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Friday, August 8, 2008

Hired Hands

Hired Hands by Wendi Darlin
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Menage
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Poppy

Forty-two year old, Nora Lambert struggles daily to keep the family ranch running smoothly and has learned to rely on young, sexy Cole Shanahan. It’s been eighteen months since her husband passed, and the loneliness is killing her. More and more often, her sexual fantasies include Cole, but he hasn't shown any interest in her.

Out of respect for her late husband, Cole has denied his attraction to Nora. Until his identical twin, Jesse, makes a move that Cole never dared. Finding the woman he wants in his brother’s arms spurs Cole into action. He's willing to let Nora have both him and his brother. Once. Then he's staking his claim.

Oh. My. This amazingly well-written, unbelievably hot story is one for the keeper shelf. Wendi Darlin has once again proven she's an erotic romance author who belongs on an auto-buy. I have to admit to being very cautious when I approach a ménage -- they can be good or bad, depending on how they are written.

This one was very, very well written. Believable. Understandable. Hot. Romantic. Did I say hot?

When Nora is caught fantasizing about Cole by his twin brother, Jesse, she doesn't have a moment to think before Jesse has her in his arms. They both know Cole is due at the house at any moment to have the payroll signed. Jesse doesn't care--in fact, that's part of his plan. And Nora...she's both mortified at the thought and terrifically turned on by the fantasy of having them both. Together. It's something that's never occurred to her before, but now she can't get it out of her head. And what happens when Cole walks into the kitchen and catches his brother and the woman he secretly loves is one of the best scenes I've ever read.

Wendi Darlin writes the hottest, most emotional, well choreographed ménage scene I've read. And, I'll admit, I read this more than once before reviewing it. I imagine it's a story I'll return to again. As always, with these short stories I love, my only complaint is that they just aren't long enough. If you like romance along with your sex, and really enjoy a good threesome, I can't recommend this story highly enough.

Kudos to Ms. Darlin for her remarkably well-penned story, and now... please excuse me while I head out to find more of her backlist.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sun Dancer

Sun Dancer by Shannon Peters
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, Torrid
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Xeranthemum

Fiona is a gemsmith with a dangerous secret – she plays with fire. Declan is a sorcerer adept at hiding his talents.
Both demand trust and honesty from each other, but can they give it, especially when their lives are at risk from a common foe?

Sun Dancer is a clever mix of other worldliness, magic and romance. The setting is on a planet colonized by ancestors of Earth where the old folk tales of mystical beings are believed to be true. As it happens in our contemporary world, the inhabitants of Kiera fear the unknown and react badly towards it -- namely killing the things they fear instead of trying to understand them.

The relationship between Fiona and Declan must survive amidst that mind set and it is not easy. Trust is not given freely or easily which makes falling in love a bit tricky.

Fiona feels like an outsider even among the many people at a party she attended. She’s made her own way in life despite the odds, which makes her a survivor, a strong personality and a woman any man would be proud to have by his side. Thing is, she is not interested in a man, any man, because she has too much to lose. Any man who wants her has a huge hurdle to jump through.

Declan is just such a man willing to try. Okay, a very hunky and talented man. At first he has no clue just how tough getting through to Fiona is going to be. Their first meeting is magical and potent and based on that, the poor guy thinks it’s going to be a piece of cake. Life laughs at people who believe that and throws all kinds of conflict at them, both internal and external.

I figured out pretty quickly what the internal conflicts are; very human and identifiable which makes it easier to connect to the characters. The external conflict is unique to Kiera and a perfectly good reason for the irrational fear, if it were to be known, to be encouraged and to feed the flames of distrust the inhabitants have for people who remind them of those ancestral beliefs. I thought I knew what kind of villain Ms. Peters had introduced until the confrontation and I liked how it was different.

I also liked the fact that although the sex started early in the story, it was placed in amounts and places where It made sense. The focus was on the building of Fiona’s and Declan’s romance and the obstacles they needed to overcome for its completion. Sun Dancer is a good solid story with a setting that begs for more stories to be told within in it -- namely, Fiona’s sister, Briana. I would also like to know a bit more about the community that fostered Declan. There is a lot of richness to the world which Ms. Peters has created and I hope there is more in the offing because I would enjoy reading more.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lyon: Lords of Satyr

Lyon: Lords of Satyr by Elizabeth Amber
Publisher: Kensington Publishing, Aphrodisia
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full
Other: M/F, Ménage, M/F/M/M, M/M
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Viscaria

In this erotic historical paranormal romance series set in the heart of Tuscany’s centuries-old wine country, three half-Satyr brothers receive a letter that sends them in search of three endangered half-Faerie brides.

