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Friday, February 4, 2011

Mongrel by K.Z. Snow

Mongrel by K.Z. Snow
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Historical, Steampunk, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (202 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Foxglove

Hunzinger's Mechanical Circus, a rollicking seaside carnival where imagination meets machinery, shines as the only bright spot in the dreary city of Purinton. A shadow is cast there one day when a tall, cloaked figure approaches the stand of Will Marchman, a young patent-medicine salesman. Fanule Perfidor, commonly known as the Dog King, isn't welcome at the Circus. No resident of Taintwell is; they're all Branded Mongrels, officially shunned. But Will is beguiled by the stunning, mysterious Perfidor. Their mutual wariness soon gives way to desire, and a bond forms.

Soon the naive but plucky pitchman becomes embroiled in a dangerous quest. Fanule suspects Alphonse Hunzinger and Purinton's civic leaders are responsible for the disappearance or incarceration of countless Branded Mongrels. But why? As Will's passion and regard for his tormented lover grow, he's determined to help Fanule get answers and prevent any further persecution... or worse. They just have to stay together—and stay alive long enough—to see their plan through.

The world where the Mongrels and the Pures meet is a mystic one, wonderfully reminiscent of Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes and King & Straub's The Talisman in tone, mood, and setting.

Ms. Snow carries her readers away on a journey of language as smooth as the rippling of Fanule's cloak. The striking man carries a mark of 40:60 at his throat, Branding him a Mongrel, forty percent human, sixty percent unknown, but young Will, a Pure human, can't help be drawn to Fanule, even against his better judgment, and that of a society that looks down both on Mongrels and men who enjoy the pleasures of other men. The reader feels this attraction right along with Will's, as well as Fanule's attraction for him. Along with their attraction, the two men discover that they have similar goals and needs, and they work together to see their needs met and their goals become reality.

The characters in Mongrel, both the heroes and the secondary characters, are exceptionally well-formed and fleshed out. All have their good sides and their bad sides, their ups and downs. I enjoyed the fact that I wasn't sure which side some characters would end up on when we first met them; as in real life, we were kept guessing for awhile. In addition to the primary romance, which is at turns both tender and heated, there is a secondary romance between two other characters, which helps build on the primary romance. The universe this book is set in is well thought out and well made. In addition to the Mongrels and the steampunk aspect, there a few other paranormal creatures, but it never gets overwhelming or confusing, and is all very believable. While the mystery/suspense facet of the story is probably equal in amount to the romance facet, the two dovetail together very well to make a fast-paced, exciting story.

Mongrel is a must for fans of steampunk, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a historical romance with a little something extra. The fantastical setting and engaging characters will stay in your mind long after reading, and I hope there will be more books set in this world.

A Taste of Love by Andrew Grey

A Taste of Love by Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (199 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Phlox

The lunch rush at Darryl Hansen’s restaurant, Café Belgie, is getting to be too much for one man to handle, and Billy Weaver is a young man in search of a job—any job—to support his family. Billy gains Darryl's respect with his earnest nature and willingness to work hard, but Billy's admiring looks resurrect pain and shame from Darryl’s past.

Until Darryl stumbles across Billy's secret, Billy is suffering in silence: his father died a few months earlier, leaving him struggling to raise his twin five-year-old brothers. Darryl takes Billy and the boys to the restaurant, where they’ll stand together to face the smorgasbord of troubles in their future… while Davey, Donnie, and Billy all worm their way into Darryl’s heart.

The old saying “the devil is in the details” is certainly applicable even when turned on its head. The sublime experience is in the details, as well. This lovely, well-crafted story accomplishes a number of things, dramatically and emotionally, but it’s in the loving descriptions that Mr. Grey truly pulls the reader close. There are beautiful sketches of Carlisle, a charming town I was gratified to revisit, if only on the pages. There are wonderful descriptions of food and the preparation thereof, which the author pulls off in realistic and often mouthwatering fashion. Even the descriptions of the threadbare apartment the boys live in are painted in heartbreaking detail.

The more of Mr. Grey’s work I read, the more I see this as his greatest strength—his ability to choose difficult subjects and unfold them in front of us in such a way that would stir even the hardest hearts. In Billy, we have a young man in a situation all too common these days. Thrust into the role of parent far too young, not because of bad choices on his part, but because no one else is available to fill the role, Billy struggles to provide to his two small brothers. While this is always heartbreaking to watch a young person put aside childhood and youth to shoulder such overwhelming responsibility, Billy does it with admirable determination and optimism. One doesn’t get a feeling of issue for the sake of melodrama here, but rather a sense of something very real. Too many children in our country go to bed hungry, and Billy’s struggle to provide for them day by day comes across as the desperate bargaining with circumstances it so often becomes.

Darryl, the other half of our story, deals with the guilt and self-doubt still with him from a stay in a ‘reprogramming’ facility. This could have been a story of its own, but we’ve met Darryl many years later and Mr. Grey chooses to show us his struggle towards normalcy rather than the terrible immediate effects of such misguided emotional abuse. By Darryl’s actions, the way he approaches life and deals with his employees, the reader sees he is a moral, compassionate person, yet he still doubts himself and his motives.

