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Friday, June 12, 2009

Strong Silent Type by Lorelei James



Strong Silent Type by Lorelei James
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Western
Length: Short Story (97 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Begonia


Tough. Taciturn. And a fool for letting her go…

A Wild Ride story.


Wyoming rancher Quinn McKay thought he’d only have to bide time until his levelheaded wife came to her senses and called a halt to this “trial separation”. He never believed the marital rough patch would drag on for a coon’s age.

Libby McKay knew when she married the gruff, laid-back cowboy that he wasn’t prone to blathering about his feelings. But three months have passed and her stubborn-as-a-mule husband is still living by himself in the horse trailer. It seems he’d rather hold onto his pride than hold onto her.

Quinn realizes Libby is determined to move on if he doesn’t loosen his tongue and he’ll lose the only woman he’s ever loved. In a last-ditch effort to keep her in his life, he offers her one weekend of uninterrupted sexual decadence.

Reigniting the passion is easy. The hard part comes after the sheets have cooled and they find out if what remains is strong enough to survive past mistakes.

Warning: Old-fashioned groveling leads to smokin’ hot sexual encounters—steamin’ up the truck windows, rockin’ the horse trailer—proving even an old married dog can learn naughty new tricks.

I absolutely loved this book from the first line. Nothing like the jealous husband watching his wife with another man. What was perfect was the fact that his wife played it to the hilt!

Ms. James did what few authors can do for me. It’s not too often that an author can pull off a story of two people already married. You usually see novels or shorts that consist of the dance beforehand, but this was perfect! I laughed through the entire book. I could picture this big rough and tumble, sexy cowboy watching the woman he loved moving on.

Everyone has been in the situation where something is missing in our lives whether we are already married or in a relationship for a long time. Quinn and Libby find the perfect way to liven up their “dull” life, but they both learn of their faults and misjudgements, bringing them closer together than ever before.

I think my favorite line was “It’s the first time she kicked me outta my own damned house.” I loved it!

By the time this story was over, I was in love with Quinn. Men can be so stubborn, but us women can be just as bad and the give and take in this story was perfect. I’ll definitely be interested in reading more from Ms. Jame.

Sursein Judgment by Jet Mykles



Sursein Judgment by Jet Mykles
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Paranormal, Futuristic
Length: Full Length (158 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Cactus

Rynn made a mistake in taking the drug hextasy with his fiancée. It was supposed to be the ultimate sexual high, except that you have to sleep with the one you desire most. If you don't, your body won't be satisfied and you'll die. Rynn lived, Lynnette didn't, and now her parents want someone to pay. Either luck or Surseine, the god of justice Himself, takes pity on Rynn by putting his trial in front of one of His judges. Sursei are graced by the god they represent with the power to see truth and Sursei Shasertai finds Rynn innocent of murder.

But the drug is still out there and Shasertai and the people who travel with him are determined to root out the drug lord responsible for its existence. Shas invites Rynn to join them. He goes willingly, fascinated by the judge who gave him a second chance at life.

Rynn might be innocent and straight, but Shas isn't. He's gay, happily so, and very much drawn to the farm boy whose simple innocence is a balm to one who can hear through the lies. What he hears is that Rynn's not gay, so he vows not to get involved. Until another drug, another time, gets in the way...and then he and Rynn will have to deal with the each other's truths and their growing attraction.

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual practices.

Combine a futuristic setting with some hot yaoi characters and a little mystery, a little romance, and a lot of angst. This solid paranormal story has all the classic clean writing fans have come to expect from the author in a fresh, new setting that both intrigues and engages. The characters are interesting; yet take a turn towards the later half of the book so their relationship definitely keeps you invested and reading to see how they finally end up together. It is a happy ending though so nothing to worry about but the setting, journey and ultimate resolution all make this a good book for fans and those new to the author alike.

The plot revolves around chasing the drug hextasy, which is both a drug and a spell that enhances the sex between two people but only if you are with the person you desire most. Otherwise the spell is deadly and ends up killing the person when their exhausted body gives out. As Shas is chasing the drug dealers of hextasy, he comes across Rynn who ends up going the little group. Rynn is a classic innocent who has very little world experience and even less sophistication. He is fascinated with Shas and can’t seem to help himself from reacting to the gorgeous judge. Shas is also an interesting character with his worldly charm, confidence, and self-awareness. Although both characters change in the later half of the book, almost reversing their previous attributes, romance fans may enjoy the heightened emotional and drama scenes as the two work out their relationship.

