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Friday, October 1, 2010

Darkest Desires by S.K. Yule

Darkest Desires (Darkest Book II) by S.K. Yule
Publisher: Amira Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (107 pgs)
Other: m/f
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Avril Taylor is fed up with chauvinistic men breaking her heart. So what is she to do when she finds herself undeniably attracted to her womanizing, vampire brother-in-law?

Aiston Aleksandrov has never met a woman he wanted to share anything more with than a hot night of sex . . . until Avril. The problem? How can he convince her that he will be faithful to only her?

Can Avril put past hurts behind her and finally find true love with a vampire playboy? Can Aiston really commit to one woman after almost seven hundred years of playing the field?

Just when Avril Taylor gave up looking for love, it seems love has found her.

Avril’s best friend, Ebony, has just married the man of her dreams, Ashe Aleksandrov. Though Avril has had terrible luck in love, she is genuinely happy for Ebony, and believes that Ashe is a good man. She can’t say the same of Ashe’s brother, Aiston. From the moment she laid eyes on him, Avril knows Aiston is a womanizer and she wants nothing to do with him. However, she can’t deny the powerful attraction she feels for him.

Aiston is puzzled and intrigued by Avril. She’s undeniably beautiful, but terribly stubborn and opinionated. He knows his history with woman isn’t great, but can’t figure out what he’s done to offend Avril. He tries to put her out of his mind, but finds it impossible.

Even though they try to stay away from each other, Avril and Aiston find themselves spending more time together. Aiston and his brothers have become concerned with the increased activity of shadow drifters, which are evil vampires. Ashe insists that Avril will be a target because of her connection to the Aleksandrov family. Aiston soon finds himself assigned to protecting her. As they spend more time together, the harder it becomes to resist their mutual attraction. Is it simply lust, or something deeper?

Avril is a strong and independent heroine. She cares deeply for her friends and family and knows that she doesn’t need a man to complete her life, but she can’t deny her attraction to Aiston. She believes he’s exactly the type of man that she’s sworn to avoid. Avril can’t bear to have her heart broken again. She knows she’d never recover if Aiston hurt her. Will she close her heart off or open it to the possibility of love? Though Avril appears to have a thick skin, I liked that she also had a softer side. This was revealed in the loving way she plays with Marcus, Ebony’s baby.

Aiston is a typical playboy. Avril is the first woman he’s ever wanted to pursue a relationship with. However, since he’s never even come close to having a long term relationship, he isn’t sure exactly what to do. Aiston’s frustration is palpable as he tries to prove himself to Avril. He makes plenty of mistakes along the way, but it was a pleasure watching this bad boy reform.

In the first book in the series, it was hinted that a problem with the shadow drifters was growing. That issue carries over into this book and becomes a much bigger problem for Aiston and his family. Ms. Yule did an excellent job of revealing enough information about the shadow drifters to peak my interest and make me hungry for more.

I enjoyed reading Darkest Desires. Since it is the second book in the series, it would be helpful to read the first book before reading this one, but it isn’t necessary. Ms. Yule makes everything clear enough that this book can be read on its own. Anyone who loves a satisfying romance filled with sexual tension will want to pick up a copy.

Rose by Louisa Trent

Rose by Louisa Trent
Publisher: Loose Id LLC
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (156 pgs)
Other: M/F, F/F, M/M, bdsm, voyeurism, spanking, fisting
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Bittersweet

THE ETHIOPIAN: His early years in Ireland spent in shackles as a brothel slave, forced to perform perverse carnal acts on demand, Amaurus the Moor now craves the delights of dark carnality. His particular specialty is provoking climax in a partner by dispensing pain in equal portions to pleasure. A woman crying out in tethered bondage, her every orifice filled, her greedy buttocks raised to the whip’s sharp kiss comprise both his skill and his inclination. His unwillingness to inflict his unnatural predilections on a wedded wife condemns him to the solitary life of a nomadic mercenary. No home. No begotten children. Definitely no innocent virgins...

Then he’s seduced by a fair maiden whose illicit passions match his own.

THE WITCH: Disenchanted with her many spell-casting screw-ups, the Council of Immortals strip Treasa of her magical powers and erase her memory. However, the gods and goddesses are not without mercy. In their infinite wisdom, they give the shallow and vain virgin a second chance, a quest to redeem herself. To accomplish the feat, Treasa must employ her vast store of womanly wiles on Amaurus the Moor...

