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Friday, March 18, 2011

Careless Whisper by Wendi Zwaduk

Careless Whisper by Wendi Zwaduk
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (81 Pages)
Other: M/F, Anal Sex
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Holly

He's her kinkiest desire, if she's willing to open her heart and believe in him.

The dead don't always rest in peace. Some stick around to make the lives of the living hell on Earth. Ryan Black knows the frustration of dealing with the dead. He's a Ghost Explorer. He's conquered houses filled with apparitions, abandoned school buildings that house angry vermin, and managed to woo the female population of Snake Falls, Ohio. But he's about to face his toughest challenge—convincing sceptical Samara Jacobs she not only shares his gift, but holds his heart.

Women fall at Ryan Black's feet and Samara's determined not to be one of the many—that is until she's forced to work with him. He's certain ghosts exist and willing to prove it. As she gets to know the man behind the television persona, she decides the handsome klutz who chases things that go bump in the night isn't so silly after all. But is he worthy of her love?

Reader Advisory: This book contains anal sex and a little harmless domination.

Careless Whisper is a delightful romance from Wendi Zwaduk. The character development is terrific, and I enjoyed trying to guess which ones were alive. There is a fun combination of spirits and live people in this, and they appear at the most interesting points in the story.

Ryan Black sees dead people...well, the spirits of dead people anyway. He has incorporated his ‘gift’ into his career, and hosts the most popular reality show on cable TV. But he is trying to find a way to help his late wife cross over, so she will stop haunting him and he can move on with his life. Preferably with his Spirit Mate: that one person who understands him and will share his life forever. He had thought it was Felicity, but she was gone now: even when she was alive, she cheated on Ryan. Now, she’s back and alternates between telling him to move on, and clinging to him to stop that from happening.

For the first time, Ryan has found someone alive who warms his heart, and turns him on. Samara Jacobs doesn’t believe in what Ryan does; she thinks its all fake. But she has the same talent as Ryan, and doesn’t know it. Nor does she know she is Ryan’s Spirit Mate, a fact Ryan plans to change, if he can just convince his dead wife to move on. Can Ryan convince Samara he is the only man for her? Can they get past the trouble Felicity keeps throwing at them? Will Samara accept that she has a gift like Ryan’s?

I like the world Ms. Zwaduk has built, a mix of fantasy and reality that strikes the perfect balance for readers. I liked that her two main characters, although perfect for each other, weren’t perfect people.

Samara Jacobs is the skeptic, the non-believer. She has a problem believing that Ryan could be interested in her, because she feels she’s not attractive. She has a sense of humor, and is determined to take care of herself. She has confidence in her abilities at her job, but not as a woman. She is sassy and hides behind her humor, when what she wants is to be loved for who she is.

Ryan Black is a handsome and sexy guy. He is also able to see the spirits that walk the Earth, and in some cases, help them move on. But he is stuck trying to decide what to do about his dead wife Felicity: be true to her memory or move on? I like that he is not Mr. Perfect, confident and sure of himself. He comes off a bit cocky at first, but as the story goes on, you see that it hides his insecurity.

The secondary characters are well crafted as well, although many are actually spirits. I loved the scene where Ryan is talking to Matilda Snodgrass, the office gossip and Samara comes in and sees them talking: she doesn’t realize Matilda is a spirit, and she can actually see her. That is the first hint that Samara is more than just a normal woman, and is actually Ryan’s Spirit Mate. There are several intriguing twists that come between Ryan and Samara, and for a bit it looked bad for them. I enjoyed watching these two go head to head and learn to care about each other, and when they finally get together, the heat level is off the charts.

I recommend this for all those folks who like their heroes just a little less than perfect.

Catching An Evil Tail by Mary Abshire

Catching An Evil Tail by Mary Abshire
Publisher: Noble Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (239 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Verbena

Half-demon Jessie Garrett wants to live a normal life among her friends and keep her soul catching ability a secret, but supernatural creatures keep popping up in her world. Adding to her struggles, her vampire lover remains out of the country, and when he offers no valuable explanation as to why he hasn't returned, she wonders if she should move on without him.

As if Jessie doesn't have enough worries on her mind, the demon yearning to seduce her shows up at her home. She longs to liberate herself from the debt she owes him, and when he asks for her help, she jumps at the chance to make a new deal with him—one that will guarantee her freedom. The only catch? She has to send the soul of a werewolf to hell.

Love, trust, and loyalty are on the line. Torn between her feelings for her vampire boyfriend, a hot Alpha wolf, and a demon vowing to protect her, Jessie must figure out her heart's true desires.

Bad guys beware; this chick will send your soul to Hell and not think twice. Her only problem? She keeps landing herself in situations that threaten her life.

Jessie just wants a normal life—job, family, kids—but as fate would have it, her path is destined for a lot more excitement. While the ghost hunts her friends and she go on are harmless enough, tackling a pissed-off werewolf who’d love nothing more than to see her dead, is another story. On top of all that, she’s kept her true identity from her best friends. They have no clue that their paranormal investigations are really a way for Jessie to collect bad souls and send them where they belong. When more and more paranormal being start popping up in her life, she knows she can’t keep her secret much longer. Doing so might not only cost her these dear relations, but endanger the ones she cares about as well.

