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Friday, June 3, 2011

Black Surrender by Lorie O'Clare

Black Surrender by Lorie O'Clare
Black Jag Series, Book 3
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (133 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Clematis

The wildcat of the VicMoran litter, Rafe isn’t too convinced the newly discovered laws are for the best. Especially when they would prevent him from chasing down Anna Hunter. He’s had a taste of her and now he wants the entire meal.

Anna knows better than to let any of the other jaguars know her true feelings about the documents all jaguars are honor-bound to follow. She’s not into suppression. No one is going to put a leash on her or demand she behave a certain way simply because some ancient jaguar prophesied the laws be followed in order for survival. Anna knows how to survive. And she knows what she wants—whom she wants.

One night of incredible sex changes Rafe’s and Anna’s lives forever. Now the documents that put a thorn in her claw need to be saved from jaguars out for profit. Rafe and Anna have no problem fighting to save all jaguars. But they’ll be damned if they’re going to quit enjoying what they both know is right.

Lorie O’Clare has such a consummate skill for weaving a captivating tale! She’ll draw you in to whichever/whenever incredible world she creates, paint it with words till it all flows to life and enflames the imagination. Truly! It’s like you could just reach out your fingers and run them through the pelts of these gorgeous but deadly jaguars.

Black Surrender is the third installment in Ms. O’Clare’s Black Jag series. She continues the stirring stories of the black jaguar shape-shifters, their communities, the recently discovered writings of their laws and traditions and the impact of bringing them to light, the prophesies, the intrigue and don’t forget, the passion! This one features Rafe and Anna and try as they might, there’s an attraction between these two, that just will not be denied!

The writing is fast. It’s character driven and the action is full speed ahead from start to finish. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be finished before you know it and looking for the others in the series. I love that there’s always a lot going on, but it ‘blends’ perfectly without any discernable seam to detract. Though it’s primarily a love story about Rafe and Anna, there’s also a subplot, pertaining to the unrest and dissatisfaction within the jaguar community as a whole. The plot thickens when Rafe and Anna are kidnapped; how they deal with it and dramas over the ancient writings and the inevitable complications once their ‘unofficial mating’ is bought to light, makes for a great story!

If you’ve read the others in this series, then a lot of the characters will be familiar. I didn’t, until I had read this one, but did not find it distracting at all and would even go so far as to say they could be read alone. Having said that, I really liked them all and will be sure to add her next installment to my ‘autobuy’ list!

The Blood Between by Xondra Day

The Blood Between by Xondra Day
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (52 pgs)
Other: M/M, Multiple Partners, Anal sex
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

New to the big city, Kyle is having a hard time fitting in. He has a job, and a roof over his head, but something is missing. One night, after an experience he'd rather leave forgotten, he meets a mysterious man named Luca. Kyle doesn't know it, but they've met before. Soon after, Kyle is thrown headlong into a world of darkness, death, and a secret Luca is struggling to keep.

Will Luca reveal what draws him to Kyle, and more importantly, will Kyle believe him?

Theirs is a bond even death cannot break...if they can find each other again.

Xondra Day has penned an exciting new twist on the paranormal story with The Blood Between. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this story and I’m glad I did. The characters are interesting and I wanted to see what would happen to them. There are lots of twists and turns that kept my attention. I had to know how the pieces of the story fit together.

Kyle is a very shy person. He’s not one who stands out in a crowd and he’s not one to expect attention. I liked that about him. He’s realistic. As for Luca, he’s a vampire. I can’t say I got him, like I did with Kyle, but I liked him. He’s true to himself. In this version of the world, vampires aren’t seen. They’re folklore—nothing more. I rather enjoyed the change.

As with any story, there are moments of down time. In this book, there were more than a couple times when I came across very similar or the exact same phrase used. The repetitiveness yanked me from the story, but the need to know about Kyle and Luca pulled me back. Another thing I had issue with is the "telling" quality in the story. There are some really emotional moments, but I felt like I was being led through the situation as a bystander, not immersed in it. The ending is interesting, but I felt it to be a bit abrupt and I wanted to know what would happen after. But it gives the author a possibility to create a sequel. There’s lots of potential in the tale and I think with a little more detail and a little more time, it could have been a real knock-out.

If you want a vampire story with some new twists on the old favorite, you need to read The Blood Between.

Wild Montana Nights by Marla Monroe

Wild Montana Nights by Marla Monroe
Publisher: Siren Publishing, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (238 pgs)
Other: Ménage, M/F/M, anal sex, spanking, bondage
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Myrtle

Darla Moore needs a job, not a boyfriend, and especially not two. But that is exactly what she ends up with when she agrees to become a cook and housekeeper on a Montana ranch. How can she remain immune to their charm and the way they make her feel? How will she react when she learns she is really auditioning for a starring role in a three-way marriage?