...while disguised as a lad, hampered by amnesia, and without knowing the simple quest was a complicated ruse all along.

Rose is a wild savage ride with a whole lot of sweetness from beginning to end. The title of the book is apt to describe its contents in more than one way.

On the one hand, the word rose is a reminder of the fragrance of a flower. A sweet, soothing smell which can be related to the sweet side of the characters: the moor so polite and lonely it made my heart ache; lonely and sad Treasa, only looking for acceptance.

On the other hand, a rose has thorns. They’re beautiful, yet dangerous, just like both the protagonists. He is a mercenary, she is a witch. They both can do horrible harm to one another: through Treasa’s hard headedness and manipulation, and the Moor’s physical authority.

A rose is also wild. It can grow in the wild just like the love and lust of Amaurus (the Moor) and Treasa. Their love comes unbidden, suddenly; their lust for each other is wild, untamed, exotic and dark. The truth is I was surprised with the depths to which the author took the erotic elements in the tale, (I’d never read anything on fisting). Yet, through this entire wild ride, the love between the characters is firm; it’s always something underlying through every act, and permeating the whole novel. To achieve all this, the author, Ms. Trent flourished the book with excellent descriptions which brought vivid images to my mind. The words, with a rhythm and cadence of their own made me unable to stop reading. The plot of the story flows easily accompanied with an array of conflicting emotions: tension, love, laughter, tears, hate, loneliness…

No matter how you look upon it, Rose should be picked up and read or smelled.

Down on the Boardwalk by Suzanne Rock

Down on the Boardwalk by Suzanne Rock
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (149 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Gwen's psychic abilities first make her an outsider among the werewolves. Then they make her a slave. Forced to use her power to help a deranged werewolf seek vengeance, she gives up on her dream of ever being accepted and loved. That is, until Nico and Tony are thrown into her cell. Her attraction to the Kyron Pack brothers is immediate and overwhelming. As she submits to the physical attraction, old wounds heal and her powers strengthen. The brothers think she can save them, but to do so would require more than just physical intimacy, and would reveal a secret too dark and horrifying to share.

When Nico and Tony use their lust to help their battered mate, buried memories rise to the surface, and jealousy threatens to destroy the fragile wolf in their care. As each of them bonds to Gwen, they begin to withdraw from each other. Now they must heal their inner scars and forgive the past if they ever hope save Gwen and escape the Boardwalk alive.

Fate has found it fit to deliver Gwen Anderson not only one but two saviors. When brothers Nico and Tony end up in Gwen’s cell all three can feel the instant attraction -- but will it be enough to save them?

This story is full of endearing characters. Gwen has dealt with so much in her life yet she still strives on. She is a strong woman even if she doesn’t know it. Nico and Tony have also been through so much yet they too have survived. Tony is a smooth talker but he is hiding his true feelings and Nico is a strong man yet he lets his brother lead them. All three have had their share of hurt but together they have a chance at happiness. I loved the way that Gwen blooms under the love of the two brothers and her love for them brings out the best in Nico and Tony.

As much as these characters endeared themselves to this reader, Eric, the leader of the Wright pack, had me hating him. He mistreated Gwen to the point of keeping her like an animal, using her against her will to have the upper hand against his enemies. As the book progresses I found myself cheering on the brothers, hoping that they will save Gwen from this monster.

Once again Suzanne Rock delivers a wonderful and intense read. This is the second book in this series and it just keeps getting better. With characters full of depth and emotions this is a book that should not be missed. I know that this reader is already eagerly awaiting the next installment in this series.

Key West by Demi Alex

Key West by Demi Alex
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (40 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, M/F/M/M/M, Ménage, Multiple Partners, Anal Play, Spanking
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

What a time for a revelation!

The moment Prince Charming proposes, Addison London realizes that she is about to say “yes” to a lifetime of love, stability—and constancy—having never really lived her life to the fullest, and runs.

As a straight-laced good girl grown into a responsible, respectable woman, Addison is always prim and proper, and…well, boring. She always does the right thing, plays it safe, makes the right decisions, and suppresses her own longings to meet the expectations of others.

But she will have no regrets.

Before committing to a life wrapped in a white picket fence, she will have a little excitement and adventure, she will throw caution to the wind, and she will live out her most secret sexual fantasies—if only for a weekend.