While we have a typical older man-younger man pairing here in the physical sense, our couple is otherwise anything but typical. We see that they truly need each other’s strengths and that there is the possibility, despite the employer/employee dynamic, for a balanced relationship, a meeting of equals.

The only small nits I had with the story, and they are small indeed, were some of the “kid-speak” portions of dialogue, which didn’t always ring quite true to me, and the fact that Darryl’s epiphany about himself seems to come too abruptly. Not that it can’t happen suddenly, but as a reader I felt a bit jarred.

Overall, this is a story told with heart and with loving care, with characters who the reader can’t help but love. Food, the element that holds all of the story’s characters together, comes through in marvelous presentations and mouth-watering detail. The next time I’m in Carlisle, I’ll be tempted to look for Café Belgie. I know it won’t be there, but that won’t stop me from wishing.

Just Semantics by Julia Talbot

Just Semantics by Julia Talbot
Publisher: Changeling Press LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (21 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Morning Glory

Maura knows Dixon, the demon killer -- err, hunter -- is bad news the moment he walks into her shop looking for a flea remedy for his shapeshifting partner. Maura's sure men of action like Dix don't go for good girls like her.

Dix knows Maura is the one for him the moment he sets eyes on her. Now he's out to convince Maura he might just be the perfect mate for her.

But a demon hunter’s the last thing Maura needs, especially one as hot as Dix. Right?

This short story is a whirlwind.

It jumps right into the story with no introduction, and at first I was slightly confused, but once I got into the groove it was smooth sailing.

The characters are likable, witty and draw you in. Maura is sassy, spunky and sexy. Dixon is bold, brash and sinfully delicious. They practically burn up the pages once they get together. I even loved Bingo, Dixon's partner. I really wanted to know more about him and his lover. The only down side to this book is that it leaves you wanting more. It feels like the story is over before it really begins. I'd love to see more with these characters.

At only twenty pages long, Ms. Talbot skillfully manages to pack this book full of steamy sex, witty repartee, and interesting characters.

Master Me Anthology by Lisabet Sarai, Trina Lane, Elizabeth Coldwell, Charlotte Stein, Jane Davitt, Justine Elyot

Master Me Anthology by Lisabet Sarai, Trina Lane, Elizabeth Coldwell, Charlotte Stein, Jane Davitt, Justine Elyot
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (294 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Mistletoe

'The Understudy' by Lisabet Sarai

Is there a future in playing stand-in to a slave?

Sarah Gladstone was thrilled to be offered her first real acting job at the Berks Summer Playhouse. She never expected to be working with theatre legend Geoffrey Hart. The charismatic actor quickly brings her under his spell, not to mention his control, as he initiates her into the dark delights of BDSM. He offers her far more than physical pleasure; they share a level of intimacy and trust beyond anything Sarah could have imagined.

According to the rumours, though, Geoff's heart is taken. Renowned actress Anne Merrill, his long time partner and submissive lover, has severed their relationship and Hart has escaped to the Berkshires to lick his emotional wounds. With her youth, inexperience, and girl-next-door persona, Sarah knows that she can't compete with the glamorous theatre veteran. She fears that she's just a substitute for the real object of Geoff's affections. As he draws her deeper into his intoxicating games of dominance and submission, Sarah wonders if she's willing to settle for the role of understudy in this perverse passion play.

'Paradise of Pleasure' by Trina Lane

Elaina Roman is at a crossroad. She’s split with her boyfriend after his refusal to try something new in the bedroom. For some time Elaina has wondered if there could be more to sex than pleasantness. She thinks she’s found the answer, but where’s a girl to find the experience?

Derrick Collins owns a resort catering to couples in the BDSM scene on a private island in the heart of the Florida Keys. When Elaina steps off the boat onto his island, he finds himself longing for the opportunity to dominate the stunning woman. Her wide grey eyes and quiet demeanour call to a part of his soul long thought dead. Circumstances work in his favour when a little misunderstanding has deposited Elaina right at his feet and not in the arms of another Dom.

When a week of exploration and discovery turns into love the pair must make a choice. To stay and experience a lifetime of pleasure in paradise or return to their former existences.

'Neil and Obey' by Elizabeth Coldwell

Neil will be Liz’s perfect date – as long as she does exactly as he tells her...

When Liz Webster receives an invitation to her ex-boyfriend’s wedding, she needs a date to take with her. Neil Stafford seems to fit the bill. He’s handsome, intelligent – and very dominant. He agrees to accompany her, as long as she obeys his every instruction for the whole weekend. Liz is soon plunged into a scenario where underwear is forbidden and sex in public is a distinct possibility.

Introduced to bondage and an unexpected threesome, Liz gives full rein to the submissive side of her personality. But playing these games for a weekend is one thing. What would it mean to become Neil’s full-time slave?