Randall and Marcus thought they would never find the woman of their dreams until Darla walked through their door. When she relaxes her defenses and lets them in, she falls in love with them, and they with her. Randall and Marcus are dead set on keeping her with them and make a decision that could cost them her love in the end. Will that love be enough to forgive them before it’s too late?

“Share me? Like a toy?”

After leaving an ex-fiancé in Mississippi when she discovered he was already married, Darla Moore is not looking for another man let alone two. Ending up on a ranch is Montana, as the housekeeper to Marcus and Randall Sander she soon finds the two brothers wants to share her.

It took two tries to be able to sit down and really get into Wild Montana Nights. With spring in the air, the last thing I wanted to read or think about was a cold Montana winter. The first attempt at reading, I got the feeling that the plot was similar to another book I read not long ago, so it was a little hard to stay focused during the first chapter. However, once I got farther into the book the story took on a twist of its own, leaving me chuckling through most of the tale and enjoying the story line. I could not stop laughing at Marcus' and Randall's playful antics with their new housekeeper and all three characters took me on a wild ride in the mating game.

With both men being partners in sin, they worked their charm on Darla as well as on me, making it hard not to cheer for them and hoping for a Happy Ever After. The courting dance between the three starts off fast, and Marcus and Randall waste no time with their erotic words, which fuels Darla's naughty imagination. However, she is not an easy catch for the two men after being burned once, so you get to watch the thrilling chase with all the unknown questions, jealousy, and lies crowding their minds, while praying for that fairy tale ending.

I got the impression that both men were alpha and very much in control of the sex play which was a big turn on; along with the fact that they both enjoyed cuddling with Darla after sex. That is always romantic to me. I had to laugh at the mental image of Darla wearing nothing but socks to bed or her interaction with Marcus and Randall’s mother, normal every day things that make the story line very realistic in the eyes of the reader.

This book is full of coarse language, begging, many hot sex scenes, smart remarks, and cute comebacks that add to the entertainment. It's a story that's definitely uplifting and enjoyable, with a delicious plot that you will love.

Feast of Choice by Kate Steele

Feast of Choice by Kate Steele
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Contemp., Sci-fi/fantasy
Length: Short Story (57 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal sex
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Buttercup

Having survived his first encounter with a vampire, Toby Heaton must make a life-altering decision. His vampire lover has revealed a startling fact. Toby is a rare human, a chrysalis child, one who, should he or she bestow their love on a vampire, can return the vampire's ability to walk in daylight.

With little time to assimilate the information, much less decide if he loves De, Toby is confronted and abducted by his lover's life-long enemy. Placed in an untenable situation, Toby must find a way to deal with a man who could not only end his life, but who threatens everything Toby holds dear.

An impossible position, a life altering choice, and game changing consequences. Feast of Choice starts to dig into the underbelly of the lives of De, Alec, and Filia revealing surprising truths, well believed lies, and the ultimate betrayal.

I felt bad for Toby. When he walked into The Mausoleum he had no idea that he wasn't just walking into a club, but also a war zone, a personal vendetta between Alec and De. What was supposed to be a fun night out turns Toby into a pawn in Alec's little game of extracting revenge. While I understood why Toby didn't tell De what had happened with Alec, his actions or rather inactions in this matters were beyond frustrating. It could just be me but I would have been fighting Alec with everything that I had if he had tried to back me into a corner like he did with Toby.

Alec is one of my favorite villain archetypes, so elegant and refined that it is easy to almost miss that underneath all that culture is a raging psychopath; a completely logical if twisted mind. I cannot believe that Alec's only desire is to see De heartbroken and abandoned as he once was. It might have started out that way but I think the years have perverted Alec's mind making him a very cunning and dangerous foe. There are some people who just shouldn't live forever; as they say "absolute power corrupts absolutely," and while Alec might not have absolute power he has enough.

Of course De has no desire to wield power like Alec does, or at least none that has been shown yet. I think that De has used his time more wisely, he has learned to accept what comes and turn it to his advantage. Whereas Alec seems more like a spoiled child at times, with his happiness only coming at the expense of others and never lasting long because it's not true happiness. Beyond that it is quite possible that unlike De, Alec doesn't have the ability to love at least not beyond his strictly selfish parameters.

It was great being able to watch De fall in love with Toby, even knowing what was going to happen. The vast differences in De's private and public interactions with Toby were a study in themselves. In private, De is charming and seductive, using tried and true courting techniques, spending vast amount of time making love to Toby. In public he is dominating and possessive, ravaging rather than savoring Toby. Both sides give insight into De's persona, the gentleman he was raised to be and the ruthless vampire that he has to be to protect his people.

For as many secrets that have been revealed and questions answered there seem to be that many more waiting to be discovered. Like what was with Alec's cryptic comment about Toby being almost perfect? It seems an obvious setup for a plot line, involving Toby and his family, one that I really hope doesn't come to fruition. What exactly is Neo's relationship with De? Where did Neo come from, when did he hook up with De and why? Who are the mysterious guardians who protect the chrysalis child and when do we get to meet them? Probably most importantly is what is Filia's side of the story, why did she chose to be turned? We have heard De and Alec's story as to why, but I want to know Filia's, especially given the revelations that have been made about her.

