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Friday, February 27, 2009

Heartfast by Linda Mooney



Heartfast by Linda Mooney
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press Torrid
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Futuristic
Length: Full
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Lilac

They were the Guardians, sixteen special men and women with incredible powers. They lived on a world that, eons ago, had suffered a devastating plague that had rendered more than half its population unable to reproduce. In order to assure the survival of their species, the HandFast law was enacted. Every month, twenty couples, complete strangers, were drawn by lottery—couples whose sole purpose would be to procreate.

It was a cold and impersonal law, but it worked.

When StarLight and Master Hunter heard their names called out to be HandFasted, their neat, orderly lives were turned upside-down. Gone was the comfortable companionship and brother-sister working relationship. Now they were forced into an intimacy neither had wanted, nor expected.

Neither were they prepared for the overwhelming passion they would find in each other's bodies, as well as in their hearts.

But things would only get more complicated and dangerous, because someone had deliberately placed their names in the lottery as the first step in destroying their world and every Guardian living.

With Heartfast, the author has created a world filled with fascinating characters and a premise that I found highly entertaining.

I was intrigued from the very first moment of this futuristic story as two of the elite sixteen Guardians, who are defenders of the planet who also have special powers, find themselves forced into a mating bond thanks to a law and lottery requiring a couple to procreate. Friends and coworkers, Star and Hunter find themselves in an interesting predicament as they must follow the law. It was interesting to watch them deal with the changes that came their way because of the circumstances beyond their control.

Star is a strong female character who is very much a survivor. An outcast due to her special abilities, she has finally found a place with the Guardians and fears losing that spot due to the changes that her situation with Hunter have caused. I really felt for this character and couldn’t help but be touched by all that she goes through during this emotional story…and there are definitely some emotional parts so have those hankies handy while reading.

Hunter, the hero of the story, is also a strong character who has a few secrets of his own that come to light as the story progresses. He fascinated me and I longed to know more about this strong and serious man who is very much a protector. Star definitely brings out the best in Hunter and it is interesting to watch his transformation as the bond between he and Star grows stronger.

And while the lottery might have brought this couple together, it was evident that they already had a strong connection and I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if not for the lottery. This is something that I loved about the story. The fact that the couple had a prior relationship made the transition from friends/coworkers to lovers go smoothly and make sense as things must progress rather quickly thanks to the Handfast Law. Star and Hunter share a bond with one another and it is wonderful to watch their relationship blossom as they grow closer with one another.

The story also contains a few secondary characters that enhance the story from the mysterious group of men who have a vested interest in Star and Hunter’s mating to Star and Hunter’s fellow Guardians. The Guardians truly fascinated me with their various special abilities and all of them practically scream for stories of their own. I would love to see more of them in the future.

As for the plot of the story, it progresses nicely and I enjoyed every minute of its fascinating premise and setting. I became lost in the story and didn’t want it to end. The stunning conclusion touched my heart and made me feel for all of the characters of the story. Everything from the characters to the setting to the plot comes together quite nicely making for one strong read.

From its action-packed beginning to it heart wrenching conclusion, Heartfast is an unforgettable story that I highly recommend.

Her Best Man by Michelle Houston



Her Best Man by Michelle Houston
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (19 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

Rick has always been a part of Katherine's life, including being best man at her wedding to his friend. When her marriage falls apart, she finds out that her previous unrequited feelings for Rick aren't so unrequited.

I found Her Best Man to be a wonderful story and relevant to the times today. As I read the words that Ms. Houston wrote, I felt myself being drawn into the characters in the book.

I loved the character of Katherine. She was just ending a bad marriage where her husband had cheated on her. Katherine chose to leave her possessions behind, because she'd compromised on everything when she was married and those things didn't reflect the person she was inside. I felt bad that she even compromised when she married Brian because she cared deeply for Rick also at that time in her life.

Rick is her best friend. He obviously really cares for Katherine. He helps her move out of her home. Rick was the best man at the wedding but he stayed true to Katherine after the divorce. I got the impression by his actions that Rick wished he could be more than a friend to Katherine.

The story shows that there is such a thing as second chances in life -- and that you should grab hold with both hands when they come along. It's also a story that shows how love between friends can be more than just friendly. A definite thumbs up.

Diamond Wolf by Kat Haeske



Diamond Wolf by Kat Haeske
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short (46 pgs)
Other: M/M, dubious consent
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Xeranth

Mortal enemies, immortal souls and an impossible love.

