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Friday, February 5, 2010

The Haunting of Maggie Grey by Lynn Crain

The Haunting of Maggie Grey Tarot: Five Cups by Lynn Crain
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (80 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Maggie Grey had wanted to be a doctor all her life. She achieved her dream along with her husband, Justin. Together they planned to build a clinic on his ancestral home on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. But women doctors in the year 1882 didn't have many options and even fewer if they were widowed like she had been recently. Arriving in England to visit Elizabeth Blackwell, founder of the London Medical School for Woman, she is discouraged to find that the only real health care on the remote Isle of Skye will be herself, a few aging doctors as well as veterinary doctors.

But she must build a clinic there to escape her memories and fulfill her late husband's dream. Maggie goes by train and boat to the rather bleak Isle of Skye. The island is almost as barren as she feels and she isn't sure if she can even fit in. Add the fact that her dead husband is haunting her with the request for her to fall in love again and she knows she's losing her mind.

But the people of Skye need her…and she is determined not to let them down...but they are slow to accept a widowed woman doctor. Now if she were married again…that would be a different matter…and her dead husband, Justin, knows just the right man for the job, Conall MacGryman, his childhood friend and cousin, a veterinary for the island. Now all Justin has to do is to convince Maggie to give the man a chance so she can fall in love again…for both their sakes.
Maggie Grey always wanted to be a doctor. She and her husband, Justin have plans to move to his ancestral home the Isle of Skye (Scotland) to run a clinic together. However, when the story begins, Maggie is a new widow. Feeling she must abandon her plans, she's guided by Justin's ghost to travel to Scotland. There she meets his cousin, Conall MacGryman who will win her heart.

With skillful writing, the author created main characters who were likable and whom I became invested in. Even the secondary characters were well drawn and enjoyable especially the ghost. Each character added to the story and every one of them was important. The plot was interesting and believable and I wish it had been longer. As I said, my only complaint, I wanted to read more. This would have been a great full length novel with more subplots, more time spent with the characters etc.

This is a wonderful short read. Crain does a first rate job of describing the smells and sounds of the era, the smell of burning coal from the train etc. I felt with each description that I was there in that time period experiencing it for myself. She does an equally good job of portraying life on a small remote island, circa 1830s. I'd definitely recommend this one.

Green Flash by Angela Caperton

Green Flash by Angela Caperton
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Holiday
Length: Short Story (62 pgs)
Other: Ménage, M/F/M
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Holly

According to legend, the green flash--an almost magical effect seen at certain sunsets--signifies the opening of the world beyond life. In Key West, where green flashes are sometimes seen, Claire Marion and her boyfriend, Ian, have come to the annual Fantasy Fest with very different agendas. Ian has body paint and three-way sex on his mind, but Claire is seeking something she cannot name.

Amidst the wild revelry of the fest, Claire meets one fascinating man and then another. Together the three of them will explore new worlds of pleasure and dark magic, illuminated by the green flash.

Ms. Caperton has written an interesting story of romance, lust and hidden meaning.

Claire is a woman searching for something, but unsure just what that is. When Ian brings another woman to their hotel room, Claire walks in on them in the act. Ian asks her to join in, but she makes the break and leaves, showing an inner strength of spirit I had to admire. She ends up meeting Dwight and Ashton, and they bring her senses alive the way no one else ever has.

Although Dwight is described as working for Ashton, we slowly come to realize we never see Ashton before sundown, and although it is never overtly stated, Ashton is a vampire, and he and Dwight have decided to claim Claire.

The ultimate scene of passion on the beach with Claire, Dwight and Ashton, is so hot it nearly burns the fingers. Only during this scene is it made known what Ashton is, and it is done with such cunning that I almost missed the reference. Does Claire live happy ever after? Let’s just say that she embarks on a wonderful adventure with Ashton and Dwight, one that promises to be a very hot future for all involved.

Love Me More by Kelly Jamieson

Love Me More by Kelly Jamieson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (54 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/F, F/F, Ménage
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Fern

This time, it’s all about his ultimate fantasy. If she has the nerve…

The sequel to Love Me.

In a bid for her boyfriend’s undivided attention, Melina indulged in a flirtation that led to an unexpected—and incredibly sexy—threesome.

Now, months later and on their way to the altar, she and Gavin don’t talk much about that night. Except his confession that in his threesome fantasies, the two women are focused entirely on his pleasure.

Melina is a little uncomfortable about that—and more uncomfortable about the wild and wicked bachelor party his buddies have planned for him. She’s no prude, but the idea of him being uh…attended to by unknown women is driving her crazy. Gavin agrees to a compromise, but it leaves her with a lingering feeling of guilt.

How to make it up to him? She has an idea…but does she have the nerve?

