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Friday, February 10, 2012

A Snowflake’s Chance in Hell by Amy Romine

A Snowflake’s Chance in Hell by Amy Romine
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (74 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stephantois

Two hearts drawn by hope, linked by love.

All Quinn Lawson wanted was to find her brother. Separated after their parents perished in a drunk-driving accident, Quinn has been searching for him since she became eighteen. She is closer now than ever, but it is her last lead.

Gunnery Sergeant Kevin McCaluson has a choice to make, stay in the military or step away and try life as a civilian. With no family and no prospect of one, Kevin wonders if he can leave the only family he has ever known for the life he’s always dreamed.

So, you say you like brilliantly scripted characters who pull you right into their story? Let me introduce you to Quinn and Kevin.

If I’d known them in real life, I would have set Quinn and Kevin up on a blind date. These are the types of characters you want to read about because they are good people who deserve happiness. Ms. Romine did a top notch job of getting me on their side in the first few chapters. It’s hard to say which one I liked more.

Quinn is still dealing with the pain of her parents’ death. Ms. Romine's writing stirs emotions in readers so they emphasize with Quinn when she goes looking for her brother. Then Kevin walks into her life. Quinn has been so focused on finding her lost sibling she hasn't taken the time to consider she might need someone to watch out for her.

Kevin is also at a crossroads in his life. When these two souls meet nothing’s quite the same, which was nicely portrayed by the author. The dialogue is natural sounding and the pacing perfect for making this a quick read on a winter’s night.

This is romance at its finest because you know the characters are going to find their HEA. It's the journey they take, including the past that brought them to the point of meeting, that will keep you reading. If you’re looking for a feel good story, full of steam, heat and characters you’ll like, I recommend A Snowflake's Chance in Hell.

One Hit Wonderful by Hannah Murray

One Hit Wonderful by Hannah Murray
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (169 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Dianthus

Being a bridesmaid is a dull job. But when the groom gets caught with his cummerbund around his ankles, dull isn’t in the cards.

Lily Michaels is happy to help her best friend cancel her wedding. But since the groom with the broken nose is also her landlord, it means she’s looking for a new apartment. Enter Nate MacIntyre—former boy-band member and current composer—his mostly St. Bernard dog Beau and the apartment over their garage. Nate is sexy, Beau is adorably charming and the apartment is gorgeous. Things are looking up!

But things get complicated when Max, the former groom, starts hassling Lily for the location of his jilted bride. Nate thinks Max is dangerous, Lily thinks Nate is silly, and while she’s enjoying where her attraction to him is going, her independent streak simply won’t let her lean on him too much. What do you get when you mix an overprotective man, an independent woman and the confusion that comes with falling in love? Whatever it is, it’s not dull.

Catch best friend’s groom-to-be cheating. Clean blood out of Vera Wang wedding dress. Lose apartment. Find new apartment with hot landlord and sweet pooch. Yeah, I'd call that a productive day!

After helping her friend through a cancelled wedding and then getting evicted that very same day, things don’t seem to be going Lily’s way at all. But a mysterious ad for an apartment and a gruff voice over the phone may just be the answer to a silent prayer. When someone from Lily’s past starts harassing her at work and home, Lily's patience and her budding relationship with Nate will be put to the test. Lily is set on being independent and Nate only wants to protect her. This romance may be doomed before it gets off the ground.

What a great premise. So often it's the jilted bride who is the center of attention in a book that begins with a cancelled wedding. Lily is the loyal best friend/bridesmaid who ends up kicked to the curb when her best friend Bridget does the same to her scummy cheating fiancé. With perfect timing, in walk Nate and Beau. *sigh* Gotta love a man who travels with his furry best friend.

Ms. Murray penned a witty and charming story that had me rooting for the characters from the very beginning. Meeting Lily and her quirky friends was like getting to know someone who would be a friend of my own. And the chemistry between her and Nate was so intense I could feel it through my eReader. The only thing I really felt was missing was the lead up to the building of Nate and Lily’s relationship. I think things happened a bit too fast and would have loved to have seen a bit more anticipation before they jumped in the sack the first time. Other than that, the suspense and romance angle worked really well together and kept me guessing until the last page.

