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Friday, October 14, 2011

Master of Wrath: Keepers of the Gods Series by Nikki McCoy

Master of Wrath: Keepers of the Gods Series by Nikki McCoy
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (166 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Forced Seduction, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Peppermint

As the God of Death continues his battle for supremacy, three hearts are caught in a whirlwind of danger that will test the very limits of their strength and love.

For three millennia, Cyaan has survived a warrior’s life, taking passion as it came and revenge when it was due. Yet none of that could have prepared him for his latest challenge. For five years, he has lived with the pain of having failed his mate. A man who sacrificed his freedom for the sake of another. Cyaan will do everything within his power to bring his mate’s kidnapper to justice.

But his campaign takes an unexpected turn when he discovers he has a second mate, Loken. Son of the God of Wrath, Loken lives by the blade and has no intention of losing his heart to love. Unwilling to lose yet another mate, Cyaan convinces him to aid in the rescue of the only man who can complete them.

After escaping the ruthless clutches and desires of his captor, Jace once again finds himself held captive by not one man, but two. Both fierce warriors eager to claim him as their mate and protect him at all costs. But he has been damaged almost beyond repair. It will take every ounce of Cyaan and Loken’s loving patience to convince Jace that he is more than worthy of them.

Yet even the formidable bonds of love they form for each other might not be strong enough to withstand the determination of Mikel, son of the God of Death. He will stop at nothing to regain possession of Jace, even if it means their deaths.

Two large all consuming warriors need their third mate to balance their relationship. Cyaan and Loken are impressive men. Both have been fierce warriors for as long as they can remember, and since they can live for hundreds of years, that has created a sense of disconnection with others and themselves. I love how they are equally balanced in almost all ways. While this may pose a problem in many relationships, Jace is what holds it all together.

This story had many positive qualities, but the one that really stands out in the forefront is the conflict with Mikel. That is truly the driving force behind this story and is also one of the reasons I labeled this story a forced seduction. Mikel spent years forcing Jace to do things he did not want to do among many other offenses. His obsession with Jace may make some readers feel uncomfortable but really adds depth to the story. Mikel is the ultimate wrong doer and through the entire story, I could not wait until justice finally prevailed.

The relationship dynamic or development was truly special. I love how as big an intimidating Cyaan and Loken may be but they seem to just melt where Jace was concerned. Some scenes left me smiling at how much they fawned over the smaller man. Even when they fumbled and made mistakes it was clear it was done out of love and concern. All three men created the perfect balance of love, tenderness and sex appeal.

The supporting cast within this story was entertaining in itself. I came to care for many of the secondary characters just as much as I cared for the main characters. Because this is a series, this is even more important to me because it creates interest in previous and future stories, which the author definitely did for this reader.

I do not even know who the main characters of the previous story were, but I do know that I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Disowned Cowboys by J. Rose Allister

Disowned Cowboys by J. Rose Allister
Publisher: Siren Publishing, Inc.
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (224 Pages)
Other: Menage a Trois/Quatre, M/F/M, M/M, anal sex, bondage, voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Myrtle

When Aimee gets lost during a hike, she finds more than refuge in a dark cave—she finds a chained and naked cowboy who claims to know who she is. Dillon and his partner, Kyle, are werewolves determined to become her mates. Just one problem—she shows up for her appointment with fate while wearing another man’s engagement ring.

The wolves will shamelessly pursue her, using every seductive trick in a cowboy’s book to rope their mate. But even the combined desire of two insatiably virile werewolves may not be enough when Aimee’s boss-slash-fiancé and Kyle’s pack mates show up to challenge Dillon and Kyle’s right to claim the woman they have dreamed of.

“With her luck, she’d wind up squatting over a butt-rash Betty or some such thing that she’d never heard of.” However, little does Aimee know that the butt-rash Betty is the least of her worries after being chased by a wolf and losing her backpack over a cliff then ending up in a cave with two Wolf men.

I could go for being the soft filling in a double meat sandwich like Aimee was with Kyle and Dillon. I did enjoy the fact that she was not an easy catch for the two men so they had to work at convincing her she was meant to be their mate. I loved the humor that both men had and their playful doglike personality throughout the story. I think I would enjoy having two men in my life like them and knowing that wolves mate for life would make it even more meaningful.

I had to laugh at her proposed fiancé and boss David, with his ring-around-the-desk as Ms. Rose called it. However, things get far out of whack with three men after her. Then there was her mother. She played a part in the internal conflict, starring in all the battles Aimee was fighting in her mind. The road to love for the three main characters was not an easy one and that's what kept me from putting the book down until the wee hours of the morning. The author did a fantastic job in adding a whole new dimension to the legend of the age old werewolf plot.