What do you do when your fiancée has a fantasy that he’s never had fulfilled and the date for your wedding is fast approaching? Do you pretend it doesn’t exist? Conceal your jealousy as it consumes you? Or do you take the bull by the horns, set up the three-way he’s always dreamed of, and prove to both him and yourself that love is strong enough to overcome a little tryst between the sheets? These questions are answered in the follow up to Kelly Jamieson’s story, Love Me, aptly entitled, Love Me More.

Although I haven’t read the preceding story, there was enough back history that it wasn’t necessary to enjoy the material. From the beginning, you realize this is more than a story about a sexy ménage. Rather, it’s about the trust involved when you dedicate your heart and soul to another. Gavin witnessed Melina partaking in a sexy ménage session with another woman, and upon questioning, reveals he always dreamed of having the focus of two beautiful women entirely on him. Though Melina is hesitant to allow another woman to touch her man, she discovers that by letting go and having faith that he won’t do anything to betray her, they can explore their sexual appetites without risking irreversible damage.

Aside from a few editing mistakes, the work is well written and flows at a super-fast pace. You’ll melt during the intense sexual scenes, while you nod in understanding and sympathy when Gavin and Melina have the ever important lovers spat. If you’re looking for something hot and intense that will leave you with a smile on your face, Love Me More is certain to hit the spot.

The Carpenter and the Fairy by Cassandra Gold

The Carpenter and the Fairy by Cassandra Gold
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (32 pgs)
Other: M/M, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Former military man Mason Larue is into one-night stands and big, burly guys, so he is not happy to find himself attracted to a sweet, slim young man wearing eyeliner and dressed in a fairy costume.

After a night spent with Avery, however, he begins to change his mind about what he wants. Can Mason get past fear and stereotypes in time to get what he never knew he wanted?

Can opposites attract? And, if they attract, can they have a sustained relationship? Read The Carpenter and The Fairy and find out.

Ms. Gold writes a fun yet thought-provoking short story. Opposites are thought to attract, but then again, there are instances when being the polar difference of someone else can be downright destructive.

This story comes down to acceptance. Mason comes to a party dressed as himself – a carpenter. He’s an alpha male who likes the tough/gruff type. Although he’s not ashamed of his sexuality, he’s not sure of someone who wears it on their sleeve – such as Avery. Still, you have to give Mason credit for stepping out of himself and giving himself the chance to try. Many people can’t find it in their hearts to try. Ms. Gold writes the struggle as if you are going through it in Mason’s place. Moving stuff!

I like Avery. Although he’s out and proud, he’s still a bit scared. Some people accept him as-is. Other’s find him too much for their liking. Not everyone can wear a fairy costume with style and grace, but Avery can. I love that he’s a cakemaker who currently specializes in Halloween wedding cakes. How cool! I respect his desire to be who he is on the inside and the outside.

I need to point out that there is a tenderness in this story that is lacking in much of erotica. You feel the struggles of each man, while the lust blossoms into passion. You can see these guys having a long future together and root for it to happen.

If you want a story about two men that will stick with you long after you close the screen, then you need to read The Carpenter and The Fairy. You’ll be glad you did. I give this story 4 cherries.

Tabloid Star by TA Chase

Tabloid Star by TA Chase
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (138 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Holly

One hot night, one freeze frame…and one shocking surprise.

As a bartender at the Lucky Seven club, Josh Bauer could take a different guy home every night…if he wanted to. Working three jobs, however, makes it hard to connect with anyone. One man, though, is too much temptation to resist. A steamy encounter in a back alley leads to an explosive night of sex in Josh’s bed—a bed he isn’t surprised to find empty the next morning.

What does surprise him, though, is the front page of a tabloid. Apparently his one-night stand isn’t as anonymous as he thought it was.

Ryan Kellar’s career is taking off. Advance buzz about his movie says it’s a blockbuster, and going home with the gorgeous bartender is the perfect way to celebrate. And he thought he’d gotten away clean—until the picture in the paper shocks him into reality. Was Josh really just playing…or playing him for a fool?

Trust isn’t big on their list right now, but as their worlds fall apart, it’s all they have. At least until they figure out who took the picture. And why…
Bartender Josh Bauer is not looking for long term in relationships. He’s more the “love ‘em and move on” kind of guy. When he meets up-and-coming action hero Ryan Kellar at his bartending job at the Lucky Seven, Josh has no idea who the other man is. That doesn’t stop him from hitting on him and taking him out to the back for a quickie.

Ryan has been in the closet all his adult life. Only his best friend knows the truth about Ryan’s sexuality, and he isn’t talking about it. Imagine the surprise both Josh and Ryan experience when their back alley hook-up is front-page news in the Hollywood tabloids. Ryan’s agent convinces him that Josh set him up, and tells Ryan to stay away. Of course, Ryan does just the opposite: he gets drunk and confronts Josh at the bar, punching him and earning another front page appearance. Can Josh convince Ryan that he had nothing to do with the smear campaign? Just who is behind this and what do they hope to gain? Will Ryan finally admit his attraction to Josh, and find a solution they all can live with?

