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Friday, March 27, 2009

Crimson Dichotomy: Seduction by Aubrey Ross

Crimson Dichotomy: Seduction by Aubrey Ross
Publisher: Changeling Press
Length: Short (86 pages)
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Other: M/F, M/F/M, BDSM
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Bittersweet

When a desperate Dichotomy seeks the help of a ruthless vampire in her quest for vengeance against the elder council, a team of hybrid “Sentinels” is dispatched to ensure their safety. Much to his chagrin, Steffen Ziegler is assigned to the pampered only daughter of Councilman Ruiz.

Bella seldom leaves the safety of her family’s estate, so she finds Steffen’s intrusion ridiculous. Determined to dissuade the enigmatic Sentinel from shadowing her every move, she provokes and seduces him. She doesn’t expect to enjoy the game quite so much or to crave the pleasure she has only known in his embrace.

Steffen is enchanted by the tempting vixen, but unfortunately the danger is real. He must focus entirely on protecting Bella, even if that means resisting the unexpected attraction raging between them.

Crimson Dichotomy: Seduction is a sizzling, hot romance story that left me utterly wordless.

Aubrey Ross threads a story of creatures unheard of before, but with a power of attraction that left me hooked.

Beginning with the amazing Dichotomies: transformations, night, day, different personalities, powers…I won’t spoil things and say more.

Then she introduced the Sentinels (doesn’t that sound impossibly sexy and dangerous at the same time?) And she left me awed and craving for more.

I didn't have to wait and crave for long, because Payne and Taerok came along…vampires in full force: lusting for blood and wild ravaging sex.

Her original imagination, involving not only those powerful bedding scenes but the story itself and the creatures she’s created are, simply said, impressive.

The story is not only sex and a story line of murder, disappearing clan members, and bodyguards; it’s the story of a deep profound love that rises between two beings (Isabella and Steffen) that consider themselves different, but that in truth are just two separate puzzle pieces waiting to fit together.

“I just can’t help feeling like we’ve only shifted the focus,” Isabella says at one point in the story, and it’s true. By the end of the story the only thing that left me slightly disappointed was the destiny of Taerok and Payne--it was as though the focus had shifted. I really hope Ms. Ross has another part somewhere around, because I’m definitely grabbing it!

By Chance by Cat Grant

By Chance by Cat Grant
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (104 pgs)
Other: M/M, M/F
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by: Cactus

For Eric and Nick, it's irritation at first sight.

Wealthy, arrogant Eric Courtland is an island unto himself...and content to stay that way until chance brings quarterback Nick Thompson into his life. Nick's warm and easy nature pierce straight through Eric's well-fortified defenses and coax him out of his shell.

It doesn't take long for their friendship to deepen into love. Eric's fear of commitment and Nick's inability to come to terms with his own sexuality threaten to tear them apart.

By Chance is the third installment in Cat Grants bestselling Courtland Chronicles Series.

When an incredibly hot and almost naked man comes out of the bathroom dripping wet wearing only a towel, a smart man does not throw that sexy man out. Thankfully Eric agrees to make the best of the situation when Nick unexpectedly is thrust upon him as his new roommate. Neither Nick nor Eric are as they seem, both having unexpected depth as their past and present are not as easy as it may seem in this moving and well written story about love and having the courage to take risks.

Eric is prickly and standoffish as a result of his past and is anything but the spoiled rich kid he appears to be. Eric chooses to isolate himself not only from friends but also from lovers, preferring to have anonymous encounters in bathrooms or darkened halls to actual relationships. His parents’ relationship and his mother’s repeated suicide attempts have caused Eric to build an icy shell around himself that he uses to protect his fragile emotions. For all of Eric’s remoteness, he has a hidden warmth and large heart that is just waiting to be protected and cherished by a partner who truly understands him.

For his part, Nick is the boy next-door football player who is using his athletics to finance his education. He initially falls for Eric very sweetly and innocently and their relationship moves rather quickly--but almost too quickly. When Eric retreats back into his prickly shell of fear and detached emotion, Nick is easily scared off and unfortunately makes poor decisions. The character of Ally was annoying for me with her first very strident personality and then way too easy-going manner. She felt two-dimensional and unbelievable.

While both men were well characterized, their eventual resolution also was problematic. Nick’s choices while they were apart were confusing and not explained, nor was Eric’s acceptance believable. Deciding to ignore the past as a way of resolving conflicts because you realize you still love someone is not exactly the best way to progress in a relationship. Furthermore, there was no real resolution to their problems. Nothing changed except Nick and Eric got back together with all the previous issues still remaining like the proverbial elephant in the room.