Jeremy is a demon who’s lived for centuries in varying human bodies. While he has no qualms getting laid or blown by any attractive woman, he’s got his sights set on Jessie, despite the fact that she’s already in a committed relationship and has made her feelings clear on the matter. Like a typical incubus, he’s not going to give up. He’ll try every angle to get her in his bed, a fact that Jessie is all too aware of. One debt to Jeremy is enough. Can she dare trust him to release their prior contract for one that promises to set her free? Even if it means spending the weekend with him in a hotel?

Catching An Evil Tail is written in first person, from Jessie’s point-of-view. Despite this, the author does a fairly good job in giving us enough detail to get a feel for the other characters as well. The plot flowed well enough to keep me interested, but there could have been a little more excitement. There were times when I felt pertinent scenes were rushed over and less important ones dragged out. Some editing errors caught my attention, mostly missing words, but they weren’t overly distracting.

My biggest beef with the story was with the main character herself, Jessie. I liked her as a person, but her back and forth moods about her boyfriend made her sound too wishy-washy. She supposedly loved Drake with all her heart, yet allowed herself to be kissed and fondled by two other men during Drake’s absence. One minute she despises Jeremy—and lets him know it—the next she’s allowing him to kiss her. No wonder the guy won’t give up. Taking into account she’s half-demon, you do have to make allowances for her sexual nature. The fact that her boyfriend has been gone far longer than he’d promised, and he’s sketchy at best as to why he’s delayed in coming home, I can see where she begins to get confused and distrustful.

Over all though, I enjoyed Catching An Evil Tail. There were a few lingering loose ends, but the main dilemmas were addressed. The ending definitely leaves it open for another story. I hope Ms. Abshire has something in the works. I’d like to see a little more of these characters in future tales.

My Girl by Stormy Glenn

My Girl by Stormy Glenn
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length(174 Pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Masturbation
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Edelweiss

Nail polish, makeup, hair extensions, cute little skirts, a new life in a new city...what else is a guy to do when someone is trying to kill him?
Nicholas Rylander watched his best friend get murdered and now he's in a woman. He's had hair extensions put in, acrylic nails applied, and a custom bra fitted to give him breasts. He's even moved across the country and found an apartment as Nicky, a hot girl in a short skirt.

Nicky's only problem? He's met the man of his dreams and Seth thinks he's a girl. Telling Seth the truth could get them both killed but if he doesn't Nicky could lose the best thing that ever happened to him.

There's absolutely nothing better to me than being challenged by the ideas presented in a book. Stormy Glenn's My Girl goes beyond the typical boy meets boy, to explore social norms and the reasons behind them. The lovely surprise is that this book is also smoldering, sexy, and in places, an outright hilarious read.

In the beginning of the book, Nicky is introduced as a beautiful woman. Seth, a confirmed gay man, finds himself captivated by the very lovely, very female Nicky. I imagined it would be quite difficult to suddenly be attracted to a woman for Seth. Ms. Glenn fleshes this emotion out in such detail, that I now know exactly how that would feel. I eagerly anticipated the moment where the main character realizes that he's made a huge mistake, and finds himself in the unenviable position of having to plead for a second chance. I wanted to hand Seth his head on Nicky's behalf, but soon found myself rooting for them both to have their happily ever after.

The real meat of this tale revolves around the fact that a man and a woman enjoy greater freedom to express their affection for each other in public, than their same-sex counterparts. I love how Ms. Glenn uses the characters, and their different perspectives, to explore the ideas of injustice and social boundaries. Nicky and Seth must both evaluate how they feel about their roles, especially Nicky who must cross the line, and pretend to be something he's not. You'll find the detail is superb, and was obviously well researched.

Let's not forget the steamy scenes that keep me coming back like an addict for more of Stormy Glenn's books. Talk about heart pumping, shock to the system, “wish you had some of that” sex. If you're looking for a book that produces longing like this, get this Ms. Glenn's ability to weave an intensely compelling situation with levity is refreshing. It definitely added to the development of Seth and Nicky's relationship to be able to laugh during their lovemaking.

This book had just the right amount of heat, wit, and brain percolation time. There's plenty of action to keep the reader turning the pages to see what happens next. I'm giving this book a rating of 4.5 cherries only because I've read many of Stormy Glenn's books, and use those as comparison. I'm happy to recommend this book to you, I know you'll enjoy it. As this is my first review with this site, I'll begin a tradition by closing with my favorite line in the book: “If it makes you feel any better, I'd hold hands with you no matter where or how we looked....and I don't care what anyone says about it.”

Bought For The Billionaire’s Bed by Jan Bowles

Bought For The Billionaire’s Bed by Jan Bowles
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (109 pgs)
Other: Voyeurism, M/F, bondage, spanking, anal sex,
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Myrtle

Thirty-five-year-old self-made billionaire Trent Mavers needs more excitement in his life. The social scene in New York has left him thoroughly disillusioned. When he meets twenty-five-year-old Swedish beauty Mia Johansson at a charity auction, he believes he’s found the perfect woman. Sexy, alluring and highly intelligent, she is dressed to kill and is everything he desires.

However, Mia is not all she seems. She is hiding her true identity. After a night of unbridled passion in the billionaire’s bed, she soon finds herself in serious trouble when her deception is uncovered. The only person who can save her now is Trent Mavers, the very man she has deceived.

Is he acting out of kindness by spending thousands of dollars to help her, or has the billionaire really just bought her for his bed?

