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Friday, June 24, 2011

All Washed Up by Sharon Maria Bidwell

All Washed Up by Sharon Maria Bidwell
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (68 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

When Peter Blake takes a job working for Walker's Wash-ups, little does he know that the easiest part of his day will be deciding which of his "uniforms" he hates the most. Needing the money to pay off a loan, Peter decides there are worse things in life than wearing a nude male grilling "Hot Sausage" apron, even if he can't exactly remember what at the moment. His life shouldn't be like this. Alas, he didn't foresee corporate redundancy. He didn't foresee a time in his life when he'd have to take such a peculiar job, having to grin and "bare" it, where both pairs of "cheeks" burn equally with embarrassment.

Even more surprising, he didn't expect the sanest person in his growing list of crazy clients would be another man with a bruised heart, who has a lot to answer for, including his future.

The best thing about a seduction is the emotions behind it and this little gem packs in enough to make any romantic happy.

All Washed Up starts off with a bit of fun with the hero finding himself in the unenviable situation of having to take a less than satisfying job that impinges his dignity and makes him blush. I also am quite intrigued by the thought that such a service might possibly exist. My first thought was “where can I find me some of that?” but after reading a bit from the hero’s perspective, I realize that it’s not all that funny. In fact, a few of the situations he found himself in were sort of degrading and scary. Ms. Bidwell did a good job of reminding readers that there are real people with feelings that matter; who do jobs that may have to be done that we as consumers take for granted or don’t want to look too deeply at. It’s a good lesson, intentional or not.

The basic premise of the story is about two men accidentally finding each other. One has experienced the loss of a loved one and is in the dumps without knowing how to start living again. The other never explored who he really was and settled for meeting other people’s expectations of himself but never feeling happy or content. It’s a great emotional hook because the author lets a reader in on each of the heroes’ inner demons and despair. When they meet, it’s a balance of tentative hope and skittish experimentation with dialogue, actions and touches.

The scene was interesting when Chris first encounters Peter. I liked how the author had Peter meet some whackos first so when Chris comes in the picture, it’s a breath of fresh air and an infusion of sanity. I enjoyed the sweetness of it and the initial gentle approach. It was a true seduction of the senses and I had a great time watching it all unfold. What breaks the ice is Peter’s work wardrobe. I wish I could see such things in real life because I am sure it would be a memorable event. As it is, it is the means which the author uses to bring the men together and move the relationship forward; it’s is unique and worth reading.

The only drawback is the accelerated condensing of it all. Because the author gave me characters I could like, I wanted to spend more time with them.

Although this is a short story, All Washed Up is well balanced in its light personal drama, sensual build up and erotic delivery. It should appeal to romance readers who enjoy man on man action because it has the power to touch the romantic inside while delivering entertainment, humor and keeps a person interested from beginning to end. I’m quite glad I read this book.

The Omegas by Annie Nicholas

The Omegas by Annie Nicholas
Publisher: Lyrical Press, Incorporated
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (74 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Myrtle

Only a vampire is man enough to teach werewolves how to fight.

Pretty librarian Sugar wants her life to stay quiet. That’s hard enough when friends and neighbors turn into furry wolves every full moon. But when a hot vampire gets involved, life’s bound to get complicated.

The Omega have always been the pansies of the paranormal. Now Chicago’s top werewolf pack has issued them a life or death challenge. Their only option: hire a vampire warrior to teach them the moves.

Daedalus has been a powerful vampire for ages. Intrigued by the chance to train the geeks of the underworld, he wasn’t bargaining on losing his heart to a human. Can he make the Omegas a success, fit into Sugar’s quiet life, and avoid being ripped to shreds in the process?

There is nothing sweeter than Sugar.

When a misfit group of werewolves is issued a challenge from another pack, the group of geeks realizes they need help. Hiring Daedalus Pal Robi, a bad ass vampire, to teach them how to fight is the only way out of the mess they find themselves in.

Sugar is the human girl that lives next door to the pack of misfits. She has known Eric, the alpha, since childhood, and remained friends with him after he was changed into a werewolf and is very protective of him and his pack. As I read, I made a connection with all the characters and enjoyed the inventive twist on the werewolf theme.

