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Saturday, March 15, 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. Until 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 Breed’s 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 new found love, along with their lives…

Dawn's Awakening is a powerful book that engages a reader in its characters' emotions, passions, hopes and fears. Ms. Leigh once again shows us that there is a very human and endearing element to a Breed romance that is irresistible. As least, I find it so.

Dawn is a character I could cheer for. She has been physically and emotionally battered and betrayed all her life. If you've ever read any books of Ms. Leigh's Breed series before, then you know about the brutality and torture the Breeds endured before being freed and recognized as a people with rights. The scene where I was shown Dawn's rape, along with Seth, was horrible. I came away from that scene a hundred percent vested in wanting Dawn to be healed, to find love and to surmount the stranglehold her memories had on her. I needed to read this story.

Seth is her hero, and mine. He's a human who knows all about the Breeds and to his shame, his father had had a hand in financing their creation. Now he's doing everything possible to support and protect Sanctuary - the Breeds safe home and stronghold. He's had ten years to focus on building his corporation to be a force to be reckoned with in defense of the Breeds. His drive is more personal because he is Dawn's destiny and in a way, he's protecting her the only way he thinks he can. He suffered the separation from the Mating Heat for a decade to protect her and he thinks enough time has passed because he no longer physically suffers. Can you say tortured hero? Seth is perfect. His heart is still Dawn's but how can he give it to her when he thinks she's unable to accept it? He knows the temptation is too much - better to not tempt his pain or hers - he stays away. See? Strong yet tortured.

When a threatening situation brings them together, the heat is on. The Mating Heat is the catalyst that makes them face the truth about themselves. I get a thrill reading scenes with Breed mating. The biting, the purring, the ripped clothes and the passion kept me turning the pages in a flurry. Ms.Leigh knows how to write the hottest romance scenes with characters that have the most sensual and seductive ways. It's a joy and an allure I can't resist.

Seth's treatment of Dawn during her crisis of facing her past was strong, supportive and was just about the most romantic as a hero can get. Seth may not have the Breed's animal senses but he knows Dawn's needs and he's there for her every step of the way.

The most poignant moment of the book for me came from a surprising theme in this story. The Breeds were taught that they were creations of man, therefore soulless and not worthy of God's notice. That broke my heart. You can see that these are people, and their code of honor and ways of life are guided by an inner sense of what's right and wrong. Seth's impassioned speech to Dawn was powerful and spoke to the heart - not just Dawn's but mine too. This scene gave Dawn's Awakening a depth I've not experienced before and it garnered from me a healthy respect. I am impressed.

With an awesome cast of secondary characters, steamy hot animal attraction, suspense, an effective evil villain and the tease of a mystery Breed who has set his sights on one of the other Breed females, Dawn's Awakening is a jewel in the Breed series and Ms. Leigh has another winner. I even hazard to say it's one of the best so far. Can't wait until the next one. Who will get their HEA next?

Rating:

Reviewed by Xeranth

Friday, March 14, 2008

Review: The Love Of Her Death

The Love of Her Death
by Luna Carrol

What happens if you are on a train destined for HELL? This is what happens to Donnice Jordan. Each stop of this train of horrors introduces her to new characters with just enough life in them to remember their most lustful and depraved needs. Murderers, rapists, and deranged psychopaths would like to do more to a warm and willing body than just hold it. The conductor, Colin, is used to being able to check his emotions with the baggage. Now he finds himself having to protect her from the passengers and his own hunger for souls. Can he protect her when his own desires could mean her final death! (Psst… there is a happy ending, even for the dead.)

When I first picked this tale I wasn’t quite sure what it would be like. I had limited experience with horror novels, much less an Erotic/Romantic/Horror novel, but I have long felt that every book deserves at least a chance. I am pleased that I did take this tale as it was really quite an interesting read.

Donnice Jordan is not really a likable character. She is selfish and self-centered and angry. She has long believed that the world owes her for all she has suffered and feels put-upon by everyone she meets. When she finds herself on a train bound for… a place not yet decided with climes unknown to her, she is confused and even angrier. What follows are a series of encounters that teach her more about herself and the needs of her soul. Despite Donnice’s personality flaws, she is, after all, human, I understood her concerns and beliefs regarding her situations and her former life. As we’ve all felt persecuted or put-upon at one time or another, she becomes a bit more sympathetic as we move through the story. As she learns, eventually, what she needs to in order to “depart” the train, I grew attached to her, hoping and waiting for her HEA.