The movie Pretty Woman has nothing on this story, which was what came to mind when I started reading this book. Only, in this case Mia Johansson was not a hooker but a young woman working in a low paying job and a student of fine art who wanted to see a painting up close at a social gathering. My blood started to boil in chapter one because her boss told her that “one needed style and panache to pull off a social gathering” and that Mia was lacking in both department. Boy! Talk about pulling me into the plot and heating me up right off the bat--that did it.

For a short story, Ms. Bowles did amazingly well in playing on the reader's emotions while bringing the characters to life. In this book, you will find one evil uncaring woman who needs a lesson in how to treat people, Trent Mavers, a billionaire who likes being an alpha male in both the business world and the bedroom and Mia Johansson, poor but pretty art major who loses her heart to the stunning billionaire.

The only thing I did not make a connection to at first was the title of the book, which I felt did not truly go with the plot as I imagined it would until the end. Even so, when the plot turns and I read, “The hussy has cost me a small fortune. I’m gonna make damn sure I get my money’s worth out of her first before I drop her.” Then the title clicked and made sense in how one of the characters felt even if it was a misunderstanding and gave the plot a wild new twist to one of the most breathtaking love story I have read in a long time.

This reviewer is looking forward to reading more of Jan Bowles books and will recommend this one to anyone who loves the movie Pretty Woman like I did. I'm betting you'll enjoy both the plot and the writing style in this story.

Affairs of Dragons by Lena Austin

Affairs of Dragons by Lena Austin
Dragon’s Mate 1
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (62 Pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Holly

Never meddle in the affairs of dragons…

For over a century, Jon's village has sacrificed a virgin to the dragon who lives in the mountain. This time, when they find Jon in a compromising position with a traveling player, Jon's the new sacrifice!

Patch really isn't fond of the taste of human flesh. He's enjoyed sending the virgin sacrifices off to start their new lives. But when he sees Jon beaten and trussed to the rock outside his cave, he decides he may just keep this sacrifice around -- as his mate.

This is the first in what appears to be a new series called Dragon Mates. Lena Austin has written a tale of betrayal, and romance and new beginnings. Being Lena Austin, she has made it incredibly hot, with a side order of retribution to the bad guys.

Jonndre the Potter is a simple man, but the townspeople turn against him when he is caught being less than prudent with a traveling player visiting the town. Because this is a crime punishable by burning, Jon knows he will meet his death in a rather unsavory manner. But because it is the year of the sacrifice, they decide to dress him as a woman, and let the dragon take him. This is a ritual that has been going on for centuries, and virgins are sacrificed to the dragon to keep the land safe.

Unbeknownst to the town, however, is that Patch, the dragon doesn’t eat the virgins, but actually sends them on to new lives away from the poverty in the village. What happens when Patch discovers a beaten and disguised Jon as his next victim? Can he fight the attraction he feels for the human, and let him go? Or is there more to Jon than meets the eye?

Ms. Austin has put some interesting twists and surprises in this story, and I enjoyed each as they came along.

Jon had the misfortune of living in a town that was rigid and unyielding of anything that didn’t fit the norm. He is a simple man, not overly imposing, but handsome and well proportioned. He is alone most of the time, except for the one time every year when the traveling players come to entertain, and Erond can join him for some pleasure. When they are caught, Erond escapes and Jon is left to face the music.

Patch is a dragon shifter, and has lived quietly for centuries, protecting the surrounding lands, and providing better futures for the virgins left for him as tribute. Tall, strong and absolutely delicious, he is stunned when he feels an attraction for on after rescuing him. I liked the way Patch was able to take care of Jon, and eventually convince him he meant him no harm.

There are some surprises in this, especially the one about who betrayed Jon to the town. This is revealed later, and it puts Jon in greater danger than ever, but it also brings Jon and Patch together more than anything else could, and it provides answers to some questions Patch had about Jon.

There is a sweet romance threaded through this, but it is told with Ms Austin’s trademark touch of sizzle and spark. I look forward to more of the Dragon Mates series.

Cirque Caprice: Tarot by Julia Talbot

Cirque Caprice: Tarot by Julia Talbot
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Action/Aventure, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (37 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Coreopsis

PI Jake Stanley thinks he's on a routine case when a father asks him to track down an errant daughter. There's nothing routine about Cirque Caprice, though, or its mysterious owner, Victor. Most traveling shows are all smoke and mirrors, but there's something about Caprice that makes Jake think he ought to stick around and investigate. Victor thinks Jake ought to join them on the road, too, but for an entirely different, and more pleasurable, reason.

I must say this story wasn’t what I originally expected when I choose to read it. That being said I was very pleased. Despite its length it had well developed characters and a fast paced story line that kept me reading until the very end.

Jake Stanley is a PI investigating a case of a missing woman when he finds something he didn’t know he was looking for, a possible relationship with Victor Grange. Victor is co-owner of Cirque Caprice, and traveling with the circus has lead to Victor living a lonely life. When Jake comes looking for information Victor is more than willing to help the man and sort out the false rumors surrounding Cirque Caprice. With Victor's help Jake learns there’s more to Cirque Caprice than a bunch of parlor tricks, and comes to respect the type of performance these circus workers put on. In spending time together both men come to realize they have more in common than just chemistry.

