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Friday, June 25, 2010

Twenty-Four Hours by Allie Standifer

Twenty-Four Hours by Allie Standifer
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

After a tanning-bed mishap, Courtney Museo is without her sight for the next twenty-four hours. Who better to call for help than her handsome, way-too-young assistant?

Mason has waited six years for Courtney to finally need him. He’s not going to miss this chance to make her see how good they could be together, in a more personal environment. Twenty-four hours of non-stop sex might be just enough to convince Courtney they’ve got a love not even time can touch.

Imagine you did a foolish thing and lost your sight for twenty-four hours. Now picture the hero ready to help you get through those hours being the man of your dreams. What do you do? Order him around, or let him have his wicked way with you?

I guess you need to read Twenty-Four Hours and find out more.

Allie Standifer writes hot stories, no doubt about it. Her work scorches the pages and leaves the laptop singed. I know when I read something with her name on it, I’ll be satisfied. Twenty-Four Hours was no different. I’m not big on the cougar craze, but this story reeled me in. I wasn’t sure I’d even like Courtney at first. But as a heroine, she really grew through the tale and was able to vocalize her wants. I liked it. Although she was hard to identify with at first, the more the story went on, the more I liked her.

Mason was my favorite part. The man has nice... er... parts. He was a hunk and had the patience of a saint. His devotion to her, even when she didn’t deserve it, was sexy. And when he opened her eyes, figuratively, it was really hot. I’ve rarely squirmed so much and loved it.

If you want a story that’s sure to stick with you long after the last page, then you need to read Twenty-Four Hours. I give it 4 cherries.

Soul Keeper by Natalie Dae

Soul Keeper by Natalie Dae
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (37 pgs)
Other: M/F, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Carrie Marsh anxiously awaits her online lover of two years, pacing the station in her stylish red coat with nothing but luxurious black lingerie underneath and stilettos on her feet. Will Rob Edwards really be on the train from Scotland? Will the attraction still exist in person? Can she even stave off the first anticipation-induced orgasm before he arrives? Excitement spirals through her, for Carrie has planned a night to remember.

Rob is shy, and Carrie intends to show him how to unleash his sexy side during a series of sexual encounters. But once he arrives, she can’t wait until they get to the hotel, let alone a bed. No. They hardly make it to the first tree, where anyone could spot their antics.

One unforgettable evening of passion leads two virtual lovers to a lifetime as each other’s soul keeper.

Can true love develop online? And what if you put yourself out there only to find out the worst in people? Or that the worst is only in your mind and the best is yet to come?

If you want to find out, then you need to read Soul Keeper.

This is my first foray into the work of Natalie Dae. I have to admit, the blurb snagged me. A couple meeting after talking online and having oodles of chat sex. Why not? Sure, it seemed a little impossible, but, hey, anything can happen. I liked how Ms. Dae drew out the emotions of the characters. At any moment, I knew how they felt and why they felt as they did. To get into their heads really made the story.

The romp in the field was...whew... Yeah, it was that hot. I felt every little nuance of each tryst as if I were really there. And that’s a hard thing to write—the sex where the reader feels a part of the story.

What confused me a bit about the story was the unspoken things between Carrie and Rob. They told each other everything, and yet, I got the impression that there was more underneath the supercharged libidos. I wanted to know what she did, who she was and why she needed to go online (although the rationale really wasn’t important — I’m just nosy). I also wanted to know what was going on in Rob’s life. He seemed a bit quiet about everything except his affections for her and sex. Although it made the plot realistic, I wanted to know more.

Still, this was a nice, quick read, packed with heat and heart. One I won’t forget. I give Soul Keeper 3.5 cherries.

Let Sleeping Demons Lie by Maree Anderson

Let Sleeping Demons Lie by Maree Anderson
Publisher: Red Sage Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (123 pgs)
Other: M/F, F/F, Multiple Partners, Anal Play, Fetish, Toys, Fisting, Spanking
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Wisteria

A leonine Lycan, finds a naked, unconscious female. He analyzes her scent and discovers she’s not Lycan but a clever fake. She’s quite luscious, so he’ll enjoy her regardless. Felinoid Demon, Naamah, is bait for a trap. Her King has altered her genetic makeup, stripped her powers and her memory. She believes she’s human and isn’t aware non-humans exist. The man who licks her awake is damnably sexy… but sex isn’t exactly a priority when she can’t remember her own name! When Brennan realizes the female has amnesia, his protective instincts grab him by the balls. He nick-names her Kitten and suggests finding a safe haven before nightfall. Kitten’s so exhausted she finally lets Brennan carry her. When she drifts off, he shifts to his Were-Lion form. He’s carrying Kitten into his lair when she stirs, and before he completes his shift, she opens her eyes. She freaks but eventually convinces herself she had a nightmare.