The interesting futuristic/science fiction setting is used well but the various side plots aren’t resolved very well. The secondary characters slide in and out of scenes without much to distinguish them even though they each have interest and an intrigue of their own. I felt that some plot lines were dropped rather than addressed. Additionally, a highly dramatic scene was one I found highly implausible. While this was clearly a device to progress the relationship between Rynn and Shas, it was unbelievable and given no realistic reasoning to how or why it happened. None of this is ever addressed either.

For the problems I had with the book, I still enjoyed reading it. The yaoi elements to the characters and even when they flipped towards the end are enjoyable themes to read and the futuristic setting was well crafted. While certainly not the best offering from the author, a solid angst filled romance nonetheless and may even be the start of a series considering the unresolved aspects to the book. Especially intriguing is the world of the Sursein and his avatars. The concept of how they distribute justice and their ability to see truth was fascinating and one of the most original and unique parts of the book. Also while there was definite erotica, it was kept to a minimum so the focus could be on the characters and the story for much of the book. Fans of the author will likely enjoy this offering.

The Dares That Bind by Leigh Ellwood



The Dares That Bind by Leigh Ellwood
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (81 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Spanking
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Wisteria

Victoria Robeson is content to live at home and work her dead-end job, despite dealing with her overbearing mother, just as long as she has time to write. When she meets the handsome and mysterious Alton Weiss as Dareville prepares for Brady Garriston's big concert, Vic is unnerved and intrigued by how well he knows her personality and desires.

Alton introduces her to a world of sensuality and submission, encouraging her to become a new woman. But is Alton merely a weekend distraction, or the promise of a better life?

Victoria is small-town-typical. She goes to work, keeps her head down, and does what everyone expects her to do. It’s amazing what she discovers about herself when sexy California guy, Alton, comes to town and gives her the opportunity to be his submissive.

HOLY COW!!!!!! I think I have just found a new series that I must read! The characters were great! Each one added something to the story, unlike some stories that have extras just to fill space, I truly felt connected to the secondary characters even if for a split second they appeared in the story. I find myself wanting to know more. More about the characters and the town! Filled with totally hot titillation, Smokin’ sexual tension, and just enough action to get ‘er done, I was captivated and engrossed to the point of shooing away anyone who might interrupt me during my reading.

Clean editing, a sound story idea and plot made this a fantastic read for a short vacation from the real world. No doubt a deal sealer when it comes to whether I will buy more from this author. It is not very often I finish a book and immediately clamor for more, but this in one of those times. Thank you Ms. Ellwood, from the bottom of my heart.

Madame Periwinkle's Erotic Delights: Jada's Rabbit Habit by Isabella Jordan



Madame Periwinkle's Erotic Delights: Jada's Rabbit Habit by Isabella Jordan
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (87 pgs)
Other: M/F, Toys
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

Jada Danforth has a little bit of a problem. The hotel heiress has a craving for rabbit dishes. But those pesky animal rights activists have found out what she's been up to, and they still aren't letting that silly little fur coat incident from last year go. Now all the studs on the boyfriend circuit are avoiding her like she's last year's iPhone. She's not getting laid and that's a problem.

While out comfort shopping, she runs across Madame Periwinkle's Erotic Delights. The owner has just the thing for this spoiled princess -- a new type of rabbit, guaranteed to take care of her sensual needs. It even has its own customer service number. How neat!

All is well until her new toy malfunctions. She's amazed when her service call is answered in less than an hour by a very hot repairman. And man is he good with his hands. Yet Aidan Richards isn't what he seems. Can Aidan afford to trust his secrets to a woman whose every step is haunted by the media? Can she dare to hope for a man who can see beyond the heiress and the tabloids to find the woman she really is?

Fairy tales are so much fun to read, especially when they are not at all what you expect. In Madam Periwinkle’s Erotic Delights: Jada’s Rabbit Habit, I discovered a modern day fairy tale that poked fun at current celebrities and their unusual quirks. I love fractured fairy tales and any story that resembles them. In my opinion, Jada’s Rabbit Habit is a contemporary twisted tale that I could not get enough of.

Jada Danforth is a hotel heiress who I likened to Paris Hilton in my mind. Yes, she was beautiful, sexy and well-meaning in her own mind, but somehow everything she tried to do turned out wrong. I laughed as she complained about being caught wearing fur. The way poor Jada tells the stories of the paparazzi, I could just see how she thinks what she does is right. Every part of her life is scrutinized and picked apart until I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the poor little rich girl.