Werewolf Kieran McManus is living the high life until his play-boy ways get him captured by Sir Edward Lawrence, the most sadistic and cruel of all vampires. Kieran is tortured to the brink of death and insanity, saved only by his ability to leave his body.

Unable to break him, Sir Edward calls in another weapon. The new male vamp is as beautiful as he is cold. With his dubious gifts, he could break the captive with ease if he chose. When he doesn't, Kieran and his unlikely savior must battle their own worlds and themselves to survive.

Diamond Wolf is an amazingly written book with a romantic story that will touch you in the darkest of places.

The style of writing is what captured me first. Ms. Haeski writes about and through the same person, the hero, Kieran. It starts off in first person via his journal and then switches to third person as he continues to live and experience the path of his life. It’s a harsh path, filled with pain and torture balanced by incredible beauty and hope.

When first Kieran meets the Diamond, the male is used as a weapon against him, to break him. What follows next touches a topic that most writers shy away from writing and readers from reading. Ignore your fears of that dark abyss because Ms. Haeski does the impossible by making it worth your time and your emotional investment to see it through.

The Diamond is not a pawn but something more, much more and it’s both painful and intriguing yet beautiful to watch unfold. His skill set commands a journey where trust is either gained or lost, sanity is saved or destroyed. Diamond’s choices are as interesting as Kieran’s reaction to them. Great conflict.

The reason this works so well where it would not otherwise is because of the paranormal aspect between Kieran and Diamond. The metaphysical connection between the two forged in the fires of hell could only be borne out in the harsh beauty that is the shapeshifter and vampire worlds.

Once you get past the intensity, you are able to appreciate the confused emotions that bombard Kieren and his subsequent decisions to straighten them out. He has to brave his clan and his own fears if he is to realize any happiness in his life. To that end, this alpha wolf is endearingly clumsy and unsure of himself which truly allowed me to connect with his character. I really wanted him to come to terms with who and what Diamond was. The author uses a gentle humor towards that end.

There was only one other POV shift and that was from Diamond’s perspective. It was short but oh, so powerful. It was well placed and had me sighing at the romantic implications.

Diamond Wolf is a beautiful love story filled with emotional highs and lows that will not leave a reader untouched.

Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? by Jami Davenport



Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? by Jami Davenport
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (284 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Cholla



Jake Reynolds returns home to discover a racy Goldilocks sleeping in his bed. Instead of doing the first thing on his mind, or even the second, he hires her to organize his disorganized construction office. When his wealthy family meets the suggestively clad, polyester siren posing as Jake's assistant, they fear he's slipped back into his former role as the family bad boy.

Harlee Davis didn't know she was sleeping in Jake's bed. She was seeking refuge from two storms—the storm raging outside and the storm created by her screwed-up life. When she learns that Jake plans to demolish the very camp she’s been entrusted to preserve, Harlee mounts a crusade.

They wage a war of wills while battling their conflicting interests on a professional level, and too much interest on a sexual level. One of them stands to lose everything in a game where there is no winner.

Harlee Davis is down on her luck yet again and looking for a new start. Jake Reynolds is struggling to get out from under his family’s shadow and prove that he is competent and capable, having grown out of his younger self’s wild side. One rainy night she stumbles into Jake’s bathroom and changes everything.

Harlee and Jake are a great anti-couple. They rub each other just wrongly enough to cause some spectacular verbal – and physical – fireworks. Each is very true to life. Harlee, having always been forced to struggle, uses great wit and humor to defuse many situations before they can explode. Jake’s situation as the youngest child, struggling to be seen for more that what he once was, is much too common to our everyday lives. Jami Davenport does an excellent job of weaving several side stories into the main story, creating more depth and real-life worlds than you usually find. Between her fun sense of humor and her supporting characters that are as alive as the main characters, Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? jumps off the page and comes alive.

The intense conflict that rages between Jake and Harlee sets the stage for an extremely hot affair between the two. Smoldering sex, honest affection, and true humor make this a story worth reading and rereading!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Time Again by Jade Falconer



Time Again by Jade Falconer
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Lilac

Does reincarnation exist? James went to see a psychic for a laugh, but what she said intrigued him, so he decides to try past life regression. What he finds out about his past is startling! Will it lead him to his future?

In this quick read, a young man searches for his soul mate after an encounter with a psychic.

