Firstly I want to congratulate Sage Mullins for bringing about a fitting conclusion to his wonderful epic story Lightning in a Bottle. I thought he did a great job of wrapping things up and perhaps setting the stage for a possible sequel.
I would be remiss in not pointing out my disappointment in the recent review of this story. Yes, I understand that I am obviously biased as I had creative and editorial input into the story and helped act as a sounding board for Sage on a number of plot and character issues. Still, without my or any other people's help, Sage created some amazing characters, an intriguing premise and a terrific general plot. This attracted me and many readers to the story in the first place.
To counter the critic's complaints, LiaB is at heart, an erotic romance. From a content standpoint, most of the sex is based upon the love the two main characters share. As the critic correctly indicated, this is not a "stroke story" (the content label is "some sex"). What he fails to acknowledge is that the story is a first person narrative. This will affect how the character describes the way that he makes love to the love of his life (and my why he might not use language that some readers might prefer to describe the action). This narrative style means that an author is somewhat limited to the way these scenes should be described. I found that Sage did a decent job here and most importantly, was true to his character/narrator.
While I found the "social commentary" complaint against the story inaccurate (as both the racial and sexual preference issues were handled both sensitively and sensibly) and have no idea as to why the critic felt the story ending was "abrupt" (as the conflict was resolved in the previous chapter and the Epilogue wrapped up the loose ends) my biggest knock against the review is about the comment about character consistency.
In the scene the reviewer intimated had problems with character consistency, we spent a great deal of time discussing character motivations and how circumstances affected the characters' actions and responses. I would be curious to know from the reviewer, which character(s) acted against their nature in a way that was unbelievable under the circumstances created in and leading up to the scene in question (I'm guessing that the character he is talking about is Inez, but her reaction in the scene can be easily explained and justified).
I know Sage will probably want to address this review, but based upon my strong feelings for the story, I felt compelled to toss in my two cents.
As far as Mike and Malok, Chapter 18 should be going out to my editors, proofers and beta readers soon. Thanks for everybody's patience!