Like I said I was very pleased with this short story, sometimes when you read a short story you don’t always get enough information to really get a glimpse inside the characters lives. Both these men were written as strong and honest male leads, who at their core only want to be able to help other people, and just may be find their own piece of happiness as well.

This story had it all mystery, drama, sex and love. A good combination for a short story you can read over your lunch break.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

P'tit Cadeau by Anel Viz

P'tit Cadeau by Anel Viz
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (450 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Foxglove

Ben, an American art professor on a painting sabbatical in the south of France, rents a room in an isolated village to avoid the tourist crush. There he meets his landlady's brother, the sensitive and childlike loner Jean-Yves, whom the locals consider simple minded because he is "different". Ben makes him his principal model and undertakes to build his self-confidence and prepare him to fend for himself.

Jean-Yves� has never had a friend before. As they grow closer, Ben comes to realize the extent of the young man�s emotional needs, and his total dependence and unbridled devotion frighten him. Has he taken on more responsibility than he can handle? Should he allow himself to fall in love with Jean-Yves when he knows their relationship must end when his sabbatical is over?

If you're in the mood for a long, leisurely, creative and cultural journey through France and Italy in the company of two beautiful men, then P'tit Cadeau is the novel for you. One of the strongest elements about this book was the depth of immersion into both France and the life of the artist. French phrases are sprinkled liberally throughout, some translated, some relying on context to get their meaning across. Plenty of time is spent describing Ben's artistic processes, how he sees a landscape or model or other subject that he wants to capture, effects of light and other environmental factors, deciding on the composition of the drawing or painting, materials to be used.

Jean-Yves is most definitely not feeble minded, nor really childlike -- he just hasn't had the chance, under his sister's suspicious and watchful eye, to spread his wings and be his own person. True, he is quite a bit younger than Ben and looks even younger than he is, but he has a rich inner life that, with Ben's friendship and influence, finally has a chance to flourish. Because the story is told in first person from Ben's point of view, we don't get to experience Jean-Yves' thoughts and feelings directly, only through the filter of Ben's perspective.

For me, the downside of this novel and the reason I gave it 3.5 cherries is that it gets so meandering in the long middle that it starts to bog down. Some of the scenes don't seem to either advance the plot or reveal character, they seem to exist purely for the purpose of more local color, and at times Ben's reservations about a relationship with Jean-Yves seem overly repetitive. One can always skim those parts, though, because the novel covers a lot of ground, in terms of miles, years, and character growth (especially that of Jean-Yves), and is definitely satisfying. Don't be thrown by the title or the reference to hustlers; while a few gay male prostitutes do show up in the story, they aren't a big part of it.

Overall, P'tit Cadeau is an enjoyable, insightful novel that transports the reader easily and is the next best thing to a private romantic European artists' retreat.

Simply Perfection by Trina Lane

Simply Perfection by Trina Lane
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (172 pages)
Other: M/M, Ménage, M/M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Rosemary

Niall Roberge has patiently waited years to find the two men who are destined to hold his heart forever. He believes his prayers have been answered when he meets Dr. Matt Lincoln and Trevor Mitchell.

Matt has hungered for the closeness of a ménage relationship and is amazed at the instant connection he shares with Niall after being disappointed so many times before. Trevor has led a solitary life and is leery of entrusting his heart to two men who are capable of breaking through the protective walls he’s managed to build with a single touch.

As the three come to terms with the love building between them, they learn that someone is determined to unravel the bonds woven between their souls - a man determined to remind the three that Trevor belongs to him.

Simply Perfection by Trina Lane is the fourth book in the Perfect Love series. The ménage relationship with photographer Niall Roberge, psychiatrist Matt Lincoln, and crime lab tech Trevor Mitchell is unique and provides added interest for readers of this wonderful series.

Matt and Niall feel an immediate connection as soon as they meet and eagerly set up their first date. Both men admit they are ultimately looking for a ménage relationship, and when Matt meets Trevor a few days later and feels the same immediate connection to him that he had for Niall, he asks Trevor out on a date. Matt introduces Trevor to Niall, and while Trevor has not been part of a threesome in the past, he is open to exploring a ménage relationship.

Matt, Niall, and Trevor are three dimensional and realistic protagonists. The overall plot of the novel is sound, and it moves at a brisk pace, but there are quite a few editing errors. The stalker storyline is well executed, and provides tension in an otherwise conflict free novel. The camaraderie between characters from past and present novels is one of Simply Perfection’s strengths and significantly adds to its appeal.

The relationship between Matt, Niall, and Trevor seemed to develop rather quickly. The novel fast forwards three months into their relationship which helps to diffuse the “insta-love” vibe. Trevor’s easy acceptance of a ménage relationship was rather surprising considering he had never been involved in a threesome before. He does eventually question his feelings for the situation which helped lend credibility to his character and the relationship.

Simply Perfection by Trina Lane is an enjoyable and compelling read. An unexpected twist on the ménage storyline along with diverse characters keeps the Perfect Love series fresh and interesting. Fans of this series will be delighted with this latest installment.

Corporate Plaything by Lizzie Lynn Lee

Corporate Plaything by Lizzie Lynn Lee
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (108 pages)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, M/F/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Spanking, light bdsm
Rating: 3 Cherries
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

An inept spy gets more than she bargains for when she enters the Martel brothers' lair. Forget the mission, she will be lucky if she can keep her panties intact.