Out with his ex and his new flame, James is feeling more than a little sorry for himself when a psychic informs him that he has a soul mate that he has met in other lifetimes and that he is closer than James realizes. Curious about the encounter and his possible soul mate, James shares what he learns with Evan, an archaeologist at the museum where James works. With Evan’s encouragement James decides to go through the process of regression where he is hypnotized into remembering his past lives hoping that he will gain some clues to his soul mate’s identity.

We get glimpses of James’s past lives which really fascinated me and made me want to know more about his previous incarnations. James is an interesting character full of doubt and a need to be loved. And even though the romance and ultimate conclusion of the story is a bit predictable, I still enjoyed the story and its characters. However, I did feel it was a bit too brief and I would have loved to have seen more.

Despite this, Time Again is good story with a fascinating concept that I enjoyed a great deal.

Imperative 3: Saving You by Belinda McBride



Imperative 3: Saving You by Belinda McBride
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-Fi, Futuristic
Length: Short (Novella)
Type: M/M, M/F, Menage
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by Dandelion

In the future, we don’t choose our mates; Nature chooses for us. Nature doesn’t make mistakes. And if you don’t pay attention to Nature’s Imperative, you suffer.

All he wanted was peace. Eternal peace.

After the death of his Imperative mate, Jason Anders threw himself into a lifestyle of sexual excess and self-punishment. Just when he thought he’d hit rock bottom, Jase was nearly killed in a brutal attack.

Nature listened to Jason’s plea for peace, and gave him what he asked for. But Nature’s version of peace wasn’t exactly what Jase expected.

When Dr. Dove Sinclair stumbled into his life, Jase began to suspect that within her arms, he might find the will to live. And when he looked into the haunting eyes of a mysterious masked man, Jason realized that Nature wasn’t finished screwing with his life.

Sometimes Nature doesn’t play fair. But at least she’s willing to give Jason a second chance.

This intense story is well-written and kept my attention from the opening pages. Jase’s pain is apparent on every page, and his character is well-developed, so that we understand why he is choosing death over a life filled with guilt and embarrassment. Readers should beware, though: he seeks self-inflicted punishment through sexual submission and outright pain, which means a few scenes are pretty graphic. And in fact, much of this novella centers on the ménage/bondage/femme-dom lifestyle, so if those kind of scenes aren’t your usual fare, proceed with caution.

Overall, however, this is a captivating story of three people who are drawn together both physically and emotionally: Dove the doctor who counsels Jase, Arav the detective who is investigating Jase’s attackers, and Jase himself, a broken widower. I loved the chemistry between all three of them; Ms. McBride does a great job of balancing their individual attractions and needs. There’s a good injection of suspense here, too, as the identities of Jase’s attackers remain unknown until it’s almost too late. The final pages seemed a little abrupt, but it’s a great happy ending, so I doubt many readers will care. If anything, you’ll be left wanting more!

I highly recommend “Imperative 3: Saving You” to readers who particularly enjoy ménage/femme-dom storylines. You won’t be disappointed by this one!

Love Slave for Two by Tymber Dalton



Love Slave for Two by Tymber Dalton
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (444 pgs)
Other: M/M, M/F/M, M/F, M/M/F, Voyeurism, Ménage
Rating: Best Book
Review by Lilac

Nevvie Barton has never truly felt loved or like she belonged anywhere--ever. Abandoned by her adopted family and trapped in an abusive relationship, she takes a job with Tyler Paulson and Thomas Kinsey as their cleaning girl.

Nevvie knows her fantasies about "the boys" will always be just that--the two handsome men are devoted, loving life-partners. Then Tyler and Thomas fall in love with Nevvie and hatch a secret plan to seduce her and make her their permanent third.

For the first time in her life, she feels attractive and wanted. When they ask her to move in and be their personal assistant, Nevvie jumps at the chance. Her planned escape doesn't go without a hitch, and the boys must rescue her from a brutal man who would rather kill her than let her go.

Can Tyler and Thomas heal Nevvie's wounded body and soul and prove to her that she really is their dream come true?

With Love Slave for Two, Tymber Dalton has created an intriguing and unusual love story involving characters you’ll grow to love!

This is a wonderful and emotional story featuring a committed bisexual couple who fall in love with their housekeeper. Nevvie Barton is stuck in a bad relationship when the men she cleans house for offer her a way out in the form of a live-in position as housekeeper and personal assistant. Believing that the men are gay and not interested in her, she agrees despite her growing attraction. When they rescue her from her abusive boyfriend, she falls a little deeper for these men she believes to be out of her reach. Each day she spends with them leads her to fall even more and when the men finally reveal their true intentions, she is lost.