As this is the first prequel to a series of books (written out of order) about these two men and the woman with them, there is a nice back-story that is sure to please followers of the series. The author has a wonderful hand with prose and the ability to illicit true emotion with her writing. Although I had definite problems with the ending, which felt rushed, the majority of the book was truly satisfying and well done.

Breaking All The Rules by Phyllis Campbell

Breaking All The Rules by Phyllis Campbell
Publisher: Carnal Passions
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (95 pages)
Other: M/F, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

Her assignment as an investigative journalist is to get the story on a sex resort, not sleep with her servant! But Kristine Olsen can’t stop wanting the sexy man assigned to her. She hasn’t counted on the unexpected feelings for Cole, and especially the story she uncovers.

When Cole Hunt spots the newest guest, he knows his week will be filled with more than just paperwork to close his resort. The blue-eyed beauty has branded him with her white-hot kisses. She’s keeping secrets, but will giving his heart to Kristine become his downfall when his resort is exposed?

Is breaking the rules worth it?

Breaking All the Rules was one very hot story that shows the quality of Ms. Campbell writing. From the first line, I was hooked. The detailed descriptions had me also seeing the Pleasure Hideaway and all its carnal delights the same as Kristin Olsen.

Kristin Olsen/DeWitt is a reporter for the San Diego Tattler. She seemed to be a little naïve. Her shock at the interactions of the other guests had me believing Kristin was not very worldly. Her descriptions had me laughing out loud a lot of the time. When she thought about the women playing with large joysticks and a different type of ball or if the gift shop stocked enough bottles of sunscreen, I could not help but laugh. Kristin’s mental focus changed from reporting to reveling in the looks of Mr. Hot Pants.

Jonathan Cole Hunt is a hard working hotelier who works incognito at the resort left to him by his mentor, Allen Crow. Jonathan does not like the concept behind the resort and wants to change it as soon as he is able. Even more interesting, when Mrs. Cavanaugh keeps coming on to him, he continually turns her down. Cole has a no fraternization rule in place for his employees but he keeps breaking it in very innovative ways, and so he reasons he is not breaking the rules at all.

Cole tempts Kristin in everything he does along with torturing himself. Rubbing suntan lotion on Kristin’s body turned into an erotic experience as I read it. Swimming in the pool reminded me of dolphins doing a mating dance in the water. Of course, the pool was at fault for their getting carried away. I did love how Cole got innovative in the Jacuzzi so he could rationalize that he was not breaking the rules. Very hot.

When the truth begins to come out, neither Kristin nor Cole wants to be the first to reveal their secrets. I loved how the story came together toward the end.
Breaking All the Rules is a scorching hot erotic story that I loved. I hope Ms. Campbell continues to write stories in this genre as I think she has a natural talent and I hope that she will continue to feed my hunger for her works.

Lady Knight by Marisa Chenery

Lady Knight by Marisa Chenery
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Fantasy
Length: Full (269 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Cholla

Saxon Lady Ariel of Elmstead disguises herself as a boy and leads her father's men to battle the Norman invaders. Her goal is to find the Norman knight who left her with child the year before. The only clue she has to his identity is the ring he gave her.

During the battle of Hastings, Broc St. Ceneri takes a young Saxon boy as his hostage. The boy so resembles the Saxon girl he can't forget, Broc offers to train him as a knight after he is granted Elmstead as his own.

With Broc unable to see through her disguise, Ariel must decide whether to risk all by revealing her secret, or say nothing and let the man she loves wed another.

Huzzah! Chivlary isn’t dead after all… it’s just been turned on its ear. Full of battles, both between the English and the Normans as well as between Ariel and everyone she meets, Lady Knight is a fast-paced historical novel that puts quite a twist on your average fantasy story.

Taking a different approach to your typical historical novel, Ms. Chenery delves into the world of knights and battle from a woman’s perspective. Headstrong and determined, Ariel knows exactly what she wants, how she wants it and has a good idea of how to get it. She is a valiant and courageous woman who will not let the boundaries of society stop her from obtaining her goals. Ariel is a real inspiration to those around her and someone I’d hang out with.

Broc is up to the challenge, however, of taming this wild woman. After a brief, intimate encounter, they do not come face-to-face again for over a year. And Ariel has a fistful of surprises waiting for him when they do meet again. However, she doesn’t bother to let him in on any of them until much, much later.