'Ever Unknown' by Charlotte Stein

He’s everything she didn’t know she wanted, and more…

Molly Hunt has spent most of her life playing it safe, and never expected anything more from her humdrum existence. Until she starts getting mysterious and very suggestive anonymous emails, from someone in her office.

He calls himself Ever Unknown, and he has some naughty and commanding demands he'd like her to obey. Molly's not sure if she can meet his expectations, but as the stakes get higher, she discovers the submissive in her can't resist him. But will he turn out to be all she expects?

'Fresh Start' by Jane Davitt

When you're already living with the man of your dreams, what do you do when it isn't enough?

Helen's found the man of her dreams and she's living with Connor and discovering how fulfilling it is to be his sub. When Connor leaves on a business trip, that happiness is shattered by a letter he gives her. Connor wants more from Helen, but can she give it to him?

'A Very Personal Trainer' by Justine Elyot

Lara lacks self-discipline but Dexter knows how to give it to her.

Lara’s life is in a mess, and she needs help to sort it out. But when she hires a personal organiser, she has no idea just how personal his service is going to be. Together, Lara and Dexter work out that she needs that little bit of extra motivation to keep her on track, and the way that motivation is delivered introduces Lara to a world of painful pleasure she has only previously dreamed of.

These six different authors come together to give the reader a glimpse into the world of Domination and submission. Each tale is a different story yet they are all connected by the one theme that runs through each story. Every one of the women in these stories finds herself wanting to give up control to the man of her dreams.

With each story I was taken on an emotional roller coaster but the one that made the most lasting impression on me was Paradise of Pleasure by Trina Lane. I enjoyed seeing Elaina blossom into a wonderful submissive. She learns just what her body craves through the mastery of Derrick and in the midst of it all the two may just find love. The relationship that builds between the two was a good read. Derrick and Elaina are a perfect match in heart and soul.

All of these stories are an intense read. As you can tell by the title they focused mainly on the submission of the women and how they felt in doing so. The trust and emotions are evident throughout the book and you can easily see the love shine through.

As sexy as these stories were they tended to lean a bit more towards the extreme side of a Dom and sub relationship almost to the point of master/slave relationships. I would have liked to see a bit more of a give and take relationship with these couples not so much of the women blindly doing what ever the men they have just met tell them to do. Don’t get me wrong, some of the stories do talk about the give and take and make it a pivotal point in the tale but I had a hard time really connecting with some of these characters.

Each of these stories are well written and fast paced, though, so I enjoyed all of the authors' writing styles and will be going in search of their other works to find one I can call a favorite.

Bite Here Too by Stormy Glenn & H.C. Brown

Bite Here Too by Stormy Glenn & H.C. Brown
Publisher: Noble Romance Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (123 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Forced Seduction, Fetish, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Peppermint

Blood Sacrifice by Stormy Glenn

Being a demon isn't always fun. Being a demon summoned to a satanic ritual is downright miserable. Isaac Braden spends most of his time being a rich recluse but every so often he's introduced to someone new when he's summoned . . . a blood sacrifice. And tonight Jory Daniels has been chosen to be that sacrifice.

In a satanic ritual summoning gone bad, Isaac finds himself eternally bound to Jory. He has to have the man's blood in order to survive. But when Jory wants something in return, can Isaac submit enough to allow it or will his demon nature take over and cause him to lose the best thing that ever happened to him?

Enslaved by H.C. Brown

At midnight on All Hallows Eve, the Gates between the realms are wide open. Good and evil in equal measure seek to slake their desire. Be careful for what you wish for Humans, once the Gates shut, there is no going back.

Stonehenge has always had mysteries surrounding it. That is why it made a great basis for these two stories. I love the way that both stories are different from one another, yet the authors were able to tie them together with such a small detail.

Blood Sacrifice by Stormy Glenn

Isaac and Jory’s story is unusual if nothing else. It's only the beginning when Isaac finds out a man who is suppose to be his blood sacrifice becomes eternally bonded to him.

The twist and turns this plot takes left me feeling a little dizzy in a good way, because they were definitely unexpected. From beginning to end I really didn’t know what was coming next. Both characters had their own individual problems, and together their combined problems meant trouble in paradise. I was just glad that they figured out how to get past everything that was thrown and them and found solace in one another.

This story was a bit puzzling at first but once I got wrapped up in the plot and the characters and found out more about what was going on I was able to figure it all out. Which was lucky for me because I would have missed a skillful story had I not.

Enslaved by H.C. Brown

Chase was going to one crazy coming out party. He planned going to a Samhain meeting that would allow him to fully embrace who he was for the first time. Instead he found himself sucked into a world full of mythical creatures demanding his submission in every way.

I loved the dominance/submission play in this story; it was interesting to see how it played out between the various characters. One thing I did not truly understand was the relationship between some of the supporting characters. I felt a bit disconnected from them, particularly Si and Hakon at the end of this story.

I did enjoy seeing the relationship development between the main characters Chase and Dracu, though I would have like to have seen Dracu show up a little sooner in the story. This story did however has an unusual and interesting plot that really keep the pages turning.

