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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Review: Walking Wounded

Walking Wounded
By Lee Rowan

John Hanson joined the military because he wanted to serve his country. Lacking a home and family of his own, the idealistic young man longed to be a part of something bigger than himself. He didn’t expect to find love in officer’s training—so when an assignment took him away from Kevin Kendrick, the love of his life, he sacrificed personal happiness and did his duty.

Kevin has made his own sacrifices. Career came first and the impressionable Army brat, tired of living in his father’s shadow, pledged his loyalty to his country and followed his ambition.

Now seven years later when the Army that Kevin so faithfully served has made him the scapegoat for their latest Middle East snafu, he can only think of one place to go, one man who can provide solace and heal his wounds—John.

Reunited, the two war-torn lovers once again discover their passion for life, love, and one another. But Kevin’s past isn’t through with him yet, and when an old enemy surfaces the two men realize that they must together face the nightmares of the past if they are to have the future they dream of.


The title, Walking Wounded, is as appropriate a title as any I’ve seen. Your heart bleeds for these two men as they suffer for the choices they’ve made in pursuit of doing the right thing.

In doing the right thing, they both join the military but follow different paths. John decides he wants to be a peace keeper and ends up realizing that keeping the peace isn’t what he thought it would be. He ended up mentally scarred from watching people get mowed down in brutal displays of force by the enemy, and being powerless to intervene, help or take any kind of pro-active measures. That helplessness injured the heart of a man who wanted to DO something. He ended up a broken man, yet he found a way to mimic life in order to pull himself together. But you know he’s questioning if there shouldn’t be more to life.

Kevin joined the SAS with the intention of making a difference in going after the enemy in a forthright and effective manner. Well, as forthright as working undercover can be. He wanted to be a part of the good fight, to feel like he could make a difference and smash a dent in the network of terror gripping the world. He got more than he bargained for because he ended up being the fall guy for a good mission gone bad. Kevin came back second guessing himself, not trusting anyone around him while being forced to give up on his goals. His sense of self-worth floundered until he made a fateful decision – to call John.

When the two men come together, they are both at low points in life. Their relationship from before is the only untarnished memory they had and like a life preserver, both grab onto it with both hands and hold on tight.

The author truly got me involved with the psyche of these two men - their fears, their frustrations, their despair. When Lee Rowan introduces the resurgence of their love, it was like the dawn coming after a fire storm. Within the smoking ruins of their lives, they find that simple things heal, that the devastation in their hearts didn’t destroy their willingness to try to trust, to reach out. The strongest element, their love, survived and with that realization the roots of hope and growth began. I enjoyed how it started out; with the saving of two kittens. That moment propelled their healing and strengthened their connection by creating a common ground based on caring for the two little balls of fluff. Situations present themselves as time goes on and you meet two ladies with unexpected news for Kevin.

I think Kevin took it a lot better than I thought he would. The news left me quite bemused. But I have to admit, it was a shot in the arm for continued healing, if a bit unconventional.

The sex scenes were done with taste and reflected John and Kevin’s expressions of love and commitment. There was nothing gratuitous or overtly graphic about the scenes. Every moment was a celebration, every touch a joy. I think the shower scenes were intrinsic to their relationship. You think you know what I’m talking about when I say that, don’t you? Guess again. The tenderness, caring and considerations John gives to Kevin and visa versa are as romantic as it can get. This story, even though it is between two men, can appeal to even women who typically don’t read romantic M/M stories.

If you are a reader who likes a bit of military suspense, then this story can provide that too. Seems Kevin not only took the blame for a Middle East fiasco but is one of the few who escaped alive; and someone isn’t happy about that. The stress and helplessness, the unknown and the potential for violence thrust each man into facing his demons. It was interesting to read how the author handled its affect on their relationship.

This story flowed well, had fine editing, characters were well fleshed out and the conflicts, both internal and external, worked. Walking Wounded is a heart grabbing look at how men are affected during war time and its aftermath once they return as civilians. It showcases how love between people can bridge insurmountable odds and bring them to a place that true romance lovers all seek, the Happily Ever After.

Rating:

Reviewed by Xeranth

Friday, January 4, 2008

Review: Deep Water: Elemental Dragon Book 2

Deep Water: Elemental Dragon Book 2
by Stella and Audra Price

Bryn Case is a Dive instructor in one of the most beautiful places on earth at a very exclusive resort. On the evening she meets Kael, a sexy guest at the resort, she thinks she’s found her soul mate. Kael on the other hand, a Water elemental dragon, knows Bryn, a Glacies demon, is exactly what he’s been looking for his entire life, and curses it. After all that had happened so far, to lose his heart to a demon is not something he’s prepared to do. Between treasure hunting and her love of the seas, Kael knows this woman is everything he’s ever wanted, it’s just finding and dealing with the demon that has her soul that’s going to be a bitch.