The sex scenes where hot, from Aimee witnessing two men pleasuring each other in human and beast form, to being pulled into the middle of a three way loving. Even though the relationship moved fast throughout the story the plot was laid out in such a way that it was believable and romantic.

All around, Disowned Cowboys had a well laid out plot, good editing, and some really hot sex scenes; three things that make this story a keeper in my book. If you love hot ménages and werewolves you may want to add this one to your shopping list.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trompe L’oeil by K. C. Burn

Trompe L’oeil by K. C. Burn
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (144 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Coreopsis

When Maxwell, a Depression-era artist, spurns the attentions of his sponsor, he ends up cursed to live out eternity in a painting. The man who cursed him delighted in playing the exhibitionist for Maxwell, and by the time the old man dies, Maxwell longs for his life and body back but he’s pretty sure he never wants to watch anyone have sex ever again. Until he discovers who his new owner is.

Tyler isn’t sure what to do with a life-sized painting of a nude man, but it was a gift from his sister to ease the pain of a disastrous break up and subsequent coming out. The gorgeous subject of the painting disappeared without a trace decades ago, rumored to have been killed by the painting’s previous owner in a jealous rage.

Becoming more and more fascinated by the man in his painting, Tyler uses his resources as a history professor to solve the mystery of Maxwell’s disappearance. He finds himself spending more time in his bedroom, talking to the painting, researching, and aching to know the man in person. Meanwhile, Maxwell falls under Tyler’s sweet spell, even though the thickness of canvas might be an insurmountable barrier to cross.

No one ever expects to find the love of their life right under their nose, let alone hanging in a painting on their wall. Trompe L’oeil gripped me from beginning to end with its intriguing love story that will have me looking at paintings in a whole new light.

Tyler Williams is a man who has been dealt some hard blows. He found out his boyfriend of the past year is a lying, cheating jerk and his parents can’t accept that he is gay. He decides it’s time for a change and moves to a new apartment to start fresh. Tyler has a good support system in his sister Mandy and his best friend Craig. They stay by his side through thick and thin. Mandy does her best to try and cheer her brother up by giving him a nude portrait of a very attractive man. From the instant Tyler see’s the painting he becomes obsessed with the man whose likeness it’s supposed to portray.

The painting at first appears to be just that a painting, nothing more. But this painting is special, it has Max Friedland trapped inside. Max lived over eighty years ago and was placed there against his will because he denied the advances of man he despised. Saddened doesn’t begin to describe how I felt for Max. For decades he was forced to watch and listen to the cruelties of his imprisoner without any hope of escape. He starts to feel a little hope when he sees his new owner, Tyler. Tyler is unlike any of the men he has seen before. He treats Max as if he is more than just a painting on the wall.

Tyler’s love for a good mystery sends him on a journey into finding out what exactly happened to Max Friedland. What he discovers is more questions than answers.

Max and Tyler have lived in different times but suffer the same disappointments and losses. The author did an excellent job describing the sadness and loneliness each character felt no matter what time period they lived in.

This story had its lighter moments as well with Mandy’s overprotectiveness and quick witted humor when interacting with Tyler. The dialogue shared between these two was funny and help lighten the mood of the story. There is also Tyler’s failed attempt of engaging in a one night stand and a blind date set up by his best friend’s mom. These things put a smile on my face and helped offset the balance of the sadness revolving around the story line of Max and his confinement.

Trompe L’oeil was truly a fascinating read. I was chomping at the bit with every page I turned hoping Tyler would discover the truth about Max and find a way to set him free. And I must say the ending was definitely worth the wait. To say it was magical wouldn’t do it justice.

If you’re a reader who likes to go on a trip through time and have a penchant for unsolved mysteries, this is a must read.

Aftermath by Bailey Bradford

Aftermath by Bailey Bradford
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (106 Pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3 Cherries
Reviewed by Canterbury Bell

Darren Brown spent two years running from his past, but he could only run so far before he was found.

Darren Brown lost the only two people he loved just days apart. His mother first, then his best friend. Guilt over his friend’s death drives Darren to wander for over a year before he winds up in the town of McKinton, Texas.

Lee Bausch served his tour in the Army then started his quest to find answers only one person could give him—except that one person had moved away. It takes him almost two years to find Darren Brown, and it turns out Darren doesn’t have the answers Lee needs—he is what Lee needs. Darren is shy and so sexy Lee can’t get enough of him, but he still needs answers because he can’t shake the feeling someone he loved was murdered.

