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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Review: Mistletoe High

Mistletoe High
by Alexis Fleming

What’s the world coming to when a girl can get arrested for dealing mistletoe, aka happy juice?

When Christmas is declared illegal, Misty Toll finds herself dealing mistletoe to fund Santa’s revolution to bring back Christmas. Except Santa’s taking too much of his own product, Rudolph’s red nose turns out to be an excess of vodka, and there’s a bunch of rabid revolutionary elves on the run. Now she has the added problem of Zane Mason, the new man hired to work on the deer farm where she’s hiding Santa’s reindeer and where her secret stash of mistletoe grows.

What’s a girl to do but go with the holiday cheer…

The very first pages had me giggling out loud with the absolutely outlandish situations, particularly the way that Misty and Zane are introduced… by a very drunk and disorderly Rudolph the Red-nosed reindeer. Who can blame the poor dear (yes, pun intended) as he and all Santa’s reindeer have been outlawed and are fugitives, so he hits the sauce. The fact that Christmas has been outlawed, and anything associated with it as well, just adds to the opportunities for hilarity. The hilarity just continues at a steady pace from that point on.

I love Misty and Zane. They were an entertaining couple that really had me rooting for them, even though they are on opposite sides of the law. I mean, come on, he’s been sent to infiltrate her “operation” and get enough evidence to bring her down and send her gorgeous butt to jail. Misty, a half-elf, having taken on all the responsibility of caring for the out of work elves who can no longer make toys, and the still that makes the contraband Mistletoe Juice and organizing Santa’s runs of the illegal substance, is guilty as sin.

Zane still can’t get enough of her. Misty and Zane both fall fast for each other, although it starts out as a purely physical response on his part… at least that’s what he tells himself. Misty gives him her all before she realizes exactly who he is.

This was a very entertaining ride through an alternate world, where elves are common knowledge, (you even know exactly how to spot them), Santa and his reindeer are fugitives from the law, and a rebellion is in the making; a rebellion that will hopefully bring back Christmas. We are fed acronyms for federal agencies that bring a snicker to the fore, if not an outright guffaw.

I think the absolute best part of this story, aside from the love story, was the supporting cast of characters. Talk about riotous, ridiculously funny situations mixed with, or caused by, an engaging and hysterical secondary cast. Mama Mini is just one of the mob. She says she’s the housekeeper, and everyone knows she is militant about her home, her Misty and anything else she feels is her domain. Basically, she’s a drill sergeant with pointy ears, green hair and a roly-poly figure. Add to that a reindeer who needs to sign up for Alcoholics Anonymous, a Santa who can’t seem to avoid helping himself to the product, and a band of rabid, militant revolutionaries, and the stage is set for insane yet side-splitting adventures in bootlegging.

The sex was HOT, HOT, HOT. I was highly amused and aroused by the writer’s creativity and grasp of the sex scenes. There was one scene that sticks in my head… it was definitely one of the most erotic, inventive and playful quad ride I have ever read. You can get a quad (four wheeler/ATV) ride anywhere, but Ms. Fleming’s take on this one had me hot under the collar and breathing heavily before it was finished. Whew, way to go! This is a definite plus recommend on my part, and I would recommend it to anyone needing a comical holiday read that has a very satisfying end where our reluctant hero redeems himself.

Reviewed by Viscaria

Friday, December 28, 2007

Review: Stealing Carmen

Stealing Carmen
by Gail Faulkner

Jack knew all about secrets. The government trusted him to keep them, find them, exploit them. Home for a short rest from that world, he hadn't meant to overhear his sexy neighbor's darkest desires. Being the focus of those wicked wishes was news to him.

Introducing Carmen to the fantasy of being a submissive was a mission he didn't expect to last long. He certainly didn't expect her to show him natural sensuality that brought him to his knees.

A lifetime of looking at the other side of the fence brought a man to this. Investing more than he could afford and it wasn't cash. Carmen came with a dangerous price. One he'd willingly pay to keep this woman safe in his arms.

