Beginning January 1, 2013

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

April Book of the Month Winner

Boots and Chaps by Myla Jackson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (111 pages)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, M/F/M/M, Anal Play, Anal Sex, Spanking, BDSM
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lotus

She gave up stripping to go legit…until three Kiowa cowboys bring on the down-and-dirty.

Ugly Stick Saloon, Book 1

Jackson Gray Wolf is turning thirty, and what does he have to show for it? A ranch. No wife, no kids, no dates. He’s had his eye on the pretty owner of the Ugly Stick Saloon, but their one accidental encounter was interrupted before he could get her out of her take-me-now red cowboy boots.

Audrey Anderson isn’t in the market for a man. Been there, done that, has the scars to prove it. She retired her pole-dancing boots after purchasing the Ugly Stick Saloon, and now manages a stable of strippers. When she winds up one stripper short for a private party, she’s forced to slip on a mask and into the role of the mysterious Kiki.

Jackson didn’t want the birthday bash his twin brothers are throwing him, but his vow to ignore the rented stripper goes awry when she shows him exactly how far she’s willing to go—for all three of them.

Audrey can’t forget the sizzling heat between her and one sexy Kiowa in particular. Jackson. Trouble is, she’s not sure if he wants the bold, brassy Kiki, or if he’s ready for the wounded woman underneath.

Read the full review here!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Personal Tutor by Emma Paul

Personal Tutor by Emma Paul
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (80 pgs)
Other: m/f/m, m/f, menage
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stephantois

It has been three months since Daniella Brandon's divorce. Worse her ex has hooked up with a blond bombshell half his age. With out a job, desperate and in debt, Daniella decides to answer and ad for a female companion to "teach" a wealthy twenty-some-thing young man "the ropes". Little does she realize or bargain for that the ad is for not one but two hot twenty-some-thing-twin brothers.

Trace and Cage have a very interesting proposition for her. Both men want to share her for two weeks and are willing to pay a hefty fee. Out of desperation--and like it or not she is very attracted to the two young men--Daniella accepts. However, things soon become more complicated, and she finds herself, falling hard and fast for one of the twins.

Part of the appeal of reading a story is living vicariously through the characters and that’s what happens in Personal Tutor. We can sympathize with Daniella because she seems to have a run of bad luck. Divorce, and now the prospect of a job she knows she'll hate, but the bills are piling up. However, along comes an opportunity to be a ‘personal tutor’ to a hunky guy. This is the point in the story where I asked myself, if I was her, would I sleep with this man for the money that would pay off my debt?

The author did a great job making me feel like I needed to answer that very question. I think that’s because Daniella is portrayed as someone quite realistic. She could actually be one of your best friends who’s going through a rough patch which I felt was the most enjoyable part of this story. There’s that push pull thing that makes this sort of story fun, too. And when she does make the decision, I felt like I was actually thrown into her next dilemma; two hunky guys waiting for attention.

If you’re short on time but need your reading fix, check out Personal Tutor by Emma Paul.

Off the List by Sandra Sookoo

Off the List by Sandra Sookoo
Publisher: Purple Sword Publications
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (50 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

She wants off the Nice List. He owns the Naughty List. Christmas Eve has never been so sexy.

Jack, the outcast cousin of the Claus family, has one job within the Realm of Christmas. He’s in charge of the Naughty List. Distributing coal, emptying stockings, returning gifts, that’s his bag—but it does have its perks. Some of the women on the List wait up for him on December 24th and he makes sure to deck their halls with every visit.

Cadence Harris did everything right in her life. Played by the rules, dated the “good” boys, said the right things, worked at the right job. But this year for Christmas, she wants something entirely different. She wants off the Nice List and in a big way. Never in her wildest dreams can she imagine what’s in store when Jack pays her an accidental visit.

The night will prove that Santa always delivers.

Tired of always being the nice girl and the go-to girl, Cadence is ready to do whatever it takes to get on the naughty list. So when Jack shows up at her house she's more than ready to let him show her just how to get on that naughty list. Jack is just as tired of his job of taking care of the naughty list for Santa. Feeling empty inside and wanting more from his life he finds himself drawn to Cadence and her sweetness. Both know that this night will more than likely be it for them but can they ignore the feelings they each begin to have for the other?