Unlike the first story this ending was not as shocking, if only because I was prepared for it this time. It was the inevitable conclusion to this particular part of the series. That's not to say it was predictable, it was more like the old saying "when you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras." You know that the horse is coming, but that doesn't stop you from wishing that maybe just this once it will be a zebra. Alas, in the end it is a horse, but as far as horses go, and endings for that matter, it is a pretty spectacular one.

Ms. Steele takes you on a dramatic ride full of romance, betrayals, and intrigue, exploring the depths of love and the pain of betrayals both real and imagined.

Belle Behind Bars by Wynter Daniels

Belle Behind Bars by Wynter Daniels
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (41 pages)
Other: M/F, light BDSM
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Carnation

Jail Sergeant RJ “Ram” Ramsey is incensed when he learns he’s losing a promotion to a less-qualified woman who’s learned all she knows about the job from behind a desk.

Lieutenant Belle Buchanan has a lot to learn. Ram has been an enigma to her since he threw her over years earlier. When they end up alone together, the attraction that first drew her to him flares hot. She wants the hunky sergeant to master her in other, more intimate ways.

Isabelle Buchanan was just promoted to Lieutenant at the county jail. Sergeant R.J. "Ram" Ramsey is not pleased or comfortable with the likely possibility that she will be assigned to his department as his superior in rank. A dominant alpha male, he would prefer not to take his orders from a petite woman who has spent her entire career so far behind a desk. Especially this one. Ram knows Belle personally. They dated a few times a couple years before, just after Ram's divorce. At the time he wasn't interested in anything serious because anger over his divorce had left him cold. However reluctant to call her his boss, he knows that she is very well educated and intelligent. And hot looking. He responds with instant desire every time he looks at the pretty, curvy woman.

Belle's captain, wanting her to gain experience, directs her to shadow Ram in operations. After she embarrasses him in front of the department by deftly demonstrating a take-down procedure on him, he decides to give her a challenge. As his shadow, he takes her to a deserted jail building scheduled to be torn down in a couple of weeks. Resenting her presence, he berates her coldly, then has her follow him into the dark building ridden with rats. When her terror of the vermin running over her boots sends her into his arms shrieking, Ram begins to soften, at least emotionally. The two are immediately thrown into a scorching storm of voracious erotic hunger.

The affair that ensues is one of the hottest erotic romances I've read in ages. Beautifully and expertly written, the raging heat between the two turns out to be far more than mere physical attraction. The magnetism is consuming and the sex burns off the pages. The storytelling is superior as well, especially considering the length of the tale. I was swept along, unable to tear myself away emotionally or mentally.

It turns out that Ram is exactly the lover that strong, confident Belle deeply desires. A lover who is completely dominant sexually, and who expertly inducts the eager-to-learn Belle into the intense practices of dominance and bondage. The author reveals a tender, gentle aspect to this powerful man and a sweetness to their union. She also left me feeling pleased with the hopeful ending.

I most highly recommend this exciting read to everyone who enjoys a bit of tastefully done 'edge' in a romance story.

Old Sins, Long Shadows by P.G. Forte

Old Sins, Long Shadows by P.G. Forte
Children of Night Book 2
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Holiday, sci-fi/fantasy
Length: Full Length (224 Pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Holly

Living forever is hard, but loving forever? That’s damn near impossible.

Children of Night, Book 2

1856, New York City. Moments after Conrad Quintano drives his life-mate away, heartache and guilt descend around his heart like a pall. Convinced that Damian’s hatred is as permanent as the scars Conrad has inflicted on him, Conrad steels himself for an eternity of emotional torture.

Present day, San Francisco. For the sake of vampire twins Marc and Julie Fischer, Conrad and Damian present a united parental front. In reality, their truce is a sham. Conrad, weakened by his recent ordeal, struggles against the urge to bring his mate back to his bed. And Damian misinterprets Conrad’s explosive temper as proof their relationship is irreparably broken.

When an old enemy’s quest to create a dangerous new breed of vampire threatens the twins’ lives—and the precarious state of vampire peace—it’s imperative the estranged lovers put the past behind them. Or the shadows of the past will tear apart everything they hold dear.

This is PG Forte’s second book in her Children of the Night series, and it is a marvelous story of love lost and found through pain and denial.

How can love survive when it is ignored and neglected? And how can two intelligent men be so clueless?

Conrad knows he treated Damian abominably, and lives each day realizing what he’s lost. He knows he doesn’t blame his love for turning from him and hating the sight of him. He has punished himself for centuries for what he did to Damian, knowing there can be no forgiveness for his actions.

Damian has suffered for all that time, wondering what he can do to gain Conrad’s love once more, for he has never stopped loving him, no matter how painful it has been. What starts out as a training exercise between Julie and Damian becomes the catalyst to reunite Conrad and Damian, after centuries apart.