Tyler and Thomas look forward to Nevvie’s day to clean, longing and conspiring for the day they can make her theirs. The two men are determined to ease her into a relationship rather than scare her off as they have truly come to care for Nevvie. Each of these men has a distinct personality that really complements the other's. Each sensitive in their own way, Tyler is probably the most sensitive of the pair and is the brains behind everything (as Thomas points out on more than one occasion) while Thomas is the strong one. Both are deeply protective of each other and of those they love and their concern is touching. Their easy relationship with one another makes it easy to see that they are in love with one another. I did wonder at them bringing in a third party into their long-time relationship, but their love and concern for Nevvie is just as evident throughout the story. Even though Thomas and Tyler are fully committed to and love one another deeply, they both feel that Nevvie completes them in a way they didn’t know was missing.

I really felt for Nevvie and the confusion she must have felt as she fell for the men and then realized the men truly cared for her. Having grown up believing she was unlovable, it is hard for her to believe that TWO men can truly love her. With each day the threesome grows closer, but their new found relationship is not without difficulties. This is definitely an emotional story full of ups and downs that will keep the reader enthralled. I was truly touched by all that they experience throughout the story.

In addition to the emotion of the story, there is a passion that can’t be denied between the three main characters. The chemistry between them sizzles as they heat up the sheets in various combinations. It is definitely not one for a prudish reader. But passion in bed is not all the three share. I loved how Nevvie found common interests with each of the two men individually as well as together outside of the bedroom. They all share a deep friendship and bond beyond the physical that came across very well.

The author did a wonderful job of making this a believable relationship that one can easily understand despite the unconventionality of the situation. She even used secondary characters to point out the problems and ask questions that one might have about the logic behind a threesome, but Tyler, Thomas, and Nevvie answered those questions and demonstrated a loving and caring relationship with one another.

This was a story that I enjoyed a great deal as the author brought these characters to life with their emotional and passionate love story. The story just seemed to flow and I was sad to see it end.

This one was a keeper for me and I would definitely recommend it. I look forward to reading more by this talented author!

Sleeper 2: A Woman Scorned by Nia K. Foxx



Sleeper 2: A Woman Scorned by Nia K. Foxx
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Interracial
Length: Short (62 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

A woman scorned. That description didn’t explain half of what Dr. Alexis “Lexi” Douglas felt. She knew she wasn’t alone. In her practice she’d talked with enough women to see the psychological damage caused by men and quite frankly she was tired of preaching about empowerment and ready to demonstrate a little of it, witch style.

Seven hundred and eighty years of slumber was not nearly long enough for Cor Sielas. His last assignment prevented the expansion of the Mongul Empire, so he’s irritated to learn that the Forces of Nature have awakened him to handle one vindictive little witch. He takes some solace in the knowledge that his subject is female. For the first time he’s interested in mixing business with a little pleasure.

Sleeper 2: A Woman Scorned is a very good book. It was easy to identify with Alexis as I know I’ve had a bad man or two in my life at some time. I also loved the mind of Cor. It was great how he manipulated Alexis.

Dr. Alexis Douglas is a psychiatrist who teaches empowerment and tries to help woman who are abused by men. She was hurt when her weasel of a now ex-husband took advantage of her and she is very angry that he keeps trying to get more from her.

Cor Sielas has been asleep for the past seven hundred and eighty years. He is irritated to find out he was awoken to take care of one little witch. I found it cute that he changed his mind after taking a look at Alexis.

I could understand why Alexis was mad and wanted revenge. It is easy to see when not only were you hurt but everyone you come into contact with in your work has been hurt by bad men. Alexis has never used her witchcraft before for something like this but she goes into her grandmother’s book and looks for the perfect spell to cast to get her revenge. Unfortunately, Alexis does not think past the now to what may happen. I also would just react, not think if pushed as far as she was.

The initial meeting with Cor scene and how hot it gets had me reaching for something to cool myself down. And it just kept getting hotter from there.

Sleeper 2: A Woman Scorned is a sizzling sleeper of a story that should not be overlooked.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Looks Are Deceiving by Michele Hart



Looks Are Deceiving by Michele Hart
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: Full
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Lilac

All shadows and mystery, Elissa Baker's destiny with the scum of the Earth is a secret. Only Greg can wreck her long-laid path by being Mister Right and refusing to let her go.

