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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Review: Mercenary Redemption

Mercenary Redemption
by Diane Merlin

While the rest of the crew is rushing to her aid, Dev is busy stirring up her own hornet’s nest on Iman. Nothing is as it seems and she’s determined to find the answers about her birth while instigating an uprising by the planet’s subjugated men. Anyone who thinks women are the gentler sex obviously hasn’t bmet Devona. And may the gods have mercy on anyone – man or woman – who comes between her and the ones she loves.

Hurt, confused, and down right pissed off, Devona takes of in the Freebird, determined to prove to herself she can go it alone. But her first stop reveals that the bounty on her head has been raised and she and her friends are in some serious trouble. Kevnor races to her rescue only to have her snatched out of his hands and delivered to his sworn enemies the Imani. Mik’s Mercenaries are back with another adventure, proving once again that they can out think, out fight and out maneuver any foe. On their daring rescue mission this hard-hitting, hard-loving bunch unravel a plot to overthrow two governments, saving the solar system from an escalating war.

Picking up where this story’s prequel, Mercenary Heart, leaves off, Mercenary Redemption doesn’t disappoint. When I came to the end of Diane Merlin’s previous installment of the story of Mik’s Mercenary’s I was anxious to find out how Dev and Kev would work things out. I completely fell in love with these two in the previous book, when things didn’t work so well for them previously it felt as if two of my friends were having problems. Don’t you just love an author that can pull you in like that? I sure do, and Diane Merlin is definitely one of those authors.

Devona is a capable woman, a fierce soldier, and a faithful wife very much in love with her husband. The problem arises when a past she isn’t even aware of comes back to drive a wedge between Dev and the man she loves. Tempers flare and Dev flees her husband and her friends. Emotionally wounded, Dev is functioning on instinct… get away, take care of herself. She has no idea she’s flying straight into a dangerous situation.

Kevnor is a skilled soldier, a brilliant man when it comes to finding information on anything and everything, but when it comes to women in general, and his wife in particular he’s not always in the know. When Dev tells him something he’s unprepared for, his volatile temper gets the best of him and he unwittingly pushes away the one woman he has loved most of his life. When Dev flees in their company ship, Kev finds he is in the race of his life to rescue his wife from certain disaster.

This book was action-packed and emotion-filled. It draws you in and takes you along for the wild ride in store. Diane Merlin has a real knack for storytelling, and an amazing ability to describe the love between a man and a woman and between family, whether that family was born or made. Her characters are so real that you feel like you’ve made new friends and need to keep in contact with them. I love how we get a glimpse of other romances in the works for the remaining team members, and can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for this motley band of mercenaries. Mercenary Redemption is a testament to how love, and a band of mercenaries, can conquer all, and I can’t help but recommend it.

Reviewed by Viscaria

Friday, January 18, 2008

Review: Heaven Sent 1: Heaven

Heaven Sent 1: Heaven
by Jet Mykles

The Weiss Strande Hotel is in trouble. Business just isn't what it used to be when Tyler’s father ran the family-owned hotel. On top of business being down, dad's sick with cancer and bills have skyrocketed.

Desperate to save his family interest, Tyler and his best friend sink their hopes and what's left of their money into a new venture: a nightclub at the hotel. It's imperative that the White Room is a success, or else the hotel will go under. Lady Luck seems to be with them, however, because they manage to sign the mega-popular rock group, Heaven Sent, to play the grand opening.

Already a huge fan of the group, Tyler couldn't be more excited to welcome them to his hotel. He's not at all prepared for the bomb of lust that hits him when he's finally face-to-face with the painfully gorgeous lead singer, Johnnie Heaven. No, it couldn't be lust. Yes, Johnnie's probably the most beautiful person he's ever seen, but Tyler is straight. It must be a misguided form of hero worship that he's feeling.

Tyler finds out that he and Johnnie share an obsession: video games. When Johnnie invites Tyler to his room to play, Tyler jumps at the chance. Who wouldn't snap up the opportunity to spend time with their idol? He and Johnnie have a great time with the games, but Tyler soon discovers that Johnnie's got more in mind. The rock star's aims to introduce Tyler to a whole new level of game play.

Heaven is the first in a Yaoi inspired series called Heaven Sent by Jet Mykels. The covers of the series have all been done by PL Nunn and are gorgeous. They were part of the reason I was initially drawn to the books and are some of the first M/M books that I’ve read. An excellent start!!

When Tyler’s family hotel business gets into some financial difficulty he and his friends decide to open a nightclub at the hotel. His father is terribly ill and the pressure is mounting to make the hotel a success. To open the new club Tyler extends an invite the popular band Heaven Sent to play.