I’ve never read Hannah Murray before, and was pleasantly surprised by this book. I’m so pleased I got to review it. This author’s works would make a great addition to anyone’s book shelf, and any other’s by her will soon be making a home on my shelves.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Naughty List by Jodi Redford

The Naughty List by Jodi Redford
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd.
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (97 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

Makin’ a list, and rocking it…twice.

Perpetual good girl Lacey McGuire has two Christmas wish lists. One suitable for public consumption…and a private one that’s too hot to handle. Right at the top: wild, wicked fantasies about her best buddies and business partners Ryan Hollister and Bram Colton.

Besides the fact they’re both poster boys for Hunks ’R’ Us, they’ve been there for her through thick, thin and the heartbreak of a cheating fiancé. So what if her boys will never know they star in her sexiest daydreams? In her fantasy world, her heart will never get trampled again.

Ry and Bram are pretty sure Lacey never meant to email a list of some of her raunchiest wants. Particularly the one that tightens their shorts—she wants a threesome. With them. Although they’ve loved her for years, they made a pact to keep Lacey off limits in order to protect their friendship. Now all bets are off. And the quest to give her all she wants—and more—is on.

This story offers a unique spin on the classic high school crush. For one, the characters have harbored their unrequited love well into their adult lives. Not one, but two boys are infatuated with Lacey, the beautiful heroine. They just so happen to also be her besties. With this type of poetic development, I knew Jodi Redford wrote a winner.

Lacey, Ryan and Bram have been fantasizing about one another for years. These types of naughty fantasies would normally put a damper on a friendship of this length, but for this story it seem to enhance their friendship. I think the conflict between keeping the friendship intact while developing it into something more really added extra spice to the plot. One thing I really appreciated is the characters' respect for their friendship over the romantic feelings. Their willingness to put their friend’s feelings over their own showed just how much they really cared for one another. I have always said friends make the best lovers and that is truly demonstrated within the story.

It is funny how Ry and Bram can seem so alike in one instance and so different in another. When it comes to Lacey they both seem to be on the same page and have the same wants, desires, and convictions. It’s like those relationships you see that seem just too perfect and accommodating. They make you envious in one moment and sick the other. When Lacey goes off stage and is out of the equation, you can really see their individual personalities demonstrated. Ryan's character stood out a bit more because Lacey and Bram were those he has continuously had in his life so it made the relationship that much more important to him. Additionally, he has an inner strength about him that just draws me to him.

The BDSM element was tastefully executed by the author and for the most part remains light and sensual. It was done in a way that even if BDSM isn't something a reader normally likes, they can still appreciate it, since it's such a driving force behind the relationship development. It allows Ry and Bram to nudge Lacey when necessary to keep the relationship moving forward. It also enhances the story because it is one of new developments and experiences. I was entertained by seeing Lacey trying new things with her sexy men and wish I would have gotten an invite.

Whether you like sensual love stories that leave you pining for more, or erotic naughty stories that leave you feeling overheated, you can appreciate and enjoy this story. You never know, it may inspire you to write your own naughty list.

Hellfire by Gale Stanley

Hellfire by Gale Stanley
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (87 pages)
Other: M/M/F/M, M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play/Intercourse
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

After her pack is killed, Kate hides her inner wolf and goes on the run. She moves in with a rising rodeo star and tries to blend in with the humans.

Gage and his lover, Tanner, are at the rodeo for one reason – to see Shiloh Ford, champion bronc rider, in person. The two Lycans are shocked to discover the human cowboy has a fiancée, and she's a wolf. Desperate to bring the she-wolf into their pack, Gage and Tanner befriend Shiloh, but the wolf-shifters find they're just as attracted to the cowboy as they are to Kate.

Despite the electrifying bond between Kate and the two Lycans, she refuses to turn her back on the life she's built with Shiloh, but when fire forces her out of their home, Kate has to make a decision. Will she continue to reject her true nature or accept her place in the wolf pack?