After a terrifying experience at the motel, Darren knows he has to tell Lee about the spirits in McKinton. And there’s one spirit, scared and alone, who has the answers Lee seeks, if only the spirit knew how to tell Lee his suspicions are right.

Stefan Bausch died suddenly, unexpectedly and with no reason or explanation. It was the darkest time of his best friend’s life. Darren left town before Stefan’s death and still lives with the belief that it was somehow his fault.

His journey to a new location and his attempt to begin a new life is not exactly going the way he planned. He is living in a home with an elderly woman, gathering eggs from some very uncooperative chickens to bring to Virginia, his boss at the local diner. Darren walks around with the feeling of dread, and paranoia that he is being observed.

Lee Bausch is a man on a mission. After over a year of chasing leads, begging for favors and lots of frustration, his hard work has paid off. He has found his brother's best friend. Did he have the answers to all of Lee’s questions? Did he know what really happened to his younger brother? After finally spotting Darren in the diner, he is taken by surprise when he finds himself not only attracted to him, but totally mesmerized by the fragile young man. Their meeting turns into an unexpected sexual frenzy that becomes the beginning of a love story.

Darren and Lee are complicated characters with so much baggage that it tends to confuse the story at times. The eclectic mix of secondary characters keep the momentum of the story going, but overall it is just that, a story. Darren's fragility, weakness and uncontrollable attraction to Lee make you wish you could take him home, feed him some chicken soup and prepare him better for the outside world. Although Lee’s feelings are genuine and mostly believable, I did feel that he was taking advantage of Darren’s naivety.

The ending is somewhat expected but at the same time a turn from the norm. This is an easy read and a interesting short story to pass some time and get into the mind of a spirit with something on his mind.

The Dragon Slayer by Jianne Carlo

The Dragon Slayer by Jianne Carlo
Publisher: Etopia Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (97 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Bittersweet

To save her sister, can Catriona slay the Dragon Slayer?

Ruard, the Viking warrior known as The Dragon Slayer, has no great hopes for the wife he’s to take as the lord of Dunsmuir Castle, so long as she’s a biddable wife, with all her teeth, who doesn’t drool—a plain, humble woman. He has no use for the flame-haired nymph with breasts as ripe as melons and whose supple hips beckon a man’s hands. Nor for a maiden with a stubborn chin and flashing eyes that speak of naught but trouble.

Catriona hopes for a husband ‘twill be easy to poison. Lord Ulfric holds her sister captive and demands Catriona do his bidding: poison his Viking rival, the man they call the Dragon Slayer. Catriona hopes for a cruel warrior, a man easy to hate, not this Thor god come to life with golden hair, sky blue eyes, and a laughing smile. Her sister’s life depends on it, but how can she slay this Ruard, her new husband, who makes her heart pound with joy?

The Dragon Slayer was incredibly sweet. Our hero, Ruard is an honourable, manly, just, honest, sexy Viking! What more could I ask for in a hero? Catriona on the other hand is his perfect counterpart: defiant, yet at the same time compliant, worried for her loved ones, smart, efficient, sweet and pleasant. The author knows her character well and comes up with clever names such as “Catriona the Pure” or “Catriona the Siren”.

One of my favourite parts was their first bedding together. It was wild and a bit crazy due to the presence of others (they had to ensure she was a maiden) but it had an undercurrent of tenderness that turned me to mush.

Jianne Carlo gives apt descriptions and with the command she shows of the language, she creates a tone which easily transported me into the character’s world. Dragon Slayer is a quick read which will submerge you in a fabulous epoch.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Valiant by Laurann Dohner

Valiant by Laurann Dohner
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-fi/fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (208 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Moonflower

Tammy has always tried to be prepared for any calamity life might send her way but she never imagined a sexy, lion man-beast in her future. He’s huge, got the most exotic, golden cat-eyes she’s ever seen, and she’s so terrified she’s speechless for the first time in her life. He’s stalking closer, growling at her, and she’s too terrified to even flee.

Valiant hates humans. But when he gets a whiff of the adorable human female who has invaded his territory, he starts rethinking. Her fear scents of pure, sweet temptation and the closer he gets, the more appealing she becomes. Once he’s got his hands on her, he isn’t about to let her go. One thought will change his life. MINE!

Before Tammy can regain her senses, she’s flat on her back in Valiant’s bed. Now he just has to use every inch of his big, buff body to convince her that she should stay with him forever.