I really enjoyed this story. Jack is a bad boy through and through but he has a heart underneath all his bravado and Cadence may be just the woman to tear down the walls he has built around it. I loved watching the attraction that the two feel for each other turn into so much more as the story goes on. I adore Jack and was glad to see that Cadence was able to see the man behind his façade. She's a smart woman who soon learns how to stand on her own because of Jack. The two make a wonderful couple. Each one complimenting and giving the other just what they need.

These characters where vividly brought to life for me and the author did a great job of pulling me into their world right from the very start. The love these two begin to share shines right off of the pages and when the end came and I had to leave it had me wishing I could come back and visit them again.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Whispers in the Dark by Sahara Kelly and S.L. Carpenter

Whispers in the Dark by Sahara Kelly and S.L. Carpenter
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (180 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/F Ménage, Multiple Partners, Anal Play, Fetish, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Sage

Old Louisiana and mansions - they go together like latte and beignets on the banks of the Mississippi. For Louis Beekman, his inheritance is a challenge and a delight, since Love Alley is a prime example of early architecture and he plans to restore it to its former glory. He didn't count on it already being occupied - by things he sooo doesn't believe in. No, sir. Not him.

Cory Lavalle has the "sight" and when Louis calls, she goes to Love Alley to help him understand the forces at work in his new home. Together they find adventure and mystery along with an explosive mutual attraction. Hand in hand, they step back into the past and learn secrets long hidden, enticed by the heat of Old Louisiana, where lovers were parted and the future is only a kiss away.

Is their newfound love strong enough to send lost spirits to their final rest? Will those playful specters stop moving Louis's toolbox around? What's with those twins? And above all, can desire finally silence the Whispers in the Dark...?

Can you go wrong with a ghost story set in the Louisiana bayou? Never!

"Whispers in the Dark" starts with the hero, Louis Beekman, on the plane to Louisiana. He had just inherited Love Alley, a mansion that served as a brothel two-hundred years ago. As Louis falls asleep on the plane, he's assaulted by erotic dreams of a dark haired woman. From that very first sex scene to the very last one, the pages melted from the scorching hotness of the words on them.

The heroine of this story is Cory Lavalle, a small town psychic with a skill that comes and goes and couldn't be controlled. She doesn't make much on her gift but when the voices speak, they have something to tell, and they tell her a lot at Love Alley.

Louis doesn't believe in ghosts but when his tools travel off on their own accord, the power goes in and out whenever it chooses to, and when a roll of toilet paper falls and rolls toward him when he needs it most, he decides that maybe there's something inside his house. He summons Cory to help him with his problem but he doesn’t expect her to be causing a strained problem in his pants.

Louis was a real man. Normally, when reading erotic romance, or romance in general, I'm forced to put up with overly macho or overly feminine men who don't seem realistic to me. I didn't have that problem with this book. He spoke like a man, thought like a man, even drank like a man. His fascination with sex and the sexy vixen twin spirits added comic relief to the story. Near the end when Cory asked him for a magnifying glass and his first thought was that maybe his junk became magically small actually made me laugh out loud. I love this guy! And I could totally see why Cory fell in love with him, too.

Cory was the perfect heroine for our sexy hero. She was one of those women who wasn't phased by Louis. She didn't take his nonsense. Their banter was realistic and made me smile throughout the whole book.

Besides Cory and Louis, there are some entertaining supporting characters as well. Honey was a serial wife who was obsessed with sex and her own perfectly implanted boobs. Upon laying her eyes on Louis she vowed to get into his bed and maybe even snag him as husband number 100 or whatever. Unfortunately for her, Louis wanted nothing to do with her. At first, she started out as a bit of an antagonist but upon the introduction to Maurice, she decided to lust after him instead and left our hero alone. Although I never warmed up to Honey, I still found some entertainment in her.

My favorite element of the book was the ghost story. A haunted brothel could only mean whispered voices about anal sex, Ouija boards talking about breasts, and of course there are those blonde twins Louis so wanted to play with.