Tyler is a huge fan of the band and when he gets over his initial moments of being star struck he strikes up a friendship with Johnnie, the lead singer. They spend time playing video games together in the evenings and Tyler starts to feel more than friendship for the magnetic singer. Having just recently split up from his fiancĂ©, he finds his feelings confusing because he’s is straight… Johnnie is a sexy and intense man and he wants Tyler and lets him know it on no uncertain terms. He is not easily dissuaded by Tyler’s initial nervousness about the situation and he goes after what he wants.

This was one of my first M/M romances and I just loved it. Johnnie is so into the gorgeous Tyler from the start, and I loved the tension of him trying to seduce Tyler with stolen kisses and some hot foreplay. He is a forceful character and very single minded in what he wants. Tyler is softer and just a little bit confused about having feelings for another guy and he worries about how a rock star like Johnnie could really want to spend time with someone like him. He is sweet and a perfect foil for Johnnies magnetic sexuality.

I really enjoyed the romance in this story it was loving, hot and so very satisfying. You’re also introduced to the rest of the band and the glimpses into who they are make you drool just a bit for their story!

A fab read and a total 5 cherries!

Review by Pansy

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Review: As You Wish

As You Wish
by Roxanne Wells

Both men love her, both men need her, but will the words AS YOU WISH be the last time they hear from her?

Jake Bentley and Benjamin Cartwright are archeologists and best friends digging in the Utah desert. Instead of finding the dinosaur bone they expected, they find an unusual bottle. Jake opens the bottle and both men look inside. They see nothing until Aluma, the beautiful genie, appears behind them and asks them what they were looking for.

Aluma bows to Jake and tells him she'll grant three wishes. Surprised at Jake's wish, Aluma must grant his desires. Since Ben found the bottle second, Ben will get the last wish. Jake and Ben decide to share their wishes so that the last wish will benefit them both. They want Aluma forever.

Aluma begins to break some of the "genie handbook rules," and all three of them end up in front of the "Genie Counsel." Both men love her, both men need her, but will the words AS YOU WISH be the last time they hear from her? Absolutely not.

I really liked both of the men and the way they were written. Each had a distinct personality and style, and I could see what Aluma liked in each of them. Aluma was a bit less consistent for me. She’s happy in her bottle for years and years, then her life is boredom personified? I didn’t really feel that change in her feelings was explained.

The scenes, settings, and the sex are wonderful in this story. It was titillating and fun. The backstory of the two male friends worked perfectly for me. However, I didn’t fully grasp how two such competitive men would be willing to share her forever. Their actions and dialogue showed too much jealousy for that to be believable.

That being said, I did enjoy this story. It had a nice and neat plot that worked well, and the sex scenes were really hot. I liked the author’s choice to not have the men interact with each other sexually. Aluma was their focus and desire. This is exactly what it’s billed to be: a hot and sexy story with an adventurous genie and the two men who share her.

Reviewed by Aster

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Review: Dangerous Liaisons Book 1: Bound to Serve

Dangerous Liaisons: Bound to Serve
by Honey Jans

Bridget Jamison is an agent for the secret government agency, Delta Star. Her need to bring in Simon Perez, the elusive terrorist responsible for her ex-fiances death, has become an obsession. When the director threatens to hand the case over to Condor, a mesmerizing ghost agent who has the power to make her weak in the knees with one intense look, she desperately makes a deal to hang onto her pet case.
Condor knows the feisty redhead will be trouble. The inclination he has to put his slave bracelet on the hellcat is a red flag. His mission was to infiltrate an S&M Retreat as a Dom to capture Perez, with a junior agent posing as his submissive. Instead, he’s stuck with spirited Bridget, who ignites all kinds of fantasies as he squares off with her.

Bridget smolders under Condor’s touch, as he puts her through a crash course on submission. Opened up to a new level of sexuality, she is shocked to find herself on the verge of orgasm draped over his knee. Condor aches to take her, even though sex on missions is supposed to be simulated. Immersed in the Retreat’s sensual setting, passion and duty clash as they track their quarry. Will Bridget realize that there can be power in submission, to love? Can Condor teach Bridget all his favorite sexual tricks without falling under her spell?

Right away this story was engaging and downright amusing. The first interaction we see between Condor and Bridget is entertaining and gave us a good glimpse into the personalities of these two, it was definitely an interesting, and sensual ride getting to know them. Honey Jans has a talent for building the tension and heat between her main characters, with plenty of sensual and scorching love scenes that have plenty of interaction without actual consummation. It really kept the pages turning!