Let me say, I was so excited to get my hands on this book. I have been a huge fan of Gail Faulkner’s ever since I read the first one I tried on someone else’s recommend. I’ve eagerly awaited each new story of hers and have never been disappointed. This time was no different. Right away, this was an intense read, which is exactly what I love about Gail Faulkner. Her stories are intense and pull you right in from page one, and this one was no exception. I found that I didn’t want the story to end and was ready to start it all over when I came to the inevitable last page. This will definitely be on my reread “shelf”.

I loved reading about Jake, and he just made me shiver all over. I’m sure that was the goal. Jake is a rough-around-the-edges hero, which is really what is expected considering his job as an “undercover law enforcement officer”. He is also a sexual Dominant. The fact that he’s completely honest with himself and anyone else about the kind of man he is just endears him further to me. He doesn’t pull punches when it comes to what he wants, but he’s also realistic about the fact that it could frighten a potential partner. He is well aware that his profession limits any sort of expectations he or a lover may have regarding their relationship, unless or until he is ready to get out of the “game”.

Carmen is the seemingly shy, submissive who lives next door, and Jake has lusted after her from the moment he first saw her. Carmen returns the feeling, but neither one knows that the other feels the same way. So, lusting from afar, or at least from across the yard, ensues. The fun really begins when Jakes overhears one of Carmen’s phone conversations; a conversation that involves her attraction to him and what she wants from him… a Dominant to her submissive. Jake decides he’s done window-shopping, he’s Stealing Carmen, now.

There were many things that I loved about Carmen. She was funny and intelligent. She had needs without being needy. You have to love a woman who knows her mind. She is also someone who knows what she wants, it’s the getting it part that she’s having trouble with. No one else seems to push her buttons the way Jake does, and that’s from afar. She’s desperate for him to make a move and take what she wants to give, but she’s at a loss as to how to do that. Carmen is quite surprised to find that Jake is more than willing to fulfill her needs as a submissive, but not enough to turn down his demands.

This was a fantastic story that had my attention all the way through. I didn’t want to put it down… let the kids feed themselves! All joking aside, the interactions between Jake and Carmen were well-written and riveting, not to mention insightful. There’s just something about the way Gail writes a Dominant male that makes me drool. I sure wasn’t disappointed with this book, and I would continue to recommend Gail Faulkner at each opportunity.

Reviewed by: Viscaria

Review: Naughty In Norway

Naughty in Norway
By Layla Chase

A job promotion temporarily relocates Texan Dissa Booth to Oslo, Norway where she treats herself to a weekend mountain trip. The athletic moves of her blond, blue-eyed Viking of a ski instructor, Rolf Torger, set her lustful thoughts racing. Dissa cuts loose and lets him know she's interested in any moves he might make besides on the slopes. Will one night of sexy naughtiness be enough? Or does a chance exist for more?

This was a nice little story about a vacation fantasy we’ve all probably had a version of at some point. Dissa is away at a ski resort in Norway, where she is working as an American in Oslo. I appreciated that the author laid some groundwork before jumping into the sex. I thought that added to the story, and it certainly added to my own enjoyment of it.

Rolf is very sexy, physically. The length of the story didn’t really allow for much emotional development of him, but I liked him nonetheless. Dissa is looking for a good time on her holiday, but isn’t so brazen about it that it’s unrealistic. I liked her actions, and the dialogue was good, too.

The only drawback was the mechanics of things. At times they weren’t clear to me. They were in the hot tub, then he was out of it. How’d his hand get there? That sort of thing. I would’ve preferred more description in those cases, so they didn’t pull me out of the story to think about what was where and how. All in all, I really liked the story, sexual encounter and characters, but I would’ve liked a more substantial HEA tied into a neater bow.


Reviewed by Aster

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Review: Curse of Brandon Lupinus

Curse of Brandon Lupinus
By Shelley Munro

Walk the ghostly world. Howl at the moon.

