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Friday, August 29, 2008

Heat Stroke: Fire and Isis

Heat Stroke: Fire and Isis by Leila Brown
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story
Other: M/F, BDSM
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Dandelion

Isis Jones is a woman plagued by her new powers. Every time she gets aroused her body drops to subzero temps. Do you know how hard it is to have sex when your body freezes your vibrators? Let’s not even mention how fast your boyfriend drops you when you give him frostbite of the cock. She’s desperate. Desperate enough to use a speed dating service to find a man who can withstand sex with her. Kenneth Strong, aka Fire, can withstand her icy passion. And he has every intention of showing her just how hot sex with him can get.

For a very short story that serves up an enticing one-night stand, this erotic tale does the trick. Don’t expect any deep characterization or complex plot, though.

New “Super” Isis goes to a dating service in search of a fellow Super who can stand her peculiar trait of literally, physically, freezing when she gets aroused. Lucky for her, Fire is just the guy she’s looking for. With his strange ability that raises his own body temperature, his fire melts her freezing core, and he shows her the night of a lifetime. The sex here is hot-hot-hot, centering on a steamy, well-written bondage scene that leaves Isis wanting much, much more – and that’s about all this ten-page story has to offer its reader. But “Fire and Isis” is a perfect erotic escape, a quick sexy read, and in that respect, Ms. Brown does her job well.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Dance

The Dance by Jami Davenport
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Xeranthemum

What's a girl to do after her former fiancé declares that she's frigid? Mariah Baker decides to take a jaunt on her wild side...if she can find it. The scruffy Puerto Rican leasing the waterfront house next door appears to be just the man for the mission. After all, what better way to defrost than with a sexy Latin lover? Only Rico isn't who she thinks he is, and time is her enemy.

Rico finds fashion-obsessed Mariah intriguing and unique. For starters, she makes horses dance, and his heart does its own tango for her. Besides, a hot summer fling is a welcome distraction from his depressing, uncertain future and dysfunctional, freeloading family.

As their summer together comes to an end, Rico's phobia towards falling in love and Mariah's insecurities are a recipe for trouble in paradise. But in the magic of the San Juan Islands, anything is possible.

Or is it?

Right from the get-go, The Dance embraced humor, warmth, very human characters and a wealth of possibilities. It’s a well told tale about two people who make choices with the best of intentions and get the worst results. However, until they face their demons, and for one of them, it ends up being formidable, they will have an incomplete future.

You might wonder about my word choice, ‘incomplete future’. Think of a scale – you put two items to weigh and they don’t match. Of course you are going to add something to or subtract from the one that needs to be balanced. Thing is, sometimes the item we believe to be perfect ends up being not enough. That is how I see the relationship between Rico and Mariah. It’s a delicate dance to make a relationship work and Ms. Davenport explores this from a very human perspective. Our hero and heroine each end up giving, but the scales remain unbalanced. They have to come to terms with what each is willing to do, to go that extra mile, if they want that balanced future, a complete future.

The back drop totally fascinated me. Oh sure, this occurs in a delightful and romantic location but what hooked me were the horses, especially Mariah’s horse, Sueño. The riding discipline that Mariah practices is called dressage. I had no clue what that was; couldn’t wrap my mind around what that would look like. I found a co-worker who knew exactly what it was because she herself practices it with her horse so I was able to pick her brain. How cool was that? Think of the Lipizzaner stallions and you’ll get the picture. Once I figured it out, I had a new appreciation for Mariah’s character and enjoyed the story on a whole other (new) level. Now I am fascinated with Ms. Davenport’s choice of profession for her character. I wonder, what was her inspiration?

The only blip in reading this story came very early on within the first few pages. There is an editing glitch where the same line is repeated twice. I can assure you that it is the only one you will find. The rest is perfect.