Let me say first off, I had never read anything by Mr. TA Chase before. That is one mistake I plan on remedying very soon. I enjoyed this book on many different levels. It was an amazing romance about two people getting to know and love each other. There was mystery: who was behind the stalking of Ryan, and why were they doing it? Who was Josh protecting, and could he manage to stop what was happening?

Ryan is such a wonderful character, filled with conflict and insecurity. He wants to be successful, but he doesn’t want to be false to himself either. Josh is the strong hero figure, the “all in” guy, who will go the extra mile for friends and family. I love books that make me laugh, cry and think, and this one does all three.

Mr. Chase has written a love story, pure and simple. Hot, sexy and volcanic, yes, but there is love underlying the whole story. Isn’t that the goal of most romance writers? This one delivers in so many ways, I would definitely recommend this to everyone who wants to experience love and passion, and likes their happy ever after a bit hard won.

Sharing Brenda by Laura Ashton

Sharing Brenda-Sensual Awakenings 2 by Laura Ashton
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (109 pgs)
Other: M/F/M, Ménage
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Anthurium

Brenda has been through enough relationship drama. After her husband was caught cheating at their wedding, she decides it's time to start over. Brenda leaves her fast-paced city life behind to start over on a ranch in east Texas.

Part of her fresh start comes in the form of ranch hand Billy Joe Watkins. Brenda's taken with his gentlemanly, handsome ways. When she meets his good friend and fellow ranch hand, Salvador Rivas, the next day, sparks fly with his overly seductive nature.

Both admit to being ladies men, but claim their attraction and feelings for Brenda are sincere. They say they will do whatever it takes to prove to her they're in it for the long haul. Can Billy and Sal be trusted? More importantly, can Brenda learn to love again so quickly and easily?

This was an interesting story, and one that pulled me in from the word go. Of the three main characters we get to know Brenda first as she tries to get past the blow dealt by her jerk of a two timing husband who got caught with another woman at the wedding reception. On the advice of her best friend Jasmine, the heroine of the first book in the Sensual Awakenings series, Brenda decides to make a fresh start and moves back to the ranch to take on Jasmine's former job. It's a journey she needs to take to find herself as well as her self confidence.

Along the way Brenda meets two hot sexy and sizzling cowboys; Billy Joe and Sal. Both of these men are firmly attracted to Brenda, but are aware that she is getting over issues from her previous relationship. They're willing to wait for her and to work for her. Just what a woman unsure of her appeal needs: two men willing to meet her needs. Once these three characters get together the story explodes and never stops.

The reader plunges head first into this story and it does not let go until the end. The dialogue is fast-paced from the beginning. This is a book I highly recommend you read. I just can't wait to go back and read the first book, as well as any new additions that may come along.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lick of Frost by JA Saare

Lick of Frost by JA Saare
Publisher: Amira Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Holiday
Length: Short Story (65 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Onyx “The Ice Princess” Blackthorn has yearned for the nearness of another for two centuries. Cursed after she shunned the advances of a lovelorn wizard, she ventures to New Orleans with his coven, desperate to put an end to the isolation that is slowly killing her.

One searing touch informs Lycae Luke Trevlian he has found his mate, a breathtaking creature that can only be adored from afar. For to touch Onyx’s skin is to touch the ice trapped within, ensuring she remains pure for the one that hexed her.

Halloween is a time of magic, and with the new moon, a time of new beginnings. When the wizard that cursed Onyx returns to flesh and blood, eager to claim her for his own, Luke will challenge him for the one woman he cannot live without.

Ever wanted something so much it hurt? Ever wanted something so much you did get hurt, only to lose out? And when you tried to rectify the issue, you got burnt worse? Then you need to read Lick of Frost. This is one story that stays with you long after the last page.

JA Saare is on my must read list. I see her books and I must purchase. This story is another great one. Now you don’t have to read the prior books in this series to get this story. All you have to do is want to go on a great adventure. The writing is tight, clear, and very sensual. You feel the passion long before the characters realize it. The sex sizzles, leaving your fingers burned in a fun way.

At first I wasn’t sure I’d like Onyx. She’s a little hard to handle. You think one thing, but as the story unfolds and she grows as a person, you realize she has her reasons for being stand-off-ish. If she touches you, you are frostbitten. She puts herself on the line and even when she’s abused and ready to scream, she takes it like a champ. You have to give the girl her props.

I loved Luke. As heroes go, he’s one of my favorites. He is willing to go to any lengths to be with his mate. I like how he knew she was his before she could comprehend the concept. He’s alpha all the way, even though he’s a beta in his pack. And the great meeting between him and the antagonist has you on the edge of your seat.

You won’t want to miss this installment of Saare’s werewolf series. I give Lick of Frost 5 cherries. Great job!