Aidan Richards is a genius. Dark Hair, grey eyes, a body to kill for and oh, do I need to mention he’s a werewolf. He makes ingenious vibrators for Madam Periwinkle and does personal service on them. When Aidan makes a service call to Jada’s room his service really is first class. I loved how Aidan’s secret is revealed. I could not get the picture of his discovery by Jada out of my mind as the descriptions in the story are so vivid.

I found another diamond in the Madam Periwinkle Series with Madam Periwinkle’s Erotic Delights: Jada’s Rabbit Habit. This is definitely a fractured fairy tale worth reading.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Seventh by L.E. Bryce



Seventh by L.E. Bryce
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (88 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Phlox

Two years ago, Elantho’s lover drowned in a terrible accident. Now, still grieving, he is sent south to the island of Tash to recruit Eshandri, son of the local matriarch, to join the Blue House of Lachant. What Elantho finds, however, is a powerful being who does not need instruction, and who offers Elantho the promise of a freedom he has never known—and a love he never thought to experience.

How long must you have known someone before you can say you loved them? This is the question Elantho wrestles with throughout this sweet, contemplative story. Everyone tells him he could not have loved Omis, whom he only knew for a few weeks and only made love to once, but when Omis dies in a horrible fishing accident, the pain is no less sharp and real than if he had loved him for years. He reacts to the puzzled questions by becoming as insufferable as possible, snappish, ill-tempered and sulky, to keep people at a distance. If no one ever gets close again, this terrible pain can never happen again. It’s a good thing Eshandri, a talevé prince of the Southern Islands, has other ideas.

Elantho’s character could easily have come across as an annoying caricature, a spoiled prince who has never learned how to be accepting of others, angry at his exile from the wealth and pomp of the mainland. Bryce keeps us firmly and deeply in his point of view, though, so the reader understands his anguish and frustration, the loss of his faith both in his goddess and in himself, so his inner struggles are poignant rather than irritating, his loss and confusion real and heartbreaking. Eshandri’s patient and persistent courtship provides the perfect foil to Elantho’s brooding, his humor and overt, unabashed sexuality just daring Elantho to come out of his carefully constructed isolation.

As always, Bryce paints beautiful scenes for the reader and writes convincing, well-conceived dialogue, the main characters identifiable by their voices without a surfeit of tags and the inevitable culture clash is, once again, masterfully done. Elantho is revolted by the gaudy attire and the myriad tattoos the island talevé wear, while Eshandri is puzzled over Elantho’s plain appearance, which seems, to him, less than the homage the Lady of the Waters deserves. As with Bryce’s other Water Lovers of the Islands story, The Fifth House, the story is told in a quiet way, without violence or an intricate plot. While I miss, to some extent, the gripping tension and high drama of some of her earlier Water Lovers books, this is a different flavor of story and should be approached as such. The ending is a bit abrupt, leaving questions unanswered which one can only hope will be addressed in a future story.

This is a sweet, heart-wrenching tale of a young man who has realized with the death of his first love that he has been bitterly lonely all his life. How he comes to this realization and what he finally does about it is well worth the short read. The prose draws the reader into this world so skillfully, the difficulty is in returning to the real one.

Two Hot by Riley Ashford



Two Hot by Riley Ashford
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Ménage
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Tiger Lily

Slayer Damon Phillips is dying of cancer. He figures if he’s going to kick the bucket, then he’s gonna do something really stupid: Seduce gorgeous vampire Belle DeLuc.

Belle has no problem spending a passionate night with Damon, even if he’s notorious for staking bloodsuckers. He excites her in a way no other man has for two centuries, and she wants him to stick around. Forever.

When Belle offers to give her new lover immortal life, she doesn’t realize she’s played right into Damon’s devious hands. But the slayer is having second thoughts. Should he abandon his mission and save the vampire… or unleash the deadly secret that will kill them both?

Love doesn’t always come in bright shiny packages. Sometimes it comes in the forms we least expect or truly want, but when it comes, it’s for sure. Such is the case in Two Hot.

Ms. Ashford writes a saucy take on the vampire/slayer genre, by giving her characters heart and soul beyond the physical description of their respective personas. You can’t help but root for Damon and Belle to work out because they seem so made for each other despite the obvious and not so obvious reasons they should be apart. And going with the dark and moody slayer idea, Damon is darn hot!

