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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Review: Captain's Surrender

Captain's Surrender
by Alex Beecroft

Ambitious and handsome, Joshua Andrews had always valued his life too much to take unnecessary risks. Then he laid eyes on the elegant picture of perfection that is Peter Kenyon.

Soon to be promoted to captain, Peter Kenyon is the darling of the Bermuda garrison. With a string of successes behind him and a suitable bride lined up to share his future, Peter seems completely out of reach to Joshua.

But when the two men are thrown together to serve during a long voyage under a sadistic commander with a mutinous crew, they discover unexpected friendship. As the tension on board their vessel heats up, the closeness they feel for one another intensifies and both officers find themselves unable to rein in their passion.

Let yourself be transported back to a time when love between two men in the British Navy was punishable by death, and to a story about love, about honor, but most of all, about a Captain’s Surrender.

Captain's Surrender is a story that galvanized me with its old-world depiction of narrow-minded intolerance. I found it to be another glowing illustration of how love, when offered with selflessness and honesty, conquers all.

I had sympathy for Josh Andrews right away; he knows he is gay and he knows the Royal British Navy will hang him for it if they find out. He doesn't think he will have a problem keeping it under wraps until the first time he sees Peter Kenyon. Forced to share quarters with him, I could feel his inner struggle as he tries to suppress his growing affection — and resulting lust — for Peter. Peter is compelling because he has no homosexual tendencies, but when confronted with the opportunity to explore the lifestyle, he doesn't balk and humiliate Josh, which endeared him to me immediately. Both men are brave and capable, which for me, defines the perfect hero in an adventure.

I was really drawn into the relationship between the two, and the slow, sensual development of it. They each take turns at being both bold and tentative with one another, keeping the progression of the affair tantalizingly unbalanced and my pulse rate up as they engage in their mating dance. Josh's uncertainty of his place in Peter's heart followed by unrestrained joy at any small encouragement from Peter was so moving that I couldn't help but root for his success. The love scenes are infrequent, not overdone or gratuitous, but what I found most stirring was the way they saw one another. The mental picture that each man paints of the other is poignantly expressive, and with just a glance across the ship or a reflective thought, I experienced the depth of feelings revealed in their tender contemplation. These pensive moments happen throughout the book and I was whisked away by the vibrancy of the emotion and the romance between Josh and Peter.

An intricate adventure filled with rich characters (including a brutal bad guy that I loved to hate), Captain's Surrender had me experiencing intense anxiety, rage, glee, fear and hope simply by turning the pages. It's a story of adversity and triumph, and the rousing passion between Josh and Peter will warm your heart.

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Review by Chamomile

Friday, April 18, 2008

Review: The Marriage Clause

The Marriage Clause
by: Yvette Hines

Chantal has been waiting for years to finally take over her family's hotel business. On the day she's supposed to assume control her aunt drops a bombshell in her lap. She can't lead the company unless she honors an agreement her deceased father made ten years ago when he signed a merger agreement with his best friend, stipulating she'd marry. Not just any man, but tall, mocha colored Stephan Lexington, soon to be head of his family's jewelry business. Years ago, Stephan
awakened her to passion, stole her heart and has become Mr. International Playboy ever since. Soon after the wedding, he leaves the country believing that her only interest lies in her company. Bound by family honor in a marriage of convenience, Chantal vows to win over her estranged husband and prove to him that the passion that runs in her veins is for him and him alone.

The Marriage Clause is quite a different take on the arranged marriage. It was intriguing to see the main characters married first and then try to get to know each other when they each are strong personalities in and of themselves. A lot is riding on their willingness to get along because this arrangement is for life. But how do you woo a perfect stranger?

I found this book to be like one of those reality TV shows - take two unknowns, mix them together with little warning and watch what happens. Except in this story, there are no commercials, no announcer and no one gets voted off at the end. They are 'it'.