Lycans, and Demons, and Lions… OH MY! Draped in fiction, magic, and intrigue-- Let Sleeping Demons Lie is a seductively designed package, just waiting to be ripped apart for your pleasure.

A scheming Demon King has decided to kill the proverbial “two birds with one stone” when he sends his toady demon, Belphagor and a Beguiler, Naamah, into the Lycan world to stop the co-mingling of the two species. Or, so he says. Unbeknownst to Belphagor, he’s being sent on a suicide mission, and Naamah — terrified of were-forms — is cast down, helpless and stripped of her memories and her powers.

This story jumps right in with a devilishly sinful, captivating prologue that will have you saying ‘just one more page’ through the whole story. Admittedly, I intended on only reading the first few pages to get a feel for the book, but found myself moving onto the next chapter and the next, until my son is telling me he is tired and wants to go to bed… and he hasn’t had dinner yet! (eek!)

The Prime of the Lycans, Brennan, is lustfully sinful, with a primal, carnal desire that makes you find ways to relate to him. His sex appeal jumps off the page and makes you want more of his animal instinct and possessive nature. The scenes of lust and love between Brennan and Naamah, his "Kitten", vary between species - humanoid, felinoid, and lion alike - but it’s always well-written and well-scripted. The enemies in this novel are well-written and take on a whole life of their own. The creepy main she/he Hyena, Cass, jumps off the page and I’m sure I’ll have nightmares of that sinister beast tonight.

The best part about this story is that there IS a story. One laced with equal parts of need, desire, lust, passion and real conflict between the characters. There is an underlying age-old undertone of the characters “wants” versus their “destiny” at play. You want Brennan and “Kitten” to be together, but the obligations and risks are high if both give into their desires. Even though the story is short, it is enjoyable nonetheless, and in this case — size really doesn’t matter. I give this book four cherries and I’d highly recommend it to anyone that loves paranormal romances with some torridly good, beastly interludes mixed in.

Bee Among the Clover by Fae Sutherland and Marguerite Labbe

Bee Among the Clover by Fae Sutherland and Marguerite Labbe
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (346 pgs)
Other: M/M, M/M/M, Ménage, Voyeurism, Forced Seduction
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Phlox

Roman, a slave to Wulfgar, is less than pleased when the thane acquires a new pet: the beautiful and prideful Aron. Aron has never been with a man and has no wish to be now, but when he is claimed as a thrall to pay his father's debt, his choice in the matter is lost.

Captured from Roman-held Londinium four years prior, Roman has learned that life as Wulfgar’s bedslave can still be sweet. He is intrigued, threatened, and ultimately frightened by Aron and his feelings for the young man as they are thrown together by both cunning plan and charmed circumstance.

Roman and Aron will form a bond greater than any other claim upon them and determine that whatever the cost, they will find a way to be happy—even if that means risking their lives to find freedom together.

Even between hearts meant for each other, the hidden pain, the unspoken hurt, can do far more damage than words spoken in anger. This thought is at the core of Ms. Sutherland and Ms. Labbe’s engaging collaborative effort. Clashes of wills, of culture, and of perception drive a story of hopeless love, betrayal and, above all, miscommunication.

Set in early Britain at approximately the time when the Romans are beginning to consolidate their military power and, hence, are pulling out, this is a refreshing change from the majority of historicals, which take place post-1700. Having grown up on Rosemary Sutcliffe and attempts to place King Arthur in historical context, I was excited to see such a piece. Historicals are in the details, and this one does not disappoint. The mead hall and its fortifications are well drawn, the technology appropriate. One could smell the woodsmoke and male-dominated (mostly unwashed) air of the place. While it is debatable whether the Norse/Teutonic people had established kingdoms prior to the Roman withdrawal, I’m willing to allow the possibility since the rest of the scene setting is done so well.