Author Gale Stanley has created a fantastic tale that spans sixteen years and a cross country trek.

Betrayal led to the massacre of their families and a fear of humans. Like many of the remaining men of their pack, Gage and Tanner turned to one another out of necessity, comfort and a scarcity of female Lycans. When a chance meeting with a lost female member of their pack, Kate, brings out their mating instincts they’ll have to decide if she’s worth the risk. Kate no longer travels alone. Gage and Tanner not only have to woo the wary female, they’ll have to decide if they can trust and love her very hot human cowboy protector.

This is a short story so the reader isn’t required to relive the entire history of the characters but it is nicely sprinkled throughout the novella. Rather than overwhelming the story or holding back what is happening in the present, bits of the past and memories from Gage, Tanner and especially Kate add to the overall believability of the tale. Kate’s memories are especially compelling and paint her a sympathetic character.

The only non-Lycan member of the cast of main characters is rodeo star Shiloh Ford. In a manner similar to Gage and Tanner, Kate and Shiloh hooked up based on necessity and comfort. Shiloh is a likable character who has immediate chemistry with both Gage and Tanner despite their secretiveness.

There are several other character pairings mentioned throughout the story but mostly in passing conversation. We never really get to meet the other human/Lycan mates but their stories sound like they would be interesting. Ms. Stanley has already written and published the two follow-up books in the Southwestern Shifter series but they appear to be centered on other wolves in the pack.

Readers may notice the scenes sometimes jump rather quickly between chapters without a truly smooth transition. I had to flip back and re-read the previous paragraph a couple of times to be sure I understood the transition. Don’t get me wrong, though, this was really only a minor disruption and didn’t kill the overall enjoyment of the book.

If you’re looking for a short story series with lots of heart and heat, check out the first book in the Southwestern Shifter series, Hellfire. This novella is great for a quick read and the follow-up stories are conveniently already published. Ms. Stanley is a clever writer and worth checking out.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cat Scratch Fever by Jodi Redford

Cat Scratch Fever by Jodi Redford
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (174 Pages)
Other: M/F, Toys
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Foxglove

Who says a wolf can’t make a pussycat purr?

Perfect timing has never been Lilly Prescott’s long suit. Seconds before a showdown with werewolf Dante Morgan, who owns a property that by rights should belong to her, she goes into heat. Not a simple event for a lynx shifter. No, she’s doomed to weeks of frustration that can only be soothed by frequent rolls in the hay—or her hand. Unfortunately, Dante accidentally witnesses the latter.

Left shaken and highly aroused in the snow, Dante can’t believe he’s attracted to the woman who drives him crazy, and not in a good way. Worse, his father has issued an ultimatum. Marry, or abdicate his place as pack leader. On the other hand, it’s the perfect leverage. Lilly will get her land…in exchange for a wedding ring and all the sexual satisfaction she can handle.

Marry Dante? No doubt he’s a poster boy for Hunks ’R’ Us, but he’s rude, arrogant and Lilly’s sworn enemy. Not to mention the thought of losing her independence is frightening as hell.

When they find themselves falling victim to their own charade, though, it’s anything but hell. It’s heaven, and the last thing either of them wants. The real thing.

Cat Scratch Fever is Jodi Redford’s newest paranormal romance, and it is a treat. The world she has created is fun and enticing. I like this locale, with the snow and forest and wide-open spaces filled with lots of redneck werewolves and lynx cat shifters. The characters are well crafted and the dialog is fun and sarcastic and totally filled with double entendres at times. I love the verbal sparring between Lilly and Dante, and the ever-escalating attraction bringing them closer all the time. And Chevy, Dante’s dog, is a real character too.

Lilly Prescott is determined to convince Dante Morgan to sell her the sixty acres of land she wants for the Lynchat Foundation retreat. Unfortunately, just before the meeting with Dante, Lilly’s cat hormones send her into heat, and cause a very embarrassing episode by the side of the road: an incident witnessed by, of all people, Dante Morgan himself.