When old enemies rise up once more to try and topple Conrad from his position of power, the danger becomes all too real, and one of the twins pays the price. Marc and Julie don’t know all of their history: they believe they were made vampire at a young age. Only Conrad and Damian know the truth -- Julie and Marc are the only ‘born’ vampires, with powers just starting to surface. And Conrad, while claiming to be their ‘sire’ is, in reality, their true father.

As the twins celebrate their birthday on Halloween, things begin to escalate as ghosts from the past surface to shake Conrad and Damian to their cores. Can they uncover the evil behind it all in time to save Marc’s life? Can Conrad accept the love that Damian has for him, has always had for him, or is it too late for them?

I love Ms. Forte’s use of flashbacks to show how Conrad and Damian first met, and at different points throughout their long lives together. This is a dark and emotional story, and I admit to shedding more than a few tears in some places. But the characters are compelling, and once I started, I couldn’t put it down.

Conrad is still recovering from his kidnapping and torture of six months before the beginning of this book. He aches from memories of what he had with Damian, and how he ruined any happiness they might have had together. I found it ironic that one of the strongest vampires was so completely unaware of how his soul mate truly felt. There were times I just wanted to shake him like a child and say, “Open your eyes, fool. See what is right there in front of you.” Watching Conrad suffer, needlessly it turns out, was necessary to bring these two stubborn fools back where they belong.

Damian is the younger man, and he has been questioning what it was that caused Conrad to turn against him. He doesn’t realize that Conrad is ashamed of what he did, and is punishing himself by avoiding contact with Damian. Watching Damian suffer with self-doubt and angst over what could have been makes the scene where they finally open up to each other such a strong one.

There are several different storylines here, and not all are easily resolved. The secondary characters in this are all well developed and I look forward to seeing more of them in future books in this series. Julie and Marc are starting to display power beyond their age, and it will be delightful to see what develops with them. Is there a happy ever after in this one? Not exactly, but there is a hot and sexy happy for now for Conrad and Damian, with a promise of much more to come.

I do recommend that you read the first book in this series, In the Dark, to better understand the story dynamics here. But this one gave me laughter, tears and a sense of romance that is worth the time spent. But keep the tissues handy, and turn up the fan.

Keeping House by Lee Brazil

Keeping House by Lee Brazil
Publisher: Breathless Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (76 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Coreopsis

Donovan Holloway, advertising executive, newly made vice president of the company where he's worked for twenty years, grew up in a free love hippie commune, taking care of the parents who should have been taking care of him. He's worked hard to put himself through school and achieve the American dream. All he's ever wanted was a normal family life—house in the suburbs, two cars, two kids, a shaggy dog. A family to come home to—to care for, and to care for him.

Mischa Blake is the green eyed, liberally-pierced, black-haired, Mohawk-wearing spoiled youngest son of a Hollywood producer and his actress wife. Mischa has made a terrible mistake. In a fit of childish pique, he's accepted a dare from his older brothers. The dare? Live on his own, supporting himself completely for a year without accessing his trust fund. No problem. Except Mischa has never worked a day in his life, hasn't finished college, and has absolutely no skills that he can bring to the table.

So when he sees Donovan's ad for a housekeeper/gardener, he has nothing to lose by applying, because hard can it be?

When a hard-working older man, who knows what he wants out of life, is paired with a spoiled little rich boy, you get a love story that will capture your heart.

Mischa Blake is the youngest of the Blake children and he loves to push his brothers' limits with everything he does. Like most young men he wants to find his own way in life but his controlling brothers won’t let him. His brothers don’t mean to treat him like a naïve kid but their concern for Mischa is what fuels them to want to take care of him. The one thing that is made clear is the love each brother has for one another and because of that love they trick Mischa into a situation they are hoping he fails at.

Donovan Holloway has pushed himself to succeed in the world to escape the life of poverty he lived as a child. Finally he has his dream house, but no one to help make the house a home. Donovan is a character you just fall in love with. He knows what he wants out of life and finding that someone special is a top priority of his. While interviewing potential housekeepers, in walks a Goth looking young man. Mischa takes Donovan by surprise but the attraction is evident between these two men immediately.

Donovan and Mischa are a very intriguing love match. Donovan is twenty years older than Mischa but they complement each other so well that the age difference doesn’t matter. Mischa’s brothers add humor to this love story with their overprotective nature and overactive imaginations. They are thrown completely for a loop at what they discover when they see Donovan and Mischa together.

I really would have liked if this story was stretched out a little more. At times it seemed rushed. That being said it was still a really good read. Definitely a fast paced. There were some characters introduced in this story that I hope the author writes about in later books.

