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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Review: Seduced By Darkness

Seduced by Darkness
by Delilah Devlin

For eight hundred years Nicolas Montfaucon has dedicated his life to preventing the rebirth of an immortal evil. But now a terrible storm has assaulted unsuspecting New Orleans—and the beast walks the earth once more. "The Devourer" has been awakened, and there is only one in the besieged city who can help Nicolas defeat the foul creature—a mysterious and beautiful enigma who haunts the handsome Revenant's erotic waking dreams and enflames his passionate obsessions.

Chessa Tomas is not an ordinary policewoman. A vampire, she works only at night, patrolling a seamy and unseen underworld of roiling chaos. Though Nicolas is sensuality incarnate, Chessa wants no part of him or his kind—but she cannot close her eyes to the unholy malevolence that would consume their world. And Nicolas has uncovered the secret lust that rules her—a steaming, uncontrollable desire he intends to unleash, bending Chessa to his will by making her most forbidden fantasies real.

Nicolas Montfaucon was once a Templar Knight. Now he is a Revenant, a vampire created by the Born, and sworn to guard the world from the demon Devourer.

In the aftermath of a terrible storm, police officer Chessa Tomas labors to guard New Orleans not only against looters and other human predators, but also against soulless creatures of darkness. Who, like her, cannot live in the light of the sun.

Chessa is one of the Born, a vampire by nature, not made. Like all of her kind, she had one single chance to bear a child, but her daughter was killed, and Chessa has rejected the company – and the politics – of Born society, choosing to live instead among humans.

Now the storm has caused a massive flood in New Orleans, and the Devourer has escaped its prison of stone. Nicolas Montfaucon needs Chessa's help to recapture the demon, and he'll do everything in his power to convince her, especially if it means seducing her into his bed.

But nothing is simple in Delilah Devlin's world, and the plans of one man, even if he's undead, or the wishes of one woman, even if she's immortal, will be confronted by fate, destiny, and powers greater than all of them united. Nor are relationships ever as simple as the characters might wish them to be, and the author delights in twisting and twining emotions – to the reader's greatest pleasure.

Those familiar with the Dark series will be glad to learn the fate of some acquaintances from Into the Darkness, but to say more might reveal too much of the plot.

As anyone can expect from Delilah, the sex scenes in Seduced by Darkness are scorching hot, but the master storyteller never allows them to become gratuitous. Like every other scene in the book, they serve the progression of the plot, and complicate the lives of Nicolas and Tessa.

Let the faint of heart be warned: Delilah's stories are very, very hot. Explicit. Inventive. Everything we've always expected from her.

But Seduced by Darkness is much more than a sexy read. Delilah has created a complex and enthralling world of vampires and mages, shapeshifting familiars and true love, and deep entanglements of affection, honor, and duty. The supernatural in her stories is skillfully layered atop the real world – although in this novel, reality is a somber, almost post-apocalyptic image of a flooded city: scenes familiar from newscasts of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. And even though a flooded New Orleans is only the background to greater dangers for her heroes, Delilah manages to convey the despair of those who remained behind, and the unshakable optimism of those who work to rebuild after a catastrophe.

Delilah Devlin has demonstrated once again her skill as a storyteller. None of her main characters are human, but each of them is believable, and the reader not only can relate to their motives and emotions, but is left wanting to know more. Even the arch-villain, the demon Devourer, is a mystery to be uncovered.

And let's not forget the suspense, the fight scenes, the appealing, well-developed characters, and the tightly woven plot. As always I have only one regret after reading Seduced by Darkness: I have to wait too long for the next book of the series.


Review by Cherry Blossom

Friday, April 11, 2008

Review: Feral Voyeurism

Feral Voyeurism
by Lacey Savage

The thrill of being watched…
When she took a job aboard The Pirate’s Maiden cruise ship to escape the painful memories of her past, Emma Duprey didn’t expect to enjoy stripping for strangers. But that was before she met her dancing partner, a man who awoke a flurry of erotic excitement insider her with nothing more than a scorching glance form across the stage.

The ecstasy of watching…
A dangerous situation and a daring rescue lead Emma to witness one of her most erotic fantasies come to life. Durand and Christopher obviously love one another, so why are they so determined to draw Emma out of her voyeuristic safety and have her do more than watch?