The scenes in this short story are rich with detail, bringing the reader right into the story. Both Belle and Damon are so human despite their individual issues that you want to root for them to overcome their problems. The love scenes are filled with passion that both characters feel but refuse to admit to, which is very sexy.

Although short, this story packs a punch with its steam! If you want a sexy short story to warm the cool summer nights, then Two Hot is the short for you. I give this work 4 ½ cherries.

Once Upon A Moonlit Path by Cheri Valmont



Once Upon A Moonlit Path by Cheri Valmont
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand Publishing, Siren
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, Fantasy
Length: Short Story (78 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 cherries
Review by Queen Anne’s Lace

All her life, Fi Carmichael has harbored serious doubts about her family's curse, and the dire consequences she'd suffer if she ever fell in love.

Scotsman Hugh MacFarlane has been roaming the garden of Mirkheath Manor for over a century, awaiting the second chance promised to him on the night of his death.

Just days from being forced into a loveless marriage, Fi's chance encounter with the mysterious Hugh in the garden of her family's ancestral home stirs forbidden feelings inside her and has her rethinking her doubts. She soon realizes that in order for her to have her heart's desire, she must first break the curse.

Determined to have a future together, Hugh and Fi race against time, searching the manor for clues on how to regain her freedom to love and his to live. They discover that love, forgiveness, and a promise of a future began once upon a moonlit path…

To save herself from a family curse, Fi Carmichael must marry a man she’ll never love, but the headstrong, dark-haired beauty is determined to marry for love. Leaving the whirl of the London season, Fi and her parents journey to Mirkheath Manor, the birthplace of the family curse, to host a house party so Fi can pick a suitor, posthaste. With only three days left before the house party, Fi strolls outside the manor down a moonlit path to the haunted garden and stumbles upon a very handsome, very tangible Scottish ghost; brogue, plaid and all.

Ms. Valmont’s writing is both seamless and well edited. Her word choice paints detailed pictures for the reader. I love her use of the Scottish brogue which adds so much to the atmosphere of the story. The fast paced story draws the reader in from the beginning and delivers a most satisfying ending.

This is my first story by Ms. Valmont, and I know it will not be my last. She is a talented author who seamlessly delivers an ethereal atmosphere with endearing characters and delightful sensual interludes. And who doesn’t love a Scottish hero whose brogue alone kicks up the heat level several degrees!! Thanks for a wonderful read Ms. Valmont!

It's Good To Be Number Three by Dana Littlejohn



It's Good To Be Number Three by Dana Littlejohn
Publisher: Freya's Bower
Genre: Contemporary, Interracial, Holiday, Valentine's Day
Length: Short Story (21 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Hibiscus

What happens when a hot guy finds out that his girlfriend has him as number three on her list of favorite men? Three is less than second best...isn't it? Or could there be some interesting fringe benefits to being number three?

Strawberries, chocolate and being pampered by number three or alone with movies of number one. How’s a girl to choose? Mine would be with number two but to each his own.

This was a very cute re-telling of how Martina spent her Valentine’s Day. I loved how the story showed Martina and Ronni meeting for margaritas and food. It just seemed to me a perfect recreation of what women typically do when they meet up.

Martina had me in stitches as she related how Derrick washed her hair and nearly drowned her when rinsing out the soap. It’s cute how Derrick seemed to be jealous of the men on Martina’s list. Her number one man was Zorro, number two was Sean Connery and number three was Derrick. But when Derrick asks Martina if she still wants to spend the night with Zorro, her answer made me laugh out loud.

It’s Good To Be Number Three was like a Sex in the City or Friends episode that I could thoroughly enjoy and made me feel good after reading. This is another great, slice of life story from Ms. Littlejohn.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dancing With Your Heart by Anika Hamilton



Dancing with Your Heart by Anika Hamiliton
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand Publishing, Siren
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (85 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Cactus

Fabian Baxter has loved Caden Eliot his whole life. but figured the blacksmith didn't return his feelings. Now a chance encounter with a secret admirer and the sudden courtship of Caden has Fabian confused.

Caden Eliot has loved Fabian Baxter his whole life, and now has finally decided on a course of action. To win Fabian's love, Caden will come at him from two different angles. However, his plan has the potential to backfire.

These two men must overcome their secrets in order to yield their heart's desire.