It is not hard to like Sugar from the beginning of the book, but when sparks start to fly after meeting Daedalus, and seeing her determination to make sure this vampire teaches her friends everything he can so they can survive the challenge made me shake my head and wonder if she was a little crazy. She won my heart and made me smile at her protectiveness for the misfits. Watching a shy human female stand up to a big bad vampire on behalf of the group of werewolf geeks left me laughing.

I discovered, too, that a man with a baldhead could be sexy. Daedalus is like most alpha men but when he comes face to face with Sugar he falls, hard and fast for the little human. He tries to keep business and pleasure separate but there is something about this girl who wants to mother a pack of misfit wolfs that draws him to her. Daedalus made me dream of a big tough hero like him to sweep me off my feet.

Even though there is some bloody and violent detail showing the predator nature of the wolf, the plot was entertaining and well-written. Ms. Nicholas did an amazing job of taking the old myths of werewolves and vampires and turning it into a new and refreshing love story. This book is a welcome addition to my library and I would encourage anyone to add this one to their to be read list.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quincy’s Woman by Gem Sivad

Quincy’s Woman by Gem Sivad
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (138 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Dahlia

Fresh from the post-Civil War salons and drawing rooms of Boston, Lucy McKenna considers herself a sophisticated young woman. But when she meets Texas rancher Ambrose Quince, she turns into a flustered girl. He’s too old, war roughened and unrefined—and she has no idea how to deal with the sensual hunger he inspires.

Ambrose falls fast and hard for the innocent debutante visiting Eclipse, Texas. Persuading Lucy to accept his pursuit becomes a duel of wits and passion as he awakens her desire.

Lucy leaves Boston and childhood behind when she becomes Mrs. Ambrose Quince. Her lonely days on the Double-Q ranch are filled with work and frustration. But the nights are spent in her husband’s arms, learning carnal awareness…one molten caress at a time.

Lucille “Lucy” McKenna only wanted to stay in Boston to keep living the life to which she had become accustomed, and of course attend the society functions that all proper young ladies of a certain age attend as part of their season. She would flirt and dance her way through until she found a suitable match for a husband, but a trip out of town soured those ideas. Lucy’s father decides to take on a new life direction that will involve bringing his only child with him. It was never supposed to be a permanent situation or at least that’s what Lucy thought.

Ambrose Quince wasn’t exactly looking for a wife, but there she was having just arrived in town. Love at first sight wasn’t expected either, but there it was all the same. When Lucy refuses his advances, it only fuels his need to have her. She is a challenge in so many ways, but he sees right through the exterior to the woman and ranch wife beneath. Now Ambrose just needs to convince her that there is something more to him aside from his gruff exterior.

The story reads like a young woman’s journal as she experiences working and living a Texas life back in the 1800’s. Lucy has quite an awakening as she travels from the sophistication of Boston society to the rugged and simplistic living of Texas. It is a somewhat painful transition that Lucy endures and reading it from her perspective creates an automatic connection with the reader. Along her journey, she learns what it is like to truly be free from societal bonds and live a more meaningful life. Lucy is a very naive character and most times others take her ignorance and treat her like a child, which only serves to make her more determined. They believe her to be petulant and spoiled and at times she is, but not to an extreme and they most certainly didn’t expect her gumption.

The interactions of men and women and the place a woman has in the home during this time period is very well portrayed in this story. The dialogue and character dynamics were also quite engaging. The pacing, however, was a bit choppy as it seemed to focus on certain scenes and then fast forward without warning through others. The intimacy between Lucy and Ambrose was very erotic yet sensually done in a way that transmits the emotions clearly. I very much enjoyed the well-roundedness of the story and the transformation of Lucy from girl to woman.

Being a fan of Ms. Sivad’s work, I would absolutely recommend this story to fans of historical western romance. And if you haven’t tried this author before, this story is an excellent place to start.

