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Friday, June 26, 2009

The Last Stallion by Christine DePetrillo

The Last Stallion by Christine DePetrillo
Publisher: Whispers Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (75 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Wisteria

Large animal veterinarian, Cassie Stone, is done with cowboys. It’s her New Year’s resolution after she catches her current rodeo clown in bed with another woman. On her sister’s invite, Cassie heads to New York City where the chance of corralling another cowboy is slim. Or so she thinks.

Blake Mareson is traveling from Louisiana with his four horses. He stops briefly in New York City to make some money, and soon his plans to hide in the quiet woods of Vermont change when he meets Cassie. Her long red hair and sharp green eyes reel him in immediately, but he’s not looking for love. In fact, he’s trying to avoid it in order to protect his secret—a secret he’s sure would send any woman running.

Though Cassie initially sticks to her New Year’s resolution and dismisses Blake, she can’t totally erase the blue of his eyes from her memory. When she sees him again, the pull toward him is too strong to resist. Will Cassie regret ignoring her no cowboy pledge or find the stallion she’s been looking for?

Perhaps she’ll find so much more.

Cassie Stone is tired of cowboys. All the ones she has ever been involved with have burned her and left a bad taste in her mouth. Some time away is just what she needs. A trip to visit her sister in New York sounds like the perfect plan. Far away from Texas and anything that could resemble a cowboy. Her first night in the city she goes out with her sister to a club and what does she find? The only cowboy in New York City. Talk about luck.

Blake Mareson hates modeling, but he needs the money. He and his horses are doing a shoot when he meets Cassie. Something about her calls out to him. He convinces her to give him a chance even though he is a cowboy. These two hit it off and find love in the most unexpected place. The Big Apple

Okay, I have to say that this story was not what I expected, though it was a truly enjoyable read with a paranormal twist. It certainly wasn't your typical shifter story that’s for sure. A good read for anyone who loves short stories, cowboys and horses. The author definitely used her imagination to really deliver a unique story that will leave you feeling fulfilled after you finish.

The editing was clean and the plot good. It had a good twist I didn’t see coming. Congrats Ms DePetrillo, I am looking forward to reading more of your work.

Crossroads by Keta Diablo

Crossroads by Keta Diablo
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (73 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Forced Seduction
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Magnolia

Handsome ex-cop Frank McGuire is on a quest to locate his dead partner's missing son. Rand Brennan has an identity issue, exercabated since the death of his father. Hoping to find himself, Rand drops out of college, takes to the streets, and doesn't realize he's embroiled in duplicity and murder. In order to save Rand, Frank must confront the nefarious killers and...confront his long-suppressed feelings for Rand.

Elements: scenes of intense sexual activity

Frank McGuire communes with the dead, which comes in handy since he’s a Private Detective who has just been asked to help with The Black Rail case. Seven young women are dead and the police don’t have a lot to go on, so they’re counting on ex-cop Frank to give them at least a clue.

When Frank’s partner died in his arms life changed, not only for him but for his partner’s wife, Emily, and for their children. Now Emily’s son, Rand, is missing and she’s looking to Frank to find him. The only problem Frank has is that he’s always been attracted to Rand. Once he tracks Rand down and the teenage boy he remembers is now a muscular and gorgeous man of twenty-two, Frank’s attraction just might get the better of him.

I really enjoyed this story. I like crime stories anyway, but throw in this kind of heat between an ex-cop and a young man in trouble, and the sex reaches new levels. Keta Diablo writes a wonderful crime thriller that delves not into the mind of a killer, but into the mind of a former cop who communes with the dead who help him catch the killer. The author’s knowledge of psychic phenomena transfers to this story with insight and believability. There is just the right amount of suspense and drama, even though the storyline was just a little predictable with the little sister’s involvement with the killer, but doesn’t distract the reader in any way.

I recommend this short story for anyone who is looking for a walk on the dark side.

Send 'Em Packing by Hannah Beckham

Send 'Em Packing by Hannah Beckham
Publisher: Changeling Press, LLC
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery, Shapeshifter
Length: Full Length (232 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Menage
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Magnolia

Maya Eddings is six feet tall, a black belt in tae kwon do, proficient with handguns, and an empath who runs her own private security firm in Kansas City. Her life couldn't be better, with the exception of two men who each want her to be exclusively theirs.