Lady Knight is packed with action, history, and tension of the most delicious kind. Sparks fly every moment Broc and Ariel are within shouting distance of one another. A very fun and enjoyable story interlaced with hot and steamy love scenes, it’s a sure pleaser for the historical lover.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Taken by Anya Bast

Taken by Anya Bast
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, LTD
Genre: Contemporary Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short (74 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Xeranth

Sometimes love knocks softly…and sometimes it breaks down your door.

Anne’s morning starts like any other normal day—and ends in a race for her life. The surprise that interrupts her regular date with a latte looks a lot like Frankenstein, except this monster is for real. And it chases her straight into the arms of two mouthwatering hunks who whisk her away from everything she knows. That would be Earth.

Suddenly life isn’t so normal anymore.

Caleb and Van have been watching Anne for several weeks. Women are scarce in their world, a situation that sometimes forces two or more males to share one wife between them. Anne is their perfect match. Now all they have to do is convince her of that—while trying desperately not to let their intense desire for her scare her away.

Then there’s the little matter of protecting her from the Guardians, who want to make sure no match is ever made…

Taken is a fast paced story with interesting world building, a reluctant heroine and two men who intend to grant her every seductive whim.

Anne is an interesting woman who has the dilemma of having to leave not only her own world but her own preconceptions and beliefs of herself and her understanding of loving relationships. She’s a bit stubborn but that stands to reason as us Earthlings sure don’t like change. We get all bent out of shape if we have to learn a new computer program to do our jobs, so just imagine dealing with a whole new set of mores to accept and dangers to your very life!

Caleb and Van are heroes who don’t seem too intimidating. I mean, when you find out their professions, it’s sort of…normal. But there’s nothing ordinary about these two guys, not the least of which is their total commitment to love and cherish Anne. How seductive is that? How can anyone resist such overwhelming sexiness and devotion? Apparently Anne can and I enjoyed how the men sort of stumbled and growled as they tried to figure out how to make it all work. Love sure isn’t easy and the dynamic of three separate personalities trying to become one was like watching a taffy-pull, the end result being sweet – and hot.

I wish Ms. Bast’s physical explanation for Anne being their mate, how they finally connect and the resulting HEA was explored a bit more. I mean, it happened so fast. I guess that’s the flip side to shorter stories. Perhaps there are more books coming or one already out I don’t know about. I hope so because I’m hungry for more detail. The world this author has created seems ripe with possibility -- rich in future character development and more thrilling excitement for us readers as, hopefully, additional women get to experience the sensual wonder of being the center of more than one man’s universe. Anne, Caleb and Van have whetted my appetite for more. Ms. Bast has hooked me with this one.

Spaceport: Sugar and Spice by Tuesday Morrigan

Spaceport: Sugar and Spice by Tuesday Morrigan
Publisher: Changeling Press
Length: Short (81 pgs)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Type: M/F, M/F/M, Menage, Multiple Partners
Rating: 3 cherries
Review by Lotus

Justifier. It’s her alias: the stronger side of Sugar Lawson. Until she goes up against Tarragon and Anise Spice, Sugar thinks Justifier, a determined assassin punishing those who take advantage of the weak, is the only side to her personality. But in a battle of wills, Sugar discovers the Spice brothers bring out the woman inside.

Hired to protect an unscrupulous mobster, the Spice brothers are determined to keep their client alive. But they never figured they would be protecting him from the galaxy’s avenger. Or that they wouldn’t be able to keep their hands off the dark, compelling beauty.

There’s nothing sweet about the woman named Sugar, and the Spice brothers are as cold as ice, but when the three get together, everything changes.

Throughout the Spaceport series we’ve met courtesans, drug addicts, sex gurus, space trash, and bounty hunters. In this episode we meet high-level assassins… and telepathic dogs. Yes, there are telepathic dogs, and they are awesome. The assassins are interesting too, with their own ethics, network, and codes. Morrigan makes this aspect of the Spacport world interesting and sympathetic, which is quite a feat when all of your protagonists are killers for hire. However, Morrigan’s style is not, by any stretch of the imagination, polished. Her tendency towards antiquated euphemisms like, “swords,” “sheaths,” and “channels” is comically distracting. However, she is a born storyteller, and it becomes easy to ignore this flaw as the plot moves along.