Tree Fingers by Augusta Li and Eon de Beaumont

Tree Fingers by Augusta Li and Eon de Beaumont
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (44 pgs)
Other: M/M, Voyeurism
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Underneath an old walnut tree, lovers Graham and Alan cuddle and contemplate the future. When the tree's owner prepares to have it removed Graham is devestated as memories of childhood play and first kisses savored under the rustling leaves surface. Determined not to see Graham suffer, Alan conjurs the spirit of the Woldengeist to protect the tree...but at what price?

Some play with fire, other’s play with nature. Then there are those who play with the occult. What do you think could happen if you reveal things about the other side that shouldn’t be messed with? You better know how to clean up your messes.

Sound interesting? Then you need to read Tree Fingers.

What does a tree have to do with an erotic male/male romance? Plenty. I liked how the authors entwined sweet love and the dangers of the occult into a story that kept me in my seat until far after the last page.

Now this story deals with the idea that curiosity killed the cat. Graham is an artist who is afraid to love again because his former lover passed away. When he meets Alan, he’s smitten, but unsure. Who hasn’t felt that way? You see the person you need, but are fearful to try again. It’s a normal human trait and powerful in this story. But what about Alan? He’s a fact junkie. Once he finds something he’s interested in, he digs in with ferocity. I know many people with the same need. One book isn’t enough—he has to read them all.

I liked that Alan wants more than anything to be loved by Graham. Who wouldn’t? Graham is a handsome guy. There came a few times when I wanted to slug Alan for his decisions, but you have to take them in context. One man wants acceptance, while the other doesn’t know how to give it. That’s pretty powerful stuff. And when they finally make love (yes, they make love – not mere sex), it knocks you on your hind end. You feel the blossoming passion and root for them to make it a permanent relationship.

If you want a sweet romance with dark undertones that’s filled with passion and intrigue, then you need to read Tree Fingers. You won’t want to miss it. I give this story 3.5 cherries.

Two In, Two Out by GA Hauser

Two In, Two Out by G.A. Hauser
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (202 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by: Fern

Blake Hughes was comfortable being in the closet, especially at work while surrounded by macho firemen. A paramedic, still single at thirty, Blake kept his private life just that, private.

Hunter Rasmussen transferred to LAFD from San Diego. Twenty-six, powerful and fit, the handsome blue-eyed brunette just wanted to leave the past behind. No one had to know what he went through down south. And he didn't need history to repeat itself. Being ‘out’ was not a good career move for all jobs, and particularly not with the fire service.

When Hunter and Blake were assigned to the same shift pattern, they quickly became best friends. Partnered up on calls, hanging out together on days off, Hunter enjoyed Blake’s company and Blake his. Until something, or someone, from Hunter’s ugly past caused him problems.

In the fire department, men rely on each other for their lives. Two go into a burning building, and two stay out to serve as their rescue team in case of emergency. Blake and Hunter were two men deeply in the closet. And only with devotion and love would their secret lives come ‘out’. And Hunter and Blake find that courage in a very unusual place. Two devoted LAPD cops help show them the way.

Two in…two out…it helps when someone is there to throw you a lifeline.

Two In, Two Out is a fantastic story that addresses very real issues and stigma’s that arise in homosexual relationships. Author G.A. Hauser tackles the topics of homophobia, bigotry, and prejudice head on, without veering away from the controversial and sensitive subject matter involved. Society is the bad guy here, and provides the barrier that divides two men who would otherwise reveal themselves to the world as committed and loving partners. If they dare come clean, embrace their feelings, and take on the world, they risk the ire of their peers, the scorn of their friends, and the rejection of their compatriots at the fire department. It’s a shaky line to walk, and even as you hope for the best, you can’t help but expect the worst.

Although, Two In, Two Out, is an erotic story, the themes and characters go so much deeper. The first portion is spent setting the tone, revealing the consequences when two “manly-men” dare to confess they don’t desire women. You know Blake and Hunter want one another desperately, so it’s difficult to witness their forbidden attraction. But to compound matters, these are two men who care deeply for one another. Even before they “come out”, the friendship, adoration, and unshakable respect they feel is apparent. This is what makes the story unforgettable, and quite honestly, bumped Two in, Two Out to the top of my favorite M/M stories list. When they cross the line and have to make some hard choices, I couldn’t put this story down. Being open with each other is liberating, but there are still the wolves to contend with, and it’s not easy to back down when the loss of someone you love is the result.

Fans of solid writing, remarkable story telling, and characters who are so real you can hear their voices as your read from the page will love Two In, Two Out. While this is the first story I’ve read by G.A. Hauser, it will most assuredly not be the last. There is only one thing better than a hot romance, and that’s a hot romance full of emotion and substance. When you take the characters with you after the journey, as I have with Blake and Hunter, you know you’ve stumbled onto something amazing.

A must for the TBR list, especially as a rare gem in the M/M genre, don’t miss Two In, Two Out.

Oshun’s Fall by Kendra Mei Chailyn

Oshun’s Fall by Kendra Mei Chailyn
Publisher: Phaze Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (40 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

When Yoruba's Goddess of Love, Oshun, is stripped of her powers until she finds a life-mate, she is furious. To add insult to injury, the Three want her to find a human!

