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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Review: Bloody English

Bloody English
By ReneƩ George

Samuel King is an Amish private detective who has lived amongst the English in Independence, Missouri, for sixteen years. When he is hired to find a missing accountant, Morton Clark, Samuel’s self-enforced solitary lifestyle is completely disrupted -- the case unexpectedly leads him to the very sexy, very flawed Alistair Simms. Samuel is overwhelmed by his attraction to Alistair, and resisting the vampire is no simple task. Even for a chaste man.

Alistair, a 154-year-old vampire and recluse with familial ties to the kidnapped Morton, has spent his undead years caring for each generation of his brother’s children. To compound his guilt over the abduction of his great-nephew, Alistair is passionately drawn to Samuel. The detective’s innocence, purity, and physical perfection stir emotions in him he didn’t believe he was still capable of feeling. Being immortal was easier when he didn’t care.

For two men who have spent lifetimes avoiding relationships and entanglements, finding Morton will be the ultimate test of faith, love, and sacrifice.


Author’s note: Bloody English takes place in the same world as The Beast series. It is an independent book, but you never know who might show up.


The title of Bloody English is quite clever and I give kudos to whomever thought of it.

I was reminded of movie, The Witness, when I read about the reference to the 'English' being anyone who wasn't Amish. I've never read about an Amish character before and I found it intriguing.

Sam is interesting. He's struggling to make his own way in the world without support from his family. Neither does he embrace the world he lives in, preferring to only adopt that which is closest to the life he left behind yet enough to do what needs to be done. I think he's a man who's unfortunately living a sensory deprived life. That can't be healthy, even though he has chosen a career that ultimately helps people. He doesn't believe in acting out in violence but as we readers know, any world in which vampires reside includes violence.

Alistair is an old vampire who lives in his own style of sensory deprevation but for different reasons. He thinks he's doing OK until he sets his eyes on Sam for the first time. Alistair finds that his attraction to Sam has him contemplating the biggest change in his life-attempting to reach out and touch someone, finally.

Ha.

Alistair is a target of a violence that's going to reach out and touch people he never even considered. It's coming from a place he had no reason to suspect and his motivation for keeping himself isolated gets blown out of the water.

The culmination of Sam's and Alistair's relationship takes on new and powerful heights with the exciting conclusion of this story. It's quite romantic in its way. Also, the secrets revealed are unique and thought provoking. What else does this world hide?

Bloody English is an enjoyable read with just the right amount of suspense and romance between the characters to flesh out the story and move the plot along.

Rating:

Reviewed by Xeranth

Friday, February 22, 2008

Review: Dance With Me, My Lovely

Dance With Me, My Lovely
by Jaye Roycraft

Cate Greenbush knows that a strip club isn’t the way to meet men, but when your job is talking to dead people, boyfriends are hard to come by. She also knows that the sexy headliner of tonight’s show is nothing more than a fantasy, and a dangerous one at that. During the performance she sees an image of a dead woman and a shadowy figure she fears is her killer, the dancer.

Vampire Garran Lux has no such lack of sexuality, and his public persona flaunts it to the world. During the week he’s an instructor at a dance studio, and on Fridays he headlines as an exotic dancer. But it’s a double life he leads, for his private life is one of secrecy and loneliness as one of the undead. Still, he’s been very successful at maintaining the balance in his existence.

Until now.

For some reason, the beast that rules his vampiric side is becoming stronger and harder to control. Without the control of his “human” side, he fears he’ll start killing again, and being reckless is no way to survive immortality.

Cate is an urban shaman who specializes in spiritual healing and soul retrievals. She’s shocked to find that her seven o’clock appointment is her fantasy lover from the strip club. But the young man insists he needs her help to repair his life, though he doesn’t explain the past tragedies that have led to the splintering of his soul. She agrees to help him, in spite of her fear that he may be a killer.

The quest for Garran’s lost soul becomes an exploration of human desire and inhuman lust. In the end the search is for love, if only Cate and Garran can survive the perilous journey to the Land of the Dead.


I really enjoyed that the story was written from both characters point of view, it made it interesting to see how each was feeling at the exact same time. I really liked the idea of showing how Cate and Garran’s past experiences with love and sex. It gave you a look into why they are the way they are now. Cate does not know that Garran is a vampire when she first sets eyes on the hunky dancer at the strip club. She feels an intense connection with him that scares her. A woman’s spirit comes to her in glimpses while staring up at the dancer. She then wants nothing to do with him as she feels he could be a killer.

Garran later finds himself feeling lost and is looking for that piece of him that he is unsure will ever be found – his soul. He appears at Cate’s door looking for her spiritual help in the long journey to the Land of the Dead to reclaim his lost soul. She does not realize that he is a vampire at first, even with their first journey to the other world, nor even after their first romp together on the floor after coming back from the Land of the Dead together.