All in all, it was a great book with great characters and a downright unforgettable hero. I hated to say goodbye to those characters at the end but I'm also motivated to check out other books by these two lovely authors.

Private Showing by Brenna Zinn

Private Showing (Toys 4 Us) by Brenna Zinn
Publisher: Brenna Zinn
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (49 pages)
Other: M/F, Light BDSM, Sex toys
Rating: 3 ½ Stars
Reviewed by Carnation

Gianna Romano has a dream, and opening her own restaurant has been a lifelong commitment requiring strict dedication and personal sacrifice. Now that her goal is almost within her grasp, she’s not about to jeopardize everything for a relationship with her next door neighbor. She can’t afford to lose focus and doesn’t have time for a man. Not even the sexy Scot with a delicious accent who wants to unleash her lust and make her a permanent fixture in his life, as well as his bed.

Kept at a distance by the strong-willed woman he desires, Colin McPherson faces the most agonizing decision of his life. The time has come to give up his lucrative computer security job and return home to take his place in the family business.

But Colin can’t leave without getting at least a taste of Gianna. Just how far will he go to satisfy his hunger? And after a night of explosive passion, how can he walk away?

With everything to gain and everything to lose, how does she choose? Can she really have the man of her dreams for ‘just one night’?

Next door neighbors, Gianna and Colin have shared a few nice dates but it’s always ‘hands off’ for Gianna who insists on keeping her life simple, and that means no men. She’s intent on saving enough money to start her own restaurant business to the exclusion of all else.

One night Colin, who has fallen hard for Gianna, discovers her little sex toy business first hand. All bets are off when Colin notices the heated reaction she has for him when she sees his excited blazing hot response to her small business. He seduces Gianna into allowing one night of passion together.

What she doesn’t know is that Colin is about to sweep her off her feet and make her an astounding proposition. How will this fiercely independent woman decide whether to go with her plans or her heart?

Ms. Zinn has made the handsome Colin an irresistible character, indeed. I felt the angst and tension of Gianna’s looming decision with sympathy. Private Showing is also an energetically scorching tale, filled with the very toys that begin the action.

I loved this description of Colin: “…handsome as they come and hot as a griddle.” That sums up this enthusiastic lover perfectly!

Though a little short on plot, I enjoyed the tale for its simple romantic and erotic flair. I recommend, Private Showing as a very happy little read.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Infected: Freefall by Andrea Speed

Infected: Freefall by Andrea Speed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (340 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

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

Conceived bearing the lion strain of the virus, Roan is the only fully functioning virus child in the country—maybe in the world. But that doesn’t mean he’s okay. He’s still struggling with the death of his husband and the guilt of finding new love; his old enemy, the Church of the Divine Transformation, is becoming increasingly hostile; and he’s taken on a tragic cold case involving a long-missing boy.

As Roan fights to control the lion inside him, his world explodes with all kinds of trouble. The leader of the church is ramping up the violence against him, calling Roan out as a traitor to his kind. There’s a loose Infected terrorizing the city. And Holden, male prostitute and Roan’s unofficial assistant, brings him a case involving the suspicious death of one of Holden’s clients, which puts Roan far too close to a murderer for his state of mind....

Ms. Speed has a knack for delivering surprises and deep introspection while keeping a reader off balance with the twists and turns of her storytelling. Roan continues to be the main hero but the author intrigued me with her decision to push to the forefront one of the secondary characters from the previous book. In a quirky kind of way, he reminds me of Paris, with a dark side.

Even though I make mention of a previous book, Infected: Freefall can stand on its own merits because it’s about two new mysteries. The author provides enough background for a reader to understand whatever reference is pertinent to these new adventures. Any needed knowledge is basically about understanding Roan’s past experiences and how they are playing into his present. In these two installments a reader sees more character growth, more questions are raised and some answers will leave a fan of this series wide-eyed.