Dante is ready to deny Lilly’s request again, when his father issues an ultimatum-Dante has one week to marry, or forfeit the leadership of the pack. Dante is determined not to marry the female wolf hand picked for him by his father, and offers Lilly a proposition. Marry him in a mating ceremony, and he will give her the land as a wedding gift. It doesn’t matter that they hate each other, right?

Lilly Prescott is strong, determined to have her way, and smart as well. Unfortunately, she has a slight problem with hormones, and gets caught unawares in a very compromising position by the one man/wolf that makes her crazy. I love Lilly, with her smart mouth and snarky attitude, and her determination to get the land she is so focused on.

Dante Morgan is determined to keep the pack safe from the machinations of his father and the Giffords. He is strong, gorgeous, and sexy beyond belief, and smart enough to know mating with his father’s choice would be bad news for the pack. I loved watching as Dante’s attraction for the sexy Lynchat became a bit of an obsession, and blossomed into so much more.

There are some wolf politics here, with a clash between Dante and his father becoming inevitable. When trouble comes to stop the growing passion, and the wedding, Dante and Lilly are both in danger, and Dante must find a way to save Lilly, and stop his father and the Giffords from ruining the pack and Dante’s life.

There are a couple of very hot bedroom scenes in this, and the play between Lilly and Dante heats up quickly once they stop fighting the inevitable. I recommend this for a cool evening, but keep the ice water near.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cowboy Casanova by Lorelei James

Cowboy Casanova by Lorelei James
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (382 pages)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Kennedia

His rough touch makes her lose control...

Rough Riders, Book 12

In Sundance, Wyoming, you can’t throw a boot without hitting a McKay cowboy, so Ben McKay is used to fading into the background. Except on weekends, when he’s Bennett, imposing Dom at The Rawhide Club, surrounded by a bevy of female subs eager for the attention of his long…whip.

As for the curvy brunette eying him from across the room? He’ll eat his Stetson if she's the experienced Domme she claims to be. Bennett offers her a deal—he’ll let her call the shots for one night. But the next night he gets to prove to her how freeing it'll be when he takes the reins.

Ainsley Hamilton is amazed by how well Bennett read her every secret yearning during that one explosive weekend—and she's stunned when they come face to face in their everyday lives as rancher and new bank president. Now Ben’s urging her to explore her submissive side outside the club, and there’s something in his commanding gaze that makes it too easy to let him take control—of her desires and her pleasure.

Can Ben help Ainsley overcome her fear that a relationship built on dark sexual appetites won’t survive the light of day?

Cowboy Casanova is number 12 in Lorelei James' Rough Rider series, and another winner in this reader's opinion. Ms. James continues to tantalize her readers with her unique style of writing that is fast paced, emotionally driven and sensually erotic. Readers are given Ms. James’ customary alpha male cowboy who has set out to tame the strong willed heroine and the continuing back story of the McKay family as a whole.

Ben McKay, the mild-mannered and mysterious rancher by day and Bennett McKay, the sexual dominant on the weekends are two sides of the same coin and the hero of Cowboy Casanova. Ben is a multi-faceted character who has a side he shares with everyone and then there is his Dom side that he only lets free behind the doors of the Rawhide Club. Ben has always known that he was a Dom but felt his family would consider him a deviant. As the story unfolds readers are given insight into Ben’s feelings about his place in his family and how he perceives himself in the BDSM environment. Ben doesn’t think that he will ever find a woman who will meet all his needs as a mate for life and has resigned himself to that fact, that is until his “Angel” with the wig appears in the Rawhide Club.

Ainsley Hamilton is a sexually disappointed divorced woman who is searching for answers to define what she wants in the bedroom. Ainsley is the president of the new bank in town and a conservative woman who is in total control of her life and job, but her sex life is missing something. Ainsley thinks she may be a submissive but she isn’t sure and enlists the help of her friend to get her into the Rawhide Club so she can observe the D/s lifestyle and maybe get some answers. Ainsley doesn’t exactly find answers but she does find trouble in the form of Bennett the Dom cowboy who wants to play with her.