Charming youngest brother Lyon is so ruggedly handsome that his looks have actually caused women to swoon. Though he resents that duty calls him to wed and doubts that he can ever love one woman, he nevertheless travels to Paris in search of the third bride.

At first glance, Juliette seems a good choice for him, for he discovers her to be a courtesan. Their passionate night together leaves him sated beyond his wildest imaginings, but her magic results in dire repercussions that only she can reverse.

Discoveries about her past and the monster who rules her life send Juliette fleeing Paris and heading straight into Lyon's arms. She must learn to face her fears and trust in love because the fate of an entire wine industry hangs in the balance.

NOTE: The book includes some graphic sexual situations a reviewer should be aware of before taking on the book: Most of the romance, story, and sex is between the hero and heroine. There is some ménage (hero/heroine/male/male--the males are paranormal versions of the hero, engaging the heroine), male masturbation, brief oral male on male, a sexual assault on the heroine by the bad guy (not rape), the satyrs have 2 male appendages during a monthly ritual as in the first 2 books in this series. There is a happy ever after ending between hero and heroine.

I was so excited to get the chance to read this latest installment in The Lords of Satyr series. I actually bugged my Reviews coordinator to make sure I got my hot little hands on this one. I was desperate to see how Lyon would fare in his tale. Elizabeth Amber is a phenomenal talent, and I was so glad to get the opportunity to review yet another of her amazing books.

Of the three Satyr brothers, Lyon has always been the most charming. He’s devastatingly handsome, he’s wealthy and powerful, he has a wicked smile… and once a month he’s a bit different than your average male. When he sets out to find his fated bride among the Half-faerie sisters, it’s with the thought that he may not come to love this woman, but he has high hopes. Imagine his surprise as well as his relief when said woman turns out to be a courtesan. Only, all is not really as it seems, and Juliette is not who she appears to be.

I’ll admit it now; before I ever read this book Lyon was already my favorite brother. I think his charm and wit, as well as his endearing clumsiness, caught me in the first two books. Lyon has charisma, he has power, and he’s so sexy he’s just plain irresistible to the opposite sex. His commitment to duty, as well as his admission of his past misdeeds, just had me falling for him quicker than Juliette. He may not have wanted to be searching for his otherworld bride, but he is doing it nonetheless. Lesser men would have left King Feydon’s daughters to their less-than certain futures, but not these men. And certainly not Lyon, his honor won’t allow it. I absolutely adored every part of this man. His every seduction of Juliette showed the type of man he was; ruthless but determined that the woman who was fated to be his would come to him willingly. I could go on and on and on ad nauseum, but then that would be giving too much away, and I think you need to get to know Lyon for yourself. He is so worth it.

Juliette is an accomplished courtesan… at least that’s how it appears to the outside world. She is an incredibly powerful woman who isn’t quite sure why anyone would want her in any way. The fact that so many men vie for her attention rather confusing to her. She doesn’t like herself very much, but she has valid reasons, and some not so valid reasons. Juliette’s past has scarred her horribly, and her present continues to rip those scars open on a constant basis. Lyon is just what she needs, but she is forced to use her magic in a way that changes the course of her life.

Juliette was perhaps one of my favorite characters of Elizabeth Amber’s so far. I think that she had amazing strength to endure the terrifying and horrid circumstances of her past and present. When she realizes that not much else can be done but to flee a place she has never really called home, she does what she has to despite fear, addiction and quite a few phobias. Her fascination with Lyon is not something she has ever experienced, and yet another thing to cause her anxiety and fear. But… she overcomes. I think that is what I liked the most about her: She Overcomes!

Elizabeth Amber is quite a remarkable talent, and it has been such a pleasure to read her books. As always, the emotions she conveys are ones that this reader actually felt herself. At each twist and turn I was left clutching my hands together hoping for the best, and knowing it would be there, but not sure how it would happen. Some of the subject matter is extremely difficult to witness, but that’s what you become as a reader, a witness. One who sees the best and worst that could happen to a person. I have to recommend this book as it still hasn’t let me go, and I have long since finished reading it. This book is definitely going on my keeper shelf, right next to the first two books. I can’t wait to get my hands on the fourth (and final?) book in this series. Way to go, Ms. Amber, this book is a definite winner.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Blind Love

Blind Love by Nina Pierce
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short
Other: M/F, M/M, BDSM
Rating: 5 Books
Review by Rose

Book I of the Tilling Passions Series

In Blind Love, the first novella in the Tilling Passions series, uptight CPA and oldest sister, Julie Tilling, is the glue that binds her family. Everyone, including her parents, depend on her to do the right thing. But when her friend from high school dies, and Julie is the only one who believes he didn't commit suicide, she takes it upon herself to investigate his death. Her search for answers finds her flirting on the fringes of internet pornography. But Julie's desire to find a killer and experience a sexual awakening may push her moral boundaries to the breaking point.