Hiding from the past has only taken Emma so far. Now it’s up to two unlikely men, both harboring secrets of their own, to teach her to open her heart and bare all…

Feral Voyeurism was an intense and hot read, and Lacey Savage is a talented author who is able to draw you into the unique worlds she seems to create so effortlessly.

In Feral Voyeurism I was introduced into an intense world of shapeshifters. That’s not to say that it’s the first book in her series, I’m actually not sure what number this is in the series, but just an introduction for me.

I was intrigued by Emma’s story, wanting to know more about her and the inner strength she exhibited when she walked away from all she knew in order to heal. At the same time, that strength isn’t always evident as she gets stuck in a rut of running away from what scares her, whether it’s good for her or not. One would think that being a werewolf would make her fearless and indestructible, but she’s seemingly the opposite. Sexually, she’s a bit repressed and seems to find a great deal of enjoyment in simply watching… which is perfect for her, as she loves watching Durand as he dances across from her stage and gets her engine revving at high speed. When she happens upon a tryst between Durand and his lover Christopher, she is caught up the sensuality of the moment, and unknowingly finds her heart’s desire. As they urge her to take what she needs she takes a chance and in the process finds more of that inner strength.

Durand is a man who knows what he wants and what he needs. For the longest time he has known that despite his love for Christopher, his werewolf half is desperate for a female werewolf as his mate. Despite this, he stays on the cruise ship, knowing he’ll never find his mate on the open seas, but unable to leave Christopher. The only way to be with his love is to stay on the ship, so imagine his surprise when he scents his mate onboard the ship. The frustration he feels as she continually runs from him is palpable, but so is his concern. He can’t help his mate if she won’t let him get close, much less let him in. When she happens upon him and Christopher during one of their moonlit trysts he seizes on her need to watch and hopes for a way into her heart.

Christopher was an amazing man. We don’t really get much about him at first, but when we find out just what he is and learn his motivations and the fact that he’d do anything for Durand his own vulnerability comes through. He was such a sweet character and I wanted him to be happy, and when he gets his own moment with Emma, I was not only hot and bothered, but almost moved to tears as he displayed such tenderness as well as an amazing capacity for love as well as heat.

When I came to the end of this story I wanted more, and I wanted to know what came before. What better endorsement for a book is there than that you didn’t want it to end, even though they all must come to an end or the dishes would never get done. Lacey Savage has a knack for creating original characters that capture your imagination and your heart all in one fell swoop. Between the tension in the beginning and the actual sexual encounters, she knows how to build the heat to the point of panting from the heat. I enjoyed this original tale by a wonderful storyteller and will definitely be reading it again.


Review by Viscaria

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Review: The Collector 5: The Crystal Flacon

The Collector 5: The Crystal Flacon
by Jeanne Barrack

Abby Foster, owner of Nannies, International, has been commissioned by the secretive Collector to obtain the Crystal Flacon, believed to have been in the possession of the infamous Lucrezia Borgia and to contain a magical aphrodisiac. But why should a nanny be set such a task? Seems Abby has secrets of her own. She also runs Finding Justice, an organization dedicated to returning art and other treasures lost during WWII to their rightful owners. With the specialized skills she's gained, getting the Flacon should be easy. She isn't counting on channeling Lucrezia through visions and dreams or falling for Antonio, duke d'Este, the present day owner of the Flacon.

Antonio d'Este, the direct descendent of Lucrezia Borgia, is a modern man with modern problems. A recent widower, he needs a nanny to take care of his five year old daughter while he prepares for the launching of "Lucrezia", the new scent for Borgia, the family-owned perfumery. Inspired by the stunning Crystal Flacon, Antonio focuses everything on making "Lucrezia" a success. He has no time for the distraction posed by the beautiful nanny or the strange effect making love with her has on him.

When someone attacks the perfumery, destroying property, disrupting projects in an attempt to ruin the company and killing innocent people, they both need a change of plans. Together, using Abby's skills honed while working for Finding Justice, they must find the saboteur, before everything they love is lost.