Lorelei James' Rough Rider series always seems to incorporate some hard hitting issues and how the McKay's deal with them. This was not quite as hard hitting as alcoholism, although it is in the background of this story. This story deals more with the stigma that, because Ben enjoys being dominant in the bedroom and that he likes to dole out a little pain with his sexual exploits, he is a deviant. It also deals with the other side of the coin with Ainsley being a deviant because she likes to submit and likes to receive a little pain with her sex. I think the overall message here is that as long as both parties are consenting adults and can give and receive what their heart desires there is no right or wrong. What happens between them and behind closed bedroom doors is nobody else's business and should remain that way.

Ms. James writes this with both characters' points-of-view and does a phenomenal job of portraying her characters' thoughts and feelings. As readers we are given the opportunity to see that Ben isn't as self-confident as he would like everyone to think. Ben is not perfect and he makes mistakes in his relationship with Ainsley but he is also man enough to apologize for them and feels remorse. He has no desire to live the D/s lifestyle 24/7; he just wants a woman who can give him total control in the bedroom. We are also given insight into the confusion Ainsley is experiencing as she wrestles with the desire to be Ben’s sub but also be the conservative banker who doesn’t need her proclivities known all over town. Ms. James is very talented in her ability to engage the reader’s emotions in this story with her realistic dialogue and the thoughts she expresses for her characters.

I am a loyal Rough Riders fan and have followed this series from the beginning. I've enjoyed every single story, some more than others. This one just didn’t have the emotional punch the others had for me. I cannot pinpoint why or what was missing, it just didn’t hit me like the others in this series have. That is my lone complaint and I am not sure that other readers would have this complaint, especially those who don't follow the series.

Ms. James did not disappoint with the heat contained in this story, it was off the charts. The BDSM club scenes were vivid and displayed in exacting detail that left me breathless. The sex between Ainsley and Bennett was intensely erotic with detailed accounts of the characters' emotions and senses described in graphic detail that sent shivers up my spine and goose bumps on my arms. Ms. James can write erotica that will leave even the most seasoned reader blushing.

Ms. James' Rough Rider series, always has the underlying story of the McKay family drama; it is a big family with its own problems and dynamics that are always ongoing. This story is no exception, especially with the introduction of Gavin McKay in Rough Riders 11 and his relationship with Bennett in this story. This family is always growing and evolving--Ms. James is consistent in that she keeps this going throughout her entire series--and readers are given a peek into life in a large ranching family that is neither perfect nor absolutely horrible. The McKays are a family with ups and downs and issues that are real and emotional. Ms. James' fans are given an opportunity to bear witness to the western way of life. Readers get to experience the joys and the heartaches of the McKay family as they grow and evolve. Family members have died, a new generation has been born and another generation is taking over the reins of the family ranching business as well as making changes and additions to the operation.

The Rough Rider Series is not one that has to be read in order and you can pick up this book without reading any of the previous ones and love the story but I don't know why anyone would want to, this series is exceptional in the fact that there is an ongoing arc throughout the entire series that keeps readers like me coming back for more.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Various Authors

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Various Authors
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (205 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Multiple Partners, Anal Play, Fetish, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Captain of Nara’s Heart
Laurann Dohner

Nara knew she was taking a risk with illegal trading. Sure enough, she’s been arrested, caged—and will be auctioned as a sex slave. One look at the scary alien buyers and she frantically makes a deal, agreeing to be sold to Captain Vellar, who turns out to be large, sexy and seriously in heat. Offering her body to the captain is a given…but Nara didn’t expect to lose her heart in the process.

Dragon Heat
Mel Teshco

A highly skilled operative, Grace has been trained to track, fight and kill paranormal creatures. Only after she’s in the clutches of her latest target, a devastatingly sexy dragon-shifter, does she discover betrayal in her ranks. Suddenly the hunter is the hunted. Grace will soon uncover her ex-agency’s horrific agenda—but not before seeking solace in all the pleasures of the flesh her new dragon ally has to offer.