Keeping House will capture your interest form beginning to end. The characters are realistic and could be anyone you would no. With such different personalities struggles are a given that add to these characters believability. The author did an excellent job of writing about the wants and hopes people seek at any age. Keeping House is a must read.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

George's Turn by Lynn Hagen

George's Turn by Lynn Hagen
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (93 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play, Masturbation
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Edelweiss

George has had enough of men and his old life. As a cowboy, he'd been run off enough ranches for being gay. In his new life as a diner cook, he's more than happy to play it straight. Ladies love his cowboy swagger, he loves his solitary job and his tiny apartment, and all seems to be going well—until his eyes land on a gorgeous man so unlike anyone he’s ever seen.

Tank loves all the little mates running around the estate, but the gentle giant longs for his own mate to hold at night. The moment he meets the new cook, he’s smitten. But flowers and candlelight dinners don’t seem to be enough to convince George that giving himself to Tank doesn’t have to mean giving up his manhood.

When vampires attack George, Tank must help care for him. Will George finally see that the strongest love just might be between two strong men?

Can the tough, warrior wolf Tank handle a totally drool-worthy cowboy mate who refuses to play the submissive? The manly George must deal with his muscularly endowed suitor and his own need to dominate before finding peace with Tank as well. The Brac pack stands to gain a singular mate in George, but will he cooperate?

Each title in the Brac Pack series can be read alone, as the rules of mating and previous major events are explained in each book. Events also intertwine between books giving each episode a different take as it is seen through the eyes of different characters.

This week was Tank's story and George is introduced as a headstrong, although, cautious cowboy who was jaded through previous disasters with men. Tank, who is quite the protector in the previous books, had to learn to give a lot in order to earn the trust of his skittish mate. It's always a pleasant surprise to find manlove books about two strong, and real men vying for control. In fact, the name of the book is a humorous allusion to the need for control.

The banter between the two protagonists is hysterical at times. Even more amusing is the developing friendship George has with the other mates at the Alpha's compound. They even have a maddening showdown with squirt guns that made me laugh out loud. The smaller, and traditionally more submissive mates show their loyalty and determination to support their newest member. It's endearing to witness the growing bond of these men who must learn to live together and learn how to live in the world of the paranormal.

The lovemaking was definitely explosive in nature, almost like thunder and lightning. There were sweet and emotionally charged moments as well, but the two dominant "man's men" took a long time to get to that point. As their romance evolved, it was evident how much their love meant to each other.

The editing was done well and there were very few spelling and grammatical errors. There are plot lines left incomplete due to the nature of the series, but the happily ever after is solid and was not left hanging. The pace of the book was maintained throughout and was obviously well planned.

There are at least twenty books in Ms. Hagen's Brac Pack series so lovers of M/M romance will be happy to hear that George's Turn was not nearly the end of Tank and George's story. I have this series on auto buy and gladly recommend picking up this book as soon as you can. I'll end with my favorite quote from this book that really shows how acceptance can change a person, “It was scary as hell coming out of the closet for all to see, but with Tank at his side, he braved it.”

Cup Check by Stephani Hecht

Cup Check by Stephani Hecht
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (100 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Coreopsis

After years of hard work and sacrifice, Kip Cooper’s dream of playing for the NHL is finally within reach. Soon he’ll be able to leave behind his farm team to taste fame, fortune and the respect that comes with being number one. So he’s not about to allow anyone or anything get in the way. But try telling that to his libido, because despite everything, he can’t keep his mind off his teammate, Sergei. Too bad Sergei is young and openly gay… and Kip isn’t. When a chance encounter leads to a night of passion, Kip realizes he has to make a choice: Sergei or his dreams.

Cup Check is the third installment in the Blue Line Hockey series and I have to say it is my favorite. The knowledge that the captain of the Hawks has been harboring feelings for the new addition to the team makes this story a long waited treat to read.

Sergei is new to the Hawks. He’s been sent to play for this farm team to escape the abuse and taunting from his previous team, the Cougars. Sergei is an openly gay man and that makes him a target on the ice. He may be small but he is a force to be reckoned with. He’s an extremely good hockey player and doesn’t let others prejudices keep him down. The only thing keeping him off balance is his attraction for the team captain, Kip. As I read, my heart broke for Sergei because he so in love with Kip, but Kip is straight, or so Sergei thinks.

Kip hides who he really is in fear of being outed. He believes if word got out, any hopes of playing in the NHL would be over. He’s worked his whole life to become a professional hockey player but when Sergei comes to play for the Hawks, Kip starts to reevaluate his priorities. Deciding enough is enough, he goes out one night to quench his hunger for Sergei in the arms of another man. He’s taken by surprise when he runs in to a heartbroken Sergei. Sergei feels betrayed because he thinks Kip doesn’t want him, but he soon discovers its Kip’s fear of being outed that has him holding back.

Trey Canton is an excellent supporting character in this story. He’s a shoulder to lean on for Sergei while he’s dealing with his heartbreak over Kip and his inability to admit he’s gay. Trey is a complete jokester and adds comic relief to this story by pushing Kip’s buttons until Kip is forced to admit his true feeling for Sergei.