Luthando Ife is a successful doctor, too busy for love. But when beautiful Kendi lands on his doorstep in the middle of a storm he is drawn to her. Kendi falls hard for the handsome African doctor, but will her secret destroy her and break his heart?

Sometimes the best lessons in life are those learned because you got knocked on your buns. Intrigued?

Then you need to read Oshun’s Fall by Kendra Mei Chailyn.

Lots of times, we find out that what we need and what we want are two separate things. In this story, Ms Chailyn shows that even the mighty Goddesses must fall occasionally in order to realize what it’s like to be a human. Although I wished for this story to be longer in order to fully realize the characters, I like that it’s a quick read, packed with heat.

Oshun is a love goddess. She puts people together and hopes for the best. In the real world, throwing people into situations they can’t handle doesn’t always work out for the best. Through the beginning of the story, Oshun comes across as snobby. She does that she does for herpleasure. I like how she grew through the story. By the last page, I found myself rooting for her. Still, I wish there was a little more substance in the story—a fuller glimpse into her life and what made her so full of herself.

Lutha, a doctor, must take care of others. It’s in his blood. When he finds Oshun, he can’t help but help her. I like his compassion. It didn’t hurt that he was easy on the eyes. Again, I would’ve liked more description of him. I never really put a face with the name. I could empathize with his confusion. Oshun’s a goddess? To the human mind, its one heck of a revelation. Then again, I liken it to meeting someone and thinking he’s a pauper, only to find out he’s the owner of a mega-corporation.

You can’t deny the attraction between Lutha and Oshun. From their first meeting, you see glimpses that passion lies beneath the lust. I like Ms. Chailyn’s storytelling in this respect. You felt the passion before the characters did and you knew it was real.

If you want a quick read, packed with love, death, sadness, and redemption, then you need to read Oshun’s Fall. I give this story 3.5 cherries.

Sammy Dane by Stormy Glenn

Sammy Dane by Stormy Glenn
Publisher: Noble Romance Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (134 pgs)
Other: M/M, light BDSM
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Tuberose

Police Officer James Everson seems to go from one guy to another, never finding exactly what he wants. Frustrated and out of sorts he goes to a local gay bar in the hopes of finding a guy and burning off some steam. What he finds is Sammy.

Samuel Dane Summers is a confirmed geek. He has all the classic symptoms, glasses, baggy slacks, white button down shirts. He’s a vegetarian. He forgets everything from paying his bills to locking his doors. Sammy needs a keeper. The one good thing he does is write erotic gay romance novels.

When these two meet, the fireworks explode. Sammy rocks James’s world, giving him the best sexual experience of his life. When it’s over, Sammy disappears.

James is devastated. He becomes obsessed with finding Sammy again. But an obsessed fan also wants to get his hands on Sammy, believing the books Sammy writes is their love story and he’s not above taking James out of the picture to do it. Can James save his sexy little writer before it's too late or will he lose him forever?

What happens when a confirmed geek and a tough cop meet? Can instant attraction lead to a lasting relationship?

Ms. Glenn had me falling in love with Sammy Dane and James from the very beginning of this story. The Dom/sub part of the story is written so that even though you would think James would be the Dom, it works that it is actually Sammy Dane. Ms. Glenn has Sammy Dane and James deal with several different issues including family members that like to meddle, and a stalker.

Ms. Glenn had me totally involved in this story from the first word. I didn’t want to put the book down and I didn’t until I'd read it twice. Ms. Glenn has a way of telling a story that makes you feel like you’re right there with the characters cheering them on in their relationship. I felt so much a part of it that I want to know more about Sammy Dane and James along with their brothers, Troy and Nicky. Ms. Glenn has another winning book with Sammy Dane and I will be recommending it to everyone I can.

Renegade and His Rebel by Titania Ladley

Renegade and His Rebel by Titania Ladley
Publisher: Red Sage Publishing
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (80 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, M/M, Ménage, Multiple Partners, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Where in time is Trey?

This month, Trey, the time-striding demigod, finds himself in the American wild west. Gunfights, destroyed saloons, and outlaw justice are tame in comparison to Cassie "Rebel" Thatcher. She shoots like a man. She cusses like a man. She runs a ranch like a man. But when it comes to loving, she's all woman -- or she will be, once Trey teaches her the value of self-acceptance.

When her deserting cad of a husband Renegade LaMarr reappears in Moose Junction, Rebel's as mad as a peeled rattler and prepared to shoot the handsome coward right out of his boots.

Armed with a secret and determined to get rid of Trey, Renegade plots to finally claim Rebel, chaps, boy breeches and all. Only problem is, before he can draw his six-shooter and declare a challenge, Renegade finds himself falling under Trey’s magical spell right along with his passionate, spitfire wife.

Ever have that one good thing, but have it taken away before you could enjoy it? Did you wonder why you lost it? Then you need to read Renegade and His Rebel.