Valiant is an incredible addition to this brilliant series! There is a whole lot of GRRRRR going on...

I just adore the paranormal genre; vampires, werewolves, shifters, etc. I just can’t get enough of them. It sure would be nice to have some otherworldliness in our simple existence, but unless there really is a deeply hidden secret that they do exist, it likely won’t happen. If you sit back and really think of some of the crazy things scientists have done in the past, Ms. Dohner’s world CAN happen. Gene splicing is something that probably is being done as we speak. She addresses possibilities that are tantalizing and fresh.

New Species are genetically engineered beings that are human and animal. The were developed in a laboratory and treated cruelly until they were discovered and freed. Too different to be integrated into the general public, they have settled in two locations on the west coast. Hate groups and narrow-mindedness force them to live in protected private communities.

In the last book, Reservation was in the final stages of construction. It is a home for the New Species who are more animal then human. That is where we met Valiant, a New Species with a strong resemblance to a lion. He has very strong feline features and a purely animalistic temperament. He has no desire to deal with humans and all he wants is to be left alone. While he is lonely and desires a mate, he only wants to be mated to a big, strong, sturdy New Species female. That all changed when he scented Tammy.

One wrong turn and Tammy is face to face with a fiercely frightening man. She has never been more terrified in her life or more turned on. Unable to move let alone breathe, she is overwhelmed by this strangely perfect man. She is unable to control her body. With his eyes alone he renders her unable to form a coherent thought. Suddenly her life is in upheaval. Wildly attracted to Valiant, but confused about his intentions, she leaves him. Due to her involvement with the New Species her life is now in danger. Valiant will do anything in his power to protect her.

Tammy and Valiant’s meeting was electrifying; an amazing opening scene for the novel. It captured Valiant’s animal side and tendencies perfectly. While Tammy was rendered incoherent, Valiant was also blindsided. It was such a joy to watch the big man brought to his knees. When we first met Valiant he personified the inhabitants of the Wild Zone, the location on Reservation that was exclusively utilized by New Species that had little or no humanity in them. Valiant really was more beast then human, now he seems more New Species, the perfect blend of both animal and human. Ms. Dohner did an astonishing job with his transformation. He is possessive and overprotective, but he yearns to keep her and is willing to grow and learn to understand her. The big ones always fall the hardest!

I never found the storyline predictable. It was fresh and invigorating. Their existence is too new and threatening to humans. They have a long road to acceptance and it is clear that bad things will happen to them. Their homes will be attacked, humans associated to them will be threatened, New Species will be untrusting of humans and acceptance will be slow and painful. These are all common occurrences in all three books. I’m glad that Ms. Dohner hasn’t come up with unrealistic quick fixes and made their world all pansies and roses. It would read untrue and she would lose me as a reader. The New Species rock my world!

Valiant is easily my favorite book of the New Species series. One right after the other, these books are hot, erotic, and sexy and filled with passion and adventure. Dive into the possibilities, lose yourself in the fantasy and escape the boredom of your life. The New Species are waiting to capture your heart.

Silver’s Chance by Billi Jean

Silver’s Chance by Billi Jean
Publisher: Noble Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (410 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Foxglove

When life throws Samantha a curve ball in the form of an ancient Lykae warlord bent on marking her as his - what's she going to do? Run like hell? Oh, yeah, that so worked the first time around. With Derrick hot after her tail, Samantha discovers being the hunted just might not be as bad as she thought.

Derrick is a warlord hardened by centuries of battle. Now that he's free from years of torment, he discovers his mate. Only his beautiful little half wolf is as determined to deny him, as he is to claim her.

As the battle to keep her safe intensifies, Derrick faces the biggest fight of his life: winning Samantha's heart and keeping alive long enough to claim her.

Together they just might tame each other.

Silver’s Chance is Billi Jean’s second foray into this dark and dangerous world filled with vampires, shifters, demons and Faye. It is a fast paced and engrossing story, one that kept me enthralled from the very first page.

Samantha Silversword is on a mission. She has left the Faye realm in search of her twin sister, Susanna, and she is letting nothing get in her way. When she gets a tip from a Fire Demon that what she desires can be found in a pit in the desert, she heads out with high hopes.

In a hall filled with statues of Death Stalkers, instead of her sister she finds a man bolted to the cavern wall. But not just a man, actually a huge and angry Lykae, and Samantha knows that there is definitely something strange going on. With her affinity for manipulating metal, she frees the Lykae, who, as it turns out, is Derrick MacKenzie, brother to the king of the Lykae.

