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Friday, April 10, 2009

Dead to the World by L. E. Bryce

Dead to the World by L.E. Bryce
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (300 pgs)
Other: M/M, Voyeurism, Bondage/Spanking, Forced Sex
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by: Phlox

Servant and consort of the Lady of the Waters, a powerful sea goddess, Erred is captured by slave traders during a pilgrimage and borne across the desert to be sold. In the decadent city of Tajhaan, he is trained in the arts of love to become a pleasure slave and eventually a courtesan. But in the claustrophobic world of intrigue and brutality he inhabits, what place is there for hope, faith--or love?

The reader has no time to draw breath at the start of this heart-wrenching story. We are picked up and dropped with surgical precision directly into misadventure in progress with Erred already captured by raiders, bound and beaten into submission. A prince in his own country and one of the talevé, the sacred consorts of the water goddess, he is ripped from a life of protected privilege and thrust into one of uncertainty and fear as a Tajhaani slave.

Erred’s slow deterioration, his every defiance and defense stripped from him by acts of calculated brutality and humiliation, is heartbreaking but it also provides a meticulous window into the strange world of institutionalized slavery. We forget that slavery is an ongoing issue worldwide and did not end with the American Civil War. The sociologist Orlando Patterson calls slavery a ‘social death’, echoed here in Ms. Bryce’s title, where the slave is stripped not only of all legal rights but also his social rights. He becomes a non-person. What Mr. Patterson points out, though, is that while there must be legal and social institutions in place for slavery to be sustainable, there is one more crucial factor: the acquiescence of the enslaved person. The slave must, at some point, agree to be a slave for the system to work. Some of my readers will cry foul here. The slave is given no good choice, give in or die. However, examples crop up throughout history of successful slave revolts from Roman gladiators to Jamaican plantation workers. The reason these revolts happened so infrequently was the psychological success of the institution in making someone truly believe in their own social death.

This is Erred’s journey, from sacred being to non-person, made all the more poignant by stolen moments of shared joy and satisfaction, such as the discovery of love with another slave, Tharril, which are inevitably taken from him. Ms. Bryce’s beautiful, intelligent writing renders the journey into something profound, though, rather than maudlin. Her world is well-crafted and fully realized, from the characters’ motivations and flaws to the brightly colored bazaars, from the political wrangling to the clashes of spirituality and culture, every detail is thought out and rendered beautifully. Here, for example, the High Prince ponders his first meeting with Erred, in which Erred’s master has sent him to pleasure the Prince as a bribe: ‘These were well-worn texts which sang the praises of lush, ebony-haired beauties and youths in the first bloom of their manhood with bottoms like firm peaches, of laughter between lovers and utterances of longing, but in them a man would find neither explanation nor remedy for the enchantment of a white-haired beauty lying beneath him like a broken dove.’

Folks, I am a fairly jaded reader. I tend to snort and roll my eyes at literary pathos. But this story pulled at my heart and, yes, I’ll confess: I had to stop and leave the computer to cry not once but twice during the reading. This is a novel of erotic fantasy I would recommend to any reader, a novel that defies genre pigeon-holing and leaves the reader wrung out but richer than before. Feed your heart; feed your mind, read this book.

Doppleganger by Veronica Blaque

Doppelganger by Veronica Blaque
Publisher: Whispers Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (23 pages)
Other: M/F; BDSM; M/F/M
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Andrea Drake and her husband Stan have everything any couple would want: a nice home, thriving careers, and material comfort. However, what they truly desire, peace in their marriage and home, eludes them. Can help from otherworldly figures put them back on the path to marital bliss?

The marriage is falling apart. He wants his career and she wants a child. How can they mend the tears and find the love they once shared? Maybe a Doppelganger is just the solution.

Ms. Blaque writes a story that is near and dear to the hearts of the readers. The desire for a child intruding on life and ruinng what was strong love. The husband and the wife have separate goals and it takes a doppelganger (or dead visual ringer) of her husband to make her remember how attracted to him she used to be. My favorite part was when Stan, her husband, asked her to work in the yard with him. It showed that he still wanted to spend time with her and that he valued their mutual interests. I also though it was sexy that he responded to her revealing outfit and made her feel attractive.

There was another human level to the story that was equally touching. They wanted to have a child. She could conceive, but hadn’t yet. He refused to see the doctor to make sure the problem wasn’t his. This the reader can identify with as well - the concept of fear. What if I am the reason this won’t work out? We either know of someone who feels that way or we feel that way ourselves. Ms. Blaque’s interpretation makes for a very powerful story.