Sugar, on the surface, is fairly common science fiction stock. She’s gentically engineered, which means, that while she’s completely human, she’s also really really good at everything she does. In her role as Justifier, one of the most feared assassins in the galaxy, she is unbashedly badass, and a lot of fun to cheer for. While most of the time she stays true to character, there were a couple of moments where I was sure Morrigan had forgotten who she was writing about. I mean, I really can’t see Sugar being stupid enough to allow herself to be tied up by her mark, regardless of how much she wants him. I suppose, in all fairness, this could be considered evidence that she is, afterall, human, but she’s also the best at what she does, and so I don’t buy it.

And then we have the Spice men. Morrigan unashamedly follows her title theme by naming this poor lads Anise and Tarragon. Don’t worry, you notice less and less as you read on. Anise is definitely my kind of guy: cautious, sensual, and funny. Tarragon I could take or leave, but that’s possibly because he just oozes alpha male. What’s nice about them both is that they are each complete characters. However shallowly they are explored, they still give the impression of depth. The pitfall of many triangle romances is that two of the lovers will sometimes make up a whole for the third. This goes a long way toward explaining why the third cannot or will not choose between them, but it doesn’t make for a very satisfying romance. Morrigan avoids this trap like a pro.

Instead, Sugar and the Spices collide headlong, and each encounter is unique, and reveals aspects of the characters. Sugar has, in fact, a complete mini-romance with both of the brothers. Anise’s is much sweeter, probably due to the relative innocence of his feelings for Sugar, but Tarragon’s is not without its charm. There is some trouble with emotional choreography, however. While Sugar and either of the Spice brothers have real chemistry, this starts to break down when they come together. I think this may be because triad love affairs usually move in all directions, but what we have here is two brothers in love with the same woman. I, like Sugar, am not into incest, but the lack of pull between the heroes breaks the tension. It would almost have been better if the Spices were a married couple. Hey, it’s Spaceport Adana, it could happen!

The epilogue of Sugar and Spice is also a little silly, wrapping up everything perhaps a little too neatly, and revealing information about the heroes that seems unnecessary, tacked-on, and incongruous to the setting. It’s always unfair when a decent novella is ruined by a haphazard epilogue, but you can always skip it. That aside, this is a solid bit of assassin vs. assassin erotica, with characters you cheer for and sex that is both hot and emotionally charged.

Conflict by Stevie Woods

Conflict by Stevie Woods
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (183 pages)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by: Cactus

Two men, one war. Can love survive when each takes a different side?

Leaving his lover behind to support the abolitionist cause, Piet Van Leyden finds himself leading one of the first all-black Union troops into the heart of battle. Reuniting with free slave and former love Joss brings some comfort, but will his presence tempt Piet into forgetting the love waiting for him at home?

Sebastian Cane wonders how he's able to go on without Piet by his side. When a series of unfortunate events lands him a prisoner of the Union, Seb knows he must rely on his wits and his love for Piet to survive...and get home to him.

In this moving sequel, two lovers face each other on opposite sides of the civil war and must face the troubling questions both refuse to think about. After so many years apart, the war having changed and hurt both men, is there something to come back to? Is the relationship they both yearn and desperately wish for still there for them after such a long separation and hardship?

This is not so much of a love story as a look at two men involved in the end of the civil war and the events surrounding their separation and reunion. There is a smattering of sex, just a hint really and a thread of romance amongst historical highlights from the war. Pieter and Sebastian are apart for the majority of the story and their love affair and determination to get back to each other is based largely on a short six-month relationship that clearly cemented their feelings for each other. Their separation is hard with numerous obstacles between them and no shortage of problems and difficulties thrown at these men to test their lingering devotion.

Both men are irrevocably changed from their wartime experiences, gaining hindsight and wisdom through bloody battles and arduous trials testing their loyalty, fidelity, and confidence. Each man slowly is exposed to the large-scale destruction and waste the war has caused, even if both believe in abolition of slavery. Their backgrounds, priorities, and morals have Sebastian and Pieter on opposite sides though their goal is ultimately the same – to survive and reunite once more. Although at times, Sebastian and Pieter make mistakes, their struggle against the war and to balance their responsibilities with their loneliness and longing for each other is compelling, as are the men themselves.