Scoundrel by Rebecca Goings

Scoundrel by Rebecca Goings
Publisher: Carnal Passions
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (115 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Dahlia

Shirley Bloom has always taken her beauty for granted. Some think she’s spoiled, while others avoid her all together. But their judgment of her character cuts her to the quick. She longs for marriage and a true, everlasting love, however her beau has put off his proposal for far too long.

Enter Luke Austin, a foul-mouthed, sexy-as-hell cowboy who isn’t afraid to say exactly what’s on his mind. And what’s on his mind is her--underneath him, on top of him, he doesn’t care, as long as he gets to brand himself one headstrong filly.

When his raging passion merges with her own, they’re forced into a shotgun wedding neither of them saw coming. Now, Shirley laments that her chance for a true, everlasting love is gone forever.

Although they look like an unsuitable match, looks can be deceiving. The pretentious merchant’s daughter just met her match in the wildly unpredictable Luke Austin. He knows what kind of woman she is and it has nothing to do with the scathing glares or rude remarks she gives him. She just needs someone to appeal to her passionate side and show her what kind of man she really needs. Luke never had much use for propriety and firmly believes in saying what you think and taking what you want. Shirley unknowingly issues a challenge that has this wild cowboy looking to finally brand her as his.

Having believed most of her life that men only went after her for her looks, Shirley receives quite an awakening from Luke. His crude and vulgar language might not sound so appealing to the ears, but other parts of Shirley’s body are listening too and they really like what they hear. His pursuit of her is aggressive and soon Shirley succumbs to his advances with an abandon that has Luke quickly reciprocating. Luke unnerves her and before long, she finds herself begging for things she never knew she wanted and from a man who couldn't be more of a scoundrel.

Ms. Goings has an incredible knack for transporting a reader to whatever time or place she creates and without much thinking on the readers’ part. Suddenly you’re just there and it’s all live and happening with a fluidity that is a testament to Ms. Goings’ writing abilities. The pacing is perfect being neither too fast nor slow. Luke’s “filly” metaphors in reference to Shirley are absolutely hilarious and yet describe her and their relationship development perfectly. While they fulfill their lust for each other, the eroticism increases with every intimate moment and helps to create a heightened emotional suspense.

After reading this story, the reader will definitely walk away with a greater appreciation for the current times we live in. The propriety and social customs as well as the double standard on women is true to form in this story. I would absolutely recommend this story to historical romance fans and to those who haven’t read a Rebecca Goings original.

Deux by Em Petrova

Deux by Em Petrova
Book 1 of the French Kiss chronicles
Publisher: Breathless Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (27 pages)
Other: F/F, Toys
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Mazus

Jane is a wife and mother who's stuck in a rut. Spending too much time at the gym perfecting her physique, she learns that what she really wants is someone new to share her body with.

After Margot's divorce, she's feeling frumpy and unloved. Until one day, Jane corners her in the dressing room and makes it perfectly clear that she finds her ripe curves desirable.

Together, the couple shares the passion they thought long dead, and in doing so, discover they harbor a deeper need—to find love.

This story is scorching right from the beginning. Jane is a stay at home mom who uses running and kick boxing to keep her in great shape. In her kick boxing class there is a lady named Margot, a new divorcee with twins and Jane is extremely attracted to her. When Jane gets a chance alone with Margot she is quick and aggressive in letting Margot know what she wants. They embark on a sizzling adventure of the carnal kind and what happens next is certainly worth reading about.

The sensuality of this book is intense.I love that this story is really about giving and taking, mutual pleasure between two women in need of a gentle touch. I also enjoyed the twist near the end of the story.

This story is hot enough to burn the pages it's written on and I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Downstroke by Desiree Holt

Downstroke by Desiree Holt
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (206 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Play
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Pussywillow

It’s been twenty years since security specialist Charley Roper and country star Dallas Creed had their bitter parting. Now a killer has brought them together again, but neither is ready for a reunion—despite signs that their explosive chemistry hasn’t waned with time. She can’t forget the feel of his hands on her body. He can’t forget the hot touch of her mouth. When they finally tumble into bed, the sex is just as good as they remember, hot enough to singe the sheets. But is it enough?