Damon Corey didn't come to Maine to become shock jock Demon Jones. But when his dream career of becoming a concert pianist seems unobtainable, the radio station's offer is too good to pass up. Besides, being a radio celebrity has definite advantages with the ladies. When a mysterious brunette, Jewel, hooks up with him at the night club run by a college frat brother, their one night fling wraps around his heart and won't loosen its talons.

Julie and Damon feel the heat of passion from the moment they meet, but will their secrets unravel the tenuous threads of their relationship? Can Damon expose his inner soul without pushing Julie away, or will his enigmatic Demon Jones persona become Julie's sexual undoing and reveal him as the missing piece that solves the puzzling questions surrounding her friend's death?

Julie Tilling is the “good girl” in the family. The one everyone, including her mother and father, depends on to do the “right thing.” To always be there when she's needed. And, after a while, it gets hard always being the one that is called on in emergencies...whether it's rescuing a suffering business or being available just to chat, no matter if it is a Friday night.

When her best friend Jason dies, supposedly by his own hand, Julie doesn't accept that it was suicide and sets off to find out the truth. She follows the only clue she has and it leads her to the door of a singles club where she meets shock jock Demon Jones.

Demon Jones. It was a pleasure to discover the man behind the image--Damon Corey. The heat between Damon and Julie flare up and sparks something new and wonderful for both of them. They get to know each other and learn about new facets of their own personalities in the process. And, in the process, they meet danger and suspense head on as they work together to solve the mystery of Jason's death.

Ms. Pierce keeps you on tenterhooks until the very last moment. The romance between Damon and Julie, while fast moving, rings true. I love Damon's statement, ““I'll admit the wanton sex goddess cavorting on the dance floor definitely got my attention. But it was the compassionate woman worried over a friend that cinched it.” It made me fall in love with him a little myself.

I'm glad to see Ms. Pierce has the other two books in this trilogy already out. I'm anxious to read more about the Tilling sisters.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mile High

Mile High by G.A. Hauser
Publisher: Linden Bay Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full
Other: M/M
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Viscaria

Divorced accountant Owen Braydon spends his weeks working in Los Angeles and his weekends in Denver with his daughter. Straight-laced and mild mannered, he normally looks at the weekly flight to and from Denver as an opportunity to get some extra work done. But then he found himself on the same plane as the luscious Taylor Madison.

Texas-born Taylor is from Denver, but for several months he's been flying back and forth to Los Angeles where he works as a project manager on a major construction job. Charismatic and confident, Taylor is a man who knows what he wants and isn't afraid to go after it. The second he lays eyes on bi-curious Owen, he knows he wants him.

What starts out as a smoldering no-strings-attached initiation into the Mile High Club quickly turns into a weekly ritual that both men look forward to over all else. Soon their desire for one another deepens and both men find themselves wanting and needing more.

When a possible change in work assignments threatens to end what they have, both men are faced with a decision. Can the heights they soared together in the air be maintained on the ground? Only if Owen and Taylor are willing to cast aside their doubts, open up their hearts, set aside all inhibitions, and go the extra mile.

This was actually a pretty sweet, as well as incredibly hot love story. I have to say that I wasn’t at all surprised that it was so well-written; the heat, the sweetness, the truly lovely love story are all things we expect from G.A. Hauser and something she excels at. I know, I always have high hopes for her books, but she deserves those high hopes and she never lets me down. It just goes to show you that she has earned a following. Well, at least in me.

Owen Braydon was a great character to get to know. He is shy, and a bit introverted. He is also bi-curious. When he first realizes this, he is somewhat appalled, but at the same time he’s fascinated. He had wondered about that side of himself after several things in his marriage brought attention to the fact that things weren’t what he thought they were where his sexuality was concerned. When a chance to explore that curious part of his sexuality, he jumps at the chance. I really loved how loyal he was, and his devotion to his daughter. As he struggles with this new part of his sexuality, he worries how his daughter would take it. But, he really has no choice in how bowled over he is by Taylor.

Taylor Madison has been feeling lonely and incomplete for some time. He never imagines that he would find a relationship on one of his seemingly never-ending plane flights. When he approaches Owen, he’s a bit surprised at the feelings this other man engenders in him. Even then, he never imagines that he would want anything beyond the incredible sex he shares with quiet Owen. It was truly lovely to watch him fall for Owen just as hard as Owen was falling for him.

I loved how it all worked out in the end, and Owen and Taylor were well on their way to the rest of their lives. This was a fun, HOT read that touches on some of my very own fantasies. And don’t you dare act shocked…. You know you have them too. All in all, this was another hit from G.A. Hauser that left me with a smile on my face. I can’t help but recommend it, and I look forward to more books from her. The more I can get my hands on the better.