Ms. Ladley writes an interesting take on the Wild West. From the first page, you are drawn into the story and not let go until far beyond the last page. Talk about starting with guns blazing and firing! This story is just that. I like how Ms. Ladley paints a picture of what life might have been like back then. Now you must remember there are paranormal tones to this story, so what you see isn’t always what you get. Sometimes, it’s way more.

Rebel aka Cassie is a fun heroine. She doesn’t take guff from anyone—even the husband who abandoned her on her wedding night. I like how she is capable of defending herself, even to the point of pushing others away. Although I thought it a bit tacky that she took another man once her husband went to jail, I understood her reasoning.

Renegade makes a fine hero. You don’t know why he’s in jail until a good way through the story, but it makes him elusive and predatory. He’s the epitome of an alpha male and it’s so nice. You see he’s emotionally wounded and uses his gruff attitude to hide it. You want to hug the man even when he’s being a pain in the butt.

Now you must understand there is a third part of the relationship that makes the sex hotter, the passion deeper, and draws the reader further into the story. I’ve read a couple of other stories with the elusive Trey. He’s there to help couples in need of an emotional bandage. At the same time, he unlocks passions within the couple that lingered silently under the surface. He definitely makes it hotter when he’s around.

If you want a fun western-themed story, with oodles of sex, tons of passion, and the most unique hero and heroine, then you need to read Renegade and His Rebel. I give this story 4 cherries.

Contract To Pleasure by Beverly Havlir

Contract To Pleasure by Beverly Havlir
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (97 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Fern

Book 1 in the Pleasure Seekers series.
Caught between a rock and a hard man…

Special Service agent Tamara Conway isn’t looking for love. She has a life, an important position. The last thing she needs is some hot and sweaty sex with a gorgeous, arrogant Bandarian messing up her life, even if he can kiss the legs out from under her. She certainly doesn’t expect to discover the infuriating man is the ruler of Bandar and the only one who can help thwart Federation Earth’s greatest enemy.

Kendrick has wanted Tamara ever since their first unforgettable encounter. With Earth needing his assistance, this is his chance to pick up where they left off. Kendrick agrees to help on one condition. Tamara will be his for one year.

Shocked at the indecent proposal but facing the possible death of millions of people, Tamara agrees. If Kendrick thinks he’s getting a submissive woman, he’s in for a surprise. Tamara is no shrinking violet. A battle of wills ensues. An overwhelming desire binds them together. One year isn’t enough—Kendrick wants her for eternity.

If you want a sci-fi erotica that is equal parts sexy and exciting, you’ll find what you’re looking for with Contract To Pleasure. Author Beverly Havlir has created worlds and characters that spark the imagination and heat the blood, and the result is a thoroughly entertaining story that is right out of this galaxy.

When we first meet Tamara, she’s all work and no play. Her sister wants her to get out more, and in a bid to shake things up, takes her to a club whose patrons know how to show a girl a good time. Unfortunately for Tamara, the man who would give her the night of her life is not only gorgeous, he’s also overbearing and arrogant. Although his kiss leaves her breathless, she shuns his advances and escapes when a distraction provides the opportunity to flee. It’s not until weeks later, when earth is under attack and her father is forced to seek outside assistance, that she finds herself face to face with the man she fled, who just so happens to be the only person who can save earth.

Kendrick can’t forget the flamed-haired vixen that rebuked his advances and left him aching. Shocked doesn’t begin to describe his reaction when he finds her in his home with her father, pleading for his aid in avoiding bloodshed. An idea comes to mind, and he makes no qualms in presenting exactly what he wants in order to intervene. Tamara will remain with him, under a contract to pleasure. As he claims what he desires most, he soon discovers there is a deeper connection that he originally conceived. He wants Tamara, body and soul, and he won’t rest until he possesses her completely.

Holy Hotness, Batman! Contract To Pleasure is a story that is hot, engaging, and oh so naughty. I loved the tension, the heat, and the characters that gain your notice and capture your attention. The material is wonderfully written, and the pace is nice and steady, meaning you won’t give into any distractions while you’re enjoying the work. Tamara and Kendrick are my favorite kind of protagonists, strong and unyielding – until they meet one another and all bets are off. The interplay is the focal point of the story, and ensures you won’t be able to put this wickedly good story down.

Fans of the genre, don’t miss out. Be sure to put Contract To Pleasure on your TBR list.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One-Two Punch by Katie Allen

One-Two Punch by Katie Allen
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (170 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, M/M, Ménage, Spanking
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Beth is willing to do almost anything to meet her dream man—including taking boxing lessons. She passes Harry’s gym for weeks before mustering up the nerve to walk in and talk to the gorgeous owner. Once she does, sparks fly as well as punches.

Their budding relationship is tested with the arrival of Ky, Harry’s old Army buddy. After years of frustrated longing for his fellow soldier, Ky is hoping that he can win Harry’s heart. He hadn’t planned on Beth, however—or the scorching desire she inspires.

