When asked if they would give their life for the one they love, most people will automatically answer yes without really thinking about what that entails. In Earthly Concerns, Xavier Axelson doesn’t let us off so easily.
Earthly Concerns is told from the point-of-view of Anson, a psychic. Anson lives by the credo “If you can see, you have to help.” He is put to the test when his former lover, Barrett, asks him to use his gift to find his missing daughter. Anson knows that by agreeing to help he puts his heart at risk, but his beliefs and his love for Barrett leave him with no other choice.
This is the second Axelson book I’ve read and so far, it’s my favorite. I also read his werewolf novella, Lily. You can read my review here. Like Lily, Earthly Concerns is a gay erotica about a missing girl, but that is where the similarities end.
Earthly Concerns is unlike anything I’ve read. Axelson teases out details about the girl’s disappearance to build suspense and keep the reader guessing. The atmosphere is at once haunting and otherworldly. We’re given very little information about what took the girl. Axelson uses our fear of the unknown and of forces greater than ourselves to turn our imagination against us. He preys upon our darkest fears and insecurities. The being that took the girl is described as a dark shapeless mass, a demon. I like that Axelson kept the creature’s origins and motivations ambiguous. This allows us to better relate to Barrett’s sense of desperation and helplessness. We learn that Barrett was given a choice between his life or his daughter’s. Near death and faced with unimaginable hell, Barrett chose himself.
Barrett is not a bad man. He’s human and while we all want to believe that we’re better, that we would choose differently, I don’t know that anyone can be sure without experiencing this choice for themselves. The choices are always easy until they’re ours.
This is a well-developed, character-rich story. Barrett and Anson contrast well and are characters that readers can empathize with.
While, Earthly Concerns is an erotica there is really only one sex scene. This is a very intimate scene that helps the reader to understand Anson’s conflict. The scene is a flashback to his past relationship with Barrett that plays in Anson’s mind as he tries to help Barrett. I was also able to understand through this scene and other flashbacks, why Anson still carries a torch for Barrett. There is a great deal of passion and emotion between these characters. Anson sees a side of Barrett, that is rarely revealed. It’s the best part of Barrett, the part Anson fell in love with. For that reason, I would say that Earthy Concerns is as much a romance as it is erotica. What’s more the erotica/romance feels like a natural part of the story and helps to amplify the greater supernatural conflict of the story.
As someone who usually avoids erotica (I haven’t even read 50 Shades) I was pleasantly surprised by this story and would recommend it to any fan of paranormal horror looking for an original story, rich in atmosphere and emotional depth. Earthly Concerns will move and scare you in equal measure. A must-read for paranormal erotica and romance fans.
AUTHOR: Xavier Axelson
PUBLISHER: Seventh Window Publications
RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2012
GENRE: Horror/Suspense, Erotica, Romance, Paranormal
LENGTH: 75 pages (ebook)
About the Author
Xavier Axelson is a writer and columnist living in Los Angeles. Xavier’s work has been featured in various erotic and horror anthologies. Longer written works include The Incident, Velvet, and Lily. Xavier covers Fringe Culture for the Los Angeles Examiner.
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Review Clause: The publicist provided me with a review copy of Earthly Concerns in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was provided.