Desperate to break free, she travels to Key West and surrounds herself with willing, gorgeous men. All she has to do is pick one. But with only one weekend in the tropical paradise, and one chance for a hedonistic experience meant to last a lifetime, she discovers that “one” is not enough.

After all, what happens in Key West stays in Key West, right?

If a reader is looking for a well written, explosive and imaginative ménage then travel no farther than Key West.

I’ll be honest. I usually need a bit more plot substance to my stories but this book was the perfect cure for me. I was reading a particularly gruesome romantic suspense and I really needed some balance so I started reading Key West in the middle of it. The experience was like having cotton candy, Hot Tamales and my pick of the Chippendales all rolled into one scorching and very fun sexual adventure. It made me feel happy, relaxed, excited and it turned out to be an awesome little book with a few clever twists and surprises that really rang my chimes.

Addison is a woman who practically gives herself her own bachelorette party if she but knew it. It’s not what she sets out to do but it sure came across that way to me. I think she was actually pretty courageous and wise to realize that she needed to take the action she did before regret got stuck in her psyche with “what-ifs” to haunt her later in life. It’s a great catharsis for her and a lot more fun than those epiphanies usually are. The thing that cracked me up was her one-liners that gave voice to what a lot of readers complain about with heroines. The author was incredibly clever in using them as comedic foils in Addison’s internal dialogue. I chuckled every time I came across one. Ms. Alex obviously has been taking the pulse of romance readers and used them in a unique way with her heroine. I adored Addison for it.

When she starts meeting the guys, I was remarking on her incredible luck for finding really hot, decent and really talented men to help her with her goals. Each one would have had me melting in a puddle at their feet. I actually could relate to Addison’s initial reticence, her shyness and bit of confusion, but then her eventual opening up like an exotic flower to bloom and experience the fullness that life has to offer was a wonderful reading experience. I enjoyed myself immensely as the story unfolded.

West and Miami completely had me hooked. The descriptions of their actions and the words they say gave me delighted shivers. I cracked up at “Captain Sex” but my giggles quickly turned to ‘ooohs’ because what happened next was pure heat and my libido popped up and took notice. Ms. Alex has a real talent for writing these scenes and they should satisfy any reader of erotic romance. I know I was.

The twist is what made this book romantic. It gave meaning and substance to the reason Addison was in Key West in the first place. I never saw it coming and it made this book a solidly enjoyable read. As a rule I don’t mention covers but I have to say that this book’s cover truly embodies the ‘wow’ factor that I found in this story. I can’t mention who I think is who because it’s all a matter of opinion but I certainly know who I want each man to be and I find them drool-worthy and it helped visualize the action. Which means, of course, I needed the A/C on high.

If a reader is in the doldrums or having a bad day and needs a pick-me-up, Key West is the answer. I’m so very glad I read this book and absolutely recommend it to readers of erotic romance who enjoy stories about a woman discovering her inner sensual explorer. Key West is a fun, lava hot and a very well done tale with a happily ever after that satisfies.

Jack by Cat Johnson

Jack (Red, Hot and Blue Book Two) by Cat Johnson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (57 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Stephanotis

The best way to heal a broken heart is to jump right back on the horse. So to speak…

Red, Hot & Blue, Book 2

After watching the girl he’s crushed on for years fall for his best friend, the last thing special operative Jack Gordon wants is a vacation. If cooling his heels doesn’t drive him crazy, doing it under his family’s scrutiny will.

But once he’s back home things get more than a little interesting. The new farm hand is cute, sexy—and his instincts tell him she’s got something to hide. Luckily, he’s got the skills and the backup to find out what.

Gordon Equine is the perfect place for Niccolina Campolini. The Gordons pay in room, board and cash. And they don’t ask questions. Perfect for a girl on the run…until Jack shows up. Sexy as hell and far too inquisitive, Jack strikes sparks and suspicions that put both her body and her heart in danger.

Jack knows better than to trust a woman with as many shadows as Nicki, but the heat waves of their attraction are messing with his focus. And when her secrets catch up with her, he’s not sure if he’s protecting her from something, or protecting his family from her…

Secret operative Jack Gordon goes home for a little R and R and also to mend a broken heart. He meets Niccolina (Nicki) Campolini who's a girl on the run and working at the family's ranch. He's an inquisitive type of guy and apart from the fact he thinks she's attractive, he's curious about her background and decides to dig for details.