I really got a kick out of this story. Having read the first in the Dragon Elementals series, I had expectations, that sometimes don’t always occur when you get the second installment of a world. I was not disappointed. This book was fun and had me downright laughing out loud at some of the witty banter between Kael and Bryn. I had a blast reading this.

When we first met Kael in Fire In His Eyes he was snarky and standoffish. He didn’t seem to want to let anyone in close enough to temper his pain and bitterness from the past. We saw some of his true character when he occasionally let his guard down around his dragon brother’s mate. Although, to this day he professes that she drives him crazy, and not in a good way. We see in this story that he really is a charming dragon, and he is slowly relearning how to dance. He wasn’t sure it was a good idea to give in to his attraction for a demon… a race that had practically exterminated his own kind. So, when he just lets his instincts take over and allows himself to be open to Bryn, it was quite a moment for him.

Bryn is a reluctant demon. She never wanted to be one, in fact she was tricked into becoming and ice demon and then left by the demon she bargained with in too warm a climate. She was an amazingly resilient character, and I found I liked her spunk and her desire to move on and make the best of a bad situation. When she meets Kael she’s not sure she wants to give him a chance. She’d let her heart guide her before and was burned, badly. She gives Kael a run for his money, but is able to finally let go of the pain in order to have a future with him.

There were some purely fun moments in this story as well as truly touching moments, and I loved that we got to check in with old friends. I find that when we get to find out how couples from previous stories are doing in their relationship, it adds a bit more to the current story. I found the authors’ concept of a family unit inspiring, they embody the belief that family is what you make it, and this family will stick to the end. This was definitely a fun, quick read that left me hot at moments and smiling at others. I find I want to locate the other Eververse stories already out there, not to mention the fact that I want to see how the rest of this quirky family finds love. Definitely a keeper.



Reviewed by Viscaria

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Review: Discovery in Passion

DISCOVERY IN PASSION: Book One of the Passion Series
by SHIELA STEWART

Nothing is ordinary in the small town of Passion, especially the love.

Wanting to start fresh, Cassie Evans relocates to the small town of Passion where she moves into the home of her dreams, complete with dreamy next door neighbor, artist, and handyman Thomas Healy. The only problem is, the house she bought just might be haunted.

Thomas Healy lives a life of solitude and that suits him just fine. Then Cassie Evans moves in next door and begins to turn his peaceful live upside down. He tries to ignore her, but ignoring a woman as beautiful as Cassie isn't so easy, especially when she shows up at your door, naked, begging for you to paint her. Thomas' first mistake was to agree to it, his second was to take Cassie to bed, now she's
all he can think about.

When their blossoming love is overshadowed by a ghostly haunting, the curious Cassie launches an investigation into the life and death of her home's previous owner, uncovering a mystery and attracting the attention of a killer. Where will Cassie's discovery lead her, to the love of her life or to death itself? Welcome to the town of Passion.

Following the relationship between Cassie and Thomas was a wonderful ride. As I read through each chapter you could feel the characters love growing for one another and the intense passion between them was hot like fire. They had an instant attraction that they couldn’t deny no matter how hard Thomas tried--and he tried hard. Cassie is not only a sexy little thing, but she is very smart and knows what she wants. Thomas has lost his passion for painting and Cassie helps him to rekindle what was once lost.

The book really had two stories happening at the same time: a passionate and romantic love story and a murder mystery needing to be solved. I liked the combination of the two and how it helped the characters develop. You can see how their trust in one another is tested time and again.

While Cassie keeps seeing ghosts in her new house and can’t help but wonder what they are trying to tell her, Thomas tries telling her that nothing happened in that house and everything she has heard about murders are just rumors. Cassie decides to put on her detective hat and try to resolve the case for the ghosts that keep haunting her. Who knew it would turn deadly and put her life in jeopardy?

What an interesting town for Cassie to move to and start her life over. Mystery, ghosts, passion and love – who could ask for more?

Looking forward to reading the next books in the series.



Review by Snowdrop

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Review: A Sentry's Touch

A Sentry's Touch
by Vivien Dean

They followed their destiny and discovered love.

Orphaned at a young age, Iris Bridge carries scars on the palms of her hands from the fire that killed her parents. Now a top-notch trauma nurse in the Alaskan wilderness, it's her job to respond if disaster strikes. When a helicopter crash brings a strange man named Avi into her care, she knows what to do…until his wounds mysteriously heal and Iris discovers the reason he's come to town. He wants to take her back to the land he calls home—Varana.