I have never read anything with a Shaman in it and reading the descriptive passages of how a Shaman’s journey actually works was very intriguing, especially when a vampire is involved. And then to add the intense sex scene at the end of that first journey made it all the more exciting.

The course of Cate and Garran’s relationship was a very different journey – one that brings them to the edge of death searching for a lost soul together. If that can’t bring two people together than what can? Trust is a big theme in the story as well. Both characters needing to be open, honest and share with each other so that they can trust enough to get through their issues.

Can a vampire truly get his soul back and fall in love with a human?



Review by Snowdrop

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Review: Passion Unbound: Wild Nights

Passion Unbound: Wild Nights
by Tawny Taylor

And thus it was from the beginning of time. Two knights. One bride. They whispered their story to The Chosen, a human endowed with the gift of Hearing… The Chosen wrote the story and released it into the human world.

The bait was set. The spell was cast. And then they waited…(An excerpt from the Ierd Kimeno, the sacred text of the Twelfth Knight Brotherhood)


Secretary Maggie Dunning loves her romance novels. Her favorite – Conquered by the Knight, the story of two dominant, sexy shapeshifters, Xander and Bastien. To be possessed by two powerful Masters? Heavy, happy, lust-filled sigh!

But that’s just fantasy. It could never happen in real life… right?

Little did she know that a paper cut and a few muttered words would make all her fantasies come to life, including the hunky Xander and Bastien. One minute she’s cozy in bed sleeping, the next she’s dragged into a world she’d thought only existed in her imagination, to face her most secret desires… and her worst fears.

Bastien and Xander have their own challenges to face – a crime to investigate and a dangerous threat to the Twelfth Night Brotherhood to uncover. But they won’t let that stop them from seizing their fascinating new bride and introducing her to the ecstasy of complete surrender.

This was another case of reading one book in a series that caught my imagination and made me want to go back and read the first book or books in a series. Tawny Taylor is fast becoming an auto-buy author for me, and that is always a good thing!

Maggie Dunning was an interesting character. She is amazingly resilient, and strong. Maggie has remade herself after surviving a controlling and domineering husband. Although it is never directly said, it’s hinted that he was abusive as well. Despite her past, Maggie has picked herself up and made a new life, one that she is proud of and quite content in. All except for the fact that she longs for a man… or men, that will fulfill all her deepest fantasies. Imagine her surprise when she’s snatched back into a strange world by two men who want to fulfill her fantasies! She quickly realizes that she won’t feel as fulfilled if she stays in their world, but she will sorely miss her Masters if she manages to leave.

Bastien and Xander are both dominant, strong men who are also shapeshifters, and are quite committed to the safety of their world. When they go retrieve their bride they are quite happy to find that she is seemingly everything they would want in a bride, until she decides to exert her independence, something the two of them are not used to. When circumstances coincide to make things even more difficult these two strong men must decide if they can bend enough to be the mates Maggie needs in her life.

Wild Nights was an engaging read that gave plenty of history behind Bastien and Xander’s world and their taking of brides and the building of the storyline that continues in Wicked Nights. Tawny focused more on the relationship building in this tale than on the sensual aspects, but that did not detract one bit from the overall story. Don’t get me wrong, the love scenes are there, and they are hot, but that’s not all this is about and that can serve better to draw you in. We are given more of a glimpse than a full look at how the physical side of the relationship between Bastien, Maggie and Xander will be and it whets your appetite for more. I had some fun reading this, if only because Xander and Bastien aren’t quite sure how to handle a woman who won’t let them keep her locked in a room all day until they need her. Tawny Taylor is definitely an author to watch.



Reviewed by: Viscaria

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Review: Cat O' Nines: Cat's Claws

Cat O’ Nines: Cat’s Claws
by Lia Connor

Everyone’s heard of the Catkind, right? In the past they kept to themselves, but these days they’re out roaming the country, looking for mates. They’re rough, they’re tough and they don’t take no for an answer.

But who’d want to say no? Not Gabriella, a barmaid in a tiny roadhouse near the Mexican border. All her life, Gabriella has dreamed about a Prince Charming riding in and carrying her away.

Looks like she’ll get double lucky. Not one, but two of the Catkind have chosen Gabriella as their mate and their Queen. Is she woman enough to handle two alpha Cats?

I said I’d do it… and I did! I got my hot little hands on the prequels to Cat O’ Nines: Cat’s Cradle. Cat’s Claws is the first installment of the Cat O’ Nines series from Changeling Press, and it’s quite the start! I enjoyed this novella as much as I did the first one I read. It was a fun and raunchy romp through a pretty interesting world.

