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Friday, May 7, 2010

Mistress of Wolves by Leona Grey



Mistress of Wolves by Leona Grey
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (54 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Agapanthus

A werewolf has gone rogue, killing his wife and her lover. Now Collin, Alanna's mate and an Alpha werewolf, must lead the hunting party that will try to prevent the bloodbath that promises to ensue.

But this rogue isn't acting normally. Collin and the others are in more danger than they realize, and Alanna can't just sit back and wait for him to be hurt. For the sake of her love she will become Mistress of Wolves... but is it worth giving up their chance at a family?

Mistress of Wolves is a fast-paced roller-coaster ride filled with passionate characters and a storyline that will keep you turning pages to the very end.

What would happen if a werewolf went nuts and killed his mate? It would be a terrible mess for the entire pack and would have to be handled rapidly to ensure the safety of the rest of the pack's mates. This is the trouble that our main characters Alanna and Collin find themselves in.

Beginning with an interesting and very spicy test of his mates loyalty the story then flows into the conflict of finding and dealing with the rogue werewolf while the mates are sequestered safely away with the elderly Grandmother Rae and her mate John.

This story is filled with an abundance of characters. From Alanna and her best friend Julia, who are endearing and make you fall into feeling for their plight immediately, to the alphas of the other packs and the fact that they are pretty much jerks. It gives great depth to the story and made me hope all would end well.

Fast-paced and full of some great twists in the storyline, this volume by Leona Grey is a fantastic read with a realistic look at pack dynamics, and a mystic tone that makes this story sing.

Hidden Desires by Elizabeth Lapthorne



Hidden Desires by Elizabeth Lapthorne
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Other: M/F
Length: Short Story (89 pgs)
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Lily has to admit she’s desperate. She’s in New Orleans on a two week vacation, she made the trip especially for Mardi Gras, and she doesn’t have a mask! Everything she’s found seems wrong.

As a last-ditch effort, she enters a small shop and finds the perfect mask…until it shows her visions of herself getting ravished by a masked highwayman. When that highwayman turns up at the Mardi Gras bash, she knows the chemistry between them could only lead to one place.

The only thing that remains hidden between them is their true desires.

This story was previously published as part of the Behind The Mask Anthology. Set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, Lily is in search of the perfect mask. Wandering down a back street, she stumbles upon Ye Olde Store. She spots a mask sitting among some romance novels and knows she’s found the perfect one. As she places it on her face, she suddenly gets a vision of herself in a Regency style dress being kissed by a highwayman. Back at the hotel and while wearing it again, she gets another glimpse of herself with the same man.

At the dance the following day, she actually meets a highwayman named Andrew. He works with Lily and has been pursuing her for months. He overheard her planning a trip to New Orleans and thought this would be his opportunity to make his move. After a night of passion, Lily finds out who is under the mask and decides to turn the tables on him.

This is a short fun read. Combine, Mardi Gras, masks and a highwayman and you have the makings of a hot and steamy story. Lapthorne doesn’t disappoint. Lily and Andrew are easy to like and come across as the perfect pair of lovers that just need a little push to get them to where they should be. I liked that the author also added some paragraphs told from the viewpoint of the mask. This might sound silly, but it’s fun, humorous and I think it added to the lightheartedness of this particular story.

If you’re looking for a quick and sexy summer afternoon read, this is a good pick.

Plain Brown Wrapper (C.H.A.S.E. Collection) by Shelby Morgen



Plain Brown Wrapper (C.H.A.S.E. Collection) by Shelby Morgen
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Holiday, Anthology
Length: Full Length (261 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/M, F/F, F/M/F, F/M/M, Ménage, Multiple Partners, Anal Play, Fetish, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Cholla

Candy Nelson: Candy has wandered into a nightmare -- a slave auction in Southeast Asia. Things like this don't happen -- not in the twenty-first century. She isn't supposed to be here. She needs to get out. Now. But from across the room, a man's eyes meet hers, and Candy knows she'll do whatever it takes...

Terry Bradford: Male Escort. Terry needs money, fast. So he answers an ad on the internet. Six thousand euros for a week's vacation in France, all expenses paid, entertaining Lady Elizabeth at her private villa. Sounds like the perfect plan, right? After all, it's just sex. Then he meets a woman in the airport -- a woman who will make him question everything he knows about what is means to be a man.

Richard Marten: Ani's stressed. She really needs to forget her asshole boss, Richard. (Candy's asshole ex-husband). She also needs to get laid. (The two dilemmas are soooo not related.) Crystal's got a membership at The Fetish Club. Two girlfriends. One bottle of tequila. And a charity auction... How bad can it get? Crystal wants Ani. Ani wants revenge. Richard has... the Victoria's Secret underwear?

Welcome to the world of C.H.A.S.E. – The Coalition for Humanitarian Aid for the Subjugated and Exploited. People the world over need help, whether from making innocent mistakes or by getting in over their heads, and that’s when they need to be rescued. Two of the stories in this collection involve C.H.A.S.E. and its efforts to do just that, while setting the scene for the third and final story. A great collection of stories, all interconnected with one another, that just flow from one to the next with ease.