Dangerous Addiction
Desiree Holt

Having finally realized his dream to own a ranch, Cord is ready for the next step—settling down with the perfect sub. And he’s found her in Fallon. A single glance from the smart, sultry beauty makes him hard, but abuse at the hands of her ex-Dom has kept Fallon away from the lifestyle she loves. Needs. It will take bondage, mind-blowing sex, a gentle hand and expert flogging for Cord to help her rediscover her favorite dangerous addition.

Highland Tryst
Eliza Knight

Having sworn off love, Kari Howard isn’t adverse to a little lust when a hot Highlander lands at her feet. Literally. Fin has traveled through time, and given what he’s packing under his kilt (good Lord!), Kari expects the sexy Scotsman to make her quake. But she doesn’t expect Fin to shake her very foundation…or cherish her for who she is.

Tattoo Witch
Kathy Kulig

There cannot be good without evil, light without dark… At a seaside resort, lovers Sam and Anita meet a mysterious, heavily tattooed couple who refers them to Sinful Designs. The owner is a witch whose magical tattoos grant scorching, kinky sex beyond their wildest fantasies—but there’s a catch. Each successive tattoo comes with a darker and scarier curse. Sam and Anita can break the spells…but at what cost?

The Addiction
Jaid Black

The long-awaited sequel to The Possession!

John Calder has everything most men would kill for—golden-Adonis looks, endless money, a steely reputation as a savvy businessman and beautiful women throwing themselves at his feet. Then he meets Shelli Rodgers, a quirky, klutzy Ph.D. student who takes John on an emotional and sensual journey, giving him the one thing he’s never attained—happiness.

Get ready for a wild ride with chills and thrills because six authors are going to take your mind on a roller coaster of adventure as they explore the spicier side of romance and passion.

Captain of Nara’s Heart
By Laurann Dohner is all about being in the wrong place at the right time. I thought the premise to be incredibly sexy and well done. It didn’t beat me over the head with sex scene after sex scene. After the first incredible and well described event, the story focused on the growing love Nara had for Cathian. She got to know the man behind the body and the mind behind his very talented tongue. I was charmed as to how strong-willed the hero was, to the point that he’d deny his heart because he wanted to protect her. I was equally impressed with Nara’s ultimate determination to chart her own course and grab the brass ring even if she had to hog-tie someone to do it. I loved the ending: basically he was wrong, she was right and because of Nara’s stubbornness, they get their happily ever after. Women really do know what’s best for their men.

Dragon Heat
By Mel Tescho has a bit more action and drama to spice things up. It’s a story about a woman being duped and, whether by accident or design, discovers the truth when she falls in love. It’s a great paranormal story with plenty of interesting tidbits about dragons and their capabilities. The tale also has a nasty villain that truly is scary because he had such power. Dragon Heat’s other accomplishment is that it made me want to know more about this dragon world that the author has created. There’s a bigger picture out there because someone has to free the captive ‘pets’ from their brainwashed state. This is certainly a sexy and well told story and is one of the reasons why I enjoy anthologies. I discover new authors and new interests and this short paranormal romance has captured my imagination. I’m hoping that maybe there’ll be another undiscovered dragon as hunky and as yummy as Benson, the hero in this story. Now that’s something worth investigating.

Dangerous Addiction
By Desiree Holt is for the romance reader who likes to be seduced by the BDSM lifestyle. It’s actually pretty well done with a wonderful buildup to Cord and Fallon’s relationship. There’s the emotional vulnerability from Fallon and the need to heal and dominate and love from Cord. The ending is more of a happily for now as the story is more about their meeting and Fallon finally agreeing to leave her past behind by trusting Cord. It’s powerful, romantic and quite sensual. The way this installment was delivered, and how the characters were written, has created an avid curiosity to find out what it’s going to take to heal Fallon’s trauma completely, and how will Cord eventually reward her for giving her all to him. As it is, this tale ends with optimism and hope for their future. And, based on this little snippet, I bet it’s going to be powerfully sexy and entertaining. What fun!