The author has delivered a well-written and vivid book with complex characters set in the backdrop of a brutal war. The honest emotions and engrossing storyline had me unable to put this book down once I started reading it. While it wasn’t always an easy book to read, it managed to pull a range of emotions from me as I read it and the ending scene was heart breaking as the cost of the five years the men have been apart was apparent, yet they were simply happy to be together at long last. This is a stand-alone title and those who have read the first book will enjoy the happy ending for these complicated and wonderful men. This is not a book for everyone, but for anyone wanting a raw, genuine romance amidst the backdrop of the end of the civil war should pick up this book. You won’t be disappointed.

Her Dakota Men by Leah Brooke

Her Dakota Men by Leah Brooke
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand Publishing
Genre: Contemporary (Western)
Length: Short (73 pages)
Other: M/F, F/M/M/M, Ménage a Trois/Quatre
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by: Hibiscus

Stacy Daniels left the ranch she loved so much years ago. Not being able to cope with her abusive father, she'd stayed away as much as possible. Infrequent visits to the ranch to visit those she loved caused her heartache, but she couldn't stay away.

Wolfe, Travis and Cash Dakota, the foreman's three sons, lived and worked on the ranch and she'd loved them forever. Realizing the futility of loving all three, she carefully kept her love for them hidden as guilt consumed her.

She wanted more than anything to stay on the ranch she loves so much with the only real family she's ever known. But if she gives in, loving all three of them the way she does, she'll ruin everything.

Not wanting to cause anyone pain, she has no choice but to flee.

Wolfe, Travis and Cash Dakota have other plans for her and won't let her go. They've waited for years to be Her Dakota Men.

If you love Ms. Brooke’s Desire series, you’re sure to feel the same about her Dakota Heat series. Her Dakota Men is the first book in this new series and I know I fell in love with the characters from the first pages.

Stacy Daniels has a problem that I would love to have myself. She grew up with the Dakota boys and has loved them from the time she was small. Stacy left the ranch to escape her abusive father and returns for his funeral to find things have changed. I admired Stacy for doing what she believed was right but I kept hoping that she would talk to the boys--or at least Rosa--about her feelings.

Wolfe, Travis and Cash Dakota are three brothers who grew up on the ranch that Stacy’s father had owned. The boys each love Stacy and do everything they can to make her realize that she belongs with them on the ranch. They all have brown hair and grey eyes but I personally liked Wolfe the best. He seemed to be the kindest and most serious of the brothers. His tenderness when Stacy was crying on their ride, his gentleness as he held her and the care that he took with Stacy as he made love to her all had me wanting Wolfe for myself. Cash and Travis both cared for Stacy and showed it in their actions as well, but not as tenderly.

Ms. Brooke has a fantastic ability to write ménage and her love for the genre shows in every story. I can’t wait for the next book in the Dakota Heat series.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Believe by Liane Gentry Skye

Believe by Liane Gentry Skye
Publisher: Red Sage Publishing
Genre: Contemporary; Holiday; Paranormal; Fantasy
Length: Short (98 Pgs)
Other: M/F, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by: Freesia

When Virginia Keith’s ex shows on her doorstep days before Christmas, demanding half the equity in the Victorian cottage she’s restored from the ground up, she has no choice but sell the old Cessna her Dad left her.

Suddenly, the holiday’s hollow promises of magic are driving her nuts. Thinking time away might help, she takes her Dad’s plane for one last flight. When a freak storm forces her into a crash landing, she wakes in the most sumptuous bedroom she’s ever seen, grateful to be alive. Question is, who rescued her? Nikolai, the too sexy to be real stranger from her dreams, or the bearded psycho freak dressed as Santa she’d from the crash scene?

Only one thing is clear. Wherever home is, Virginia can’t seem to get there from here. And the more time she spends with Nikolai, the more she wonders if she really wants to. But in order to stay with the man she loves, she must first remember how to believe.

Nikolai has been cursed for 700 odd years and in all this time he’s not known the touch of a woman. When he rescues feisty, Virginia from a plane crash, he believes that she will be the one to free him of the dreaded curse.

Virginia has been rescued and she’s grateful for this second chance at life, but when she awakens to find herself in a Christmas wonderland complete with reindeer and elves…she is sure that her rescuer is a crazy man who just believes that he is Saint Nick.

When these two come together there’s a magical connection that cannot be denied. If you’ve ever had a fantasy about the man in red, this one is a must read for you. If you cannot picture jolly old Saint Nick being a sexual object then this book will change your mind forever!

This story comes complete with red hot sex and a voyeur scene that will make you blush. It’s a fantasy come to life with a real message of hope, dreams, and learning to love again.

When you read Believe, you’ll believe in the magic of love.