The first story in this collection is called All I Want for Christmas and is a great introduction to Ms. Morgen’s world of C. H. A. S. E. What starts out as a routine trip to Singapore on a work assignment quickly becomes more than Candy could have ever dreamed. Suddenly wrapped up in a human trafficking ring, she’s torn between the man she’s come to love and getting home safely. I love the way the lawyer in Candy comes out every time things get to be overwhelming. It’s like she has a second person inside her just ready to step out and organize things at a moment’s notice. It’s a realistic way to keep her from falling to pieces and yet keeping it believable. When you combine her reserve with the raw power and sexuality of the man she rescues – Brook – you are in for some serious fireworks. A sweet story spiced in all the right ways to make it more than hot.

Following All I Want for Christmas is a more intense and serious story entitled Plain Brown Wrapper. Kelly, fed up with her egotistical boss, walks out after being called the wrong name one too many times. Insistent on following her true desire – to become a female domme and live the lifestyle for real – she encounters Terry, working for a male escort company. The story only just begins there – Shelby Morgen has quite a knack for intense stories. In addition to delving into the world of BDSM, she takes the story along a dark path laced with sex and submission. Kelly discovers her true strength while learning that complete control is a frightening thing. Terry, while handsome and independent, discovers that giving up that elusive thing called control can be not just scary but utterly freeing. Combined, they are a powerful couple, encouraging and supportive of the other’s fears and insecurities. A great story to continue the series and keep you engaged and involved.

Wrapping up this steamy collection is Welcome to the Fetish Club. Desperate to let his feminine side out, Richard Marsden allows himself to be sold as a ‘gurl’ in a charity auction… little does he realize he’ll be going home with his receptionist and her Mistress. Easily one of the most erotic and involved bondage stories I’ve ever read, Welcome to the Fetish Club delves deeply into the world of BDSM and the life of a submissive. While also being the most explicit of the three stories, it also contains probably the most profound character changes as well. Richard does a complete 360 in both attitude and thought by the end of his story. While I hated him during his brief appearances in the first two stories, I really did begin to like him during this last one. That is just a hint at how much he evolves.

Loaded with some of the hottest sex around, the C. H. A. S. E. Collection by Shelby Morgen is an exhilarating and erotic series of stories centering on abused and helpless people, stuck in situations far beyond their control. Well-written, with a nice balance between the intimate, the serious, and the silly, this collection begins mild and works its way up from there. For me, the best feature is that each story interlinks with characters from the stories before, giving the series more continuity and the feel of a cohesive novel. While I don’t require that in an anthology, it sure does raise the appeal for me. If you’re a fan of the dangerous and the very, very sexy, then Plain Brown Wrapper (C.H.A.S.E Collection) is the perfect collection of stories to warm your winter nights.

Colters’ Woman by Maya Banks



Colters’ Woman by Maya Banks
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: Full Length (216 pgs)
Other: M/F, Multiple Partners, Anal Play, Menage, M/F/M/M
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Holly Bardwell is running from her past mistakes. Straight into the arms of the Colter brothers.

A Prequel to Colters’ Wife

Colters’ Legacy, Book 1


Adam, Ethan and Ryan aren’t looking for women. They’re looking for a woman. One woman they know will share their lives and their beds. They’re losing hope they’ll find her, that is until Adam discovers Holly lying in the snow just yards from their cabin.

Adam knows she’s the one the minute he holds her in his arms, and as soon as his brothers see her, they know it too. The only problem is convincing Holly of that fact—and protecting her from the danger of her past.

This book has been re-edited and revised. Includes an expanded ending and a new, never-before published short story sequel.

Warning: This title contains the following: explicit sex, graphic language, ménage a quatre, violence.


Holly is on the run from an abusive husband and finds her way to the Colter’s home. Colter brothers Adam, Ethan and Ryan have given up on looking for that one perfect woman who is destined to love all three of them. When they find Holly passed out in the snow on their property, one look and touch tells each brother that she is the one. Now they must explain it to Holly and make her see the love that they share. Will she give in to the attraction she feels to the brothers or will she run scared?

Once again Maya Banks writes a wonderful story full of emotion and depth. This author brings the reader into a special world full of never ending love and happiness. Once Holly realizes her naivety, she quickly rectifies it and becomes a strong woman. I enjoyed watching her bloom under the love and care of the men.

Each of the men are special. Ethan is fun loving and open, putting you at ease from the start, while Adam is a take-charge man of authority, and Ryan is the quiet, complex one. Each unique in their own way, and each love Holly with all their heart. I loved each brother yet Ryan has a special place in this reader’s heart. I really enjoyed the interaction between him and Holly. They complimented each other very well. It was nice to see Holly take his demons away.

This story takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotions. As Holly and the brothers figure out their emotions they must also deal with her soon to be ex-husband and the threat to Holly’s life.