In the fashion world, triplets Justin, Raphael, and Matthew Martel are designer moguls. Unbeknown to the public, the brothers are actually half-human and half-nymph. When they put their secret nymph concoction into their new perfume, Surrender, in order to find their mate, Surrender unexpectedly becomes a wildly global sensation and sparks jealousy among their competitors.

Blackmailed by her father’s cronies, Anna Vincent is forced to work for the Martel brothers in order to steal their secret formula. Anna is wary, but she doesn't have any other options. Either she gets that secret formula or her father goes to jail.

The Martels know their new personal assistant is a corporate spy. But what they didn't expect is that Anna is the woman they have been looking for as a mate. If Anna had told them the truth, they would’ve gladly helped her. But since Anna is too stubborn and prideful—and a bad spy for that matter—the brothers are compelled to teach Miss Prissy the joy of naughty, sexy, forbidden games until she admits she belongs to them forever.

Get a job with one of the most successful design houses in New York and steal the secret formula to their mega selling perfume to save her father from a Russian mob syndicate…easy peasy, right? Anna Vincent thought the job she was applying for consisted of doing some personal assistant work for the sexy triplets that owned Martel Design House. Well, she was partly right; they did want her to personally assist them but not so much with the business as with their personal lives. She would be at their beck and call, travel as their companion and warm their bed in any and every fashion they required.

Corporate Plaything is a short story but there is a lot going on. The men own a business but are really only in it to find their destined mate. Once she has been found they set out to win her over. Anna is very inexperienced even if she isn't a virgin. She's also a little shy and self-conscious. They hire her under the impression that she is their plaything, contracted for one year. The three brothers are triplets but as much as they look alike on the outside they are total individuals on the inside. Justin is the leader, Raphael is the healer, and Matthew is the fighter. Ms. Lee does a good job of distinguishing the men’s personalities and giving each man adequate alone time to get to know Anna better.

There were some really nice sensual scenes in the book that had me reaching for a fan. One that was very well written is fairly early in the story where Raphael is talking dirty to Anna to help her pass a “test”. You’ll just have to read the book to understand the importance of this test.

I did have a few issues with the book. Some are probably more preference issues than real problems but it was enough that it took away a little of my enjoyment of the unique storyline. The one that kept plaguing me mostly involved the name of one of the men, Raphael. Actually, I loved his name in the beginning but then it gets shortened to Ralph for the rest of the book. I think, maybe, Ms. Lee meant for the reader to pronounce it like Raph but because Ralph is a more common name I kept imagining the character from The Honeymooners rather than the gorgeous half-human he and his triplet brothers actually are.

Ms. Lee is a very vivid storyteller. Her writing style is easy to read and she goes the extra mile to paint detailed pictures of the sites and sounds that surround the characters. When Anna and Justin visit Japan on a business trip and when she joins Raphael in St. Croix I felt like I was actually traveling with them.

If you are looking for a quick read with enough hot sheet action to singe your e-reader, pick up a copy of Corporate Plaything. Ms. Lee has a tantalizing voice for both ménage relationships and the paranormal. She combines both in this little novella for a truly unique story.

Viking Seduction: Blood Hunter by Brannan Black

Viking Seduction: Blood Hunter by Brannan Black
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (98 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Forced Seduction, Voyeurism
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

I'm a cop. Homicide Detective Pasquale O'Grady. So believe me when I tell you, vampires took my daughter -- along with other missing collage kids. Real vampires, not the Goth wanna-be kind. I even know which one. But the bastard went and got himself dead before I could track him down.

With my leads gone, my only hope is his killer. I knew convincing another bloodsucker to help me was a long shot. I hadn't counted on his sexy blond sister who wants me in her bed. It's not that I have something against sex, hell, what man with a pulse would? And since my divorce, I haven't exactly been getting much action. But I'm too damn old to be some Viking vampire's boytoy -- or worse, blood slave -- no matter how sexy.

Excitement and surprises abound within the well written pages of Viking Seduction: Blood Hunter.

First off, this is a first person point of view story told from the male hero’s perspective and I thought it worked really well. In fact, it was vastly entertaining and it kept my interest completely throughout the entire tale.

Grady is a cop on the trail of his missing daughter. Right off the bat I was sympathetic to his character and I wanted him to succeed. What he has to do and what he finds out along the way had me flipping the pages at a furious pace. I liked his gruff, no nonsense manner and he doesn’t pull his punches. In fact, he’s a man’s man and a good officer and his skills come in to play in ways and places he never could have dreamed of.

One person he never thought he’d have a chance with is the blonde hottie he fantasized about. Segrun is a Viking warrior turned vampiress. She has some seriously major mojo and I enjoyed watching her love/hate relationship with Grady. What a wonderful character she is and when Grady finally gets a chance to understand what her life has been like it’s a pivotal shift in their relationship. Segrun comes across originally as a tough as nails user of men, but when Grady earns her trust readers find out she is even more interesting that they might have imagined.

Another aspect that is well written was the hot and literally furious love scenes between the hero and heroine. Talk about wild and no holds barred – nothing boring about these two. The author placed each frenetic and scorching scene where they’d have the most value in forwarding the plot while vastly entertaining the reader at the same time. There was a good balance between the story and the heated skin scenes and I appreciate the author’s talent.