Derrick has been captive for two hundred years, but he realizes immediately that the woman freeing him is his mate, although she doesn’t seem to recognize their connection. Derrick is a warlord, and doesn’t understand modern women, and Samantha is determined to get as far from him and his claims as she can. When the Fire Demon tells her Derrick is her best chance to find her sister, she reluctantly decides to keep him close. What Samantha doesn’t expect is the growing attraction she feels for Derrick, and the realization that her ‘inner wolf’ wants nothing more than to claim Derrick for her mate as much as he does. Can Samantha come to terms with these new and unsettling desires? Can Derrick rein in his beast in order to win Samantha’s heart? Can these two get past their differences and work together to search for Susanna?

This story actually takes place before the first book, and it clears up some of the back-story about Midnight Star and events I had some questions about. But this is Samantha and Derrick’s story, and it is filled with humor, danger, and lots of heat and passion. The characters are exquisitely detailed and complex, and I enjoyed watching their verbal and physical sparring as they learned how to work together toward their goals.

Samantha is strong and independent, and feels guilty for her sister being missing. She has a sharp mind and a very sarcastic and wry sense of humor. She is loyal to friends and family, and has always believed herself to be the ‘misfit’ of the family. Her bloodlines include a Faye warrior and a warlock, and even a bit of Lykae in the distant past. I enjoyed watching as Samantha came to realize she wasn’t the twin with ‘tainted’ blood as she had believed. Watching as she began to understand and accept who and what she is, and accept her true worth was a delight.

Derrick MacKenzie is strong, loyal and more than a little confused. After being held captive, tortured and then left bolted to a wall for decades, he is rescued from his confinement by the one person he did not expect-his mate. Watching Derrick attempt to understand modern society is such fun. He is determined to win over his mate, and yet at every turn, he finds another way to alienate her. I loved watching his confusion turn into admiration as he realizes Samantha’s true strength and her abilities.

There are several surprising turns here, with betrayal and intrigue circling through the enemy’s camp. Not everyone is what they seem, and Samantha and Derrick must survive attacks and tricks before finding what they need to continue the search for Susanna. The secondary characters are as richly detailed and interesting as Samantha and Derrick, and I hope we will see more of them, especially Samantha’s Wiccan friend Tabithia and her friend Aeros, and the Fire Demon Agni. There is a deliciously hot happy for now for Samantha and Derrick, but the search will continue for Susanna in what I hope will be many more visits to this world of Billi Jean’s magical people.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coming Out Wolf by Julia Talbot

Coming Out Wolf by Julia Talbot
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (13 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Coreopsis

The worst thing in the world isn’t being gay. Not even close. It’s not even being a werewolf. The worst thing in the world is being in love with your roommate and having that love be unrequited. No matter what Steve does, Rick just isn’t responding. Will he give up too soon on making Rick his mate?

When two lone wolves end up living together, chemistry and fur is sure to fly. In Coming Out Wolf we get a snippet of what is the start of a beautiful relationship.

I really enjoyed the idea of pairing a made wolf and a born wolf as roommates. Both are gay so there is common ground between them but beyond that their polar opposites. Steve is the more flamboyant gay man whereas Rick the laid back take life as it comes kind of guy. Rick has been a wolf all his life and his go with the flow attitude holds him back from confessing to Steve that he likes him in more than a roommate type of way.

The conflict hits its peak when Steve forces Ricks hand in admitting his interest in him. From there these two steam up the pages with their need to be together. I liked how the author had the men reverse roles when they got sexually involved. Steve became the submissive one and Rick became the aggressor.

My only wish was for it to have been longer so I could have seen where this duo went beyond discovering their true feelings for one another. The pair never had full on sex but the author’s descriptive writing was solid and held my attention to the very end. Sometimes it’s nice to read a story where the main characters aren’t jumping straight into bed together, it makes the story more believable on the relationship aspect.

This story was short and sweet. A good book to read when you don’t have a lot of time and need a daily fix of werewolves and romance.

Three Reasons Why by Mari Carr

Three Reasons Why by Mari Carr
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (127 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Canterbury Bell

Wes wants Jill Harper in every possible way a man can want a woman. But she’s resisting. Hard. When he learns she needs a handyman for her diner, he decides fate is smiling upon him—until Jill offers three reasons why they can’t be together. Always up for a challenge, Wes decides to prove her ridiculous reasons unsound, one by one.

