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Friday, April 1, 2011

Unwrapping Chris by Nancy Lee Badger

Unwrapping Chris by Nancy Lee Badger
Publisher: Whispers Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (33 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Army widow Jayne Rockwell searches for a secure future for her and her two daughters. Staff Sergeant Christopher Hawkins regrets leaving young Jayne eight years ago to go off to war. A crash encounter a week before Christmas thrusts these two lonely people back into each other’s lives once more.

Jayne must learn to trust a man who disappeared with her heart. Chris must overcome the guilt of taking her innocence and then leaving her heartbroken and alone.

A Christmas wedding brings them closer when Jayne spies him as a groomsman in Highland dress, complete with kilt. He cannot keep his eyes off the woman in green velvet wearing a wedding ring. Accusations, explanations, and remorse leads to a love that erupts among candlelight, Christmas carols, and a dark room. Who needs mistletoe?

A second chance at a first love? All while surrounded by the glitz and glamour of Christmas? In this book, it’s completely possible.

This is my first chance to read a story by Nancy Lee Badger and I’m glad I did. This story has an interesting plot that drew me in from the moment I read the blurb. I love a story with military hunks and this one is chock full of them.

The plot moves at warp speed. There’s a lot going on in this little tale, but it works. Jayne’s a wounded heroine. She’s been through a wringer and yet she’s still going. Chris...where do I begin with him? He’s handsome and who I’d place Jayne with. Great pairing.

What took away from the story for me was a couple things. The pacing is really fast. We fly from one scene to the next, and the whirlwind fashion of the pairing of Jayne and Chris was almost a little hard to fathom. I’m a sucker for love at first sight, but I had a hard time buying into the swiftness of the courtship. The scene at the wedding was hot, but I had to go back three times to make sure I knew what was going on. Another thing that was a little tough to get past was Chris. I understood why he acted as he did, but I didn’t feel like I really got to know him. He’s a total hunk, I wanted more about him.

Still, this is a sweet little holiday read that’s sure to warm your heart and warm your libido. If you’re looking for such a story, then you need to grab a copy of Unwrapping Chris. 3 cherries.

Losing Control by Crissy Smith

Losing Control by Crissy Smith
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (78 pgs)
Other: M/F/M, M/M, F/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Peppermint

A wolf shifter known for his control will be tested by his two mates.

Shawn King had a plan—Return home and claim the man he’s always known was his mate.

But Kyle Moore has other plans. After being left once, he’s not ready to just jump aboard and give Shawn his heart again.

Then, the finding of their third mate derails both men as they try to find a way to introduce her into not only a ménage relationship but one that involves shifters.

Passion and strong emotions threaten to explode and leave them all burned.

Losing control can be a beautiful thing, especially when you lose control with the one you love. Kyle and Shawn lost control one night after too many drinks, but the next day Shawn ran from the inevitable, a long life with his mate. Now he is back and hoping he can get Kyle to lose control one more time.

Shawn is such an alpha male/wolf he cannot admit his weakness to anyone... even himself. This trait really gave me something to appreciate. Many people are the same way; they run away from their imperfections so they do not have to face them. Shawn will have no choice, but to face what he has been running from if he thinks he will have any chance with either Kyle or Bree is true mates.

Ménages are author Crissy Smith’s specialty. The first story in this series really set the bar because it was my all time favorite ménage, and maybe even favorite erotic story. I am happy to say that this story lived up to my expectations with its plot, characterization, and sexual exploits. Not only is Shawn trying to win back the man he loves, but now he needs to figure out a way to introduce Bree to his mate and win her over so she can join what will hopefully be their happy lives. That is one big feat for a man who has hidden insecurities, but he is committed to do it, which I admire. Kyle, while he is submissive within the pack, shows alpha qualities when necessary, so he more than makes up for what Shawn occasionally lacks -- though no one is lacking in the bedroom. Bree is just a quirky artist that you cannot help yourself but smile at while reading this story. When all three enter the bedroom, sparks fly.

If you previously read the first story you will love seeing some old characters up to their antics. If you are new to this series you will equally appreciate the secondary characters and feel right at home. Though you will probably want to go back and read the original story because these characters are that good! After I finished reading this story I wanted to go right back and read it again -- so that should tell you what treat you are in store for.