Both stories had a good plot and plenty of sex scenes. The naughty in these stories just keep getting better and better. Kinkster’s like myself will be aroused in various ways.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sensual Stranger by Tina Donahue

Sensual Stranger by Tina Donahue
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (156 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Anal Play, Spanking
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Dahlia

Into his life she came—wanting…willing…wanton.

It’s no ordinary morning when Toni arrives at Zach’s garage. Flat broke, with a past she won’t share, Toni is instantly taken by such a potently virile man. Direct and unashamed, she tells him she’s a motorcycle performance artist who needs work and knows motors.

Zach knows women, and Toni is unlike any he’s met. Lushly sensuous, exceedingly assured, she’d easily be his match in business and bed. A provocative challenge that stirs him as nothing has since losing his wife. A chance he’s reluctant to take. He offers no more than a month’s employment then she’ll have to be on her way.

The hours tick by. Each word and glance intensifies their escalating desire, forcing them to surrender to passion and Toni’s need for Zach’s dominance. Driven by carnal hunger, conquered by yearning, they face the unforeseen truth of Toni’s past and a future neither of them expected.

She came into his life on a gust of wind, full of vibrancy and a claim that she is a damn good mechanic. She ended up rocking his world and changing his life.

Toni lives in and for the moment. She’s a motorcycle performance artist traveling the circuit across the country. The lifestyle she’s become accustomed to isn’t exactly one she would have chosen, but she played the hand she was dealt. It can be sometimes an unforgiving, harsh life, but with the help of the couple she’s adopted as her family, she makes due and gives back more.

Zach has been living on the edge of loneliness now for the past two years. Since the passing of his late wife, he won’t admit to needing someone. He prefers to just go about his business with his garage and dealing with the physical pain he’s had to endure since the accident. Anything else is inconsequential and beyond his emotional capability… or so he thought.

A proposition is made and a deadline is set. The challenge is to just live for and enjoy the moment together, but they soon both realize it’s not enough. While Toni is able to discover the truth at the heart of Zach’s pain, Zach has to do a little more digging with some professional help. He can't seem to stop the need to know more about her no matter how much he reprimanded himself earlier to be emotionally distant and just take what she was physically offering.

Behind Toni’s confident exterior is a woman who believes she doesn’t deserve some of the best things life has to offer simply because of how she’s lived her life thus far. She’s the complete opposite of what Zach’s used to, yet in many ways she’s exactly what Zach needs. Zach is much the same, thinking that there is no way a woman as wildly free as Toni would consider settling down with him. They become very observant of one another, gaining what little information they can because essentially they’re still strangers.

The emotional distance creates a roadblock in their intimacy. They’ve both been hurt before and have no desire to reopen some of those old wounds, yet the easy one-month job proposition and carefree sex doesn’t seem quite so easy or carefree anymore without the constant worry of what the foreseeable future might hold. They just continue to mask their feelings and move on, neither one gutsy enough to make the first bold move, yet they both fear losing the other.

Ms. Donahue has a beautiful way with words that allows readers to be taken on a journey and visualize everything as it is meant to be pictured. The detailing balance is captured perfectly without being unimportant or redundant. The reader will get a good feel for the quaint, charming town of Indulgence as well as the characters. Zach and Toni are frustrating and endearing characters at the same time. I was immediately able to liken some of their personality traits to my own making me feel connected and committed to the characters. The story flowed very nicely with lots of boiling tension all leading up to an emotionally explosive finale, just be aware to keep the tissues close while reading. The sex scenes are pleasurably creative and hot, hot, HOT! There were little problems here and there with the editing, but otherwise this story is incredible.

If you’re a stranger to the wonderful work of Ms. Donahue then make sure to check out Sensual Stranger and get yourself familiar with this amazing author!

Mating Call by Gale Stanley

Mating Call by Gale Stanley
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (209 pages)
Other: Ménage M/F/M, M/F, Bondage, masturbation.
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Myrtle

Human contact is the last thing Sable wants, and the she-wolf lives wild to avoid any chance encounters. But when a hunter sees the beautiful woman transform into his quarry, she becomes fair game. Jude and his twin, Jonas, capture the feral creature and plan to tame the wild beast, but her mating frenzy ignites their lust and blurs the line between captor and captive.

The she-wolf can’t deny her attraction to the brothers, and their passion creates a strong bond that none are willing to accept. Sable has no desire for a pair of human mates, but destiny steps in, and she finds herself mated to men who only think of her as an animal. Suddenly, she’s in more danger than she thought possible, and the need to escape increases. But the bond between her and her captors is sealed, and she discovers surrender isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Hold on to your hat because this book is hot and will leave a lasting impression on you. Mating Call is not a story to be read and easily forgotten. Talk about making snowflakes sizzle from heat.

Jude, who is hell bent on eradicating the wolf species, discovers that having a female shifter around may change the rules. When Jude and his brother Jonas capture Sable a wolf shifter, they told themselves it was in the name of research and money but things get out of control when Sable goes into heat.