Jill knows her reasons are total bull, but she’s sticking by them, come hell or high water. Unfortunately, Wes Robson is extremely persuasive. Especially in bed. If the sex gets any hotter they’ll likely burn down the town. Before long, Jill’s reasons begin falling away as fast as her clothing whenever Wes is around.

But Jill knows exactly what Wes wants for his future, and she’s just prolonging the inevitable heartbreak. The real reason she can’t give herself to Wes, can’t allow herself to love him, can only lead to pain—the kind from which neither may ever recover.

There is always that one guy, the one that makes you lose your mind and manages to make your clothes somehow melt off. The guy whose kiss is like a warm blanket on a cold winter morning. The guy that you lose total control with even when you know there is disaster looming up ahead. And it is worse when you know he feels the same way.

Wes is that guy for Jill. The guy she loves from the bottom of her soul and knows he feels the same. But she is fighting it with all her heart and soul. Why?? Because Jill has a secret, a secret that she knows will break Wes’ heart and in turn break her heart.

Jill and Wes have know each other a very long time and it seems every time they are alone in a room, biology takes over, until one unforgettable Christmas changes Wes' life forever. His desire for Jill was now for more than just her body and he wants her forever. The problem is convincing Jill of the same thing. Her feelings for him are apparent but she is resisting committing to him and he cannot understand why. A job change from the military to the local police force and a more settled life does not sway her opinion of life with him and nothing he seems to do is working…until a stalker endangers Jill's life and Wes takes over.

This is that kind of wonderful story of not seeing what is right in front of you. Jill and Wes are just the perfect couple. Her fear of losing him is manifested by her pushing him away. Her resistance fuels his drive to make her his. Mari Carr makes them personable, lovable and resilient in their individual quests for happy ever after. His determination makes him the wonderful guy you want to come out on top and win the girl of his dreams. You can’t not root for their inevitable conclusion even through the most stubborn of behaviors.

Lots of family and friends fill the spaces of this story as well as being their champions in bringing together the reluctant lovers. They are fun, funny, sexy, entertaining and addictive; you want to know everything about them.

Enjoy Mari Carr’s writing and become acquainted with all her characters in this book as well as all her others.

The Bargain by Desiree Holt

The Bargain by Desiree Holt
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (196 pages)
Other: M/F, anal sex
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Carnation

Lara McKee's life came to a crashing halt the night her husband was killed in a carjacking and she lost their unborn child. Now she channels all her energy into her job as assistant to Cole Cassidy, sexy CEO of Alamo Construction. Cole's own life is a mess. A shotgun marriage based on a lie and the fiery death of his wife on the highway have left him with a child to raise that's a constant reminder of his first wife's lies and deceit. Both of them have written marriage out of their future.

But Cole desperately needs someone to mother the child and take charge of his personal life. When he proposes a marriage of convenience to Lara, who still yearns for motherhood, she shocks herself by accepting. And so these two people, carrying a van load of emotional baggage, begin to build a life together under almost impossible circumstances. Conflict builds over the child, whom Lara falls in love with at once and Cole ignores.

Beneath the daily conflict, love unexpectedly begins to grow. But at the moment they dare to explore their feelings, anger over the child erupts and the night turns into a disaster that nearly destroys the marriage. Slowly, bit by bit, they begin to re build their relationship, carefully nurturing these new feelings. But it takes another near-tragedy before they can finally get past the hurdles to complete happiness and truly become a family.

Tara McKee's life is about to be changed beyond anything she could possibly imagine. The gorgeous, lonely-but-finished-with-love widow; a competent secretary in a hugely successful construction company is about to get an offer that this childless, isolated woman cannot refuse from her boss, Cole Cassidy. The bargain: a marriage of convenience which will make her the surrogate mother to an adorable baby and assure permanent financial security for her and her parents.

Cole, who lost his wife months before, hasn't been able to look at the baby left in his care ever since. The reasons for his attitude are a mystery that he firmly guards at all costs. Lost in the agony of his grief, he wants someone who will bring order to his life and a mother to his child. His rules include a 'no intimacy' clause.

When Tara sees the beautiful baby girl so neglected and alone, she agrees to his bargain and moves into his sprawling home immediately. What she doesn't bargain for is the intense attraction and strong emotions she has for the black eyed, ruggedly handsome, lean and muscular six-foot-four-sexy-man that she marries within a week. The desire the two have for each other leads them through a minefield of erotic fantasies and carefully guarded feelings of growing passion as they dutifully stand by their bargain of a sexless marriage on into many months.