Chantal is a woman who is chomping at the bit for her freedom; freedom to live, to be in charge of not only the business she loves but of her life. Her chance was so close, she could taste it. I really felt for her when the bomb got dropped - that all she wanted and worked for was not up to her after all, but contingent on a 'marriage clause' she knew nothing about. I would have gone ballistic with the news but Chantal is classy to the core and handled herself with panache.

Yet, as I read, I realized she's got a bit of wildness in her too that is aching to be set free. She certainly can't indulge with a total stranger, can she? Even if he is her husband.

The spouse in question is Stephen and he's got some issues. He's been burned before and it is coloring his decisions on how to deal with his new wife. Stephen is handsome, accomplished, gifted and so totally out of sync with his new wife it's like a comic tragedy. His response is sort of extreme but living in the world he does, and being who he is, Stephen can get away with doing what he did.

The main conflict in this story isn't so much their resistance to the marriage clause but their lack of communication and their assumptions about each other. Talk about baggage. This story illustrates perfectly how open and honest communication is essential and mandatory to a happy and healthy union. Another thing this story shows very well is that men and women do not think the same, on anything. Well, except sex.

When Chantal and Stephen come together in the most basic of ways, it's off the charts and ends up being the only mutually honest and open thing they can share for quite awhile. That is, when the phone doesn't ring. At times I was getting as frustrated as Chantal and Stephen were. I enjoyed the part where Chantal decides to up the ante by doing a few things to ensure Stephen's notice. Stephen thinks he knows her based upon knowing Chantal's Aunt Marilyn. Was he in for a surprise - actually a lot of surprises because he had no idea how creative Chantal could be and a few of her ideas are quite steamy and romantic.

As for Aunt Marilyn, what a dragon - or so I was led to believe. I was waiting for a lot of dastardly shenanigans from that woman but instead found her providing another layer of emotion and insight into Chantal's life. I can't say anymore without ruining the effect. I will say that I was surprised.

There is another conflict that comes from the business world and Chantal was a wonder to watch when she had to deal with it. She was feisty, determined, and even when she was scared, she didn't quit. I found a lot to admire about Chantal. I appreciated too how Stephen was there for her. Through it all, step by step, I got to see their relationship grow so when some awful things happened, I believed that they had the emotional foundation to persevere and that carried over into celebrating the HEA when it finally happened.

The Marriage Clause embraces family honor and duty, love and passion. The sweet tender gestures between Stephen and Chantal made me believe these were real people and the corporate worlds they moved in were an effective backdrop. There are many emotional levels to enjoy in this book not the least of which is the tender and sweet Happily Ever After.

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Reviewed by Xeranth

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Review: What She Wants At Midnight

What She Wants At Midnight
by Kimberly Dean

The man of Devon Bradshaw’s dreams is exactly that – in her dreams.

For the past month, he has watched her with dark, haunting eyes while she sleeps. Though she yearns to caress those powerful muscles and feel the intense heat radiating from his body, she can’t even see his face.

Cael Oneiros is a Dream Wreaker, descended from Greek gods, and ever since his first night at Devon’s bedside, he’s wanted to fill the luscious redhead’s sweet dreams with steamy satisfaction. It tortures him not to touch her, not to stay by her side until dawn – but without his help, none of his other mortal charges can sleep.

Desperate to touch her dream man, Devon casts a love spell… and is stunned when it works. With a little mandrake, some mugwort, and a few rose petals, she finally has her legs wrapped around Cael’s muscular body – and the sex is a mind-blowing pleasure ride she could never have dreamed up. But her magic didn’t come with a warning label, and while she’s burning up the sheets every night with her sexy sandman, her love spell has consequences she didn’t expect…

Wow! I loved, loved, loved this book! From start to finish it kept me guessing and held my interest. I didn’t want to put it down, even when I had to and when it was over I was ready to start all over again.