I liked just about everything connected with this story. Horse ranch, Southern hunk, a touch of mystery and suspense and yes, a love story. Johnson does a superb job in drawing you quickly into this story. I enjoyed the opening and felt like I really knew Jack after reading just the first few pages. He's likeable, he's been hurt, and you hope he finds the woman of his dreams.

Enter, Nicki into the story and you think, here's a girl for him, problem is, she's carrying a deep dark secret. And the author stirs up more trouble for them and your peace of mind when you find out someone filed a missing person report on Nicki.

The pacing is dead perfect for this short read and I really felt like I was there at the ranch and in the South. Both Jack and Nicki seemed like real characters which I think was due to the natural sounding dialogue. The sex scenes were appropriately placed in this short read and weren't overdone. Secondary characters were also well drawn too.

If you're looking for a quick read on the cooler days of fall, I'd recommend this one to you.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

An Academic Dilemma by Alix Bekins

An Academic Dilemma by Alix Bekins
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (80 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Peppermint

Art history student Rodrigo is in the middle of a busy semester when he literally runs into a sexy librarian. He and Ian discover they have more in common than just instant attraction and friendship; there's a kinky element to their affair they both enjoy. But Rodrigo is also drawn to Professor Daniel Sullivan, and he just can't shake the desire he feels for the older man.

The end of the term reveals a few surprising secrets about both objects of Rodrigo's desires, and while he's thrilled by the games of trust and passion with Ian, it's fantasies of Daniel dominating him that are setting Rodrigo on fire.

This was a unique and tantalizing relationship even for this genre. Rodrigo finds himself attracted to not only a librarian but also Professor Sullivan. So when Ian starts to show interest he thinks that maybe it will help him stop fantasizing about his mentor. Only the fantasies not only continue, they start to feature both Ian and Professor Sullivan.

Ian was in an open relationship. Though Rodrigo did not know whom the other person was he was still willing to accept Ian and what some may consider extra baggage. Which turned out to be one of the best decisions he could have ever made since Ian may just be the man of his dreams. As a reader I like the fact that for one - Ian was open and honest about his relationship status, and two - Rodrigo was still willing to invite Ian into his bed.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this story was that Ian and Rodrigo’s liaison was forged on much more than just sex. Although they were mutually attracted to one another they developed a friendship before pursuing anything romantic. I think this really allowed me as a reader to understand their
development and why Rodrigo was willing to accept Ian knowing he was in an open relationship. It also touched a personal belief of mine since I have always felt that a great romance is based off of a friendship and an attraction all together.

Rodrigo found out he may enjoy a little unconventional sex as well as vanilla. When Ian decides to take control of their lovemaking Rodrigo finds he's strangely aroused and decides we wants a little more. These encounters between the two men are explosive, no matter what way they come together. The more it pushed the limits the better the sex scenes got. It was good to see Rodrigo find someone he was comfortable enough to experiment with and with a teacher like Ian I am sure he will be an A student.

This was definitely a book I'd recommend. Now if only I could find a few teachers like Ian and Prof. Sullivan to join my fantasies...

Love Under Two Benedicts by Cara Covington

Love Under Two Benedicts by Cara Covington
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (213 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Menage, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Welcome to Lusty, Texas, a town that’s earned its name and is proud of it!

In the aftermath of personal tragedy, Kelsey Madison found a new beginning in Lusty, Texas. Uninterested in affairs of the heart, she doesn’t realize two of Lusty’s most eligible bachelors have turned their sights on her. Once she does, she decides there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun, as long as it’s only physical.

Matthew and Steven Benedict knew Kelsey was the one for them the moment they saw her. They set out to woo her with flowers, chocolates and wild sex designed to addict her to them.

Then an unexpected guest cracks the ice encasing Kelsey’s heart, making her face the ghosts from her past, finally putting them to rest. But her future with the brothers Benedict is threatened when an unknown enemy targets Kelsey. Can they stop him before it’s too late?

Welcome to Lusty, Texas where unconventional IS the norm.

If, like me, you fell in love with Sarah, Caleb and Joshua Benedict in Love Under Two Gunslingers as well as Amanda, Adam and Warren Jessop-Kendall in Love Under Two Lawmen this is your lucky day! Get ready to jump forward a couple of generations to see their dream fulfilled in the town of Lusty, TX.