Dialogue continues to be a strong asset to this series. Ms. Speed uses it to good effect because it taps into each character’s personality and brings insight and clarity to the person, the moment and/or the plot progression. Roan continues to have a knack for being snarky in an entertaining manner whether it be directed at a secondary character or himself. Even the new guy on the block, Holden, has a gift for words but there’s a reason for that and it was explored a bit in this tale. It may seem odd, but the dialogue exchange that produced the biggest grin was this little gem, “I don’t want to be Yorick. He died.” Holden rolled his eyes. “It was Hamlet. Everybody died.” For some reason that cracked me up.

Dylan continues to grow as a love interest for Roan. I’m sure there is love there between the two men but it’s riddled with so much internal angst that it’s a toss-up if it’s going to survive or not. Certainly Dylan has a quiet strength that complements Roan, but the hero being the man that he is tests Dylan’s patience mightily. And, it’s done in unusual ways because that’s what Ms. Speed does – normal is boring and predictable. Nothing about these two men’s relationship is predictable. A reader can see that clearly.

Holden is the huge surprise. I never suspected that the author had such powerful plans for him. I get the feeling that Infected: Freefall is exploring only the tip of the iceberg of his character. There are hints of darkness about him but there is vulnerability and pain too. Holden is an interesting addition to the cast and I liked him. It remains to be seen what his personality is going to stir up in the Roan/Dylan mix or will it be purely professional. It’s a great hook and a reason to look forward to the next adventure in Roan-land.

As has been established, Infected: Freefall is broken up into two mysteries. Basically it’s like getting two books in one. There's violence and action because there's nothing tame or vanilla about the life of an infected. At times the book reads harsh, other times it’s amusing, or it’s shocking and filled with nail-biting suspense. The pace was brisk where it needed to be or slow to give a reader time to savor the moment. In that, the quality of Ms. Speed’s writing remains true. I enjoyed all the “Batman” references and chuckled quite a few times which is a good thing. It balances all the viciousness and criminal behavior that peppers the book. Some parts are not easy to read but they grip a reader’s imagination in a tight hold as readers journey on the gritty path that is Roan’s life.

The only thing that stymied me was the head hopping. On one hand, getting into Dylan’s or Holden’s head to see their side of things greatly enhanced the overall understanding of the men in Roan’s life. On the other hand, it annoyed me. I wanted Roan. He’s my favorite and I enjoy only being in his head because he’s so fascinating, conflicted and his internal dialogue is so stark. The other points of view engendered a love/hate kind of feeling because I can see the value of having it done that way but for some reason it didn’t gel for me 100%.

As for the other people that make up Roan’s life and environment, Dee is back for a bit and Murphy sort of pops in when needed, Fiona is working out so far and someone named Shep appeared briefly but has some interesting insight into Roan. Every person fills in little pieces of the puzzle that is our hero, and I’m even more intrigued by his character than ever because he continues to be deep, dark and mysterious.

Infected: Freefall weaves drama, dark humor and the foibles of the human condition into a story that seizes a reader’s emotions and puts them through the wringer. It’s about a less than perfect hero with a compulsion to save others but can’t save himself. He’s tortured mentally with insecurity, physically by the virus while his heart still bleeds for his deceased husband, Paris. There's hope that Dylan might be the answer to Roan’s emotional pain and this book feeds that train of thought. Infected: Freefall is a busy and hectic ride into crime, greed and with multiple suspects, a classic who-done-it. It’s entertaining, engrossing and despite all the potential darkness, hopeful. Ms. Speed has another winner on her hands and I can’t wait until the next adventure.

Magic Lessons by Lex Valentine

Magic Lessons by Lex Valentine
Publisher: Pink Petal Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (20 pgs)
Other: M/M, Toys, Voyeurism, Anal Play
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Wizard Club owner Drake Keating is restless and dissatisfied with his life. His friends and occasional lovers have all mated and he’s tired of casual one night hookups. His search for companionship lands him face to face with Justin Scott, the sexy human who manages his club. A year earlier, Drake hooked up with Justin only to dump him when he thought he’d found his mate. Now, he’s discovering just how wrong his previous actions were. Justin gives the wizard one shot at mending what he broke and Drake’s determined to show Justin that he’s changed. He has one night to learn the magical lessons of love and open the door to a future with Justin.

There are not many authors that I know that will pull me into the story and its characters like this author can and as usual she does not disappoint. With this newest story I was immersed in their world right from the start and hated to leave it.

