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The Stag Lord (Bannerman Boru) by Darby Kaye
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The Stag Lord (Bannerman Boru)

by Darby Kaye

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The Stag Lord by Darby Kaye
Book #1: Bannerman Boru Series
Source: Author
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Review:
Welcome to the world of adult reads Darby Kaye aka the incomparable Darby Karchut! The Stag Lord is the first adult read by Kaye and is a welcome addition to the genre.
There is no slow burn with this read and almost instantly Kaye drops her characters into the middle of a crap-load of trouble. Bann and his young son Cor are on the run from danger and no matter how far or how fast they run, danger always seems to find them. Bann is a Tuatha De Danaan warrior, a descendant of the High King of Ireland and, a father hell-bent on protecting his own. In general, the Tuatha do protect their own but Bann and his line have been cursed by the god Cernunnos and nearly every Tuatha warrior Bann has known has refused to help him. Though the warriors are fierce and scared of very little, Cernunnos is a whole new level of crazy and no one, not even the generally fearless Tuatha want to draw neither his attention nor his ire. Angry, fearful and, dangerous, Bann has taken his son and runs in an effort to outrun Cernunnos, his wrath and, destiny. Thank goodness for Shay Doyle and common sense.
Though she certainly didn’t go looking for trouble, Shay Doyle finds it in the form of a young boy who has taken a nasty spill along her jogging trail. Instantly, Shay’s healer instincts kick in and she sets to work helping the young man. That is, until his father, Bann shows up and asks Shay to deny her heritage as a Tuatha and heal his son without revealing her true identity. Confused by Bann’s request but also unwilling to let the boy hurt, Shay takes the father and son back to her home and sets to work. Shay is no one’s fool and she knows who and what Bann is but she doesn’t understand his need to deny who and what he is. Moreover, she is completely confused by his need to deny his son access to the world of the Tuatha and knowledge about their shared history. Not willing to come between a father and his son, Shay heals them both and bides her time hoping the full story of Bannerman Boru will come out.
It doesn’t take long for the full story to come out nor does it take Shay long to call in the rest of her family. Though Bann is absolutely resistant to the idea of endangering Shay and her family and he also understands that there is strength in numbers and will do anything to protect his son. To be completely fair, Shay and her entire family are very hard to resist and they always make a very good case and have good liquor. Most among Shay’s clan know the legend of Bann and his line and those who don’t are quickly enlightened. All are willing to stand with Bann and Cor and fight against even the most feared of the gods, Cernunnos. With a battle looming staying with Shay is the most logical housing arrangement but neither he nor Shay are prepared for how intensely they will be drawn to one another.
To say the stakes are high doesn’t even get one into the realm of understatement. Cernunnos is a god and to defeat him it will take everything everyone has to give yet all involved are willing to make the sacrifice. As the moment of battle draws ever nearer, both Bann and Shay admit to their feelings for one another and succumb to their desires. While the sex is certainly good and there is no lack of adrenaline –filled days, both Shay and Bann know in an instant everything they have can and likely will be ripped from them. While this knowledge only serves to heighten their pleasure and desire it also keeps each from submitting fully to the other and accepting that fate may just have a wholly unexpected plan for them both.
The Bottom Line: The Stag Lord is solidly constructed read that is steeped in Celtic lore and legend. Any reader – familiar with Celtic lore and legend or not – will have no trouble with this read as Kaye takes, what is a very complicated mythology and makes it accessible to all. Bann and Cor’s story is filled with danger and intrigue and a lot of characters they never expected to be a part of their lives. The strength of the read is the characters though not those that you would expect. While I certainly like Bann and Cor it is Shay and her family that really bring the story to life. Shay proves that the Tuatha are more than just male warriors and I am hopeful that women like Shay will play a more prominent role in future installments of this series. Additionally, though this read certainly falls into the realm of adult, I would like to see the naughty bits become a bit more naughty and/or frequent though certainly not at the expense of the overall plot. Kaye has done a fine job of creating sexual tension and desire in her characters that is ultimately grounded in friendship and true affection. With that being said, there is no reason those two can’t have some seriously naughty moments. :)
At the end of the day, this book is a going to be a resounding success. Kaye is a conscientious writer who does her research well and has an eye for detail that enhances each and every book she writes. Her editing and revisions are always top notch which creates a very smooth and easy read for readers of all age levels. ( )
  arthistorychick | Dec 19, 2014 |
THE STAG LORD was SO long, GOOD, but SO long. Therefore if you're looking for a quick read this book is not for you.