Restaurateur Greg Moretti is crazy in love with a woman leading a smoke-and-mirrors life. He'll fix that by cooking up some heat, triggering some hunger, and melting the ice-wall around her world. Elissa will have to choose, Greg or the criminal world. Good boys can be bad too, and lethal to the heart.

The serendipitous solution to Greg's father's cold-case murder leads somewhere he'd never anticipated. When the mob takes his dessert-kissed goddess from his house, Greg couldn't have guessed someone would die, and no one knew what Elissa could do.

Everything changes with the pull of a trigger, and Greg loses Elissa to her fate and a badge. Nothing looks the same after this…

What starts out as a bet turns to something more in this enjoyable and suspenseful contemporary romance that proves that Looks Are Deceiving.

Following the murder of his father, restaurateur Greg Moretti is determined to find out the truth about his father’s death. In the meantime, he indulges his brother and friends with a bet that he can’t fall for brains over beauty. His friends pick out his date and he is intrigued by the beautiful woman he meets and is determined to take their relationship beyond the first date. But break-ins, the local mob, and other trouble make pursuing a relationship difficult. Greg is an interesting character as he has a lot to deal with regarding his family and the mystery surrounding his father’s death, yet he still manages to keep things light and fun. Despite his easy-going façade, you could sense the tension that lied just below the surface. I enjoyed his interactions with others as it said a lot about his character and the type of man he was…he is extremely loyal and caring.

As for the heroine of the story, Elissa Baker is a determined woman whose sole focus has been her plans for the future. She isn’t sure what to think when three men approach her when she is looking her worse and offer her money to go out with their friend. But she needs the money and is willing to go along. When Greg tries to convince her to keep up the ruse of a relationship, she is reluctant, but her financial situation and her attraction to Greg make it hard for her to refuse. I really liked Elissa and admired her resolve and determination. She has given up quite a bit to pursue her dreams, and despite her strength and determination, you can sense the doubts that plague her. She keeps a lot of herself hidden from others and has a few secrets that come to light throughout the story.

The relationship between these two interesting characters heats up the pages. Despite their determination to keep things light, soon Greg and Elissa find their relationship changing. Something Elissa struggles with as she is determined to fulfill her dreams…dreams that don’t include a relationship. And when Elissa gets caught up with the trouble that surrounds Greg and his family, Greg will do anything to keep her safe. I really enjoyed the easy relationship that Greg and Elissa find with one another. Even though they both come from two different worlds, they seem to balance each other out and are a perfect fit for one another. But both have a lot to overcome and deal with in order to make a go of things.

I enjoyed the banter and wit of the story and loved how the author incorporated it. In what could have been a suspense-heavy story, the author added moments of lightness that I really found refreshing. The mystery and suspense of the story was also well-done. There were twists and turns, but things didn’t get so complicated that the reader was completely lost. Everything played out nicely and as all the pieces fell into place, I found myself intrigued by all that was going on.

If you are looking for a suspenseful tale with great characters and a tough of humor, then Looks Are Deceiving might be just want you are looking for.

Tempted and Torched by Drea Riley



Tempted and Torched by Drea Riley
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (85 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Wisteria

What’s an out of work diva to do? Get a job!

What better place to find a job than a temporary agency, and one that boasts benefits?

Jynx Carter may have bitten of more than she was ready for when she encounters a gum popping ghetto fabulous receptionist and a never ending cycle of temporary jobs that offer no hope of a long term placement. Top that off with the fact that her boss and the owner of the agency is only the hottest thing since the discovery of hot sauce? Things are a liable to get heated.

Jynx has had a rough time finding a permanent job at the temp agency. J.B. the owner is looking for a new assistant and her offers Jynx the job. Full of sexual tension from the get go, the relationship sets a raging pace for the story.

Sensual and sexy, filled with sexual tension, humorous one liners and internal monologue, I found myself giggling as much as wiggling in my seat. There were a few spots where the editing was missed but the writing was good and the story satisfying. Ms Riley definitely knows how to paint a vivid picture with character fantasies.

I would recommend this story for any one looking for a short, hot read.

Ghost of a Chance by Jade Falconer



Ghost of a Chance by Jade Falconer
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full (60k words)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Lilac

When Ryan found out he'd inherited a title and a castle from a long-lost relative, he traveled to Scotland to learn about his heritage. But along with his birthright came a few complications: the castle is haunted by his ancestors, and they're not happy about it. Ryan's out and proud, but when he meets straight boy James, he falls for him. Is their relationship doomed, or do they have a Ghost of a Chance?