Colin is the enigmatic, dark and incredibly sexy conductor of the 13 Train. The very nature of his “job” makes it necessary for him to avoid attachments and emotions in general. This is something he’s never had any problem with, until he helps Donnice onto his train. Amazingly he feels quite a bit for this haughty woman, the most predominant emotion being lust followed closely by annoyance and then amazingly enough protectiveness. As he observes Donnice moving from one sexual encounter to the next he is surprised by the jealousy he feels as well. As unaccustomed as he is to feeling these emotions, he is unsure how to deal with them and continue to do his job to the best of his abilities. His continued rescue of Donnice from the scrapes she finds herself in adds to his overall frustration while drawing him closer to the real person under all her anger.

While none of the characters throughout this book were particularly likable, they were incredibly compelling and made for a fascinating read. Each person met brought their own agenda to the mix, and added innumerable facets to an already interesting story. Ms. Carrol takes us on a journey through the dirty, the taboo and even the sweet as each person Donnice meets on the train goes through their own journey just as Donnice does. As understanding slowly dawns, we get a glimpse into each person’s own journey as they pass quickly through Donnice’s. A fascinating read.

The concept behind the storyline was exceptionally original and held my interest until the last page. I have to say, while not “scary” per se the subject matter was definitely a bit difficult, despite this, The Love of her Death was incredibly well-written and even entertaining. I would have to recommend this to anyone who doesn’t mind a little, okay a lot, of dark with their light.

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Review by Viscaria

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Review: Christmas Cookies: Dancer

Christmas Cookies: Dancer
by Sierra Dafoe

This year, for once, Julie is going to have a perfect holiday season. She knows it. She’s got it all planned -- Christmas with her boyfriend, and dancing on New Year’s Eve. But that’s before she discovers him in bed with another woman.

Now her holidays are totally ruined. Or are they? When she drops a handful of coins in a street corner Santa’s pot, Julie finds herself whirled away into the arms of a stunningly handsome, shapeshifting reindeer for one perfect night of erotic bliss.

Sometimes the magic of Christmas doesn’t end at midnight. Sometimes that’s when it’s just getting started!

This is a fun holiday story that pleased me from beginning to end. Julie isn't asking for much, just a little magic with her man for the holidays. But I could feel her despair when she discovers that the man is a philandering sleaze and I can understand when she all but loses hope. She does get her magic, however, but in an unexpected form. I've read a lot of shape-shifter stories, and I have to admit, this is my first shape-shifting reindeer. With one as hot as Dan, it totally works!

I was excited when Dan reveals that their encounter is a one-time dream because I hoped that it would give them the freedom to release their inhibitions and fully explore each other and I wasn't disappointed. They sizzle together and the effect is tantalizing. I appreciated Julie's go-for-it attitude and I sensed that her personal growth, because of their life-altering liaison, is far reaching and makes her a happier, more fulfilled person. I watched her evolve from a needy, whiny girl to a self-assured woman. It doesn't seem feasible for this metamorphosis to occur after one night of lovemaking, but it's magic, right? And I believe it succeeds in furthering the story and developing Julie as a charismatic character.

I wasn't offered a view into Dan's thoughts as much as I would have liked, but nevertheless, he would definitely pass the crackers-in-bed test! Even in his reindeer form, I found him to be powerful and hypnotic. He did make me laugh a few times, and his ardent focus on Julie made me breathless.

I loved this uniquely styled shape-shifter tale. A feel-good holiday story with a great ending, "Dancer" is sure to please.

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Review by Camomile

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Review: Capital Games

Capital Games
by G.A. Hauser

Let the games begin…

Former Los Angeles Police officer Steve Miller has gone from walking a beat in the City of Angels to joining the rat race as an advertising executive. He knows how cut-throat the industry can be, so when his boss tells him that he’s in direct competition with a newcomer from across the pond for a coveted account he’s not surprised… then he meets Mark Richfield.

Born with a silver spoon in his mouth and fashion-model good looks, Mark is used to getting what he wants. About to be married, Mark has just nailed the job of his dreams. If the determined Brit could just steal the firm’s biggest account right out from under Steve Miller, his life would be perfect.

When their boss sends them together to the Arizona desert for a team-building retreat the tension between the two dynamic men escalates until in the heat of the moment their uncontrollable passion leads them to a sexual experience that neither can forget.

