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Friday, November 11, 2011

Phoenix Rising by Corrina Lawson

Phoenix Rising by Corrina Lawson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (230 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Cherries
Reviewed by Dahlia

He was born to be a weapon. For her, he must learn to be a hero.

A Phoenix Institute story

Since birth, Alec Farley has been trained to be a living weapon. His firestarter and telekinetic abilities have been honed to deadly perfection by the Resource, a shadowy anti-terrorist organization—the only family he has ever known. What the Resource didn’t teach him, though, is how to play well with others.

When psychologist Beth Nakamora meets Alec to help him work on his people skills, she’s hit with a double-barreled first impression. He’s hot in more ways than one. And her first instinct is to rescue him from his insular existence.

Her plan to kidnap and deprogram him goes awry when her latent telepathic ability flares, turning Alec’s powers off. Hoping close proximity will reignite his flame, she leads him by the hand through a world he’s never known. And something else flares: Alec’s anger over everything he’s been denied. Especially the passion that melds his mind and body with hers.

The Resource, however, isn’t going to let anything—or anyone—steal its prime investment. Alec needs to be reminded where his loyalties lie…starting with breaking his trust in the woman he’s come to love.

Nuclear airborne sex while saving the world? Yes, please!

Alec Farley defines himself by his abilities. He has been trained to control his skills in such away as to become a powerful weapon for unbeknownst to him a very corrupt father figure. He’s also been led to believe many things about life that are outdated and is inexperienced in many common and social aspects of the world. After being recommended to see a psychologist, Alec is initially wary, but soon warms up to the woman trying to treat him when it becomes clear the only threat she poses is in her physical beauty. Having thought he was in control during their sessions, he underestimates her, so Alec tries seduction as his weapon of choice. In doing so, strange things begin to happen and a mission goes awry. His powers become impossibly stronger and harder to manage, but there is something about Beth that sets him off in an entirely new and extremely pleasant way.

For Beth Nakamora, helping Alec realize he has choices in life like everyone else helps him see that the Resource and, most especially his father, is using him. Her own traumatic past, won’t allow her to abandon him. The problem is mutual trust and when patient/psychologist lines become blurred and eventually crossed, Beth makes a fateful decision to use force by kidnapping him. She shows Alec a different side to a world he hadn’t known existed or experienced outside of books and the Resource. When it becomes apparent to both of them that his father has kept him in the dark for much of his life, Alec decides to take matters into his own hands – literally.

The story has sort of a supernatural X-Men feel to it and by the end, you’ll definitely see why. Unfortunately, while the premise was good, some of the execution felt a bit lacking. There were some awkward scene changes or dialogue that didn’t seem to flow naturally. Getting into the story and forming connections with the characters took some work as the story and their relationship development is fairly fast-paced.

Alec is and is not a naïve hero. He is extreme on both sides as displayed by never having been to a Wal-Mart and takes a new interest to Motown music and learns to drive. Throughout the story, he shows an adorable innocence and enthusiasm for learning what would be considered social norms. However, the opposite extreme in his naïveté is displayed with his visits to strip clubs and his training to take on missions deemed too dangerous for regular civilian soldiers. Somewhat of the same can be said about Beth. While she may be extremely intelligent and retains a do-gooder fearless streak, she plays the victim card a bit too much for my taste. However, her determination is a valued redeeming quality.

Regardless to some of the pitfalls of the story, I was very attracted to the continued stream of action sequences that never let the story flatline. That action includes some really out of this world sex scenes that were enjoyably imagined. The graphic description may not have all been there, but Ms. Lawson definitely provides some unique sense exploratory ones. Some of the secondary characters as well were a welcome addition and occasional distraction.

I believe the series deserves further exploration and will be keeping an eye out for when the next is released. Readers looking for an adventure into a paranormally complex and political world with a quite literally hot hero, will want to check this out.

Riever's Heart by Renee Wildes

Riever's Heart by Renee Wildes
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (203 pages)
Other: M/F, Voyeurism, masturbation
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Spiderwort

The warrior in her was ready for anything. But she never saw him coming…

Guardians of Light, Book 5

Verdeen is on the brink of becoming an elite warrior ranger until the ultimate humiliation—no war mare chooses her for advanced training. King Loren’s consolation prize isn’t much better. Journey to the Isle of Ice as bodyguard to a human riever. Daq Aryk. Barbarian. Prince of thieves.