In this visit to the Darkworld we're treated to a snippet in Drake and Justin’s lives. After being tossed to the side and watching Drake play the field, Justin reaches his breaking point when Drake shows up at the same club. After Justin confronts Drake he finds himself in the last place he thought he would be: back in Drake's arms. Will he be able to give Drake another chance or has he finally had enough?

The characters in this story are so full of depth and emotions. The relationship between Justin and Drake burns up the pages. Drake is a smart man but when it comes to love he's been an idiot. When he finally realizes the truth, it hits him like a ton of bricks and we can see just how truly sorry he is for what he's done to Justin. Justin loves Drake and wears his heart on his sleeve. He knows that he may regret his decision but Justin’s love for Drake prevails over his common sense and he can't help but give Drake one more chance. As the two rekindle their relationship the feelings that they have for each other grow into so much more and we can only hope that Justin and Drake have finally found their happy ever after.

I really enjoyed this visit and cannot wait to return to this world. The characters were brought vividly to life and I felt every emotion as if it were my own. I was not only treated to a hot story in this book but got a beautiful love story as well.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Unwanted Mate by Rebecca Royce

Unwanted Mate by Rebecca Royce
Publisher: Decadent Publishing Company
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (17 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Dogwood

For years, shapeshifter Gunther West has known Judy is his mate. His little human isn't so sure. When a tragedy brings her knocking on his door seeking comfort, Gunther is more than ready to provide it. Neither can deny the sparks that fly, but are those sparks enough for forever?

Unwanted Mate is a short novella that is romantically sweet yet extremely hot. This tale is between wolf shifter Gunther and human biker Judy. Gunther has been aware for some time that Judy is his destined mate, but Judy has been reluctant to commit to a relationship with the alpha male who is too hot to handle. After the death of a close friend, Judy turns to Gunther for support as she realizes life is too short to be holding out on love.

I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing several of Rebecca Royce's works lately and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. She continues to show her followers that we are indeed wise in our choice of romantic reading materials. Ms. Royce brings a breath of freshness to her stories that makes the reader smile while indulging. Rebecca Royce's books will continue to remain in my favorite's folder for many years to come.

I know I've stated this before, but I must say again, it's extremely difficult to make a short story enjoyable with so few words to work with. Many have attempted it, but few have pulled off the desired result readers must have to truly enjoy the tale. This story is so short that there's really no time for deep character development. Connecting the character's lives and expressing their feelings in such a quick venue is not an easy undertaking. However, Ms. Royce has done a good job of doing just that in this cute, yet, extremely sensual tale.

The author hit on the “sizzle” with her descriptive phrasing that made this reader visualize the electrical scenes vividly. Rebecca Royce has shown herself to be a remarkable storyteller in novel and novella format. She's definitely one writer gifted with a sense of romance. Ms. Royce has displayed a literary canvas of emotions that paints a vivid picture of blossoming romance in the lives of two very different types of personalities. I truly look forward to reading future works by this creative author.

Looking for a quick read that stirs the imagination? Unwanted Mate might just be the novella you've been searching for.

Just A Vampire by Stormy Glenn

Just A Vampire by Stormy Glenn
Publisher: Siren Publishing. Inc
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (144 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

Electus Luca Ucathya has waited hundreds of years to find his anamchara, his soul mate. Rowan Connelly is not what he expected. For one, the man doesn't have a submissive bone in his body. Even worse, Rowan is a wolf, one of the most dangerous and hated enemies of a vampire. But giving Rowan up isn't an option.

Discovering that he is the mate of a vampire isn't so bad for Rowan, but the things required of him as the mate of the leader of a vampire tribe just might be more than he can handle.

When Rowan is kidnapped, not once but twice, Luca knows he has to do everything in his power to keep his mate safe, something that would be much easier if Rowan would accept his place as the mate of a vampire and behave. Instead, Rowan is drawing Luca into more trouble with every breath.

And Luca just can't seem to mind.

