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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Carnal Interlude by Kate Hill



Carnal Interlude by Kate Hill
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal
Length: Short
Other: M/F/M, Ménage
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Dandelion

Vampires Floris and Bastian are a happily married couple. To celebrate Floris' birthday, they decide to spend a week at their vacation home deep in the country. When they arrive during a severe storm, they find they're not alone.

Marci, a young male wolf in trouble with his pack, has taken refuge in their house. Rather than toss him out in the storm, they invite him to stay and become deeply involved with this handsome wolf who is much more than what he first appears to be.

“Carnal Interlude” is a well-written, fast-paced ménage mixed with mystery. Vampires Floris and Bastian discover an injured Marci (a werewolf pack leader who’s suffered an assassination attempt on his life) and quickly decide the best medicine is some vampire-werewolf loving.

The characters and their relationships are fully developed in this short tale, and I especially enjoyed reading about Floris and Bastian’s two-hundred year marriage, which is as fiery as ever. There’s also some nice character growth on the part of all three main characters, as they discover that it’s possible for vampires and werewolves to live in harmony and defend each other against common evils.

The sex is hot and well-written, though be prepared for some graphic biting in the ménage scenes--those vampires do love to draw blood, from any body part available!

My only small complaint with this story is the fact that even though Floris and Bastian hear news that werewolf leader Marci has been attacked, when they find an unfamiliar, injured wolf in their vacation home, they never put two and two together.

That small lapse in logic aside, I really enjoyed this paranormal tale. Ms. Hill does a nice job blending well-written ménage scenes with a solid, engaging plot. I recommend “Carnal Interlude” highly!

Lunar Eclipse



Lunar Eclipse by B.J. McCall
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal
Length: Short
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries

Canon Ross seeks his birthright, to live among his mother's pack. Reluctantly received, Canon is establishing his place in the pack until he's seduced by a she-wolf.

Violet Winter's father has decided it's time for her to settle down. Violet wants to mate for love and has refused to bend to his will. Brought before the pack elders, Violet is told to choose a mate by the
conclusion of the lunar eclipse.

Sex with the unacceptable half-breed during the eclipse was an act of defiance, meant to demonstrate her independence, but the flames ignited aren't easily extinguished and Canon Ross isn't going to be a werewolf easy to dismiss.

Violet wants to marry for love, not because she needs a mate. She seems to live for defying her elders and father and takes it to the highest level with a half-breed. She thinks she has committed the most terrible sin of mating during the eclipse without consent of the elders, but actually she seems to have found her soulmate.

Canon finds love in an unexpected place, while just trying to find a place to fit in. Never completely accepted as human or were, he tries to find his roots in the were community. And he not only finds the peace and acceptance he craves, he finds it with someone he can see sharing his whole life with.

Violet and Canon share the most soul touching lovemaking. It’s like their bodies knew they were meant to be together, even when they didn’t. The reactions they have to one another are intense and almost overwhelming.

It’s great to see that what Violet really needed was for someone to stand up for her and to prove to her that she is worth losing everything for.

Violet seemed like the snobby, brat-like character that you love to hate. But once you got to know her deep dark secrets, you understand her tough exterior and motives to not wanting a mate. Canon secretly just wants a place to belong, somewhere that he is accepted and not ridiculed or feared. The two seem like an uncanny pair in the beginning.

Very well written especially the transformation scenes. I love the way you can understand their communication even while in wolf form – the ability to read what they are thinking and how they talk to one another.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bound By Magic



Bound By Magic by Amanda Cummings
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short
Other: M/F, Voyeurism
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Buttercup

Can magic and reality work together or will they be dealt a fate worse than death?

Two worlds held together by magic, the Earth realm and the realm of Aldar. Amber Moyer is a Chosen from our world. As the time draws near Samhain, Tavis, from Aldar, seeks her out in dreams. They are soul mates. Together they sustain his realm with the life giving magic of the Earth realm.

But there is evil that seeks Aldar. Will Tavis and Amber be able to overcome the evil? Or suffer the same fate as Amber's mother so many years ago?

Amber Moyer leads an ordinary almost boring life when she begins having dreams so erotic she considers the need to turn to her sex toys to quell her yearnings. Previous relationships ended in disaster, and she turned to her precious cat, Sophie, for companionship giving up on dating altogether.

The trouble is that the dreams begin to evolve as well as her lust for this very practiced dream lover. Amber begins to feel she may just be losing her mind when suddenly she is tossed into a reality that is beyond her comprehension. She is one of the Chosen, and Tavis, her dream lover, her soulmate. But is he real? Or is she losing herself in her dream world?

Things become more complicated when a Conjurer appears whose aim to enter Aldar through a portal that only Tavis and Amber can open and channel all its magic to his own realm. The Conjurer disables Tavis, and Amber must figure out how to save her lover as well not have history repeat itself and suffer his loss as her mother suffered the loss of her father so long ago.