In Love Under Two Benedicts you’ll meet the great-great grandson’s of the patriarch Benedicts, brothers Steven and Matthew. These two drool-worthy hotties have set their sights on one Kelsey Madison. Will she have the courage to let go of past tragedy and trust her heart to these two very persuasive and determined cowboys? It’ll take a little patience and a whole lot of addictive lovin’ but nobody takes to a challenge quite like a Texan and these guys have a long standing history of how three (and sometimes four) is anything but a crowd. They just have to convince Kelsey that she was meant to be a part of the Benedict Way.

Ms. Covington has done something I think most authors just dream of doing. She has created a place where the stories could literally be endless. In the prequel books to the Lusty, TX series she set the stage for countless stories if she chooses to write them. This reviewer for one hopes that she has plans to keep the series alive for a very long time. But, just coming up with a great theme for a series isn’t enough. The characters have to be “real”, original, and multi-dimensional. The plot has to be well developed and character motivation understood. The dialogue has to be engaging and flow smoothly. I’ve read many a book where the premise was good and it had potential but it lost me on all the other elements. That hasn’t happened in any of the books I’ve read by Ms. Covington. She doesn’t just write…she creates.

I spotted so many great secondary characters that just seem to be begging to have their on HEA told I can’t wait to see who lands in Lusty, TX next!

Deep in the Woods by Annabel Joseph

Deep in the Woods by Annabel Joseph
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (126 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Fetish, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Sophie finally finds the courage to reenter the Atlanta BDSM scene after extricating herself from an abusive relationship. At a local munch, she meets Dave, a funny, laid-back erotic photographer. When she sees him again later at a dungeon, Sophie is surprised by her strong attraction, and nervous about starting a new relationship, but Dave eases her fears. They embark on a sexy, thrilling D/s relationship and Sophie finds healing and fulfillment in Dave’s arms.

But Sophie is still haunted by nightmares of her past. On a dark night in the woods with Dave and his friend Ryan, frightening memories overtake her. She knows that in order to move on, she must uncover the tragedy that haunts her subconscious.

Sophie’s quest for answers brings her face-to-face with her previous tormentor. She finds herself once more in the deep woods, not only fighting for answers…but also for her life.

This story was a very intense read full of emotion and depth. From the first time Dave sees Sophie he knows that he must meet her, but Sophie is just coming off of an abusive relationship and is very wary about men. As Dave and Sophie begin a tentative relationship the reader is treated to an interesting read. The love that the two feel for each other shines right off of the pages.

Sophie is a strong woman. She endures many hardships and even though she is still working through some things, she still strives for happiness. Dave is a smart and honest man who loves with all his heart. He is a Dom and loves to play hard but he always watches his subs and makes sure that they are safe. As Dave and Sophie play he is always watching and aware of her reactions and emotions, making him the good Dom that he is. I enjoyed reading about the deep connection that Dave and Sophie had, it was a wonderful read. It was also nice to see Sophie going to a therapist throughout this book showing the reader that one can get through abuse and continue to get better. The author takes a serious look at what happens to people who are abused and what happens after.

Annabel Joseph does a wonderful job of bringing the reader into her world and keeping them entertained all the way through to the end. Add in the over-protectiveness of Dave’s dog Cerberus, whom I loved and you have a great read that should not be missed. My only comment would be that readers should be aware that this story contains some very strong BDSM play that may be a bit much for some. However, I enjoyed this book and will be sure to watch for new work from this author.

Enticing Emma by Allie Standifer

Enticing Emma (Club Botticelli) by Allie Standifer
Publisher: Total E Bound
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (53 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Stephanotis

To win back the woman he loves, Brock’s prepared to break all the rules.

Emma gave up on love a long time ago. Now she’s content to write about the mythical emotion. With her good friends and a great career, what more can a girl ask for?

Brock knows he made a mistake letting Emma go all those years ago. He’s back now and willing to do whatever it takes to convince her he’s back for good this time. Even if it involves a little kidnapping and a few handcuffs, Brock’s ready to go all the way in his quest of Enticing Emma.

Can two people overcome a painful past to find love? Read Enticing Emma and find out.