Matt Brewer, legal investigator and werewolf, wants Maya to be his life mate, but while she likes a little tail, actually growing one isn't all that appealing to her. Stephen Daniels, architect and part incubus demon, wants Maya too -- body and soul. But he's willing to settle on her body -- for now.

With two hunkalicous men fighting for her attention, mysteries to solve, bad guys to shoot, and a secret past that will rock her world, Maya's beginning to feel she's bitten off more than she can shoot.

Publisher's Note: This collection contains the three previously released novellas Packing Heat, Packing for Three, and Packing Up.

Maya Eddings has all the makings of someone you don’t want to piss off. She’s ex-Army, a martial arts expert, and she’s six feet of stealth and muscle. Not to mention she packs a 9mm pistol. And did I mention she’s also an empath? All of this makes her perfect for her job as a bodyguard. There are just a couple of problems: a werewolf named Stephen and an incubus demon named Matt. Both men are hot, or hunkalicous, as Maya would say, and she wouldn’t mind a tumble with either, or both, but settle down with just one? Ain’t no way! Though Stephen and Matt might argue that point.

This was one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had in a long time. Well written with humor and sass, this story draws you in, holds on tight, and doesn’t let go till you’ve read the last word. The author combines elements from several genres, which I just love, and brings them together for a really good, really hot read.

The sex is also really, really smokin’ hot from the first scene with Matt, who tries to explain to horny Maya that he’s seeing someone else. Maya couldn’t be less concerned as she explains, “See her, fuck me,” and continues this way right on through the book to the very end with a threesome. But what I like about the story more than the hot freaking sex, and I really liked the hot freaking sex, was that the plotline and characters could actually hold their own even if there hadn’t been graphic sex. (Though I would like to thank the author for including it!)

Hannah Beckham provides a rollicking, frolicking, licking good time that will keep you engrossed all the way through. Put down what you’re reading now and pick up this book!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whom Gods Have Favored by Denyse Bridger

Whom Gods Have Favored by Denyse Bridger
Publisher: Absolute X-Press
Genre: Paranormal, Historical
Length: Short (60 pages)
Other: M/F
Book/Cherry Rating: 3.5
Review by Wild Plum

Pompeii lies complacent and decadent in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, the populace thriving on their depravity and their hunger for blood and Games. Within the elite aristocracy, games of another type are being played, deadly secrets are a threat to more than status, and conspiracy is a way of life for those who are unhappy.

Lucius has long been exalted as a warrior without peer. Adored and covetted by men and women alike, he is blind to the plots that are thickening around him. While total control is his on the bloody fields of war, on the battlefield of the heart, as he is about to discover, even the strongest man can be deceived by his ignorance.

Watching over it all is the majesty of Vesuvius, sputtering smoke, promising retribution. In the midst of the looming destruction, an ancient evil emerges, and will claim not only a celebrated general of Rome, but the slave girl he has slowly grown to love and cherish. A girl who will follow him into hell itself?

I love Denyse Bridger’s style of writing: she has a unique voice. I have to say that this book is a different read for me to begin with, so I wasn’t sure how well I would like it. But I quickly lost myself in the pages of her story.

My fondest wish for this story was that it had been somewhat longer and had had more to do about vampires. I didn’t really realize it was even about vampires until halfway through the book. I’m not sure if Lucius is a vampire or not, since there is no scene of him biting Xina, or anyone for that matter. But Lucius’s son is a vampire, but this really wasn't thoroughly addressed, and there is very little going on with that aspect of the story.

If you're looking for heat, however, you'll find it in this story. The love scenes between Lucius and Xina are explicit. There were a few scenes that made me a bit uncomfortable, such as one of the first scenes between Lucius and Xina: they are engaging in something rather intimate, but Lucius’ son walks in and they have a casual conversation as if nothing is going on. Another disturbing scene for me was when, again, Lucius and Xina are engaged in sex, and Lucius’ son walks in with his current fling and they all four have sex in front of one another. These two scenes just didn't seem normal to me, not with it involving a father and son. I think, for me, if it had been two men who weren’t so closely related, it wouldn’t have been as uncomfortable.