The sex in this book is very intense and burns up the pages, but you can also feel the love that they all have for one another throughout the story. From the love of the brothers to the love for Holly and her love for them it is a wonderful read, each one willing to do anything for the other.

This author’s books have become an automatic buy for me. No matter what I am reading from her I am never disappointed. This book should not be missed.

The Soldier’s Return by Ava Delany



The Soldier’s Return by Ava Delany
Publisher: Breathless Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Short Story (11 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Ambrosia

Wet with anticipation, Janelle waits in her sexiest attire. She longs for her husband’s return from deployment in Afghanistan. When he arrives, she has a surprise for him. But she isn’t the only one with something to share.

Will this homecoming be as fulfilling as she desires?

Though this story is only eleven pages, the passionate scene sets a fast pace and brings a culmination of joy and satisfaction for a soldier’s return. There is no time for tears or regrets as the characters come to life in a flash and make the most of their time together. You will get a sense of the bond between them right off the bat.

What better way to greet her husband of seven years than with a teddy and pure passion. The moment Janelle saw him walk in the door she jumped him, welcoming him home with love. The relationship between the two, though long distance in the past, was thrilling as Ava Delany set a story that makes your heart speed up a pace.

Returning from the military, Ron finds his wife waiting for him in the hallway and doesn’t second guess but leaps into a lustful love session on the couch. It’s obvious he missed her as he can’t wait to truly come home by sinking deep within her. His gift to her, brings her great joy and made this reader sigh with happiness.

Ava Delany has great potential as an author, though the story was way too short. Once the engines revved up, it was done, the happily ever after coming much too soon. If you want a very quick read, this story will satisfy you. The only thing I’d change is to add …‘to be continued’.

This story gets 4 Cherries and heartfelt wishes that the author expand her story-telling, as she’s great at it.

Moonlight Madness by Marilyn Lee



Moonlight Madness by Marilyn Lee
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Anthology
Length: Full Length (308 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, M/M
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Agapanthus

One beautiful, addictive woman. Two warring brothers prepared to fight to the death for her love.

There is no more compelling force in a vampire's life than that of bloodlust. During a difficult and prolonged Feast of Indulgence, vampire/shifter Etienne Gautier has found his perfect mate, his bloodlust, Raven Monclaire. But in order to claim her, he'll have to wrest her from the clutches of his twin brother, Acier. Etienne is determined to have Raven -- even if he has to kill Acier to get her.

The only peace and joy Acier has known during the last few years is finding his bloodlust, the beautiful but unpredictable Raven Monclaire. After a lifetime of subjugating his needs to ensure his twin, Etienne, has everything he desires, Acier learns Etienne is now demanding he relinquish Raven. A furious Acier comes to the painful realization that Etienne must die.

Only Raven can save them from themselves. But who'll rescue her?

Vampires, Werewolves, Aliens and hybrids abound in this collection of three integrated short stories by Marilyn Lee.

Part 1 – This is the beginning of our tale. Twins Etienne and Acier are thrust into the throes of their Feast of Indulgence in this story. As beginnings go, this is a good one in that it has a strong cast of characters who develop well within the story, without seeming overblown. I fell instantly for Acier’s fiancée, Raven. She is a strong woman but her relationship with half-vampire, half-shifter Acier gets very interesting as the story progresses. Filled with an abundance of characters and vividly written, this tale is a great start to the anthology.

Part 2 – Continues the tale of Acier and Etienne. Saved from his feast, Acier must now deal with the traitor in his pack that tried to kill him. The continued character development in this story is a great continuation from part 1. The story of part 2 picks up just after part 1’s conclusion. This section is definitely the rough and tumble section of the book that has erotic scenes that might make some people uncomfortable.

Part 3 - Moonlight Healing – In the conclusion to this epic tale, Etienne is saved from madness and the bonds between the twins and their bloodmates, as well as the secondary stories of their family, wrap up and all loose ends are tied. The third and final chapter of this saga continues to develop the relationships of the main characters with their fathers. The interpersonal relationships between Etienne, Acier, Raven and the twins’ vampire kin is interesting and engaging and keeps the reader turning the pages to the very end. I have to admit I am a little disappointed that some of the resolutions are alluded to but never really explained.

The only real problem I had with the story is that more supporting characters appeared with each section. These secondary characters didn’t hurt the story but they did certainly make things a bit confusing. The erotic scenes of the book seemed to be rather crudely worded to me but given the majority of the sex in the book is rough, the wording, in retrospect, seems appropriate.

Ms. Lee has written a great story that develops not only the main characters but also the supporting cast, weaving an intricate and interesting world of the creatures that roam the night.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Uncorked by Andrew Grey



Uncorked by Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (254 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Phlox

Bobby Bielecki is heading home from art school to help run the family wine store so his adopted father and partner can take a vacation. While filling in, Bobby will have to deal with his once-best friend and lost love, Kenny, who pushed him away from their burgeoning relationship, encouraging him follow his dreams and realize his artistic talents.