Jess Whittlebury purchases Tavistock Manor to convert into a quaint English bed-and-breakfast. But the manor comes with a resident—a werewolf ghost who steps right into her dreams, investing them with erotic toe-tingling pleasures, laughter and passion. Jess doesn't believe in supernatural creatures but her dreams are certainly memorable and very realistic—and she's decided to enjoy them for all she's worth.

Alone Brandon Lupinus until need forces you to act, as a decent man should.

Since the day a witch cursed him, Brandon Lupinus has walked alone, tied to Tavistock, his ancestral home. Jess' arrival brings unexpected changes—corporeal changes. For the first time in centuries Brandon experiences passionate, unbridled sex that ignites his ghostly world with new possibilities. New problems. Brandon is no longer alone but he still can't seem to break his curse and offer Jess the future she deserves. Until fate steps in, in an unexpected way…

The Curse of Brandon Lupinus is just what I expect from the talent of Shelley Munro, except for the ending. It was a very clever HEA twist I didn't quite expect.

Jess is a woman determined to realize a dream despite all the naysayers and gossips of the little town in which Tavistock Manor resides. I particularly enjoyed the beginning where the little old ladies,in their eccentric yet endearing ways, tried to pass on the village myths. Jess was the highlight of their day and I liked how Jess treated them with a smile and respect. She is a woman you want good things to happen to. She is spirited and practical with a bit of adventure in her heart.

Brandon is a man -- yet not. When he reveals how he became what he is, I felt so sad for him. Many times you read in historical romances about the rogues. They live life wild and large yet nothing horrible seems to happen to them, except maybe some bad gambling choices at Whites. We also see them rescued by spirited and beguiling women. No one came to rescue Brandon, no firm hand intervened for the wild men of his time. Brandon was a man who discovered his conscience too little too late and paid the price. Pergatory on Earth. He had plenty of reasons to howl his lament.

I found the descriptions of Brandon's rediscovering the warmth of a woman's skin to be well written and quite sensual. I really liked the progression of vapor to ... well, what happens when he's not. Some serious thought went into those scenes and I liked that. I kept thinking that he was going to get booted out for having as much fun as he seemed to be, I mean he's cursed,right? Shelley doesn't do typical. She kept me guessing about what was going to happen. Well, you KNOW what's going to happen eventually, but getting there was half the fun.

Once they DO get together, the pages burn up. When Brandon realizes what he can do, what he can feel, reading became an arousing experience as he embraced each new discovery. My only raised eyebrow comes from one moment where Jess seems perfectly awake and actively engaging in what was supposed to be a dream. If she's sleeping, how can she know his eye color? Unless there was a psychic connection? Except for that minor head scratch, it read well and left me feeling heated.

I suppose it's possible that some readers might like a convoluted journey to Jess and Brandon's loving each other and decry its lack. Well, I think Jess summed up her feelings pretty well in the story and I am cool with that.

Woven throughout the story is some light suspense and conflict that propels the storyline forward. Don't let the lightness of it disarm you. It has a powerful impact on the breaking of Brandon's curse. It even assists in raising the HEA to a level that totally took me by surprise. So much so that I had to sit and re-read it.
Does it work? Yes. There was even a little bit of humor thrown in that is perfect for Jess's character. You are left with a smile for both their happiness and their cheek.

The dialogue flowed well and was realistic, the editing was fine and the POV shifts from Brandon to Jess and back again were seamless, logical and perfectly done.

The Curse of Brandon Lupinus may be a story short in length but long in appealing characters, stimulating bed antics and unique twists to delight you. You're in for a treat when you read this book.


reviewed by Xeranth

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Review: The Christmas Kiss

The Christmas Kiss
by Mikala Ash

As a security guard, accidents can’t be tolerated, but accident-prone Gilly’s latest mishap results in her demotion: to the Dog Squad. Too bad she’s deathly afraid of dogs.

Jarrod the dog handler is instantly attracted to her, but the last thing he needs is a distraction, for he and his brother plan to steal the world’s largest opal statue, the Manushya – the mythological goddess of shape shifters.