After Sergei is attacked during a game, Kip can’t hold back his emotions or feelings for his little hockey player anymore. What Kip does to prove his love for Sergei was a tear jerking moment.

Hockey is a very aggressive sport and Ms. Hecht did an excellent job describing the sport as well as the violent acts that take place on the ice. The love scenes shared between these two men were very descriptive and explosive. The attraction and love these men have towards one another will suck you in and keep you reading to the very end. I love this series and hope there are more to come. If you’re looking for an energetic and captivating read, I highly recommend Cup Check.

Lust, Lace & Lingerie by Brandi Evans

Lust, Lace & Lingerie by Brandi Evans
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (91 pgs)
Other: M/F/M, Menage, BDSM, Voyeurism, M/F/F/M, F/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Buttercup

I love managing the sexy Dallas boutique Red Light Lingerie—talking to people about sex, toys and bedroom wear. One of my favorite erotic benefits? My boss, Maxwell Penn, is a Matthew McConaughey lookalike—but with a hot British accent. Okay, he can be domineering and I spend most of my time on the clock fluctuating between “I want to bed him” and “I want to strangle him.” But still…yum.

Tonight, however, everything will change.

An old friend of Max’s from Britain, a lingerie designer, has flown in to show Max a couple of possible pieces for our new Risqué line of bedroom wear—but their model canceled. Can you see where this is going? Yep. I go from manager to model, and before I can say G-string, this spur-of-the-moment modeling gig ignites in passion and little ol’ me finds herself sandwiched between Max and his dark-n-sexy best friend.

I’d be in heaven if it wasn’t for the guilt swirling in Max’s blue eyes. But guilt for what?

Embrace life, relinquish the pain, and find more love than you could ever hope for. Ms. Evans' Lust Lace and Lingerie is one of the most emotionally honest books I've read in a long time. Her characters have more compassion and understanding than can be found in real life sometimes, and her story while achingly sad is also so very real.

This was a challenging review to write, which was very apropos since it was a challenging book to read. That's not to say it was bad -- just the opposite. In fact, this book was rather amazing. It just happens to discuss some very serious subject matters, as well as containing sexual and lifestyle practices that as a rule I don't read, mainly open relationships and a F/F scene. So you're probably wondering why I set myself up for such an exacting task when it would have been so much easier to let someone else review the book, preferable someone who enjoys those aspects that I don't. Well, the fact of the matter is, despite my misgivings I couldn't put this book down. Ms. Evans' characters are incredible, they are open and compassionate and real, and the story itself was honest and compelling.

Like Bree, open relationships are not something that I know much about, so we learned together. What I found was that at the core, like with any relationship, there needs to be love, trust, and honesty. Without these three things your relationship, no matter how you might define it, is doomed. Ms. Evans shows both sides of the coin, so to speak.

First with Max and Gina, we are shown how destructive a relationship can be when there is no trust, no honesty, and how quickly that love can be twisted into something else. The scars Max bears from that relationship are deep and slow to heal. On the flip side there is Garrett and Karen who have been happily married for 15 years. Their love and commitment to each other is something that Bree and Max have also found in each other. While it might take Max a while to completely heal, Bree is just the one to help him do it.

Having never been a fan of the gold band diamond solitaire, I think the tattoos Garrett and Karen have instead of rings is brilliant. Every relationship is different, and so should the symbols be that represent that relationship. For a couple that is so outside of what society would deep appropriate I think personalized tattoos are a much better choice that something as ordinary as rings. It's not just for the sake of being different, their reasons for not having the rings fit with not only their lifestyle, but who they are as a couple and individuals.

I mentioned earlier that Ms. Evans talks about some very serious subjects, but I don't want to give any spoilers by saying what they are. However, I do want to say that like all other aspects of this book she speaks with great comprehension, and compassion. She doesn't shy away from the less than pleasant aspects of life, but rather embraces them allowing the reader to see the kind of pain that life inflicts, that people inflict on each other and ourselves. It is only by acknowledging this pain and suffering that we are able to truly appreciate how special and rare love is.

The courtship of Bree by Max is anything but typical, but the more time they spend together the more you see that they are right for each other and perhaps more importantly they are good for each other. When I first met Max I didn't like him all that much, he was too brusque and oh so British, in that condescending superior way, I completely understood Bree's desire to slap him. While part of that is his personality, a larger part was Max simply trying to protect himself. He had been hurt so badly and didn't want it to happen again. It was a refreshing change of pace to have a man be vulnerable and the woman to be the strong one to help him thru.

Lust, Lace & Lingerie is a dark and compelling journey that takes you from the depths of guilt to the redemption that only love can provide. Ms. Evans has created characters so real it feels as if you could meet them walking down the street.

Keeper of the Light by Gabrielle Evans

Keeper of the Light by Gabrielle Evans
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (158 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, M/M, F/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Forced Seduction
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Edelweiss

Mated for over a decade, Damon and Tate have searched long and hard for their zeta. When they meet Ryah at the county rodeo, they know instantly she’s their missing mate. Unfortunately, she’s also married, and the laws of their kind prevent them from claiming her.