The world building is super thorough and I really enjoyed getting to know all the characters involved. I am thinking that future books might feel a little shorter now that we have all the back story out of the way and character development started. The father-son bond between Bann and Cor was strong and I could feel the love through the pages. The slow romance between Shay and Bann was well done and they have a strong start to their future. I enjoyed the author's take on the Tuatha De Danaan. There is a lot involved, but I was never bored. I enjoyed my introduction to the author and look forward to where she takes her characters next.

* This book was provided free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  STACYatUFI | Dec 16, 2014 |
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads.

When I found out that Darby Kaye (Karchut) was making the jump from Young Adult to Urban Fantasy, I was beyond fired up because I loved the father / son bond that was at the center of her GRIFFIN series, and couldn’t wait to see her work her magic on this genre. The relationship between Bann & Cor was indeed wonderful, then the author took her strong character dynamics a step further by tacking on a love interest, and strong family ties with Shay & the Doyle clan. Fae story lines aren’t exactly scarce in paranormal, and yet Kaye still managed to inject originality into their mythology while also spinning a delightful tale filled with action, mystery, and romance.

Children are usually a liability in UF, and have a habit of messing with a novel’s pacing because the protagonist constantly has to bail them out of trouble. That so wasn’t the case here; yes, Cor made a few bad calls, but as a whole he was an asset to THE STAG LORD’s plot, plus he helped make being a father look damn sexy. The interactions between the two Boru males were the high points of this story; I liked how conflicted Bann was at times with balancing being a dad and his own happiness vis-à-vis his growing feelings for Shay. The spunk that the eight year old brought to the dialogue, and his relationship with Max the dog, were stunningly lifelike.

I was happy that Kaye took her time with the romantic aspects of this book; Bann & Shay’s connection flourished gradually over the course of three weeks, and progressed from friendship, to bed buddies, to coupledom at a believable rate given their attraction. I loved how Doyle understood that Boru’s kid would always be #1 in his life, and that she knew when to push, and when to take a step back. My panties were on fire for this series’ tortured hero with his swoon worthy Irish brogue, and beautiful heart (and bod!). Shay was no shrinking violet either; I adored her quiet strength, steadfastness, and that her bravery equaled Bann’s.

The lore surrounding the Tuatha De Danaan, and the origins of Cernunnos’ vendetta against the Boru family made for some compelling world-building, and I enjoyed all of the various monsters that came along with them. There were also a couple of impressive plot twists, although that last one was somewhat upsetting. I did however find that this novel dawdled a bit towards the end; Bann & Cor’s about-face didn’t really add anything to the story other than extra pages, and the set-up for the next installment was overly blatant. I am curious though as to why Cernunnos deviated slightly from his kill Boru agenda. Book 2 awaits!

THE STAG LORD was a fine kick-off to the BANNERMAN BORU series, and a superb Urban Fantasy debut by author, Darby Kaye. ( )
  RabidReads | Nov 30, 2014 |
Have you ever known a family that loved one another so much they’d do almost anything for the others, even to the point of death? Have you ever read a book with characters that made you want to be a member of their family because you knew no matter what was happening in your life, they had your back, no matter the cost?