Aryk dreams the impossible: unite six fractious clans into a peaceful nation. Failure means they are all doomed to kill each other off—and the nightmares of his son’s death by sword will come true. The new elven ambassador rouses his ire, not because she’s female, but because she’s inexperienced. Her possibly needless death weighs on his already overburdened soul. Her beauty is a distraction he can’t afford.

In a fragrant, moonlit garden, Verdeen dares yield to an irresistible compulsion to kiss the mortal riever. The heat shakes her to the core, and frees a desire that should occur but once in her life. With a mate.

As their quest twists down ever more dangerous paths, though, their bond is the asset that could assure peace…or the liability that could send a dream down in flames.

Destiny Awaits. How like a woman to use a man's words against him.

As a novel in the fantasy genre, Renee Wildes' Riever's Heart follows the expected formula almost to the last element. There are rampaging barbarians, noble elves, and even a half-dragon ruler within the pages of this romantic quest, and the journey is a noble one: to unite the warring hordes under a single rule to bring peace to the sundered lands.

However, at times, the execution of the plot feels a little too much like a forced march into the awaiting destiny that faces the story's heroes. Verdeen, the elven warrior maid, is petulant and often comes across as spoiled, which is not at all the same as the strong, independent woman she could have been. Aryk's noble and generous nature - especially in his awakening of Verdeen's sexuality - at times becomes overshadowed by his lust, and this somehow seems to confound the development of his character. While I realise this is a product of the manner of their relationship, the lack of subtlety in the use of this character's inner conflict risks endangering the reader/hero relationship. The single, biggest interruption to my enjoyment and engagement with the story, though, was that much of the narrative voice is written in a very self-conscious, 'old worldly' language. The use of such words as 'Twas, afeared and betwixt is fine in dialogue, but it feels jarring and out of place when it appears as part of the general narrative as it does here. It feels like a vehicle by which we, as readers are being forced to identify with characters whose own actions should make us care about them enough to feel with them.

While that sounds all rather negative, the pace of the novel keeps those considerations from becoming overwhelming. The faithful adherence to all the well loved elements of both the fantasy, and the romance genres mitigates the d20 fumbles, (and fantasy role play gamers are probably the only ones who'll truly 'get' that reference), and the attention to detail in the battle scenes, which fit perfectly within the telling of the tale, are more than strong enough to help carry the story forward. Lastly, and by absolutely no means least, the sexual tension underlying the whole of the novel remains high throughout, and the intimate scenes between Verdeen and Aryk are scorching hot, often unresolved (until the end), and tease unmercifully to leave both the characters and the readers desperately wanting more.

If fantasy set within a burning romance is what you like, or smouldering sensuality and strong, fiery sex in a brutal fantasy world is what you're looking for, then Riever's Heart will probably strike you just as true as one of Verdeen's arrows.

Mara’s Men by Faith Talbot

Mara’s Men by Faith Talbot
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/F/M, M/M, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

In Cancun, Mara met Chris and Aaron, two mysterious men who spend most of their time under the ocean. They showed her a world she never could have imagined -- and she chose to return to her normal life.

Now, months later, Mara returns to the Mexican beaches hoping to find what she left behind. But even if she does reunite with the two men who changed her world, how can she stay with them in their mysterious world under the sea?

This book was surprising. The author wrote a story that has wonderful and detailed descriptions that brought the ocean to life. There was one phrase that enchanted me – it summed up the beauty and intricate balance that comes from living in the water and it seemed to breathe romance.

I liked where Ms. Talbot introduced the main characters to a reader. It maximized the culmination of the romance in the tight framework of a short story. I found Mara, the heroine, at crossroads in her life. She was returning to the place where she felt the most connected, satisfied and loved but needed to know if it was a dream or could it be a reality that she could count on and believe in. It took courage to come back and it took true bravery of the heart to make the choice she did.