Collared like a dog, Sable fights them as hard as she can, only she fears that she will end up like one of those victims who become emotionally attached to their kidnappers.” Jonas, a doctor, reminds her of Mr. Hyde one moment and Dr. Jekyll the next with his mood swings. There are times when he can be sweet and loving, and times when he is ugly and mean. Let me add that both brothers soon find they are very possessive of the little she wolf.

I have to share my favorite line in the book: “She actually asked me if he was seeing another woman” Jude let out a gruff laugh. “I told her yeah, a real dog.” Let me just say it was a good thing I was not drinking anything at the time.

Mating Call is an amazing book and I could go on and on about how much I loved it but really you will have to read this one for yourself. I know I will be telling all my friends to pick up a copy to add to their library.

Mistletoe and Submission by Kim Dare

Mistletoe and Submission by Kim Dare
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full Length (151 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, BDSM
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Buttercup

“Stand under the mistletoe until midnight, naked, bound and blindfolded. Submit to any dominant who wants a piece of you.”

At the junior doms regular poker night, anything can, and frequently does, happen. Add in crackers that contain dares instead of jokes and two men’s lives might never be the same again.

When Carl applied to join the best leather club in the city, he had no doubt about his preference for dominance. It was only when he set eyes on Sloan that he began to wonder if submission might be far more fun than he originally thought.

With no time for club politics and little interest in rising through the ranks, ever since experienced dom Sloan moved to the city and joined the club, he’s been quite content to bide his time among the junior dominants and keep a brotherly eye on a young man who is obviously out of his depth amongst his more sadistic contemporaries.

One man has to do the dare. The only question now, is which man will it be, and are either of the friends ready for the way their relationship might change after a night of Mistletoe and Submission?

Are you strong enough to take what you want? Kim Dare's provocative book Mistletoe and Submission takes a look at the darker side of love, and the strength it takes to find and accept it. Going beyond leather and whips, and into the mindset of her characters, she shows what it takes to be a good dominant and submissive. Despite the somewhat darker nature of the book, Ms. Dare starts and ends with a laugh. I really liked that she did, because no matter what the setting is, at the core this book is about two men that are in love, and love should always have laughter in it.

Like recognizes like, and that is true of Cal and Sloan. They recognize each other on a very basic and intrinsic level right from the start. Their actions convey what their minds are not ready to admit, and that is very simply that Sloan is Cal's dom, and that Cal is Sloan's sub. Even when Cal is acting as a dom, he follows Sloan's lead and Sloan looks out for Cal, providing for his well being. Of course it's not all as simple as that since both men come with some serious baggage and hang-ups about who they are.

Ms. Dare does a great job of showing Cal's reluctance, his confusion about changing from a dom to a sub, not only that but also his worry over losing his friend and how Sloan will think of and treat him, if he admits that he is a sub. Even more than Cal's reluctance to admit that he is a sub, I like that Ms. Dare also shows that Sloan has some misgivings too. What Cal is going through is very obviously going to change his life forever, but for Sloan, at least on the surface, nothing is really going to change. I like that we get to delve a little deeper into Sloan's psyche and see that he's also a little bit afraid of the depth of his feelings for Cal.

I know that Mr. Harrison and Paul are secondary characters but I really enjoyed them. I think they are a good example for Sloan and Cal. Sloan is fond of saying that a dom is a dom and the extra labels don't mean anything, but they do when you compare the behavior of the junior doms to that of a senior dom like Mr. Harrison. You see a marked difference. I think at the beginning Mr. Harrison was disappointed in Sloan. He saw great potential in Sloan and thought he was wasting it by choosing to remain on the fringes of the club as a junior dom instead of rising thru the levels to become a more active and mature member. It wasn't until after the truth came out about Cal, that I think Mr. Harrison began to understand Sloan's actions were not that of a junior dom, but those of a dom protecting and looking after his sub.

Paul is great for Cal. As Mr. Harrison's sub, Paul is happy and confident in his position and abilities, it's good for Cal to see that. Cal's knowledge of the interactions between doms and subs has been largely limited to the actions of the junior doms and their treatment of subs. Since the junior doms are for the most part an immature lot who treat subs as little more than sex toys with no mind of their own it's no wonder Cal is trepidations about joining their ranks. Being able to see that Paul is well treated and happy, and that he understands what Cal is going thru is very good for Cal. I love what Cal says when Mr. Harrison asks him what he wants from Sloan: "I want to obey him because that's what I want to do, not because I don't have enough brains to think for myself, or enough balls to stand up for myself." I love that line and I think it's a shame that Sloan never gets to hear it.

I really love the scene where Sloan asks Cal to set his limits as a sub. There is so much emotion and depth of character, you can really feel everything and it's amazingly well written. Sloan shows such remarkable understanding when he realizes that Cal truly has no idea what his limits are as a sub. I think it's great that they figure them out together. What I don't really get is why Sloan didn't take that conversation as an opportunity to tell Cal his expectations of him, other than obedience. Cal is completely dependant on Sloan even for the most basic things, and there are a few times when Cal simply doesn't know even if he's allowed to ask if he can go to the bathroom, or if he has to wait for Sloan to give him permission.

