Author ~ Tal Bauer
Publisher ~ Nine Star Press
Published ~ 2nd May 2016
Genre ~ Paranormal M/M Romance
History says the Knights Templar were destroyed in 1307.
History is wrong.
Vampires haunt the sewers beneath Rome, revenants desecrate graveyards, ghouls devour helpless passersby, and incubi stalk dark alleys and seedy nightclubs in Italy’s capital. Deep in the Vatican, a brotherhood exists, sworn protectors of the earth, and they stand firm against monsters from the dark depths. Operating in secret and silence, they protect our world from the sinister, the etheric, and the evils that exist beyond the Veil.
But it’s a lonely life, and Alain Autenberg knows that more than most. His lover was ripped from him years ago, and he vowed never to get close to another soul again. Even when the loneliness presses down on him, and his empty heart cries out for something more.
Something more comes in Cristoph Hasse, a new soldier arriving in Rome to serve in the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Young, brash, and fitting in at right angles everywhere he goes, Cris struggles in the murky, deceptive labyrinth of the Vatican. Propelled forward by a past he can’t understand, Cris collides with Alain, and both men crash headfirst into the darkest secret of the Vatican…and of the world.
OMG, this has to be one of the easiest five stars I’ve ever given.
Tal Bauer had something to live up to after Enemies Of The State. Was A Time to Rise, up to the standard I’ve come to expect from this author – it most certainly was. Hell (yes that was intentional as you will come to see in a bit) Tal even opens the story with a gun toting, vodka throwing, priest searching for paranormal activity.
Let me rein my enthusiasm back a touch and, give you some storyline that won’t make me sound like men in white coats are searching for me. Although, this is going to be difficult to do without giving away too much of the tale.
Many people have watched the film Angels And Demons, where the Swiss Guard protect The Vatican and all within. A Time to Rise is about a particular department of that guard who make sure Lucifer, and creatures of evil never freely walk the earth again. They vanquish those that would slip through the rift between earth and hell. However, it is a lonely job with only a handful of people knowing elements of its existence. None of the Swiss Guard regulars know of the department; only that certain individuals are weird.
Father Lotario and Alain are two such beings. They are considered a no-go area for all in the service of the Vatican. It was a counter measure to stop people discovering the big secret. Lotario is the excellent totally offbeat priest, trained for his particular calling. Alain is the ostracized member of the Swiss Guard and working partner to Lotario. Angelo, from the local police, sends out the bat signal when he discovers ‘other worldly’ happenings. Only two other people in the Vatican know what their job entails – the Commandant and the Pope.
There are several other splendid characters. Major Luca Bader is one. He is second in command of the Swiss Guard. He also used to be Alain’s best friend until ‘secrets’ kept them apart. Those secrets create a strained and often confrontational relationship between the two.
Recruit Cristoph Haase is another major character. He arrives with a chip on his shoulder and a world of anger. Commandant Best puts him under the mentorship of Alain. A task which Alain hates, as it means getting close to a human being. Twelve years previous, Alain lost the love of his life and vowed never to get close to anyone again. Buuuut, after some teething problems, Cris gets under his skin, and the only thing Alain can do to protect Cris is to distance himself from the man. Unfortunately for Alain, forces work against him and test every vow he made to himself and God.
From the start, I found this story gripping. Remember the gun-toting priest? He and Alain vanquish a demon by dousing it in vodka and setting it alight. Even in the first few paragraphs, the author adds an air of dark mystery incorporating Lucifer into the descriptive, likening the moon to a sickle.
A Time to Rise is fast moving. There is no lull in the action. Even the vivid picture setting scenes are full of interest. As for the gore factor, it was enough to turn my stomach, but not to make me physically sick. The heat rating is pretty damned good too.
I loved all the characters, but Lotario was my favorite. He smokes, says things like “welcome to the world of sin,” he pisses people off, drives a VW bug and is a total hero.
This story is completely engaging in every sense of the word and is so much more than a love story. It is murder, drama, intrigue, Templar Knights, mystery, the devil, action, and love.
I read this novel while on holiday in Poland surrounded by a host of churches, cathedrals and people of the cloth. So, in many ways, I could imagine myself in Rome and half expected Father Lotario or Alain to come sprinting around a corner at any time.
Apologies, I digress. Anyhow, just when I didn’t think this story could get any better, Tal Bauer turned it up another notch. As I read each chapter, I was taken on a journey which made me laugh, gasp, have a lump in my throat (almost crying in public), cheer and sigh in delight. It is everything I love in a book. I was eager to reach the end to find out what happened, but I was sad the book had to end.
Meet Tal Bauer
Tal Bauer writes LGBT fiction and romance, bringing together a career in law enforcement, trauma medicine, and international humanitarian and disaster relief work to create dynamic, strong characters, intriguing plots, and unique, exotic locations. Tal's stories weave together pulse-pounding adventure, cunning intrigue, and sweeping romance. Tal is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America.