Devon Bradshaw was an interesting woman, one who was driven and successful. As I got to know her I realized that she was someone I would love to have as a friend. Loyal, and funny I found myself relating to her on more than one occasion. She seemed to have everything, but she wasn’t happy with her love life… or lack thereof. How many of us can relate or have at one time been able to relate? When she keeps having a recurring dream of an intensely sexy man standing over her, she decides she needs to do something about his look-but-don’t-touch attitude. She never realizes that her actions, while making it possible for her to actually interact with her dream man, will have far-reaching consequences of a disastrous kind.

Cael Oneiros was amazing as well. He was loyal, family oriented (he has a HUGE family!), and committed to fulfilling his duties. Not to mention the fact that he was completely sigh-worthy. He’d been fulfilling his duties for months, watching over Devon and lusting from afar… well, from her bedside, but he wasn’t supposed to be able to touch. Imagine his surprise when she suddenly sits up in bed and reaches out to touch him. I loved how he tried so valiantly to resist the woman of his dreams, but ultimately gave in. Can you really blame him, though? Here’s a woman that he has been trying to find a way to meet in the real world and she suddenly is within his grasp. So, I wasn’t really surprised when he groaned and gave in! Really, how hot is it that he couldn’t resist her?

Now, I will admit to being a bit skeptical when I first read the premise behind this book. At first it seemed to be one I’ve heard of before. But, while the Greek mythology behind the Oneroi is familiar, Kimberly Dean has a refreshing and original take that brings it into this modern day and age. Once I started reading, I was caught up in this story of love and lust and dreams.

Kimberly Dean has created an engaging and lovable cast of characters. In meeting Cael we meet his brothers, or at least a few of them. One wonders how fair it is to have so many yummy men in one family, right after she wonders whose story will be next! Throw in the subplot that gives us Tasha’s story, Devon’s best friend, and this is a well-rounded story that made my heart pound, my blood heat and brought a smile to my face as I turned the last page. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an erotic romance to enjoy, and in the words of Kimberly herself: “Sweet Dreams”!

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Review by Viscaria



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Review: Far From Home

Far From Home
by Madeleine Urban

Enhanced

In Earth’s not-too-far future, a talented scientist stumbles over a plot to use the genetically enhanced military to declare martial law and take over the government. Dr. Ryne Siler enlists his friend, Dr. Cary Matthews, a brilliant engineer, to figure out how to stop it. When the investigation goes awry, they’re on the run, and the only thing between them and capture is a hidden cache of sleeping soldiers with enhancements of their own. Ryne and Cary are desperate, but will waking these soldiers help – or just make things worse?

Close Encounter

Space privateer Tris is just doing his job – delivering canisters to a military science vessel – when he discovers that he is transporting people infected with an engineered virus designed to exterminate the human race. In the midst of an alien attack, can the rogue pilot save patient Retter - the key to the cure? Or will he lose both humanity’s salvation and his heart?

Following the Sun

The nearly fatal crash of their spacecraft leaves Jack and Samuel stranded on a verdant planet far from civilization. Discovered and sheltered by a native tribe, the two resign themselves to new lives – lives that include a new culture, a new language, and even new love. But their new home isn’t at all what it seems, and when war and illness strike, they find out just how far from home they are.

Far From Home is another winning collection from Madeleine Urban.

"Enhanced" — Nighthawk and Brimstone are surprisingly charismatic. I expected powerful and brawny with super-charged, genetically enhanced abilities, but I got so much more. I found their individuality and complexity so appealing; Nighthawk is fun-loving and impulsive while Brimstone is brooding and focused, and they are both extremely capable and positively yummy. But their banter and playful jabs demonstrate a warm camaraderie engendered by trust forged over time and previous battles.

The pairing of these two he-men with scientists Ryne and Cary I found inspired. Cary and Nighthawk are a flash of passion from their first meeting, while Ryne and Brimstone are slower, more deliberate, but no less explosive. I was amazed and delighted by the intricate weaving of action and intimacy between these two couples as they struggle to defeat super bad guys to save the world.