Despite the tension between them, Bobby and Kenny decide to put their differences aside and work together to figure out what happened to a case of expensive wine. Their investigation leads them to a young runaway and people from Bobby's past, and dealing with them reminds Bobby and Kenny of how close they once were. But despite their growing feelings, Bobby is afraid Kenny will do what he’s done before and push Bobby away for his own good.

The premise of falling in love with your best friend, and the hazards thereof, is a familiar one in romance, but Uncorked adds an extra twist: for a time, Bobby and Kenny also lived as brothers. It takes a bit to uncover the how and why of this unique blended family. The tale of two dads with two adopted sons unfolds slowly, but the extra complications of family dynamics adds an interesting layer of emotional landmines, and pretty much guarantees that no one can simply turn his back and walk away.

The writing, despite a bit of a stilted feel to the first few paragraphs, flows smoothly and the love scenes are beautiful, sweet interludes lovingly described. The building of the relationship between the principles, the twists and turns of their realizations and misunderstandings, are where the writing and the dialogue hits its stride. Bobby and Kenny are fully realized people, driven by very real hopes and anxieties, with strengths they are on the cusp of discovering. Like any of us, they need to face the specters in their past, and quell their doubts about the future, before they can make a life together. This internal journey is handled with sympathy and often heart-wrenching detail.

The supporting cast, the settings, and the subplot of the missing wine are not so well-fleshed out. I had trouble picturing certain secondary characters: I couldn't see either Sam or Sean (the dads.); Except for being pregnant, I have no idea what Katie looks like. The wine shop, as well, where so much of the scenes take place, is a bit sketchy for me, so some more detailed sketching here and there might have been in order. The missing wine, the central ‘mystery’ in the story, was not as crucial to the plot as the reader is led to believe, and, I’ll confess, I found the solution a bit of a letdown and a little difficult to swallow (the plot device, not the wine). The actual emotional climax comes a little farther on, and one wonders if the wine plot could have been dispensed with.

The story is a lovely one, with likeable characters the reader wants to root for. These are two of the good guys. The reader can’t help but hope they overcome the anguish of the past and the self-doubts that germinate from it in order to find each other. Mr. Grey’s voice is passionate and sweet at once, a perfect blend for the genre, a voice I will look for again.

The Widow by Rosemary Ambale



The Widow by Rosemary Ambale
Publisher: Noble Romance Publishing
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (26 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/M, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Set in early 20th century India, when sati, the practice of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands had just been abolished, but widows were still regarded as accursed, this novella explores the passion buried in the heart of one young widow who would not let custom and tradition get in the way of her love.

Her husband is dead and one of her only options is to throw herself on his funeral pyre. So what’s a girl to do when the man across the street catches her fancy? Fire for her husband? Or fire licking her body for sexy reasons?

Read The Widow and find out more.

Ms. Ambale’s story intrigued me from the beginning. Stories set in picturesque settings are frequent, but not so much in India. Once I started this story, I couldn’t put it down. There are plot twists to this tale that kept me firmly in my seat, wanting to see how it all played out.

Abhy is an interesting man. He’s young and unmarried and wants a wife, not a fling. In his time period, wanting a woman who is a widow is unheard of. I liked his vanguard spirit, even if I didn’t totally agree with his methods.

Jay, his friend, is a total mysterious package that I rooted for. There were instances when I expected one thing to happen and the story progressed in a completely opposite way that was great. This story was in no way predictable, which made it memorable for me. My only issue was that I really didn’t get to see things from the widow’s point of view. I would have liked to have know what she thought and how she felt about him in return. Otherwise, this story was great, and held my attention.

If you want a sexy little story, set in a time period not frequently used, then you need to read The Widow. I give this short read 4 cherries.

Doing the Right Thing by Barbara Elsborg



Doing the Right Thing by Barbara Elsborg
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (300 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Anthurium

Addie Winter is single—just one more reason for disappointment in her permanently disapproving mother’s eyes. There’s nothing she wants more than to be loved but when her own mother can’t bring herself to love her, she wonders if anyone can. What she needs is a man—real would be ideal, but she’ll settle for pretend. Anything to shut her mother up.

Will Mansell chokes on his drink when Addie offers to pay him to spend the night in her room. Tall, dark-haired and the epitome of Addie’s “hero”, he can’t believe his luck because women usually go for his blond-haired brother. Ed Mansell is a serial playboy with an electric smile who waltzes through life and through women. Lucky for Will and Ed, they don’t have the same taste in women. But that was before they met Addie.

Far from pretending, Will and Ed set out to prove Addie is worthy of love—but Addie finds too much love can be just as painful as none at all.

This is a great book about a great girl who has a rotten family. Addie just needs to convince her family, and her mother, that she has a boyfriend in order to get them off her back. She's sick of them giving her a hard time about the fact that she does not have a relationship. Then she stumbles, literally, onto Will at a local hotel gym and eventually convinces him to pretend to be her boyfriend. Pefect solution to all that ails her. It will all work out from here, right?

Not so much.

