Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Rogue Warriors 2: Soldier by Marie Treanor



Rogue Warriors 2: Soldier by Marie Treanor
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Length: Short (71 pgs)
Type: M/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Dandelion

Deep in a civilian prison in the heart of Dome City lies prisoner of war Sergeant Tanya Blake -- the West’s secret weapon. Difficult, aggressive, and uncooperative, she bides her time, determined to escape. She is an enigma to her captors, who can’t understand how or why her brain has been altered, but fearing the result, they call in a powerful Dragul mind-specialist, Sorin.

From the beginning, Tanya knows Sorin is different from all her other interrogators. Attracted to his gorgeous, leather-clad body, repelled by the power of his mind as it invades hers, her desires hover between sex and murder.

After two attempts on Sorin’s life, Tanya’s captors know she must be eliminated for political reasons. Only Sorin understands her fear and her terrible struggle against the controls imposed on her mind. Can he heal her before one of them is murdered, or before she kills herself trying to escape?

This story is the second in a series, and while it stands alone fairly well, I wish I’d read the first so that I had a better idea of the fantasy world in which Tanya and Sorin live. These two characters are both strong and complex, so when they come together, the heat and lust explodes. And because Sorin is half-human, half-Dragul (dragon) he’s off-the-charts hot!

To be honest, though, I had difficulty following this story. There’s a lot going on, with minor characters whose roles aren’t always clear. I wish the complexities of Tanya’s capture, her threat to the city, and the eventual “compulsion” that Sorin heals her of were better developed. Even at the story’s end, when we find out who altered Tanya’s mind, we don’t meet that villain and he doesn’t suffer any consequences – I assume because the story is going to continue in the third book of the series.

The sex scenes here are hot, and I liked the elements of mind control and telepathy. Sorin especially is a character I’d like to see more of. If you’re a fan of fantasy, then I recommend looking up this author and reading the first story in this series before moving on to “Rogue Warriors 2: Soldier.”

Obsessed by KZ Snow



Obsessed by KZ Snow
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short
Other: M/F, M/M
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Lilac

After nearly six hundred and sixty years, Adin Swift is dreaming again.

As a vampire, he slept like the dead. Now that he’s reverted to mortality, vivid dreams surface every night to torment him. And the most disturbing ones involve his best friend, Jackson Spey.

It was their “otherness” that drew them together ten years earlier -- two extraordinary men living outside the mainstream, one a bright and beautiful vampire, one a cynical and handsome wizard. Their unique bond took on more dimensions than either was willing to acknowledge. Until now.

Realizing he can no longer ignore the desire that’s been simmering for a decade, Adin must face the heart-wrenching fact that he’s in love with two people: the woman to whom he’s committed and the man he can’t seem to live without. Two confrontations ensue over the course of one explosive weekend, and they will forever alter three people’s lives…

In this hot read, despite his wonderful relationship with Celia, former vampire Adin finds himself attracted to his good friend, Jackson, a wizard who once saved Adin’s life. Adin and Celia share a very honest and open relationship so when he reveals his dilemma to her she encourages him to pursue Jackson and see can be between the two men. Jackson, reluctant to believe that Celia would be that understanding, resists Adin’s offer and flirtation at first, but soon the men cannot deny the strong attraction and relationship that exists between them.

This is one scorching read as the relationship between Jackson and Adin heats up the pages. I really enjoyed the scorching scenes between them and enjoyed learning more about these characters. Jackson and his abilities as a wizard fascinated me. I would have loved to seen more of Celia as she seemed like an interesting character who was very understanding and open when it came to Adin’s feelings for Jackson, but despite that this was a good read with wonderful characters.

Down and Dirty: Wild Card by Moira Rogers



Wild Card by Moira Rogers
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short (63 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Spanking
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Lilac



As alpha of the Lonely River Pack, Jack Owens is responsible for keeping the peace between what’s left of the human population and the wolves who have taken over since the War. All wolves are his responsibility, even the ones who don’t necessarily recognize his authority, like Virginia Howard. Ginny’s been a thorn in Jack’s side since she took over her parents’ operation and established herself as one of the area’s premier ranchers. The fact that she’s everything he wants in a mate makes it hard to stay away from her… but any good hunter knows how to bide his time.