As the trio struggle to accept their feelings for each other, a menacing figure stalks Beth, watching, waiting—and preparing to snatch her away from the two men she’s grown to love.

One-Two Punch hits all my happy buttons, strums all my emotional strings and fires up the lust-o-meter to dizzying heights. The book had me laughing so hard, I fell in love with the heroine.

Beth, the intrepid, hapless, hilarious sweetheart of a heroine was a pleasure to get to know. The one thing she is not, is helpless. She’s also a bit of a klutz and her exploits tickled my funny bone. Her dialogue was sunshine and sauce, practical and passionate as well as right from her heart. I could relate to her getting up the courage enough to step through the doors of the gym to meet her dream man. The fast beating heart, the insecurity and the ultimate satisfaction of self when she finally does it – those are all scenarios that every reader can relate to. You know, that first exciting meeting with the person who makes your dreams too hot to sleep through? And then, what? That’s when things get even more fascinating, sizzling and just plain fun.

One of my favorite parts - of which there are a ton - is when her glowing references to Mr. Dreamy turn into something else less than complimentary. I’m grinning as I write this. Just the memory of that part and what comes next brings out the cheerful puppy inside me. I cracked up with her internal recriminations at parts too. She’s a delight. Beth is tough as well. When the external conflict gets kicked up a notch, she’s a perfect balance of realistic terror and mad woman. She has no delusions about herself, loves life and is content. But not too content to ignore exploring the possibilities of love times two.

Harry. Her man Harry is a handful. Harry is very human, not perfect and yet, is totally perfect for Beth. He’s ex-military, from an injury I assume, and it makes him all the more approachable and believable. Ms. Allen had the psyche of a military man down pretty well, in my civilian estimation. He’s a leader, a protector and a very passionate man. Nothing illustrates that more than many of the extremely well written and sensually explosive scenes between him and Beth. For readers who enjoy steamy encounters which focus not only on scorching and exciting sex but the emotions behind it, they will be pleased with the balance. Harry is very virile – despite his handicap. He also doesn’t shy away from exploring his own sensuality even though it is most likely considered atypical at best.

The sensual tension and tease comes from Ty. Now here’s a tortured hero. Yes, another hero for Beth. I absolutely adored his resistance to loving Beth. The interplay between the two, the gradual warming up to her and the sheer terror he had to have felt when the conflict burst open his demons and one of his worst nightmares seemed to be coming true totally hooked me on his character. He fought his hopes and his desires because he really believed that they could not be returned. Ty just about made my heart bleed. He’s so sweet, like a prickly pear. And if that’s not enough, he’s hurting because his own father turned against him. I wanted to hug Ty. Then again, he is in very good hands - and the arms of Beth and Harry -and I enjoyed every page of it. Oh, and his nickname is cute too. Love the one-liners it invokes.

I mentioned the conflict and it’s one that has been done before but Ms. Allen put her own mark of creepy on it. The guy is a sick and warped whacko and a reader doesn’t understand the scope and horror of what he is capable of until the resolution.

The secondary characters are awesome. True, that is a very general term but whether it is Dominic, who liked to razz Harry; or Hammer, who is a fascinating and dangerous sounding man; or Sheri, Beth’s BFF, they all contributed to the atmosphere, feel and tone of the story. Even Ty’s dad played a key role in helping understand Ty a bit better as well as provide profound moments of sentimental and possible tear invoking scenes.

One-Two Punch is going on my keeper shelves to be enjoyed again and again. The humor, the love and the dynamics of their triangle of love are so well done, it stays with you even after you’ve read the last page. I intend to find other books by this talented author because I liked her voice, her style and her perception of the human condition. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes their romance to touch their heart with a smile.

Primal Passions by Stephani Hecht

Primal Passions by Stephani Hecht
Publisher: Extasy Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (219 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Fern

Jacyn had always considered himself a pretty normal guy. Little did he know that he couldn’t be more wrong. Attacked by a group of gunmen, he suddenly finds himself shot at, kidnapped and chained to a wall. Not exactly the kind of day a normal guy has. All he knows is that all of it is somehow connected to his birth family. Rescued by a tall dangerous looking stranger who claims to have been sent by his long-lost family, Jacyn doesn’t know whether to run with him or away from him. Especially when the stranger claims to be able to shift into a jaguar.

The last thing Logan wants is to be rounding up some stray jaguar shifter, but he has never refused an order. Even as he tells himself the mission will be a snap, he finds himself having to launch a one-cat rescue party when Jacyn gets himself captured by their enemy.

As the two males run for their lives, they find that not only are they having to battle their enemy, but they are also fighting a growing attraction to each other. Passion is the last thing they should be thinking about, however. Because if they don’t keep their attention focused on the enemy, they could very well pay the ultimate price.

Got shifters? If not, be sure to check out Primal Passions, a fast-paced and keep you on the edge of your seat erotica that will get your blood pumping.