This book did it for me, and I can't wait to get the others in the series (if there are any more). This story by Jeanne Barrack was a first by her for me but it won't be the last. Loved the concept of the story, enjoyed the tension between Abby and Antonio. If you are a fan of paranormal stories this has enough of a paranormal setting to satisfy in a short bite, equally with the contempory and mystery bits. Enjoyed the little bit of mystery in it, it made the story flow a little bit better so even though this was a HOT book, it was not just a sexually explicit story, it was a whirlwind romance.

The only thing that detracts with the story is the short length, but if it was any longer it probably would not be as exciting. Timewise it covers a couple of hours (depending how fast you read) so it would make a bus/train journey exciting, and I have to question the possibility of a permanent relationship developing in that short a time. Even so, this book is a keeper. And as I said in the opening paragraphs, I will be looking out for other Jeanne Barrack books.


Review by Fuchsia

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Review: Vampire Queen's Servant

Vampire Queen's Servant
by Joey W. Hill

His blood. His soul. His body. Hers for the asking…

Lady Elyssa Yamato Amaterasu Wentworth is a centuries-old vampire who’s been given a new servant – Jacob, a total alpha male unaccustomed to submitting to any woman’s wishes. What really binds Jacob to her are not her sensual midnight hungers, but something far more provocative. It stirs her blood, renews her life and awakens her soul like only true love can. The passion between Lyssa and Jacob yields something else unexpected – a shared history that reaches back through the centuries and is fated to challenge their destiny like nothing ever will again.

I don't normally choose dominatrix-driven BDSM stories but I had heard good things about this author and wanted to give it a try. I'm glad I did. The Vampire Queen's Servant is an extremely intense story that delves into activities that will most likely offend some, but for those with an adventurous spirit, it will have you gasping.

The relationship between Lady Lyssa, the vampire queen, and Jacob, her human servant in training, is simple yet exceptionally complex at the same time. I've read other reviews of this book and though most are glowing, a few cite gratuitous brutality and violence occurring, but I disagree with this assessment. As I listened to Lyssa's inner thoughts and how she illustrates the vampire psyche, it was very clear to me her motivations for the cruelty she bestows on Jacob. I didn't like some of the things that she did, but I understood why she did them and I felt her actions were appropriate, based on her view of the world and her ultimate intentions toward Jacob.

Lady Lyssa is complicated and dangerous and merciless. But I also see her as vulnerable. Sometimes, I didn't like her very much, and others, my heart wept for her. With everything she's been through and is now facing, it was difficult for me not to be sympathetic, even as she punishes Jacob for a slight infraction of her rules. She is not all viciousness, however, and frequently treats Jacob with loving tenderness. I think these were some of my favorite scenes because Lyssa's brittle emotions are laid bare on the page and I could feel the turmoil of her inner conflict and her fight to ignore it as she revels in him. But, I never forgot that she is a vampire, and even though petite in stature, Lyssa has kick-butt, super-human strength, which I loved. That additional threat kept me holding on to the edge of my seat because I never knew when she would erupt next, or what Jacob would do to provoke her.

Jacob's nature is to dominate, so watching him struggle with the role reversal is riveting and I think this is one of the reasons why I was able to open my mind to the idea of a female dominant and be affected by the story. His blind devotion to Lyssa is rousing in its intensity, and his unrelenting care for her — both in the bedroom and out — had me flipping on the A/C to cool me down. His physique is the embodiment of virility and every time he takes his clothes off, which is often, I had to place a cold compress on my forehead. Are you getting that the man is hot?! Even when being forced to do things he doesn't want to, and particularly when he's doing things he does want to do, he performs with such sensuality that I swear, if he held classes for men, there would be a lot of happy women out there!

The one criticism that I have is that it went on too long with encounter after encounter between the two of them without the feeling of forward motion to the story. I didn't understand Jacob's motivation for putting up with the abuse and I began to question what the point of it all was especially as he continued to accept more and more. I was pleased to have my question answered; his driving force is finally explained and his submission justified satisfactorily, and though a momentary annoyance, the delay didn't mar my overall appreciation of the book.