Of the three principles, Roman is by far the most sympathetic. He has been the victim of a common practice of the time, forced into slavery as the result of a raid. While he is the son of a powerful family, he is intelligent and adaptable, and has carved a valuable place for himself in the thane, his owner’s, household. His emotional scars run deep, though, and he has withdrawn into himself, unable, to large extent, to voice his desires and fears.

The thane, Wulfgar, is a powerful, rough-hewn warrior, just the sort to keep a bunch of rowdy Norsemen in line. He keeps slaves but it was common practice at the time, throughout most of Europe. It’s quickly made clear to the reader that while he has a temper, Wulfgar is not an evil man. He expects the people beholden to him to deal with him honestly, he tries to be just, and he does try, in his own way, to take care of Roman and to please him. And, let’s face it, as the dominant force in the bedroom, he’s darn sexy.

The last male in this interesting triad is more problematic. Aron is a selfish, arrogant brat. I’m sure there are readers who would disagree with me, but the more I turned the story over, the more I reached that conclusion. Roman’s inability to express himself certainly led to misunderstandings, but it is Aron’s need to have what he wants, now, without consequences, that causes all the true harm and near tragedy. If there is a flaw in this story, it’s the fact that Aron fails to undergo much of a change. He comes to certain understandings, yes, but he never really blames himself (or at least not for long) for anything that happens. (Roman, on the other hand, takes responsibility for everything.) His broken promises, his oath-breaking, are somehow Wulgar’s fault, and he remains obstinately bitter towards the thane to the very end, no matter how many times Wulgar rescues them or forgives them. That being said, one can never accuse the writers of having Aron act out of character.

Oddly enough, my inability to find much to like about Aron did not spoil the story for me. There is still a sweet tenderness in Aron and Roman’s courtship, and a poignancy in the hopelessness of their situation. The detailed portrayal of this unsettled time period, a well-drawn cast of characters, and the desperate hope that, somehow, all will be well in the end more than keep the reader’s attention. There are plenty of historical novels out there – few are as adept at transporting the reader as this one. As a side note – I had some concerns in the end about Wulfgar, but I see there’s a sequel just for him. I’m looking forward to it.

L’Auberge Pipistrelli 1: Service with a Smile by Madeleine Oh

L’Auberge Pipistrelli 1: Service with a Smile by Madeleine Oh
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (34 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/M, Voyeurism
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

L'Auberge Pipistrelli
St Pierre sur Clure
Alpes Maritmes.
Nice 30 km, Grasse 15km.

Comfortable accommodation in a restored country manor house and surrounding cottages. Every luxury is assured and the management is committed to meeting the guests' every need -- no matter what it takes.

Few visitors come to L'Auberge Pipistrelli in January, but those who do meet a warm welcome, enjoy the fine cuisine and excellent wines, and are assured of total, sensual satisfaction. This January, a special guest receives personal attention from co-owner Marcel Mannaro, and, with a little help from the resident vampire, a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary return home completely satisfied.

But vampires have needs of their own...

A special inn where you can find your heart's delight -- whether you know what you want or not. And come to think of it, what is really going on in the hotel room next door? Are you sure you want to know? Then you need to mean, read L'Auberge Pipistrelli - Service with a Smile.

When I read a Madeline Oh story, I know I will be entertained, enthralled, and titillated. This story is no exception. From page one, I was stuck firmly in my seat wanting to know what would happen next. I felt like I was right there in the inn with Marcel and Luc, watching, serving, and just being.

Although this is a short story, there is plenty going on to titillate most any reader. From the voyeurism of Luc, to the lusty dreams of Eleanor, there is something for everyone. Where the encounter between Helga and Herr Spitzler could be written in a crude manner just to show sex, it's written with a hungry passion that resonated throughout the collection of occurrences. My favorite couple was Paul and Jules. Going in, I know the motivation behind the connection, but it was still hot to see the two men find a mutual desire they could just about drown in.

Still, there were a few things that left me scratching my head. I wanted to know more about each couple--what happened after the story, why some couldn't be together, what was the true deal with Maria... It just seemed like the story could totally be expanded. I also thought the romantic elements could be heightened. I wanted more of an idea of the romance between Marcel and Claire--to get an idea of who was the hero and heroine in this collection. I liked the idea of seeing what goes on in the various rooms in an inn, but I also wanted to see more of a connection and plot. What brought this group together?