Aaron and Chris are the heroes. They not only love each other but they love Mara as well, one quicker to express it than the other. They live in the ocean and want her to join them but they know that it’s a tough choice to make for a land dweller. The author didn’t delve too deep into either character’s motivation or feelings. I was given just enough to understand that they did care for her, that they are nervous that she’ll turn them down and yet they remain hopeful. Certainly the care with which they treat the heroine was sweet and endearing. The guys were very protective of her.

The only glitch in the editing came from someone named Mark. I’m pretty sure that name wasn’t supposed to be there and now I’m wondering who that was supposed to be, if anyone. Other than that, the dialogue was interesting and really cool. It’s fascinating because it wasn’t normal speech all the time. The author introduced some neat descriptions and explanations of how Aaron, Chris and eventually Mara, communicated while under water. It was sort of similar to what I’ve seen in other books but Ms. Talbot certainly put her own spin on things. I liked it a lot.

Another part that made this story rock was the part with the whales. That whole scene, the words the author used to paint the effect it had on Mara, was unique and truly inspired. I even liked the dialogue that transpired during that whole event. For me, that was one of the highlights of the book.

This is a character driven romance. There are no villains. Its focus is on Mara’s choice and the process she goes through to achieve her happily ever after. However, erotic romance readers will find plenty to satisfy their yearnings because Ms. Talbot delivered in that area too.

Mara’s Men is actually a very sweet story about a heroine who has to choose her path to happiness. She had to face her fears and grab onto the best thing that’s ever happened to her, even though it was fantastical and unbelievable. Aaron and Chris are her Rocks of Gibraltar – with them she can do anything. And that’s pretty much what it came down to. The happily ever after isn’t spelled out, it’s implied. And because of the words the author chose to use, I’m satisfied.

If a reader is looking for a truly unique and special spin on mer-people, with awe inspiring detail that makes a person feel like they’re underwater too, then grab a copy of Mara’s Men and submerse yourself in a very entertaining romance.

All Jacked Up by Desiree Holt

All Jacked Up by Desiree Holt
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (73 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Carnation

On his fortieth birthday Jack Manning had his own private pity party until a pixie showed up and he was soon "all jacked up".

Jack Manning had carried an image with him all of his adult life of the woman he planned to marry. She’d be every man’s ideal-slender with masses of blonde curls and sapphire blue eyes.

Darcy O’Connor has been the odd-girl-out all her life. Barely five feet tall, she wears outrageous clothes, styles her short black hair in spikes and has developed a smart mouth to cover her insecurities.

When she walks into Eli’s, the favoured neighbourhood hangout, and meets Jack on his birthday, it’s like a collision of the planets. Instantly they rub each other the wrong way. But very hot sex keeps drawing them together.

Will they burn each other out before they realise what their feelings really are?

Jack and Darcy have absolutely nothing in common...except the most earth shattering sex on the planet. After two failed tries at staying out of each other's arms, they are even more determined to forget they ever saw each other.

She: A creative, independent sprite of a curvy, petite woman who follows the beat of her own drum. She was always labeled as 'eccentric' by her ultra-conservative family for her outside-of-the-box style and ideals. Darcy O'Connor is a hard-working director in a small television production company with a boss who refuses to give her that title or the credits that go with it. Her smart-mouthed edgy attitude is a cover for the insecurities she has over never 'fitting in' or achieving what she knows she has earned.

He: Handsome, fit Jack Manning is in a tail spin over being the only forty year old man he knows who hasn't yet found the woman of his dreams. AKA: Barbie. He is a conservative, buttoned down, stuffed suit with a boring, predictable career and lifestyle that is unsatisfying and unacceptable. Jack has become bitter, unhappy and judgmental. He has adopted a superficial attitude toward women and his life in general, and somehow in doing, has lost his true self.

Both Jack and Darcy are due for some personal changes and attitude adjustments. No matter how resistant they are to the idea of a relationship with each other, neither can erase the memories of their deeply satisfying and blazing hot interludes from their minds. The fact that opposites attract is an undeniable force between them. However, each is locked into their own strict persona, with little room for an open mind. Change is not on their agendas.

Fate has other ideas, and Jack and Darcy's plans of avoiding each other are not destined to work. Their friends and family have gotten involved as well, and soon their worlds become more open and do their minds.