If you want to read about people who could be your friends, neighbors, or yourself, then grab a copy of "Doppelganger". I give this short story 4 ½ cherries.

Mistletoe Studs by Amber Skyze

Mistletoe Studs by Amber Skyze
Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday (Christmas)
Length: Short (61 pages)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Lilac

Meg Trainor has one wish for Christmas every year: Two men who will fulfill all her fantasies.

Santa's in a giving mood this year.

Brothers and co-owners of Turquoise Toys, Brad and Shane Griffin will give her a Christmas she'll never forget.

In this hot story a young librarian finds her fantasies fulfilled when she gets stranded one snowy night with a pair of hunky twins.

Meg Trainor, the heroine of the story, spends a lot of her time writing about her fantasies in her journal rather than living them. She longs for a Dominant/submissive relationship, but is unsure how to go about finding one. Things suddenly heat up in the library in which she works when two sex toy entrepreneurs find themselves stranded with Meg. Twins Brad and Shane are determined to give Meg a night to remember in what turns out to be one passionate and scorching hot night of sexual encounters.

In addition to the passion of the story, the characters and how perfect they are for one another really struck me. Meg knows what she wants, but is a bit unsure about how to go about getting it, and Brad and Shane seem to be the answer to her prayers. They are a bit aggressive, but are perfect for Meg and her secret desires and the brothers really intrigued me. They know what Meg wants and are able to give it to her. Brad, however, finds himself dealing with unexpected feelings of jealousy as he watches Shane with Meg, which adds an interesting dynamic and twist to the story. As for Shane, I sensed an underlying story involving him and another female that I would have liked to have known more about.

"Mistletoe Studs" is a quick read about three people who discover passion and learn more about themselves while stranded together and the story proves that you never know just what you’ll find in the library. In Meg’s case she found a passionate encounter with two hunky men. "Mistletoe Studs" is a great story that I am glad I got a chance to read.

Denying Dare by Amber Kell

Denying Dare by Amber Kell
Publisher: Literary Road Press
Genre: Contemporary; Paranormal
Length: Short (34 pages)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Weretiger Dare longs for the attention of Steven. But the werewolf is searching for a mate among his own kind. Until Anthony douses his friend in a batch of catnip and the big kitty pounces. Book Four in the Moon Pack series. m/m sexual situations.

When Steven’s meddling best friend decides he needs to get serious about finding a mate, he wasn’t prepared to be tackled by a formerly hot and sexy bartender now, as a four hundred pound weretiger, holding him down. Thankfully Steven recognizes that all his running from fate has to stop when faced with his no longer patient mate.

In this hilariously funny introduction to the fourth book of the Moon Pack series, Tony decides his best friend Steven needs to stop screwing around with every male wolf in the club and instead to get serious about finding a mate. Dare, the weretiger bartender at the club, has been in love with Steven for some time but Steven only wants another wolf. So with a little catnip sprinkled liberally over Steven, Dare looses his tiger then drags the sexy wolf off to his lair.

Steven and Dare are both sexy and charming men as they negotiate their relationship and new mate status. Dare certainly is not going to indulge Steven in his slutting ways but Steven shapes up pretty quickly when faced with the mate he’d long denied. Although Dare’s forgiveness is a bit quick in coming considering Steven’s neglect, in this world mates are committed and usually monogamous so it’s clear Steven won’t be continuing his previous behavior.

Although the author continues with the thread from previous books regarding threats from another pack, there is enough explanation and background offered to easily pick up the series if this is the first book you read. As always, reading the series in order does help with the story progression and character development.

Thankfully the author went back to her previous tight and solid writing that had been lacking in the prior book and, although editing errors existed, there were only a few. From the humorous men and steamy sex to brief scenes with recurring characters, this was a very enjoyable and fun read from start to finish. I’m glad I didn’t give up on this series and eagerly await the next book from the intriguing and sexy Moon Pack.

Danger, Word Games by Eve Summers

Danger, Word Games by Eve Summers
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary; Holiday (Valentine's Day)
Length: Short
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Violet

She is disillusioned with love, romance and men who are Mr Almost Right. She loves words, true words that shine. All she gets from men are clichés straight from Mills and Boon, cheap words meant to loosen her morals or her purse strings. She is disillusioned with love, until a younger man says to her: "My favourite opening line is Suck my..."

This book is focused on a woman who does not like attachment words used in her personal life. She works with words everyday and knows how little they mean. When it comes to words of attachment, don't bring them here. This girl is all about the excitement; men will only let you down. I can relate to this character on a certain level because sometimes it feels like the significant other spews just what a person wants to hear.