Gabriella is charming and straightforward, but not afraid to step into an adventure, even though her sister considers her the good girl. When two gorgeous men step into her family’s bar and hand her the opportunity to experience a night of incredible passion, she jumps at the chance. She doesn’t share many people’s fear of the Catkind, and in fact finds them fascinating and sexy. Which is a good thing as the two Catkind in her bar feel the same about her. Her wicked sense of humor helped her to accept a situation that would send most women screaming into the night.

Derek and Benjamin are the two Catkind who are out to convince Gabriella that she is their mate, the third part of their loving relationship. These two are an interesting study in contrasts, not just in their appearance but in their temperaments as well. Where Derek is both light in coloring and light-hearted, Benjamin is the complete opposite. Derek made me laugh on more than one occasion, with his bawdy sense of humor and his direct way of approaching what he wants he was quite the fascinating character. Benjamin on the other hand was quite serious, and a deep thinker. His nobility was displayed not only in his lineage but in his outlook on life and his treatment of Gabriella and Derek. His obvious love for his two mates just endeared him to me even more, and when he let go of his control he was quite fierce. These two were definitely blistering in their interactions both with each other and with Gabriella.

When the two Catkind realize that finding a woman among their own people will be next to impossible, and that the Catkind are dying out they set out to find a mate among the human women. Their own “people” are hostile toward the thought of mixing their blood with humans, but these two know it’s the only way to save their race. Their instincts lead them to Gabriella. The last hurdle they must get over is her reluctance to form a lasting relationship.

I had as much fun reading this first installment as I did reading the third (and the second, but that comes later *g*). Lia Connor has quite the knack for turning up the heat, and her characters show their stripes (yes, pun intended) with their raunchy senses of humor and their equal capacity for tenderness and a healing touch. Throw in a bit of intrigue and danger, and you have a great recipe for an excellent story that will get your heart racing. Pick this one up if you enjoy a lot of spice with your danger.



Reviewed by Viscaria

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Review: And Then...

And Then...
by Brenda Bryce

In a time of plenty, on a planet of wealth, boredom is abated by witnessing life and death struggles.

Geoff, a human gladiator/slave, is one of two survivors of the day’s entertainment. Ardis is a non-human, unlike any being Geoff had ever encountered in his restricted life. When Ardis offers to comfort him and care for his wounds for the night, Geoff can do no other but accept. For on the morrow they are to fight each other to the death.


"And Then..." is actually a Cinderella story. That statement may sound strange considering it is a romance between two men, but the comparison fits. Geoff has lived his entire life as a slave, and his adulthood has consisted of fighting in a stadium as a gladiator for the entertainment of the 'freeborn'. Other slaves relish in the battles and are eager to engage in contests to the death, but Geoff does not, and never has. Ms. Bryce reveals a gentle strength in this man by his inner thoughts and actions as he tries to protect himself from the bleakness of his situation and he fights his despair. Geoff's feelings of helplessness increase as he's participated in an elimination contest and now he is one of two that are left. The other contender, a humanoid from Hadeez, intrigues Geoff and he finds himself drawn to him. The relationship between Geoff and Ardis grows from shared anguish and compassion.

I can't reveal more of the plot without giving too much away, so I'll simply describe why it merits a high rating. Ms. Bryce's writing style is flawless. She draws the reader in and makes you a willing participant in their plight; you experience the agony and compassion, fear and affection between Geoff and Ardis right along with them, and the mounting need for one another in their dismal circumstances is palpable.

There are secrets that are not revealed until the end, but hints are made that things are not what they seem, keeping the reader's interest piqued and anxious to continue on the journey. The dialog flow naturally, even during the love scenes. On that subject, be aware that the sex is graphic and frequent — this is supported and plausible for the desperate nature of their situation, so I felt it entirely appropriate for the story. Even with their desperation, the scenes are written to illustrate the tender intimacy that is developing between Geoff and Ardis.

Their saga ended too quickly, leaving me wanting more. I will be seeking more enticing reads from Brenda Bryce.



Review by Camomile

Monday, February 18, 2008

Review: Dawn's Awakening

Dawn’s Awakening
by Lora Leigh

The runt of the lab she was created in, Dawn Daniels endured years of torture by her pride brother and the Council soldiers. Finally freed from her torment, she’s now a Breed Enforcer, in control of her own life. Then she’s assigned to protect the one man destined to be her mate – and realizes it’s far too easy to lose total control.