Whether they wanted the person with them or the there was one they wanted to entice, there is a lot more than meets the eye in this story. I give it three cherries.

Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton

Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton
Publisher: Penguin Group
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (340 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/M, F/F, Ménage, Multiple Partners, Anal Sex, BDSM
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Holly

Anita Blake is back in St. Louis and trying to live a normal life - as normal as possible for someone who is a legal vampire executioner and a U. S. Marshal. There are lovers, friends and their children, school programs to attend. In the midst of all the ordinary happiness a vampire from Anita's past reaches out. She was supposed to be dead, killed in an explosion, but the Mother of All Darkness is the first vampire, their dark creator. It's hard to kill a god. This dark goddess has reached out to her here - in St. Louis, home of everyone Anita loves most. The Mother of All Darkness has decided she has to act now or never, to control Anita, and all the vampires in America.

The Mother of All Darkness believes that the triumvirate created by master vampire Jean-Claude with Anita and the werewolf Richard Zeeman has enough power for her to regain a body and to immigrate to the New World. But the body she wants to possess is already taken. Anita is about to learn a whole new meaning to sharing her body, one that has nothing to do with the bedroom. And if the Mother of All Darkness can't succeed in taking over Anita's body for herself, she means to see that no one else has the use of it, ever again. Even Belle Morte, not always a friend to Anita, has sent word: "Run if you can..."

She’s BACK!! Marmee Noir, thought dead, is back with a vengeance and her target is Anita and her main men - Jean Claude and Richard. Without a body, the Mother of All Darkness possesses some of the Council, trying to destroy the strongest triumvirate in the United States.

Anita, Jean Claude and Richard must find a way to become Master of Tigers to gain strength for the coming battle, while also dealing with Haven, the unstable Rex of the St. Louis lions. All of the usual gang is here to help, and this time all bets are off. Can Anita, Jean Claude and Richard gain what they need, while dealing with an unhappy Rex, an independence seeking Master Vampire, and The Mother of All Darkness? Is this the time when Anita finally loses her humanity?

Bullet is Anita Blake at her best, and worst. Anita is a strong character, always pushing herself to do more than she reqires her men to do. In this book, we see a side of Anita that has been absent for a while - the self-doubt is strong in this one, but in spite of her doubts, Anita gets the job done. Jean Claude is his usual charming self, even when confronted by a rebellious Asher, who wants to take his were hyenas and find a territory of his own. Richard, so conflicted in previous books, comes through big time here, and strengthens the triumvirate exponentially. Seems the therapy is working for him, and when the threat from Marmee Noir becomes evident, he realizes he is needed to help in the battle.

I love this Richard, strong and dealing with his wolf more than he ever has. I also love the growth many of Anita’s people show in this one, most notably Nathaniel. He has gained an air of maturity that shows how powerful he could be, even as a less dominant person. Anita gains strength in this one, and learns something about all of her people as well.

This wouldn’t be an Anita Blake book without the ardeur, and the sex that goes with it, and it is here in several spectacular events. But it fits in with the story, and is necessary to the plot, and to the survival of everyone involved. This is Anita Blake, so I wasn’t looking for a happy ever after. But I did want a satisfactory conclusion, with progress toward a strategy of what to do about Marmee Noir, and I got this. I have followed this series from the first book, Guilty Pleasures, and while Anita seemed to stray for a while, this book brings the old Anita, with all her strengths and weaknesses, back full force, and I loved it. Anita fans will love this one, but it is not for the faint of heart-it IS Anita Blake after all.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kiss Across Time by Teal Ceagh

Kiss Across Time by Teal Ceagh
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (81 pgs)
Other: Menage, F/M/M, anal play
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Taylor Yates just got fired from her university job for insisting that the fifth-century British poet and playwright, Inigo Domhnall, existed. When she hears the poet’s lyrics in a death metal song, she engineers a meeting with the dark-eyed, dark-haired lead singer, Brody Gallagher. An unintended kiss sends them spinning back to the poet’s time, when Saxons were pillaging King Arthur’s Britain, and a warrior expects a proper farewell from his woman before he sets off for war.

Brody’s all for kissing her again. More, he’d like her to try kissing his friend and lover, Veris, just to see what will happen. His tall, blond, blue-eyed Saxon friend, Veris.