Emma Flintock is a successful romance writer and part of a group of friends who frequent Club Botticelli which caters to not so skinny women. Although dealing in romance, Emma's cynical in matters of love because Brock Cage stood her up on their wedding day. He's in the National Guard and Emma thinks he's long gone and forgotten but in he walks into Club Botticelli one night and things get complicated.

Some of my favorite stories are those where two characters, especially ex lovers, reunite. There's the magic of them falling in love all over again and Standifer does a perfect job with that. At first you dislike Brock but when you enter into his head, you realize, hey, this guy isn't all bad and maybe Emma should give him a second chance. However, the author keeps you on edge as to why he jilted Emma and it makes you uneasy, especially during love scenes. The author does a good job making you wonder if someone is going to get hurt, and it takes the tension up a notch.

My only complaint, I wanted more story for these two. The first chapter focused on most of Emma's friends. I realize this is part of a series but I would have preferred more emphasis on Emma. I would have also preferred that she and Brock reconnected sooner. The love scenes are spicy hot and there are lots of them.

The book does feature an array of fun characters and it did perk my interest into maybe reading another book in the series. If you like story with a common thread and reoccurring characters in erotic romances, I'd say give the Club Botticelli books a try.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Darkest Hours by S.K. Yule

Darkest Hours (Darkest Book I) by S.K. Yule
Publisher: Amira Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (165 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Poinsettia

When small town librarian Ebony learns of her illness, she is devastated to think of the many things she has missed out on in life . . . especially true love.

Ashe, however, has experienced nearly everything during his considerable years as a vampire and thinks only one thing about love . . . never again.

When fate throws the two together on a journey laced with deceit and lies, Ebony and Ashe discover the one thing neither thought to ever find... love.

Can Ebony convince Ashe that true love lasts forever? Can Ashe overcome the betrayal of his past in time to save Ebony?

Ebony never thought she’d fall in love, but when she meets Ashe, she dares to hope for a happily ever after.

Ebony White leads a quiet, predicable life. She never expected to be diagnosed with a terminal illness. Still reeling from the horrible news, she literally runs right into Ashe Aleksandrov in the middle of a dark alley. Ebony is frightened and intrigued by Ashe, and practically runs away from the encounter, never thinking she’d see him again. However, fate has other plans. Ebony’s encounter with Ashe has put her in more danger than she could ever imagine. Ashe, a vampire dedicated to protecting humans, takes it upon himself to personally protect Ebony.

Both are immediately attracted to each other. However, Ebony is convinced that a man as handsome as Ashe would never be genuinely interested in a simple woman like her. Ashe has been in love before, and the experience left him scarred. He vowed never to lose his heart to a woman again. As Ebony and Ashe fight their attraction, there are those who plot against them. Will Ebony and Ashe embrace their connection before it is too late?

Ebony is one of the sweetest most selfless characters I’ve encountered. Even though she has little time to live, she is more concerned with the people around her and how they’ll handle the news of her illness. As if that wasn’t enough, she is soon attacked and thrust into a world filled with vampires. It would be perfectly normal for her to have a nervous breakdown given all the pressure she’s under, but she handles everything that comes her way with an amazing amount of grace. As nice as Ebony was, I would have found her a bit more relatable if she’d been a bit more flawed. She just seemed to be a bit too perfect at times.

Ashe is the classic tall, dark, and handsome hero. Not only is he amazingly attractive, but he is a good man who is fiercely loyal to those he cares about. He feels his connection to Ebony immediately, but denies it almost to the point of losing her forever. He will have to open his heart if his old wounds are ever going to heal. He and his brothers also tend to be a bit over protective of the women in their lives. I would have liked to see the women play a more active role in the action of the story.

Ms. Yule also makes excellent use of descriptive language. “Fall sighed a gentle breeze, felling numerous leaves of gold and red from gnarled branches of the huge Oak tree that stood in the center of Plainview, surrounded by the old red brick roads of the town square.” This is the opening line of Darkest Hours. I could immediately picture the scene in my mind and felt as though I was walking next to Ebony.

Another aspect of Darkest Hours that I found intriguing was the concept of shadow drifters, which are vampires who have made a deal with Satan. These evil vampires play a minor role in this story, but it is clear at the end of Darkest Hours, that they will play a larger role in the series as a whole. Something big is on the horizon that will affect Ebony, Ashe, and Ashe’s family. Ms. Yule reveals just enough information to tantalize the reader and make them want to pick up the next book.