Circumstances and fate twist to bring the two into contact, and the sparks fly between them. The book progresses and we encounter the arrival of an ex-wife that may not be an ex after all, a playboy brother with a heart of gold, and a friend who is easily deceived. All this combines to make for a great story: the sex is smoking and the storyline is fun and modern.

This was a fun read with an unexpected ending. The happily ever after is delightful and enjoyable. I would recommend this book if you, especially like your stories steaming hot, with a fun and unexpected twist.

Bedtime Stories: Inspiration by Selena Illyria



Bedtime Stories: Inspiration by Selena Illyria
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (24 pgs)
Other: M/F/M, Ménage, Spanking
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Holly

Cover artist Kelsey is on a deadline for Bedtime Press but her elemental powers are out of control. As a cat shifter, she's in heat, which is interfering with her concentration. An electrical surge, power outage and the appearance of two sexy digital models come to life may be the answer to her prayers.

What is a cover artist without inspiration?

Kelsey is an elemental witch, the cover artist for Bedtime Press, and until recently, has been very prolific. Right now, she has a couple of problems. First of all, her current cover just isn’t working out, and she can’t figure it out. And more importantly, as a cat shifter she is going into heat, which throws off her concentration even more. When a surge of built up power fries her workstation and a storm causes a power outage, Kelsey wishes that her two favorite digital creations were real. Can Kelsey accept what happens when her wish comes true? Can Maximus and Jonny solve all of Kelsey’s troubles? Or will she wake up and find herself alone with her thoughts and desires?

Selena Illyria knows hot, and with this short story, she once again proves it. Kelsey is a wonderful character, so full of passion for what she does. The distraction of her inner cat is just one of the hurdles she needs to overcome. I love her imagination and determination to do the best job possible for each of her assignments. Her surprise when Jonny and Maximus come to life is delightful. Jonny and Max are two very sexy studs, ready and willing to cater to all of Kelsey’s desires.

Only the wonderful imagination of Selena Illyria could unite a cat shifter, a werewolf and a vampire and make it work out successfully. I loved the attitude Kelsey showed, once she realized that Max and Jonny were there to stay. If you want a quick treat, with lots of heat and passion, this Bedtime Story is just the thing. I loved it, and I think you will too.

Finding the Right One by Barbara Elsborg



Finding the Right One by Barbara Elsborg
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (198 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Anthurium

Take a gorgeous man and a sexy woman. Add a sprinkling of Greek sunshine, a splash of blue sea. A perfect recipe for love. Except the man is nursing a broken heart and the woman is nursing a black eye.

Imo needs something to help her forget the man she’s left in London. When she throws open the shutters of her villa to see a Greek god reclining in all his naked glory, how can she resist?

Working as a sailing instructor in Greece is just what Will needs to forget the woman he can no longer have. Not easy when she’s rarely out of his thoughts. When he’s attacked by a minx wearing red underwear, he wonders if he’s found the perfect way to distract himself.

Finding out if Imo’s the right one could be just the cure Will needs…so long as it doesn’t get him killed. With Imo’s past in hot pursuit—it might.

Note: Will and Imo’s story is a wonderful tale on its own, but if you’re wondering how Will came to be reclining naked on a Greek Island, nursing a broken heart, grab a copy of Doing the Right Thing to discover where it all went wrong.

Will is nursing a broken heart on a Greek Island, content to just wallow a bit and lick his wounds. Then, in walks Imo, a pretty but very klutzy heroine... with a black eye. Imo is running from her groom, a groom she left about 15 min after the ceremony. Throw in some pursuing goons and a great story unfolds.

This tale is full of lots of fun and adventure. But, that's not all, it also includes tons of great sex! The descriptions are fantastic and exciting. They're so vivid, they make the story flow smoothly. The mystery very slowly unfolds as the reader, along with Imo and Will, try to figure out why men are chasing and trying to capture her. The relationship between these two is very sweet, as Will comforts Imo and tries to take care of her. I liked to see that bit of tenderness in the middle of all the action.

If you're looking for a fun, exciting story that will pull you along on a sexy adventure, then this is the one for you. Barbara Elsborg did a wonderful job pulling me in and holding my attention. This is a great story, and I will certainly look for more from this author.

Sweet Surrender by Ashleigh Walton



Sweet Surrender by Ashleigh Walton
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (200 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Shy and self-conscious Derek has spent two years of his life losing a hefty amount of weight and is about to enter graduate school to become a certified architect. Now he’s determined to find love, so he places an Internet ad in search of a boyfriend. Gerry, a confident, self-made man with his own landscaping business, falls head over heels for Derek as soon as they meet.

While Derek’s waiting for Gerry to find something wrong with him and call the whole thing off, Gerry is hiding something from Derek, afraid of what the consequences may be when and if it's discovered. Only when they find the courage to confide in one another can they commit to love.