Heart of Stone by Angela Claire

Heart of Stone by Angela Claire
Publishing: Siren Publishing
Genre: Historical Western
Length: Short Story (103 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Canterbury Bell

Widowed Colorado cowboy Jake Stone has a baby to take care of. But when he asks his aunt to come west to help, she sends Melinda O'Chauncey instead...a walking, talking inspiration for sex if Jake ever saw one. But Jake has no intention of ever marrying again, so he vows to keep his hands off the sexy new nursemaid. Easier said than done!

As skittish as Jake is about matrimony, Melinda couldn't marry the handsome cowboy, even if he got down on his knees and begged her. She has secrets of her own that she hopes are far, far behind in Boston.

Add to that a rash of mysterious happenings on the ranch that make Jake's wife's death a question mark, and a wedding may turn out to be the least of Melinda and Jake's problems. In fact, it looks like a funeral might be in store for them instead.

You gotta love a cowboy. They have a knack of complicating life more than it already is.

Jake Stone needs someone to care for his baby girl since the passing of his wife. But life on a ranch in 1869 Colorado is not easy. Out of desperation Jake write to an elderly Aunt for her help. Knowing her nephew the way she does, Jakes aunt sends Melinda; young, energetic, motherly and most importantly very beautiful. Just what he needs, if he can keep his biological urges under control. Jake is struggling along just fine until Melinda turns to tables on him.

As Jake and Melinda forge their way through their predicament, life throws them curves at every turn, including an a unexpected additional admirer and a beautiful, wealthy neighbor and her father, who would do anything to gain Jake and his money for his daughter and his own agenda.

Heart of Stone is an excellent addition to the historical western genre. It contains all the elements of what is required: the handsome hero, the beautiful, innocent heroine, the evil, dangerous villain, and the difficult daily struggles of life on a ranch. The private moments between the main characters are stressful, funny and charming especially when our hero tries to maintain his dignity in the face of his own shortcomings. The story flows freely and you wait to see the outcome of their stumbling with their newfound hearts desires.

Lust and Vamp by Joyee Flynn

Lust and Vamp by Joyee Flynn
Anything Goes Book Two
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (161 pgs)
Other: M/M, M/M/M, Anal Play, Forced Seduction, Toys, Voyeurism, Exhibitionism
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Edelweiss

When Temp and the other demons from the Anything Goes Club go to rescue the captives from the Halfers, evil minions of hell, he discovers a small, gorgeous man that instantly captivates him. When he lifts the smaller man in his arms, everything feels... perfect, and Temp will do anything to protect Reid.

But Reid is a survivor, barely hanging on after being horribly abused and drained of blood. When the large demon unknowingly offers him more than he bargained for, Reid takes the opportunity to drink life giving blood back into his body, too far gone to know he is binding them together for all eternity.

Temp is shocked when he discovers his offer to give Reid whatever he needs created a mating bond to the alluring vampire. Is it something they can both live with after all they've been through? Or did they just ruin each other's eternity?

I am always amazed by the capability of the soul to endure seemingly impossible trials and still be able to let love in. Lust and Vamp, the second of Joyee Flynn's Anything Goes series, deals with the healing that takes place between tragedy and happily ever after.

Temp and Reid face many challenges that threaten their existence together, but never compromises their love for each other. This unconditional love is one of my favorite themes in romance stories. The protagonists get together at the very beginning of the book so that the reader has a front row seat to their blooming love.

Ms. Flynn is uniquely clever in her creation of exhilarating and erotic scenes. Temp and Reid are physically breathtaking and their dialogue is flirtatious and seductive. I loved that each steamy encounter was different. Sometimes their lovemaking was sweet and tender while other times the heat level set the pages ablaze.

These men are positively perfect for each other and will endear themselves to you well before the end of the book. Their willingness to sacrifice their own well being to protect their other half is impressive. Temp, the dominant character, breaks free from the typical distant and moody alpha portrayal to show a surprising capacity for devotion to his mate. Likewise, Reid, in the submissive role rises above the cliche by showing an inner strength that was quite admirable.

I have included a Forced Seduction tag with this review due to the recounting of events by one of the main characters. It is in no way used by the author to describe the relationship between Temp and Reid. While the story is written in first person from Temp's perspective, I felt that Reid's emotions were effectively represented. I would recommend reading the first book in this series, Lust and Fae, in order to understand events in the beginning of this book.