I found myself immediately drawn into this story. The characters are well fleshed, likable, and the relationship between Tavis and Amber is hot and the emotional link between them built upon expertly. I found myself unable to put the story down wondering where this would go. The growing relationship and the discoveries Amber made each step of the way made me think the only conflict was whether she would believe in Tavis or not. Then suddenly the plot took a darker turn and the conflict became frighteningly evident. The tension built nicely, however, I thought the climax—no pun intended here, because this story is full of mons tingling satisfaction―was a tiny bit rushed and incomplete in the battle with the Conjurer. I would have liked to see a little bit more struggle. The Conjurer antagonist came across hatefully evil yet I expected him to be even more detestable.

The sex is definitely well-written and decadent. We all should have a Tavis! I loved the tenderness with which he treated Amber yet the aggressiveness of their lust and need for each other.

The only other thing I noticed was missing punctuation throughout, but I have to say, to the typical reader this would probably be a moot point and go virtually unnoticed, the love scenes are that encompassing. Overall, this is one amazingly lusty read. Amanda Cummings has done her job with this story.

Dream Strokes



Dream Strokes by Desiree Holt
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Yarrow

Subliminal suggestion or the magic of love...Who is this man invading Erin Sullivan dreams, the lover who plays her body like a musical instrument, who knows exactly how to make love to her, to draw out her responses, to take her to unbelievably sensual heights? Is he real or just a figment of her imagination?

Dallas Clark wonders the same thing, as each night a raven-haired beauty infiltrates his dreams, giving her body freely, taking him to sensual planes he's never achieved before. And why does she seem so familiar?

This “dream lover” fantasy is hot. It's also a tightly written short story. With this format, writer Desiree Holt understands that she has to establish her characters quickly: Erin Sullivan, co-owner of an accounting firm, caught her fiancé in the act with another woman, and Dallas Clark, an injured Navy SEAL, found out that his girlfriend wasn't interested in sticking around during his lengthy recuperation. While renting cottages by the beach to get away from their broken relationships, both Erin and Dallas begin experiencing vivid sexual dreams with phantom lovers, dreams so real they wake up feeling the after effects of their lover's touch.

Desiree Holt's love scenes are highly descriptive and explicit, a warning to those who do not enjoy carnal language, and an invitation to those who like their toes curled by heavy sensuality. Holt manages to create a fine balance between the highly erotic and the delicately magical, with both Erin and Dallas not only sharing dreams, but the residual impact of a painting they have both seen: a huge watercolour featuring a merman that shares a striking physicality to Dallas and a water nymph that bears a remarkable resemblance to Erin.

Erin and Dallas get off to a rocky start when they meet on the beach, which makes the reader want to shout, “You're in each other's dreams! You're meant to be together!” But there has to be some reality to this magical erotic romance, and bruised hearts need some time to mend before Erin and Dallas can wake up and discover each other. Lucky for the reader, Desiree Holt demonstrates that she knows exactly how to finish a story without it feeling rushed or incomplete. Dream Strokes is an enchanting, satisfying read with appealing characters and engaging imagery

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Deep Breathing



Deep Breathing by Darcy Campbell (Second story of two in an anthology)
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short
Other: F/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Dandelion

DEEP BREATHING brings us a tale of romance lost and fantasies found. Distance has dampened Sheila's love life for too long. In the hopes of rekindling their romance, she surprises her life partner Diane with plans for a romantic getaway. But, Diane has plans of her own -- she's moving out.

Taking a friend's advice, Sheila follows through with the vacation plans and comes face-to-face with a waking dream: Abbie, one of the resort's scuba instructors. Abbie's got a technique to help Sheila overcome more than her claustrophobia...

This very short story takes place on a lush beach resort, a perfect setting for heroine Shelia to recover from a breakup. When she meet scuba instructor Abbie, it’s only a matter of time before the two women connect both emotionally and physically. I enjoyed the way in which this sexual pairing took place: mostly underwater, at first. Abbie is a patient teacher and uses unique techniques to encourage Shelia to get over her claustrophobia and fear of diving under the surface. The two have a couple of intense physical encounters, yet when it’s time to leave the resort, a twist of sorts opens new possibilities for their future together.

There really isn’t any significant conflict in this story of female loving. And unfortunately, I found the plot “twist” at the end a little too convenient. Overall it’s a simple tale, but the characters are sweet and the sex is well written. If you’re looking for a quick, light read that features some hot girl-on-girl sex, then “Deep Breathing” should do the trick.

Twisted Reality



Twisted Reality by Darcy Campbell (First story of two in an anthology)
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short
Other: F/F, F/F/F ménage, BDSM
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Dandelion

In TWISTED REALITY, Jodi is trapped in a ten-year loveless marriage with an abusive husband. Jodi's only friend, Christine, becomes her rock, refuge and salvation. After a horrible car crash, Jodi ends up in the hospital. She wakes to find herself in a new life -- she's Christine's lesbian life partner, and the owner of a successful business. How can she find her way in this new reality? And what happens if she has to go back?