I enjoyed reading Darkest Hours. Ms. Yule's concept of vampires and their lifestyle was interesting and her characters were likable. The end of the book left me wanting to know more and had me seeking out the second book in the series. Any fan of paranormal romance will certainly want to pick up a copy today.

Mate Set by Laurann Dohner

Mate Set by Laurann Dohner
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (139 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Reviewed by Fern

It’s werewolf mating season. All the males are in heat and the driving, sexual lust of their beasts is almost uncontrollable. Mika is human, in an alley, surrounded by four horny werewolves. She knows she’s in deep shit. A tall, handsome werewolf rescues her then demands payment. Hot, sweaty, intimate payment.

Grady is a half breed whose his human mother abandoned him to his werewolf father, so he knows human women just aren’t safe to fall in love with. The wolf within him wants Mika as his mate, but Grady will not give in. Never. Ever. He’s willing to fight his emotions and his beast, no matter how much sexy Mika tempts him.

But neither of them expected her Uncle Omar to assign Grady to protect her from other males—24/7, in her home, sleeping just down the hall. Mika decides to make the best of her vacation and keep the hot wolf in her bed. Grady can’t resist the scorching sex, but he is determined to resist the bond.

If you’re in the mood for a sexy werewolf, a sassy human female, and a whole lot of angst, Mate Set is just the book you’re looking for. As a fan of Laurann Dohner’s Cyborg series, I couldn’t wait to meet her shifters. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. Her alpha heroes are just that - alpha - while her heroines are the perfect foil to bring them to their knees.

Mika and Grady are not a conventional couple. She’s a human who was adopted into a werewolf family and, though she knows of their existence, is off limits to them. He’s a half-breed who has seen the adverse effects of being born in between the two worlds and is determined not to mate with a human as a result. When a brawl forces Grady to mark Mika for her protection, things quickly go downhill. While their chemistry is off the charts, their emotions and fear to connect with each other make this story one hell of a roller coaster ride.

At first, the tension worked for me. Although Grady is alpha to the core and refuses to be swayed in his thinking, he also has moments of tenderness. Likewise, while Mika can be soft and nurturing, she can also be tough as nails and refuses to back down. Unfortunately, after a while, their relationship began to border on toxic. As a lover of an unrelenting alpha, Grady’s treatment became too much for even me. I felt this was due to the fact that the story is told from Mika’s point of view, which doesn’t give the reader the opportunity to understand Grady, his feelings, or his motivations. There were several scenes I had difficulty finishing, forcing me to push through to the end. While there is a happily-ever-after, I wasn’t convinced of it, and questioned Mika’s reasoning for staying with a man who treated her so cruelly, without any regard for her as an equal.

On a positive note, the sex scenes are burn-your-fingers hot. Ms. Dohner knows how to create and stoke sexual tension, and she uses her talent to the fullest here. I might not have cared for Grady all that much, but I can’t deny that when he and Mika get together they certainly know how to turn up the heat. I did enjoy the dialogue and the world Ms. Dohner has created, and feel this could be the start of a very promising series. There are several interesting secondary characters, and I hope to see more of them in the future.

Midnight Unseen by D. McEntire

Midnight Unseen (The Watchers, book 5) by D. McEntire
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (163 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Peppermint

The heart sees what the eyes cannot.

The Watchers, Book 5

A first impression is all it took to fill Tank’s nights with dreams of a beautiful woman caressing piano keys with long, graceful fingers. And to throw his level head completely off-bubble. Then the music vanishes, replaced by the woman’s frantic pleas for help.

Dreams clash with reality when a Watcher mission leads Tank into a musty, rat-infested basement where he finds his piano lady broken and bleeding from a Rogue attack—and suffering the beginnings of the change.

Music is Sonya Brown’s salvation, and her job teaching students to overcome their blindness—just like her—is a perfect fit. At least it was, until a new co-worker’s unwelcome advances cross over into an obsession that rips away everything she holds dear.

She awakens frightened. Confused. Somehow…different. But not alone. Gentle hands tend her wounds, feed a strange, new hunger. And build an inner fire she’s never before known.

Keeping Sonya safe from the Rogue who would fully claim her is only half of Tank’s battle. Sonya must accept her new life, or his dream will become only a memory.