Lust and Vamp was a charming tale with strong characters, and authentic emotions. I heartily recommend this romance to you because I find myself craving the next book in this series more than my next chocolate fix. Kudos to Joyee Flynn for authoring yet another remarkable story. I'll end with my favorite quote from the book: "My life is an open book to you, my mate," I replied... "Anything I do you can know about, everything I have is yours, and all of me belongs to you."

Rediscovery by Ariel Tachna

Rediscovery by Ariel Tachna
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length Short Story (64 Pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Coreopsis

Visiting the dealers room at the Houston Gay Gamers convention, Michael Donovan’s attention is caught by a booth featuring leather wear and fetish gear. Though he’s never been drawn to that lifestyle, he can’t deny his attraction to the handsome man staffing the booth, especially when he sees Lee helping to entertain another vendor’s young children. Lee soon makes it clear the attraction is mutual, but can Michael move past his preconceptions about Lee’s wares and get to know the man himself?

Michael Donovan is a man caught up in the day to day grind of life, and has fallen into a routine of just going through the motions of living. He, like many people, has become immune to the little things around him. It’s sometimes the little things that impact our lives the most. I wouldn’t characterize Michael as a boring man just very cautious, until he meets Lee.

Lee is a colorful character; he lives his life to the fullest and enjoys discovering new things around him. Lee is definitely a man who loves the big and small things in life. The first time Michael sees Lee he dismisses him on his first impression of the man, but as we all know first appearances can be deceiving. Lee makes it his mission to help Michael rediscover the world around him, so that Michael is living his life and not letting it pass him by.

I used the words discover and rediscover a few times because this is what this story is about. We as people the older we get we start to not acknowledge the world around us, but if we just stop and take in our surroundings we rediscover a whole new world and new way of thinking about things.

Ariel Tachna wrote in such vivid detail, I felt like I was with these characters discovering and rediscovering the things and places in their lives. This story also teaches a good lesson to remember to live your life to the fullest so that life doesn’t pass you by. If you’re a reader who likes their stories to be heavy on the detail this is definitely the story for you.

Come Back To Me by Julia Rachel Barrett

Come Back To Me by Julia Rachel Barrett
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (236 pages)
Other: M/F, Rape, Physical, Emotional and Mental Abuse, Extreme Violence toward a heroine
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed By Canterbury Bell

Sometimes the safest path is to keep people at a distance…especially men.

Cara’s life has been one nightmare after another. Abused as a child and neglected by her parents, she’s quick to blame herself for every cruel thing that happens to her. And then there’s James, the only man capable of making her forget her misgivings and learn to love again.

James, a young doctor in training, is aware of Cara’s history. He’s determined to break through her barriers and build a life with her…and fails. Cara runs away in an attempt to reinvent herself and James fears he’s lost her for good. When she falls into the hands of a drug dealer and mob boss, life as they know it is about to get a whole lot worse.

Can their love withstand the demons of her past and present?

In every life at one time or another a person needs a hero, a savior or just someone to hear their cries and call for help. Sometimes that help arrives in time and sometimes it comes a little late. But whenever it comes it is always with welcome relief.

Cara is a young, awkward sixth grade girl who is sheltered and ignorant of the ways of the world but most importantly about the changes that occurring within her own body. She becomes the perfect prey for the perfect predator...her father's law partner who happens to be their neighbor and her best friend's father. After continuous assaults on her body over time he is finally caught trying to attack another neighbor child. Her parents reaction to this sets up a pattern of poor choices and horrendous events that continue to occur throughout her life. Meeting Dr. James Mackie is the saving grace for her and changes her forever. But events occur that tear them apart and what follows is nothing that anyone could have predicted.

Come Back to Me is a truly disturbing story to digest. Cara is a victim is so many ways. She is naive, trusting and rebellious all at the same time. When she finally sees some sort of salvation in James, she believes that she can live the life she always wanted. James is truly enamored with Cara and willing to do what he can to secure her safety and her happiness. His confidence, intelligence and heart make him the perfect hero in a story such as this. This is who you want to come to your rescue.

Julia Rachel Barrett shows what a gifted writer she is by bringing the sequence of events to light and at the same time never losing the emotional pull that is required to maintain the reader's attention.

Be prepared to be horrified and offended by many of the deeds of the people around Cara but also be prepared to care for her so deeply that you wait for her revenge.