The secondary characters were interesting and valuable to both the hero and heroine and based upon how the story ended, I suspect there will be another book about one of them, hopefully soon.

Yes, there is a happily ever after and the byplay between Segrun and Grady made it fun. In fact I loved how the two verbally sparred with each other – it was great dialogue. And although the story ended happy for them, the author introduced a political wrinkle that will surely test the strength and loyalty of the friendships made during the course of this tale. To say that I’m interested in what comes next is an understatement. Viking Seduction: Blood Hunter rocked and I can’t wait to find out what new excitement this talented author has in store for readers.

Snared in Siberia by Allie Standifer

Snared in Siberia by Allie Standifer
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Genre: Contemp, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (52 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Reviewed by Dandelion

Twenty-nine years ago a young American couple adopted Nakia from a small town in southern Siberia, at the edge of Lake Baikal. Now she’s back, looking for answers to who she is and where she comes from.

Aleki remembers the babe his tribe sent away for her own protection. Little did he know she’d grow into such a sexy, desirable woman. Now he can’t keep his hands off her. But Nakia is determined to solve the mystery of her past—and the mystery behind her need for Aleki.

Third in the Erotic Escapes series, this story tells of Nakia, heroine gone home to see her ancestral land, and Aleki, a demon who's destined to be with her.

This story's strength is defintiely its sex scenes - hot, hot, and super-hot! From the moment they meet, Nakia and Aleki waste no time getting naked and enjoying each other every way possible. This author's strengths definitely lie in the explicit, believable, and off-the-charts love-making scenes. Nakia is a sweet if confused heroine who can't really understand her enormous attraction to Aleki, until she realizes who and what he is. Then, to his surprise, she's a willing and understanding mate who's eager to do everything she can to stay with him and realize her true destiny. Aleki, in turn, is both a driven and sensitive lover, and it's satisfying to see him find his soul mate once and for all.

Because this story is in the middle of a series, though, for me it was missing some plot elements, namely what draws these two characters together so strongly and immediately. In fact, on Nakia's first night in a strange new country, she deserts the one man who is kind to her simply because of Aleki's supposed draw. I had a hard time suspending my disbelief, probably because I had no background on Aleki or these lovers' destiny. Also, while the exposition in this story is terrific, the dialogue is less so. There's more than one piece of awkward dialogue here, which took away from the story's development.

I do recommend beginning at the first book if you're inclined to pick up this series, and for the love making scenes alone, it's worth it.

Leap by Cindy Jacks

Leap by Cindy Jacks
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Length: Short Story (32 pgs)
Genre: Contemporary
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Stephantois

Just when Lila has resigned herself to the fact the most exciting chapters of her life are over, a blast from the past walks into her bakery. Six feet of gorgeousness named Gavin drops by as she’s closing up shop. They were once high-school sweethearts and it’s been more than twenty-five years since they’ve seen each other, but time hasn’t diminished the sweet heat between them. Soon enough the sparks—and the frosting—begin to fly.

As they rediscover each other’s bodies, it’s clear Gavin’s no longer a boy as he shows Lila the man and skillful lover he’s become. Though Lila knows this whirlwind romp could be an act of insanity, his touch unleashes the sensual woman she’s forgotten she could be. And she thinks—maybe—she has one more leap in her.

Lila runs her own bakery and, as the story begins, is trying to get over a broken relationship. When the store closes one evening and she hears someone entering the front door she thinks it’s a customer but is shocked to see an old love, Gavin standing there.

Some of my favorite stories are about two people reconnecting. I liked both Lila and Gavin from the beginning of this story. You feel Lila’s pain of her broken relationship and you get the sense that work at the bakery is how she’s dealing with it. Gavin comes across as very sexy and you can see why Lila has liked him all these years. The dialogue is very natural sounding and the pacing very swift in these 32 pages. My only complaint with the book…I wanted it to be longer. Once you’ve invested your interest in Lila and Gavin you want to know what happens next.

Besides that, if you’re looking for twenty minutes of pure escapism with a sexy story of two reunited lovers, Leap might be your ideal read.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dragon Kin: Binding Katrina by Selena Illyria

Dragon Kin: Binding Katrina by Selena Illyria
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (75 Pages)
Other: M/F, BDSM, Anal Play, Spanking
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Holly

Katrina doesn't mix business and pleasure. Period. Things get too complicated. Besides that, she's not looking for a relationship. Yet she can't stop desiring Clash and Claw's new bouncer, the sexy Elven prince dressed in black leather, with tattoos and piercings.

Braydon wants Katrina and isn't taking no for an answer. He'll do whatever it takes to get her right where she belongs -- with him -- and he's got a few naughty tricks up his sleeve to get his way.

This latest episode of the Dragon Kin series ventures from the original premise of Dragons finding mates. But Selena Illyria manages to include the Dragon Lord, and the world these books are set in, with great success. The characters are likable and complex, and the story is multi-faceted, both serious and yet with lots of fun and hot and heavy sex.

Braydon works as a bouncer at Clash and Claw. What makes it unusual is not the occupation itself, but who Braydon is. A sexy Elven prince dressed in black leather, with tattoos and piercings, he has a double agenda. Since the day he saw her, he has wanted Katrina, a former Bound Human, freed by her Dragon Lord. All the signs seem to indicate she shares the attraction, but something is holding her back. But until Braydon completes an assignment to retrieve a gem given to Katrina by Ulfric, her Dragon Lord, he can’t pursue her as he wishes. Can a rebel Elven prince and a former Bound Human with trust issues get past it all? Can Braydon convince Katrina he is in this for the long haul, or will she run?