The nature of the dom/sub relationship doesn't allow for questions, and because of that a lot of things didn't get said when they should have. Of course if they had we wouldn't have had such a good book to read. I love the fact that when Cal and Sloan finally do talk, really talk they are in a closet. So they have to literally and symbolically stop hiding and come out of the closet and admit what they want.

Mistletoe and Submission is a great read, that keeps you on your toes right up to the very end. Ms. Dare's characters are wonderfully complicated, you never quite know what they are going to do next.

Spiritwalker by Charisma Knight

Spiritwalker by Charisma Knight
Publisher: Sugar and Spice Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (100 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Verbena

Things can’t get much better for Vivian Patterson. At the ripe ole age of thirty-eight, life is better than ever. She’s got an excellent job, looks that kill, and a smokin hot bod. Oh she also has a loving, faithful boyfriend who sends her blood pressure skyrocketing through the roof. She couldn’t ask for anything more, right?

Magnus Abernethy, Vivian’s boyfriend is all any woman could ever want in a man. He is handsome as hell, has an adorable personality, and willing to go that extra mile to please his woman. Magnus is the total package. There is just one problem with this relationship. Magnus is a spirit, trapped within another realm…

This situation was never a problem for Vivian, but she discovers as time moves on, she craves him to be flesh and blood, forever, not just for an entire evening.

Can Vivian and Magnus overcome a witch’s cruel curse, and carry on through life, the way it was intended, or will the menacing dark force from their past threaten any happiness that may be in the stars for them?

A love that transcends time. It sounds like a fairytale come true, something any man and woman in love would want. But sometimes love comes with a steep price, and retribution can make any relationship bittersweet.

Magnus had everything he wanted, including his dark-skinned beauty, Natiyah. But a witch/vampire with a taste for chaos turned his world upside down. Trapped between worlds, he’s forced to watch his love complete the circle of life without him. For centuries, he’s endured her repeated life and death, unable to be with her as they both so desire until they find a way to break the witch’s curse.

Vivian (the reincarnated, current day Natiyah) is happy with her life. She loves her spirit lover, Magnus, but yearns for more. Determined to find a way for them to be together, she takes matters in to her own hands. But there’s more to the curse than she understands. A dark secret Magnus has failed to share. I like Vivian’s spunk and grit. She’s proud of who she is and is willing to risk all for her love.

Magnus is a tortured soul who will surely win your heart. He only wants what’s best for Vivian, but lives for the moments when he can venture in her realm and be with her. If only he could tell her the complete truth surrounding their curse. He both longs and fears to, unable to stand the thought of losing her completely, but hating the lies between them just the same.

Spiritwalker introduces some intriguing ideas and twists to the proverbial eternal love typically found in most paranormal tales. The author has mixed varying otherworldly beings into an interesting tale. Vampires, fairies, wolves, guardians, Vikings, you name it, it’s there. While the plot sparked my curiosity, I found keeping up with all the different characters to be a little overwhelming at times.

The main characters, Vivian and Magnus were easy to love and the author developed them fairly well. The passion between them was definitely hot and heavy. There were times, however, when the characters dialogue and/or behavior seemed a little out of place, given the scenario. The dialect could be difficult to interpret at times, and perhaps if the author had chosen a select a few words to give the dialog a Scottish feel instead of trying to incorporate too many, it may have been a bit easier to understand. Once I stopped trying to pronounce the words as she had written them, and just interjected what I knew they were supposed to mean, I had an easier time reading the story.

Most of the scenes were thoroughly explained and given enough detail to make it easy to put your feet in the characters’ shoes, so to speak, but I would like to have seen some drawn out a little more. There were major turning points that felt rushed and too easily overcome. Point of view shifts were handled very well. Overall, though, it was a unique and enjoyable story.

If you’re in to all sorts of paranormal beasties and the idea of an eternal love so strong it can withstand the trials of time sparks your interest, then pick up a copy of Spiritwalker. This interracial romance will surely satisfy your need for the mystical, as well as set your blood a boiling with a satisfying amount of desire.

Nice Package by Katalina Leon

Nice Package by Katalina Leon
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (126 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, F/F (light), Anal Play, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Dahlia

Christmas chaos is over at the Emersons’ house, but the real holiday fun is just beginning when Jim presents Cora with a big, beautiful gift box she’s forbidden to open.

What’s in the crimson mystery box?

Cora finds out, slowly, over a twenty-four-hour period. The box contains tantalizing toys, temptations, tricky games, and an invitation to an erotic adventure at a mountain lodge that will refresh their marriage and bond them as lovers. If Cora can endure one hellaciously prolonged tease, she’s really going to enjoy getting a nice package.

Cora is a busy wife, mother, and data analyst. She has herself stretched thin in every direction to make sure things run smoothly in every aspect of her home and work life. The holidays are finally here and that means home entertaining with the extended family, but her husband has decided to use the opportunity to his advantage.