I have to point out the amazing cover of this book. I really loved it -- so stunning. Despite my discomfort with some aspects of this story, I must say that Denyse Bridger is one of the authors I have on my must-buy list, because of her style and the strength she gives her characters.

Whistling in the Dark by Tamara Allen

Whistling in the Dark by Tamara Allen
Publisher: Lethe Press
Genre: Historical (WWI)
Length: Full Length (333 pgs)
Other: M/M (Note: NON-erotic)
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Phlox

New York, 1919. His career as a concert pianist ended by a war injury, Sutton Albright returns to college, only to be expelled after an affair with a teacher. Unable to face his family, he heads to New York with no plans and little money, only a desire to call his life his own. Jack Bailey's life has changed as well. After losing his parents in the influenza epidemic, he hopes to save their beloved novelty shop, now his, by advertising on the radio, barely more than a novelty, itself. Sutton lands work in Jack's corner of the city and the two conclude they couldn't be less suited for friendship. But when Sutton loses his job, Jack gives him a place to stay. Sutton returns to the piano to play for Jack and finds the intervening months have healed him. The program promises to rescue Jack's business and Sutton's career... but success brings its own risks for two men falling in love.

Whistling in the Dark is not an erotic tale but a traditional romance in every sense of the word but one. Certainly, there are moments of sensuality, some lovely kisses, some handholding, even (oh, my!) some naked snuggling, but the actual consummation is implied or accomplished off scene.

On to the story – Jack and Sutton are both suffering from the damage done on the front lines of WWI. Sutton returns home to a family who can’t accept him and an injury he has been led to believe signals the death of his career as a concert pianist. His impulsive move to New York, with little money and no prospects, is his answer to the gray, despairing life of a respectable marriage and a dull, corporate job his family wants for him. They believe his homosexuality is an illness brought on by the horrors of war. Jack has come home with a case of shell shock (we’d call it PTSD today) so horrific the little sleep he gets is haunted by shaking nightmares and flashbacks. Oh, and by the way, Jack, sorry it was so awful for you but we have some more bad news, both of your parents died in the flu epidemic while you were in France. These poor boys- the reader knows they need each other, despite the vast differences in their backgrounds and upbringing. Well-rounded, fully formed main characters are a must and these two fit the bill. Add to that a cast of fun, quirky supporting characters and one can’t help be drawn in and held fast.

I often hesitate to read historic romance because of all the possible ways one can be jarred out of the story. A bit of tech that doesn’t belong, dialogue that doesn’t ring true for the times, attitudes or objects that don’t fit the period show up altogether too frequently. Allen, however, has the era down. She either loves this period enough to immerse herself in it or she is somewhere over a hundred years old and lived through it. Cars, music, the impending specter of prohibition, the laws and attitudes surrounding homosexuality, the rise of radio, the clothes, the language, she’s managed it all but only as necessary to the story and never as a history lesson. The only real issue I had with the story was the bit of a slow start after the initial scenes of Sutton’s visit to the police station. Even the issue of Sutton’s dialogue, which struck me as oddly stilted at first, was quickly cleared up as his privileged, sheltered background is revealed.

Read the book and you will, unless you’ve had your heart removed, fall in love with Jack and Sutton, with the neighborhood, and the times. It’s not often that I think about characters after I’ve finished but once in a while a story comes along that tugs at all the right heart strings. I won’t give the ending away, of course, but I will tell you I’m still humming a certain song to myself as I go about my days. You’ll know it when you get there.

Penetrating the Darkness by Shiela Stewart

Penetrating the Darkness by Shiela Stewart
Publisher: Linden Bay Romance
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (227 pgs)
Other: M/F, Voyeurism
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Tiger Lily

Even in the darkest hour, love can light the way.

The Darkness, Book 6

Felicity Hawthorne is finally waking up—literally. Everything about her sheltered life in the Land of Mystics has been a lie, including the whopper that her natural mother is evil. Determined to find the truth, she breaks free…and touches down in the middle of stark, cold Jacob’s Cove, surrounded by a pack of bloodthirsty demons.