Thrown together during an exhausting, frenzied concert tour, with a killer nipping at their heels, Dallas and Charley find themselves on a hot, suspenseful, erotic roller coaster ride. Can he convince her to trust her heart to him one more time, to reach out for a richer, deeper, more mature love?

More importantly—can Charley keep Dallas alive long enough for either of them to enjoy a second chance?

Music, steamy sex, a killer on the loose…what more could you ask for?

Charlotte (Charley) Roper owns a successful protective agency and has long since forgotten the man who broke her heart, country music star Dallas Creed ... or maybe she hasn't. Morgan, Dallas’s brother, contacts Charley and asks for her services, convincing Charley to come to Dallas’s concert that night. While she’s talking to Dallas someone tried to shoot him. She decides to take the case but keep her heart out of it, but will she find the killer in time?

I love music so this book had me hooked right off the bat. I was very impressed with the mystery aspect of the book. The plot stays steady and strong the whole way through. I never lost interest, which sometimes happens for me with the novel length stories. My only nit-pick was that Ms. Holt switched back and forth between first person and third person between Charley and Dallas, it was a bit distracting.

That being said, I still really enjoyed this story. Ms. Holt even shows her song writing skills and I must say they are pretty impressive. I’d love to hear the songs set to music. This one is definitely worthy of being her 100th book. The danger and romance are spectacular and I recommend it highly.

Infected: Life After Death by Andrea Speed

Infected: Life After Death by Andrea Speed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Other: M/M
Length: Full Length (330 pgs)
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

But when your heart is gone, it’s easy to fall into a black hole and never crawl out. Roan has been lost and alone for more than a year, and his best friends think a new case might be just the motivation he needs. Roan forces himself back into the game and discovers a dead man who might not be all that dead, a street hustler that wants to hustle him, and a dominatrix who is well prepared to take Roan’s orders. As Roan claws his way out of the darkness by diving back into his work, he finds himself in a race against time in the adrenaline-pumping realization that nothing helps a person want to live like helping someone else survive.

This is a book that a reader should not read fast. Instead, sip it like a fine wine and draw it out to savor the experience for the full effect. As anxious as I was to get my hands on the latest news about Roan, I also remember how I felt at the end of the last book. I didn’t rush through this current story. No, I spread it out over four days because I didn’t want to let Roan go. I adore his character, I care about him and I blame it all on Ms. Speed. She’s created a character that’s come to life for me, and a book over three hundred pages is still not enough.

I don’t know how Ms. Speed has done it but she’s kept the quality and vibrancy intact and sharpened the emotional edge to a fine point in Life After Death. This book picks up after the worst of Roan’s mourning of the loss of Paris, his husband, has occurred. The author sprinkled just the right amount of memories, references and an uncanny and heart wrenching additional touches that made me want to cry all over again. I was reading some of this book at work during lunch hour and I found myself sniffling and blubbering, making my co-workers wonder if I was okay. I was more than fine, I was moved, and my feelings were engaged. That doesn’t happen with cookie cutter characters and personalities of little depth. In each book, the author has had Roan progressively opening up about his feelings, his thoughts and his view of himself and this story is no different; and I love him all the more for it.

Once again, this book is actually split in two with Roan investigating two different crimes and mysteries. Ms. Speed has created a very human character because he not only has to get his life back together again, but he has to deal with the daily mundane chores of living. The author paints a clear picture of his home, his work and even his friends with well thought out descriptions and interesting minutia that at times seem innocuous but in fact flesh out the environment so readers can relate and feel closer to the action. And there is some very interesting mental and physical action for readers to enjoy.

Secondary characters are really important in this latest adventure. Some are from the previous books and didn’t evolve as I thought they might, (Ms. Speed is good at surprises) and some are new that promise to provide some very interesting dialogue between them and Roan at some future point. They’re too fascinating not to.

I enjoy watching Roan explore his kitty powers, although if he ever heard me say that, I bet he’d growl at me. I also appreciate the emotional toll they take on him. His pain and worries are all so very real to me thanks to the author’s quality writing style that I can’t help but want him to be happy. Paris wanted the same thing for him and that gets explored a bit too, much to my avid interest.