Gilly impresses Jarrod with her courage in overcoming her fears of Satan, his vicious Doberman Pinscher. Her bravery fuels Jarrod’s hopes of her overlooking a little defect of his own and accepting him for what he is.

Gilly would never believe that she’d ever be attracted to a dog handler, but that’s not the only surprise Christmas has in store for her…

I originally chose this story because I love Christmas, I love paranormals and I love to read. So, a perfect combination for me was displayed in this book. I wasn’t sorry that I picked this one.

Gilly was an interesting heroine. Boy, did she have issues! I wasn’t sure at first how I was going to like a heroine with such blatant problems, as I’m not real fond of the wimpy-silly-woe-is-me heroine. Thankfully, Gilly was well-written and actually quite endearing. She was quite courageous in the face of her fears and phobias and grabbing onto the happiness that she sensed was possible with Jarrod. You just have to love a heroine with pluck!

Jarrod was a determined hero. He was determined to save his shiftless twin brother from himself, determined to complete the mission he’d set for himself, and determined to show Gilly that she could indeed do anything she put her mind to. Determination is fabulous. Jarrod was intense, and confident not to mention hot! Okay, I guess I’ll mention the hot part. *grin* From the moment he met Gilly, Jarrod was certain that she was special and that she would be very special to him. That was all he needed to know If only he’d met her at a more opportune time.

Right from the start I was intrigued and entertained by the ridiculous situation that Gilly finds herself in and how she is introduced to Jarrod. The story moved along at a good pace that didn’t lose me or confuse me, which happens quite a bit when you pick up a relatively short story. If there were any editing issues with this story, I certainly didn’t notice them, the story just moved along so well. This was an entertaining, relatively swift holiday read that was very enjoyable and a definite recommend.

Reviewed by Viscaria

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Were-Cat Christmas

A Were-Cat Christmas
by Dakota Cassidy

Meet Frankie Lane -- trapped in her Persian cat form, homeless, lost, stuck in a Dumpster in the back of a Chinese restaurant just before Christmas.

Sucks to be her.

Enter Glynice the savior and all 'round pushy broad -- secretary to workaholic Sam Carsters, who spends more time devoted to his law practice than enjoying life. Determined to give Sam a reason to come home at night, Glynice rescues Frankie and deposits her on Sam's desk at his house as an early Christmas gift.

In a cage.

With a big red bow around her neck.

Meet Sam Carsters -- criminal defense attorney, and proud new owner of his very own cat who's half human, rockin' hot and can't seem to hang onto her human form unless she's engaged in a little thing called mating fever. And engage they do…

Frankie's run away from the restraints her culture places on her and the mate who's been chosen as hers. A mate she doesn't want, but desperately needs in order to keep herself erect. Sam's just run away from emotional involvement and anything that has to do with a social life outside of his work.

Frankie needs a place to stay while she figures out what to do about her intended mate and that the guy whose desk she ends up on is hawt and makes her out of control hormones meow? Well, hoorah, baby.

My personal favorite lately is shapeshifter stories. Add to that some rocking sex scenes and some romance and you’ve got one great read.

The fact that Frankie is running away from having to mate with someone she absolutely finds icky makes the first sex scene kind of hilarious. The “curse” of being a werecat means mating with someone and that someone happens to be Sam Carsters at a most inopportune moment. Considering they start out as strangers who mate out of necessity, following their blossoming relationship kept me reading page after page.

I think this short story could definitely be turned into a full length book considering the subject matter. I want to read more after reading this.

Reviewed by: Snowdrop

Monday, December 24, 2007

Review: All She Wants for Christmas

All She Wants For Christmas
by Crystal Jordan

The wedding is off! Emma Richards just walked away from the only man she's ever loved, her overbearing parents, and the pressures of life. Somehow her well-ordered existence has spiraled out of control to the point that she's hiding in a bathroom stall until everyone leaves the department store with the wedding planner. When she makes her escape, she finds herself trapped in the elevator with her furious fianc?, who knows just how to convince her that giving up on the wedding is one thing, but giving up on their relationship is out of the question. Eloping is all Emma really wants for Christmas, and Paul is just the man to deliver.

