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Friday, January 9, 2009

Nine Lives by Melinda Barron



Nine Lives by Melinda Barron
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story
Other: M/F, M/F/M, M/M, Menage
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

Cat shifter Ophelia Brown lives a nomadic life. She travels from town to town, dancing at clubs, and trying to help others with the money her parents left her. But when she gets to Denver things change.

Club owner Conner Riley is very attracted to his new dancer. He and his boyfriend, Fox Nichols, have always appreciated the female form, especially O’s. But when strange things start happening to O, it’s up to Conner and Fox, a private detective, to figure out what’s happening before their shifter loses any more of her nine lives.

I enjoyed this story of shape-shifters and attempted murder by Ms. Barron. I found myself enthralled by not only the storyline but by the character of Ophelia.

Ophelia reminded me a little of an eccentric millionaire. She is so kind and is always trying to help out others. When you look at her, she appears to be just a regular working stiff but she is anything but. Not only is most of her money given to others, she personally assists those in need. I understand Ophelia's need to move frequently but I found the reason given for relocating every six months to lack some credibility. Ophelia likes to dance and works as a stripper in a club owned by Connor. This further adds to her character’s eccentricity.

Connor is a very sexy boss who Ophelia is quite taken with. Unfortunately for her, he has a boyfriend named Fox who is a private investigator. This turns out to be a very good thing when attempts are made on Ophelia’s life. Fox tries to unravel the mystery that is Ophelia.

The story had me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it. I enjoyed the who done it aspect and loved the sexual encounters, which had me fanning myself to keep from overheating.

All in all, I found Nine Lives a very hot story that I know I’ll be picking up to read again and again.

Gingersnaps: Christmas Knight by Alecia Monaco



Gingersnaps: Christmas Knight by Alecia Monaco
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Dandelion

It’s Christmas Eve, and a blizzard has struck the war-torn land of Amberlyn. Nox Blackthorne, a noble knight, wounded in battle against the repressive forces of the new regime, seeks refuge at the only light in the storm: a solitary cottage set on a snow-covered hill.

Marisol St. Claire is a witch, an expert in the ways of sexual healing now outlawed by the new regime. While she’s willing to shelter the wounded knight and share her Christmas Eve with him, she’s reluctant to heal him for fear of being reported and imprisoned. But soon, more than a need to heal overcomes them both…

Reading this short story is the perfect way to spend a winter afternoon, lost in a fantasy setting with two characters from another world. Marisol and Nox both resist the “new regime” of the kingdom in which they live, so it’s no wonder they are drawn together on a snowy Christmas Eve. And it’s only a matter of time before the witch in Marisol wants to use her forbidden powers to make the injured Nox well again. Their “healing” encounter, intermingled with some highly satisfying love-making, provides the perfect happy ending to this short tale.

Both main characters are well written, though I’ll admit to liking Allistair, Marisol’s talking feline companion, the best of all, for his wit and intuition! The setting, though briefly described, is vivid and appealing. In fact, my only small problem with this story is that Marisol’s healing lies more in providing sexual pleasure than mixing any of the herbs and potions she has lying around the house. If this story were longer, the author might have been able to develop the witch side of her character a bit more.

Overall, however, “Christmas Knight” is a charming holiday story with a perfect happy ever after!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Pirate's Hellion by Jaden Sinclair



A Pirate's Hellion by Jaden Sinclair
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story
Other: M/F, Anal Sex, Forced Seduction
Rating: 3.5 Books
Review by Hibiscus

His by the turn of a card. Hers after a turn of a heart.

Lost in a card game, Isabella's life was a debt her father refused to pay. But for two years, Captain Dantel Le Serpente has hunted for the prize he was denied. One look at Isabella turns the heat of vengeance into searing passion.

Snake has a score to settle with the man who cheated him out of his winnings, but now that he's claimed his booty all bets are off. Games of cards forgotten, love is a gamble a pirate and his hellion may be willing to take.

Warning, this title contains explicit sex, graphic language.