Ty’s Magic Fingers by Jennifer Cole

Ty’s Magic Fingers by Jennifer Cole
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (61 Pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Wisteria

Is it possible your fate and destiny can be found in a stranger's arms?

Two years after the end of a bad relationship, Ty is forced to confront his deep emotional hunger. Then a lovely dark-haired stranger turns his life upside down.

With her self-esteem battered, Charlee Bannister takes refuge in picturesque Silverton, Colorado. Vowing to never again allow a man to control her, she finds herself on a sexually stimulating guided tour of self-exploration and awareness with the helpful hands of a handsome artist.

Charlee has spent the past two years as a survivor, but she doesn’t feel like a complete woman. Ty has lost his muse until he sees the stunning beauty who thinks herself ugly and disfigured. Together they will discover what being yourself is all about.

A truly tender, touching story that had me dabbing at my eyes as often as the steamy love scenes had me fanning myself. Ms. Cole has done a splendid job capturing the emotions of a cancer survivor. Without a doubt a read that will bring a tear to your eye and make you feel very humble.

Congratulations, Ms. Cole. I will be recommending this story to everyone I know.

Caroline’s House by Beverly Sims

Caroline’s House by Beverly Sims
Publisher: Siren-BookStrand
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full (306 pages)
Other: M/F, M/F/F, F/F, Ménage, Multiple Partners, Voyeurism, Forced Seduction
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by: Phlox

Caroline Fleming returns to her hometown and buys the old house that she has loved for years.

It comes with a resident spirit, one Malcolm Hanson, who has been dead for years, and who makes an art form at seduction and lovemaking. He is without scruples, manners, or chivalry in his quest for willing partners, of which there are many.

Caroline's newfound love for Larry Gardner angers the ghost and sets him out for revenge. Caroline and Larry, along with their friends and a beautiful hooker, find a way to handle Malcolm while learning the secrets of the old house that sits high on a hill overlooking the furious Pacific Coast.

They also learn that sex does not have to be for couples only and that love can be shared in many ways.

Though it begins with the usual unexplainable occurrences, Caroline’s House is not your typical ghost story. Caroline suspects the house is haunted almost from the moment she buys it. Slowly but surely, she discovers how very haunted the spot is and by whom, which leads to her involvement with a jealous ghost lover, Malcolm, a jealous living lover, Larry, and enough ghosts to cause a paranormal researcher paroxysms of glee.

Ms. Sims descriptive passages invite the reader into the house and into the landscape. The Oregon coastal town, the big house on the sea cliff, the little diner owned by Caroline’s friend, Georgia, all leap off the page for the reader to devour. Love scenes are rendered with heat and feeling and there is certainly no lack of imagination in the sex or in the explanations for the hauntings.

I did have some difficulty with the dialogue, which was sometimes a bit stilted and could have been rendered less distracting by the use of contractions. Some of the characters had an uneven feel as the novel progressed, matched by the somewhat uneven tone of the book. We begin with some wonderful spider-feet-up-your-back scenes where Caroline sees and hears things she is unable to explain, a tender, thoughtful ghost lover and a leering, overly proud living love interest. About a third of the way in, the mood shifts dramatically as the spine-tingling passages disappear and an atmosphere of more earthly frustration and despair take over. Malcolm deteriorates from a misunderstood rascal to a vindictive, selfish monster while Larry shifts between the strong, understanding hero and something of a drama queen.

Caroline, though, remains true to herself throughout the story. Smart, sensitive and wounded by a recent divorce, she keeps her head in trying and often frightening circumstances, refusing to be run out of her house no matter what any blob of ectoplasm might say about it. The plot clips along at a good pace and Ms. Sims has a gift for description I would encourage her to exploit to its full extent in future works.

Baiting Ben by Amber Kell

Baiting Ben by Amber Kell
Publisher: Literary Road Press
Genre: Paranormal
Length: Short (34 pages)
Other: M/M and M/M/M
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by: Cactus

Ben joined Silver's club to meet a mate. As a lone wolf he needs to join a pack to survive. But just when he thinks he found his mate in the elegant Thomas, Dillon a man from his old pack, comes into town to claim Ben for himself. What is a wolf to do? Book Two in the Moon Pack series. m/m and m/m/m sexual situations.