Ginny fights hard to maintain her independence from men, human and werewolf alike. When a group of angry wolves, determined to see her submit, threaten her operation, she’s forced to accept Jack’s assistance. But in saving her ranch, Ginny runs the risk of losing something far greater -- her heart.

Wild Card is the start to what promises to be an interesting series about a group of werewolves who have survived a technological war in the future. Taking place in the future, the story features Jack Owens, the alpha of the Lonely River Pack whose responsibility is to keep the peace between the humans and the wolves in this post-war community. However, his job is made difficult by Virginia Howard, a rancher who is determined to maintain her independence and separates herself from the pack. Jack knows that Ginny is what he is looking for in a mate and finds it hard to stay away from her. When a group of wolves threatens her ranch she has no choice but to accept his assistance.

While this story takes place in the future, it almost has a historical western feel to it, which is something I really enjoyed. If not for some references made to technology, I might not have even known it took place in the future. I found this world fascinating and couldn’t wait to learn more about it and the people (or wolves) that inhabited it.

I also enjoyed the relationship between Jack and Ginny as I felt they were a perfect match for one another. I enjoyed the wit of their interactions and the chemistry that they share. In addition to these fabulous characters, the author also provides us with interesting secondary characters who help to make the story stronger.

Everything about this story was extremely well done from the setting to the characters to the plot. I became lost in this fascinating world and didn’t want to leave. I have no qualms about recommending this one as I enjoyed every minute of reading it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

No Ordinary Holiday by Marty Rayne



No Ordinary Holiday by Marty Rayne
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal
Length: Short (12k words)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, M/M, Ménage, Voyeurism
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Lilac

As a descendent of Kris Kringle, a.k.a. Santa Claus, Devyn Rhodes has been bestowed with special abilities her family has coined as "the gift." Only her late husband and those of blood relation has ever given her reprieve from the flashes and noise that surrounds her. That is, until Cam and Jacob come knocking on her door. The silence aside, her unusual attraction to both men is almost overwhelming as the gift can be.

What’s a woman to do when she’s snowed in with two arousing men and lust comes calling?

Who knew that Jack Frost, Cupid, the Tooth Fairy, and Mother Nature were matchmakers?

In this delightful tale, this group of unusual matchmakers conspires with Santa Claus’s assistant to bring love and happiness to Devyn Rhodes, a descendant of Kris Kringle, but things don’t quite turn out as they expected. Gifted with a special ability, only her deceased husband and blood relatives can help Devyn calm her “gift.” So she is surprised when Cam and Jacob, two men looking for artwork for some cabins they own, appear at her home and her “gift” subsides.

Cam and Jacob have been friends for a long time. Both have feelings for the other, but neither has said anything. Meeting Devyn changes everything as their mutual attraction to the young mother surprises and confuses the bisexual males. And when a unexpected winter storm strands the three together, they all find a passion that is hard to ignore as feelings are revealed.

This passionate story fascinated me from the very beginning. I really enjoyed the chemistry between the three main characters. All three are well-developed characters with their own quirks and personalities that work well together just as they would in real life. I could sense all three’s confusion and doubts about their unusual relationship, which I thought helped to make the situation easier to buy as they didn’t jump into things without considering everything.

I especially liked the character of Devyn and found her “gift” interesting. She worries that there won’t be room for her in a relationship between the two men who have known each other for a long time and I could understand her doubt and concerns.

The inclusion of well-known figures such as Mother Nature and Cupid, really helped add some humor and a nice light-hearted touch to this story.

No Ordinary Holiday is no ordinary story!

Gingersnaps: Canine Cop by B. J. McCall



Gingersnaps: Canine Cop by B.J. McCall
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal
Length: Short (26 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewer Flower Name: Lilac

Tas Rivers is working undercover as a canine cop to capture the culprits killing rare, endangered white wolves. Tas can handle the job, but living with her sexy human partner is getting to be more than she can endure.

Alone for holiday, with only his partner for company, Ranger Cooper Holt makes a Christmas wish, one Santa is unlikely to deliver.

