5 Stars, Dark Hollows Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed By Carrie, Shannon West, Victoria Sue

Review: Kiss of the Alpha by Shannon West and Victoria Sue

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Title: Kiss of the Alpha (Supremacy of Wolves: Book Two)

Authors: Shannon West and Victoria Sue

Publisher: Dark Hollows Press

Pages/Word Count: 154 Pages

At a Glance: Each of these books keeps getting better and better as this brave new world between wolves and humans evolves.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jay Tabor, rebel leader of Territory Three has done something he swore he would never do, and that’s work with Quinn, the Supreme Alpha of the Nine Territories, to save his brother Aaron’s life. Now on the run after his rebel hideout was discovered in Virginia, Jay has found a relatively safe haven for his insurgent group deep in the mountains of Tennessee. His peace is short-lived, however, when he gains a new captive—Devon, the Alpha of Territory Three.

Devon has been beaten, tortured and starved by the rebels in an effort to “tame” him, but when he’s transferred to a new camp, he discovers not only kindness but an unwanted attraction to his new captor—one that goes both ways. Devon has finally found his true mate in Jay, but the man is his sworn enemy, and a dominant, controlling lover, who insists on his independence.

When they’re both kidnapped by forces bent on harming them, Jay has only one chance to save his wolf. He has to prove that Devon is his submissive partner and he has to do it in front of their enemies in order to save their lives. With only one chance to make it good, he has to put on a show or risk losing his lover and his mate forever.

Dividers

Review: This is a brave new world, one in which the human population has been decimated by a virus and the wolves are now in power. But the two species don’t know that much about each other, and learning to live under the wolves is hard for some humans to take. This is a story of an evolving relationship between species and there are a lot of unknowns still out there. For instance, can Alphas be “made” not born, and what if the “made” Alpha’s true mate is the more dominant in the relationship – and human? How can that Alpha be an Alpha and still be submissive? After all, wolves are wolves, even if they look human every now and then.

Devon is the new Alpha of Territory Three. Usurping an Alpha who was brutal and malicious, especially to humans, is not an easy task, but Devon is making headway even though he is not a true born Alpha.  He is opening schools and providing healthcare, looking after his people and trying to make his territory a safe place to be for both humans and wolves. But, he is naïve and that costs him when he is captured by enemy human rebels, and tortured. He finds himself given to the rebel leader in charge of his territory, and is shocked to discover the man is his mate.

Jay has an uneasy relationship with the wolves in his world; he hates the wolves that persecute humans but knows that this alpha is not one of them. But Jay didn’t get to be a leader in the rebellion by being submissive, and just because he is the mate to an Alpha doesn’t mean he kneels for the man. There is still too much the wolves need to learn in dealing with humans. Jay and Devon have an interesting road to follow to their HEA, and the authors do a fantastic job of writing the interplay between these two men. Jay is a complicated character, and the domination he has over Devon is as intriguing to read about as the absolute submission that Devon brings to their relationship. Each of these books keeps getting better and better as this brave new world between wolves and humans evolves. This is a fantastic new series if you love Alpha wolves and alternate realities.

The series begins with Property of the Alpha, continues with Kiss of the Alpha, and then Strength of the Alpha is already out, so head to your favorite bookseller and read book three after you read the first two. The characters and the settings are introduced in the first two books, so reading them first would be nice but is not required – each book does stand alone – you just have better context if you read them in order. I have no hesitations in recommending these books. I have thoroughly enjoyed every one.

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3 Stars, Genre Romance, Holiday Romance, J.D. Walker, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Grateful for You by J.D. Walker

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Title: Grateful for You

Author: J.D. Walker

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Pages/Word Count: 33 Pages

At a Glance: If you enjoy those feel good kinda short stories, then this one is for you.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jared Gillespie left the family farm five years ago because Walt Schneider cheated on him. With a woman. What he didn’t realize was that Walt, the man he still loves, was trying to tell him something, and it takes a trip home to figure it out.

After Jared’s mother convinces him to return for Thanksgiving, Jared discovers Walt is a daddy now, of all things. His daughter’s name is Casey — Jared’s middle name. When Jared and Walt confront each other, the resulting confrontation causes Jared to realize he may have pushed Walt to cheat because of his overbearing ways. But would Walt be interested in trying again, after all this time?

Because a man doesn’t name his daughter after his ex-lover if he’s over him, no matter what he pretends to the contrary. Maybe Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful: for second chances, and for love found, not lost.

Dividers

Review: Jared knows it’s time to go home. He’s been away for five years, ever since his childhood love, Walt, cheated on him.  Jared didn’t stick around after it happened, he just left, and he’s never been back. He doesn’t know why Walt did it, or what message he was trying to send, Jared just knew it hurt. But, now it is time to go home and put those ghosts to rest so he can move on and heal—finally.