In this short novella, main character Jodi finds herself awakening after a car accident to discover that her previous life as an unhappy, oppressed housewife has been replaced. She’s now a super-successful interior designer, expecting a baby with her lesbian lover of seven years, Christine. The majority of this story centers on Jodi’s slow rediscovery of her present life, which includes multiple sessions of hot lesbian love-making, both with Christine and, later when Christine’s pregnancy prevents them from being together, ménage scenes with a score of other female lovers.

The sex scenes here are very hot and very well-written. The interplay between all the participants is always believable, and the way in which Jodi rediscovers her sexuality is powerful. The story is framed, however, by her recollections of her past life with husband Roger--but readers don’t really know if that life ever really existed. When Jodi is involved in a second car accident, it seems as though her new reality might shift again--but again the plot surprises us, and not necessarily in a good way. Relying on the tried-and-true amnesia plot device is fine, but the details of what came before should be clearer than they are, here.

I also wasn’t crazy about the way in which Roger, the only male in the story, is portrayed: he’s the complete negative stereotype of the domineering male who’s emotionally abusive toward his wife. One-dimensional and easy to hate, he’s a cardboard male villain in this celebration of female loving. I think the author could have been more generous and creative in her development of him.

Overall, this story’s strengths lie in the heat of its sex scenes. For that reason alone, if you’re a fan of female ménage stories, “Twisted Reality” won’t disappoint.

Sin is Not a Four-Letter Word



Sin is Not a Four-Letter Word by Aliyah Burke
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure
Length: Full
Other: M/F, Multiple Partners
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Yarrow



A mercenary, the lover who betrayed her, and a second chance, can they make it work?

Standing six-three with a strong body, golden-brown eyes, dark brown hair with both blondish and red highlights, half Native American, half Caucasian Mace Dylan was one of the best agents the Global Defense Squad, or GDS, had ever seen. He'd given his life to the GDS for the past thirteen years, and though his looks ensured him he would never be lacking in more amorous missions, he'd only ever loved one woman. Sinjin.

Standing five-six with dark brown skin, dark, chocolaty eyes, and straight, jet black hair, Sinjin was filled with the lean muscles of the elite mercenary she was. She was also a computer genius, and there wasn't a weapon or vehicle she couldn't operate. It also made her dangerous, and when she is implicated in a high- profile case the GDS was operating, Mace made the crucial mistake of choosing his job over her. That choice landed her in an Icelandic prison for the next six years. What happens when Mace must face her and convince her to help the one person who had betrayed her the most—himself? Is there anyway that Mace can make Sinjin forgive him and possibly give them another chance? Can she find a way to save his life in time? Will she ever realize her own worth and learn that…Sin Is Not A Four Letter Word.

I loved this book so much I didn’t want it to end. Sin is Not a Four-Letter Word is the perfect blend of erotic romance and adventure. The book opens with Mace tracking a suspect in Russia. We see the take down, the interrogation and we’re introduced to Mace’s team, headed by the tall, tough, blonde, Sonia. The frigid atmosphere continues as we follow the reluctant, but determined, Mace to Iceland and the cold, no-nonsense fortress where Sinjin is being held. When we meet Sinjin, hardened from her life as the only woman in the harsh prison compound, we understand her survival instincts and her hatred of Mace, but we also see that she is a perfect match for her hard-as-steel ex-lover, and we want them to get together—fast!

I usually hate reunion romances, with their tedious flashbacks and never-ending dialogue about the past, but writer Aliyah Burke cuts through all that by revealing aspects of her characters’ past through their thoughts in the present. She also quickens the rhythm of the book with a well-paced adventure that moves Mace and Sinjin from country to country, placing them in interesting settings, and building the sexual tension between them so that we are anticipating a consummation in every new scene. Burke also allows the settings to mirror the escalating heat between Mace and Sinjin—from the colder climes to the Caribbean and the arid desert of the southwestern United States. The locations heat up and so do Mace and Sinjin.

In and out of bed Mace and Sinjin are one sizzling couple. His vulnerability, his anguish over his past betrayal makes Mace a very appealing hero. Sinjin’s unapologetic, kick-ass attitude is very refreshing and certain scenes make me want to cheer. She is Mace’s equal, and he knows and respects her abilities, which make us love him even more.

Some readers might be put off by the fact that Mace and Sinjin each had lovers in the book, however, the chemistry between the two is so strong and they are so well-matched that you won’t be able to put this book down. Their respective lovers are also intriguing: one strong, beautiful, and brilliant, the other strong, handsome and mysterious. Is there a story about them in the works? If so, I’m dying to read it. In the mean time, I’ll have to buy a copy of Sin is Not a Four-Letter word. This one’s a keeper.