I thought "Danger, Word Games" was a good short story and would have liked it to be longer. I understood the character's train of thought; she simply was tired of being hurt and how many times have we all been in that dilemma? The character was believable as I am sure that many women have gotten to the point where they question what men say just to get what they want. I felt so badly for Mr. Maybe-Right; he lost everything he wanted all because of love. On the other hand, the bartender was a hottie that our heroine felt a bond with. I would have loved to see their relationship broadened a bit.

I look forward to reading more of Eve Summers' work. If you are looking for a short quick read with a stimulating ending, I recommend this book.

Julia’s Knight by Stormy Glenn

Julia’s Knight by Stormy Glenn
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure; Contemporary
Length: Short (119 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Julia's life is a nightmare. She's married to a gay man in love with another man, she's pregnant with his child, her daughter is being held hostage by her father, and her father-in-law just tried to rape her. Could her life get much worse?

Caleb is entranced by Julia from the moment he meets her. She's everything he could ever want in a woman. One problem, she isn't his woman. She's married to his best friend.

But Julia wants Caleb and has every intention of getting him, if she can just get him past his jealousy. Once she has him, then she has to convince him that she is not some flighty socialite and strong enough to stand by his side.

Greed, jealousy, and one steaming hot alpha male make strange bedfellows, but that’s just what you get with Julia’s Knight.

Julia Spencer wants to be loved and not by her gay husband of convenience. She wants toe-curling, thrashing, wild love. Moments after meeting, she knows that tall, dark, and handsome Navy SEAL Caleb Boudreaux is that man. What happens when they pair is simply sizzling.

Ms. Glenn excels at steamy writing. Her characters are sharp, witty, and caring while trying to hide behind a tough as nails façade. Each member of Alpha Squad is sinfully sexy in his own right and they all work as a team to bring mother and child together. The mix of tender and blatant love scenes keeps the reader rooted to her seat.

I liked the dual conflicts. Julia wants to keep Sam safe from the wrath of his father, while also protecting her child. Caleb needs to come to terms with his feelings for Julia. All are things the reader can relate to. Mothers strive every day to keep their children happy and safe. We feel the same about our close friends. When we fall in love, it can be the best feeling in the world and it can also be the scariest.

As you read the story, you follow the journey of the characters as if you walk right beside them. This story is fast-paced with a myriad of characters and it can be a little tricky to keep everyone straight. But that makes the plot much richer.

If you want a smoldering hot alpha and a cunning heroine with a great storyline, then grab a copy of Julia’s Knight. I give this novella 5 cherries.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rough Stock by Cat Johnson

Rough Stock by Cat Johnson
Publisher: Linden Bay Romance, LLC
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (226 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Ménage
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Lilac

Bronc riders Mason and Clay have shared both good times and bad, but they never expected to share their boss’ daughter, April. Can two friends love one woman, body and soul, without it destroying them?

The heart wants what it wants. For April that means not choosing between the two cowboys she loves, no matter how wrong it may seem inviting them both into her bed. But can the relationship survive when life sends the three lovers in opposite directions?

Filled with hot sex, passion, and realistic characters, and set amid the world of rodeo where life is lived eight seconds at a time, Rough Stock sends author Cat Johnson galloping full speed into the tantalizing realm of ménage romance.

A steamy romance featuring an unconventional romance, Rough Stock is filled with fascinating characters and a touching story.

In Rough Stock we meet Mason, Clay, and April…three friends who have known each other for years and suddenly find their relationship changing as Mason and Clay begin to fall for April. The story is broken up into two part as the author makes an interesting--and what I found to be fantastic--choice to introduce us to this threesome and give us a glimpse of their life when they are seniors in high school discovering their feelings for one another for the first time. Mason and Clay are interesting characters who suddenly find themselves each falling for their best friend, April…something that could and will alter their relationships forever. April finds herself facing a dilemma as she refuses to choose between her two best friends. Soon the threesome embarks on a summer of passion and romance…together.

I really enjoyed this initial glimpse at this fascinating threesome and the summer that changed their lives forever as it helped me to understand the bond that these three share. They spend the entire summer exploring and getting to know one another in a different way, but life takes them on different paths and they lose touch. When we next see the couple it is years later when events lead the threesome to reunite and all three must deal with the heartache and pain that years of separation and misunderstandings, as well as secrets, has wrought.

It was interesting to watch these three characters grow into strong-minded adults who still care for one another. They have a lot to deal with and the author did a wonderful job of making me care about them and what happens. All three are very different characters, but seem to complement each other quite well. They each chose different paths in life from joining the military to heading to college to joining the rodeo circuit and I do wish we had seen a bit more of their lives while they were apart, but the contrast of young eager lovers versus mature adults complete with issues and secrets was very interesting.