Sometimes you get what you wish for.

In this quick and fun read, working with a canine partner to find poachers who are killing endangered wolves, Ranger Cooper Holt doesn’t realize that there is more to his partner than meets the eye. So needless to say he is a bit surprised to wake up to find that she is actually a shapeshifter working undercover. Even in her animal-form, Tas Rivers found her partner attractive, an attraction that was growing more difficult for her. Having no choice but to reveal her true form after her partner suffers an accident, she only hopes that Cooper doesn’t hate her for her deception.

This was a great read laced with humor and a nice romance between a man and man’s best friend. I really enjoyed the chemistry and relationship that Cooper and Tas share. They bonded when she was an animal so while learning the truth is a lot for him to adjust to, they already share a relationship which could serve as the foundation for something more. There were several moments throughout the story where I found myself smiling as Cooper realizes just how much this lovely woman knows about him as he didn’t hide much from what he thought was a dog.

If you are a fan of fun romances and you are looking for a quick and enjoyable read, I’d recommend this one!

A Hot Day In Heaven by Kathleen Scott



A Hot Day In Heaven by Kathleen Scott
Publisher: The Wilder Roses
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short (140 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Lilac

Bad things always seem to come in threes, or so Sonia St. Marie discovers as she is kicked out of her apartment during a blizzard, her job teaching art classes at an adult center gets cut and she catches her boyfriend in bed with her best friend. Needless to say, it’s not been the best of days. That is, until Archer DeAngelo shows up in his black SUV, smelling of exotic spices and evoking a head full of sensual fantasies.

For years, Archer has been the distraction in the back of Sonia’s mind, tempting her to wonder about his decadent lifestyle and the women he’s pleasured. Just looking at him makes her dream of all the things she wants to do with him, and now that she’s free from her philandering boyfriend, Gabriel, there’s nothing to stand in her way.

Seeing Sonia’s distress at her homeless state, Archer offers her a place to stay--his condo overlooking Central Park. Having nowhere else to go in such inclement weather, Sonia takes him up on his offer for shelter and much more. The sexual tension that always simmered between them goes into overdrive under such close proximity. The fact Archer has made it his mission to help her put her life back together has its own advantages. But then again, Archer is only doing his job.

A Hot Day in Heaven is a great read with a fascinating twist. When Sonia St. Marie is dumped by her boyfriend and kicked out of her apartment she has no idea where she’ll go, but when Archer DeAngelo shows up and offers her a place to stay she finds his offer one hard to pass up. Having always been intrigued and attracted to Archer, Sonia soon finds the passion between them heating up as they grow closer together and more is revealed about the mysterious Archer as he helps her put her life back together.

Without revealing too much, this was a fascinating and scorching love story containing a twist that I found to be very unique. I really liked the characters of the story and could sympathize with Sonia over her despair and the confusion that she suddenly feels because of the changes in her life and budding relationship with Archer. However, at times she did seem a bit too trusting when it comes to Archer. At first it is unclear what exactly is going on with the mysterious Archer, but the unknown keeps you reading. I was just as intrigued as Sonia by the mystery that surrounded Archer and as more was revealed about this fascinating character it all started to fall into place and make sense. Although, I wish the pace of the story had been a bit faster as it did seem to drag a bit as things were revealed about Archer and his friends.

However, I found this story to be a unique and fun story filled with passion and characters that are hard to forget.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Darker Trinity by Candice Gilmer



A Darker Trinity by Candice Gilmer
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy
Length: Full (160 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, F/F, M/M, Ménage, Multiple Partners (but not involving main characters)
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Lilac

Passion attracts and blood binds, but hidden truths may destroy everything.

Nicole's life is poised for change. Her co-workers throw her a going-away party that lands her in a sizzling triangle between two immortals.

Joseph and James crave Nicole, needing her to complete their mythical trinity. She is drawn into this erotic covenant where the laws of day and night, good girl and bad, are surrendered for a darker bond. The deeper she falls for the vampires, the more her fears come alive.

In this second installment of the Moonlight and Shadows series, the Templar Knights return to offer Nicole an escape from this Darker Trinity.