Will Mark deny his feelings and follow through with marriage to a woman he no longer wants, or will he realize in time that in the game of love, sometimes you have to let go and lose yourself in order to really win.

I LOVED this book! I had two thoughts when I finished this one, one very silly, the other not so silly! My first thought was “I laughed… I cried… it moved me!” Ha, name that quote! All joking aside, my second thought was, “I have to get my hands on this author’s other books!”

At first, I wasn’t sure that I liked Steve, he’s kind of grating when you first meet him. He seems to be so angry at the world and defensive about his place in it. Almost as if he’s not sure he’s where he belongs but isn’t sure how to get to that ideal place. But once his anger started to make a bit more sense, as a defense mechanism, and he started acting “human” I quickly fell for his strength and wit. As a man who had never once entertained the thought of attraction to another man, he was actually quite matter-of-fact about his attraction and eventual deep feelings for Mark. Accepting that he had feelings for a man wasn't an easy thing to do but once he did, that was that! There’s something so very appealing about a man who knows his mind, and Steve was so very appealing as to be mouthwatering!

Mark on the other hand is a man conflicted. His whole life, it seems, he’s been defending his sexuality and he’s finally at a point in his life where he will be able to put all those naysayers in their place. He’s about to marry a beautiful woman, his career is going well, he has everything he could ever want. Then why does he feel as if something is missing? Mark is completely blind-sided by his attraction to Steve. His first interactions with Steve are actually quite comical as he is a terrible flirt and quite provocative in his behavior, knowing that it pushes Steve’s buttons. But, when Steve angrily turns the tables he finds it’s not as much fun to be on the other side of the innuendoes.

When he realizes how very right it feels in Steve’s arms, he is so utterly conflicted that I felt his pain. How can he hurt his fiancĂ© by calling off a wedding that has been in the works for over a year? How could he possibly bring himself to hurt someone who has meant so much to him? Then there’s his best friend Jack who has been in love with him for years. How could he explain to his best friend that he had feelings for a man… they just weren’t for Jack?

As I read this book a quote came to my mind that I felt was so perfectly illustrated here by G. A. Hauser: “You can’t help who you love. You’re not supposed to!” Sometimes love comes from a direction that is least expected and may not be welcome. But love is a gift that should be savored and treasured and Mark and Steve’s journey to this final realization was one that I actually felt a bit privileged to be along for. The struggle of these two men as they grapple with their emergent sexuality was sometimes heartwrenching and at moments I felt my own stomach clench at their anguish.

This book had so much to recommend it. There was drama and conflict and love and hot love scenes. Add in a few moments of levity, especially a case of shameless self-promotion by Hauser as Steve contemplates purchasing a book in a bookstore that brought a chuckle when I realized it for what it was, and it's a perfect combination to hold your interest. This was a fabulous love story with strong erotic elements, period. The fact that it was between two men only added to the overall feeling I got as I read. G. A. Hauser will definitely be added to my favorite author list.

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Review by Viscaria

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Review: A Naked Holiday

A Naked Holiday
by Mystique Devereaux

Janie and Zane have some work to do—they’re busy with their restaurant and their sex life is stale since the kids have gone off to college. Will the time alone in a cabin allow them to finally break free of the routine or will being together unveil heartbreak and betrayal?

Janie and Zane have been married for thirty years and have six grown children but they still have the hots for each other. They plan this holiday to try to repair any damage to their relationship due to recent strains in their marriage. Each of them attributes the tension to a misconception that they have about the other.

What struck me the most about this story is that they each thought something dreadful about the other, but they had enough love for each other and respect for their relationship, that they take this time to confront the issues and deal with them. And they do; no whining, no recriminations, just a straight-forward "why?" with the expectation — and receipt — of an honest answer in return. How refreshing is that? Then there is sex. They recognize that their bedroom activities are not as steamy as they could be, so they each do research (separately, of course) to figure out how to spice things up.

Zane is totally in love — and in lust — with Janie. When she says something derogatory about her physical appearance he admonishes her for it. His sincerity takes your breath away as his words and actions prove that he truly finds her beautiful. He is determined to do whatever he has to in order to fix what is wrong. He is the perfect husband!

Janie is also determined, but a little more insecure when it comes to the issues and if she can overcome them. Her tentative approach to reconnecting with Zane and her direct, in-your-face confrontation with him displayed a very complex, very realistic woman. I love her!