I found A Pirate’s Hellion to be a pretty good story that I felt was more in the line of a movie script. Let me explain my reasoning for this determination. A Pirate’s Hellion is a good concept. Man loses daughter in a card game to a pirate. Man runs off with daughter. Pirate finds daughter and steals her away. Pirate marries daughter. Daughter escapes. Pirate and daughter are reunited by relatives. A very good plot. It has love, lust and spice. But the good plot is affected by the fact it takes the pirate three years to find the daughter and when he does, he doesn’t ravage her as one would expect. No. He dances to her tune and marries her before he does anything to her, by the priest who is conveniently also a pirate onboard ship.

Again, I liked the book. The sex was very hot and not what I typically find in this type of story. It kept me bouncing between light romantic comedy and hot and heavy slightly Dom pirate story.

When I looked at the story as just a sexy read and didn’t place too much emphasis on the details, I enjoyed this tale of a pirate and his poker-win hellion.

Edge of the Storm by Jennifer McKenzie



Edge of the Storm by Jennifer McKenzie
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press Torrid
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Lilac

On the run for crimes he didn't commit, Coast Guard Petty Officer Matthew Sands comes home to Dutch Harbor to find the truth. Signing on to a crab fishing boat was supposed to hide him out until he could clear his name; instead he finds even more trouble, in the form of one Kelly Shannon.

Kelly is looking for her own answers. She's on the hunt for a killer who robbed her of the first, and only, man she's ever loved. What she finds on The Athena is more questions than answers - and Matthew Sands.

With the passion between them as wild as the terrain, can Kelly and Matt work together to uncover a ruthless killer? Or will the murderer find them first?

On the edge of the storm, survival is far from guaranteed.

Edge of the Storm is a highly suspenseful story about Matthew Sands, a member of the coast guard, who is accused of murder and being part of a diamond smuggling ring. As he and others work to find the truth and uncover the killer, Matt seeks refuge aboard The Athena, a crab fishing boat in Alaska. There he meets Kelly Shannon, the cook of the boat. Kelly is seeking answers of her own after learning of her first love’s murder…answers that seem to be tied to Matt’s problems. As they work and live in the close quarters of The Athena, Matt and Kelly cannot deny the attraction they feel for one another, but as trouble finds Matt, the couple find themselves on the run for their lives in the Alaskan wilderness.

This story was definitely a page-turner that I enjoyed a great deal. I found myself anticipating what would happen next as Matt and his friends worked to uncover the truth and enjoyed the little unexpected events the author threw into the story. They definitely kept this reader on her toes.

As for the characters, I really felt for the hero of this story. Matt was a fascinating character whose pride has kept him away from his home and those who loved him for a long time. I admired his protective instincts when it came to Kelly as he longed to both keep her safe and to keep her by his side…two things he didn’t think went together. Matt didn’t feel he was good enough for Kelly and tried pushing her away, but Kelly was a great character full of determination and spunk and Matt didn’t stand a chance against her. The tension between the two was obvious from their very first encounter and it was only a matter of time before they gave in to their mutual attraction. Despite Matt’s gruff exterior, he was very much a sweetheart and that was demonstrated in a touching scene toward the end.

This is the second in Ms. McKenzie’s Men of Alaska series, but having not read the first I did not feel lost at all reading this one. It stands alone quite well, but I do admit that it did make me curious about the first book, Heart of the Storm. And I am definitely curious to see what happens next as there were a couple of loose ends left in this one.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gingersnaps: Cupid by Sierra DaFoe



Gingersnaps: Cupid by Sierra DaFoe
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Holiday
Length: Short
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

Cold and heartless, thoughtless boy
Who’s never felt that which you destroy…


Cursed by a witch over a practical joke, Cupid is doomed to centuries of life as a reindeer, unable to be freed until he falls in love. But how likely is that to ever happen, when all anyone sees when they look at him is a reindeer?

For Mercy Devers, all anyone sees when they look at her is the scar marring half her face, left by the fire which claimed her parents' life. Ashamed of her disfigurement, she lives as a recluse, only creeping out at night to wander the town where she grew up.

Until one Christmas Eve when she spies an ice sculpture in the town square. An ice sculpture of a reindeer so beautiful it takes her breath away…

Gingersnaps: Cupid continues Ms. DaFoe’s stories of Santa’s reindeer. Cupid is the real Cupid, god of love and beauty, son of Venus (Aphrodite) and Jupiter (Zeus). Unfortunately, he liked to play jokes. When one backfires on him, a witch curses Cupid to live as a blind and helpless beast until by mercy’s touch he be released.