"Dancing can be a very sensual expression of one's love for another. The feel of that special someone in your arms, the syncing of your bodies when you move as one, all these things can but bring you closer together. All those things ensure that you are dancing with your heart." ~ Anika ~

The path to true love is almost never easy and for Caden and Fabian, their journey to happy every after is mixed with false starts and misunderstandings. Caden and Fabian are in love with each other yet neither man has the courage to express his feelings. During the monthly Dance of Love, Caden takes a bold step and starts his seduction of the other man under the guise of a secret admirer. Unfortunately their courtship is offset by injury, misunderstanding, and fear as the two men struggle to express their feelings and finally be together.

I have to admit to finding this story a tad melodramatic. Caden and Fabian suffer from problems that clearly could be worked out if the men simply talked to each other. Instead, immaturity and fear of rejection create false tension and drama to fill the pages of this story. Considering Caden and Fabian both express their love for each other in numerous ways almost from the start, the persistent fear Fabian insists upon for not completely accepting Caden is overdrawn. As is the second half of the book when Caden is injured and Fabian lacks the emotional and mental strength to deal with the problem.

The story itself is okay with the details regarding the setting interesting in a fantasy aspect. The dancing element of the book, showing love through dance and the dance being more than simple movement of limbs to music is a nice incorporation and combined with the setting, saves this story from being unredeemable.

Additionally, the writing was decent without any obvious editing and spelling mistakes, and the characters were well developed, even if not always very strong and charismatic. I also found the commonplace atmosphere of gay couples a nice touch.

For those romantics who can look beyond these problems and enjoy the very emotional and dramatic tale of two lovers who finally manage to be together, you might enjoy this one, including the very sweet and sentimental ending.

The Claiming of Bethany by Michelle Marquis



The Claiming of Bethany by Michelle Marquis
Publisher: Mystic Moon Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (36 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Wisteria

Princess Bethany La Sorra had known and loved Prince Cohen all her life. He's everything she thought she ever wanted in a husband. That was until she's kidnapped by the prince's sworn enemy, Captain Northe Theron on the eve of their wedding. Now her future suddenly doesn't look so safe or certain.

Captain Northe Theron is a bold alien soldier come to take Bethany hostage until the Prince agrees to meet his demands. His plan is simple revenge. When Prince Cohen gets his bride back, she'll be carrying a little extra baggage on board as retribution for his betrayal. Everything should go perfectly, as long as Northe can keep from falling in love with this willful, lovely creature.

On the eve of Bethany’s wedding, her father’s home is invaded by aliens. She is taken as a prisoner because of a deal her fiancé did not deliver on. Though she finds her captor handsome, he tells her his plan is to impregnate her and send her back to her fiancé. She knows her fiancé would not want her if she were to become pregnant by another man. During her time as a captive, she begins to see another side to the handsome alien man. What will she do when posed with a choice to return home, or stay as his bride?

Hoe-de-doe! What a vivid picture! I had no idea I could find a green skinned, forked tongued man sexy, but I did. The author’s ability to provide descriptions of beings and animals not known to exist is wonderful. The hero and heroine were both memorable characters. The only issue I had with the story was the ease with which the hero was able to seduce the heroine. Here she is, kidnapped the day before her wedding, stolen away from the man she loves and has loved her entire life. The kidnapper tells her he plans to impregnate her and send her back to her husband to be, and the next thing you know she is begging the hero to take her!

Okay... so maybe I found the story a little hard to believe, the conflict a little thin, but it was still a very imaginative, well written story. Ms Marquis, I find your ease of story telling refreshing and bold. I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Unholy Lust by Iona Blair



Unholy Lust by Iona Blair
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (93 pgs)
Other: M/F, Multiple Partners, Spanking
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Tiger Lily

Charlotte is a respectable librarian, whose repressed sexual desires hurl her into a midlife crisis. She finds herself irresistibly drawn to kink, and to young and virile men.

There is Lee, a handsome police officer she meets on the Internet. And Jason, with his shaved head and pierced penis. These risky encounters send her racing down a dangerous road. But this red-hot cougar is no longer mistress of her own soul or will. While on the sidelines, someone close to her is plotting her demise.

When her estranged husband finds out about her liaisons, Charlotte gets a brutal spanking with a wooden spoon. But this does not stop her uninhibited pursuit of sexual pleasure, including spankings and bondage.

What do you do when you find that the one man who turns you on isn’t enough? Do you give in and seek another, or do you find ways to rekindle the magic? In Charlotte’s case, well, you must read Unholy Lust to find out!