Avi's quest to find Iris has led him across planes and taken half of his lifetime. Iris is a Sentry and as her Guardian, it's Avi's duty to protect her. It matters not that Iris, taken from his world, doesn't understand who or what she is; the strikingly handsome shapeshifter is honor bound to protect her.

When strange creatures start attacking Iris and her friends, she has no choice but to trust in Avi and hope he'll lead her to the truth. What she finds, however, is so much more. Iris discovers her own power and, in the arms of her fated lover, her destiny to possess A Sentry's Touch.


A Sentry's Touch is, hands down, one of the best romance novels I've read this year. Dramatic statement, isn't it? The book deserves it, though.

Ms. Deab takes a familiar concept - the heroine who gets whisked away to a strange land by a handsome alien or fantastic being - and twists it just enough to be comfortable and exciting at the same time. For Iris, the stakes are high as stakes get. She must figure out the puzzle of her family legacy to end a war and save a world, her newfound love, and her own life. And, with the adventurous nature that led her to Alaska and the trauma nursing profession, you absolutely believe she can do it, too. Iris is pure girl power, combining strength with practicality and humor. I really connected with her. And Avi is perfect for her. He's steadfast and loyal and his naiveté about his world and Iris' role in it injects a bit of sweet into an otherwise alpha hero.

The only real criticism (and this might be a weensie bit spoilery, so feel free to skip this paragraph) I have is the treatment of a character who was so integral to the plot in the beginning that they dragged him along to Varana where his involvement in the story abruptly stopped. And erotic romance readers might find the book as a whole a little bit tame. The love scenes were really well written and were an integral element of the book's characterization, but there were fewer, proportionately, than an average erotic novel.

Otherwise, A Sentry's Touch is one of the best examples of the future of paranormal romance. I will definitely be seeking out other books by Ms. Deab!



Reviewed by Daisy

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Review: New Year's Resolution

New Year's Resolution
By Samantha Lucas

Caitlyn Monson has spent the past three years caring for her dying mother, to the exclusion of all else. Letting go of the past and her loss and grasping for some way to feel alive again, Caitlyn has one thing in mind: her virginity and the best way to lose it before New Year's. Danny Carter understands loss and guilt on a very personal level. When the sweet and irresistible Caitlyn walks into his restaurant, his heart knows this is the woman he's waited for his entire life and his body is only too willing to help her make deadline. If only he had more to offer her than broken dreams and a shattered heart.

Will Caitlyn's New Year's Resolution bring each more than they bargained for?

If you are looking for a book that embodies romance, moments that inspire hitched breaths, emotional connections and well developed characters then New Year's Resolution is for you.

This has to be one of the most romantic and emotional books I've read in quite some time. You get both Caitlyn's and Danny's POV and watching their relationship grow, reading about what caused the pain they both suffer from, made their story so sweet and touching that I'm positively aglow. The miracle of love, and the healing it can bring, truly makes this a must read--espcially during a holiday season that embraces hope and the future.

Caitlyn is a woman finally free to experience life after putting it on hold to care for her mom. But now that her mom is gone, what is there left for Caitlyn? What is her path in life; who is she really? Her life until that point was dictated by the demands of caring for someone else, so much so, that she neglected her own needs, desires and dreams. How does she recapture that? How does she go against her shy nature with men to accomplish her New Year's Resolution--to get de-virginized?

The reason perhaps this story touched me so profoundly is that I know someone who did exactly what Caitlyn did--cared and loved her mom until the bittersweet and heartbreaking end. Even a year later, she is still trying to find her way in her own life. Reading about Caitlyn's struggle helped me to identify more with my friend, so this story ended up being very personal for me. It also gave me hope that my friend too, will find her HEA like Caitlyn. That she'll find her own "Danny".

Danny is the answer to Caitlyn's prayers and dreams. Her mom always told her that she'd know 'the one'. Being 'the one' doesn't mean that her future love wasn't going to come without his own issues and Danny certainly has his share. The surprising thing that author Samantha Lucas did was to well and truly get into his head, to pull out the emotions and pain that cripples him and share it with the reader. I found myself drawn to his character once his inner conflict was revealed.
Danny believes he has nothing to offer Caitlyn, or any woman. His emotional scarring has him convinced he is worthless as a marraige partner. Danny certainly needs a Christmas miracle too, but doesn't realize it until he holds Caitlyn in his arms.
You can insert a wistful sigh here, it's appropriate.

Their relationship was dealt with in a classy and respectful manner, making the sex, when it finally happened, able to transcend just sex and become an expression of love and commitment. Don't let the sound of that make you think it's boring or dull. Far from it. By the time those two consume each other, I was practically bouncing in my seat, wanting it with razor-sharp longing. I, along with Caitlyn, was seduced, teased, and tortured with the promises of what was to come. When it finally happens, you just want to melt into a puddle of happiness for them.