In this fun read, an openly gay man finds himself dealing with more than he expected when he inherits a Scottish title and castle.

Never knowing that he was in line for an Earldom, Ryan is more than a little surprised when he learns of his inheritance. He decides to make the most of the situation and travels to Scotland to see his new home. There he meets James, a local bartender who is more than willing to play tour guide and protector for Ryan as they learn there is more to the castle than meets the eye when they must deal with the ghosts that haunt it.

Ryan also must deal with his growing attraction for James, a man he believes to be straight. Ryan is a fascinating and fun character whose personality leaps off the page. He has a lot to deal with and I love how he seems to approach life and the changes he is experiencing with no hesitation at all. Full of confidence and humor, he is extremely likeable and hard to resist.

Meanwhile, James is a bit of a mystery to the reader as well as to Ryan. At first his sexuality isn’t clear and as the story progresses we and he both learn more as he and Ryan fall into an easy friendship. Yet Ryan is confused by some of the mixed signals he receives from James, and I couldn’t blame him as I was curious myself. But I enjoyed their easy relationship with one another…even if it does seem to develop a bit too rapidly to be completely believable.

In addition to Ryan and James, the secondary characters really play a big part in this story, making it even more enjoyable. From the stuffy and proper solicitor, Nigel, who isn’t sure what to think of Ryan, to the ghosts that have very obvious opinions of Ryan. These ghosts included a homophobic former Earl, a matchmaking Earl who shares Ryan’s love of men, and a mysterious crying Countess. We learn more about these mysterious specters as the story progresses and they each intrigued and fascinated me.

Ghost of a Chance is a great story full of interesting events and complications that all lead up to a very sweet conclusion.

Gingersnaps : Sugarplums by Kate Hill



Gingersnaps : Sugarplums by Kate Hill
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Holiday, Paranormal, Fantasy
Length: Short
Other: M/M
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Agapanthus

Yule is here and it's an especially magical time at Hot River, unless you're Tarn. He's a grouch even for a Frost Giant and never fails to complain about the dismal winter mood being ruined by holiday cheer.

Old Man Winter has spent ages providing beautiful frosty weather but he's rarely allowed to join in the fun surrounding it. People look at him in fear and awe, never thinking he might want to join in the festivities.

The sulky frost giant stumbles upon the powerful, lonely and surprisingly passionate winter icon and Tarn finally learns just how enchanting the holiday season can be.

When a grouchy frost giant runs into The Old Man Winter more than just snow flies in this fun romp through a winter wonderland by Kate Hill. Both men are outcasts, one due to his job, the other due to his lineage but together they find a surprising connection that fills the cold winter with some serious heat.

Kate Hill has taken winter to an entirely different level and truly humanized the fabled “Old Man Winter” in this short story. Part of the Gingersnaps collection, a steamy series that I have truly enjoyed reading, and reviewing, Sugarplums gives you a glimpse into a frigid land of ice and snow, and shows you that love can lay in the most interesting and unexpected places.

Well written and vividly worded Sugarplums is a fine addition to the ever popular Gingersnaps series. The characters are well developed and interesting though I have to admit that m/m is not my particular forte the erotic scenes in this short were written in a way that made them easy to read through, vivid but not vulgar. A good read and a good addition to the series.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dominic: The Lords of Satyr by Elizabeth Amber



Dominic: The Lords of Satyr by Elizabeth Amber
Publisher: Kensington, Aphrodisia
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (256 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Menage, Multiple Partners
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Viscaria

They are Satyrs, men endowed with legendary carnal knowledge who demand total and complete control with their sexual prowess.

A Night Of Bliss

Emma anxiously awaits her husband's return home to Tuscany on Calling night. She hopes that the night-long copulation will draw them closer together for she questions whether they truly love one another. But when Carlo arrives, injured in battle and unable to perform, she learns she must mate instead with Dominic, a lusty, royal Satyr. It is a night of hedonistic passion that leaves her wanting much, much more.

A Moment Of Rapture

Like other Satyr lords, Vincent is driven to mate from dusk to dawn every Calling night. But as a bachelor, Vincent must conjure a female from the mist who will satisfy his sexual needs. While his brothers summon a different partner with each full moon, Vincent calls upon the same one time after time. He wants her to experience the same erotic pleasure he feels and one night she does-the magic is real.