A Darker Trinity is fascinating read that adds a mythical and paranormal aspect to a contemporary world. In this erotic story, Nicole finds herself in a love triangle with Joseph and James, two vampires who need her to complete their mythical trinity in order to provide balance to their relationship. Haunted by incidents from their pasts, Joseph and James know they need to turn Nicole, but they cannot do so with the permission of The Templars, who serve as a sort of “mythical police” as they try to prevent renegade vampires from turning mortals and control the number of unregistered mythicals. The Templars offer Nicole a way out of the arrangement and confused by her desire for the two men and afraid of what she’ll become, she struggles with what to do.

This is a fascinating story that takes a bit of a dark turn as Nicole fears what she will turn into if she gives into James and Joseph’s plan to turn her into a vampire. These characters have distinct and different personalities and I enjoyed watching them interact with one another, but even as they grow closer, they still have secrets that they keep. I became immersed in their story and this intriguing world they live in with its rules and creatures.

And while I haven’t read the first book in the Moonlight and Shadows series, I didn’t really feel lost while reading. One thing I didn’t like was the fact that the story ends with a “To Be Continued” providing the reader with no closure and leaving me very disappointed. But even though I didn’t care for the “To Be Continued,” I am eager to find out what happens next. There were also a few secondary characters that intrigued me and I would love to know more about perhaps in future books.

Knights of Desire by Melodee Aaron



Knights of Desire by Melodee Aaron
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi
Length: Short (125 pgs)
Other: Ménage, M/M/F, M/M
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Eglantine

Shane Rawls has been a marine for sixty years. She's seen a lot in that time, but she's never seen real knights and dragons, though, especially the delicious Sir Landis and Sir Clemmons. As she finds herself attracted to the two men, Shane falls into the clutches of the evil king of the dragons.

Sir Clemmons and Sir Landis have a war to fight. The lizards are killing people, including Landis' wife, and now they have kidnapped the beautiful woman from the stars who has enchanted them both.

Shane, Landis, and Clemmons must deal with their attraction all while trying to stay alive and end a war that has cost the lives of countless men and dragons. Can the three survive the evils of this medieval world? Can they overcome the limits of their feelings and find love in the aftermath?

Sir Clemmons and Sir Landis spend their days fighting dragons in a war that has dragged on for generations. Clemmons was a real ladies' man, but when Landis lost his wife in a dragon raid seven years ago, he left his womanising ways behind to comfort his friend. And soon, the two became lovers.

Shane is a soldier stationed on the spacecraft Daedalus. She is highly trained to deal with conflict, but her mission is a peaceful one. On behalf of a highly developed humanity of the far, far future, she is part of a team which explores new worlds, often in much more primitve stages of development than her own, with a view to helping civilisations through a critical phase in evolution which was proven to often bring about the destruction of life on new planets.

The two warriors are both instantly attracted to the shapely blonde, and each is appalled by their private feelings. Clemmons and Landis still love each other, so much that each is prepared to stand back to give the other a chance with Shane. But she comes from a different culture altogether, where many more options than just man-woman, man-man or woman-woman are common. She's about to suggest a sulotion to their problem when the deranged dragon king has her kidnapped. Now the two knights race against the clock to rescue Shane. Success in their mission might demand a terrible price.

Knights of Desire is a case in point of a conviction I hold ever more strongly: you cannot judge the quality of an ebook by the quality of other ebooks from the same publisher. Having read another of Siren's books which I found to be a terrible let-down, my expectations for KoD were low. To my delighted surprise, this tale really entertained. Not only is the plot strong and edge-of-the-seat stuff, Ms Aaron's writing abilities certainly make her an author worth watching. I found it hard to picture the relationship between Clemmons and Landis, at first. In my experience, both personally and with the fiction I've read, gay guys are usually not Alpha fighty man-types. As I got to know the characters, though, the relationship rang more true. The developing feelings between the two of them for Shane is portrayed realistically, with their doubts, anxieties and love for each other touching the reader. The action is great as well, and certainly had me clicking through the pages as fast as I could read.