I will remind readers of this review that Infected: Life After Death is probably not a standalone read. There were quite a few loose ends that get tied up in this book that won’t have the impact for new readers that it does for those who have read the previous two books. I was shocked, amazed and astounded at some of the changes but I was ecstatic with some of the new additions. I got a kick out of Roan’s new employee.

Another thing readers need to be aware of is that there isn’t any graphic sex in this story. I certainly never missed it because the author kept me on my toes reading all about Roan’s cases and all the other stuff he gets into. Poor guy has the most bizarre things happen all in the course of a day. The hero does get to have some sheet time and I’m thrilled and happy for him, even cheering for him, but a reader only sees some really romantic kissing and tender touches, the door is firmly closed.

Infected: Life After Death is pure magic. It stayed with me after I read the final paragraph. I dreamed of what I would say in this review; the story haunted me that much. I can’t even express well enough the insights that Ms. Speed imbues her characters with – it’s almost spiritual and mysterious – in a rough sort of way. Roan’s internal dialogue always impresses me and makes me want to know him for real. The author brings an authenticity and grit to her writing that has been consistent all the way through. Ms. Speed has a true talent that I’m in awe of. I guess I’m starting to sound all fan girl but her characters and storytelling voice has had a powerful impact on me and I don’t find too many books that do what this series has done and continues to do. Kudos, Ms. Speed, on another high-powered winner and I eagerly look forward to another crime-solving adventure with Roan and his ongoing journey to a better happily ever after.

Hounding the Beat by Sharon Maria Bidwell

Hounding the Beat by Sharon Maria Bidwell
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (67 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, M/M, F/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Bobby loves his work, but he loves his fellow police officer Chantelle more. Unfortunately, they work in the same department, and they will need to make some life-altering decisions soon.

Some lives have already been altered. Take his friend, Sam: a drunken driver has left him with a damaged leg and permanent limp. Sam's rethinking his career and his future for several reasons, one being that he's very much in love with Bobby, and more than a little in love with Chantelle.

If explaining to Sam that they are happy to consider a ménage relationship doesn't already complicate things enough, how is Bobby to tell Sam that he and Chantelle can turn furry at will?

This short story packs a powerful “Aw, shucks” moment because the author took the time to explore her characters’ emotions; bringing depth and feeling to the culmination of the happily ever after.

I liked the overall tone and storytelling voice of Hounding the Beat. There’s humor woven in during the dialogue exchanges between the characters which increased my enjoyment of this tale. The story is told in each character’s point of view so a reader can understand the doubts, worries and hopes that drives each one. The heroine, Chantelle, is a bit of a know-it-all but I liked how the author had Bobby notice and comment on that. By addressing it within the story, I could accept that omniscient aspect, mostly because at times it drove Bobby, one of the heroes, bonkers and he said so – not to her face though.

Another thing I got a kick out of was the scene with the hats. This story takes place in Britain so there are a few references indicating the differences between what I’m used to in America and what the characters experience while being on a British police force. The author explained through her characters in a very clever way and I was fascinated and entertained. In fact, just remembering the part with the hats is making me smile. It was adorable and saucy all at the same time.

Sam is the glue that will eventually balance out the relationship, but before that can happen Ms. Bidwell has a reader getting to know him by exploring the internal conflicts that plague the second hero. Sam is the character that pulled my heartstrings the most. He’s been through so much and was determined to ignore his internal pain to do the right thing. That’s strength of character a reader can respect.

When Sam, Bobby and Chantelle explore the physical side of their fledgling ménage relationship, it alternates between tender, passionate and scorching hot; but the author never lost the emotional drama in the midst of it. A reader knows that the skin on skin wasn’t based on lust, but a growing love and sharing of trust and hope. After the sheets got a work out I was so happy for Sam because at that point I recognized when he realized that what Bobby and Chantelle were offering was real and special. It’s what romance is all about.