The secret star of the story is baby Molly. I love the way Ms. Holt made her the sweet key to the complicated problem the two lovers managed to construct. This is a tender, emotionally inspiring story of the creative and healing powers of love. Especially the love for a child. The sensitive way Ms. Holt brought about the opening of Cole's wounded heart over time was beautiful and inspired hope. While this isn't a new tale in romantic literature, Ms. Holt made it fresh and appealing with her irresistible story telling and realistically modern scenarios.

This lovely and absorbing tale is both a vividly erotic steaming-hot read and a sentimental tear jerker. Ms. Holt writes sex scenes that scorch the ink off the pages. The only reason I didn't rate this story higher were the editing errors in the book. While it didn't distract from my enjoyment of the story, I feel that it did reflect negatively on the publisher. While I'm saddened that such a wonderful story wasn't given the editorial 'respect' that it deserved, I still do not hesitate to heartily recommend, The Bargain to all romance readers. This endearing story covers all the bases with a sweetly sophisticated and uplifting clarity and openness. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Golden Dancer by Tara Lain

Golden Dancer by Tara Lain
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (182 Pages)
Other: M/M, M/M/M, Ménage, anal sex
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Myrtle

Mac MacAllistre is obsessed; the online news reporter needs enough evidence to write a story accusing billionaire art collector Daniel Terrebone of stealing The Golden Dancer, a priceless work of art, from son-of-a-Nazi Horst Von Berg. The story promises the recognition Mac craves, but then Mac meets a real golden dancer, ballet star Trelain Medveyev, and his attraction to the man rocks his formerly straight world.

When the mysterious Terrebone “collects” this beautiful dancer, too, Mac rushes to the rescue like a knight in shining cargo pants and plunges into a three-way passion that tears him between love and guilt. Can Mac keep investigating when his story could send one man to prison and another to the morgue? Will this reporter get his story or get his men?

“He couldn't look away or stop doing the thing making that serpent rise.”

Whoa, momma! This book is hot. The heat comes from a well thought out plot, and an author who has a crazy sense of humor that made it impossible to put the book down until the end. The story is built around three men, a news reporter MacKenzie MacAllister (Mac Mac) and so-called straight man, Silver hair Daniel Terrebone, billionaire art collector and possible art thief, and Trelain Medveyev, a beautiful golden hair, gay Russian ballet dancer.

Ms. Lain has a way of bringing out the chemistry between the characters that both charmed and hypnotized me, and left me with a sense of peace and contentment when I was finished. The dialogue and true-to-life characters made me feel like a fly on the wall watching the drama play out. I love the fact that all three men are so different in personalities as well as lifestyles yet they are all drawn to each other. And of course the sex scenes were hot enough to boil water.

What I was partial to was the suspense of not knowing if the three would work out their differences, if they would all become lovers, or would they just have a weekend fling. Mac Mac was the one that kept me wondering the most, if he would open his eyes and see what was important to him before he lost it all. The dialect of Ms. Wow Wow was cute and made me wish I had a boss like her. She definitely stood out even though she was a secondary character in the story line. The tale was a work of art in itself with a lot of emotional pull; one that will be read again and again.

Wolf Collection by Kira Stone, Sierra Dafoe, Dakota Cassidy, Marteeka Karland

Wolf Collection by Kira Stone, Sierra Dafoe, Dakota Cassidy, Marteeka Karland
Publisher: Changling Press
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (248 pgs)
Other: M/f, M/M, anal sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Meadowsweet

Werewolves are tenacious creatures, hunting their prey -- and their lovers -- with deadly accuracy. Rarely do they miss their mark. Give that wolf a human form and he's almost invincible. Except when it comes to matters of the heart. Their lovers aren't the type to submit easily. It will take all their skills -- both human and lupine -- to get what they want. But then, they never settle for anything less...

Werelock by Dakota Cassidy
Addison Ross agrees to go on an All Hallows Eve pumpkin picking expedition to appease her niece and nephew. Hoo boy does she ever pick a winner. Beneath her pumpkin lies a talisman that brings the delish Caleb Marsden into her life. Caleb Marsden, the werelock...

Wild Ones by Kira Stone

Bitten by a ferocious wolf, Billy's need for solitude leads him to carve out a territory in the Canadian wilderness. Luc's small pack is made up of weres with the ability to control the elements. They need Billy to complete the circle... but first the Wild Ones will have to catch him...

The Witching Hour by Marteeka Karland
Hazel really wants to be the witch her Grandma always said she could be. Unfortunately, though her spells always work, they never quite work the way they're supposed to. Drake, the hunky werewolf next door, has an appetite for a certain witch... and it's all for her own good. After all, who ever heard of a virgin witch?