Mercy Devers is a beautiful woman who was disfigured by a fire when she was young. She almost never goes out as she is ashamed of her looks. Until on Christmas Eve, she is almost compelled to leave her home. I could feel the fear in Mercy as she walked by the church and her joy at the ice sculptures in the Town Square.

I felt the range of emotions in Cupid by the detailed descriptions that Ms. DaFoe writes. I could visualize myself standing next to Cupid in the square as Mercy cried over his perfection and his solitude.

As Cupid went with Mercy to her home and found joy being with her, my heart sang that two people who were so meant to be together could possibly find love with each other.

But remember, this is a story of a curse, a witch crossed, the god of love, mercy found and Christmas magic. I enjoyed how Ms. DaFoe intertwined all these parts in a very fluid story that warmed my heart and my soul and has me looking for the tales featuring the rest of Santa’s reindeer.

Dark Dichotomy: Mistress by Aubrey Ross



Dark Dichotomy 2: Mistress by Aubrey Ross
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short
Other: Mild BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Ménage
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Eglantine

Determined to find her missing niece, Lark Emery follows the clues to Napa Valley. Aidan finds the stunning blonde poking her nose into matters that don’t concern her and decides to use her in his revenge plot against the Burton brothers. He manipulates her perception with erotic dreams and false memories then sets her in the path of Evan Burton.

Evan immediately senses deception in Lark. She’s desirable and willing, but something holds him back. He’s unsettled, yet aroused, so he looks into her mind and sees her locked in a passionate embrace with his enemy. Unsure if she is Aidan’s willing spy or another of his victims, Evan takes her to his secluded estate for an erotic interrogation.

Finally convinced of Lark’s innocence, Evan isn’t sure how to protect her without revealing the secrets of his race. His obsessive attraction to her is a complication he can’t afford with a Dark Dichotomy on the loose.

Lark Emery has no idea what’s happened to her beloved niece. The man who helps her find out, Aidan Nicholson, makes her feel uncomfortable. She doesn’t know it, but she has good reason to fear him. Aidan is more than he seems, more than she could guess.

So are his enemies, the Burton brothers.

Who are the good guys, and who’s bad? Who’s on her side? In this well-written tale Ms Ross takes us on a journey with Lark to find out the answers to those questions. It turns out the good guys are very good indeed, especially in bed...or wherever else they happen to decide to show off their very special talents.

With a brand new kind of paranormal hero, this story was a good read indeed. The pace is fast enough to keep you turning pages, the sex--um--satisfying, and the editor did his/her job well enough for the reader not to be yanked from the suspension of disbelief by an irritating typo or spelling mistake. If you’re tired of vampires, were-whatevers and so on, this story is for you. Well worth the cover price.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Spaceport: Juiced by Mary Winter



Spaceport: Juiced by Mary Winter
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short
Other: M/F, M/F/M, M/M, Ménage, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Lilac

Tomak thinks his partner, Zaiden, is full of shit. His lover has brought him to Spaceport to meet some guru reported to heal addictions through meditation. Tomak doesn’t believe he has a problem, but an ultimatum by his manager has him agreeing to Zaiden’s crazy plan. Except the guru isn’t some ancient old man, she’s the hottest woman Tomak has seen since the groupies at the last TriZ tournament. And she’s making him meditate naked with her for eight hours a day. The cure may kill him, if his addiction doesn’t do it first.

Ioanne accepts Zaiden’s proposal to help his lover only because they grew up together as spaceport brats. And, she’s kind of always had a crush on him. But when she meets Zaiden’s lover, she realizes his perfect male body lends itself too well to her naked meditation therapy. It doesn’t take long for Ioanne to find that she’s the one with the bad habit -- them.

In this smoldering read, TriZ star athlete, Tomak has been given an ultimatum: end his addiction to Styng, a steroid and stimulant with a little something extra, or his career is over. His partner, Zaiden, has brought him to see his old friend, Ioanne, who has had success in helping others overcome addictions through meditation. What happens next surprises all three of them as they find a connection they weren’t expecting as together they each help one another heal and deal with pent-up emotions.