Protect and Serve: Hounding the Beat is a delightful saucy romp on the paranormal side packed with heart and heat in a short story sure to entertain. I enjoyed getting to know the three characters and liked how the author explored them enough so readers can connect and relate to their emotions. Many times throughout I found myself smiling and a few scenes had me fanning myself. Ms. Bidwell wrote a very engaging story and I’m thrilled I got to read it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Ghost of a Chance by Minnette Meador

A Ghost of a Chance by Minnette Meador
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (130 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Cholla

Keenan Swanson is your typical, everyday graphic designer. Well, except for the hundreds of pesky, prank-loving poltergeists that make his life interesting (in a Chinese curse sort of way). He finds his situation precarious yet manageable—until witty, smoking-hot coworker Isabella enters the scene, and Keenan decides he wants her all for himself. With a horny succubus who has other ideas, a burly city cop determined to lock Keenan away, and an evil entity who’s hell-bent on using Keenan’s seed to create a living demon, the reluctant psychic realizes he just might not come out of this alive—or with his heart intact.

Bizarre and incomprehensible is just a way of life for Keenan Swanson. Having been able to see ghosts since his early teens, his life would be much too quiet without their constant chatter and annoyance to help pass the time. When his beautiful and seemingly unattainable co-worker suddenly begins returning his attentions, however, Keenan begins to believe that two is a more happy number. But will the ghosts go quietly? Or is there something more lurking in the darkness that even Keenan is aware of?

Keenan Swanson appears to be your average guy in every way until you get to know him just a little bit better. Despite the havoc the ghosts play both in his professional and private life, Keenan always finds a way to work with them. He feels like they’re a permanent fixture and has done all he can to make a place for them in his daily existence. He’s an extremely lovable character in that he takes everything, no matter how odd or unsettling. I love this sort of a quality in a man – it gives you hope that nothing, no matter what the odds or situation, will be too much for him to handle or to deal with.

Isabella, on the other hand, is chaos on a stick. Steaming hot and not afraid to take what she wants, she’s set her sights on Keenan, knowing he’s not strong enough to resist. But then, why would he want to? She’s beautiful, she’s smart, and she’s entertaining. She’s also harboring a deep secret which will change both of their lives forever.

A Ghost of a Chance is an exciting, whirlwind adventure that will keep you guessing until the very end. The author has a knack for weaving subtle hints into the story that don’t reveal themselves until much later on. She’s also a whiz at twisting the storyline just enough to constantly keep you off balance and guessing, never quite sure if you know the secret or not.

One of the best ghost stories I’ve read in a very long time, A Ghost of a Chance is a mixture of comedy, romance, and suspense that will leave you wanting for more.

Trio by Eve Adams

Trio by Eve Adams
Gideon’s Ring 1
Publisher: Siren Publishing, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (240 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Iris

As the general manager of a ménage retreat ranch, it's Barrett Gideon's job to make sure everyone leaves the ranch with a smile. When sexy Sarah Emerson visits the ranch looking for a weekend partner or two, Barrett pins Sarah and invites his cousin, Chris, to complete the TRIO. Together they take Sarah to new heights, fully intending to leave her at the end of the weekend as they do every guest. But the boys didn't count on Sarah attaching herself to their souls, just as much as Sarah didn't plan to fall in love with the surly duo.

When a thief sets his sights on the ranch, the Gideons are too late to stop him. Sarah asks her big brother for help getting the Gideons their money back. Norris Emerson and Amber Dalton return from Riding Cowboys to help Sarah and the Gideon's pull off the ultimate con.

A ménage retreat/ranch about to go into the red, an amateur sleuth/ménage newbie and some smoking hot ranch owners all make for a very interesting read.

The story starts with a nice dose of backstory and set up for the plot. There is actually no sex or sexual play until page 33! This isn’t a detraction, however. I was most impressed with the plot of the book. There was actual intrigue and deception and scheming and plotting.

Our heroine, Sarah, is out to capture the bad guys. Her friend, Carol, is out to capture the bad guys, but ends up leaving with the person Sarah is after. The Gideon brothers (and cousin Chris) are trying to make the most of their business but are at risk of letting the “bad guy” scam all of their money. Everyone is keeping secrets from everyone else.