On his first date in years, Derek finds the man of his dreams. Derek is finally dating again as his college academics come to a close. After being overweight for many years, he’s slimmed down and decided to find someone for a real relationship. When he meets Gerry, Derek can’t believe his luck, and struggles to understand how someone as hot as Gerry could be interested in him. Unfortunately, that’s not the only hurdle they have to conquer, as real life has a way of testing every relationship.

This is a sweet, undemanding story that features some realistic men, and the problems every couple faces. Derek is struggling with low self esteem from his years being overweight and lacks a lot of confidence in himself and his abilities. He’s only 22, so he still has some maturing and growing emotionally to do, but he’s serious and intelligent. When he meets Gerry, the sparks fly but the two decide to take it slowly and get to know each other. By the time they fall in love, their relationship is going great. Here the story could have ended, but instead they’re shown dealing with various issues thrown at them in life. There are finances, and Gerry’s time consuming business as a landscaper. There is also Gerry’s mother, who is devoutly religious and doesn’t accept that her son is gay. There are living situations to think about and ensuring neither of them moves too quickly. All of this feels more like a real relationship with real men than most romance novels do.

Along those lines, Gerry’s mother is not the typical evil religious woman. Instead, she’s sympathetic as she tries to understand that the son she loves very much could be gay. Being very religious, it goes against her long-held beliefs and she struggles to understand while loving him. This is a nice departure from the more common stereotype. There are a few overly manipulated actions that force the characters to move forward and get them to acknowledge a few things due to their natural caution. Part of this is good and part of it is annoying, since the intention is clear. The pace is pretty good, making the story quick and easy to read. There is a lot of romance, such as Gerry and Derek dancing, and several sex scenes, making for a realistic, fun story.

Overall, this is a sweet, easy story that will appeal to those wanting something outside of the formulaic romance novel. Here are real men with flaws, insecurities, and real life concerns that may test their relationship. They fight and misunderstand each other, eventually learning how to communicate and they are far from perfect but they love each other and make it last. This is a true romance story.

Mystic U: Midterms by Julia Talbot



Mystic U: Midterms by Julia Talbot
Publisher: Changeling Press LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (34 pgs)
Other: M/M, F/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 3 cherries
Review by: Peppermint

Danny has decided to stay at Mystic U in the wilds of Wyoming because his new lovers, Heather and Lee, are just too hard to resist. A lot of people want Danny gone, though, and some of them aren’t afraid to show it in dangerous ways. Lee and Heather are resolute about keeping Danny with them, and alpha male Lee is determined to keep them all safe. Can Danny pass his classes and manage to stay alive?

Danny has everything a man can dream of. When he pursued Heather, a classmate at Mystic U, he not only got one mate, but two. But the happiness doesn’t last long. Someone in Wolf Creek is not happy about the arrangement between Danny, Heather and Lee, and will stop at nothing to make Danny disappear.

This quick read was sizzling from beginning to end. But what do you expect from a bunch of college kids? Even though they should be focusing on their school work, sex is really the only thing occupying their minds.

I enjoyed the fact that the antagonist is unknown. There are a lot of people within the pack upset by the fact that Danny, some city kid going to a local college, is involved with a couple that will eventually be one of the most powerful if not THE most powerful in the pack. With so many upset pack members, the individual acting on their feelings could be anyone. I think it added a little more excitement to the novel as we tried to figure out who the unknown antagonist was.

This story is a follow-up to the previous release, Wolf 101. I didn't have the pleasure of reading the first story, but the plot on this one did not leave me feeling as if I missed anything series-wise. It did however leave me unfulfilled, because the story has no conclusion. It ends right at the climax. I prefer for each story in a series to have its own plot that is resolved at the end of the story. This made it difficult for me to fully enjoy the story.

You'll find the relationship between these three characters very interesting. Lee, being an Alpha, is very determined to keep Heather and Danny safe no matter what. I find it refreshing that, although Heather tends to argue with Lee about small things, she and Danny allow Lee to be the alpha and protector. Also by being with these two, Danny seems to be really developing into a stronger male. With all of Heather's sexual needs being met, everyone is getting something out of the relationship.

If you are in need of a quick story to help make it through the day, this just might be the one for you. A fun read that I give 3 cherries.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Checkmate by Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna



Checkmate by Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (294 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Phlox

When sword for hire Teodoro Ciéza de Vivar accepts a commission to “rescue” Lord Christian Blackwood from unsuitable influences, he has no idea he’s landed himself in the middle of a plot to assassinate King Philip IV of Spain and blame the English ambassador for the deed. Nor does he expect the spoiled child he’s sent to retrieve to be a handsome, engaging young man.

As Teodoro and Christian face down enemies at every turn, they fall more and more in love, an emotion they can’t safely indulge with the threat of the Inquisition looming over them. It will take all their combined guile and influence to outmaneuver the powerful men who would see them separated... or even killed.

I can’t think of too many things more enticing than a handsome Spanish swordsman who sees honor as just as vital as air and water. Add to that a beautiful, headstrong Viscount who needs his protection, the hot Spanish sun and the volatile political climate of early seventeenth century Europe, and the ingredients are firmly in place for a passion-soaked intrigue.