Dusty Ryder didn’t ask to be turned into a vampire. Even now, on the brink of his unwilling initiation, he is looking for a way out. A reprieve comes in the form of a dark-haired goddess whose beauty drives him to rescue her from his new “family”. Except she’s not quite as helpless as she looks.

As they embark on a journey of self-discovery, they uncover more secrets that bring Felicity face to face with her forgotten past—and make Dusty wonder if he’s gotten in over his head. But it’s too late. Now that he’s had her in his arms, he can’t bring himself to let her go.

Until Chaos rains down on them, threatening to end it all.

She’s never been on her own in the outside world. He’s never fit in with the outside world. When they collide, sparks fly and inhibitions disappear. So it goes when Penetrating the Darkness.

The last book of the Darkness Series by Shiela Stewart is a great finale. Her word remains crisp and the characters interesting. The scenes are rich with passion and intrigue.

I liked that the main characters, Dusty and Felicity were innocents. Both suffered through terrible atrocities, yet managed to hold on to their virtue. Dusty wanted to be human. He craved the life he once had. Who doesn’t feel that way when they receive devastating news, such as an illness or the loss of a job? We can identify and that makes this story powerful. We can stand in their shoes.

I liked that the characters from the previous story came back. As each story took place, I felt a kinship with them and liked seeing where they were.

By the end of the story, I felt like I went through the journey with them and was about to walk away from good friends. Great stories make you feel that way.

If you want a sexy story with unique characters, then read Penetrating the Darkness. If you want to read more, then grab a copy of the Darkness Series. I give Penetrating the Darkness 5 cherries. Well done.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Sun Your Shadow by Suzannah Safi

My Sun Your Shadow by Suzannah Safi
Publisher: Mystic Moon Press
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (34 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Wisteria

Cat Mckibben wakes up one night to find herself chained to a bed at the will of a mysterious dark stranger. Yet his allure is more than she can handle as he entices her to follow him down a path of self-revelation and self-indulgence. When given to her fantasies, Cat finds the stranger more powerful than she imagined-and his identity is revealed as Dracula. Set out to take for himself a queen, Dracula informs Cat that her secret heritage makes her the predestined queen. Cat faces a decision-to stay with Dracula and enjoy a vampire's life teeming with sensual bliss, or the alternative fate that awaits her when she wakes up once again in her former nightmarish reality . . .

What would you do if you found yourself chained to a strange bed, with a phantom man lavishing affection on your body in ways you could only ever dream about? That is just what Cat has awakened to. Struggling to make sense of where she is and what is going on, she needs to keep her thoughts together and think clearly even though her captor is giving her very thorough loving.

Aside from sentences with missing words, spelling errors, and overall poor editing (which is what drove the rating on this review down), the story itself wasn’t bad. If you can overlook the errors, you should be able enjoy the story for what it was: an interesting, short paranormal story with hot sex.

I wish the final product had been better edited, as this author is one to watch. I would love to see something else by her. Her imagination is superb, her ability to color a story is commendable and her use of descriptive words in the telling was great. If editing errors don't bother you, and you're a fan of the paranormal, do yourself a favor--grab a copy of this story and dive in.

Tea for Two by Shelley Munro

Tea for Two by Shelley Munro
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (144 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by Xeranthemum

Lies and secrets have a way of returning to bite a girl in the butt…

Hayley Williams thought she was past the screwing-up stage of her life. These days, she wears her good girl persona well—except when she moonlights as a gypsy tea leaf reader in order to earn money to buy her own home. There’s something about Sam Norville, though, that prods her inner imp back to life. A chance meeting, a margarita…okay, two…a stolen kiss, and suddenly she’s back in hot water.

Sam, a successful businessman, doesn’t believe in love at first sight. Not anymore. For him, involvement with any woman means risking a run-in with the tabloid press. But his mysterious gypsy lover keeps him coming back, keeps him prodding her for more…like the truth. Of course it’s not love. No, sir. Sam only does lust.

Hayley knows she shouldn’t want Sam, especially since she lied to him. The right thing to do? Shove that naughty imp off her shoulder and come clean. But the pesky imp just won’t budge…

Warning: There be lies and secrets ahead, wrapped in pretty bows with margaritas, a one-night stand, fortune telling and a gypsy. Oh, and tea. Lots and lots of pots of tea.