Rowan has a fun loving, take charge personality his domineering mate, Luca, cannot handle. Vampires are supposed to be the alphas in their relationships, especially the electus (leader) of a large vampire tribe. So why can’t Luca seem to get his hands on the very unsubmissive Rowan? One reason may because Rowan is a wolf shifter who has a simple enjoyment of life like no other.

The author really did an excellent job in creating Rowan. He's a character I found refreshing and exciting. I couldn't wait to see what he was going to do next. I even found myself with a broad smile on my face whenever I started a new chapter because I was full of anticipation wondering what he would get into. His larger than life personality truly made this story entertaining.

While Rowan’s antics kept me entertained, I was equally amused by Luca’s feeble attempt to contain his mate. From the very beginning, Luca knew Rowan would be like no other mate a vampire has had. This may have scared him, but he quickly began to accept Rowan for who he was. This really showed me Luca’s true character. He was able to see Rowan for who he really was unlike so many others of his kind.

The relationship development in this story was another interesting aspect. I really enjoyed watching this unlikely pair learn to accept and care for one another. You can see how infectious their feelings truly were. In fact, what inspired me the most was seeing growth among some of the supporting characters, not just the main protagonists. It was spurred by their realization that Luca and Rowan truly were a perfect pair. This growth is one of the details that helped to set this author apart from your typical paranormal erotica author.

While many vampire and shifter stories are on the market, none are quite like Just A Vampire. This is not the first story I've read by this author and this story proved to me why I continue to come back. Her unique writing skills, great characterization, and dynamic plot lines always leave me wanting more.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Over My Head by Wendi Zwaduk

Over My Head by Wendi Zwaduk
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (62 Pages)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Anal Sex
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove

What happens when two opposites realise they have more in common than expected?

I’m a dancer…and a damn good one. I work at the Silver Steel Gentlemen’s Club. My hard and fast rule? No freebies and no office dating. Except for Slade. Hard, fast, slow, gentle...I don’t care. I’ll take him any way possible. But he’s not that into me.

Or so she thinks. I’m a bouncer at the Silver Steel. Astra doesn’t realise I see her—I can’t help myself. She captivates me every time she’s on the stage. I want her, but I have a...problem. I’m not at the Steel to pick up chicks or even work the room. I’m there to stop the influx of drugs into the community. Yeah, I’m a cop. But if the job means sampling the dancers... Well, as long as I keep my heart out of it, I’ll be fine.

I hope.

Sometimes, the unlikeliest people find the most in common. Months of undercover work by Sergeant Randy McCall, as bouncer Slade McMann at The Silver Steel Gentlemen’s Club, should soon show results. Trying to stop the influx of drugs has led right him to the club and its owner, Salazar ‘Tiny’ Balthazar. But six months undercover still hasn’t produced results, and Randy/Slade would love to get back to his own life once more. Astra Lee is a dancer at the club, one that Slade should stay away from, but she's his one weakness. Astra senses that Slade is different from the men she's usually attracted to, and believes she can trust him with her secrets and maybe even her heart. But can these two have a chance at happiness, when there are so many secrets left untold between them? Can Astra trust the handsome bouncer, or is he just another of Tiny’s goons? Can Randy/Slade protect Astra when things start getting dangerous, or are these people just too different to last?

Over My Head is a dark and dangerous romance, with secrets and peril around each corner. This is reminiscent of pulp fiction or noir, with an atmosphere of earlier times and places. The characters are well developed, and the situation is fraught with danger at every turn for out intrepid hero and heroine. I like the gritty reality Ms Zwaduk has injected into this story, and found myself holding my breath at times waiting to see the outcome.

Astra Lee is determined to make a better life for herself, and wants to get away from her former lover, Salazar Balthazar and all he embodies. She wants to feel safe, but she has more than just herself to worry about now. And she's worried about putting someone else, namely Slade, in danger from Tiny and his goons. I liked Astra, and her sense of self preservation, and her courage in standing up for herself in the face of danger. And I liked that, deep down, there was that tiny spark of hope that she could get out and find a new life.