This story was a fast read but rich, full and poignant. The dialogue was used to push the story along with a wonderful grasp of showing and not telling. The POV shifts between characters was easy to follow with no burps along the way. The editing was perfect - didn't find anything that threw me out of the story.

If you are considering making your own list of resolutions for the coming year, make sure reading Samantha Lucas' New Year's Resolution is on your list.
It's a resolution that'll be easy to keep.

Rating:

Reviewed by Xeranth

Monday, December 31, 2007

Review: Christmas Cookies: A Sprite's Tale

Christmas Cookies: A SPRITE’S TALE
by Lexxie Couper

Having decided his uncle is due for a break, Santa’s nephew takes over the job of delivering presents and heads straight for the sun-drenched beaches of Australia.

After a cataclysmic sleigh disaster with a low-flying Qantas Stratos 1500, Santa’s nephew--aka Nick--finds himself rounding up reindeer on an isolated coastal stretch. When all seems lost--including Rudolph--Nick stumbles upon Chrissie, a woman just as mysterious as he.

Chrissie is an Australian bushland sprite, sent after Nick by his uncle. Santa has made his own decision--it’s time for his nephew to settle down. And Chrissie’s just the sprite to fill his empty heart.

Christmas is always hot in Australia. But this year, it’s going to be hotter!

Clever and unique, Lexxie Couper has written a yummy holiday fun-fest. Nick is trying to help out his uncle, but has been tied up--literally-–by a sprite who controls vegetation in an Australian rainforest. Chrissie knows what she wants, and she wants Nick. Nothing will stop this mischievous, winged hottie. She has her way with Nick in a scene that is wonderfully sexy and fun.

Using such interesting descriptions as “four-legged propulsion units” to describe reindeer, the author really immersed me into the world she created. This is not the same world we live in, but her lively descriptions made me feel as if I knew it just the same.

Reading both Chrissie and Nick’s thoughts in first person was an interesting choice, but one I felt worked quite well with the originality and fun feel of this short story. The characters’ personalities were very clear to me due, in part, to the first-person. They were fun and quirky, and I found myself liking both of them a lot.

There isn’t a firm relationship built through this hot encounter, but the couple is left at a place that could lead there--if not a "happily" ever after, we get a "hopefully" ever after.



Reviewed by Aster

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Review: The Firm: Nutcracker

The Firm: Nutcracker (Book 3 in series)
by Tuesday Morrigan

Kaden Lionheart, secret proprietor of Lyon’s Den, is shocked and intrigued when he finds himself attracted to another Dom, a Mistress that goes by Noelle. The two Alphas collide and the sparks are intense. When Kaden wakes after a night of wicked, uninhibited sex, he discovers the Mark of the Mate on his palm. Mistress Noelle is his mate. And he doesn’t know a single thing about her.

When the threat of blackmail brings Mistress Noelle to his door, Kaden discovers Noelle is none other than the infamous corporate powerhouse Sabrina Noelle, known to the many men she’s crushed as Nutcracker. Determined to find out who is using their desires against Sabrina, Kaden agrees to help her expose the blackmailer.

Kaden has three weeks to finalize a multi-million dollar deal, convince a woman known as Nutcracker that she wants to spend the rest of her life with a shape-shifting lion, and figure out exactly who is blackmailing her. Then there’s her irritating ex-boyfriend…

This was an interesting read that held my interest through each page. It’s always interesting to see how each author who explores the BDSM lifestyle will explain the feelings and relationships behind such needs. I was not disappointed by Tuesday Morrigan’s descriptions and insights.

Kaden is a great Alpha hero, who also happens to be a shape-shifting lion. He is accustomed to taking what he wants when he wants it,and from his first glimpse of Sabrina he wants her. Sabrina is an interesting heroine who is known for her hard and uncompromising boardroom tactics. She’s been hurt one too many times and just wants someone to relieve the pressure of always being in control. She is unique in that she can be either dominant or submissive, but both are equally important to her mental well-being.

I enjoyed this story, and found that I wasn’t overwhelmed, which can sometimes happen when trying to understand the BDSM lifestyle. I liked that it wasn’t made light of, or made to seem distasteful but, was given the understanding so often missing from these types of stories. It took a great deal of trust on both characters’ part to move beyond just the physical side of their relationship into the more emotional side. The entire story was very well handled and I liked the added elements of the supernatural that made the story that much more interesting and unique. A definite recommend for those looking for a “deeper, darker side of love” read.



Reviewed by: Viscaria