Tea for Two is a wonderful story of seduction in slow sensual degrees. You’ll find yourself wanting to be in Hayley’s place just to experience that perfect moment, when the stars align and fireworks are tame in comparison.

The chemistry between Hayley and Sam is as romantic as a reader could wish. Ms. Munro taps into some of the hype we hear about. You know, “Go with the flow, it’s just sex.” As we all know, that reality is based on TV and tabloids who scream about the casual nature of sex, vilifying and courting it at the same time. For me, Tea for Two shows that cavalier sex isn’t without cost. The cost can be life changing, as in one’s future happiness. Ms. Munro’s story touched the die-hard romantic in me. I thoroughly enjoyed her backwards approach to the happily ever after, and its dynamics of falling in love despite things not being what they seem.

Hayley is delightful in a quirky and utterly charming way. She has dreams and is working hard to get there. I like how Ms. Munro played her off of the secondary character, Suzie. I also appreciated how the author totally sidestepped a worn out cliché of the ditched girlfriend. In fact, I think that whole scene was a class act in and of itself. I also was fascinated by Hayley’s family dynamics. Ms. Munro’s choice of conflict for Hayley was truly a character building event. By the time of the resolution scene I was so pumped for Hayley. Finally, a heroine with a spine!

Sam kept me grinning. There was something about his character that just tickled my funny bone and I totally enjoyed not only him, but his relationship with his family and his detecting skills. Sam could have been written many ways so it was refreshing to find a man who used his head even while fighting the ‘curse’. Sam’s got ‘husband material’ written all over him. Hear me sigh.

A strong point of Ms. Munro’s writing style is her relationships. She does not disappoint and you’ll enjoy each hot and seductive encounter between Sam and Hayley.

Tea for Two is a book I definitely recommend for readers who enjoy upbeat, funny and touching romances between two characters that come to life from the moment you meet them.

A Bid for Love by Michelle Houston

A Bid for Love by Michelle Houston
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (26 pgs)
Other: M/F, BDSM
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Hibiscus

Erika had thought that Ryan was out of her life, and that she was over him. When they run into each other at an art action, and he outbids her on a painting of her grandmother's, she's willing to do anything to get it from him - including agree to spend 48 hours with him. Her head says at the end of it, she can just walk away. Her heart isn't so sure.

A Bid For Love is a delightfully deceptive story. Being only 26 pages, I did not expect to read a concise, well written story of love lost and then found again but it showed me that looks are deceiving.

The story itself is about a deception that was played by a minor character for her families benefit but that also deceived our heroine. The instrument that brings our main characters together again is a painting by a grandmother. Virginia Gleeson’s paintings were not what one would expect and they were sold off for gambling debts when an uncle deceived his sister and niece and sold them.

The characters of Erika and Ryan were beautifully fleshed out. I found myself caring about them and their individual stories. Ryan Carstairs is Erika’s ex-boyfriend who purchased the painting that she was trying to acquire at an auction. I loved that the painting itself was of the two of them. He sees his opportunity to acquire more when he offers the painting to Erika in exchange for 48 hours of her being his slave. I could tell that he really cared about Erika’s feelings when he stopped his games.

The way the past break up was explained was done in an ingenious way. I could not be mad at either Ryan or Erika. The well written plot and emotional dialog had me glued to my chair to see what occured next. A Bid For Love is another fantastic story by Ms. Houston that I highly recommend reading.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fortune’s Chance by Karen Erickson

Fortune’s Chance by Karen Erickson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (125 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Stephanotis

Money can’t buy love. But it might just buy a second chance…

A Fortune story.

Lauren Tollson can’t believe it. She’s just run into her old flame—in a sex club, of all places. Since winning a huge lottery jackpot, she’s not big on trusting any man’s motives. But David Fairfield could be just what she needs to satisfy that nagging little urge. At least temporarily.

Once, long ago, David made the biggest mistake of his life by letting Lauren slip away. Now that he has her back in his life, he’s not going to let her go. Ever. He’s older now. Wiser. Or at least he’s trying to be.