Wolf Bound by Sierra Dafoe
When Jenna's lover strands her on a ski slope in the Canadian Rockies, an enigmatic lone wolf rescues her -- only to transform into a naked, stunningly sexy man! Now Jenna is faced with a bitter dilemma: if she stays, she'll be putting his life at risk. If she leaves, it's his heart she'll be destroying...

Rarely do you find an anthology that blends so perfectly as this collection. There is always that odd man out story that may contain similar subject matter but does not quite fit with the flow of the other authors and can leave a feeling of dissidence in the flow. However, in the Wolf Collection every story seems well chosen and complete but still leaves the wonderful taste of wanting more.

I choose to read this particular anthology because I was familiar with work by several of the authors. I was happy to be introduced to the other authors in this work. Every story was unique unto itself, flowed well, and provided a wonderfully romantic tidbit. I would have loved to see some of these stories become complete novels. Each brings a little bit of something to make it unique whether it’s the werelock, spending time in a snow locked cave with a lusty werewolf, working spells that just don't quite seem to work out right, or finding a place where you can be yourself and discover an amazing destiny; there is something for everyone.

The editing was nicely done; the stories flowed well and worked together. There were moments of tears, laughter and sighs. All in all an excellent read.

Cinderella Wore Combat Boots by D.L. Jackson

Cinderella Wore Combat Boots by D.L. Jackson
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (37 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Reviewed by Foxglove

Sometimes Fairytales come true.

First Sergeant Cori Valentine faces a bleak future. She’s turning forty in three weeks and life as she knows it is over. An injury received while on deployment has earned her an early retirement from the Marine Corps, something she’s not sure she’ll survive. Things get even better when interfering Marines set her up on a blind date for a party she doesn’t want. The guy has to be a total toad to want to go out with her. Right?

When Madame Eve informs Retired SEAL, Sol Keller she’s found his perfect match, he doesn’t believe it, but takes up the challenge. One look at the First Sergeant in a sexy dress and combat boots has him wondering if fairytales really can come true. Madame Eve might be the legendary Fairy Godmother, and Cori his Cinderella. Sol intends to show the Marine beauty a Prince Charming she’ll never forget, and that retirement isn’t the end of her story but merely the beginning.

D.L. Jackson has written a short, humorous story of change, and one woman’s way of coping with what she can’t change.

First Sergeant Cori Valentine has been a Marine for all of her adult life: twenty-two years of faithful service to her country. Her life is about to change in a drastic way. Her last deployment wounded her to the point that it was feared she wouldn’t ever walk again, but she battled back to prove the medical personnel wrong. But she will never be one hundred percent, and her options are limited to retirement or medical discharge.

She has no idea how to live life outside the corps, but it is time to start learning to live. But first, Cori must endure the final indignation: a fancy reception in her honor. When her friend and his wife set her up with a blind date, she is terrified of it all. But she’s a Marine, and she will face this event just like she has faced everything else life has thrown her way-with courage and dignity. Can Cori accept a future that doesn’t include the Marine Corps? Can she move on and find a new life in the civilian world? But first, can she make it through this one night and keep her dignity and self-respect intact?

I laughed out loud at some of the images that came to mind as I read this one, and enjoyed watching as this mature woman went through the insecurities more often faced by teens as they move into adulthood. The world here is realistic and charming, and the characters are a true delight.

Cori Valentine is a strong, independent woman, but she is having trouble coping with the changes facing her. I enjoyed watching as her Marine ‘family’ helps her through what is, to her, the most difficult period in her life so far. I like that this character is not some silly teen or twenty-something, but a mature woman who needs to choose a new and sometimes frightening path for her life. I enjoyed watching as she grudgingly accepted those things she couldn’t change, and still bent them meet her own desires.

Sol Keller is Cori’s blind date, arranged through an agency called 1NightStand. Strong, gorgeous and ex military, he is the kind of man every woman dreams of. More important, he understands what Cori is going through, and does everything in his power to make her more comfortable on their evening together. He is attracted to Cori, and isn’t afraid to show her what he feels.

There is a lot of humor in this short story, from the unique shopping trip to the dancing lesson for the whole Marine unit. The attraction between Cori and Sol is instant and hot, and the restaurant scene absolutely sizzles with sexual tension. And it just gets hotter as the story moves along. I enjoyed watching as Cori discovered that there is life after the Marines, and I recommend this story for those who like new beginnings with some hot times tossed in.