"Close Encounter" — Tris and Retter's romance is seemingly doomed from the start, but I melted each time Tris favors Retter with his unselfish compassion. Angelic and vulnerable, my heart went out to Retter as he longs for intimacy he thinks he can never have. The tenderness between them is stirring, and I hoped they could somehow find a happy ending in the chaos.

Rey and Mill's coming together is as surprising to them as it was to me! Their interactions always professional, I was sure that the love story would include Tris and Retter only, but anger and aggression stemming from life-threatening stress turns to frenzied heat and Mill takes full advantage of the situation, and I was delighted to see them get together. The adventure is so astonishingly suspenseful, it gave me goose bumps as my eyes flew across the page to discover what would happen next.

"Following the Sun" — This one is a little different than the others in that our intrepid space travelers crash-land on a planet amongst a primitive yet friendly tribe. Jack is hurt in the crash and Lan'do, the healer, attends him, and I loved Lan'do's gentle way with the larger man. I could tell that sparks would fly between them. Samuel's awed reaction to the fierce warrior, Arl'ban's radiant smile was my first indication that they would find their way to each other. I was captivated by the way these two couples adapt to one another, and I found the "spacers" initial restraint in showing their desire for the natives admirable, as they didn't wish to risk offending them. When they do find their way to each other, the passion is just, WOW. The story has an intriguing "Twilight Zone" quality that hooked me at the end, giving the tale an even more riveting conclusion.

The actual sexual encounters are sparse in each of the three novellas, but the author doesn't skimp on the emotional intimacy, which in my opinion, is the best thing about M/M erotica. Far From Home contains three thrillingly sensual sci-fi quests that shouldn't be missed.

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Review by Chamomile

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Review: Escape In Passion

Escape In Passion
by Sheila Stewart

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

Victor Davis is a man trying to escape the tragedy of his past. Several months ago, a bullet that was meant for him killed his girlfriend by mistake. Now struggling to move on, Victor's taken over as the chief of police of Passion. Vic knows everyone in Passion, so naturally he can't help but notice when beautiful stranger Julia Wilson moves into the small town.

Mysterious and alluring, Julia came to Passion with one thing on her mind, avenging the death of her sister. Desperate to find the truth, and keeping her true identity a secret, Julia enters into an affair with the one man she thinks might be able to give her answers—Victor Davis.

Lust and love run rampant when Victor and Julia enter into a torrid romance. But Julia's deception turns dangerous and secrets from Victor's past soon threaten their fragile relationship. Murder, kidnapping, and an escape that you'll never forget. Welcome to the town of Passion.

I am happy to have had the chance to read book two in The Passion Series.

This book was even better than the first. Victor Davis, best friend to Tom and Cassie (from the first book), decides to stay in the town of Passion after stopping for a visit with his friend.

Vic, the new chief of police, is quite a hunk: tall, dark and handsome. I can see why Julia falls for him even when she tries so hard not to. He can be charming when he wants to be and he seems to be quite the lover. Vic tries so hard to not get involved with anyone – least of all someone like Julia: a young, sexy redhead.

I can understand Vic’s decision to keep his past secret since it pains him so much, but watching him learn to let go and love again is truly beautiful. The relationship between Victor and Julia is quite the lustful ride to start, quickies here and there, sneaking around, exciting as hell. The scenes get quite hot and steamy.

Julia Wilson brings much needed adventure to the town of Passion with deception and lies that soon turn dangerous. At first I agree with her motives and feel for Julia, but as the relationship moves on, her struggle with her conscience tears her heart to pieces. Can true love conquer anything?

Finding out why Victor decides to stay in Passion and why Julia is trying to find him are the things that kept me turning page after page. Plus, you get little updates on Tom and Cassie throughout the book as well.

This book could not be more suspenseful or passionate. I simply can't wait for the third book now.