If Lauren becomes wise to his secret, though, it could ruin any chance she’ll see him as anything other than a freeloader—not the forever kind of man she deserves.

Part of the Fortune series with Fortune’s Deception and Fortune’s Promise.

Warning: Lots of sexy hot lovin’ that might set you afire. Read at your own risk!

This might not be a problem for most of us but for Lauren Tollson it’s a major headache. She’s 30 years old and just a year ago she won the lottery. These days as she describes it ‘she’s rich beyond her wildest dreams’. But winning isn’t everything because she’s bored, lonely and wishes she could meet a man who doesn’t care about her money.

When the book opens she’s out on the town with her best friends celebrating her birthday when a man creeps up behind her on the dance floor. She thinks she’s found the perfect man to spend the night with, well, that is until she turns around and discovers it’s David Fairfield, her ex-boyfriend who she’d hoped she’d never see again. But there’s an upside to running into him. He hasn’t heard she’s now a millionaire. So Lauren thinks she’ll spend the night with him and then send him on his way. The problem is he kisses her the following morning and everything changes. She’s really in love with him; he’s really in love with her.

This book is part of The Fortune’s Chance series and after reading it, I’ll be checking out the rest of the titles. I loved the characters because they seemed like people I know. Mostly because the author gave them problems we all face, like should we trust someone’s who’s previously hurt us? And the dialogue is very natural sounding which makes it seem like you’re eavesdropping on a real conversation. It’s an enjoyable book and I’ll definitely be looking out for more titles by this author.

Pacific Nights by Lynn Lorenz

Pacific Nights by Lynn Lorenz
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Historical, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (145 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Cactus

On a deserted island in the Pacific, surrounded by the enemy, two very different men learn to rely on each other for survival. Mike is an uneducated rascal, one step ahead of prison and a court-martial. He's given one chance to redeem himself: if he wants to stay out of jail, he has to keep Professor James Hamilton alive. No matter what.

James is everything Mike isn't--suave, educated, intellectual, and rich. He's also a conscientious objector and he's made a deal with the army--three months on the island breaking codes as long as he doesn't have to kill anyone.

Mike is Catholic, the son of immigrants, and has never acted on his desires. James is Jewish, the son of Boston society, and experienced in love between men. During their hazardous stay on the island, they teach each other about life, friendship, and survival. With only them to say what's right and wrong, the men make a deal: Mike must give himself to James for one day, submit to him completely, and James will allow Mike to take him whenever Mike wants to slake his sexual needs.

But once the war is over, can they keep the promises made on those hot Pacific nights and find one place both of them can call home?

Publisher's note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual practices.

Two men trapped on a deserted island for 3 months with only each other for company leads to a potentially dangerous situation when the men are forced to return to the real world. Mike and James are expected to fulfill their military mission decoding messages from the Japanese but on a deserted island, their needs overcome common sense. Mike and James find themselves dealing with a passion they didn’t expect amidst a potentially dangerous situation. Not to mention their newfound relationship is not one allowed in society nor the military.

While this particular storyline may not be terribly inventive, it is rather interesting if you’re looking for a fantasy like romance story about two strong willed characters. The historical setting amid the backdrop of WWII can almost be ignored entirely given the men are on the island for most of the book, which lends an unrealistic setting to their pairing. Even though they are on an island, it’s easy to forget the danger of the war as well as the hidden nature of homosexual relationships during that time period. This story almost reads as if it could be any time period as isolated as the men are. This does allow you to immerse yourself into the story and the fantasy of two men falling in love on an island (even among danger and war).

Both men are interesting characters as Mike is very aggressive and old-fashioned Catholic, complete with religious guilt. James is openly gay, an intellectual that opposes the war. While the men are complete opposites, they manage to compliment each other in ways that enhance each man instead of highlighting their differences. Ultimately those differences threaten to drive a wedge between the men, but as this is a romance, I don’t think it’s giving anything away to say they work things out in a very romantic ending. While this ending was slightly odd, considering the lack of real world context and slight unbelievable resolution, it is fitting with the story.

If you’re looking for a fantasy like story that is heavy on the romance of the characters and less on the actual time period, you may enjoy this offering.