So why not four books? In the first place, because the editors did not do their jobs. How can any self-respecting publisher allow mistakes such as your instead of you're (and vice versa), effect instead of affect? Though, these examples are not from KoD, they are general mistakes I've made notes of over the last few ebooks I've read. Unfortunately I can’t put KoD on the “faultless editing” pile. In this case mistakes are few and far between, but they are there nevertheless and distracting to this reader.

In the second place, there were instances in which scenes just didn't ring true. These were minor asides, nothing essential to the story, and easily ignored as the reader enjoyed the story enough to be willing to forgive small mistakes. The fact remains these small flaws are there, and were part of the little breeze that pushed the arrow from its path to the bullseye.

Still, despite these problems I have to say: All in all, Ms Aaron, well done. You did a very good job with this story.

Blood Slave by Michelle Houston



Blood Slave by Michelle Houston
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Paranormal
Length: Short(40 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Severe Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Eglantine

Sometime in the near future, vampires have been found to exist and have been hunted down and systematically infected with a virus that causes them to lose their sight. But they have found a way around it, through the use of blood slaves.

Where The Blind Leads: Brandon is one of those possible slaves, and if his interview goes right, he will become his master's new eyes, food supply, and lover. After his master is done whipping him and testing his sexual abilities.

Leading The Blind: Nicholas used to be one of those slaves, but through the slow infection of the virus, he has been turned. Now he is facing a future he knows nothing about--dominating another. His old master decides to step in a find a new master for Nicholas, a mortal man who is not only willing to dominate a blind vampire, but also to be his blood slave.

What would be the ultimate accomplishment for a writer? I suppose there can't be only one answer to that question, but surely the achievement of making the reader near weep with sympathy for a plight he or she could not possibly have understood before the reading must count among the possible replies. Blood Slave accomplishes this, and then some.

Set in a reality where vampires are blind Doms (if you do not know what that term means, I very, very strongly recommend that you do not read this book until you've gained an understanding of BDSM through milder tales) who use their slaves to act as their eyes with a mind-bond. This is the ultimate submission: not only your body, but also your mind must be fully given over to your master.

Through two related tales, Ms Houston explores these relationships, their eroticism, the mind of a man who wants pain--proper pain--the way the majority of the population would want to be hugged. Her extraordinary accomplishment lies in getting a straight (though I do have a voyeuristic thing about M/M sex, I suppose) woman with no inclinations toward BDSM to not only be turned on no end, but also to develop a deep, aching understanding of the motivations of those who allow themselves to be chained, harnessed, gagged, whipped and humiliated. It occurred to me that BDSM probably requires a much greater degree of trust between partners than any other form of sexual relationships.

Phaze Books will no doubt be seeing a lot more of me as customer if this duo of shorts is any indication whatsoever of the quality of their offerings. Though I feel it prudent to repeat my warning that these two tales are not for the squeamish, there is no, um, extreme "equipment" involved (I mean, beyond such benign necessities as a lash, nipple clamps and a cock strap. Again, if you don't know what those are...). This was some of the most excellent writing I've seen in a while, and is certainly highly recommended if that's your thing. If it's not, it might become so after reading this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

At Any Cost by Allie K. Adams



At Any Cost by Allie K. Adams
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full (314 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Lilac

When a NASSD double agent steals the technology for a deadly virus, counter-terrorist agent Dan Weber is more than ready to take on the complex and potentially deadly mission to hunt down the technology he once protected with his life, even if it means babysitting a gorgeous, yet reckless tomboy agent.
Rookie JT Turner is hungry to prove her worth in a profession dominated by men. Even though she can hold her own against a dozen trained agents, she's been labeled a screw up after too many mishaps. JT would do anything to redeem herself, even accept a shady mission to track down a phantom disc NASSD denies ever existed.

Undermanned and unarmed, can they unravel a madman's plot and remove the threat before it is unleashed? In a race against time, the line between desire and destiny will blur, and their true desires will finally be met.

In this action-packed story, NASSD agent Dan Weber is brought back into action to find the double agent who has stolen the technology needed to create a deadly virus. The main suspect is rookie agent JT Turner and Dan soon finds himself keeping an eye on the reckless young woman, but the more time he spends with her the more he begins the question if she truly is the mole.