I loved this charming story of two very different people who need just what the other has in order to get on with their own lives and personal evolution. The intense emotion that unexpectedly shatters the defenses of these two strong personalities, opens them up and heals their disappointments. All love needs is for the door of their minds to open up a tiny crack and the sweet sun shines in! Ms. Holt demonstrates once again in her delightfully relevant style, the healing and transformative power of true love within the lives of her very dynamic characters.

I found everything to love about this uplifting tale. It was superbly written, with strong and compelling characterization and perfect timing. The erotic scenes were exceptional with their urgently hot passion that scorched the pages with just the right amount of smoke. If you like exciting hot romance that completely involves you every minute, go get a copy of, All Jacked Up by Desiree Holt and enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dragon Fire by Emily Carrington

Dragon Fire by Emily Carrington
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC
Genre: Action/Adventure, sci-fi/fantasy, Holiday
Length: Short Story (121 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Peppermint

Luke is a genie with almost limitless power but it does him no good when his lover, Mark, won’t let him have the two things he really wants: for Mark to rely on him as an equal partner during magical conflicts, and to be beaten, whipped, chained, and finally dominated in bed. Luke refuses to take no for an answer and devises eight gifts that he hopes will gain Mark’s trust and encourage his lover to hurt him the way he wants.

But with Mark going through the dragon equivalent of PMS, the two of them having to visit Mark’s family, and finally face a dragon with pissed-off mommy syndrome, will Luke ever get the chance to prove that he can be both strong in the field and the perfect submissive in the sack?

It is not every day that a genie falls hopelessly in love with his master. Luke knows Mark completes him. He also knows that he is Mark’s key to true happiness. Mark however is reluctant to let go of his past to allow the love he and Luke share to mend his wounds and completely consume him.

It's evident from the start that this story is a continuation from the first story in the Dragon in Training Series. While I did not have the privilege of reading the first story, I still found this story enjoyable. I could tell that there were certain things I was missing since the storyline seems to pick up where the first ends but the author wrote the story in a way that got me caught up enough to be able to jump in and fall in love with Mark and Luke despite not having read their backstory.

Mark’s family plays a large role in his life and in this story as well as spiritually. Part of his fear in embracing himself and Luke is that his family, and especially his brother, has shown him repeatedly that they do not approve of his homosexual lifestyle. This on top of the violence that Mark and Luke suffer may make some people squeamish. I believe that the homophobia displayed is an important aspect of the story and was a necessary factor in Luke and Mark's relationship. Mark’s spirituality is used as another tool to show how he can be in a room full of people and feel alone. While Luke is in touch with who he is and his beliefs, Mark needs to connect with that side of himself to truly be free.

Mark may seem to the stronger of the two characters in some ways, but I think Luke is really the one who holds himself, Mark, and the relationship together. Luke is one of those people who seems submissive but is really the dominant partner. Even when Mark is wielding the instrument of pleasure, Luke seems to be being in charge. In the end, Luke’s strength really allows these characters to grow as individuals and as lovers.

Bump ‘N Grind by Sam Cheever

Bump ‘N Grind by Sam Cheever
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (130 pgs)
Other: M/F, exhibitionism, light BDSM
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Dianthus

Felicia Jeffries is turning forty-five and her friends have dragged her to a male strip club to celebrate. She’d prefer to be hiding in a dark corner. Instead, she finds herself on stage, dirty dancing with a sexy hottie whose smoldering glances tell Felicia that he couldn’t care less about the difference in their ages.

Garrett Holcomb has always liked older women. He enjoys convincing them that their bodies’ natural changes are sexy. When Felicia slides her attractive body against his in the dance club, he knows they’re meant to be together.

But someone else doesn’t think their love is healthy. And he’ll do anything to make sure they miss out on the future they want together. Including nearly murdering a man and pinning the attack on Garrett.

Does age ever really matter? Or is personality and character enough to make up for a few years either way? This has been a question that has plagued many over the years and is an important part to this story. Our two main characters couldn’t be more different, but that is also part of the attraction that sparks the pages of this book aflame.