Ms. Blair writes a steamy short story. Her love scenes are charged with tension and lust and fun to read. The characters are relatable in that they know what they want, yet are slow to admit, just as anyone can be. I wished they would’ve been more assertive in their decisions, but that made them unique and human. Charlotte wants love and sex – lots of sex. Her husband Hugh is reluctant to give in to her requests. What’s a wife to do?

I liked that Charlotte was an independent woman who took control of her decisions. Yes, she loved her husband, but she also knew what she wanted out of life and strove to get it. I liked Jason as the hero because he accepted her without question. That’s something not frequently seen in this day and age.

If you want an exciting, sexy read great for the beach or a lazy afternoon, then Unholy Lust is the novella for you. I give this work 4 cherries.

Exposure by G.A. Hauser



Exposure by G.A. Hauser
Publisher: Linden Bay Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (196 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Phlox

Exposure…the truth will set you free

In politics for twenty years, Senator Kipp Kensington knows that even a whisper of suspicion about his sexuality could jeopardize his aspirations for the Presidency. Kipp thought he could be content living a lie in a marriage of convenience. Then he met Robin Grant.

Leather-clad, motorcycle riding Robin isn’t accustomed to hiding what he is or denying himself who he wants. The instant he meets Kipp, the sparks begin to fly and what started as a chance encounter soon turns into a full-blown affair of sizzling proportions.

When the contract Kipp has had for nine years with his now alcoholic, bitter wife begins to crumble and he’s threatened with blackmail, the senator needs to make a decision. Should he hide who he really is in order to avoid losing his career, or reveal the truth and set himself free?

Now here’s something you don’t see every day-a romance with a social conscience and a relevant topical subject. These do crop up here and there, romances with messages, but the possibility for maudlin and heavy-handed treatment is all too present. Hauser manages, in large part, to escape both of these traps in this fast-moving story.

The characters draw you in despite what seemed to me to be plausibility and likeability issues. Kipp is supposed to be an honest politician who truly cares about making a difference and yet he’s engaged in this deception of not only a sham marriage (one sadly sees enough of those in real life) but a sham marriage by contract. Perhaps this is meant to make the whole arrangement appear more ‘honest’ but it struck me as terribly calculating and cold. Robin, our young hero, spends far too much time feeling sorry for himself, blaming his shortcomings on everyone else, usually a sure turn off for me.

However, Hauser has a gift for drawing the reader into a character’s life. She ensures we understand their very human flaws and somehow makes us like them sometimes because of them rather than despite them. Robin and Kipp are both fighting against deeply ingrained prejudices, within their families and close social circles as well as in public, so much so that Kipp has chosen to hide and live a celibate life rather than risk his career and Robin spirals into a depression that sends him home from law school to his less than understanding mother. Their meeting is, of course, the turning point in both their lives, as it should be in a romance, and their struggles to balance love against all else is compelling enough for a good deal of suspension of disbelief. The ending was a bit too cute for me, a little contrived, perhaps, though I certainly wish it could be like that, and I could have done without the final scene, but the dialogue rings true and the story keeps moving along at a perfect pace.

Exposure is a fast read and a fun one. Hauser does an excellent balancing act here between the erotic and emotional sides of the story, making certain the reader will pull for the heroes and the success of their relationship. A M/M romance (or any romance, for that matter) needs to be about more than just the sex, and this certainly is.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Playing Lycan Games by Anh Leod



Playing Lycan Games by Anh Leod
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Scarlet Rose
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (70 pgs)
Other: M/F, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Tiger Lily

Twice a year, Jem is compelled to leave his wolf form and solitary home in the Oregon forest to follow the scent of a woman. His woman. A weekend of intense pleasure is the most he can hope for because she doesn’t know about his other identity. Soon, he’ll melt back into the woods and his woman will return to her city life.

But Catee turns thirty this year, and her goal has changed from playing erotic games to filling the empty spot in her life with Jem’s love, if only he’ll offer it to her after seven years of weekend passion. Can Catee have it all with Jem or has she picked the wrong man? Can their relationship survive his shapeshifter secret?

They meet twice a year for mind-blowing sex. She wants more. Can he give her all her desires or are they only Playing Lycan Games?

Ms. Leod writes a captivating short story. Intrigue and questions riddle the plot until the end, yet it makes the read better. I couldn’t put this one down.

Jem’s a Lycan, but not by choice. Now he’s relegated to living a new life. I liked his strength to admit who and what he was, but I also liked his reservations. The reader can identify with his restraint – admit all his truths and potentially lose the only woman who brings joy to his life or bottle it up and see what happens.