JT only wants to prove herself as an agent after having many mishaps while in training. She believes that accepting a mysterious mission is the way to do just that, but the appearance of Dan has her questioning the validity of the mission. As the two grow closer and more intimate, they find themselves in a race against the clock as they try to find out the truth before it is too late.

At Any Cost is an interesting blend of action, suspense, and romance. I found the characters of the story to be complex and fascinating. This was especially true of JT. She is a tomboy agent whose need to prove herself puts both herself and Dan in danger time and time again. It was interesting to watch them try to find their way out of some of the scrapes they find themselves in. Despite her talents and abilities as an agent, JT shows a naivety which was an interesting part of her character. It helped to soften what could easily have been a hard character.

The story touches on the idea of trust as neither JT nor Dan are quite sure who to trust anymore. They even doubt and suspect each other despite the connection and intimacy they share. I felt this was all handled in a believable way.

At times the plot seems to take a few unnecessary twists and turns that don't really add to the action, but cause the story to drag and weigh it down. For me, the various complications that JT and Dan run into as they work together slowed down the story rather than moving it forward by changing the pace and taking me out of the story for moment. But in the end this is an intriguing story with an ending that may surprise you.

Love Me Times Three by Tonya Ramagos



Love Me Times Three by Tonya Ramagos
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short
Other: M/F, BDSM
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Buttercup

Cayman Porter is happy with his life. Great career, nice home, plenty of women. What more could a guy want? Love? As soon as a woman utters the L word, it's time to move on. But he soon discovers his satisfying life and womanizing ways aren't so satisfying to one particular love goddess.

A love of equal parts, that's the spell the Goddess Freya cast on Cayman. Someone to love him equally by the powers of three. But karma proves to be a pain when the only woman on Cayman's radar already shot him down more times than he can count.

Alexis London's had enough of womanizing pigs but not enough that she's found the strength to swear off men. If only she didn't enjoy them so much! Still, there's one pig she's managed to avoid for over a year. Lucky for her, he's never really put on the charm. Until now.

Cayman Porter is a womanizing rogue who is also a Wiccan. He can pretty much spin a spell and have his way with any woman he like. He’s hot and sensual but way off limits to Alexis London. They have worked together at the advertising agency for a year or so and she has his number so though he’d like to woo her, not that he hasn’t attempted, he stays clear of her.

An old client is back and the two are unwittingly thrown together once again to work on a proposal together, much to Alexis’ discomfort. Having survived the last campaign, she figures how bad could working closely with Cayman in the office be? It’ll be just fine.

After yet another of the amorous witch’s one night stands, Freya, Cayman’s Goddess mother, and the Goddess of Love pays him a visit and binds him in a spell that renderers his magic useless if he tries his antics on one more woman and leaves her hurt and damaged.

Will Cayman use his wily Wiccan spells yet again to avoid the natural wooing process to get women in his bed? Or will he heed Freya’s advise?

Ms. Ramago weaves a wonderfully erotic adventure between Cayman and Alexis that leaves the reader panting. I couldn’t put the book down. This is a hot romp with well-plotted conflict and heart-wrenching emotion woven together to a literally climatic end. I would definitely look forward to more from this author.

Last Chance Upon A Murder by Desiree Lee



Last Chance Upon A Murder by Desiree Lee
Publisher: Freya's Bower
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short (29 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

An ancient rite performed in modern times. A lone woman unaware of her destiny. A preternatural creature hunts for one soul to claim for his own. What havoc will be wrought when the three intertwine? Can two beings from vastly different worlds find peace together, or are they doomed to walk between worlds forever?

Last Chance Upon A Murder was a fantastic read. The story was raised to a level above what I am used to reading. My mother would say it had a lot of twenty-five cent words but in a way, the vocabulary used, elevated this work to a higher level. It reminded me of an Alfred Hitchcock story. A cross of The Birds and An Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode.