Jim is finally going to have his wife all to himself and he couldn't be more thrilled. Their life started out as just them two and then expanded with family and friends, but he wants to get back to basics and reconnect with her on a more intimate level, if only for a couple of days. He's planned a few surprises for her while they're away, but some surprises are meant to be shared and even he doesn't fully know what to expect.

Ms. Leon created a beautiful story evolving around a married couple and the getaway they won't soon forget. Sometimes couples get caught up in the day-to-day routine of life that they slowly start drifting apart and sometimes the end result is divorce. Jim's character recognizes this and acknowledges it with a seduction attack on his unsuspecting wife. Before Cora realizes it, she’s being swept away on an erotic adventure and the discoveries she makes about her husband are far more meaningful than she thought possible.

Their lives will never truly be the same after this, but new memories have now been created to help get them through some of the lonely, tough parts of life that will surely come with this next adventure. Readers can expect to be fully kept in the dark as far as knowing what exactly Jim's plans are for Cora. The surprises are definitely erotically sensual, but there is an overall sweetness to them. The attention to detail and affection Jim has for Cora is truly heartfelt.

Ms. Leon will keep you teasingly on edge throughout the entire story, but not to worry there is absolutely fulfillment of the most pleasurable kind in the end.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Any Given Sunday by Mari Carr

Any Given Sunday by Mari Carr
Wild Irish Book 7
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (126 Pages)
Other: M/F, Ménage, M/F/M, M/M/F, M/M, Anal Sex/Play, BDSM, Spanking
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Holly

The child who is born on the Sabbath day, is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Sean Collins is happy working at the family pub and sharing a house with the woman of his dreams. He and Lauren are equals in every way, including in bed, where they burn the sheets. Life is good. Even if he must hide a couple of secrets to keep it that way.

Lauren is madly in love with Sean. They share everything—almost. She can’t deny sensing…something. A certain feeling when she, Sean and their friend Chad are all together. But she doesn’t press. How can she when she’s not being completely forthright herself?

Chad is feeling pretty miserable, and renting a room in Sean and Lauren’s home has only made it worse. In a house filled with secrets, Chad’s are doozies.

When an opportunity arises to explore their deep desires, the trio plunges into a sex-filled, emotionally charged ménage. Long-buried feelings are revealed, changing their lives irrevocably. Whether for better or worse, only Sean, Chad and Lauren can decide.

Sean Collins and Lauren Chase have been friends forever, and are very much in love. The logical next step is to move in together, and that is exactly what they do. When they buy a house, they invite Sean’s best friend Chad Watterson to share it, at least until Chad and Lauren graduate and start their respective careers as psychologists.

Everything is perfect; or at least it should be, but Lauren, Sean and Chad are all hiding something, and none of them wants to open that door to address the elephant in the room.

The stalemate could have gone on forever, except for the research assignment that Chad and Lauren received. The assignment would stretch their boundaries, and possibly their friendship, to new levels, and only they can decide if it is where they want to take it.

When Lauren proposes an experiment, to push the limits on three successive Sundays, can Chad and Sean accept her ground rules? Can Sean come to terms with his feelings, for Lauren and for Chad? Can Chad accept what is offered to him, or will he walk away from all he really wants?

Leave it to Mari Carr to bring her Wild Irish series to a close with the hottest and most emotional story of them all. I looked forward to reading this, but it was a bittersweet feeling, knowing I wouldn’t read any more about Ms. Carr’s wonderful Collins clan. I should not have worried, as this book brings a perfect amount of closure to the series, and gives a bit of a glimpse into how the family has grown and yet stayed close. The characters in this are everything Ms. Carr has always embodied: complex and passionate and very down to earth. Real people, who could live next door, and who would be the friends you meet for barbecues and parties.

Lauren is a wonderful character. She wants both men, but rationalizes it away, at least at first. I enjoyed watching her open up, first to Sean’s sisters, and then to Sean and Chad about what she wants and needs in her life. She is intelligent, and determined to get what she wants. I enjoyed watching her grow into her sexuality, and I liked watching her surprise at experiences she discovered were enjoyable to her.

Sean is the baby of the family, and has watched his siblings each find happiness with their mates. But he is a realist as well, and knows that he has a darker side to him, one that tends toward Domination and being in control. He also has tried to erase feelings for his best friend, feelings he acted on once, years ago, and that weren’t returned. Now he is content to be just friends with Chad.

Chad is the conflicted one. Smart and determined to succeed, he can’t come to terms with his feelings for his best friend's girl. Especially when it comes out that she has feelings for him too. He is the one who tries to leave, and I cried at the emotions his confusion and suffering created.

Any Given Sunday is a fantastic reading experience, and it will make you laugh with the characters and the fun they have. It will also draw you in to the story and make you cry at the decisions they make along the way to the very wonderful and totally unorthodox happy ever after for all three of the characters. My advice for this one is to turn the fan on high, and keep the tissues handy.

Wings of Equity by Sean Kennedy

Wings of Equity by Sean Kennedy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Steampunk)
Length: Full Length (252 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Phlox

The truth is that those who make a difference usually get martyred. What good are you dead?