In the mean time . . . it’s all about the ménage. After all, that is why everyone is there for the retreat. The snowstorm and power outage make for some interesting plot twists. It also makes for an interesting interlude in the cab of some snow removal equipment! BDSM is de rigeur at the ranch and Sarah is new to this also.

The plot takes its twists and turns, though nothing is truly unexpected. Barrett (the eldest brother) is a bit growly and petulant, but he is an excellent complement to Chris. In turn, they both are a nice complement for Sarah, who is inexperienced and low in self-esteem at times, but is truly intelligent and knows her own mind. While the sex and ménage aspect is very much there, this is, at its heart, a romance.

Trio is an enjoyable departure from the typical romance, and also from the typical erotica. Give it a try today!

The Viper Prince by Rebecca Goings

The Viper Prince by Rebecca Goings
Desert Princes of Jikkar Book I
Publisher: Carnal Passions
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (163 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Myrtle

A successful romance author, Sabine Santiago's latest book is about hot desert sands and a sexy caravan prince. She's dreamt of him every night since buying a coiling viper armband at her local flea market. Little does she know the trinket is about to transport her to another world.

Tariq Sayed is the Viper Prince of Jikkar. For a millennia, the six princes of the Golden Desert have ruled their caravans, providing water for their people and protection from the hot desert sun. Punishment for stealing water is death, so what is Tariq to do when the woman he’s been dreaming of is caught drinking from his oasis?

When their worlds collide, Sabine is dropped right into the plot of one of her books. One look at the sexy Viper, and it's clear that the line between fiction and reality is slim to none. But Tariq has been promised to wed the niece of the Jackal Prince, which will form a strong alliance for his people.

Now, the Viper must choose between his duty and the woman who burns his very soul.

Sabine Santigo is a romance writer whose deadline is coming up. At the start of the book Sabine is dreaming about the desert prince from her newest work in progress, “The Viper Prince”. He wasn’t a sheikh as she told her editor, but a caravan prince who traveled to his oasis collecting water for his people. His planet Jikkar was a dry desert land with two moons. She’d begun “dreaming and writing about him the moment she’d bought a coiling snake armband, a beautiful trinket of gold with two inlaid rubies for eyes” from a flea market. One thing she never imagined was that she would travel through space and time to be dropped at the feet of the Viper Prince of Jikkar.

Pure alpha male, the Viper lives by the rules of the desert and is the prince of his people. He soon finds that there is something different about the woman found stealing water from his oasis and wearing his mother’s armband. From the start of the book, he comes across as a strong ruler and someone to fear, even though his words and actions are scary he also gives off the impression of compassion that will steal your heart right away.

It must be hard to write Sci-Fi/Fantasy stories as the author must not only tell the story but also create a completely new world for the reader to visualize without losing them in the process. People, animals, and language must be explained in such a way as to keep the reader entertained and absorbed. Ms. Going did an astonishing job in creating Jikkar and in pulling this reader into the plot. This story is action packed with many hidden twists, and kept me on the edge of my seat until the end.

What I found unique was Ms. Goings’ ability to build a new world and still carry the readers on a journey so vivid that you could almost feel the hot desert air on your skin and the dryness in your mouth right along with the heroine. I definitely connected with Sabine, and understood her fears and joy and maybe even wished I could trade places with her. The romantic in me loved watching the heroine and the hero work through the barriers of time and space and left me praying for that happy ever after for the two.

This is one book that I will re-read and a series that I am eager to continue reading. Strongly recommended!

Dragon’s Bloodmoon by Scarlet Hyacinth

Dragon’s Bloodmoon by Scarlet Hyacinth
Deadly Mates 4
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (121 pgs)
Other: M/M, M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Peppermint

For two years, Jared waited in vain for his dragon mate to return. As he struggles to forget, a new man appears in his life. Only he isn’t a man. He is a vampire, and his task is to kill Jared.

Tomas has been entrusted with the important mission of retrieving the powerful amulet, Gaia’s Spirit--and killing its keepers. When he meets Jared Grayson, he finds that he cannot do as asked. He kidnaps Jared, hoping to keep the young werewolf safe.

Sentenced by the dragon elders to forced hibernation, Zongxian awakens only to find out his mate has vanished. Desperate, he goes in search of Jared, and in his quest, he meets a handsome vampire who takes his breath away.