After being shunned at the Great Mating Ceremony of his wolf clan, Ben leaves only to find two men who will are both willing to fight for his love and affection. In a return to the exclusive club run by Silver we were introduced to in the previous book, this next installment features Ben after he left the Alaskan wolf pack he grew up with when the man of his dreams failed to show up to their mating ceremony. Heartbroken, Ben moves to Seattle and to his great delight is claimed as mate to the powerful lieutenant of the Moon pack, Thomas. But a happy ever after is not so easy when Ben’s past love decides to claim Ben as well.

Ben is a likable and very relatable character. He grew up as the only half wolf in his pack and thus was somewhat shunned and labeled an outsider. After his pack manipulates the breakup of Ben and Dillion, Ben is heartbroken but he shows strength and honesty in trying to move on. His heart may linger some on Dillion but he’s not willing to pine for a man who left him and instead turns his heart and affection to Thomas, an older man who claims Ben as his mate.

I met Thomas in the previous book and he came across as a wise but isolated character so it was nice to see him find his mate in this installment. Although his love and connection to Ben are clear, he struggles with accepting a second mate in Dillion. Dillion for his part is a dynamic character that is introduced with a lot of drama and flair. Dillion’s almost melodramatic actions actually fit with the setting and expose his own insecurity and vulnerability.

Together these three men will have an interesting but hotly sexual time working out the exact dynamics of their threesome, but I’m definitely looking forward to future glimpses and hope the relationship between Dillion and Thomas eventually grows to the depths each man have with Ben.

Unfortunately I was not as happy with the scenes involving Anthony and Silver from the previous book. In this sequel, the author has turned Anthony almost into a female caricature complete with flouncing and no sex threats. The superlatives continue with yet another twist to Anthony’s bloodline that is over the top. Additionally the author tried to add a lot of elements into a very short time and again, this would have worked better as a longer story as the thin danger element towards Ben was not needed and ended the book on an overly dramatic note. Additionally there were numerous editorial mistakes in this version that were absent before but enough to detract from reading at times.

For the problems I had, I will say I still enjoyed this book in the series, but not as much as the first. I’m looking forward to finishing the remaining books in the series and the author has a very distinct and engaging voice. Although this is a stand-alone book, I urge readers to read the series in alphabetical order for more depth and better understanding of characters. The connection between the couples grows with each successive book in the series and reading them in order gives a better continuous feel for the men involved. For those that can overlook the problems I found will likely very much enjoy not only this book but also the series itself. The men and sex are scorching hot and although short stories, the author offers dynamic personalities and a quick moving, engrossing progression.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Artifact by Melody Knight

Artifact by Melody Knight
Publisher: Carnal Passions
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: Short (78 Pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by: Freesia

Sheila lives alone, save for the slime molds in her fridge, and the people at work who are more acquaintances than friends. This is the life she has rebuilt for herself, from the shambles she left behind. The last time she really lived was on a mountain slope in New Zealand, where the man she had loved and lusted after...died.

When Jason walks into her life, Sheila is tempted to run. Little does she realize she is not the only one living a lie. Jason is hiding his connection to her past, but his moment, for revealing all, passes almost before he knows it.

How can Sheila and Jason rediscover a love nearly buried forever? Or has it slipped into just one more lost tradition in the land they have both left behind?

Artifact is a story of timeless love. You’ll find yourself rooting for the heroine to solve the mystery behind the death of her once beloved, but now that there is a new man in her life things get more complicated for Sheila.

While she starts something with a new romantic interest, there are hot fantasy segments to keep you anticipating more. Don’t let the academics of archeology and petri dishes mislead you. There are no stuffy characters here. This author will leave you both hot under the collar and laughing all the way through the story.

If you love passionate sex, with well developed characters who know how to keep their sense of humor, then Artifact will leave you begging for more.

So Many Wolves by Leona Gray

So Many Wolves by Leona Grey
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal
Length: Short
Other: M/F, Multiple Partners, Menage
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Agapanthus

Julia has been looking forward to her friend’s weeklong Mardi Gras party for months. Not only does she love Mardi Gras, she also knows David, who rejected her, will be there, and she intends to show him just how sexy a curvy woman can be. Then she meets the mysterious and ruggedly handsome Galen, who pushes all thoughts of David out of her head. But the party takes on a whole new meaning when she finds out he’s a werewolf, along with most of the male guests. And they all came to see her. So what’s a girl to do with so many wolves?

Costume parties to celebrate Mardi Gras. Sounds awesome to me. But add in some smokin' hot werewolves, your garden variety psychic and a scheming friend and things get much more complicated than you expected.