In summary, Rough Stock is a passionate story about three friends discovering and rediscovering love that I found to be quite enjoyable.

Hunters of the Nile by Ellie Moonwater

Hunters of the Nile by Ellie Moonwater
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Fantasy, Time-Travel
Length: Short (62 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by: Hibiscus

Every era has its hunters...and its prey.

Callie never thought her life could get any weirder or more frightening than when she's kidnapped and thrust the role of fox in a deadly hound hunt. A subsequent fall tumbles her through time and into the arms of an Egyptian warrior.

At first convinced she's landed among re-enactors, Callie discovers some things are exactly what they seem. A captive, Callie finds out reality holds passion, romance and more surprises than she ever imagined.

Warning, this story contains explicit sex and the joyful consummation of a forced marriage.

I found Hunters of the Nile to be a different type of time-travel story. It was not so heavy on the hero or his life with the heroine but more on her adaptation to her new time period.

Callistia works in the stables but I don’t think she was really happy with what she was doing. Yes, she loved the horses, especially Romeney, but I don’t think she liked dealing with people. Even when she readied the horses for Mr. Inskip’s riding lessons for the children, she did not seem to be happy. I did like how Steve O’Sullivan drugged her and chased her as if she were the fox in the hunt. The terror Callie felt as she ran had my heart beating faster. Everything was exciting up to when Callie was captured. Then I felt that the story veered off course some. I liked how she adapted to Egypt, interacted with Miu and even Horem but the story never developed into a heated romance.

Horem was the lucky one who caught Callie when he was hunting with Zef in the desert. He seems to be the type of man that I would like to find me if I were lost in time. Unfortunately, Horem leaves Callie in his mother’s care for two months. I learned a lot about Miu as her character was pretty well developed but Horem was just there, then not, then back again. He seemed to have feelings for Callie, renamed her Nefer, and calls her wife of his heart.

Zef reminded me of Steve O’Sullivan in that he was the “bad guy” who wants Callie. He gives me hope for a sequel where I can learn more about the character of Horem and his feelings for his Nefer.

I thought Hunters of the Nile was a good story showing how a character can adapt to a new time period. I look forward to Ms. Moonwater’s next trip into time-travel.

Family Heirlooms: With his Mind by Selena Illyria

Family Heirlooms: With His Mind by Selena Illyria
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Futuristic, Interracial
Length: Short (50 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

Stacia Allen loves her job and has no desire to lose it. But she’s been “friends with benefits” with Jason Montano for months… and he’s her boss. Now he says he wants to “talk” about their arrangement.

Jason has a confession to make. He’s in love with Stacia… and he’s a telepath. To even the playing field, he plans to give her a family heirloom that will let her read his mind in return and also see images he projects. Oh, the sexy possibilities!

The mind is a powerful thing and it is all so true in this delightful story of telepaths and mental sex. Ms. Illyria creates the fascinating world of Orion Delta 5 set in the future. The details of the planet, from hover crafts to a blue-purple skies had me believing I was residing there.

My favorite character, for obvious reasons, is Jason Montano. Flowing platinum blond hair, beautiful blue eyes and a body that doesn’t quit is all the reason I needed to wish Jason was my boss. After serving five years in the Universal Military, Jason was ready to settle down. I could tell that he was very cautious with revealing everything to Stacia as he kept putting off having her meet his mother and telling her about his telepathic powers. When he finally confesses his love, he decides to tell Stacia his secrets.

There is not a lot about the character of Anasticia Allen. She seemed a little timid to me as she ran from any kind of confrontation, real or imagined. I was glad when she stood up to Jason’s mother when she declared her love for Jason.

The best part of this story is the jewelry. There are three pieces that the Montano family has. The ring has powers which are unknown; the bracelet creates illusions and the necklace increases telepathic connection. I loved when Jason gave Stacia the necklace. The sexual scenes were very hot from the shower and bedroom to the office but when the necklace was introduced, can I just say I needed a paramedic. The whole boardroom meeting had me rolling with laughter and burning up from the scorching heat.

Jason Montano can mess with my mind anytime he wants and I hope after reading this delightful story, you’ll agree. I can’t wait to read the next story in the Family Heirlooms Series.

Snowfire: Party Favors by Selena Illyria

Snowfire: Party Favors by Selena Illyria
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Holiday
Length: Short (15 pages)
Other: M/F, Toys
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

Nevada has been working so hard she’s exhausted. Lucian is determined to get her to rest -- even if he has to kidnap her and tie her to the bed to do it.