Bridget was a feisty agent who was determined to prove herself as a competent and capable agent. Being the daughter of the former Director of her agency makes her even more resolute when it come to proving herself on the job. She’s very strong-willed and doesn’t really seem the type suited for the submissive lifestyle until she is assigned the mission with Condor, and he “takes her in hand” all in the name of training for the mission, of course.

Ross Longtree, code named Condor, is a Dominant male “by training and inclination”, who thinks he wants a meek submissive as his partner both in and out of the bed, someone he can easily control is what he tells himself. Imagine his surprise when he finds that Bridget’s spunk and spirit is even more appealing than what he thought he was comfortable with. But, is Bridget appealing enough to make him give up his life of excitement and intrigue? Does he even have to?

Let me take this moment to point out a few bumps that did keep me from giving this story a higher rating. There were a few editing issues that I noticed such as a misspelled word or a word that wasn’t quite right in the sentence context, but they were rather minor and I was reading the ARC that may not be fully edited. My only other problem with the storyline were that a few of the situations seemed a bit far-fetched. I say far-fetched in that I couldn’t see trained agents stopping in the middle of a dangerous situation to have sex… despite the setting and no matter how hot the sex was. Otherwise, those were my only issues.

All in all, I have to say that this was a good book. The characters were engaging and witty, the storyline was appealing and even comical at times, which helped it to progress at a swift pace and kept my interest. I would recommend this story to those looking for a story that will make them laugh, keep them on their toes and cause a few hot flashes!

Reviewed by Viscaria

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Review: Spaceport: Security

Spaceport: Security
by Shelby Morgen

A dark corner of a seedy bar on the edge of nowhere. A woman who’s seen too much. A man who moves through the shadows with the grace of a cat.

She’s on his tail, and he’s determined to find out why. Once he might have been flattered to have her checking out his ass. Now he knows women are dangerous. And far, far too expensive.

But Commander Kala Decolteir always gets her man, and she wants the space pirate they call Dancer – no matter who – or what – he is. This time, Dancer has no escape.

I really enjoyed this short story. It was a swift, hot read that moved along at a nice pace, without leaving me behind in the: “Wait how’d that happen?” either.

Kala Decolteir, Security Chief, appears to be a strong woman, but has plenty of weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Okay, she really is strong, at least physically--because she is a cyborg! But, you know, cyborgs need to let off some steam every now and then, too. When Kala decides that she does indeed need some R&R she finds herself with the hots for a pirate. What’s a girl to do?

Jack Dancer is that pirate with a bit more to him that meets the eye, at first. He’s a man who’s at the end of his career, or at least is starting to feel that way. Nothing excites him anymore: not his job, or his love life for that matter. Then he realizes he’s being followed, and sets out to catch his pursuer. The sparks really fly when his pursuer turns out to be Kala.

This was a excellent first introduction to the Spaceport stories, and I look forward to the consecutive ones to come. We are even peripherally introduced to an upcoming character, I believe. There was quite a bit more character development and past history than I thought there would be, and it wasn’t at all out of place with the story, if anything it fit right into the story. I also found that Shelby Morgen had a bit of a sneaky sense of humor that will catch you a bit off guard, without having it seem out of place. Some truly *snicker*-worthy moments if you ask me. So, I would definitely recommend this short story and this author.

Reviewed by Viscaria

Monday, January 14, 2008

Review: Metamorphose

by J.J. Massa

Wanting them both was one thing, having them changed everything…

Built on a mystic-sensitive fault, the Porta branch of the International Worlds Museum is a busy place. Paranormal artifacts of all kinds can be found there, magic is a way of life, and citizens from other worlds come and go.

Wynn Ravensdale is the procurement agent for the International Worlds Museum in the Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure. The epitome of propriety, Wynn wants nothing more than to succeed at his job… except for perhaps Leena Keene and Rand Cooper.

Wynn’s roommate, Leena, is beautiful, brilliant, and his twin sister’s best friend. When Wynn’s sister finds herself unexpectedly a single mother, it’s Leena who steps in to care for the child. They were well on their way to fulfilling Wynn’s fantasy of becoming a happy little family. Then the child’s father, a blood drinker, showed up to reclaim what was his, leaving Wynn severely injured.

With Ellen and the child kidnapped and Wynn in the hospital, Rand Cooper offered help. Sexy Rand, may be rough around the edges, but his healing touch turned out to be just what Leena and Wynn needed. Together, will Rand, Leena, and Wynn find the strength, power, and love to rescue the missing and save themselves?

Metamorphose was an interesting new take on the paranormal tale. Some aspects were familiar, and therefore easier to understand, while others were new and kept the pages turning.