While this book provides readers with a wonderful and hot relationship featuring Tomak, Zaiden, and Ioanne, what really stood out to me were the emotions that the characters experience as they each struggle with internal demons. Tomak must deal with his addiction and career and how both have affected his life and those around him while Zaiden struggles with his feelings for Ioanne and the pain that Tomak’s behaviors have caused him. Ioanne has overcome addictions to sex, drugs, and alcohol and now helps others through her interesting meditation methods. The arrival of Zaiden, her one-time crush, and Tomak shatters her calm and she struggles with the feelings they both stir in her…feelings she thought she had suppressed. Each character struggles internally, but they draw strength from one another.

With its characters, this story provides a fascinating look at overcoming addictions in an interesting way and with the support of those who care for you. I loved how supportive and loving all three of the characters were and found their relationship interesting. With their imperfections and flaws, they were fascinating characters and really helped make the story enjoyable.

I also found that Tomak’s story kind of paralleled athletes and the use of steroids in today’s society, which added a realness to this futuristic romance. I did wonder a bit about what the sport of TriZ was as it was never really explained yet many references were made to the sport. Other than that, I felt this was a very well done story that I enjoyed a great deal.

A Psychic Hitch by Bekki Lynn



A Psychic Hitch by Bekki Lynn
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Lilac

Cheri London's lured to Florida by a man she'd met online. He agreed to help her conceive the child she wants under her terms, but it was the sexual promises that drew her to take the plane south.

Darius Allen Markum's gut feeling has him accepting the odd deal of an older woman. He's convinced sex and a baby hinge on the love of the man she doesn't want and sets out to prove it to her. However, a missed email alters the way in which they meet.

Frustrated, Cheri kicked the sand and cut her foot. The hot, young man who comes to her aid does more than doctor her up. His hands, his fingers, his mouth, even his cock manage what no other man has. Scared to death of the way her body reacted and the connection she didn't want to feel, she hightailed it back to Illinois.

In this hot, yet sweet read, after seeing a psychic, Cheri London decides to fulfill her dream of having a child and places an online ad looking for a donor. Despite her hesitancy about meeting potential donor, Darius Markum, she nevertheless heads to Florida. After waiting and waiting at the restaurant for him to show, she comes to the conclusion that she was stood up. When she is injured walking along the beach, she is rescued by the handsome Allen, a young doctor who seems to be hiding something.

Cheri finds herself revealing her plan to be a single mother to Allen and soon the two share a night of passion but, scared by her feelings for Allen, Cheri leaves for home without saying goodbye determined never to see him again. Regardless of Cheri's planes, Allen is determined that one night isn't enough and sets out to make Cheri see that they belong together. Things grow complicated as their relationship progresses, and Allen fears what will happen when she discovers his secret.

This was a good read filled with a few twists and wonderful characters. I especially loved the character of Allen. A single father, Allen has longed for a companion and partner since his wife died. He believes he's found that in Cheri and sets out to prove to it to her by attempting to sweep her off her feet in several romantic ways that left me smiling. While he didn’t initially set out to deceive her, he still worries about hurting her and what will happen once she discovers the truth. I couldn’t help but root for him as the story progressed and found myself falling for him as Cheri did.

Cheri is also an interesting character and more is revealed about her and her past with each page, but there is quite a bit of mystery surrounding her. She is haunted by her past and she lets that influence a lot of her actions and beliefs, but that is not immediately clear to the reader so I was a bit confused by some of her behavior. But her relationship with Allen came across as real and believable and the two definitely share a chemistry and passion that is obvious.

While I did like the book, I do feel the last part of the story was a bit rushed, but it didn’t take away from my pleasure of reading the story. From the interesting psychic encounter at the beginning to the touching final scene, overall this was a very enjoyable book.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Escape to Love by Lindsay Townsend



Escape to Love by Lindsay Townsend
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand Publishing
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: Short
Other: M/F, BDSM
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Daisy

Severus is a slave, dragged from the fields to an uncertain future. Warned to expect no mercy from a mysterious young woman who comes to him in the night, he learns that his natural father is his owner, Calvus, and that he has a half-brother, Thallus.