I found Snowfire: Party Favors to be a very small slice of life that left me wanting more.

Lucian is a poor neglected vampire who I think cares greatly for his partner Nevada. I felt bad for him as he needed his partner but she was too busy with work to spend time with him or his family. Lucian’s love for Nevada shows when he plans an elaborate kidnapping scheme to whisk Nevada away for the rest she needs.

Nevada seems to realize that she was pushing aside Lucian and tries to make amends but Lucian is already gone. I thought it was telling that her exhaustion was so excessive that she never woke up through the entire kidnapping. I did find it cute that Nevada turned things around in the story. I thought it showed that she was more than just a workaholic.

I found the Valentine’s surprise that Lucian planned very hot. I wanted to know more about both Lucian and Nevada and the two weeks that he had planned for them.

I recommend Snowfire: Party Favors for a very quick read and I hope to read more of both Lucian and Nevada and their life together in future stories.

Lucky Charms by Marie Rochelle

Lucky Charms by Marie Rochelle
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (60 pages)
Other: M/F, IR
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by: Tiger Lily

What happens when a man finally decides he wants to go from best friend to lover? Is it possible to take that big step with your female buddy without ruining the friendship? Patrick Kaye hopes so.

Computer programmer and designer Jada Michaels has given up on finding the perfect match. Her last three relationships ended badly because her ex-boyfriends spent more time at the spa than she did.

Besides, it wasn’t like she didn’t have a man in her life. Patrick Kaye was her best friend and sounding board. Who needed a boyfriend when she had Patrick?

Computer nerd seeks woman of his dreams. He’s willing to change to what she wants – especially because the changes are who he really is. How to win her attention? Why not use a few Lucky Charms?

Ms. Rochelle excels at writing steamy novellas that hint at sex without letting her characters go off the deep end. I enjoyed this short story because Patrick and Jada are just like people I know. Seeing them decided whether moving their deep friendship into a long term ‘more than friends’ relationship was exciting.

I liked Patrick’s idea to run with Jada’s description of love. She wanted to be romanced, not just hunted as a sex object. The charm bracelet and small notes of desire were sexier than watching the characters actually make love because you could feel the passion between them. I also enjoyed the card game where Patrick confessed that he couldn’t wait much longer to tell her how he felt. We all have friends we want to share our news with, especially when it’s such important news. And who’s’ better to give us that little kick in the seat than close friends?

Ms. Rochelle writes about real people with real problems. Many writers struggle to make their characters relatable, but this is her forte.

If you want a saucy novella about friends maneuvering the rough waters of a relationship, then Lucky Charms is the novella for you. I give this one 4 ½ cherries!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Wrong Valentine by Dana Littlejohn

The Wrong Valentine by Dana Littlejohn
Publisher: Phaze Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short (17 pages)
Other: F/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

Shante had prepared for a night of self pampering complete with dinner, wine and dancing by herself. Indeed, she was truly enjoying herself, but her evening improved immensly when someone else's Valentine-o-gram showed up at her door.

What a hot Valentine surprise. The Wrong Valentine turned out to be the right story for me. I found the characters were very well developed. The story was extremely focused on its main idea; that of a Valentine delivery that may have been wrong but was very right.

Shante is back in New York City and she is getting over a relationship. I felt bad that she had no one to share special holidays with but I understood why she kept turning down Mark, a co-worker in her office. I could see that she did not want to just use him to keep her company when she had no feelings for him. I loved how Shante primped for her Valentine’s Day. I could totally see doing what she did as I have done it myself in the past. How she was putting on the lotions and lingerie just to feel special.

The story turns red hot after Shante’s shower. It gets even hotter when Vanessa shows up. I was burning up as I read about Shante’s Valentine’s gift. The dedication that Vanessa showed in delivering her gift had me longing for a present of my own.

The Wrong Valentine may not be for everyone but it was the right little story for my reading pleasure.

Immortal Kiss by J. K. Coi

Immortal Kiss by J.K. Coi
Publisher: Linden Bay Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full (290 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Lilac

Evil lurks in the darkest of shadows, but a band of warriors stands ready to defend humanity against hell’s own monsters—Immortal men hand-picked by destiny and taken out of time hold the fate of the world in their hands.

It has been two years since Baron’s initiation into the world of the Immortals, and during those two years that he’s been training with them, setting aside his past to embrace the challenges of his new future…a future without Maxine Deveraux.

Maxine is strong, determined, and loyal to a fault. The last person she wants to have to face is Baron Silver, the man who broke her heart, leaving her without an explanation or even a goodbye. But Maxine gave her word to Baron’s brother Jackson that she’d track him down and bring him home…and Max always keeps her promises.