Having had the pleasure of reading Crystal Jordan before, I was looking forward to reading this short holiday story. It didn’t disappoint. Crystal Jordan has proven again that she is a master of complex relationships.

Emma and Paul are wonderful characters who have realistic reactions and show a depth of emotion that is uncommon in such a short story. Their incredibly hot sex scene is both animalistic and tender.

At this point, I would buy anything that Crystal Jordan writes. She has a special gift of combining hot sex, complex characters and deep emotion.

Reviewed by Aster

Review: Christmas Cookies: Frost Bite

Christmas Cookies: Frost Bite
by Tuesday Morrigan

When Julian wakes to find three beautiful women on his bed his thoughts are predictably X-rated. When he discovers that the three women are the Fates, the gods responsible for the death of his beloved, he is livid… until he hears their proposal. They will give Julian three days with Jacklyn. Three days to love her, touch her, kiss her, and change the course of history. Three days to tell her his secret.

Three days to prevent the death that never should have happened.

After losing Jacklyn the first time – Julian is not willing to lose her when given a second chance. The Fates send him back a few days before Jacklyn’s death to allow Julian the time to tell her what he truly is. When he finally tells her his secret, he has done something to upset her terribly and she flees him. Only while following her closely, trying to make sure she is okay does he find the opportunity to save her from dying and allowing her to live out her days with her lover.

Some scenes are quite erotic and sensual. There are quite a few dominant/submissive scenes that are very well written. Jacklyn and Julian are the epitome of soul mates in every way. A good, hot, romantic holiday read.

Reviewed by Snowdrop

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Review: Christmas Cookies: Sideways Glance

Christmas Cookies: Sideways Glance
by Camille Anthony

A heated sideways glance from a handsome suntanned hunk sparks a desire in Cheryl to celebrate life. She’s black, and doesn’t mind that he’s white. Together, they burn up the sheets, sharing a steamy, toe-curling afternoon before her job interferes and they go their separate ways.

Six months passes before Cheryl sees Paul again. This time, he’s back with an angry father at his side. Seems Paul left something out of his introduction. He’s an Apteran, a virgin alien whose sideways glance was a shy proposal of marriage. The results of their summer fun just pressed the perfect outline of a tiny foot against his daddy’s belly.

Shocked, Cheryl discovers she’s been cast as the “Playa” in this Baby’s Mama Drama!

I got a kick out of this short, holiday story. "Holiday" as the main character, Cheryl, celebrates Kwaanza more so than Christmas. It was a short read, very short, and I finished it quickly. The situations were ones we’d all read about, heard about, heck even experienced. Except… they weren’t. Everything was in a different perspective than what most of us have become accustomed to. That was a pleasant surprise.

The characters were funny, and a little raunchy and struck sparks off of each other. Cheryl has no problem telling it like it is, sometimes to the point of overkill. Paul knows how to get her engines revving, and “speaks her language” and isn’t afraid to get dirty with her. They both enjoy each other and then somehow part ways. We don’t find out exactly what happens as we jump from their time together to six months later. Let the drama ensue.

I generally have a harder time with short stories because, if it's good I want it to be longer. I want more, always more. More development, more relationship, just more! You don’t get that with a short story, but you do get fun, usually. This story was written in first person, from Cheryl’s perspective and I did have some issues with the storytelling. That is what it felt like: storytelling. The way you would describe an encounter with someone to an outside party. I enjoy a story so much more when and author “shows” me what happened, not recites what happens. Don’t get me wrong, the story came across great, bumps and all. I especially like how different from Earthlings the Apterans are. The roles are reversed: the woman is the head of household, always: the man does the housework and all the other “woman” stuff. I can’t really say more, but I enjoyed having the tables turned on a man for once. All in all, I was entertained by this short story and thought it was great for a quick holiday read.

Reviewed by: Viscaria