Lyssa's and Jacob's story is powerfully intense and not for the sensitive or faint-of-heart. The sex scenes are explicit and unconventional. But the writing is exceptional and I was moved by the artistry of the author's pen. The fiery characters are enticing and their journey to discover what they may have with one another is exhilarating. Their story continues in a second book entitled The Mark of the Vampire Queen and I can't wait to read it.


Review by Chamomile

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Review: Serena's Song

Serena's Song
by Raina James

Finn "Riff" Logan's band blasted to the top of the rock charts fifteen years ago with the bittersweet single, Beautiful Girl, and has dominated the music scene ever since. Riff has it all–except the woman he left behind.

Widow Serena Jeffries isn't the same sweet young thing who lost her heart–and everything else–to the local bad boy. Her life is filled with family, friends and the satisfaction of knowing she's earned her success. And if her love life is less than sensational…well, something's gotta give.

When Celebrity magazine splashes an old photo of the young lovers on newsstands across the nation, revealing that Serena is the inspiration behind Beautiful Girl, Riff seizes his chance to win her back.

Can Serena get over the pain of the past to build a future with the man she never stopped loving?

What a pleasure it was to get to know the characters in this book. They are so beautifully crafted that I felt I was experiencing life through their eyes rather than reading words on a page. I was so immersed in Finn and Serena's tale that I finished it in one sitting and was sad to see it end.

I viewed Serena as a welcome inspiration with her level-headed responses to confusing and chaotic situations. She is a soccer mom who is active in her quiet community when she is thrust into mayhem that she never asked for and doesn't want. She is understandably upset by the fact that the media are dogging her, but does she have a cow? No. Does she throw blame on Finn for the mess? Nope. Why? Because she's a rational, intelligent woman and can analyze an event in a logical manner to draw an appropriate conclusion. No whining for days, no stomping off in a huff, no misplaced anger, no drawn-out misunderstandings. I find that so refreshing! Serena is confronted with doubts, fears and insecurities, sure, but the unique thing about her is that her concerns don't get blown out of proportion. She handles them without the protracted drama and I was so grateful because I was able to adore her from beginning to end.

Finn "Riff" Logan is a rock star, which is a turn-on for most women by itself, but I love that he never got into the drug scene and he gives back, via charities and working with aspiring musicians, making him that much more attractive. He's not perfect, though, and I was really glad that he doesn't deny making use of freely offered female companionship because for me, it makes his character all the more realistic and believable. A gorgeous rocker is going to turn down voluptuous babes as they throw themselves at him?? I don’t think so. But his steadfast commitment to winning Serena back is most appealing to me about Finn. He doesn't waver or question it, or allow his fears to strangle his resolve; he simply and patiently does what is necessary to get her to give him a second chance.

My absolute favorite aspect of this novel is the intimacy between Serena and Finn during the love scenes. They are steamy, yes, but what makes them extraordinary is the power of the emotion; the sense of reverence that they have for one another is breathtaking, and it didn't matter the point of view I was experiencing; each worshipped the other with the same level of wonder and awe. I was blown away by their intensity.

Serena's Song is a sensory indulgence by a gifted writer. According to Raina's website — yes! I was looking for more — this is her first published work and all I can say is wow! I am already impatient for her next release.


Review by Chamomile

Monday, April 7, 2008

Review: The Good Thief

The Good Thief
By: James Buchanan

Working construction provides Caesar with a great way to cover up his real job; stealing whatever he can get his hands on. Which is why the guy he has a fling with could be really bad for business. Nate is a cop, and Caesar worries that he might be tempting fate if he sees Nate again, even if he wants to.

When Caesar discovers something far worse than some petty thievery on one of his jobs, though, he knows he has to report it to Nate, and the two of them try to find a way to keep Caesar safe until he can testify, even as the sparks fly between them. Can Nate protect Caesar and teach him that there are ways to be a good guy as well as a thief?

The Good Thief is an incredible story that left me in awe. The dynamics of the relationship between Caesar and Nate, the cultural flavor that peppered the story and the suspense of seeing if justice will prevail while all sides seemed to be converging to rip Nate and Caesar apart truly kept the story alive and vibrant for me.

Caesar is a complicated individual with depths and conflicts that would challenge any man. Where he lives, the culture he comes from, his choice of profession and the belief that he is all he could ever be are all facets of his character. I alternated in finding Caesar to be a hero and a anti-hero. The ultimate question is -what will he be by the end of the story?