When Ryah’s husband publically attacks her and Damon rushes to her rescue, she knows it’s time to accept his offer of help. Discovering the men she loves are vampire/lycan hybrids is unexpected but not as surprising as learning she is a lycan herself—and born to a destiny she never could have imagined.

Things are further complicated when Ryah’s marriage is revealed to be a sham. That doesn’t mean her husband is going to let her go without a fight, though. And a lot more rests on her safety than just happily-ever-after.

How could fate be so cruel to mate two loving males to a female who is married to another man? The sense of injustice on a cosmic scale was palpable in Gabrielle Evans' Keeper of the Light. This book is a great introduction to the manlove genre for those who are curious, and is a fantastic example of the idea that love is love no matter what form it takes.

Ryah, Damon, and Tate are the main characters in this love story and their connection is defined almost immediately. Tough issues like domestic violence are dealt with and it was amazing how these men defended Ryah without question time and again. I've added a “forced seduction” tag because there are parts in the book where abusive scenarios are recounted by Ryah as a memory of times with her husband.

There are several different types of sex scenes portrayed here; all are off the charts in heat level. The manlove was smoking hot in the beginning of the book and quite naturally evolved to include the female element as the story progressed. There were a couple of scenes toward the end of the book that had really rough sex that seemed unloving at first. As the plot continued, it became evident that they were necessary for the story line and future books. To say any more would reveal too much.

There are several different types of paranormal beings in this story. Some were familiar: vampires and werewolves; some were new and the rules surrounding these new beings were interesting and original.

If you are looking for a unique and original new series by a fantastic author, I gladly recommend Keeper of the Light. The romance, angst, and happily ever after were wonderfully brought together with a creativeness that has the Wicked River series on my must read list. I'll end with my favorite quote from this lovely book, “Who’d have ever thought,” he mused, “that a couple of demons like us would be granted the love of such perfect angels?”

Forever Broken by Evangeline Anderson

Forever Broken by Evangeline Anderson
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (162 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Peppermint

As second wolf in the Lunas Locas pack, Paul Kraskowski has power and prestige. He also has a dark secret—one he hides and won’t admit it even to himself—until the night he meets Laurent.

Born to one of the oldest families of his kind, Laurent Montcrieve is vampire royalty. He stands to inherit massive wealth and the title Viscount of the Blood. But he would give it all up to find the one man who can complete him—his Coeur de Sang or Heart’s Blood.

Two worlds collide when Laurent and Paul meet and form an accidental blood bond. But the instant spark between them ignites a raging bonfire of conflict. Their people are enemies who would rather see them dead than together and Paul refuses to admit his attraction to another man. Now the clock is ticking as agree to explore what lies between them. Their search may end in true love or death. But they must be careful for if they severe the tie that binds them, the bond they share will be forever broken.

The werewolf and vampire world continuously collide, but Paul and Laurent take it to a whole other level. They are suppose to be enemies, yet from that first encounter they know they cannot kill one another, but hopefully they will be able to stay away and fight the lust growing inside. As if anyone can fight chemistry this strong.

Both of the main characters are very strong for different reasons in this story. Paul has the external strength, which is why he has been able to remain the second in his pack even if he is viewed as an outsider. What he has in external strength though he lacks in self-confidence. His whole life he has been told that his attraction to other men is wrong, and once you hear something for so long you start believe it.

Laurent has the inner strength of a lion. He will do whatever it takes to be with his Coeur de sang (heart’s blood). If he cannot be with his Coeur de sang the least he can do is make sure that Paul is happy no matter what the consequences to himself. Together they make one sexy couple that complements each other superbly. When one is lacking, the other one picks up the slack. It made watching the relationship unfold truly entertaining.

I liked the touch of Paul and Laurent speaking Spanish and French as well as English. It made the story a little more exotic and entertaining, but the Spanish sometimes left me a little disconnected from the dialogue. At times, I felt I was missing something because I did not know what the characters were saying. Since the same words were continuously used, I was able to understand what the author was trying to convey once I got the hang of the language. The language and writing style gave me the feel og early Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton, which I enjoyed.

This story is truly a romance above and beyond the rest. The lovemaking was sensual even when rough. I think this helped really display the emotions of each character. Even when Paul was not willing to say what he was feeling, his body was a much quicker study then his mind. I think many of the scenes were arousing because you knew that the characters' hearts were also involved -- as well as some other organs.

This story really bridged the vampire, werewolf gap well and anyone with a fascination with the supernatural would truly love this story.

Protective Custody by Wynter Daniels

Protective Custody by Wynter Daniels
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (81 pages)
Other: M/F, BDSM
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Carnation

Witness to a murder, but no one will believe her...

Shocked by the brutal crime she witnesses through the window of her small office, Megan Jackson calls the police and is devastated when they question the truth of her story. With no body and no evidence of a crime, she's written off as a nutcase.