Felicia, our heroine, is a newly divorced woman turning a pivotal age and is ready to let loose (in a controlled way of course) with a night out on the town with her best friends. But Felicia doesn’t expect to meet a man who can make her want to beg for his attention and set her skin on fire with his touch. This is all new territory for her, and not something she is completely comfortable with in the beginning. But someone is trying to make decisions for her, trying to convince her that this life change is bad and that just makes Felicia want it even more. Can being in the arms of this man free her or will it make an outsider in their relationship enraged enough to kill?

Garrett has always had a thing for older women, their curves, their minds, everything about them revs his engine. The calm controlled beauty of Felicia is exactly what he has been looking for. But will his secret past and her apprehension to their relationship fizzle the fire or make it burn hotter? And once Felicia is threatened, to what extent is Garrett willing to go to get the woman of his dreams?

This book was something different for me, but in the end I found it quite enjoyable. The characters were well rounded and the plot had just enough suspense to keep me page turning until the end. I only wish the story would have had more meat to it about the developing relationship between Garrett and Felicia. Sam Cheever is a talented author, however, and is someone I will definitely look for when it comes time to shop for more books. Anyone looking for a good read will enjoy this story.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rocky Mountain Heat by Vivian Arend

Rocky Mountain Heat by Vivian Arend
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (156 pgs)
Other: BDSM (light), M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Dahlia

He’s the one who taught her to ride. Now all he wants is to ride her.

Six Pack Ranch, Book 1

Blake Coleman is old enough to know that acting on impulse causes nothing but a heap of trouble. But when trouble’s a western-hat-wearing blonde with slim legs that go on forever, what’s a man to do? Wanting the sweet girl next door is just wrong. The responsible thing to do is keep his hands off.

Jaxi has other plans for Blake’s hands, and his heart. She may have once considered him a big brother, but that was a long time ago. She’s all grown up now and ready to convince him that she’s perfect for him. Except he can’t seem to see past the big “don’t touch” sign that’s apparently still hanging around her neck.

When Jaxi ends up living right under Blake's nose, the undeniable heat between them slides off simmer and leaps up to barn-burning levels. However, a few of the younger six-pack Colemans have decided Jaxi’s brand of trouble is worth risking a few busted bones.

That is, if Blake’s finally ready to let go the reins and fight for what he wants…

Rocky Mountain Heat is family drama in its finest form with six sexy cowboys that’ll make you want to keep them all! It's an unstoppable story filled with humor, drama, and loads of lovin’.

For as long as she can remember, Jaxi has been content in knowing where her future lies, but the biggest appeal to being a rancher’s wife is having Blake Coleman. Jaxi grew up with the Coleman boys, but Blake always separated himself due to the responsibilities and privileges that came with being the oldest. For the longest time Jaxi simply admired him and when those feelings started to turn into something more, uncertainty set in since she wasn’t sure if he felt the same or only saw her as a little sister. While others her age thought of leaving the nest as soon as possible, Jaxi stayed knowing that she’d already found her calling. Opportunity comes knocking when an accident leads her right back into the middle of Coleman clan again, but this time she’s going to show Blake that she’s all grown up and knows exactly what she wants.

Blake Coleman has always known it was his destiny to be working the ranch for the rest of his life. While some his brothers went to college and pursued other activities, Blake’s at peace with the knowledge that his future is at the ranch where it all started. The only thing missing is someone to share it all with, but the someone he had in mind is completely off limits.

Blake makes a lot assumptions about Jaxi and refuses to face the truth about her and his own feelings. He’s also in deep denial that age is just a number, but his road blocks to keep her adistance are failing miserably. What’s worse is she seems determined to torment him with home cooked meals, playing nursemaid to his Ma, and hard work around the ranch. All of which is done with a body that looks good in anything – even dirt. Through it all he barely maintains control, but he didn’t count on how extremely determined, stubborn, and mischievous Jaxi could be.

I should mention that Blake and Jaxi are not part of any ménage that the story is tagged under, but the story does slightly veer toward another brother with quite the situation on his hands and in his bed. I'm sure there will be more on him in his own story in a later installment.