Spaceport: Paralyzer by Marteeka Karland

Spaceport: Paralyzer by Marteeka Karland
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (61 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Review by Eglantine

Starla, a Paralyzer Mage of the Vastus, has been assigned to be bodyguard to, of all people, a rock star. After an attempt on Tygor Gold's life, she finds herself on Spaceport Adana as, in her mind, a glorified babysitter. What she doesn't realize is she is but a pawn in the greater scheme of things.

Tygor has his own magic and reasons for not joining the Vastus as a Mage. When his magic and Starla's collide, the results are more than even the Vastus could have predicted. Driven by something more than magic, more than chemistry, the two must find a way to exist together…

And to survive.

Babysitter or protected one? Starla can't be sure, and in this adequately written tale, nothing is sure until the last few pages. In spite of her considerable talents, Starla is vulnerable, and precisely because of her unique talents, she might be in more trouble than she realizes.

Ms Karland's tale also addresses the issue of self-image, though it was unfortunately only superficially touched upon and not fully explored. However, in a tale of this short length one can't really delve into the effects of a poor view of oneself. The writing, however, was competent and no jarring errors sprang out at me. I've seen much, much worse on offer in the electronic market. Although this story doesn't really bring anything new to the genre, it's good for a bit of light entertainment.

Despite an abundance of energetic sex in this story, I could have wished for it to be a bit hotter, a little more edgy. All that said, it's not certainly not a bad read. Instead, it offers a happy blend of fantasy magic and science fiction grittiness.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mind Games by Cecilia Tan

Mind Games by Cecilia Tan
Publisher: Ravenous Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (150 Pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 5 cherries
Review by: Queen Anne’s Lace

Wren Delacourt is a woman with a gift, only she doesn't know it. She has psychic abilities-the ability to see the future, to read minds, and to sense emotions. But ever since the death of her parents when she was a teenager, in an accident she foresaw, she has suppressed her abilities, often doubting her childhood memories and unsure if her powers even exist, or if she only imagined them. Unable to deal with other people's emotions, she leads a quiet, somewhat lonely life working in a university library and socializing mostly with her downstairs neighbor, a gay man named Lawrence.

Everything changes when her sister Abby goes missing, and Wren hires a private investigator to try to find her. Derek Chapman isn't what Wren expected in a P.I.; he's young, good-looking, and sensitive. Wren is attracted to him immediately, and the feeling seems mutual, but Wren is afraid that this will be just another failed relationship.

She begins to have dreams about sex, about a dream lover who visits her at night. Is the man in her dreams just her subconscious trying to work out its conflicts between desire and fear? Or could someone really be stalking her in her dreams? And what does it mean when Derek's search for Abby leads him to a private sex club? Fate seems to be pulling Wren into Derek's arms, whether she is ready or not...

Wren Delacourt has always doubted her gifts of premonition and telepathy, but when her sister Abby goes missing, and she begins having disturbing visions, Wren knows that she must do something to find her sister. Fearing the police will not listen to her, Wren decides to hire a private investigator to help her locate Abby. Derek Chapman P.I., agrees to help Wren find her sister, yet the search will become more than either of them suspect, including a trail that takes them to an exclusive couples’ club, other psychic phenomenon, and of course countless “sexy” treats.

Mind Games is brisk, fast-paced, ironic and completely sexy. The writing is crisp and concise with characters any reader can easily identify with. The point of view never jumps, and the scenes are well described and packed with delicious adjectives. Writing premonitions, visions or even telepathy is a challenge for any author while maintaining the story flow and not confusing the reader. Mind Games pulls this off beautifully. There is never any uncertainty for the reader and I must award the author “TWO THUMBS” way up on a job well done!

Ms. Tan is a talented story-teller. This is my first story I have read by her, but I know it will not be my last. Wonderful job for a writer who is definitely a must keep in the business. Don’t miss out on this yummy, naughty novel.

Saved by a Deputy by Carol McKenzie

Saved by a Deputy by Carol McKenzie
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Short story (78 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Review by Stephanotis

In a small mid-western community, a deputy sheriff hears of Liberty Carmichael's plight. This rugged ex-Marine named Will Banes offers to help Liberty escape her dire situation by protecting her. A widower and gentleman, Will inadvertently wins her affection...and passion.