The language and the dialogue is graphic and violent and the story covers so many different geographical locations you will be amazed at what is packed between the book covers.

Excellent story, excellent writing and a difficult subject matter make this a do not miss event on paper.

Loving Two Vampires by Cassandra Pierce

Loving Two Vampires by Cassandra Pierce
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (125 pages)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Menage
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Lindsay Tanner arrives at Purgatory, a private nightclub north of Darkisle, to study the strange clientele who frequent it. Though she believes the people there are simply indulging in sexual fetishism, she is in for a shock when she realizes that they really are what they pretend to be: vampires. She also does what no researcher should do and becomes involved with two men, Caine and Gabriel, vampires who share an unusual bond.

Both have secrets, and each seems out to destroy the other. Lindsay must find a way to bring them together and resolve her attraction to—not to mention satisfy her lust—for both of them.

If denial is a river in Egypt then I have no doubt Lindsay Tanner is its queen. Lindsay is a doctorate student that has decided to make “The Truth About Vampires” her thesis. She has been interested in those men and women whom, she reasons, go to extremes to pretend to be the mythical creatures. Lindsay’s plan is simple: infiltrate the secretive club where the “vampires” play, blend, take notes and leave. The plan does not include becoming involved with a vampire wannabe much less two.

Caine and Gabriel display all the appropriate signs of vampirism (affinity for biting and blood drinking, aversion to daylight, unnaturally cold skin…) but it’s not until she sees them as sleeping dead that she is finally convinced they are more than role playing Goth vampire posers.

Ms. Pierce has written a terrific follow-up to her first Darkisle story, Heirs To Darkisle. Lindsay is a pretty normal woman who simply must be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the men she has agreed to go home with are indeed vampires. She’s grown up in an average town and is ready to find some excitement and her doctoral thesis assignment provides a means to an end. Lindsay’s naïveté was fun to watch from a distance since I knew going in that Caine and Gabriel were indeed vampires. The reader is treated to watching her gradually take in the big picture and come to the realization that Caine and Gabriel are more than ever imagined. Along the way, she takes some pretty scary risks that most thinking women wouldn't take, considering she doesn’t really know these men and suspects they may be a little mentally unstable but this is a romance story so everything works to the advantage of the story and the building relationship.

Speaking of Caine and Gabriel, they are very much the anti-hero yet they command the attention of the audience. They have a volatile history that spans more than 150 years and many shared women but Lindsay is the first in a long time. I liked how Ms. Pierce created two very unique vampire characters. Caine is controlled and has accepted his limitations as a vampire. Gabriel still has resentment and anger that he has never dealt with regarding being turned. They both feel an attraction to Lindsay that seems to go beyond the physical.

Loving Two Vampires is a pretty quick read that kept me engaged all the way through. The story is well developed and the characters have lovely chemistry. If you like a little darkness and angst with your vampire story, you should consider picking up a copy of Loving Two Vampires. You won’t be disappointed.

Make the Yuletide Gay by Lena Austin

Make the Yuletide Gay by Lena Austin
Sugarplum #8
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (22 pgs)
Other: M/m, anal sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Dr. Gary Lord is comfortable and out in his homosexuality anywhere but his southern hometown -- and certainly not at his parents' house. But, in Yulee, Florida, secrets are very hard to keep when the folks across town know how you season your greens the minute you say, "Pass the salt."

And there's an old high school classmate who's been waiting patiently for Gary to come home... and he plans to crash Gary's Yuletide celebration in a big way.

Ever wanted to go back and get a do-over? Ever wanted to find out what might have been with the one person you couldn’t get out of your mind? Then you need to read Make the Yuletide Gay by Lena Austin.

I loved the other books in the Sugarplum series. Each book had great characters and a fun plot. This book is no different. Ms. Austin’s characters are funny, sexy, and a joy to read about.

Dr. Gary Lloyd is the guy from school everyone teased. He fit the nerd persona to a T. I liked him because he’s real. He’s been through a tough history and yes, it’s clouded his present, but that helped him become more of a three dimensional character. He’s grown up and has his own hang-ups.

Then there’s Adam. I read about him and shivered. He’s the guy everyone wanted to be with—including Gary. And who wouldn’t? He’s a hunk. I loved the twists and turns concerning his character. He wasn’t at all what I’d expected upon the initial reading and he really grew on me.