Ms. Arend does an incredible job incorporating so many personalities into one story without it becoming confusing or overshadowing Blake and Jaxi’s dilemma. Each of the characters has a distinct voice with half-told back-stories that I anxiously await to uncover fully throughout the rest of the series.

Jaxi is definitely someone to admire with her bold approach to helping Blake realize what’s right in front of him while maintaining an innocence that drives the boys crazy. Meanwhile, Blake is a gentleman through and through with a streak of alpha male dominance that’s most appealing.

Plenty of surprisingly sexy and emotionally tender moments line the story and will have your attention rapt all the way to the end. I am eager to see where these wild ranch boys take us next and the very brave, but extremely lucky women who get to tame them.

Stowaway by Becky Black

Stowaway by Becky Black
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (160 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

The capture of stowaway Kit Miller brings some rare excitement to the life of Raine, security chief on a deep space cargo freighter. Kit's a fugitive, a shameless flirt and the sexiest man Raine's ever seen, but Raine's determined to resist him. Getting involved with Kit would be inappropriate and Raine prides himself on his rigid principles.

To Kit, Raine is just another authority figure like the ones who've screwed him over before, so he can't work out why Raine makes him feel so safe. Why the muscle-bound hunk makes him so hot is easier to understand.

Eventually, desire overcomes their wariness and they begin a passionate and mostly secret affair. When Kit proves his loyalty to the crew and the ship and Raine shows Kit he's not the kind of man Kit assumed he was, their feelings grow deeper. But the end of the voyage is looming and they face losing each other forever unless Raine is ready to give up all he's worked for to love a lawbreaking stowaway.

Good things can come from the worst plans. Accused thief Kit is on the run and just happens to stowaway on a cargo ship. His plan isn’t very good, they never are, and soon enough Kit is caught by sexy security chief Raine. Although Raine should remember that Kit is a thief, he’s overwhelmed by their chemistry, Kit’s good looks, and his own lust. The two men give into their passion but Raine can’t help wondering if he’s jeopardizing his career and duty and Kit knows he’ll have to say goodbye to Raine before his next escape attempt.

Stowaway is a fun book to read but it’s a very classic style romance. The plot is predictable and often reminiscent of older Harlequin type books. The characters frequently act against common sense or their own training. I spent a lot of the book saying “no one would do that.” Or “they wouldn’t say that.” Additionally, although the story is technically a futuristic, outer space story it lacks any real world building. The various details are sparse and often generic, such as repeated litany of kitchen chores, without any indication this is another world or another time. It feels very normal and everyday.

There are plenty of good parts, too, though. The book is very easy to read and the pages really fly by. The author has a knack for sucking me into the story, regardless of the fact that it’s nothing unique or different. The writing is easy and the tone light. The story doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is nice and helped keep my attention.

I wouldn’t suggest picking up Stowaway if you’re looking for a complicated or intricate space opera. The real strengths of the story come in the inherent charm and easy writing. The secondary characters are interesting and not just page fillers while the main couple never quite seemed realistic but are fun to read nonetheless. Stowaway is a story I’d recommend if you’re in the mood for an easy, light, classical romance.

Legal Artistry by Andrew Grey

Legal Artistry by Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (181 Pages)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Myrtle

Years ago, Dieter Krumpf’s grandmother died and left him everything, including a photo album containing pictures of the art collection she left behind when her family fled the Nazis. Now, Dieter is calling on the services of a lawyer, Gerald Young, to determine whether his family’s legacy might be returned to him.

Gerald doesn’t hold out much hope that the paintings will be returned, but Dieter’s earnestness speaks to him and he agrees to help. At first he concludes that while Dieter has a case, suing in Austria isn’t practical. But Gerald is a good lawyer, and as his feelings for Dieter develop, so does his determination to win the case. Together, Gerald and Dieter navigate research, hearings, and a dysfunctional family in the pursuit of fine art—and discover the art of love along the way.

“Dieter, you need to know that Portrait of Anna (your great grandmother) is also known as The Lady in Blue and is world famous.”

Mr. Grey's brilliant passion and energy come through in his writing and this book is no exception to his ability to create an intriguing plot. He has a way of hooking a reader and keeping them mesmerized until the end.