The conflict of the story is meaty and emotional. Ms. Davenport resists, though I have no idea how she did it, the easy way out for her characters. I really wanted Rico to save the day. I wanted the conflict to end as happily as Mariah and Rico eventually become. The author stuck to realism and endeared her characters to me even more. They are not perfect, they are not cardboard and neither are they capable of super human acts. Rico and Mariah are just a man and a woman stumbling through the pile of yuck life has thrown at them, to come out on the other side with bumps and bruises but whole.

The passion they share is sweet and hot. The happily ever after is well earned and emotional. And through it all, Ms. Davenport keeps it optimistic with humor, love of family and hope. Which is a good thing because there are some tense moments which for me, were jarring and emotional. You can’t come away from reading The Dance untouched. I certainly didn’t and I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a well told romance.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Leandros: Sairah's Salvation

Leandros: Sairah's Salvation by Michelle Hasker
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal
Length: Short Story
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Buttercup

Sairah Mellon hungers for an all-consuming love, just like the one in her dreams. When she comes face to face with him will she believe his fantastic tale of aliens and shape shifters and agree to travel to her dream lover’s home planet to become his mate?

Cade knows Sairah is his mate, but she's been raised on Earth. He doesn't know how he'll be able to convince her she's not only an alien, but a shape shifter as well. When another creature tries to kill her, he shifts to his lion form and risks everything to save her. It lands him in a heap of trouble that only she can save him from -- if she can stop being angry at him long enough to help him.

Sairah Mellon grabbed my attention from the first paragraph in witness to her insatiable lust for her hunky dream lover. She drawls the reader into her desperation to have this lover fully and finally achieve climax but the problem is she always awakens just at the brink. One such interruption finds her running for her life through the forest behind her home after awakening to a baby’s cry in the night. The tension continues to build with each dream to an almost painful crescendo. You can’t help but wonder who this man that haunts her dreams and her body is and if she will eventually find him in reality.

Michelle Hasker creates a logical yet unique plotline with this erotic sci-fi story. Sairah and Cade must fight every step of the way whether it be their enemy, their lust, or their traditions and legacy, just to get a well-deserved piece of each other. The fun is seeing them through.

Ms. Hasker draws the reader in scene after scene expertly through the senses. I could feel the softness of the petals at Sairah’s back and smell the soft scent of Magnolia’s and the emotion tears at your heart. You can’t help but feel Sairah’s frustration and need to finally find the man who haunts her dreams.

Cade is the ultimate protector, lover, and soul mate if he can only figure out how to approach Sairah on a realistic plane. Plans thwarted by the Wylfenne in a brutal attack on Sairah. Cade must act fast to accomplish Sairah’s salvation. Though you can feel the rogue’s evil and immediately hate him, I felt the conflict seemed a bit understated and rushed. I would have liked to experience why and how the conflict originated in the first place. What was it that created a war between these once peacefully coexisting species?

Sairah held her own throughout this adventure and seemed to react realistically to the information discovered about her Aryel heritage and legacy. I felt the author gave her just enough doubt and enough fire to keep Cade on his toes. Submissive in a lustful way but strongly inquisitive and independent, as well.

The sexual tension kept me gritting my teeth all the way through. I found myself rooting for Sairah to finally have Cade fully possess her and would have been sorely disappointed if he had not. Hasker writes edge of the seat erotic tension and she does it well. The story in my opinion bordered on the sweeter side of spicy extremely hot lust with a strong sense of honor and tradition. This is not just another lusty romp in bed, there are extenuating circumstances and a strong plotline paralleling this story as well.

That said, I did notice some editing problems within the manuscript, and I felt the ending a little too rushed. But, overall, this story is a real page-turner and well worth the read. The characters are memorable and the hero and heroine endearing with the perfect HEA conclusion that makes you want more.