Together, Tomas and Zongxian have to fight impossible odds to save Jared. Can the three-way bond survive the ruthless power of the vampire nation?

I may not be able to pronounce some of their names, but I'll still remember these characters for a long time. Jared--easy name, Tomas--easy name again... but Zongxian, say that again! With such a difficult name, his character had to be explosive, and that he was, along with his other mates. I cannot pick just one because I loved all three of them for their own unique reason. I love Jared’s open heart and willingness to go with the punches. Tomas’s passion is evident from the moment he is introduced. No matter what it is once, his mine is made up he puts everything he has into that task. Zongxian exudes power whether it is physical or mental. Together this trio is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

The relationship development was consistent throughout this story, but in the beginning, I didn't feel the passion from the characters the way I would have liked to. It was clear they were mates and wanted each other, I just would like to have felt that extra oomph. Fingers itching to touch one another, sneaking a glance when the other man is not looking, that type of connection. In addition, the sex didn't occur as much as I would have expected from these characters. I expected them to be tearing off each other’s clothes constantly. Then again, if I had villain after villain threatening my family and me, I would probably put sex on the backburner also.

The author really incorporates little extra effects in this story to make it stand out. While most of the story is based in the modern world, there is some parallel traveling involved that adds a certain element to the story. Moreover, the paranormal element is explosive! You have dragons, vampires, werewolves, mythical creatures, snake shifters ... the list just keeps going. These unique characters and relationships between them really made this story a standout.

Despite this book being part of a series, I felt right at home even though I have not read the previous stories. After meeting the characters, I would love to go back and read the previous stories, but it was not necessary in order to enjoy this story.

Because of the great characters, exciting plot and the fact that it can be read alone I recommend Dragon's Bloodmoon and will continue to follow the Deadly Mates series.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Heaven’s Hell by Lynn Hagen

Heaven’s Hell by Lynn Hagen
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (101 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Coreopsis

Heaven dreamed of the day he would meet his mate and settle down. He had no idea that the bad luck he experienced his whole life was about to give its grand performance. How has the fairy tale romance he dreamed of turned from blissful wishing into the hell he would soon find himself in?

Murdock has always been the playboy of the estate. With an endless supply of willing males, who needs a mate? Then Heaven walks into the bathroom at the club and sees something Murdock wishes he hadn’t.

Now Murdock has two weeks to convince his mate that he didn’t know Heaven existed and win his love or Maverick will execute him. Talk about pressure.

Heaven struggles to get past the images burned into his memory and find forgiveness in his heart before he loses his mate forever. The only wrench in that plan is the humans who have discovered their existence and are now out for blood.

I must say Heaven’s Hell was straight out of left field and took me by complete surprise. Ms. Hagen adds that special shock factor to all her stories and this one is no different. I applaud this author’s creative storytelling that feeds the imaginations of her readers and keeps them on the edge of their seats.

Heaven and Murdock’s relationship starts out rocky from the get go. As the reader you can’t blame Heaven’s reactions to finding his mate in the arms of another. But Heaven’s dramatics at times are a little over the top. For a grey wolf he’s is still considered young at fifty. Being young and naïve causes struggles that he and Murdock have to work through.

Murdock puts off the image that he wants to be a forever bachelor playing the field with no commitment to tie him down. It’s all a façade he puts out there so no one sees his fears. After all his years he believes he is destined to be alone until he dies. His and Heaven’s relationship starts off less than satisfactorily but with hard work and forgiveness these two men work toward their happy ever after.

As a devoted fan of this series have been waiting for the addition of humans who have discovered their secret and Ms. Hagen touches on this in Heaven’s Hell. Heaven is kidnapped and taken to a lab where the unexpected happens to him that will change his and Murdock’s lives forever.

This story is action packed to the max. So many things are going on with these two men it’s amazing they keep their sanity in check. There is an introduction of three new timber wolves to the pack that has me looking forward to reading their stories. Ms. Hagen has out done herself with Heaven’s Hell and it’s a must read for all Brac Pack fans.