What I found so tantalizing about this story was the touch of World War II history, and how many families lost everything they own when they fled Germany before and during the war, only to have family portraits and other priceless possessions turn up in museums after Germany was defeated.

Dieter Johan Krumpf was raised by his grandmother and grew up looking at pictures and hearing stories about how she and her father fled their home before the war leaving everything behind. Three years after losing Gram to a stroke, Dieter learns where the picture of his great grandmother is. As the story unfolds I found myself falling for Dieter and admiring him for his determination to regain the art work taken from his family’s home during the war. It was exciting to watch attorney Gerald Young work to help Dieter reclaim part of his family’s history.

To add spice to the story, Gerald’s father and brother are also attorneys in their own law firm. In Gerald’s eyes his family is pretty dysfunctional but in the end he learns he may have been looking at things all wrong. I will say that Mr. Grey seems to have turned the heat up when writing the sex scenes in this story, or at least they seem hotter than the other books of his I have read in the past.

Even though this story was not as much of a tear jerker as a few of his other books, it was still a heartwarming tale of family and love. Definitely a must read in my book.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book of Daniel by Z.A. Maxfield

Book of Daniel by Z.A. Maxfield
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (200 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Daniel Livingston is finally free. He’s come clean about his passionless marriage and moved to St. Nacho’s where he can spend time with his brother. Now he’s ready explore the endless sexual buffet being hot and rich and single has to offer.

The problem is a firefighter named Cameron Rooney who haunts his every waking thought and half his dreams. No doubt about it. Cam is going to require a level of honesty Dan has never before considered, and in order to achieve that, he will have to turn his life inside out. Coming clean to his ex-wife will cost him money, doing right by St. Nacho’s will anger his business partner, and exploring a painful family secret will hurt the one person Dan has sworn to protect.

Cam’s faith in Dan is tested and Dan’s belief in himself is nearly non-existent. In the end, forging a new path could cost him everything or net him the most important score of his life in The Book Of Daniel.

Sometimes you get what you need and not what you want. At least that seems to be what is happening for Daniel. Stuck in St. Nacho’s while he rehabs his crushed arm, Daniel can’t seem to catch a break. He unintentionally disappoints his newly engaged brother Jake, and Daniel’s on-again, off-again animosity with sexy firefighter Cam is a bumpy road. Add in a long lost dying father, more accidents than anyone should handle, and a ton of misunderstandings and the result lands Daniel frequently in the hot seat. He keeps trying to get out of trouble but each attempt only lands him deeper in the mud.

Book of Daniel is the fourth book in the St. Nacho’s series by ZA Maxfield. Long time fans of the series will definitely want to read this one and any newcomers shouldn’t worry because each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone. In fact it almost reads better as such as frequently the characters seem to change from book to book and so reading without those preconceived ideas may actually help. Book four picks up with the story about Daniel and Cam and it’s a rocky romance. The romance between the two men runs hot and cold with numerous misunderstandings even as Daniel spends the majority of the book on his knees begging for forgiveness again and again.

Unfortunately this doesn’t always work as Daniel is painted as a selfish cad, but his actions never quite seem that way. We’re told more than shown Daniel’s supposed horrible character but I never quite bought into that. Additionally, the story throws in a lot of different plot points. There are simply too many and some don’t really make sense with the context of the story. They seem too easy and manufactured. The timeline at the end jumps around wildly without much explanation and includes pretty big leaps in logic that are difficult to follow and furthermore relate to the point of the story.

On the positive side, the descriptive quality is pretty high and pure Maxfield. The great St. Nacho’s setting that stars so well in each story is on display here and the various secondary characters easily charm once again. The writing is good and very engaging, even if the characters and their romance wasn't as much. I wish the plot had been tighter with a much more linear and cohesive storyline and characterization. This is a good book in the series but not the best. Fans of the series won’t want to miss it but newcomers may be better off starting with the real gem of the series, the first book. Still, I'm glad I read this book.

Eastern Ambitions by Mari Carr and Jayne Rylon

Eastern Ambitions by Mari Carr and Jayne Rylon
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (151 Pages)
Other: M/F, M/F/M/M/M/M, Ménage, Multiple Partners, Exhibitionism
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Foxglove

He’s lost everything. Can he win her heart?