It is the story of Giana Valerio, a young woman who dresses like a Goth and is a very knowledgeable and kind hearted person. Giana cares for her neighbors as I saw when the murder of crows descended on her neighborhood. She went next door to Casey Lowe's home to check on him and inform him of the murder of crow migration to their neighborhood. When Ashtalon transformed from a crow to a being in her home, Giana took it better than I would have thought. Ashtalon is a sluagh. When he informed Giana of this fact, she showed her extensive knowledge by not only knowing what a sluagh is but who and why he was there.

I enjoyed the interactions of Giana and Ashtalon. It was cute how Ashtalon showered for over an hour and the stench was still on him. Giana, a very caring person, took it upon herself to diligently wash and condition Ashtalon's hair, which had not been done in hundreds of years, in order to completely remove the stench. I also enjoyed their shopping trip for clothes for Ashtalon and the significance clothing he wears at the end of the story . Even though they know each other but for a brief moment in the fabric of time, I could see the feelings that they have for one another and enjoyed reading as they developed into more than friends.

I can only say that as I read this story, I felt that I was lifted to another level. One in which I could not take my eyes from the computer screen and in which I felt I could lose myself in this compelling tale of life, death and the supernatural. Last Chance Upon A Murder is truly an exceptionally well crafted story that I recommend highly.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Illicit Attraction by Zena Wynn



Illicit Attraction by Zena Wynn
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Interracial
Length: Short (50 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

When Catrina Jackson ducked into her hotel's jazz bar, all she wanted was a chance to unwind after a long drive and a drink to soothe the disappointment of being stood up by the friend she'd come to see. She figured the massive diamond wedding set on her finger would deter any would be attractors. She was wrong. When also married hunky Darius Cornelio suggested they sit together to avoid unwanted attention, she thought it was a great idea.

His presence protected her from other men in the bar, but who was going to protect her from him?

Can I say seriously hot. Wow. I just loved Illicit Attraction. Ms. Wynn does a fabulous job in creating the perfect setting for an affair to take place. There is the out of the way hotel and bar that is also the local hot spot. And Catrina Jackson picks up more than what she is looking for when she is stood up by her friend. Or does she?

Cat is a middle-aged married housewife who's husband is in the navy and is away more than he is home. When she is stood up, she is hit on by every Tom, Dick and Harry in the place. Darius to the rescue. Darius Cornelio is a young, hot stud who is also married and away from home a lot. He offers a solution to their mutual problem. Pretend they are a couple and no one will bother either of them. I was entertained by their conversations about each others spouses and their wants for the future. It was enjoyable how they tried to learn more about each other but still keep their spouses in the conversation.

I got a kick out of how Darius kept making moves on Cat in a very subtle way. The little touch here and the brush of the knee there. The sexual tension just keeps building through the story. When Cat went to cool off in the bathroom, a young woman hits on Darius outside the restrooms. I knew Cat was just fooling herself when she went ballistic on the young woman upon exiting the restroom. The young girls catty remarks were great and Cat's reactions had me knowing that more would develop between these two lonely people.

Darius sees Cat to her room and things really heated up. My heart was beating so fast I didn't know what would give out first. The computer from the heat or my heart from excitement. The story had me going until the end: a wonderful conclusion with a surprise twist.

This is an excellent story. It was well written and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it. It is crafted so well that I could use it as a guide if I so desired. I highly recommend reading Illicit Attraction not only for its great story but as a possible handbook for fun.

Coffee Kisses by Margaret Leigh



Coffee Kisses by Margaret Leigh
Publisher: Torquere Books
Heat Level: Sensual – not erotic
(Note: all GLBT reviews are posted at WC, regardless of heat level)
Length: Length: Short (20 pgs)
Genre: Contemporary
Type: F/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Lotus


Constable Miranda is checking on a robbery victim at the hospital when she meets a nurse with the prettiest blue eyes. Miranda's on the job, though, so she tells herself not to get involved, but that's before a freak accident lands Miranda herself in the hospital with a concussion. Her hard head saves her from serious injury, but gives her the chance to meet Lorraine again. Will coincidence bloom into something much stronger than friendship?

Coffee Kisses is a short and sweet bit of fluffy romance. Many short stories have a rushed aura about them, but Leigh seems to have struck a balance between cutting corners to get to the point and keeping her story going at an efficient pace. Events unfold quickly, but they come in a logical progression and do not feel artificial.