When Baron encounters a vicious vampire who vows to destroy everything he loves, it doesn’t faze him in the least. He gave up everything he loved along with his humanity. But then the demon attacks Maxine leaving her broken and battered on Barron’s doorstep and he realizes there are still things he can lose…and they are things he can’t live without.

A fantastic story with characters and a plot that will draw the reader in, Immortal Kiss is not one to miss.

In this story, Maxine Deveraux sets out to fulfill the wish of her dying best friend by finding his brother, her one-time crush and lover, Baron Silver. Little does she know that Baron is now an Immortal, a member of a band of warriors whose duty it is to protect humanity against demons and other unearthly monsters. Baron is doing his best to adjust to his new life as an Immortal and get over Max, but when he angers a vampire, the creature decides to seek revenge by changing Max. Now Max and Baron must deal with their issues from the past as well as the retribution that the vengeful vampire has in store.

While Immortal Kiss is the second in The Immortals series, it could easily be read alone. I am thoroughly impressed with both the characters and the world that the author has created with this wonderful series. The story could have easily become too complex as the story takes a few unexpected turns, but it didn’t which is something I really appreciated. The author did a wonderful job of drawing me into the story and making me care about the characters and what happens to them.

As for the characters, there were quite a few intriguing ones that I felt were strong and stood out to me including both the main and secondary characters. I really enjoyed the banter between all of the characters and felt the dialogue was quite well-done. It added to my believability of the world of Immortals despite its outrageousness as I was drawn into the camaraderie between the Immortals and their loved ones. Their humor and wit gave them some humanity despite their abilities and the mystical elements of the world they live in.

I was also very impressed with the hero and heroine of the story and loved their relationship with one another. They both have a lot to adjust to and are both haunted by incidents of the past. There are definitely some hurdles in their relationship to overcome and theirs isn’t an easy one. But the passion between the two is explosive and I enjoyed watching two people who obviously care about one another reconnect despite their years apart. Baron and Max both face some internal struggles in addition to the external struggles, but are both strong characters who overcome the odds stacked against them.

In addition to the relationship between Baron and Max, we also get a glimpse at the marriage of Diana and one of Baron’s fellow Immortals, Alric. I was intrigued by their relationship and history and my heart went out to them as I read this story. I can’t wait to see where the author takes this storyline as it was left unfinished in this book. Both were strong characters and I look forward to reading more about them in future books.

With this book and series, the author has created a fascinating paranormal concept that I couldn’t help but enjoy. Demons, vampires, immortals, psychic abilities…this story has a little bit of everything and is sure to please any paranormal fan looking for something a bit different. Immortal Kiss is a great read and I can’t wait to read the next in the series!

Twelfth Night by Augusta Li

Twelfth Night by Augusta Li
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (23 pgs)
Other: M/M , BDSM
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by: Cactus

Nick had never been interested in the BDSM lifestyle until Darren hired him to cater a fetish party and and gave Nick a scorching introduction to the scene upon its conclusion. Now the young chef finds himself craving more than a hot one night stand, but to his frustration Darren is dedicated to his swinging ways. After being spurned at a Mardi Gras party, Nick conceives of a plan to finally claim Darren as his exclusive lover and master.

Nick the sexy chef is back in this sequel and he’s ready to go after what he really wants, the man he’s been dreaming of and can’t forget – Darren. In the previous book, Darren had introduced Nick to the dark delights of BDSM games yet after the brief encounter six weeks ago Nick hasn’t heard from Darren at all. When they both end up at a Mardi Gras party, Darren’s attempts to seduce Nick fall short of the younger man’s expectations until Nick turns the tables.

Here we get to see more of Darren and although he clearly is a playboy among his chosen sect of people, he can’t forget Nick. It’s certainly nice to see that Darren has emotions and that his encounter with Nick was not simply yet another one-night stand and that Nick’s courage and vulnerability was not overlooked. In fact, Darren’s apology to Nick was charming as was Nick’s righteous anger and confusion. Both of these characters were given more depth as their personalities were revealed more with each successive scene.

Although this was highly erotic with another fun bondage and food scene, this time it was Nick tying up Darren, yet Darren’s dominance still shone through clearly. Nick shows that although he’s willing and eager to play bedroom power games with Darren, he expects a full relationship outside of the bedroom where he’s treated as an equal. It’s delightful to see Nick taking charge this way and presenting his needs with a fun and playful scene, yet still serious enough that Darren understands and agrees to Nick’s requests.