Taylor Yates has bet her entire professional career on the existence of a British poet and playwright, Inigo Domhnall. She has been shut down at every turn and eventually fired from her teaching position. Imagine her surprise to hear the words of one of his poems in the lyrics of a death metal song.

Taylor’s character is both strong and vulnerable. With so much of her life spent on searching for an unknown writer she is starting to even doubt herself until she hears the song sung by Brody Gallagher. She is determined to do whatever is necessary (including donning leather and heavy eyeliner) and go wherever is necessary to prove her theory about Domhnall. She didn’t expect that to include backstage and the private dressing room of Gallagher himself or his blond and ultra sexy friend, Veris.

I think you’ll be as entertained and affected by the chemistry between the characters as I was. The initial meeting between Taylor and Brody is explosive and adding Veris to the mix equated throwing fuel on a raging fire. The back story of how Brody and Veris came to be friends as well as lovers is touching and poignant.

I truly enjoyed Kiss Across Time. Ms. Ceagh has penned a fast-moving romance that spanned several lifetimes and included a paranormal aspect that was a fun and totally unexpected surprise. For someone who reads as much as I do, this reviewer was thrilled to read the unique twist and that it flowed so well with the rest of this short story. Definitely a well-earned 4.5 cherries.

Coin Operated by Ginny Glass

Coin Operated by Ginny Glass
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (68 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Spanking, Voyeurism, Fetish
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Elijah Elliot and Beatrix London's fledgling ad agency is under siege. Not from outside competition but by Eli and Bea's unspoken lust for each other. As their unsatisfied cravings to dominate and submit bloom into vivid daydreams, the office becomes a minefield of frustrated needs and dangerous desires. Now something's gotta give or their partnership is going to self-destruct.

When Bea unveils a racy new light bondage ad campaign for their key client, she pushes Eli to cross the line he's drawn between them—the one that keeps him from doing all the hot, sinful things she imagines he's capable of...

Who knew you could have such fun with a washing machine and quarters? Did I pique your interest? Then you need to read Coin Operated.

Ginny Glass and Carina Press are new to me. Hey, I like new. Some of the best things were once new. That being said, I went into this story with my eyes wide open, ready for a great story. Ms. Glass definitely creates characters I didn’t forget. There were many times when I felt like I was right there beside them as the story went forward. Getting into a character’s head can be difficult, but worth the effort. In this case, it paid off. I was able to understand the motivation of both Bea and Eli. When they got together and let down their guard, it was danged hot.

I didn’t mind the idea of unorthodox sex toys. It made the story burn hotter. But there were a few times when I scratched my head wondering why things transpired as they did. There were plot twists I didn’t see coming and worked perfectly. I liked Eli’s fear with Bea — it was palpable and real, right when the story needed it most. Then there were other times when I didn’t understand him at all, but that made him realistic. Who really understands every facet of their partner at any given moment? Not me.

Still, the story gripped my attention and the sex scenes singed the screen. If you want a story that’s a mix of heady emotion and sex, then you need to read Coin Operated. I give it 3 cherries.

Veiled Seduction by Alisha Rai

Veiled Seduction by Alisha Rai
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (141 pgs)
Other: M/F, Spanking
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Fern

Even the best-laid seductions can go awry.

Veiled, Book 2

Beneath Dr. Maira Khan’s reserved exterior, her heart beats triple-time for only one man: Sasha Karimi. For two years she’s waited patiently for the handsome police lieutenant to wake up and see her as more than a buddy. When he’s injured in the line of duty, though, she realizes time is too precious to waste. Ditching her scrubs—and her shyness—she cooks up her very first seduction.

Sasha’s had a hell of a week. Thanks to the national media, amorous women are pouring out of the woodwork, all wanting a piece of America’s newest “hero”. The biggest disappointment? Maira seems to have contracted the same case of mass hysteria. Betrayed, he pushes her away—but not before he samples a taste of her luscious mouth and body.

It works. Maira retreats, mortified and ashamed. And Sasha realizes he’s just driven away the perfect woman. Now all he needs is a foolproof plan to win her back, starting with a proper courtship—and restraining his lust. Except once Maira glimpses the man behind the uniform, she sets out to show him that pure need has its own ideas about what’s proper…

After enjoying Alisha Rai’s Veiled Desire, I couldn’t wait for the second story, Veiled Seduction. It’s always fun to revisit memorable characters, see how they have evolved, and share in the story of those who have yet to find love of their own.