Compass Brothers, Book 3

Sam Compton never liked getting his hands dirty, at least not on Compass Ranch. Armed with a business degree, he’s about to become the youngest VP at an illustrious Wall Street investment firm. Until his partner in an office romance turns into an ultra-refined snake in the grass.

Staggering from the punch of betrayal, another blow threatens to level him. His father is dying. He races home to lend his brain to his brothers’ backs at the ranch, and finds something he never expected. A sophisticated yet playful woman stimulates his mind…and parts below the belt.

Compass Ranch gave Cindi Middleton’s wounded soul everything it needs: a home, acceptance, and respect—not to mention unlimited sex—from the ranch’s sexy cowboys. Despite their instant and intense sparks, Sam’s defection to the bright city lights she left behind is a big red flag. She’s been there, done that, burned the T-shirt.

Yet the heat of their attraction brings them circling back to each other’s arms…until a certain snake reappears, threatening to endanger the acquisition of the one thing Sam has realized is truly priceless.

Eastern Ambitions is the third installment of the Compass Brothers books, and the most intensely emotional so far.

As each Compton brother turns eighteen, they leave home to follow their dreams. First Silas, then Seth, and now the twins are about to embark on their own adventures. While Sawyer has opted for a military career, Sam is determined to go to college back east. He wants all the things not available on the ranch, and he believes he will find it all in New York.

Fast-forward seven years, and Sam is where he has worked hard to be: a successful trader in a prestigious investment firm in the city, with a chance to become the youngest vice president in the history of the firm. He just has to succeed with one presentation and he is in. Then there is Belinda, the woman he has been seeing, and the night before his big day, she finally takes the relationship to the next level with a wild night in Sam’s bed. But things aren’t what they seem, and the next day, Sam is not only not given the promotion, he is fired for ‘stealing’ her proposal, and for harassment. Seems she set him up for a major fall.

Sam decides to head back to Wyoming to lick his wounds, but when he calls home to let them know, he is blindsided with news that knocks the situation he is in right out of his head. Going home becomes more important, and he leaves immediately.

Life is much the same as ever at the ranch, but as Sam comes to terms with all that is happening, he meets Cindi Middleton, the ranch office manager, and sparks strike between them. Cindi is wounded, not physically, but inside there are scars and secrets. With so much going on, can they help each other through the tough times ahead at Compass Ranch? Can they trust each other enough to reveal their innermost secrets, secrets that are very much the same? Can Sam learn to not judge without all the facts before opening his mouth?

I love the world and the characters that Mari Carr and Jayne Rylon have so marvelously crafted. There is an electricity flowing through this story, a sense of things flowing just below the surface about to erupt, that draws the reader in with the first words. This story grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go until the final sentence.

Sam Compton is the image of the successful young businessman, and he has achieved what he wanted. But when it all goes down the drain, the only consolation he can think of is home. Sam has matured, and has picked up some decidedly kinky habits in the big city, and he knows those things will be put aside when he goes home, and he is okay with it. I like Sam and his ability to realize what is really important in life. I enjoyed watching as he kept messing up what could be the best thing to ever cross his path.

Cindi Middleton works and lives at Compton Ranch, and she also plays there. She is strong and smart, and determined to not be hurt ever again. She has her ways of coping, and if those ways include playing with the ranch hands to everyone’s mutual pleasure, well she’s fine with it. I loved Cindi’s honesty with all the men in her life, and her ability to be exactly who she is. When she meets Sam, I liked that she finally met someone she could relate to on a special level, if he can just accept her secrets and not walk away.

This story is deeper and more emotional than the first two books, and there are many secrets that need to come out. The connections between the main and secondary characters in this story are expertly intertwined, with everyone filling some need in another. But this is definitely Sam and Cindi’s story, and they have some major barriers to get through to get to their happy ending. There are several hot spots in this, and the scene in the yard with Cindi and the men is one of the hottest things I have read in a while. That was the moment when Cindi and Sam realized they were perfect for each other, and it was written to perfection.

This is one very hot romance, but bring a huge box of tissues, because this one will bring the tears, both from laughter and from sadness.