The reader has the chance to hear both of their thoughts, and each is equally lusty in his/her desire for the other, almost uncontrollably! For a long-married couple who are probably fifty-something, all I can think is, how cool is that? The respect and genuine emotion displayed between the two shines throughout the story. I don't think I've ever read a stirring romance about a middle-aged married couple until today, and I'm so glad I did. This exceptionally touching romance had me sighing all the way to the end.



Review by Camomile

Monday, March 10, 2008

Review: The Agency: No Monkey's Business

The Agency: No Monkey’s Business
by Michelle Hasker

Jessica thinks she has this training mission in the bag. She's already accomplished her first mission, so the second one should be a breeze. Once she's done they'll have to promote her. What she didn't count on was Chase Montgomery's interference and his orgasm-inducing skills in the bedroom. Now she'll be lucky enough to get out of bed, let alone finish her missions.

Jessica has a shape-shifting ability that I have never encountered before and this intrigued me to read on. I wanted to find out how it tied into her job and the missions she is completing. Jessica has been set to prove herself to her boss and get the promotion she is dying to receive.

Chase, a fellow trainee, tries to relay to Jessica why he is there and that his motives are not the same as her own, but she does not trust him and seems to have an inability to trust anyone… can Chase change her views? Even with her distrust of his motives, she feels chemistry between them that they cannot deny.

There are some very hot scenes that involve voyeurism that made the story exciting and added some twists. And a bit of BDSM, but not distasteful in the least, it actually helps to further the relationship between Jessica and Chase and is used as a tool against one of them.

I really enjoyed the scene that involved the voyeurism, especially when one of them realizes the cameras are rolling. Copies anyone?

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Review by Snowdrop

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Review: The Masters 1: Rune

The Masters 1: Rune
by Kate Hill

Rune was the first Master of Ecstasy to complete Ivan’s course at the vampire haven Sunlight of the Soul and is among the most sought-after guides for the sexual gauntlet. While he has brought countless visitors unimaginable pleasure, he has never lost his heart to one, until he meets Doe.

Doe is tired of her fledgling ignorance and wants to prove to herself that she can endure the sexual gauntlet. Neither she nor Master Rune has any intention of falling in love, but the fates have other ideas for these two vampires – one of the old world and one from the new.

If you’re looking for a sensual adventure, then this is a good one for you. Kate Hill takes us on a journey through a woman’s sexual awakening, and a Master’s emotional one. This was a wonderful read that leaves you with a smile on your face.

Doe is a fledgling vampire who has been raised in a rather sheltered environment. She hasn’t had much in her life to get excited about… well, aside from being a vampire! But even that has fallen short of her expectations. I mean, come on… you’re supposed to become sexy and beautiful and all sorts of exotic when you become a vampire! Right? Alas, things haven’t turned out the way Doe anticipated, and she’s more than ready for something to shake her up. When she goes to her mother, the vampire who raised her and turned her, and tells her of her plans to experiment with her sexuality, her mother directs her to Sunlight of the Soul. Anxious to explore, Doe readily agrees to her wishes. How hard could the sexual gauntlet be? I actually liked this character, although I had my doubts at first. I was afraid she would seem to be flighty or just too innocent to be believable, but Ms. Hill made her so very believable and open to new experiences without making her into a wide-eyed squirming innocent.

Rune knows the moment he sees Doe’s application video that he wants to be her guide through the sexual gauntlet. Something about her calls to him, he’s not sure what it is, but he’s lived long enough that anything that draws that much of his interest is definitely worth investigating. Besides, none of the other Masters could possibly be as gentle as him with this untried fledgling! Rune was an interesting hero. His insight into the workings of Doe’s mind and her desires was so well-written. I found that I liked Rune, despite the fact that he basically had sex for money. He saw his profession as a way to educate others about their sexuality and to explore what made them feel fulfilled. I loved how amazingly tender he was in moments where I was expecting him to behave a bit more harshly toward Doe. But, for someone so open-minded about so many things, he was incredibly close-minded about love and the instant connection he found with Doe.

I greatly enjoyed this book with it’s incredible sensuality. The moments where you expected heat, definitely delivered, but with a tenderness that was almost unexpected, but appreciated. Don’t get me wrong, the love scenes were hot, but they were tempered by the characters getting to know more about each other, so we didn’t feel like they had jumped into love, despite the briefness of their acquaintance. Kate Hill knows how to write a romance, with the perfect amount of heat and plenty of romance. I hope to find more of Ms. Hill’s writing and add it to my collection, and I would suggest that you do the same.

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Reviewed by Viscaria