Sci-Fi is not my genre of choice, but Ms. Hasker may have just converted me with her additional twist of the paranormal to this story, which is a favorite of mine, all said and done, I will definitely look for more from this author.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Beauty's Beast

Beauty's Beast by Jane E. Jones
Publisher: The Wilder Rose Press, Scarlet Rose
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Lotus

Beautiful Holly thinks she's found the man who loves her, but Ristan continues to insist they meet in secret, refuses to marry her, and hides from the night. Unsure of his past, his life, and his love, she is forced into a situation that will bring her love from another man; a cursed, tortured man named Alexavier whose own beauty is hidden beneath a hideous exterior.

Abandoned by Ristan and living in a lonely castle with Alexavier, she is astounded by her immediate attraction to the Beast—his rough touch and scorching kisses leave her trembling and aching for more.

When Ristan returns, Holly realizes where her heart truly lies and discovers a secret that may cause her to lose the Beast forever.

Really, can there possibly be a fan of erotic romance who doesn’t love Beauty and the Beast? The Beast is the archetypal erotic hero—dark, dangerous, and enslaved by his animal nature. The only surprise there can be when you see an erotic re-telling of this story is that it doesn’t happen more often. Jane E. Jones seems to have written Beauty’s Beast with fans of the fairy tale firmly in mind.

The heroine, Holly, is utterly ordinary, and reacts to her adventures as any red-blooded woman would, rather than being somehow repelled by the raw sex appeal that the Beast is capable of. She doesn’t shy away from her love for both Alexavier and Ristan, and makes her choices based on that love. Ristan is an unfortunately underdeveloped character. Meant to be pretty and petty, he comes off as a cardboard cut-out, and it’s difficult to imagine Holly actually falling in love with him, as opposed to just being rather in lust with him. Alexavier is everything the Beast always has been: passionate, sensual, and desperate in his love. I haven’t the foggiest why Holly sees a dilemma in choosing between the two of them, but then I’m not Holly. Maybe Ristan is really, really pretty.

The language the characters use is inconsistent with the “long ago” setting. One wonders if this was a deliberate choice—in order to make an earthier, less precious version of the story—or if the author could not keep things “in character.” This is something to be aware of about this book: there’s really nothing exceptional about Jones’s writing, but the depth of creativity and emotion in her telling of the tale make it worth the read. If you’re not convinced, then here’s one more thing: in this version of the old, old story, our Beauty at last, at long last, gets to have her showdown with the stupid pretty prince who is worthless if he means the loss of the beast. Personally, I had been waiting for that for a long time. If you have too, or if you’ve simply always thought that the prince was just, you know, boring in comparison to the Beast, read this one. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Snowbound: Her Feral Mates

Snowbound: Her Feral Mates by Ruth D. Kerce
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story
Other: M/F/M, Menage, Multiple Partners
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Dandelion

Janie Merlot’s stuck in the middle of nowhere. And not alone. Wolves are skulking nearby. A mysterious light is her only hope for help. She trudges into the woods and finds an empty cabin. Shelter and safety, until the wolves gain entry.

Janie’s terror turns to curiosity when the wolves prove friendly. They even have nametags -- Dall and Cavan. She crawls into the cabin’s bed, needing rest. When she wakens, two men are with her, wearing the wolves’ nametags. They take Janie through an erotic journey unlike any she’s ever known, and one she’ll never forget.

This short tale is part of Changeling Press’s collection of winter stories, and it’s a quick, hot, satisfying read. The heroine, stranded in Minnesota’s winter wilderness, gets only one night with two men—or are they wolves?—but that night definitely surpasses her expectations. The sex here is hot and well written, though the plot leading up to Janie’s night in the cabin lacked a little bit of logic. She gets herself stranded in freezing temperatures but doesn’t worry too much about it. Then she makes herself at home in an empty cabin, where she builds a fire and even falls asleep on the bed without really wondering who owns the place and whether or not she might be intruding. Still, once Janie wakes up, there’s no question that the two owners of the cabin are glad she’s there—they make sure they meet her every sexual need. Explicit and satisfying, “Her Feral Mates” is a good, hot way to spend an hour…especially in the cool weather, when you might be in the mood for some warming up!