Once again, Elizabeth Amber has produced an amazing read. I was once again pulled into the historical, paranormal world that Ms. Amber has created. Dominic and Emma were two very engaging characters that were so obviously meant for each other, that I had a very hard time putting this book down once it was started.

Dominic was never meant to be anything but a weapon for his people. He has lived his entire life knowing what his duty was, and never shirking that duty. Not a man known for his gentleness, he is still drawn to the quiet, bookish Emma. While I didn’t really adore his motivations, as they are less than noble if you look at it from an outside point of view, I did however understand them. As Ms. Amber excels at giving deeper motivations to her characters, the hero in Dominic isn’t really all that apparent when we first meet him. When the honorable, and lovable man emerged I was more than ready to see him find his happy ending with Emma… which he did.

Emma was a sweetheart that I met in the previous books. Younger sister to Jane, I already knew her as a quiet, very smart young woman with an affinity for animals and the everlasting devotion of the people in her life. While her circumstances aren’t quite what I expected, it was great to see such a well-loved character again. I felt as though I was meeting up with an old friend and I was excited to see how her happy ending would come about. In her this, her own tale, Emma has become an amazingly perceptive and strong woman who simply wants the same kind of love her sister and “aunts” have found. For someone who has always been perceived as timid and a bit weak I thought she handled her situations better than most of us could hope for if we were ever in the same position. I just adored Emma, and look forward to seeing her again in future books.

The second, shorter tale in this book is no less moving for it’s briefer length. A sort of continuation of Dominic’s tale… several years into the future this story includes progeny of the Satyr. I loved this bonus tale of Vincent, Landon and Cara’s. A completely unexpected story that nevertheless was just as emotionally captivating as all the other much longer stories that came before it. I was pleased to see that Ms. Amber was still able to bring the same quality of storytelling to a shorter story that she does to a much longer one. A definitely welcome bonus to get when I thought the tale was done.

Since I wasn’t expecting to get another glimpse of the people in the Satyr world, it was a great treat to find out that there was this book… as well as future books in the works. Elizabeth Amber’s writing just gets better and better, and I look forward to seeing how her writing and her world evolves with time. Her excellent skill at blending the historical side with the fantasy side of her books takes true talent, and I gladly look forward to more from her. Don’t let us forget that this is an Erotic Romance of the highest quality. While there aren’t the more controversial topics of the previous books, at least in my opinion, make no mistake that the incredible sensuality she brings to table is definitely here in this story as well. The heat she brings to her books with each sensual scene is again evident in Dominic, and made me more than hot under the collar on more than one occasion.

In my opinion, this book was flawless. I never once questioned the reasons behind the plot, and couldn’t even bring myself to wonder as the story pulled me along for the ride from start to finish. Also, the short story at the end of the book just tickled me PINK! A true artist with vivid imagery, Elizabeth Amber is quickly becoming one of my favorite Erotic Romance authors. I wholeheartedly recommend this book, and eagerly look forward to more offerings in any genre from Ms. Amber.

Eye of the Beholder by Jade Falconer



Eye of the Beholder by Jade Falconer
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Lilac

From the moment Victor and Ben met, sparks flew. Victor is a renowned artist, setting up for a showing of his latest work at a prestigious Manhattan art gallery. Ben is the head of the construction crew remodeling the gallery for Victor's show. Ben doesn't know much about art, but he knows what he likes. They grate on each other's nerves until Victor suggests Ben pose for him. Will they give into their destiny or will they tear each other apart?

In this passionate story, two men find more than they are looking for in an art gallery.

Renowned artist, Victor is busy setting up for a show of his latest work when he encounters Ben, the head of the construction crew remodeling the gallery for the show. The two headstrong men butt heads from the very first moment they meet ultimately leading to a passionate relationship. But Victor’s attitude and actions nearly spell the end of their budding relationship.

Things progress quickly between these two virtual strangers in this short read. I have to confess that I found the character of Victor a bit hard to like at first. A self-confessed jerk, Victor comes across as arrogant and self-absorbed. The temperamental artist is constantly baiting Ben throughout the story and Ben seems to give in to him. I believe that Victor’s actions are mostly because he isn’t sure how to deal with the feelings that Ben stirs in him and it is as if he is trying to push him away. But he doesn’t really seem to change his attitude and actions as the story and relationship develops. However, he is definitely a complex character who is memorable.