So Many Wolves is a truly enjoyable read. Taking the possibilities of a wolf pack's rules with human society and turning it into a fun, and steamy, romp through one of the worlds most enjoyable masked festivals.

This story shows a side of werewolves that is more gentle than many others. Certainly there is a ruthless when needs be but there is also a gentle and caring touch that most do not think of when they ponder wolves.

I greatly enjoyed reading this story and found myself chuckling, cheering and purring as I read through the adventure packed into these few pages.

Attracting Anthony by Amber Kell

Attracting Anthony by Amber Kell
Publisher: Literary Road Press
Genre: Paranormal
Length: Short (39 pages)
Other: M/M, BDSM
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by: Cactus

Anthony is recovering from the death of his lover. What is he to do when the pack alpha wants to mark him as his own? Warning: There is hot man/man action.

Be careful what you ask for because you might get just what you need rather than what you think you want. Three years after the death of his lover, Anthony is still grieving. He agrees to a night out with his best friend to start moving beyond his lover’s death and find someone to love again. However Tony lives in fear of losing another lover so he’s hesitant when the strong alpha werewolf and owner of a local club decides to take an interest in him. Thankfully, Silver knows exactly what Tony needs and refuses to let the sexy younger man get too far away.

In this short but surprisingly well-written story, Tony is a delightful character with a fun and charming personality. Although he may desire a strong, dominant hand in the bedroom, there is no question this sexy blonde can hold his own in a boardroom or a crowded club. His all too real grief over his lover’s death and slow process of starting over makes him instantly likeable. His caution and natural sympathy to others compliments his wry sense of humor and often-underestimated strength of will.

Silver on the other hand is a strong personality in every sense as not only dominant in sex, but also the local alpha with quite a reputation for his strength. As he’s not had much luck with “pretty boys” it’s ironic that his mate would now be an incredibly beautiful man with magic in his blood. Thankfully the characters certainly compliment each other and it’s clear that Tony will keep Silver from completely dominating his life and wishes. Tony has enough strength and wit to keep Silver hopping while maintaining his own independence.

I wish this had been longer as I was truly enjoying the dynamics between the men and the incredibly hot and steamy sex scenes. Although the men tended to be described with exaggerated terms – the most beautiful in two hundred years or the most powerful in the entire country – their relationship and connection was enjoyable and wonderful to read. I did feel the author rushed Tony towards the end to “move on” and this would have worked better for a longer story as the elements and tension was certainly available. However, for an unknown author to produce a satisfying and well-written book in such a short story is a great new find. Those who enjoy light BDSM kink to their sexy men will undoubtedly enjoy this first book of a new series.

Twice as Strong by Kally Jo Surbeck

Twice as Strong by Kally Jo Surbeck
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short (6k words)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Violet

In a time when her heart has been broken and her hearing stolen by a ruthless accident, Frankie must find it in hear heart to forgive her husband. Can they save their marriage and rekindle the love they once felt? In this heartwarming tale a young married couple fights to keep not only their love but their marriage. Can miracles come in time for Valentine's Day?

Frankie's whole life is turned upside down when she is involved in an accident that strips her of her hearing. Tanner, her husband, is there for her to help her through these hard times. He is there at every therapy session and will do anything in his power to bring back the Frankie he once knew. Frankie has a hard time convincing herself that it was just a freak accident and harbors ill feelings towards her husband because there is no way he can know just what it means for her to be deaf. It was she who was hurt in the accident, not him, but he wants to do everything in his power to make their marriage work.

I related and connected with Frankie's character and the monumental variety of emotions she experienced. She held blame, rage and annoyance toward her situation but at the same time she felt a passion for her husband that was buried so deep down she had trouble recognizing it. Tanner had devotion and commitment in his heart. He loved her no matter what and he just could not get through to her. He was persistent and those qualities were what drew me to his character.

My heart ached for Frankie and Tanner, because I wanted with all my heart for them to be able to work through their problems. They needed a miracle and Tanner would give her one or die trying. Their relationship was one built on solid ground and it was very evident throughout the story despite the hurdles they had to overcome.

Twice as Strong was a story that truly touched my heart and showed me that all things are possible. I was riveted by the first page and I felt Twice as Strong was a realistic story that needed to be told. I fell in love with the writing as well as the plot line and would energetically turn the pages as rapidly as I could.

Ms. Surbeck did an outstanding job with just a few pages to work with . I would highly recommend this book for anyone who needed a quick and emotional read. You will not be disappointed in your choice of purchase. It was simply amazing.