This is a charming story with characters whose lives and motives unfold slowly for the reader, each new revelation giving us another piece to Teo and Christian’s hearts. Of the two, Teo is much more complex. His actions are often driven by past mistakes that haunt him, his reactions tinged with old hurts still festering. But Christian is an equally intriguing character. He’s led a more sheltered life compared to Teo, and doesn’t have the years to match his experience, but Christian’s a determined soul who knows what he wants. And what would that be? He wants a) Teo, b) to be able to stop looking over his shoulder for kidnappers, and c) his father’s respect, in that order.

The story rolls along at a good clip, for the most part, in a good mix of external peril and internal struggle and I became engrossed in the tale. If this piece were ever re-vamped for a later release, however, a couple of issues might be addressed at that time. In a romance, I tend to forgive a little head-hopping. It’s generally accepted during love scenes, and often can be handled with a minimum of distraction. Here, unfortunately, the head-hopping was a tad excessive.

Certain POV’s made sense—Teo’s and Christian’s, of course, Teo’s friend Raul, who acts as an excellent mirror for us to see the principles. Even Hawkins’ POV, towards the end, is necessary. But the authors chose to show us the story from everyone’s eyes. The thug in the alleyway, the Inquisitor, the guard, even the most minor characters had paragraphs written in their POV, sometimes at confusing moments, pulling the reader out of the story. I found it distracting, and it pulled me from the story more than once.

The other issue was not quite as distracting, but I was a little disappointed that the plot did not explore the historical aspect of the actual happenings of the time a bit more. Philip IV had a difficult reign, full of conflicts and economic issues, and his court was populated by fascinating people. We have some inkling that Spain has been at war, but nothing specific. Granted, Teo, as a mercenary, might not have much of an interest in politics and the market value of chocolate at the time, but Christian, as the son of an important diplomat, would certainly know, sheltered life or not. I would have liked to see more of that history addressed.

However, the story is most successful in its personal portrayals. The characters held my interest, won my sympathy, and had me hoping all would be well. And in a romance, isn’t that the crucial point? That we invite the characters into our hearts and chew on our fingernails until the dust settles and the right hearts have found each other. Checkmate fulfills this covenant between romance writer and reader and then some, with swashbuckling charm. An enjoyable read that made me smile.

I Married a Dragon by Beverly Rae



I Married a Dragon (Para-Mates book 2) by Beverly Rae
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (172 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Play, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Peppermint

Burn, baby, burn…

Para-Mates, Book 2

Chrissy Taylor doesn’t believe in a lot of things. Her life, and her career as a supernatural myth-buster, are ruled by logic and skepticism. Love at first sight? Forget it—until she’s swept off her feet by Mr. Tall, Dark and Mysterious.

The next thing she knows, she’s done the most illogical thing imaginable: run off to Vegas for a quickie marriage. And Mr. TD&M’s insatiable hunger for her body is starting to feel suspiciously like an attempt to make her the one thing she fears most. Pregnant.

Even though Kaine sets Chrissy’s world on fire—literally—she can’t resist embarking on her toughest debunking mission yet. She must unearth the truth about her new husband before desire consumes the last of her reason.

Kaine Delcaluca is withholding the fact that he’s a dragon, but time is of the essence. He desperately needs an heir to save his dynasty. Plus, he has an even bigger problem. The Scepter of Fire, the only weapon powerful enough to kill a dragon, has gone missing. If he fails to find it—and knock up his new bride—within the next few days, his people are doomed…

Puff the Magic Dragon has nothing on Kaine Delcaluca. This was my first dragon-shifter story and I have to say it was a nice introduction to this particular breed of shifters. Who would have thought a giant mythological creature could be so hot?

The plot of this story was jam-packed with not only external conflict but internal ones as well. I think the internal conflict Kaine and Chrissy both had to deal with made the story a much more interesting read. Kaine and his dire need to have an heir immediately, and Chrissy’s fear of having a child, made for some interesting discussions and arguments which really added to this story.

At the beginning of this story I did find the relationship a little unbelievable. Kaine and Chrissy meet under mysterious circumstances and immediately fall head over heels in love and get married the same night. To me the depth of the feelings just developed way too quickly. I do not know anyone who can say the meet their spouse and was so immediately in love with the other they were willing to sacrifice everything including their self. I will say though, after you get past the initial unrealistic feelings, the relationship does develop at a more realistic pace especially after Chrissy finds out what she truly married.

Because this is a longer story, not only do you get the sensual/sexy side of the relationship, but also the sweet side. You can tell once Kaine and Chrissy fully understand one another, they are willing to do anything for the other's happiness and safety. And although they may fight quite a bit in the beginning, the making up always seems to be fun afterwards.

The conflict between the villains also made this story intriguing. The fact that Tuo and Sabrina cannot trust one another just made their roles exciting. Who wouldn’t love bad guys whose only loyalty is to themselves. The dynamic plot with twists and turns around every corner had me reading this story into the wee hours of the night. An entertaining read that I enjoyed.

