy that has shaken this magical world and its inhabitants (and pesky insecurities) are things that threatens to tear Bri and Keg’s relationship apart.

However, as much as I enjoyed seeing these two struggle with emotions and expectations…well enjoyed might not be the right word, because enjoying the pain, discomfort or heartbreak of someone would make me crazy. And I’m not crazy. What? I’m not, I promise. Ahem, anyway, while seeing these two try to come to terms with a painful situation and its fallout, I couldn’t help but feel that most of the problems that arise in this leg of their story could have been avoided or solved outright if they just talked to each other. That’s it. Just a conversation. I mean, they were acting like kids from an anime that couldn’t work up the courage to confess or something. Okay, that might not be an accurate or fitting metaphor, but I digress. There were times I wanted to reach into the book and just slap some sense into the both of them, lock them in a room, and make them sort things out.

Of course, that wouldn’t make for a very moving book, and Submission is nothing if not moving. These side stories have earned a spot in my heart alongside the main series, even if my love for Bri and Keg isn’t as ingrained as much as my love Q and Layla. It’s a nigh impossible task to match those two, so a close second is nothing to be ashamed of. The Mystic Series continues to floor me with its portrayals of magic, complex relationships and epic romance. I swear these books have absolutely ruined other romance books for me. Bravo, B.C. Burgess. Bravo.


Redemption (Brietta & Kegan 3)

Mystic Series Story Book 3

Mystic Series Story Book 3

Have you ever started a series that you knew you would love, even though you hadn’t read a word of it yet? That’s how I am with the Mystic Series. Every book B.C. Burgess writes grips me in a way that most other novels fail to; yes, the series boasts a large cast and is almost overwhelmingly sappy with the epic romance that the tagline promises, but the emotions present in these books strike a chord with me. They offer me a first class ticket on the feels train. Whether it’s heading to the city of pain, the town of happiness or the country of love, the ride is always a memorable one. The same can be said for the Mystic Series Stories (Brietta & Kegan Books 1-3).

In Redemption, the final story of the trilogy, we follow Brigan (yes that’s my couple name for them now, fight me) as they continue to work to help Agro’s refugees find their new places in life as well as planning their upcoming wedding, but man does it hit the fan in a way that I didn’t anticipate. We’re all but immediately thrown into the abduction of Brigan, and what follows is, continuing with the previous books, a test of the limits of their relationship. Watching their relationship develop from friends, to friends with benefits to an exclusive couple on the verge of marriage, only to have that bond tested by a literally tortuous experience and its fallout was something to behold.

Brigan grows slowly (frustratingly slowly at times) throughout the trilogy of side stories but man did I enjoy the ride. These side stories have me wishing we could get a look into the lives of other side characters from the OG series. My respect and love for Brigan skyrocketed reading this trilogy, and while they still rank lower than Q and Layla Love, these two are now two of my favorite characters in the Mystic Series as a whole. I can’t wait to see where things go next in the Mystic Series.

Jennifer Quintez's "Thrall"

Jennifer Quintez's "Thrall"

September Roundup

September Roundup