While this is a stand-alone book technically, those who have read the previous offering will enjoy the dynamic between these two much more as well as understand the characters’ point of view. I enjoyed the fun and sexy tone to the sex yet appreciated that Nick was genuinely hurt by Darren’s callous treatment and expected better of the older man. As I had reservations at the ending of the first book, I was pleased most of those reservations were addressed and cleared up in Twelfth Night. For those that want a hot and easy romance with creative use of edible treats, this will delight.

For the Love of Jake by Luxie Ryder

For the Love of Jake by Luxie Ryder
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short (118 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Voyeurism
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Lilac

Hallie's only lover is the spirit of her very sexy but very dead husband Jake. When a gorgeous blonde cowboy called Aiden arrives as one of ten guests for the singles week at her ranch, she fights her attraction to him. But Jake encourages it, desperate to indulge a fantasy he never fulfilled while alive.

As the week unfolds, Hallie tries to ignore Aiden's advances until he comes to her room, determined to satisfy his lust for her. The unseen Jake ups the stakes by arousing his wife in a way only she is aware of. Unsure what to do, Hallie keeps silent, allowing Aiden to think they are alone.

The sex is breathtaking for all but she feels guilty and confesses to Aiden, who takes the news badly, leaving Hallie to rethink her life. She is falling in love with Aiden and finds that Jake isn't quite as happy about sharing her anymore.

Then Aiden returns, pretending he can cope with the idea of sharing Hallie and the two men reach an uneasy truce in order to make love to her again -- but she soon realizes that Aiden has every intention of claiming her, right under Jake's nose.

A widow haunted by the ghost of her deceased husband attempts to move on in this erotic and interesting story.

Hallie is a widow running a dude ranch, and is still haunted by her husband Jake…literally. Jake refuses to move on and the two share a strong connection and intimate relationship despite his incorporeal state. But when a new guest named Aiden attracts Hallie’s attention and pursues her, they begin to learn that three’s a crowd. Unsure of what to do, Hallie pushes Aiden away despite her attraction and Jake’s insistence that she pursue a sexual relationship with Aiden. As Hallie gives into the passion she feels for Aiden, she soon realizes must learn to let go and move on or risk losing a new chance at love.

This was definitely an interesting story with intriguing characters. Hallie appears to be an independent and strong woman who can’t seem to let go of her love for Jake even when faced with a new love. Jake, meanwhile, seems a bit reluctant to give Hallie up and is even a bit jealous even though he encourages her to pursue Aiden for sex. Jake still manages to be intimate with Hallie in scenes that put me off a little…especially when he joins Hallie and Aiden in sex. While interesting and definitely unique, I found the whole sex with a ghost part a little odd and unsettling.

As for Aiden I wish we would have gotten his point of view in the story, but we don’t as the story is told from Hallie’s POV. It would have been nice to know exactly what he thought about Jake and Hallie’s relationship once it is revealed. It’s got to be a bit unsettling to know that your lover’s deceased husband is watching and even joining in as you make love.

But despite this, I still found myself enjoying this unique and different story. The characters were fascinating as was the whole concept of the plot and it was interesting watching Hallie come to terms with her feelings as the story progresses.

If you are looking for something a bit different and quick to read, you might like this one.

Touch of the Fire God by Toni L. Meilleur

Touch of the Fire God by Toni L. Meilleur
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short/Novella
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Buttercup

Dr. Rene Selkis leads a disciplined life dedicated to her profession. A phone call turns her world upside down, and she learns her childhood benefactor is dead. She is then summoned to Egypt to oversee his affairs.

The moment her feet hit Egyptian soil, she releases a spell and wakes the sleeping god, Ralabos.

Intoxicating and stimulating in every way, the sexy Ralabos offers Rene the world and an eternity of pleasure. But this mysterious being garners dark secrets from her past.

Secrets that can very well cost Rene her life…

Dr. Rene Selkis, an orphan raised by an elusive guardian, Franklin Summit, never wanted for nothing. Her guardian was always there for her yet she never really spent time with him on a personal level. Suddenly she receives news that her guardian has met his death and must fly to Egypt to see him to proper burial only problem is the body goes missing.

Jonathan Thoth, the apparent representative of Franklin Summit’s estate and body, appears to whisk Rene off to Cairo against her better judgment. So with much conflict, Rene finally finds herself packed and on a plane to Egypt.

Meanwhile, Rene finds her dreams haunted by a beautiful man and a woman who seems to be his timeless lover who is brutally murdered.