Nate is a good cop faced with a bad situation. The situation is compounded by the fact of Caesar's being what he is - a thief; and Nate's inability to let Caesar go even though he should is causing a serious moral dilemma for him. The saying, "How can something so good be so bad?" is layered with many levels of emotion and threaded throughout this story. It kept me reading, wondering how it would be resolved.

The bad situation is really bad. I mean it's not only what Caesar found but in whose house it was discovered that really upped the tension to dangerous levels. The suspense is tangible and strong throughout this story and a credit to the storytelling skills of Mr. Buchanan. The background climate was well described along with the details of Caesar's casing of the neighborhood and how day laborers find work - or not. The writing is rich with visuals and tone so it really hooked me into hoping for the best to happen to Caesar and not the worst which is quite possible and daunting. I mean, Nate may be a great cop, but he's only human and can't be there for Caesar 24/7, and when he's not, poor Caesar.

When Nate and Caesar are together, Mr. Buchanan captures just what makes an erotic romance, erotic. The men turn the sheets to ash with smoking hot scenes that grabbed my emotions; not just my libido.

As with any romantic suspense story, I look for a satisfying HEA and I have to tell you, Mr.Buchanan delivers it with panache. Nate and Caesar are men with a earthy and robust sense of humor and that humor flavored the ending to perfection. The Good Thief had me on a roller coaster of emotion all the way through and like any good ride, the ending left me breathless and happy. I can't wait to read more by Mr. Buchanan. I like his style.

Rating: Photobucket

Reviewed by Xeranth

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Review: Must Love Dogs

Must Love Dogs
by Lena Austin and Tuesday Richards

In the mid 21st century, paranormal creatures have come out of the shadows. After the plagues of 2010, the human population has been decimated, but some still scream over racial purity -- and not just among the humans.

Roni Engelmann is a were-dog. Talk about your interracial relationship! Not only is she not a pure werewolf, but she’s a crossbreed Chuskie -- offspring of a Siberian Husky and a Chihuahua. She’s looking for love and isn’t surprised to find it in a human. Who cares what she sleeps with? Except Corbin isn’t human.

Corbin is a pure werewolf Alpha and heir to the richest pack in three states. He’s also tired of being pursued by werewolf females for his money and his title. Pretending to be human and breaking tradition is the only way he sees of finding his dream Alpha Bitch. Who cares if he dates a were-dog?

Who cares? Their parents. This is so not Romeo and Juliet. You won’t hear any Shakespearean whines or rhymes, but you may hear a whole lot of howls and growls.

You’d hope that the future would bring a more enlightened attitude towards racial divisions.

Not so. Especially when creatures of the night and shadows now live in full light, and mingle freely with humans. When plagues have reduced humans to a minority population and purity of race might mean instead purity of species. When a mean-tempered waitress could turn her back on you and mutter “Carnivores” instead of “Foreigners.”

Against this background, star-crossed lovers Roni and Corbin are both looking for a life-mate, but neither is quite telling the truth about themselves.

It’s not really their fault. Events have a tendency to take over when lust overwhelms you, your best friend is a meddlesome and ancient vampire, and your parents are territorial Alphas.

Lena Austin and Tuesday Richards have created a completely believable fantastic world of the future – not because it’s based on scientific fact, but because in the quick strokes necessary for a short story, they have built a logically coherent story-world. Without any need for long descriptions or explanations, they reveal the off-kilter reality of Must Love Dogs in small details and tiny tensions between ordinary denizens of the strange maybe-future reality.

Instead of a dark, end-of-things landscape, the authors pull the readers into a hopeful, humorous, and sensual world that is reinventing itself and rebuilding itself on the foundations we know well: blind dates, Internet matchmaking, college buddies, and family reunions.

Even the intensity of the sexual attraction between the main characters is well motivated and justified, both by the characters themselves and by the plot, so that the intimate encounters between them are never gratuitous or random, and serve both the plot, the characters, and the reader’s enjoyment.

I smiled and giggled all the way through the book, and I’ll be sure to look out for Lena and Tuesday’s next creation. I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to review their story.


Review by Cherry Blossom