Wynn and Rand are both solid, well-written men that had me licking my lips. They aren’t sure if they should go for what they want or if they should continue on with their lives as they had been before. Neither one is all that well prepared for the circumstances that change their outlook on life and having what will make you happy.

Wynn has always been the responsible one. Always the one to take care of everyone else and do what was expected of him. That didn’t change when his sister found herself pregnant and a single mother. He jumped right in and became the father-figure the child needed. He’s a very strong man, and I really liked how, to him, someone needed to do the job and he got it done. Rand is older and unsure that someone “so much younger” than him would be interested in him in a romantic way. He has had feelings for Wynn for quite some time but has contented himself with being friends with Wynn, instead of what he really wants from the younger man. I really enjoyed reading about these two strong, magical men.

Leena is an amazingly resilient young woman. She has been in love with Wynn for years, but it’s a case of wanting something, or in this case someone, and not knowing how to reach out and take it. She is seemingly content to live with Ellen and Wynn along with Ellen’s son, Ely, and take care of them to the best of her abilities. She is a nurturer by nature, and unapologetic about it. You have to love her for that alone, the fact that she is accepting of Wynn and Rand’s magical natures and feelings for each other as well as her, just make her a really amazing heroine.

The only difficulty I found in reading this story was that we are thrust directly into the story after the baby has been born and the “blood-drinker” has returned to cause havoc. It could have been rather confusing, but J.J. Massa has a writing style that explains the back story as we move along with the current storyline. So, although it was a bit jarring at first to have the relationships and feelings of the main characters already developed and established, it only lasted as long as it took to get to know the characters. So, not very long!

I have to say, J.J. Massa has a wonderfully insightful way of describing the relationship and love possible between a man and a woman, between two men and between all three. The author also describes a family unit that is amazingly cohesive and loving despite all the obstacles they must overcome to remain together, as well as society’s view on such relationships. Metamorphose is a wonderful, fast-paced, love story that really opens your eyes to the possibilities.

Reviewed by Viscaria

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Review: Mercenary Heart

Mercenary Heart
by Diane Merlin

Miklus Armstrong, renowned for his prowess on the battlefield and in the bed, gives up the lucrative life of a mercenary to go into legitimate business as a merchant. Shesshie Kosmoto makes the first daring move of her life when she answers his ad for a nanny, leaving the orphanage where she was raised to travel to a distant star system. Set in the far reaches of space, Mercenary Heart is the tale of a war weary man and an adventure deprived woman. It’s a riotous ride to a pleasure planet. It’s the journey of a man searching for peace in a universe filled with conflict, a woman striving to define her own worth, and a group of friends whose bonds of love are stronger than even they realized.

This was a new-to-me author and I am extremely pleased with the impulse that had me request to review this book. Diane Merlin has an incredible talent for world-building, and I truly look forward to reading her other offerings (I happen to have the next story after this one in my pile to review!). I have to say that I didn’t want this to end, and what better thing could I say to recommend a book?

Miklus “Mik” Armstrong is a hard man, a mercenary for most of his life, and it hasn’t been an easy life, but he doesn’t know anything different. The opening prologue, however, gives us an intriguing hint at his squishy insides – he is really a bit of a softie, despite his rather fierce reputation throughout the known galaxy. Now, he’s a man trying to get out of the hard life of a mercenary and provide a better life for his daughter. His entertaining and thoroughly remarkable crew have decided to come along for the ride, as they can’t seem to imagine a life without each other. After all, that’s what family does: support each other and make sure they are there for one another and they are a family in the purest sense.

Shesshie Kosmoto may not be exactly “young” in years, but she is in experience. Being raised in an orphanage and having the responsibility of caring for the infants and children in that same orphanage have given her a rather sheltered life. While she is a relatively innocent young woman, she has not lived an easy life in the orphanage and is amazingly resilient. Deciding to take matters into her own hands to live a different life, maybe one with more adventure and excitement, she takes a job as a nanny far across the galaxy. Her decision leads to the biggest adventure and major love of her life.

This story pulls you in and holds onto you right through to the last page. As a matter of fact, the ending will leave you hanging in a cliff-hanger that leaves you ready and eager for the next installment. The worlds we are taken to are amazingly detailed and Merlin’s vivid descriptions bring them to life and have you feeling as though you were really there. The love scenes, for that’s what they ultimately are no matter how hot, between Mik and Shesshie are evocative and skillful, building the heat around the reader and pulling one further into this love story. A fabulous read, I am so looking forward to reading more by this wonderful author.

Reviewed by Viscaria