Highland Tryst
By Eliza Knight starts off pretty dramatic and then does a fast switch into giggles. From there it was sizzle and pop with a hunky Highlander and I had a ton of fun reading this very sensual and exciting tale. Ms. Knight was very inventive in how the hero and heroine explored their passion and I got a kick out of the choices the author made when it came to introducing Fin to the modern world. The part that had me giggling all over again was what the author decided to have the hero do for a job. It’s actually pretty cool but at the same time, imagining a solid, old-world Scottish warrior doing that kind of work gave me delicious goose bumps. What a terrific idea! This is a well told and thoroughly entertaining story with a delightful romance to satisfy any reader.

Tattoo Witch
By Kathy Kulig opens up with a sexy but definitely sinister edge. The set up is innocent enough but very quickly turns scorching with elements of fear and anger to spice up the action. Not everything that sounds good is good. Yes, there is some incredible skin on skin action, even a brief stint with another couple. The writing was vivid and it captured the heated passion that drove the main characters. But when a person is told that there’s bad with the good, decent people can’t possibly imagine the lengths evil will go to in order to ruin them. Even though this is a very sexy tale, the motto, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” applies in a big way. There is suspense in this short story. It’s their sense of determination and belief in what’s right that pulls the hero and heroine together to defeat what was thought undefeatable. This wasn’t an easy read for me but it’s definitely well done.

The Addiction
By Jaid Black is the story I’d been waiting for. Figures it would come last in the anthology. I’m a fan of Ms. Black’s and somehow I knew that this was going to be the icing on an already yummy cake. I was right. The author set up the plot, conflict and character hook within the first few paragraphs. There’s the cynical and world-weary hero and the energetic, optimistic go-getter yet still sort of innocent heroine, and their worlds clash.

Ms. Black’s sense of humor and cleverly described bit of slapstick totally sucked me in. In such a short space, the author packed in a crazy but loving family, internal angst, gleeful manipulative friends and a wonderful surprise that embodies what romances do best – gives a reader the warm and fuzzies while providing them plenty of reasons to sweat and swoon. Ms. Black’s ability to create characters that seem real and alive is as vibrant a talent as ever. And this short story proves it.

Something Wicked This Way Comes covers the spectrum of readers’ tastes and satisfies on every level. Whether a reader is looking for a bit of sexual adventure, an out of this world experience or the simple beauty of “I love you”, it’s all here to discover in this wonderfully well-written anthology. There are things that made me gasp, had me laughing and giggling, or wide-eyed and reaching for the ice cubes. This book is a lot of fun and so engrossing, it could possibly make time cease to exist. It certainly felt that way to me and I enjoyed every second. If you’re feeling a wee bit wicked, then this is the book to read.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Splash and Elegance by Gabrielle Evans

Splash and Elegance by Gabrielle Evans
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (126 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Coreopsis

The Gathering is called. The spell is cast. There is no escaping the Midnight Matings.

Socially awkward and practically invisible to the rest of the world, Whitley Turner wasn’t overly upset by the elders’ announcement. Either he’d find someone to claim him or he’d disappear completely. So when he finds himself mated to a sexy-as-sin orca shifter, he’s not sure whether to jump for joy or run screaming.

Jude Chambers knows exactly who the shy swan shifter is. He’s been looking for a way to get close to him for months. Using the forced mating decree and a little cunning help from a friend, landing Whitley as his mate was a piece of cake. Feeling guilty about the situation wasn’t supposed to happen. Why couldn’t Whitley be the egotistical jerk he imagined him to be?

It doesn’t take long for Whitley to realize something isn’t right. When the truth is revealed, how can Whitley forgive his mate when being invisible was far less painful?

Being forced to mate is one thing, but to be deceived by the one person you fall in love with is unforgivable, isn't it?