Ezra Kneebone is most at home in the skies, piloting his airship with his best friend Jazz, even if it doesn’t quite pay the bills or warm Ezra’s empty bed. Those same skies are also the territory of a man known as Icarus, who uses his metal wings to steal from the rich and feed the poor. Icarus and Ezra could be soul mates but for one thing: Icarus has a bounty on his head, and Ezra is desperate for money.

Against the wishes of Jazz and her partner, the formidable Lady Bart, Ezra is determined to get his man... in more ways than one. But when Icarus saves Ezra’s life, Ezra realizes he would be betraying a hero—and his heart—if he turned Icarus in. Unfortunately, the bounty is tempting more than one hunter, and Ezra will find that loving a fugitive may mean becoming one too.

I’d just been asking myself recently why there isn’t more M/M steampunk – and look, here we are! While the genre often sacrifices dramatic elements for atmosphere and tech, this most certainly was not the case here. The straightforward plot proceeds at an excellent pace, breathtaking flight and aerial battle scenes alternating with more personal drama, and the characterization does not suffer as a result of technical description.

Mr. Kennedy makes a bold choice in narrators here. Rather than the more traditional alternating POV between the two principles in the romance, he has us alternating between our often-harried hero, Ezra, and his business partner and friend, Jazz. Jazz and her lover, Lady Bart, play the supporting roles here, though their part of the story is told with sympathy and a loving eye for detail. The reader is kept at a distance from Icarus this way, but Jazz’s view of the world is unique and her mix of idealism and pragmatism helps us see both Ezra and Icarus through other eyes. Ezra himself is utterly charming; a man whose stubbornness and pride drive him to do things that makes his heart cringe. He wants to be hard, to be as tough as anyone out there, but his own innate sense of justice keeps scuttling his best laid plans.

The first chapter does have some issues with passages that skirt dangerously close to being an information dump. There is a forced feeling to some of the sentences, as if trying too hard for better sounding words, and a somewhat forced feel to the initial bantering dialogue, as if Ezra and Jazz know we’re listening. But keep going, gentle readers. Once Mr. Kennedy hits his stride, the tone and flow of the writing slide into a marvelous rhythm, with more believable, often biting, often funny dialogue, and scene description that will have you feeling, sometimes painfully, the locale.

Some readers may feel a bit of convenience in the ending. For me, though, this was such a character-driven piece, that any bit of luck our heroes had in the end was a profound relief. There is a sense of childlike wonder in Ezra, a sense of adventure and discovery under the carefully displayed cynicism, that the reader can’t help but hope things turn out well for him. It’s often a heart stopping ride, but this is a flight well worth taking.

Love Ahead: Expect Delays by Astrid Amara

Love Ahead: Expect Delays by Astrid Amara
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (100 pgs)
Other: M/M, BDSM, anal sex
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Austin thinks driving a 1989 Geo Spectrum fourteen hundred miles in the middle of winter is a bad idea. But he would never forgive himself if the man he loved, Zach Roth, got himself killed in Idaho, so he agrees to go.

Besides, he has something to prove. He wants Zach to know it's more than just Zach’s deliciously wicked body he adores. And if it takes spending Hanukkah in Zach's grandma’s old hatchback to prove it, then so be it.

Ever the optimist, Zach believes everything will turn out for the best. But bad weather, robberies, blown gaskets, run-ins with the police, and motel bedspreads of questionable cleanliness seem to conspire against them, and they may need eight days of miracles just to keep each other...and their romance...alive.

What better way to test a relationship than a road trip during the holidays? Zach has been dating Austin for several months and everything is going well. So well in fact Austin wants the two to move in together. Zach is not quite ready for that but decides to drive his grandmother’s car home with his mechanic boyfriend. Little did either of them know their trip would be filled with obstacles.

Love Ahead: Expect Delays is a wonderful, romantic story wrapped up in a quick, entertaining road trip. Zach and Austin are an established couple that are thinking the relationship may be “the one.” Zach has some trust issues since he always seems to pick the worst men. Austin seems perfect but his explosive temper worries Zach. At the same time Austin is so careful with Zach, wanting only to protect and care for the man. Together they have a very lovely, engaging dynamic. Their relationship is punctuated by snappy dialogue and hot chemistry.

The road trip portion of the story moves along quickly from disaster to disaster with each problem realistic and interesting. The culmination of so many problems together may be a bit much but the skillful writing keeps the story entertaining. Zach and Austin reveal both their characters and what makes their relationship work in the small touches and words not said. They don’t have to proclaim their love constantly but the affection and emotion between them is evident. Zach’s family, especially his football loving grandmother, is adorable and a nice late addition to the story.

This is one couple I’d definitely love to read more of and hope the author revisits their relationship in the future. Road trips are a staple trope in romance fiction and while the themes are familiar, the story is fresh and fun to read. I easily recommend this for readers and the holiday theme is subtle enough to please without overwhelming. Feel free to read this at any time and enjoy a great story.