You can’t help but identify with Catee as well. She loves the man with all her heart, yet he’s unable to commit. Sounds like many people the reader probably knows. It brings the story down to earth.

Even though this story is short, the reader becomes engaged with the characters from page one. You want to know what happens and which decisions they make. Plus, the love scenes sizzle with unspoken passion that the reader can feel teeming from each page.

If you’re looking for a smart and sexy short story with a wolf twist, then Playing Lycan Games is the novella for you. I give this work 4 ½ cherries.

The Song of Orpheus by Selena Kitt



The Song of Orpheus by Selena Kitt
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (121 pgs)
Other: M/F, Mild Bondage
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Phlox

Orpheus returns from war to discover Eurydice has been faithful to him, only to lose her again to tragedy. Determined to get her back, he ventures to the Underworld armed with nothing but his famous lyre.

Eurydice has a choice: brief and perfect love, destined to end in tragedy, or warm companionship which may last for centuries. Throw in a friend who would be hurt by the one choice and gods who could be angered by the other, and the emotional stew is ready to simmer.

This is a sweet, character-driven take on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. I’m fond of reworked fairy tales and myths, always intrigued to see what direction an author might take and what gaps he or she chooses to fill in. Viewing the tale from Eurydice’s point of view is an excellent choice since she gets rather short shrift in the myth (as in: Orpheus loved Eurydice, she died) and I enjoyed this Eurydice as a character. She is strong enough to stand up to powerful gods, though in a polite way, and determined enough to have what she most desires no matter how many people try to warn her off. Her approach to sex is perfect for her character as well, no passive, ‘take me now’ scenes for her, making for some wonderfully imaginative, steamy love scenes. Watch that scarf, folks, it’s instrumental in one of my favorite parts.

Unfortunately, the choice to tell the story exclusively from Eurydice’s point of view leaves the reader with the feeling of a story half-told. Orpheus is difficult to truly feel attached to since his struggles are only seen through her eyes and some of the most important dramatic elements in the story occur in her absence. No wandering the world in mourning, no journey to the Underworld, no crazed Maenads at the end. Consequently, the end felt a bit too rushed and a bit too sweet, lacking the wrenching drama of the original story and the bittersweet note that should come at the end. Orpheus’ final solution is, in fact, a departure so far from the story that it left me feeling a bit flat.

The other distraction this story held for me was the difficulty in feeling transported. While there are centaurs, nymphs and gods galore running around, I did not get a feeling of being in a different time period. The fair at the beginning could have been in any century, most likely post 14th, with the stage and the way performers were presented. The dialogue, while well-written, is on occasion far too modern as well.

All things considered, this is a sweet love story, full of emotion and tenderness. Ms. Kitt shines in the sensual portions of this piece and the sex scenes alone are worth the read for their imaginative heat. The Song of Orpheus is a fast, engaging read for a summer afternoon, suited to the season.

Rockstar by Mina Carter



Rockstar by Mina Carter
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Length: Short Story (72 pgs)
Genre: Contemporary
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Bittersweet

A sexy Rock Star. A man bent on revenge. One explosive love affair.

Zette Matthews, darling of the music industry, has it all: haunting voice, dramatic looks and curvaceous figure. Every woman wants to be her, and every man wants to be with her.

Unlike the rest of her fans, Jarrett Jansen isn't content to adore Zette from afar. He intends to have her. Especially now as he finds himself in need of a wife before his birthday, or he'll lose control of the business he's run for years.

Revenge may be best served cold, but JJ prefers his hot, with a side order of pleasure, secured with a wedding band.

As a lover of music, and mainly rock/metal music, I picked out this story because of its suggestive title. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the main character was not a man, as is usual for tales regarding rock musicians, but a woman, and a curvaceous one (not your usual thin model-type), at that!

To top it off, Zette, the main character is a sweet girl with a difficult background, who although is at the top of the billboard list, is still timid and modest. She shows one façade to the world, but she’s got some deep feelings inside and some dreams which have been dashed countless times. Nonetheless, she still battles to go on with her life, making her a worthy heroine.

For me, it was harder to feel any affection for JJ, the main male character. Though the author describes him as a gorgeous hunk, and we are able to see through out the story that his plan of revenge against Zette is not exactly working and he’s falling for her, I personally think that the story lacks describing his true inner feelings. I would have really liked to see some more caring on his behalf. Due to this and a lack of confrontation when I felt one was warranted, even though the ending is a happy one, I felt slightly disappointed.