Sergeant Randy McCall/Slade McMann is the strong, silent and protective hero in this. He wants to do his job and get back to his old life, but he feels drawn to Astra and wants to help her in any way he can. I liked his honesty, his loyalty and his determination to protect the innocents while taking down the bad guys. I also appreciated that he was willing to accept Astra as she is, knowing her past with Tiny and accepting the inherent danger that it may cause.

Wendi Zwaduk has built a dark and dangerous world in Carrington Falls, one where drugs and bad men abound. But she has also provided the strong and sexy hero to fight the good fight to save the day. I enjoyed the edge to this story, and the secrets that are slowly revealed as the story moves to its inescapable conclusion. If you prefer your romance to have a dark and dangerous appeal, and your happy ever after hovering on the edge of doubt, this one is for you.

The Dragon Stirs by Lynda Aicher

The Dragon Stirs by Lynda Aicher
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (120 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove

The energy might bind them, but their love could save us all…

Energen, Book 1

When Shifter Airiana Draco volunteers to scout the enemy’s compound, her family thinks it's to prove herself. In truth, she wants answers. Plagued with doubt and a secret shame, she hungers to learn more about the Energens, the people who have opposed the Shifters since the beginning of time. But getting captured wasn't in her plans.

Energen Loukianos Aeros has always wondered about his exiled older brother who was accused of aiding their mortal enemy, the Shifters, long before Louk was born. Now, the answers Louk seeks are within his grasp when he stumbles upon a beautiful enemy spy right outside his door.

Forced together by the energy, Airiana and Louk are unprepared for the sudden attraction as they struggle to gain the answers they seek. As the danger builds and their lives are threatened, they must learn to trust the energy and each other. But are they strong enough to challenge all they were raised to believe or will the pressure cause them to turn on the one truth they can’t deny?

The time is coming when earth will be changed forever. The dragon is rising and with the joining of The Two, he stirs.

The Dragon Stirs is the beginning of Lynda Aicher’s Energen series, set in a world filled with magic, mystery and treachery.

Curious about the mysterious Energens, the enemies of her people, Shifter Airiana Draco volunteers to covertly spy on their camp. Her family thinks she wants to prove herself and her loyalty, but in fact, she needs answers she isn’t getting from her people. She didn’t expect to be captured by one of the enemy, and certainly never planned on how attracted she would be to him.

When Loukianos Aeros finds Airiana sneaking around the camp, he knows he should turn her over to the leaders, but he has his own curiosity about his older brother, exiled long before Louk was born, for ‘consorting with the enemy’. Louk didn’t expect his ‘enemy’ to be so beautiful, and he feels drawn to her. What neither knows, but soon learn, is that they are the central figures in an ancient prophecy, one that will wake the sleeping dragon, and bring peace to both sides in this age old battle. But only if they can survive all the trickery and lies being told to her people. Alone, they have power, but together, they are The Two, and control the future of the world as they know it.

The world building Ms. Aicher has done is fantastic; a mix of myth, mystery and reality, historic and yet modern at the same time. The characters are exquisitely detailed and likable, with many facets to each one. I enjoyed my visit to this world, and look forward to returning, hopefully soon.

Airiana Draco is one of the Shifters, brave and determined to learn more about those who have opposed her people for so long. She's curious, and smart, and more than a bit reckless. When she meets Louk, she's stunned by the strength of her attraction to him, but not once does she feel like she's in danger. I like Airiana’s courage, and her willingness to listen to what Louk has to say. I also loved her sense of surprise and wonder when she discovers what she really is.

Loukianos Aeros is brave, smart, and ready to take advantage of the information he can get from his captive. He didn’t plan on his strong reaction to Airiana, and his plans go awry the more time he spends with her. His decision to hide her from his men, to satisfy his curiosity concerning so many things becomes desire and finally, passion. I likes Louk, his open-minded attitude, and his willingness to see another side to things he has always been taught to believe. I enjoyed watching as he and Airiana discovered what they meant to each other, and to the people of both camps.

There are a couple of twists to this story, and I refuse to discuss the secret that becomes revealed as this story unfolds. There's a bit of danger, some treachery from an unexpected source, and a few marvelously hot and passionate episodes between Airiana and Louk that give this story some steam. If you can settle for a delightful happy for now, with more adventure to come, this is the one for you.