In this installment, the reader is introduced to the super-sexy Sasha and his best friend Maira. Their attraction has always existed, but they’ve kept their desires and wants to themselves. It takes a dangerous shootout that places Sasha in the hospital -- where Maira is also an attending physician -- for them to reevaluate their feelings and take a chance on love. It’s not an easy transition, as Sasha is afraid of ruining their friendship and Maira has placed so much time and dedication into her profession that neither is certain of how to approach their flourishing feelings (nor the sexual aspects of their relationship). At times funny, you’ll laugh as much as you groan as they weave their way through the complexities that arise when the dynamic shifts and friends become lovers. The chemistry between the two is combustive, yet, it’s the humor and tenderness that surfaces when they let go of their fears and embrace their desires that will reel you in and keep you captivated.

Enthusiasts of solid romance with an edge of heat will love Veiled Seduction. It is well written and progresses at a pace that doesn’t require a break from beginning to end. If that’s not enough temptation, fans of the first book also get snippets from Mason and Leyla, as well as a sizzling scene between the two that will have you breaking out our copy of Veiled Desire for a repeat.

A definite must read for the TBR list, be sure not to miss Veiled Seduction.

Blood on the Moon by Kelly O’Donnell

Blood on the Moon by Kelly O’Donnell
Publisher: Cobblestone Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (56 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Wisteria

Gabrielle knew Shep was the sexiest shape-shifter to ever carry a badge and fill out a pair of jeans. But she couldn’t forgive his decision to turn his back on who and what he was. Even if he made her blood hum. As a guardian and a witch, Gabrielle represented everything Shep didn’t want.

He wanted a nice normal life. It was why he’d become a cop, why he denied what he was. When a lycanthrope killer threatens to destroy the human world they’ve both sworn to protect, Gabrielle and Shep must embrace their attraction if they expect to stop him.

Lieutenant Shepherd, or ‘Shep’, isn’t just another ‘dick’ with a badge - he's a werewolf. And Gabrielle… well, she’s not just another witch. The two together bring a whole new meaning to power couple.

This story starts off very dark with a series of deaths plaguing a city that is filled with all sorts of paranormal goodness. It’s from the third person point of view, so we can see the action from both Gabe’s and Shep’s sides. I liked this, and felt it added much to the story.

The only problem I saw was — this story was simply not long enough. I don’t want to give away too much, however, the story touched on so many different paranormal aspects - witches, shifters, werewolves, etc. - that it really didn’t need to stretch further than that, however, add in Greek Mythology and ‘Olympus’ references and it seems cluttered. The portions that focused on witches and their craft were beautifully written and well researched.

As for the hero - I’m a sucker for hot-wolf male leads and Shep does not disappoint. I found myself wanting more of him and his dark, brooding, self-confident side. Shep’s back-story and his seemingly constant denial of his true nature seemed a bit out of nowhere, but it did not detract from the overall flow of the plot.

Blood of the Moon is a short story, but packs a lot of larger than life characters into its plot and subplots. I think Ms. O’Donnell had an interesting premise and storyline, but I really would’ve liked to see the story be longer considering the gravity of the characters. Otherwise, the story is well written, the dialog is well thought out and the tension between Shep and Gabe makes you want to read the next page to see if either of them will give in and stop being so stubborn.

Department 57: Crystal Tides by Lynne Connolly

Department 57: Crystal Tides by Lynne Connolly
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (137 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, F/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Voyeurism, sex in partially shifted form
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Peppermint

Kai had just about given up on love -- until he met sexy merman Tyler and Tyler's wife Zoe. The three heat Kai's hot tub to scorching together, but now Kai's seen something he wants and he plans to have it. He doesn't want another fleeting relationship. He wants Tyler and Zoe. For keeps.

Zoe's not sure she can commit to two men, but when danger threatens the underwater archaeological excavation she's working on, she needs them both to protect. Zoe and Tyler's oldest enemy has returned. They've always run from him, but now it's time to turn and fight.

But Tyler's going to have to trust Kai to protect the love of his life. Can he?

Once introduced to Lynne Connolly’s assortment of characters you will never forget them. She has a way of making her males strong and confident in their masculinity without being arrogant. Tyler and Kai are willing to follow Zoe’s lead in some moments, but will take charge if necessary the next. With a strong supporting cast this story quickly pulls you into their unique supernatural world.