Bedtime Stories: Troll’s Blog by Shelby Morgen



Bedtime Stories: Troll’s Blog by Shelby Morgen
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (23 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Holly

Perfect skin, dusted a light powder blue. Bright burgundy Mohawk. 6'4". Dark blue uniform. Big shiny gun. Yeah. I'm the Troll under the bridge. But if you're reading my blog, you know that. That's why I call it Troll's Blog. Duh. Sooo not a euphemism.

You'd think the tusks would give it away. But I guess people are pretty used to seeing body art, even dental sculpting. Amazing what dentists can do these days. Did I tell you I worked in a dentist's office for a while? Till I bared my tusks at a child who thought he wanted to be unruly in my office. He changed his mind. Unfortunately so did the dentist. I wasn't going to eat him. Honest. Kids don't even taste all that good.

But I digress. This story isn't about me. Not exactly. It's about my blog. And Sam. And another one of Sam's great ideas. No, not like the one where he and Kara's fiancé got to watch me and Kara hold our own private bachelorette party. Though that was seriously hot. No, this story's about Sam. And how he saved Troll's Blog by coming up with one of the coolest ideas ever. You're gonna love it. Really.

Publisher's Note: Bedtime Stories in no way represents any actual publishing company. Any resemblance to the staff and authors of Changeling Press is purely coincidental.

That's our story and we're sticking to it.

Bedtime Stories Publishing is the brainchild of Troll, evolved from her daily blogs. After putting everything out there for free for so long, Troll is encouraged by longtime love Sam to break free and go into business for herself. After all, there has to be more to life than being a Bridge Troll. Can Troll be a success on her own? Does she have what it takes to step out from where she’s been comfortable and take a chance? Can she get the money owed her from her net provider?

Let me say that I love the Bedtime Stories series. The stories are short, hot and fun to read. This one is no exception. Shelby Morgen’s characters are decidedly different and distinctive. Troll is a unique individual with imagination and strong emotions. She works hard ands plays harder, especially when it comes to the love of her life, Sam. The decision to step out of her comfort zone isn’t easy, but I loved how she decided to jump in and change her life.

Sam is in love with Troll, and he sees past the powder blue complexion and burgundy Mohawk to the woman behind it all. He is supportive, strong, and willing to sacrifice if it will help his woman. And of course, he is one hunk of a cop, too. He is determined to help Troll in whatever she decides. I loved their game of “Troll and Biker” - what a hot and sexy escapade that was. And Troll’s solution to funding for her start up was delicious, and it also netted her a new employee for the new business as well.

The Bedtime Stories are perfect for when you just need a quick pick me up, and want something short and fun to read. I recommend this as an inside look at how it may have happened. But be warned: these Bedtime Stories are definitely not for children.

Sadie's Kiss by Sophia Titheniel



Sadie's Kiss by Sophia Titheniel
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (80 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Evan and his friend and protector, Sadie, have a life together. Alone. Just the two of them. And that's just the way they like it. Well, Evan, anyway. Sadie may be a dog, but she's more trustworthy than any human Evan's met since his accident.

Sadie thinks Evan needs a human companion. So when Casey, the social worker from the LGTB Support Center shows up to rescue Evan from himself, she puts her cunning plan into action. It starts with the little things. Like a kiss.

Wrong place at the right time can lead to true love.

Casey is working his shift at the local LGTB call center when he’s overcome with a sense of urgency and pain that someone nearby is hurt. His unusual talent leads him to Evan, a blind man that was viciously bashed. When Casey tries to bring Evan his guide dog, the two give in to the chemistry and passion between them. Although unexpected, Evan and Casey take a chance on love at first sight.

This is a pretty short novella, 74 pages, and follows the typical Changeling Press format with several explicit sex scenes. It’s always a challenge for authors to offer a fully realized plot, characters, and romance with detailed erotica in the short space provided. Although I’ve liked almost everything this author has written, Sadie’s Kiss falls a little short of earlier excellence. Here the characters are not well described and in fact, I didn’t get a clear mental picture of either man. There is almost no description of Casey offered and I wonder if that’s because Evan is blind so the reader isn’t given any physical description either. This isn’t horrible but it’s just an example of the low descriptive quality of the story as well.

Additionally there are some problems with confusing point of view as it jumps too often between the men. I didn't find their "love at first sight" entirely believable either as there is no real basis for it except a deep, almost magical knowledge that it’s right. This will definitely please those fans that enjoy that theme as well as the numerous sex scenes included. The hot and steamy sex takes up almost the entire second half of the book so those that want to indulge in a lot of raw and explicit sex will likely enjoy the abundance offered.

The novella has the author’s familiar writing with an incredibly quick pace and likable characters. There are some paranormal aspects with Casey’s psychic intuition but other than this, the story reads like a classic contemporary love at first sight between two opposite but sexy men. Their different personalities crank up the heat and passion as long as you can go along with the pretty fast romance. While maybe not her best story, she's still a very talented author and has penned something enjoyable and fun to read.