As for Ben, he is a very interesting character full of contradictions who seems to care for Victor a great deal as they grow closer. His reactions and frustrations are understandable considering the situation of the plot. He fascinated me and I would have loved to know more about him.

While these two share a passionate relationship that is undeniable, it would have been nice to see more things beyond the bedroom with them, so to speak. However, I still enjoyed the concept and plot of the story and the contrast between these two characters who are obviously attracted to each other. Their passion is palpable as things rapidly progress between the two men.

With its passionate characters, Eye of the Beholder was an interesting and hot read.

Pure Magic by Anne Sorgeson



Pure Magic by Anne Sorgeson
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (47 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

Is there more than magic in the air?

Cassie and Harold have worked together for a long time. Hearing about a great opportunity to do a nude magic show, Harold is all for it but knows that Cassie will need to be too.

Cassie has kept her feelings to herself for so long, now she finally sees her chance to let him know how she really feels but will she regret it or will it be Pure Magic?

Cassie is a magician’s assistant. Harold is the magician. They both have deep feeling for the other but are afraid to show them. Harold gets an unusual offer for them to perform a magic show at an art gallery. Harold tells Cassie all about it thinking that she will turn it down. When she says yes, the fun begins.

I loved how they verbally spared with all the little quips that were heavy with sexual connotations, all having to do with the show. I could not help but smile when Cassie said that she would be back and shut the door so Harold could properly place the cutouts in the box where she would be naked. Harold, of course, could not reciprocate at that time as he did not want to cut off any certain parts. I also loved the scene in the garage when Cassie lays down on the table that Harold is going to cut off her arms and legs in a trick.

There was true magic in the way Ms. Sorgeson wrote of two co-workers revealing to each other the love they had for one another on stage. I found Pure Magic to be pure enjoyment from start to finish.

The Queen's Tale by Grace D'Otare



The Queen’s Tale by Grace D’Otare
Publisher: Harlequin Spice
Genre: Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short (53 pgs)
Type: M/F
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Review by Lotus

To inspire their love-play, Maeve weaves this intoxicating, erotic bedtime tale for her husband.

Queen Philomena’s love-life has been prescribed by duty. Hardly more than a child when she married the aged king, the young widow yearns to experience the ways of love in one singular night of passion before entering another loveless marriage of state. Sent to the Queen’s chamber to “amuse” Her Majesty, Dante is handsome, fascinating...and much too insolent. At first, Philomena is determined to assert her control, but as the night progresses, she discovers pleasures she’d never imagined and surrenders to ecstasy.

I’m going to be completely honest with you: the chance to read stories like The Queen’s Tale is the main reason I voraciously hunt down, devour, and review erotic ebooks. Harlequin and I have had an on-again, off-again love affair for years, but I was happy when they started producing Spice Briefs, because it seemed to be a perfect venue for the archetypal Harlequin story, with lots of sex thrown in to keep things interesting. Grace D’Otare’s tale-within-a-tale of lovers and their games has proven my hunch was correct.

Queen Philomena is the kind of queen you wish existed everywhere: beautiful, generous, politically astute, and genuinely endearing. Her sexual innocence seems to come and go in the story, and D’Otare seems unsure as to how much she wants her heroine to know, but this is a nit-pick about an otherwise solid romantic leading lady. She manages to embody the uncertainty of learning the ways of physical love, and the ambivalence of ruling while being vulnerable to the whims of state and eddies of fate.

And then there’s Dante. In my heart of hearts I know that romance demands an alpha male, taking charge and getting things wrong and oh-so-right, in order to work. However, that does not mean that I don’t sometimes dream of a leading man with a little something more to offer. But I digress. Dante is a Harlequin leading man, and he makes all the usual mistakes and garners all the usual triumphs that come with that job. Philomena gets him into a couple of interesting positions, though, and no one can deny that he’s lovely to watch.

The one night of sex that Dante and Philomena get is playful, intense, and satisfyingly steamy. Their story in general is somehow both spicy and frothy, as well as slyly romantic. The glimpses we get of Maeve and her husband are tantalizing, and I think I would have liked to see more of them, although as it stands they serve as perfect witnesses to the story of Dante and Philomena. As a great fan of bodice-rippers, royal sex, and light historical tales in general, I cannot recommend this enough. It is full of unexpected fun and mischievous joy, and this makes it the perfect choice for light, hot, romantic reading.