The fact that Tyler and Zoe previously allowed another man into their bedroom and that Kai had been part of that ménage gave the story validity. This is the first story I have read about a ménage where the characters weren’t new to the experience. It made me understand why they were able to quickly develop a relationship with one another, seeing as they knew what they were getting themselves into.

This is the first story that I have read or come across that contained mermen and I liked it. Again, with this author I just can’t get enough of her imagination. There has always been a certain amount of sexuality and mystery surrounding the mythology of merpeople. It definitely added a different twist than you get in a traditional shifter story. In addition to this innovative idea you also come in contact with all kinds of supernatural creatures Griffins, Sorcerers and Vampires.

The conflict between Kai, Tyler and Zoe vs. Foley/Wilkinson (depending on what he called himself that day) was exciting up until the end. Although I did like the way part of the conclusion worked I didn’t feel as if the ménage got the justice they deserved. I would like to have seen them as a trio contribute more to bring down Wilkinson. The author did leave the ending open to future conflict so hopefully they can get their justice in a future story.

Since Kai, Tyler and Zoe had previous experience in ménages it allowed them to go at it hot and heavy from the beginning with little coaxing. Once they entered each other’s minds and bodies, their hearts and souls quickly followed. The author did a great job at making you understand that between the shifter element, telepathic communication and the physical relationship this coupling was able to develop love quickly. Because of that the relationship did not seem rushed or unnatural. Add in the threat to their lives and you can only understand why these people came together so quickly.

With unique ideas and exquisite characters Lynne Connolly definitely has a place in the paranormal erotica story world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Doms of Dark Haven by Sierra Cartwright, Belinda McBride, Cherise Sinclair

Doms of Dark Haven by Sierra Cartwright, Belinda McBride, Cherise Sinclair
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (206 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Fern

Highly trained Mira Araceli can hold her own in the toughest parts of the world, but not, it seems, against her secret crush, Torin Carter. She’d fallen for her Hawkeye instructor years before, and to him, she’d been just another recruit; fresh, green, idealistic.

Torin, with his dark Irish good looks and fierce temper, doesn’t want a partner, any partner, and especially not Mira. But assignments are assignments, and he takes his responsibilities seriously. So when the beautifully submissive Mira crawls into his bedroom, a leather belt between her teeth, he calls on all his resolve to send her away.

Unsatisfied, Mira ups the stakes and finds another dom to play with at Dark Haven. Beyond furious, Torin storms into Master Xavier’s club and claims his rights to dominate Mira. For the first time in her life, she’s met her match.

This isn’t what she came here for!

Pursued by a group of mysterious hunters, Evangeline Jones was desperate for sanctuary when she ducked into the doorway of Dark Haven. Instead of safety, she discovers a decadent, sensual world that challenges her very outlook on life.

Harte Sommers is charmed by the little wolf with the pink streak in her ebony hair. As alpha of the Napa pack, he sometimes feels that he’s alone at the top. When he meets Eva, he knows he might not be able to keep his wild little wolf at his side, but his heart tells him that his lonely days might be at an end.

With an empty nest and divorce in hand, Rona decides it’s time to explore the fantasies that nourished her through a long, tedious marriage to a man whose idea of outrageous sex was leaving the lights on. At the top of her fantasy list is touring Dark Haven, the BDSM club, but she isn’t prepared for the effect of a powerful Dom. When Master Simon takes control and introduces her to toys and sensations she’s never felt before, she realizes he could fulfil every fantasy on her list all by himself. But she’s vowed to never get trapped in a relationship again.

One of the most popular Doms in Dark Haven, Master Simon has had his fill of eager, shallow, young subs. Rona is older, intelligent, independent...and sweetly submissive. After an evening of intense pleasure and despite her obvious attraction, she refuses to see him again. He needs a way to change her mind. She’s not the first sub he’s taken on a journey of exploration, but he’s beginning to think she might be the last.

Doms of Dark Haven is an anthology that provides a little something for everyone. While the theme is undeniably BDSM, and the stories begin on the same night in the same location, you’ll get a mixture of action, paranormal, and contemporary erotic romance. It’s a nice combination, keeping the reader entertained while maintaining a notably kinky focus.