Ralabos, the Sun God, must reclaim his immortal wife before his archenemy, Seth, murders her once again only this time in her reborn human form. Ralabos must protect her human self until she is able to transcend back to her rightful form to stand forever beside him as his wife and eternal lover. Problem is Rene has no idea she is a reborn goddess and that Ralabos is her long lost husband. He awaits his friend Thoth to return with his soul mate and mulls over his plan to reunite and transform Rene back to her rightful spiritual form which will work to keep her safe from Seth and hopefully reunite her to him.

Rene has never been with a man nor has she ever desired one until she meets Ralabos. But she is hesitant to pursue a relationship with a man who bullies her and demands she do everything his way. Things continue to heat up between them and the Sun God burns out of control, as does Rene. She lusts for this magnificent overbearing man and has no clue why she continues to dream of him and another woman who dies a horrific painful death. Rene’s heart goes out to the woman who ignores her own horrendous pain worrying over the heartbroken Ralabos who’s pain seems worse than her own.

Rene soon finds deception and trickery as she begins to trust these people she depends upon to aid her in finding what seems to be a lost body—that of her guardian, Franklin Summit. She also finds she is drawn to Ralabos as she has never been drawn to another man. Feelings, needs, and lust build within her only to further confuse the situation.

Will Rene bolt when she learns all is not what it seems? Will she love Ralabos or spurn him? Will she allow her human life to end to begin her immortal life beside Ralabos?

Ms. Meilleur takes the reader through many twists and turns with her cleverly laid out adventure. I love the way this author takes the reader on a tremendous journey of confusion, conflict, deception, hot sensual love scenes and transformation. There is so much going on in this story, I definitely did not want to put the book down. Oh and a cold shower is in order with this one as well! Ms. Meilleur certainly knows her way around an erotic joining of great lovers.

Every thread is tied up in a realistic colorful manner, and Ms. Meilleur actually leaves the reader with hopes of a new adventure at the end of the book. This was a wonderfully different read for me. Not my typical preference but I strongly recommend this book. I will look for the next one. Her characters are fully fleshed out and likeable, as well as the plot threading and the editing is just about perfection.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and you will too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Down & Dirty: Calling the Bluff by Moira Rogers

Down & Dirty: Calling the Bluff by Moira Rogers
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Futuristic
Length: Short (62 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Name: Lilac

Hazel Young is a rare commodity in town: a young, single female whose first mating is nearly upon her. She’s spent the last two years fending off suitors who grow more determined by the day -- after all, there’s nothing flattering in the attention of werewolves more interested in what she is than who she is, especially not when she gave her heart away to Oliver Russell years ago. But Oliver seems to feel nothing for her but fond kindness, and the time has come to choose a mate before the wolf makes the choice for her.

When Oliver happens across Hazel being pressured by a local who wants to be her first, it awakens protective instincts he thought he’d set aside with the death of his wife five years ago. With Hazel in heat and no time to get her to safety, they wind up in a fishing shack on Lonely River, waiting for her mating fever to pass. The last thing he expects is to be tempted by her inexperienced attempts at seduction.

Moira Rogers scores again with this fascinating futuristic paranormal about a young female werewolf in heat and the older male were that she loves.

We first met the heroine and hero of this story, Hazel Young and Oliver Russell as secondary characters in the fabulous first book in the Down and Dirty series, Wild Card. While this book is part of a series, I found that it stood alone quite well and could easily be read on its own.

In Calling the Bluff, Hazel, a young female werewolf in heat, is feeling the affects of her upcoming first mating and knows she must mate or risk hurting herself and others. As one of the few females in town, she spends all her time fending off potential suitors while longing for the one man who doesn’t seem to be interested, Oliver. Oliver, meanwhile, feels very protective of Hazel, but is still haunted by the death of his wife and chooses to keep his distance until the day he runs across Hazel after an incident with one of the local males. As the two wait for Hazel’s mating to pass, they grow closer and begin to explore the possibilities that exist between them, but Oliver is not sure he can provide the love and relationship that Hazel needs.

Hazel and Oliver share a very touching bond and relationship and I enjoyed how the author brought them together in this story. Both have a lot to deal with but seem to be perfect for one another despite their differences. They were well-matched with intriguing personalities and histories and seem to come together with a passion that scorched the pages.

In addition to the characters, I am once again very impressed and taken with the almost western-like feel of this futuristic set series and loved the uniqueness of the whole setting and concept. It was a nice blend of the past and present in a futuristic and paranormal world and applaud Moira Rogers for the choices made.

My one complaint about the story is that at times it felt a bit hurried or rushed and I wish the action had been a bit slower-paced. Other than that, this story was a great read with a fascinating setting and a passionate romance between two likeable characters. If you want something a bit different with your shapeshifter romances, then you might want to try this one.