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Review by Snowdrop

Monday, April 14, 2008

Review: Cursed

Cursed
by Rhianne Aile

Upon their grandmother's death, Tristan Northland and his twin, Will, come into possession of her Book of Shadows and the knowledge that their family is responsible for a centuries old curse. Determined to right the ancient wrong, Tristan sets off across the ocean to reverse the dark magic that affects the Sterling family to this day.

Benjamin Sterling might not be happy with his life, but it is predictable - at least until Tristan Northland shows up in his office, unannounced and with nowhere to stay. He has plenty of reason to distrust witches and Northlands, but instead of caution, he experiences two unexpected emotions: hope and love.

"Cursed" is another exceptional story by author Rhianne Aile. I looked forward to reading it because I know that weaving rich characters, intriguing plot lines, and sensual relationships together in exciting and emotive ways is her specialty, and she didn't disappoint me with this one.

Tristen is an engaging character; I found his tendency to babble when nervous and his habit of hugging everyone utterly charming, and his close relationship with his twin, William, heartwarming. I thought his intuitive awareness of the needs of Benjamin — and his wolf — enhanced the significance of the relationship between the two. The gradual interdependence between Benjamin and Tristen pulled me in with its stirring potency and is the provocative basis for the dramatic events throughout the story.

Werewolf by curse, Benjamin struggles with his wolf, and though he craves physical contact he can't risk losing control. He's my perfect definition of an alpha: strong, sexy and brooding, which enhanced the emotion for me when he responds so intensely to Tristen, especially his need to protect him. Even though he identifies Tristen as his mate immediately, I could feel his inner turmoil as he makes every effort to ignore the bond, not willing to chance hurting him. I was amazed by Benjamin's incredible metamorphosis — it's creative, captivating and satisfying, and Tristen's role in his transformation cements their relationship and their love.

This is one of the best werewolf romances I have ever read, and I read a lot of them. The plot is original and irresistible and left me begging for more.



Review by Chamomile

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Review: Michael Angelo

Michael Angelo
by Diane Merlin

Michael Angelo:
Ancient…immortal…powerful…jaded. Fed up with his self-appointed role as protector of all things innocent, he is determined to spend some time relaxing and enjoying the company of his dog.

Mary Grace Chapman:
A tough, competent cop who takes her job and her family seriously. With both feet firmly planted in reality, no one could be less prepared for the sexy half-angel who saves her sister in a freak accident.

When a hostage situation gone terribly wrong lands them in an alternate dimension, Mary Grace is forced to admit life might not be as cut and dried as she once believed. Especially when she realizes they’re surrounded by Were-creatures, vampires, and demons. But her determination to rescue a scared little girl leads her into a world of discovery, altering her life on many levels.

This is a fast paced tale that, once started, I couldn’t put down until I finished. If you like paranormal, this is the book for you. There are vampires, trolls, were-cats and demons just to name a few.

Mary is a forthright woman and she grabbed me right away with her independence. No one walks on her. In her foreign surroundings, I admired the way Mary handles herself. She’s out of her element but pulls from her training and I love how she easily develops relationships with unfamiliar beings. I found her determination and courage remarkable as she puts herself in dangerous situations to obtain her noble goal. But I was a little disappointed with some of the obstacles that she put in front of Mike and their relationship.

Mike is one great guy – I want him for myself! He is tall, handsome, buff and caring, and a leader of men. He has a dog, Mutt, and the connection between the two warmed my heart. Because of his parentage, he is lacking something that is precious to him and I couldn’t help but have compassion for his sorrow. I appreciated the strength of his love for Mary but I felt that he should have been more persuasive. I would have enjoyed their interactions a little more if, as an alpha male, he had been able to allay her doubts better about the two of them.

Even though they keep getting into perilous situations, the danger is frequently presented with humor that had me chuckling throughout. Michael Angelo is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure that kept me on the edge of my seat and made me smile.

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Review by Orchid