Miranda is a great choice for a narrator: she’s smart, funny, pragmatic, and a romantic at heart. Her feelings for Lorraine seem to come up pretty fast, and with surprising intensity, but falling for someone with one glance happens, especially in romances. Lorraine, unfortunately, isn’t as complete a character as she could have been: she’s beautiful, capable, and well-traveled, but the brevity of Coffee prevents the reader from learning much about her personality. This is an interesting aspect of this story for me, as it’s the first lesbian romance I’ve reviewed. In your standard heterosexual romance, the leading lady is usually either the narrator, or the story is told from her point of view. The male love interest is usually one of a short list of male fantasies, with a history and set of baggage from a slightly longer list of templates. Using this formula, this makes wispy, klutzy, ultra-feminine Lorraine fulfill the male lead’s usual role, and in this context she is a refreshing change of pace. She’s so delightfully human—not really a fantasy at all. And yet her appeal is unmistakable.

Overall, my only difficulty with Coffee Kisses is that there is no real conflict that drives the lovers apart, but this is a serious issue. There is a brief pause in their courtship, due to mundane time-constraints, and then it sails along to its inevitable conclusion. This produces a gentle and funny telling of the beginnings of love, but it doesn’t make great romantic fiction. In a longer book this would be inexcusable, but here it resolves into a light bit of fancy, easily read, and quickly forgotten. It is a neat little read for those who want a break from the usual angst-love stories, but it is not the stuff of daydreams or fantasies.

Hard Ride Home by KyAnn Waters



Hard Ride Home by KyAnn Waters
Publisher: Elloras Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (84 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Xeranth

After a seven-year absence, only a catastrophic event could bring Trace Tilton home to Farley Gulch — like his father having a heart attack. Once Bud's on the mend, Trace plans to leave the Triple T Ranch again. He's certain his gruff father will never accept his…lifestyle.

Triple T foreman Nash Stokes thinks Farley Gulch is the ideal place for a man to live a simple life — and keep his sexual preference a secret. A hot roll in the hay with his boss's gorgeous son is the last thing he expected.

Before long, scorching passion and small-town rumor find both men taking a hard ride home.

Hard Ride Home is about two men facing the same problems and emotional uncertainty about who they want to be and how to live with it. They each follow totally different paths and yet find salvation in the same place for the wrong reasons.

Trace is a man who had to leave home to be himself. His fears, his worries and his absolute belief he could never find acceptance in his hometown--never mind from his own parents--drives him away from the place he yearns to stay. Trace followed his dreams for a career but at what cost?

Nash is described in a way that would make anyone with a smidgen of libido take notice. He had what he thought he wanted in life but it was snatched from him. Now he wants to leave it all behind and ignore that part of him that caused such upheaval. Thing is, the place he felt safest is going to rip him open and make him face the question; what does Nash Stokes want from life and what is he willing to give up to live it?

Ms. Waters has a knack for getting into the minds of men in turmoil. Their dialogue is peppered with blunt talk that guys seem to perfect in their teens. If you listen in to guys talking while you’re pumping gas, you’ll get the picture. Yet, these men in the story use that same type of dialogue in a witty and funny way, a bantering that is all male.

I also need to mention Donna, Trace’s sister. I liked her tremendously. Her presence enhances the heart and humanness of the story. She embraces what is and what could be. She’s no shrinking violet and not only do I have a great respect for her character but I got a kick out of her using their blunt guy talk back at them; she’s got a saucy sense of humor.

There are emotional sand traps all over this story which helped make the HEA all the more poignant and special. The scenes with Trace’s dad are exceptionally well done. When Trace and Nash do get together, it is scorching. When a bit of Trace’s past tries to haunt him, it’s pivotal. Ms. Water’s puts so many telling and critical moments in this story it’s almost a ‘nail-biter’, wondering if a relationship between the two men is even possible.

Hard Ride Home is a short yet powerful story of two men finding the strength within themselves to take on the risks of giving love a chance. I found myself rooting for them all the way, when I wasn’t fanning myself from the heat they generated.