When silver eyes meet milky white irises lives are changed.

Although Sonya is blind she does not let her disability control her. If anything it has made her a much stronger person. So when faced with danger she meets it head on and not only tries to protect herself but also others involved. Sonya gives all women something to aspire to. I wish I could be half as courageous as she is. Now she just hopes that Tank will see past her blindness to the woman behind the exotic eyes.

Tank has been the leader of his cell for years and rightfully so. Part of what makes him a good leader is his ability to keep a clear head no matter what the danger. That was until he started having strange dreams about Sonya. I like that Tank loses his cool over this woman - that shows he really cares. Every man has lost his head over love and Tank is no exception. And what a girl wouldn’t do to hear that rich Nigerian accent whisper in her ear. Sonya may cause him to lose his cool but he seems to have the same effect on her.

The conflict between David and Sonya is epic. He was truly one sick individual and deserved everything Tank was going to give him. It was clear he was mentally disturbed as a vampire and I am sure he was as a human as well. With his sick twisted mind at work Sonya and readers were in for one bumpy ride that left both her and me on the edge of our seats.

The plot development in this story was spot on and I would not have changed one thing about it. I love that Tank and Sonya both want the same thing but seem to tiptoe around each other and do not realize their mutual attraction. I also love the fact the other watchers clearly see the emotions better than Sonya and Tank see themselves.

This is another story that is part of a series but could be read as an individual story. If you have read the previous stories you will enjoy seeing many of the old couples. If you are new the series, do not worry, you will feel right at home with this group of vampires. I know I do!

Barefoot Bride For Three by Reece Butler

Barefoot Bride For Three by Reece Butler
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (213 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M/M, Menage, Anal Play
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Elizabeth James escapes an odious fiancé by heading west on the first Bride Train of 1870. She finds herself at the end of the line in the Tanner’s Ford jail, forced to marry the town bully unless someone else defies Big Joe to marry her.

Sheriff Chambers banned the Elliotts from town until one got a wife and settled them all down. Finding a defiant Trace Elliott in town, the sheriff offers a tall, ornery barefoot woman to solve all their problems.

Beth is shocked how the stranger’s touch inflames her and mortified the next morning when hotel patrons comment on her amorous wedding night cries. She discovers the Elliott men share everything and intend to seduce her into agreeing. Trace, Simon and Jack heat her blood, but do they care for her, or only what she provides? Then Big Joe offers gold to bring her to him…

Be careful what you wish for, you might get your wish times three. Elizabeth James may be a “smart talkin’ Eastern virgin” but she knows a good deal when it's presented. Heck, almost anything has to be better than being forced to marry the town bully or being pawed by an unscrupulous deputy. One kiss from Trace Elliott, and Beth knows she has found the husband she has sought when first catching a ride on the Bride Train. She didn’t count on the added bonus of two handsome and welcoming brothers at home who had one goal: get her naked and make her happy!

Barefoot Bride For Three was a really fun story to read. Reece Butler has a true talent for building plot, characters, motivation, tension and some sweet and sexy love scenes. As a reader, I empathised with Beth’s plight and Trace’s lost childhood. I can see how the whole scenario could have been a true event considering the lack of marriageable females on certain parts of the country during the land rush era. Ms. Butler kept my attention and built the anticipation for the moment when Beth realized she was to be wife of three rather just the one Elliott brother.

Speaking of the eldest Elliott brother, I think the story had more believability by making Trace the man who first meets Beth. Trace has internal and external scars that affect not only his speech but his ability to give his heart to Beth right away. I loved that Beth met and fell for him first before ever meeting the charming twins at home. That first bonding between Beth and Trace was vital to making the ménage relationship work for the rest of the family. The one-on-one scenes for Beth and Trace are beautifully scripted and breathtaking to read.

I believe the hallmark of a really great story is when you can connect with the secondary characters as well as the main hero (or heroes in this case) and heroine. Ms. Butler built and layered the support cast in Barefoot Bride For Three in a way that left the reader in little doubt that the story progression would have been lacking without them.

As this is the first in the Bride Train series, this reviewer enjoyed speculating on who all will be a part of the next bride train. There were several siblings not yet introduced but mentioned as well as a neighbor who gained a promise from Beth. I won’t tell you any more, so, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Barefoot Bride For Three before the next bride train rolls through. You won’t be sorry!!