Harriet, though a minor character, really grew on me as well. She’s a hysterical ray of sunshine amidst the somewhat heaviness of the situation. Again, she’s a twist I didn’t expect and am glad the author wove into the story.

If you want a story that’s quick to read, has lots of heat, and will leave you with a smile, then you need to read Make the Yuletide Gay. I give the book 4 cherries.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pretty Baby by Stormy Glenn

Pretty Baby by Stormy Glenn
Wolf Creek Pack 7
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (199 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Edelweiss

Elliot Spencer has spent his entire life trying to live up to his father's strict ideals and make him proud. When he meets a sexy man at a bar, he decides that for once in his life, he's going to live by his rules, and that includes going home with Tommy Nash. He just doesn't know until it's too late that going home with Tommy will mean changing the way he sees the world.

Tommy Nash is captivated by the chatty little man he meets at the bar where he works. Taking the man home for a night of wild sex is a no-brainer, especially when he recognizes that Elliot is his mate. What Tommy doesn't realize until it's too late, however, is that Elliot is a wolf-shifter like him, and Elliot doesn't know it. By the time Tommy is able to get Elliot calmed down, it's too late. He's attacked someone, and Tommy's family doesn't want him to become involved with Elliot.

Together, they have to fight his family, Elliot's family, and a few people in between who believe they shouldn't be together. Tommy's biggest obstacle is proving to Elliot that they belong together, and by the time he does, it may be too late. Someone is after Elliot, and Tommy doesn't know if he can save his mate, even with his pack's help.

Fate herself seems to conspire against the sexy bad boy Tommy Nash and his chatty twink mate Elliot. Prepare yourself for a diverse and intense emotional experience with Pretty Baby as it goes from heart wrenching, to tender and then to hot as a firecracker at breakneck speed.

My heart broke for Elliot as he struggled to fit in to Tommy's world. Surprisingly, he must first fight Tommy's family who should have been first in line to support the bond between mates. This really upset me because Joe, Nathan, and every single other couple we've met in Wolf Creek had first hand knowledge of how precious the mating bond is. I almost got a cramp in my forehead from the worry lines produced by my concern for Elliot's well being.

If you have read any of the other Wolf Creek stories, you will be pleased to know that most of the characters previously featured, return in Pretty Baby. Joe is still overprotective of Nathan to the point of utter frustration. Still, it's sweet to read about their happily ever after even as we meet Joe's brother Tommy and his new mate. Ms. Glenn is exceptional in weaving together all of the characters and places in her series books. You'll find that Pretty Baby is a prime example of this mad skill as the relationships between the protagonists and characters introduced six books ago are immediately recognizable.

I admire that Tommy and Elliot went through overwhelmingly difficult trials, but had to first learn to trust each other in order to face their foes. These trials serve to strengthen their love. You'll find the impregnable bond is beautifully portrayed and will melt your heart with it's tenderness.

Stormy Glenn really spices things up with this story. It is by far, the sexiest and most erotically intense of all the Wolf Creek books. Right out of the proverbial gate Tommy and Elliot's attraction to each other is all consuming. I loved that everything else faded away as their worlds collided.

While more complex than it's predecessors, Pretty Baby is truly the perfect culmination of all the Wolf Creek books. I highly recommend reading Full Moon Mating (Joe and Nathan's story) before delving into this tale. This is the longest of the Wolf Creek collection at 199 pages, but its story line wrap-up was spot on.

I am giving this book five cherries because it is not only the best in the series, but also is what I consider to be one of Ms. Glenn's personal best. The characterization is consistent, the plot is filled with unexpected twists and turns, and the love between these men is truly palpable. If you're looking for some serious chemistry between two extremely sensual, strong, and loving men...look no further. I'll end with my favorite quote from Pretty Baby: “...and I'm not about to do anything that puts your life in jeopardy. You mean too much to me.”

Clouds and Rain by Zahra Owens

Clouds and Rain by Zahra Owens
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (245 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Flynn Tomlinson has drifted for several years, working odd jobs when he needs the money and moving on when he doesn’t. He’s content with his freestyle life, not tied down, not responsible for anyone but himself. Then he comes across a Help Wanted ad in a post office in Idaho and meets Gable Sutton. Gable can’t pay Flynn until he sells his horses, but a serious accident has left him unable to work his ranch alone.