Katrina is a strong character, but very insecure. She is attracted to Braydon, but afraid to act on it. Four years after being freed, she is still worried that her former master will call her back. She feels that everyone leaves, and she believes Bray will too, eventually. I like watching her spirit and her growth, as she starts to realize she might have a future with Bray after all.

Braydon has never been one to follow the Elven Prince image; he's pierced and tattooed and totally the bad boy. He realizes he has a tough job, convincing Katrina he is going to stay around. He is a bit possessive and territorial where she is concerned, but he knows they can be good together.

The scenes between Katrina and Bray are sizzling hot, and the weekend they spend together will change both of their lives forever. But the trust issues that Katrina has will be stretched when Bray has to complete his assignment and leave her for a short while. I hope that Ms. Illyria will revisit this couple and complete the happy ever after these two deserve. For now I will accept the happy for now, with Bray’s promise to Katrina.

I’m On Fire by Sommer Marsden

I’m On Fire by Sommer Marsden
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (85 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Fern

What better way to exorcise an ex than by burning all his stuff in the kitchen sink using his favorite whisky as fuel? Um…yeah, until your kitchen drapes catch fire.

Turns out they send a handsome fireman with a huge chip on his shoulder to deal with that. The last thing Melissa Valley needs is another complication in her world, but there he is—Jackson Goodman—larger than life, hotter than hell. Coming off a bad six-year marriage and resentful of the fact that he’s attracted to her. Logical much?

Fate has plans, it seems. Like it or not, what Jackson and Mel feel for each other might burn hotter than any fire either of them has ever seen. If they let it.

When things get hot, what could possibly be better than a gorgeous fireman to douse the flames? When Mel returns home from a business trip and discovers she’s been left a goodbye letter from her now ex-boyfriend, she decides it’s time to remove any trace of his existence. Burning the things he left behind sounds like a wonderful idea. What she doesn’t count on is the blazing fire in her apartment that occurs as a consequence. Fortunately, help arrives in the form of Jackson, a firefighter who is as crass as he is luscious. Their attraction is undeniable, but both are coming out of bad relationships. A future together is out of the question. Or is it?

Sommer Marsden’s I’m On Fire is a delicious novella that sizzles. I enjoyed the witty banter between Mel and Jackson, as well as the histories that threaten to keep them apart. They are combination of fire and ice. Just when you think things are going to go smoothly, the past comes between them. Mel is relatable as a woman who has had her heart broken, while Jackson provides the emotional angst of the story. It’s obvious they want each other, but time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds. It takes a series of unfortunate events to bring them together time and again, until they have no choice but to face what is happening between them.

The dialogue is brilliant, and I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion, especially when Mel’s best friend decides to play matchmaker. My only complaint would be that I would have enjoyed the story a bit longer, as things are wrapped up rather quickly. However, I did love the story, as well as the characters Ms. Marsden brought to life. The chemistry between Mel and Jackson is electric, and their love scenes are burn-your-fingers hot.

Fans of contemporary romances with a bit of humor, emotion, and complication will absolutely love I’m On Fire. This is the first story I’ve enjoyed by Ms. Marsden but it certainly won’t be the last.

Dream Lover by Kristina Wright, ed.

Dream Lover by Kristina Wright, ed.
Publisher: Cleis Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical (recent), Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (242 pgs)
Other: BDSM (light), M/F, M/F/M, menage, Anal Play
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Cholla

Supernaturally sensual and captivating, Dream Lover is a feast of fanciful delights. Kristina Wright, editor of the popular Fairy Tale Lust presents a potent potion of fun and sexy tales filled with male fairies and clairvoyant scientists, as well as darkly erotic tales of ghosts, shapeshifters and possession. Dream Lover asks the reader to explore the realm of the otherworldly and answer the question... who is your dream lover?

What’s your darkest desire? Your most secret fantasy lover? A vampire? A ghost? Or something more? Whatever it is that lurks deep within your heart, you’re sure to find it within the pages of Dark Lover, an anthology of fun and exciting, as well as seriously sexy stories of the paranormal kind.

Love Resurrection by Justine Elyot leads off the series with a charming yet steamy ghost story. Freya is bound and determined to get long-dead poet Lucien Mountfichet’s name known to the world at large. What she doesn’t realize is just how that’s about to happen. This is one of the more creative ghost stories I’ve read, with an unexpected sort of happy ending.

Dreaming by the Sea by Delilah Devlin is a refreshing twist on the mermaid theme. Fraught with emotional tension and erotic love scenes, Ms. Devlin manages to develop two unique characters in just a few pages, ensuring that you’ll devour this short story in one sitting.

Devil’s Food by Shanna Germain is a lighthearted and yet sexy romp in a bakery that goes by the name of Devil’s Food. When pastry chef Lire meets Fey hunk Thadeus, more than just sparks fly. Due to the fun nature of this story, all the sugar, and the hot love between the two, Devil’s Food was one of my favorite stories in this collection. Sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Rainmaker by A. D. R. Forte was a fascinating story that reminds me of a spiced up version of an old wives’ tale or myth from the past. Faith is full of repressed magic, and if she’s to bring relief to the parched, dry land around her, she’s going to have to step outside her comfort zone to release it. David is there to help her do just that, like it or not.