If you’d like to meet a family like the above, then Award Winning Author Darby Kaye’s debut novel for adults, THE STAG LORD, is exactly what you need. Ms. Kaye, who also writes MG and YA novels under the name of Darby Karchut, has entered a new world with her writing in a big way, with a novel that will touch your heart and leave you wanting more. Bannerman Boru, AKA Bann, and his eight-year-old son, Cor, want to get away from the horror of his wife’s death and the betrayal of his people. Fate seems to have other plans for Bann when he meets Shay Doyle, a healer and Fey. Bann is also Fey, and they are soon in a battle to save Cor’s life.

One of the things I really like about THE STAG LORD is the family ties. Shay has a slew of cousins and relatives that all pull together to help the boy and man they’ve just met. The author adds a romance between Shay and Bann that helps to gentle the violence in the story. Max, the dog, who plays an important role, is one of my favorite characters. What I love most in this novel is the father, son relationship between Bann and Cor. He’s not a perfect father. He makes mistakes and admits he does, but his son is Bann’s top priority.

I cried. I laughed. I held my breath. Darby Kaye did a beautiful job with descriptions of the monsters, the land, and also the grisly scenes. The sequel is due out in December, 2015. What? We have to wait a whole year?

### ( )
  beverlyjean | Nov 29, 2014 |
THE STAG LORD is Darby Karchut's first adult novel. It is set in the same world and her YA Griffin Rising series and middle grade Finn McCullen series. It mines Celtic myth for its fantasy background. It is the story of Bannerman Boru who is on the run with his eight-year-old son Cor. They are trying to get away from a crazy Celtic god named Cernunnos who has sworn revenge on all the descendants of High King Brian Boru. Bann will do anything to keep his son safe. But he is staying away from other Tuatha de Danaan because the ones around his home failed to support him when Cernunnos killed his wife in his young son's presence.

Bann and Cor have been travelling in their old camper for a year and have arrived in High Springs, Colorado, where they meet Shay Doyle who is a healer and the rest of the Doyles who are also Tuatha De Danaan. Shay heals Cor after a fall and takes both Bann and Cor home with her. But trouble soon follows in the persons of the Fir Bolgs who are other Fey and minions of Cernunnos and in the Tulley clan who want Bann to move on and take his trouble with him.

The Tuatha De Danaan are warriors who battle goblins and other Fey. They are long-lived as is evidenced by Bann who is over 100 but looks to be just 30. They are trained to fight and can call on supernatural powers to increase their strength, speed, and endurance. However, they can be hurt and can die.

This story, besides being a fantasy with battles, was a story of relationships. Bann's relationship with his son Cor formed the heart of the book. But there was also Cor's relationship with Shay's dog Max which was more than just the relationship of a boy and a dog. The other relationship was that of Shay and Bann. Bann is still feeling guilty about the loss of his wife. Their marriage was troubled at the time of her death because they wanted different things for themselves and Cor. But Bann still loved her. Shay is getting over a bad relationship with a Tulley and doesn't want to fall for a man who might be moving on in a while. But Bann and Cor quickly work their way into her heart. And Bann comes to realize that Shay is also a warrior who can, and will, stand at his side through all sorts of trouble.

This is the first book in a series. I can't wait to find out what happens next. ( )
  kmartin802 | Nov 15, 2014 |
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On the run across America from a vengeful shape-shifter, Bannerman Bann Boru has only one thing on his mind: keeping himself and his young son, Cor, alive. He meets Shay Doyle, healer and member of a secret group of immortal Celtic warriors, the Tuatha De Danaan, who live in modern-day Colorado. When Cor is injured, Bannerman is forced to accept her help. He quickly realizes that the golden-haired healer is shield-maiden tough and can hold her own on the field of battle with the big boys. And Shay soon discovers that there is more to Bann then meets the eye. With the shape-shifter Cernunnos teaming up with the local pack of Fir Bolgs (Bronze Age creatures with a nasty taste for children), Bannerman, Shay, her wolf-dog Max, and the rest of the Doyle clan must figure out how to battle one insane god.… (more)

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