From the first moment they lay eyes on each other, the chemistry is scorching. Their desire builds until their relationship screams for consummation.

Then the insane man from Liberty's past threatens to show back up, but Will plans to stop him cold.

Graphic designer, Liberty Carmichael has a problem and his name is Martin Miller. He’s her ex-boyfriend and she has an Order of Protection against him. When the story opens Liberty is working on one of her designs when she sees him arriving at her apartment. Fast forward to a few days later and Liberty is in the hospital after taking another beating from Martin. Her good friend Carrie offers her a safe haven at the farm her father left her. It’s miles away from Martin and an added plus ex-Marine drill sergeant, and now deputy, William Banes lives next door.

Banes lost his wife to breast cancer two years earlier. Will he heal Liberty’s mental and physical scars and will he be able to protect her from Martin?

Although this sexy suspense story is just seventy-eight pages long, McKenzie adds enough depth to each character to allow you to get know them in a short amount of time. Some authors aren't able to develop characters so quickly, but this author does. She fills us in on their history and we sense that it might just get in the way of them having a permanent relationship. It definitely keeps you in suspense.

These are two characters who have painful pasts, and I feel the author presented them in such a natural way that you really feel they are real people. Plus, after all they'd gone through, you just want them to be happy. I think this story could have been longer, maybe drawing out their “getting to know you” phase to add to the suspense about when these two would get together. Also, it would have allowed the author to develop some of the secondary characters who also seemed interesting but, because of its length, we really didn't get to know them. If you like a quick read, this is probably a good pick for you.

Aneshu’s Folly by L. E. Bryce

Aneshu’s Folly by L.E. Bryce
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short (91 pages)
Other: M/M, Spanking, Voyeurism, Forced Seduction
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by: Phlox

The follow-up to Aneshu! Renowned as the greatest trickster in the realm, the actor Aneshu travels to the distant desert outpost of Malassar to spy upon an unscrupulous vizier who has eliminated every previous spy planted in his household. No one said espionage was easy, but then, no one warned Aneshu that Amiru ked Shaskan was young, devastatingly handsome, and as dangerous as a cobra. To survive, the actor must turn to his most famous role, and perhaps do the unthinkable.

In a return to the desert kingdom of Tajhaan, Bryce returns to a tale of intrigue and danger (hooray!) While Bryce’s sweet, quiet romances are lovely; she truly excels as a storyteller with hidden menace, suspicion and high drama. Looking for a traditional romance? A story based on sex? Look elsewhere, dear traveler. This is a different kettle of fish.

Aneshu, thrust straight into peril he neither asks for nor understands fully when the High Prince requests he play the greatest role of his life, as a spy, is as compelling a character (often more so) than any dozen, everyday Alpha males. His story catches the reader by the nape and shakes hard, like the Jackal god he sometimes channels onstage. Certainly, he’s the Alpha in his own relationship with a younger actor, but while they have a prestigious and somewhat protected position as entertainers, they are still slaves, at the mercy of the whims of more powerful men. Aneshu has no choice but to agree and leave his home and his lover behind to go into a situation he knows may kill him.

No choice or so it seems. But this is the key and the core to this story, choices and our perceptions of them. For a man without choices, Aneshu is presented with a feast of them, from the beautiful young dancers he travels with to the amoral but handsome and sexually magnetic vizier who is the subject of his mission, every word, every action, represents choice for good or ill, the high ground or the moral sinkhole, and, ultimately, life or death. Beautifully written in a rhythm often reminiscent of old tales and legends, Bryce consistently writes in a literate and flowing style, easy to follow but challenging the senses all at once.

In the end, without giving too much away, Aneshu must face himself and his choices as both a man and the avatar of a living god. While this is not a traditional romance (boy meets, loses and regains boy) it is a fascinating twist on the pursuer/pursued plot line, sometimes dark and often tense, but with enough lighter moments to keep it from being bleak. Unlike some of Bryce’s recent stories, the ending here felt perfect, not rushed or abrupt. An excellent, engaging read, her return to high drama is something to be relished.