One of the Breeds’ most important supporters, Seth Lawrence has spent years trying to forget Dawn, knowing that her lost innocence has made it impossible for her to get close to anyone. But suddenly neither of them can find the strength to fight the overwhelming passion between them. At least until the most brutal tormentor from Dawn’s past reappears – and threatens to destroy their newfound love, along with their lives…


I have long been a fan of Lora Leigh. Ever since I picked up my first Breed book I have been fascinated by the world she has created. I have long awaited Dawn’s story, and had to run out to the store as soon as it was released, and then proceeded to finish it in a day and a half! My only disappointment was when I came to the last page and realized I would have to wait for the next installment into the Breed world. *sigh* I’ll anxiously await her next story, that is for sure.

Dawn Daniels is an amazing character. A woman who had the most vile things done to her as a child, and later in life were perpetuated by someone who she should have been able to trust. I looked upon this woman with awe, and quite a bit of admiration. Although she is delicate in build and even fragile emotionally, she has made herself into a woman to be reckoned with. She is a commander among the Breed Enforcers, and has quite a talent for helping other breed women find their own strengths. Her main weakness is, of course, a man. He has always treated her as a desirable woman, at least he did up until he seemingly walked away from her after the “mating heat” had started between the two of them, which was something almost unheard of, and purportedly impossible to do. She’s lived the last ten years in agony each time her heat cycle comes around. What then is she supposed to do when she is assigned to protect him and he protests, along with informing her of some rather painful information?

Seth Lawrence is a man’s man, and he’s lived without his mate for ten long years. When he finally finds some relief he’s determined to keep Dawn from his life in order to protect his heart and soul which were so empty without her before. He’s waited all those years for Dawn to come to him, and when she doesn’t come he decides that he needs to try and move on with his life. What he doesn’t expect is that Dawn will violently oppose his efforts to remain cool, calm and collected in her presence. She’ll do everything in her power to finally claim her mate. He’s helpless to resist her when she’s giving him everything his heart has desired for so long. I loved this character as he’s such a strong character, and yet so gentle with Dawn when she needs it. He always knows just what she needs to get through any given situation, and that shows in itself the depth of his love for this stubborn and amazing woman who is his mate. He’s definitely sigh-worthy.

I have read all of Lora Leigh’s Breed series and have loved them all, and this was probably the most heart-wrenching of the entire series. The horror Dawn goes through in her life before the Breeds escaped from the Council labs made my stomach clench and brought tears to my eyes. The battle she wages with her own fears and emotions were gripping and kept me turning the pages, eager to see how everything would work out. The sensuality the two main characters shared with each other, was enhanced by their obvious love for each other, but in no way did that detract from the heat experienced. With suspense and intrigue around each corner and emotional epiphanies there is plenty to hold one’s interest through the entire story. Add in a few incredibly hot scenes, especially some that took place in the shower in particular, and you have one of the best Breed stories by Lora Leigh to date. I can only imagine that they will continue to get better and better. I can guarantee that I will continue to grab each story to come out by Ms. Leigh, and would suggest that you do so as well… if you haven’t already. This was a fabulous read, and well deserving of 5 cherries.



Reviewed by: Viscaria

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Review: Christmas Cookies: Vamps on Ice

Christmas Cookies: Vamps on Ice
By Alecia Monaco

Ginny Howard hates holidays… really hates them. She makes Scrooge look like one of Santa’s helpers. But when her job as a journalist forces her into attending the first ever Vampire Ice Capades, she has no choice but to suffer through it.
Lex is a Russian vampire, a student of Rasputin and resident healer for the troop of undead ice dancers. He’s resigned to spending the holidays alone, but one look at Ginny has him ready to make merry. With a little help from Santa Claus and the Hanukkah Fairy, these two make holiday magic hot enough to melt the North Pole!

This story is a fun romp celebrating the holiday spirit with an unusual paranormal twist.

This has to be the first time Santa is in cahoots with someone other than his elves. Is there even such a thing as a Hanukkah Fairy? I’d never heard of one but I have to say, it brought a smile to my face. My first thought was, ‘How cute!’.

Basically, this story revolves around Ginny, a woman who shuns men and immerses herself in work so completely, she doesn’t have much of a life. Even if she were to want to change, she wouldn’t know where to start to change her path.

Alexsander Bezmel a/k/a Lex, is the vamp in charge of healing the ice skaters’ injuries during the tour. His healing isn’t confined to the undead; his magic works for humans too. He also hasn’t had a meaningful relationship in quite some time and isn’t interested in any of the vamp females that surround him. He’s pretty much in the same kind of rut as Ginny.

One little candy induced episode brings to fruition the machinations of Santa and the Hanukkah Fairy.

At one point, the thought crossed my mind that things moved just a little too fast to be believable but then remembered – you can’t discount the magic of the season. With Santa, any thing is possible, and so is love in the uber-fast lane. It burns hot, passionate and steamrolls towards an HEA that was really sweet.

If you are in the mood for a quick pick me up and a reason to smile, "Vamps on Ice" skates to the finish line.



Reviewed by Xeranth