Thallus has no sexual interest in women but he is desperate for an heir. Severus and Thallus' sexy young wife Lydia, whom Severus recognizes as the mystery woman who warned him, are sent to the family palace at Baiae and expected to breed.

Lydia, used to an unconsummated, loveless marriage, is intrigued by the handsome Severus and appalled by her husband's and father-in-law's treatment of him. She finds herself anticipating their lovemaking. She also wants to help Severus to escape because she knows that once he has served his purpose, Thallus and Calvus will never let him live.

They have just a month to escape.

Lydia is the second wife of Thallus, but is childless because he is not attracted to women. Her father-in-law has conveniently arranged for her to have an affair with a slave to have an heir. After being rejected by her husband, she was looking forward to taking her first lover.

Severus was sold into slavery to pay for his stepfather’s gambling debt, but unbeknownst to him, his real father was Calvus. He was a hardworking Gaul, brought from the fields so that he could act as a stud to his sister-in-law and carry on the blood line.

Lydia came to Severus one night, to warn him that her father-in-law would kill him once she was pregnant. As a woman she had few rights of her own, and was kept a prisoner in her own home, but she planned to escape with her new lover. Their plans end abruptly when they are caught in a lover’s tryst by Thallus.

It's very clear that the author did her research, and knows her facts about the Roman Empire. I found those little details she incorporated about everyday life fascinating and they greatly enriched the plot. Parts of this story were laugh out loud funny, and others were just how I like my romance: Hot. Thanks to Lindsay Townsend, I will never look at spanking the same again. I highly enjoyed, and greatly recommend Escape to Love!

Flashbangs & Nightsticks by Jillian Hallowell



Flashbangs & Nightsticks by Jillian Hallowell
Publisher: Carnal Passions Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full
Other: M/F, bondage
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Lilac



Port City Police Officer Kasey Shea loves her job and she’s good at it, but when too many complaints about her aggressive behavior pile up, she is reassigned to the hooker patrol. The only problem is Kasey doesn’t own a dress, much less know how to entice a man with her feminine charms.

Dusty “Detroit” Grant is tasked by DEA to discover how drugs are being transported into New England. His only lead, a hooker who breaks all the rules. Dusty and Kasey team up and Dusty’s priority seems to be keeping Kasey safe at all costs. For Kasey the assignment boils down to whether she can play her girly role long enough to impress her Lieutenant and to prove to herself that sometimes it takes more than a flashbang and a nightstick to get the job done.

After too many complaints about her aggressive behavior, police officer Kasey Shea is transferred to “hooker patrol.” However, this tomboy has no clue about acting female and must learn how to dress and behave more like a woman, which results in some interesting encounters with the males in her life. While on duty, sparks fly between Kasey and undercover DEA agent, Dusty Grant. However, neither realizes the other’s true identity. Once the discovery is made the two team up as they grow closer and explore their mutual attraction. Kasey and Dusty’s investigations bring them together and deeper into the world of prostitution and drugs. And soon Dusty realizes that he’ll do anything to keep Kasey safe and by his side.

Flashbangs & Nightsticks is a intriguing story featuring great characters and an interesting plot. Dusty and Kasey are a great couple whose chemistry is obvious. It was fun to read as the two interacted before they discovered each other’s true identities. Kasey thought that Dusty was a drug dealer while Dusty thought Kasey was a prostitute. Despite their misconceptions, they still felt an attraction to one another and struggled with what to do about it. Once the truth was revealed, they continued to face a battle as they now had no excuses for not getting involved, but remained reluctant. With its many ups-and-downs, their relationship fascinated me.

I loved the character of Kasey, who despite her strength and toughness has insecurities about herself. She was a fascinating individual determined to protect herself and those she cared about. She definitely wasn’t a meek woman, but she did, on occasion, demonstrate a softer side. I felt this was well done and consistent to the character.

In addition to the wonderful romance, the plot involving prostitution and drugs really kept my attention as I wondered how it would work out in the end. Overall, Flashbangs & Nightsticks is a fascinating read.