I did, however, like the way the sexual scenes were depicted, making them enticing as well as being the one point where I was really able to see how JJ was feeling.

All in all, Rockstar is well worth a read.

Unleashed by Ericka Scott



Unleashed by Ericka Scott
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (87 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Wisteria

The sequel to The Werewolf Whisperer! Jazmine Carmichael is the leader of a pack of werewolves living in Eclipse, California. When two of the pack members die under mysterious circumstances, she's determined to get answers.

Blaze Petrofsky and two other researchers often played a game of what if. What if werewolves were real? They set about creating the virus, meeting failure after failure, until he buys an old trunk in an auction. In a small silver tin, he finds werewolf cream. One of his colleagues tries it out, and it works. Before Blaze can look for a cure, he's removed from the project and the government takes over.

Now, five years later, the nightmare has come back to haunt him when a beautiful, mysterious, sexy woman brings him a wolf to autopsy. A wolf who, on closer inspection, is human. When Jazmine is arrested, Blaze follows the clues she left behind, hoping to pay back the debt he owes for rediscovering and unleashing lyncanthropy. But is he too late to save the woman he's come to love?

In the middle of the Mojave desert is a town called Eclipse. It may look like any other small town, but the residents who live there are nothing like the typical neighbors one would expect to find. They are all werewolves. Rounded up by the government and forced to live secluded they have come to rely on each other for everything. So when some of the pack members start dying mysteriously and no one in town can get any answers, Jazmine decides to take matters into her own hands. She locates a wolf expert and recruits him to help her determine a cause of death, but sparks sizzle between them. Can their love last when she finds out his secret?

First let me just bow down and say FABULOUS!!!! It has been a long time since I have read a werewolf story that had such a unique spin and kept me engaged as well as this one did. A great story with characters guaranteed to pull you in and leave you gasping. The plot was great and complete with twists and turns you rarely find in a short story. Perfect for paranormal lovers the world over, the only thing that would have made it better is if it were longer. I would have loved to know more about the town and the residents who live in it.

Kudos to the author for creating such a wonderfully imaginative story and the ability to pull it off so well. Smoking hot love scenes gave it just the bump it needed to make this story truly great. Keep them coming, as I will be looking for more.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Forbidden: The Temptation by Samantha Sommersby



Forbidden: The Temptation by Samantha Sommersby
Publisher: Linden Bay, LLC
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (160 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Tiger Lily

A year ago, Jacob Madison got more than he bargained for during a rock-climbing trip to Yosemite. A freak accident left him badly injured, at the mercy of the elements—and the wolves who rescued him. If it hadn’t been for them, he’d be dead. He’d also still be human. Now he’s back, hoping to find out who he is and what he’s become. Instead, he finds smart, sexy Allison Connelly.

A forensic psychologist, Allison is newly divorced and proudly standing on her own two feet…until an unexpected storm shears off the snow bank she’s standing on. She plunges down an icy ravine, thinking she’s heading for oblivion. Then she lands in the arms of a tall, dark Texan. Jake.

Brought together by circumstance and bound by passion, secrets from their past threaten their future before it can begin. And somewhere in the mountains lurks a rogue Were turned serial killer. Whatever the danger Jake’s inner beast poses to Allison, there’s only one way to protect her—unleash it. Even if it costs him her love.

Warning: This book contains raging winter storms, truly inspiring sex, a kick-butt heroine, and one very hot, dirty-talking cowboy…who’s sometimes furry.

He’s a lycan in denial. She’s running from a bad relationship. They never expect to meet and never expect to uncover something bigger than they can handle. That’s what happens when things are Forbidden: The Temptation.

Ms. Sommersby writes an interesting tale of a man unwilling to accept his fate as a lycan shifter. Her descriptions are rich and the supporting characters add to the story, giving it a human (yet wolf) dimension that the reader can relate to.

How many of us aren’t completely comfortable with who we are? Probably many, whether it be the job we do, who we love, or where we live. The Temptation deals with that issue. It’s interesting to see how Jake deals with his inner beast. As for the heroine, Allison proves much more capable than she appears. She grows through the story, making her a great model. You can overcome your fears and start new, if you’re willing to try.

Although there were quite a few characters to keep straight, the plots kept the reader involved through the story. I couldn’t put this one down.

If you want a sexy story of forgiveness and redemption, then you want to read Forbidden: The Temptation. I give this book 4 ½ cherries.