The first story, Met Her Match by Sierra Cartwright, is an installment of the Hawkeye series, although it is not necessary to have read the previous offerings to follow the story. In this you are introduced to Torin and his partner Mira. She wants to be dominated, and he doesn’t get involved with those he works with. Sparks fly when she takes matters into her own hands, visits a club to get what she needs that Torin refuses to provide, and much sexiness ensues. There is a lot of tension between the hero and heroine, which keeps things interesting. I enjoyed the dynamic and chemistry they shared, as well as the ending that shakes things up. Fans of the Hawkeye series will not be disappointed.

The second story, Educating Evangeline by Belinda McBride, offers a dash of the paranormal. Eva is a wolf shifter on the run. She’s always been alone; having relied on herself after her mother was taken from her at a tender age that left her vulnerable and confused. When she slips into Dark Haven to escape would-be assailants, she bumps into the uber-sexy Dom and alpha werewolf Harte Sommers. Their attraction to one another is immediate, and when Harte learns of her plight, he immediately takes the beautiful female under his wing. There are plenty of twists and turns here, and while the sex is sizzling, there is plenty of plot to keep things interesting. This was the first story I’ve gotten to read by Ms. McBride but it certainly won’t be the last.

The final story is by one of my favorite BDSM authors. In Simon Says: Mine by Cherise Sinclair you meet Simon (fans of Ms. Sinclair will recognize him from her other story, Master of the Mountain) and the reluctant submissive Rona who has recently ended a twenty-year marriage and wants the freedom she’s lacked for so long. Theirs is a battle of wills. Simon is a Dom who has found the submissive he desires most, Rona is a woman who is too afraid to give love and commitment another chance. In true Sinclair fashion, you’ll writhe and squirm as you take the journey, yet, come out feeling giddy in the end.

All the stories are well written, with a fast pace, steamy sex scenes, and characters you’ll enjoy reading about. This is a must read for BDSM fans, especially for those who are acquainted with the authors featured in the anthology. If you’re in the market for some blistering hot erotic romance, Doms of Dark Haven is just the ticket.

Survival Instinct by Roxy Harte

Survival Instinct by Roxy Harte
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (119 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Anal Sex, Fetish, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Days after discovering his husband was sleeping with his twin brother, museum curator Brian Van Zant's faced with another shocking loss. Both men are killed in a car accident, leaving him no answers, no closure. No chance to say, "I hate you," or "I love you," and not sure which he'd have said if given the chance. Now, Brian's running away from home. Just running, without a plan or a destination.

Tobias Red Hawk is a Park Ranger in Montana, where being out of the closet still seems like a dream. After saving the life of blatantly gay and thoroughly attractive Brian, he begins to question his conviction of staying secretly gay. But before he can face his own identity crisis, there is a mystery to be solved at the top of the Bitterroot mountain range and the answers may lie in the myths of his childhood. And when Hawk’s past returns to kill him, both men discover there’s nothing like facing death up close to make a man find his survival instinct.

Can love be found on a snow-slickened Montana mountain road? It can if it’s the right circumstances. But how can a snow packed road be good? It can when the man’s Survival Instinct is engaged.

I love a story that’s involved from page one. You know, one that keeps me guessing and on the edge of my seat wanting to know what’s gonna happen next. This is one of those stories. Roxy Harte writes the blossoming attraction between the two men in a tender yet provocative manner that drew me in and didn’t let go until the last page.

Hawk and Brian are interesting characters. Both have skeletons in the closet and both have hang-ups that make them realistic. Hawk knows he’s gay, but coming out scares him. Many people know the paralyzing fear he dealt with. And Roxy Harte writes him in such a fashion that I could feel his emotions as if they were my own. Brian, on the other hand, is interesting, but there were plenty of times when he wasn’t my favorite character. Why? He seems to wallow in his turmoil at times and it got a bit bothersome. I wanted to know his story and I liked how Ms. Harte revealed him. He’s got a lot going on in his past and it’s rife with emotion. I realize he wants to deal, but like many people he doesn’t know how. That’s fine, just at times it bogged down the story.

Still, the sex smolders. I felt the passion between Hawk and Brian almost before they understood it themselves. And who knew things could get so darn steamy in a cave? I had to check my screen for scorch marks.

If you want a story that’s hot and sexy, then you need to read Survival Instinct. I give it 4 cherries.