Working with horses beats stacking shelves at the supermarket, and so Flynn agrees to Gable’s terms. What Flynn doesn’t bargain for is being captivated by this gentle, lonely man who captures his heart and moves Flynn to take on an incredible burden: saving Gable’s ranch.

Two guys, totally different chance at love.

I love a story where the characters are somewhat the same, but essentially different. Such is the case with Zahra Owens’ book, Clouds and Rain. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. From page one, I was drawn into the story and needed—yes, needed—to know what would happen next. I fell in love with both Flynn and Gable.

The things I loved about Flynn and Gable are many. For one, they are both flawed men. Flynn’s flown by the seat of his britches because there was nothing better to do. Gable’s been cheated and hurt by the idea of love, so when it’s thrown in his lap—no pun intended—he’s got no clue what to do with it. It’s realistic. I felt like I knew the men and knew men like them. And to see the love begin to grow between them...that was a thing of beauty. Sure, there were times when both characters came off as a little less than stellar. Gable has moments of weakness and comes across terse—but people tend to hurt the ones they love all while trying desperately to show their love for the person. He’s got a past like anyone else and it was interesting to see him struggle on the road to healing.

This isn’t a syrupy, quick, easy to read love story. No way. But that’s the great thing about the story. It’s compelling. It’s intricate. You have to sit down, really pay attention and hang on for the ride. Oh and yeah, this book certainly has steamy scenes. You’ll want a cool drink while reading. Trust me.

If you want a book that will stay with you far after the last page, then you need to read Clouds and Rain. I give it 4.5 cherries.

Cabin on the Hill by Shae Connor

Cabin on the Hill by Shae Connor
Publishing: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (48 Pages)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Canterbury Bell

Jesse hadn’t planned for anything more than a break from the noise and heat of Atlanta when he returned to the cabin he rented each year in the Smoky Mountains - but that was before he met Eli, the handsome man renting the other side of the cabin. Eli’s plans to mix a little hiking with his relaxation match Jesse’s perfectly, and before long the two men are sharing more than just a wall and a view. Jesse’s not one to let an opportunity like this pass him by, though it remains to be seen whether the weekend encounter can turn into something more permanent.

Vacation…weekend getaway…holiday….time away is a special and savored opportunity. Enjoying the time with someone is momentous but going it alone opens all types of possibilities.

Jesse Cutler is a hard working man who looks forward to his alone time during his weekends away in the mountains of Atlanta. Lucky for him the other side of his rented duplex is occupied by a friendly, sexy stranger named Eli Gordon. Eli is on the same de-stress and enjoy the quiet of his surroundings. After some getting acquainted time, the neighbors decide to enjoy the time with each other hiking, cooking and more a more personal getting to know you.

Finding each other is more than just plain dumb luck, it is Karma. And these two men realize just how lucky they really are. These are two very kind, caring and generous men that you would want to know in your life. They represent all the single people out there trying to make that ultimate, intimate connection. The majority of this story is conversation -- conversation between two intelligent and caring men. It is thoughtful, interesting and explores the minds of people just meeting and getting to know each other, what they really want to know about the other and what they want the other to know about themselves.

It is such a nice trip to take with Jesse and Eli and experience their weekend away and know that it will continue long past Monday.

Crescendo by Leah Brooke

Crescendo by Leah Brooke
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length : Full Length (443 pages)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, menage, BDSM, toys, anal play/intercourse
Rating : 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Hired by Nick Morietti and Steve Vanguard to decorate their newest hotel, Julianna Lovette is determined to make a name for herself. Nick and Steve’s raw sexuality, however, draws her like a moth to a flame--irresistible, but potentially lethal.

When she becomes their lover, she’s tossed into a world of passion she’s always searched for but thought she’d never find. Dominant and strong, they take her in ways she’d never imagined and earn a submission from her she never thought she’d give.

When passion comes at a price, she has to depend on them to keep her safe from an enemy from Steve’s past. An enemy who’s waited for years for a chance to get revenge. An enemy they believe she works for.

She learns that trust comes at a steeper price--but offers the biggest rewards.

“Be careful what you wish for…” you may not be prepared for the overwhelming attention and intensity of two alpha men. Julianna Lovette is confident in her ability to coordinate the redecoration of a multi-million dollar hotel but in not so much in dealing with the enigmatic owners, Nick Morietti and Steve Vanguard.