Whitley Turner is that lonely person in the corner praying no one notices him. He’s smart and beyond kind but has been treated poorly by his family his entire life. Pretty sad situation. He doesn’t see his attractiveness or self-worth. So when the council calls a meeting for all unmated paranormals to attend he jumps at the chance to have a reprieve from his own family. But a weekend of freedom away from his parents takes a life changing turn when he gets accidently mated to the sexiest man he’s ever seen. Whitley soon discovers looks can be deceiving and just because you want something bad enough doesn’t mean it’s meant to be.

Jude Chambers is a good guy but he’s in a race against time to save someone he loves. He sets out to use Whitley to get what he wants but after meeting the swan shifter his motivation of hate and deception changes. He’s thrown for a double loop when his feelings toward Whitley begin to grow. But with those growing feelings come his own shame, which is understandable. He did trick poor Whitley, but there was a good reason for the trickery. It was hard not to judge Jude too harshly but when his motivation becomes clear no one could blame him for his scheming.

I found myself rooting for this couple. Their problems stem from poor choices and lack of communication, not absence of love. Whitley is so used to rejection from others; he just naturally expects the same treatment from Jude. Jude wants to tear down the walls Whitley has built around himself but he doesn’t have the time, someone is counting on him and he has to move forward with the plan.

The story kicks into high gear when Whitley is abducted. Jude has to decide is what he fought so hard to save worth giving up to get his mate back. It was fast paced do or die time for the characters and this author was able to get across what was at stake. Emotions ran high and I started reading faster so see what would happen next.

The Midnight Matings Series is just fantastic and Ms. Evans brings her own spin to these forced matings. Pairing a swan with an orca whale is comical but that’s just a small piece of the story. This tale dives deeper into the characters' human emotions and what they would risk for those they love.

Splash and Elegance was pure entertainment from beginning to end. Those who follow the Midnight Matings series would definitely take a liking to this addition. As the others, Splash and Elegance can be read as a standalone, but the whole series it worth a read. I highly recommend!

Last Call by Olivia Brynn

Last Call by Olivia Brynn
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (71 pgs)
Other: M/F, BDSM
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Dianthus

When sparks flare, stop, drop and roll with it.

When Eric Layton lunges for his ringing cell phone in the middle of the night, he’s halfway to the door before he realizes it’s not his chief summoning him to an out-of-control fire. It’s an out-of-control woman who’s too tipsy to figure out she’s dialed the wrong number. But the line goes dead before he can explain he’s not her brother.

His conscience won’t let him leave the woman to wait for a ride that’s never going to come. Yet nothing prepares him for the chemistry when he helps Joanne into his truck. She’s curvy, blonde, and vulnerable—a three-alarm warning to do the right thing and keep her at arm’s length.

Still keeping watch over her through the night sounds reasonable. Until she awakens, and desire burns reason to a crisp…

On a night out drowning her sorrows, Joanne goes just a bit too far and needs a ride home. When she dials who she thinks is her brother she gets the shock of a lifetime when Eric Layton comes to her rescue. Already dumped, fired and evicted, being picked up by this gorgeous stranger could just be the silver lining of her day. When the light of day comes, can these two make a go of it or had the rose-colored alcohol goggles made things seem hotter than they really were?

Getting called in the middle of the night is something that Eric is used to since he joined the fire house. But this is a phone call that he won’t soon forget. From the first breathy sigh and pleads for a ride home, Eric is hooked. He has to at least help this faceless woman get home. But after meeting Joanne and seeing just what a great person she is, it is taking everything that Eric has to keep his hands to himself. When the night becomes longer than Eric’s restraint, will Joanne regret everything that they share or will this be the best misdial that Eric ever had?

While this story was quite short, it was a good story that got the point across and made me want to get to know these characters better as each page turned. After a night of passion the world gets in the way of these two, but the time apart turns out to be the best thing for both of them.

Olivia Brynn is a new to me author and I was pleasantly surprised by this book that was packed full of heat and fun. I think if the story would have included a bit more about each of the characters I would have enjoyed the book even more. If you are looking for a quick read that is well thought out and fun, then this is the book for you.