The book starts off with our unknowing hero, Jaycn, going for a nice piping hot cup of coffee. He’s a jaguar shifter who isn’t aware of his condition, but he’s about to be enlightened. An attack, kidnapping, and daring rescue later, he learns that he’s not an orphan, but has siblings waiting for him. Now, he has to keep the Raven shifters off his tail, both figuratively and literally, while he squelches the lust he feels for the super-hot yet aloof shifter Logan, who has been sent to bring him home.

Logan has a job to do, and falling in lust with the shifter he’s hauling home isn’t it. Jacyn is his leader’s brother, and therefore, off limits. But he can’t help but feel an attraction to the handsome man, even as he tries to deny it. As they face danger, they’ll also face their growing desire, and when they do it’s hot, hot, and did I mention, hot?

Paranormal fans with a yen for the M/M genre will love Primal Passions. The characters are great, the tension is heavy, and you’ll read from start to finish with nary a glance at the clock. I loved both Jaycn and Logan, and felt they played off of one another wonderfully. When Logan continually denies what they have, it builds a lot of tension and creates vital and necessary emotion.

Be sure to pencil this one onto your sacred TBR lists. This is the first story I’ve read by Stephani Hecht, but it certainly will not be the last.

Simply Decadent by Calista Fox

Simply Decadent by Calista Fox
Publisher: Red Sage Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (76 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Too busy for romance? Every woman has been there and knows what that's like. But for workaholic Cassandra Valentine, this has become an almost permanent state. She loves her job to the point that she has forgotten about other kinds of love.

Seth Bryant is about to remind her that some things are worth a little extra time. After whisking her away to a romantic weekend retreat, he'll use every available trick -- and toy -- to win her attention for good.

Because when life gets too complicated, sometimes the only cure is Simply Decadent.

Sometimes you need to stop and smell the roses, let the wind feather your hair, and just be. For Cassandra, that’s just about impossible. Not that Seth’s going to let her get away with it, even if it takes all weekend and a couple of bottles of edible body paint.

Interested? Then you need to read Simply Decadent.

Ms. Fox writes about contemporary life with such gusto that you feel like you know the characters in the story. Seth and Cass feel like they could be your friends. From page one until the end, you can’t put this story down.

No matter how hard she tries, Cass can’t seem to break free from her job. She’s a workaholic because she wants to succeed. Know anyone like that? I sure do. I like how Ms. Fox added the details of Cass being attached to her Blackberry. That made it very real and humorous to me. You see Cass’s struggle to break away, but you also see her determination to make it in a man’s world – the world of real estate. Although I found her woe-is-me attitude a bit irritating at first, her willingness to grow really impressed me.

Seth, bless his heart, wants Cass to be happy. Even if it means without him, he wants her to see there is more to life than work. I admire his patience and rooted for him to succeed. But at the same time, I wanted him to shout out his true feelings to her.

Now I didn’t see much of an antagonist in this piece other than her need to succeed in the real estate game, and felt there could’ve been more aggravation in her life other than her boss. I missed having some real conflict. But, it made it more like real life and that kept me interested.

If you want a story that will scorch the screen and leave your fingers tingling, then you need to read Simply Decadent. You won’t regret it. I give this story 3.5 cherries.

Held Captive by Joanne Kells

Held Captive by Joanne Kells
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (66 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3 Cherries
Reviewed by Dandelion

When Aaron finds himself attracted to his best friend's brother, he tries to tell Nathan how he feels. But Aaron is only seventeen, and Nathan has to keep him at a distance, so he moves away. Devastated, Aaron turns to a close girlfriend for comfort. It takes a heartbroken Nathan seven years to finally return to his home and turn Aaron's life upside down. To move on, Aaron knows he has to break free of the pain and suppressed emotions of the past... and the glimmer of hope that Nathan might want him after all.

Held Captive is a short, sweet story of two men who find each other after years of separation and longing to be together. Aaron and Nathan shared one kiss, one night, many years before the story begins. Time and circumstance pulled them apart for a decade until they’re reunited, this time after each has moved on to other lovers. However, it’s only a matter of time before the two realize their love is mutual.

The consummation scenes are well written and definitely reflect the love and desire Aaron and Nathan have for one another. The author also does a nice job showing all the ways that male-male love can be interrupted: by society’s judgment, by one’s own self-doubt, even by other lovers that one meets along the way. So when these two characters finally get to be together in the end, it’s a victory the reader can savor along with them.

Unfortunately, this story is rather narrative-heavy, and there’s a lot of backstory and meticulous filling in of details by the author. I would have preferred to have the story of Aaron and Nathan unfold in real time as much as possible. So much is told through flashback and characters’ memories that I think the plot loses its impact.

However, if a happy ending in male-male love is what you’re looking for, have no fear! Longing and emotion fill the pages of Held Captive, and if you don’t mind some back-and-forth between past and present to explain the storyline, this story will leave you smiling with contentment.