Shattered Belle by Craig J. Sorensen had me a bit confused at the beginning, however, it all comes together with quite a bang at the end. Belle is bound and determined to ensure the sanctity of her precious church while the stranger is set on only completing his task. By the end, you’ll find yourself nodding and saying, “Ahh, yes, I thought so!” and squealing with glee. A wonderfully woven story that will have you sighing with pleasure and constantly second-guessing yourself.

Living off Lovers by Kristina Lloyd is one of the more intense stories in this anthology. Desperate to reunite two long-lost lovers, Rachel and Merrick must come together in a very intimate way. Driven in a way neither understands, they find one another and simply explode with passion. Sexy, sultry, and amazing, all wrapped into one short story.

Where the Heart Is by Saskia Walker is chock-full of paranormal elements to both tease and entice the reader. Rhiannon is nothing close to what she appears and Edgar is so much more. About halfway through this one, I thought I’d missed the boat on what was happening. However, just before the end it all comes together beautifully, giving you more than just a little satisfaction.

Freeing the Demon by Sacchi Green is my kind of story! I love nothing better than when a battered or otherwise abused woman gets her revenge on the man who has done her wrong. Jayne gets her revenge and so much more. When she discovers a trapped demon in the gargoyle outside her building, her fate is changed forever and for the better. This was a very refreshing twist on revenge, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

Old-Fashioned Glamour by Nikki Magennis is a wonderfully magical take on the idea of ‘who says you can’t go home?’ Returning home after too many years away, Amy tries to move amongst the villagers in a nearly invisible haze of magic, until Scott sees right through her glamour. The faith that love endures powers this little short, bringing back together a love that was always meant to be.

Moongirl Meets the Wolfman by Alana Noel Voth is a very different sort of story. Told in the style of an adult fairy tale, you’re introduced to The Woman on the night she meets Hayden and taken on an exciting ride through their time together. This wasn’t one of my favorite stories as it was a bit odd and often somewhat disjointed. However, it is an excellent example of two forces working against one another – one half of the couple is fighting the wolf within while the other embraces it – to eventually find a way to work together in the end.

Vanilla by Victoria Janssen is a cute little story combining a scientist who likes to bake with a telepath. And this combination makes for a very sweet, very sexy result. I always enjoy when cooking and/or baking is added into a story and this was no exception. The lacing of the scent of vanilla throughout the whole story just adds flavor to an already tasty encounter.

For Humans, Love’s All About Weight by Lana Fox is that kind of story that makes you feel good, that renews your hope for the world. Hattie was betrayed by her lover and her neighbors. However, when a mysterious bird with human eyes is brought into her home, she follows her heart and ignores the instructions left to her… bringing her the joy she’s always deserved. A lovely short story that will have you smiling before the end.

Succubus Comes Home by Lucy Felthouse is one of those stories that makes you laugh at it’s little twist of fate. What happens when a succubus and incubus come together as one? Well, only time will tell, but I can assure you, it’s going to be explosive for sure! An added bonus for me was that the theme of this story was finding love with your best friend, the one you overlooked but always knew was there. This is extra special to my heart because that’s where I found my truest love.

Folly by Kate Pearce is a unique sort of story. It’s not often you find a man trapped in stone, anchored to an abandoned and ultimately condemned building. Rose was discarded by her boyfriend without a second thought, left alone, with nowhere to go. Until she stumbles upon Camalus… literally. I love when stories take a bit of the old world and mix it into a fresh, contemporary setting and Ms. Pearce does just that. You get just a taste of the old Celtic myths mixed into a world that is familiar and yet still new.

Lust as Old as Us by Madeline Moore starts out seemingly as your typical vampire meets young girl story. However, it takes an unexpected turn and leaves you thinking, “What? Why did that just happen?” I really loved this story for that very reason – it leaves you wondering just where the author is going to go next since she’s already done the unthinkable. The ending wasn’t quite what I expected, either, and really made it complete for me.

The Eye of the Pearl by Ericka Hiatt is a good old-fashioned fantasy with an erotic twist. An elf warrior has made a deal with a demon and sees no way out. That is, until Lele, the human he’s abducted from the mortal realm discovers a way. A scortching hot little story that reminds you that love will find a way to conquer all… even when the obstacle is a demon.

Thief of Dreams by Kristina Wright is the final story in this anthology and is a fitting end to a collection called Dream Lover. Victor is a fallen angel, surviving solely on the dreams of his beloved, Michelle. His mistake leads to not just his own redemption, but also to the revitalization of Michelle, who had been lost and lonely before he came and stole her dreams. A great story about love against all odds and the saving power of love. Also a wonderful end to a great group of stories.

From mermaids to succubi to vampires, the Dream Lover anthology has it all. Stuffed full of authors both new and familiar to me, I found something to satisfy every mood I might have, as well as every mystical creature I’ve ever thought about imagining. I loved how the stories all had a similar thread running through them, but were all different enough to stand out on their own. Each will grab your attention and draw you into its own world for a moment or two before returning you home again. If you’re a lover of the exotic, erotic, and extraordinary, then this is by far the anthology for you.