Megan suspects the killer saw her face. Terrified, she calls the only person she can trust—her ex-boyfriend and former police officer, Will McCoy.

Despite a devastating breakup, Will jumps at the chance to help the woman who broke his heart. When the killer ramps up the stakes, Will is forced to take her into hiding—where the passion they once shared reignites, deeper and hotter than ever. But can Will keep Megan alive long enough to win back her heart?

Gorgeous businesswoman, Megan Jackson witnesses the brutal murder of a young woman on Halloween. Uninterested, the police believe she saw a practical joke rather than a murder. But someone is stalking and terrorizing her, visiting her grandmother in her nursing home, running her car off the road, and making her life a nightmare. She knows she's in danger, but has a hard time accepting that reality. Finally, having no one to turn to who will believe her, she calls her ex-boyfriend, Will.

Will, an ex-cop, is now a private investigator. He assigns himself as Megan's protector. In order to do this, he moves in with Megan to make sure that she is safe. He is the only one who takes the danger seriously. Competent, handsome and sexy, Will can't keep his hands or his mind off Megan. They have a burning, irresistible sexual attraction that neither can deny. Will, still in love, wants her back.

Megan has been in love with Will since she broke off their relationship quite some time ago. Her grandmother, an old fashioned African American woman, won't accept a mixed race relationship for her granddaughter. Because of this and the racially ugly words Will's mother said to her before Megan decided to end their relationship, Megan doesn't believe that their love can last.

Will was unaware of the mean and hurtful things and was heartbroken when Megan left. He does his best to convince her of his love and that he wants a commitment, but Megan can't let go of her fears and the belief that she would only hurt him again.

This story is packed with interesting characters, plenty of action and several prominent plot twists. I also found the descriptions of the criminals and their lives to be tough, gritty and complex, and sometimes a little too uncomfortable for me to read. The bad guys in this story are really bad and ugly. Convincing: yes. Often harsh: also, yes.

The love story is the saving grace to this intensely powerful tale. Ms. Daniels writes a steaming hot romance that is multi-dimensional and satisfying. I recommend this story for those who don't mind graphic and vivid details of sexual abuse and violence, in keeping with the realistic quality of the storytelling.

Lewis’s Dream by Lynn Hagen

Lewis’s Dream by Lynn Hagen
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (94 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Coreopsis

Detective Lewis Keating has had enough of cheating men. When a crooked cop steals a stack of files, it’s Lewis’s job to go through them and close out the ones he can. When a familiar case is found among the files, Lewis decides to question the one person who should be on his list.

Evan Triamade was once told he looked like he breathed pain. A control freak since childhood, the wolf quickly loses his handle on things when his aloof mate shows up to question him about an assault that supposedly happened months ago.

Their relationship is volatile from the start, and Evan is forbidden to see his mate by Alpha Maverick until their differences can be settled. Evan soon finds that convincing his mate not all men are cheaters is harder than he imagined. To make matters worse, Lewis has a drinking problem.

When Lewis is taken by the ex-alpha, Jackson, it isn’t Evan who rescues him but the smaller mates of the house and a Xiamen tiger. Lewis thought living among humans was hard, but living in a world of were-creatures tests his very sanity.

When pairing up two major control freaks it’s only natural that sparks will fly.

Lewis Keating is a man jaded by life and love. After seeing his father cheat on his mother and then being cheated on by his latest boyfriend, he has come to believe men can’t be trusted. He tries to drown his pain in the bottom of a bottle, which isn’t helping his situation any. Lewis is thrown for a loop when he meets Evan Triamade. Evan is controlling to a fault and it is a put off to Lewis. Yet Lewis can’t stop thinking about the other man.

Evan is a large and aggressive man who has had his own share of troubles. So when he realizes Lewis is his mate he couldn’t be happier until he believes Lewis doesn’t feel the same connection and doesn’t want him. Fate hasn’t made a mistake so far when it comes to pairing up the mates, but Evan starts to wonder if this match up isn’t meant to be.

They struggle through their difference and work hard at making a relationship between them work. All seems to be going fine until the rogue alpha from the eastern pack attacks and Evan is taken. Evan’s rescuers couldn’t have been more of a surprise. All the mates to these werewolves have formed a bond and when one is in trouble they all run to their defense. This pack of misfits have become a true family. All for one and one for all is the perfect motto when it comes to this group of men.

Drew, like Lewis is dealing with an addiction, and takes Lewis under his wing to help his friend get help. Alcoholism is a serious disease and you have hope that Lewis will conquer his addiction. I think the author did an excellent job at describing the day to day struggle addicts have to endure.

Once again Ms. Hagen has written a character flawed with addiction and trust issues that will have you rooting for him to get his happy ending. These two men struggle through what they desire and fear the most. In the end it comes down to love. If you have love anything is possible. Lewis’s Dream is an excellent addition to the Brac Series, it’s a must read.