Julianna’s story is one that is easily relatable. She was the tall gangly goose that lived in the shadow of a shallow pampered swan of a step-sister. Julianna has developed into a beautiful person inside and out. That personal growth is conveyed thru the confidence in her work but she struggles to comprehend that she is a beautiful, sexually submissive being.

Luckily for Julianna both Nick and Steve are very interested in teaching her just how desirable she is, how being a submissive doesn’t mean she’s weak and how loving two men is the fulfillment of her deepest wishes.

Welcome to the incredibly unique and imaginative mind of author Leah Brooke. If this is your first “taste” of Ms. Brooke’s work you are in for a treat. Be prepared to be drawn into the story from the first chapter and still be fully invested 400 pages later. Her stories are always multilayered and sexually intense. One of the hallmarks of Ms. Brooke’s characters is strength. Not just physical strength but confidence. While some characters, like Julianna, may need some convincing of their worth and ability to love, you can see those characters standing so much straighter by the end of the story.

Crescendo is a beautiful romance that lives up to its title. The relationship between Julianna, Nick and Steve has many ups and downs but it’s ever building throughout the story. When the three of them finally come together as one unit I could almost imagine an opera singer hitting a high A note. It’s pretty intense to say the least.

There’s more than the incredible romance to this novel. There is a sinister evil that is lurking in the background for a large portion of the book but makes itself known in a huge way by the end of the book. So, will Nick and Steve be able to convince Julianna that the three of them together make the perfect family? Will the evil that is hunting Steve destroy their chance for happiness? Okay, so you can probably guess the answers but believe me when I say you want to read this book. Leah Brooke is one of my favorite story tellers and with good reason. Her stories never fail to entertain and keep me waiting anxiously for her next book. Pick up a copy of Crescendo and be prepared for some serious heat, heart stopping adventure and breathtaking romance.

Southern Exposure by Kendall Grace

Southern Exposure by Kendall Grace
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (134 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Iris

A quick trip to visit her hospitalized mother is lasting longer than Anna had expected. About twelve weeks longer. It’s not that she isn’t used to taking care of her mom—Anna took over that job when her father died—but it’s a little stressful vying for partnership in her New York law firm from Liberty, Alabama. Fortunately the neighbor, a hot Southern charmer, is willing to help her take the edge off.

Since Trey breached her defenses, he and Anna have been burning up the sheets…and the side of the house…and the garden. The woman he’s coming to know is a far cry from the uptight lawyer he first met. And he likes the new Anna. A lot.

As her feelings for Trey deepen, Anna is torn between duty and desire…what she wants versus what she thinks she needs. Returning to New York, reverting to the formidable attorney her father molded, is the responsible thing to do.

Too bad that’s not the woman Trey wants…

Despite the sexual heat and hot love scenes, this story is, at heart, a romance. Parental meddling causes a change in our heroine’s point of view and allows her to reclaim part of her “lost self”. Not only that, but it gave her the opportunity to connect with the hero, re-explore connections with childhood friends, and basically, re-discover her “southern side”.

The story’s eventual outcome is predictable – even the twists and turns and the obstacles thrown into our main character’s lives, are expected. The wonderful, unexpected twist was even though I knew it was following the “romance novel” formula, I enjoyed the story, rooting for Anna and Trey to reunite after their “bump in the road”.

The payoff for me was the happy tears that came to my eyes when they had their final reunion at the story’s resolution.

One unexpected twist was an additional obstacle for Anna and Trey to overcome. It added a sense of confusion to the reader and made me want to keep reading. I wasn’t quite sure what was up, and the resolution was quite nice to read!

The intimate scenes were plentiful and hot (and admittedly, made me daydream about a southern handyman of my own...), but don’t think that’s all he’s good for! Our hero has a sense of humor and a healthy work ethic. It makes for a drool-worthy hero! The sexual tension between the hero and heroine is consistent throughout the book. I think the most original phrase describing Anna’s reaction to Trey was ”Her girly bits stood up and cheered...”.

I found the sections of the book where our heroine was soul-searching and trying to plan her life very difficult to get through. They are necessary for plot development, but you just want to get back to her interactions with the hero.

Honest, realistic characters, spicy sex scenes, and a sweet ending. What more could you want from your romance? Grab it when you get a chance!.