This is a short story of forgiveness and an example of what love can overcome if we let it.  Being so short, we don’t get a lot of backstory here, but we do get a good sense of who these men are individually, and we get enough to know that the love they feel is real.  It takes forgiveness on both sides to heal, and both men to be willing to put themselves out there again for this HEA happen.

If you enjoy those feel good kinda short stories, then this one is for you.

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3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, M.J. O'Shea, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: X Marks the Spot by M.J. O’Shea

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Title: X Marks the Spot

Author: M.J. O’Shea

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Send reality packing and just enjoy the ride.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jack Hunter is always on a quest for lost art, ancient manuscripts, and anything else that’ll romance the millions of viewers who watch his show each week. He hasn’t always hit pay dirt in his searches though, and a string of empty global treasure hunts has left his show on the brink of cancellation. Jack needs a white whale, a holy grail, nothing less than a miracle to revive his career.

Aloysius “Alo” Green likes his ivory towers. He’s content to study from the comfort of a university library and publish papers nobody other than academics will ever read. But coded letters pointing to hidden Nazi treasure fall into his hands, and while colleagues warn him to keep them to himself, Alo can’t stop obsessing. He makes a huge mistake and publishes a paper on his find, ignoring the danger doing so will bring.

Jack is sure he’s struck gold when his assistant brings Alo’s paper to him. Alo wants nothing to do with Jack or his televised treasure hunt. But after Alo is threatened, it appears Jack is his best bet to silence those who seek to use him to find the vast wealth first.

By trusting Jack, Alo might’ve saved himself… or made his worst decision yet.

Dividers

Review: Alo is an academic—if he has his way he will stay in college forever, living at home and publishing papers on medieval history that no one but other academics will ever read. Working on his PhD, he longs for a job in some university’s ivory tower as far from everyday life as he can possibly get. Then his grandfather moves into an assisted living facility, and leaves Alo a stack of letters which hold a mystery no one has ever been able to solve. Alo’s life is tossed upside down when he publishes a paper on the letters, and all of a sudden, his life is in danger and apparently, there is stolen Nazi treasures to find. Alo may be a nerd, but he is a clever nerd and puzzles are a specialty of his.

Jack Hunter is an adventure seeking TV personality on a once popular show on the History Channel. If he doesn’t come up with a hook for a new show soon, its lights out for his onscreen persona. A quest for Nazi treasures is just what his career needs, and if it comes with the quirky Alo, more the better. Convincing Alo to search for the treasures is a whole different matter, but when Alo is confronted with bullets from the people who want to steal his letters, he decides finding the artifacts may be the only way to keep his family safe.

And this is where you send reality packing and just enjoy the ride, much as you do in an Indiana Jones film. Creative license is used in its entirety in X Marks the Spot, as the quest for the treasures takes you to country after country filled with iconic landmarks and old world charm. The treasure hunt is by far the most enjoyable part of this book, as I felt Alo could have been a bit more mature and embrace the opportunities and excitement around him. Instead, Alo went to all these wonderful places and experienced the thrill of the quest, all the while wishing he wasn’t there.

I didn’t really connect Alo and Jack Hunter together – the chemistry just wasn’t there for me. Take out the romance and you have a nice little adventure book. I generally love M.J. O’Shea’s work, but this book just fell a little flat for me. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a follow up of these characters, with Jack forcing Alo more out of his shell, and Alo uncovering more mysteries out there that need to be solved.

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2 Stars, Amber Allure, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed By Carrie, Sean Michael

Review: His Very Own Vampire by Sean Michael

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Title: His Very Own Vampire

Author: Sean Michael

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 60 Pages

At a Glance: This story had so much promise, but just didn’t deliver.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Vampire Truelock’s job for the last several hundred years has been protecting the President of Archer Industries, a family-run company that has done very well for itself. Since the current patriarch, Desmond Archer, is getting ready to officially retire from the company that more or less runs itself, he sends True on a mission to protect his estranged grandson Lane.

Lane’s mother stopped speaking to her father Desmond when Lane was only a few years old and has told her son that his grandparents are all dead. He has no idea that he’s even an heir to a fortune. So when a handsome stranger steps in and saves him from bodily harm just when he needs it, he’s both grateful and a little suspicious. That suspicion only grows when bad things continue to happen to him, all seeming to stem from True’s arrival and his claim that he’s been sent by Lane’s grandfather to protect him.

The fact that there’s insane chemistry between Lane and True doesn’t help either of them untangle the mystery regarding the danger’s source. Can they find the answers before Lane’s unknown enemies manage to do him permanent damage?

Dividers

Review: I am only going to give a short review of His Very Own Vampire because if I write much more, my review would be longer than the book.

This novella had so much promise, it could have been good, but the characters were stiff and poorly written.  Truelock is a vampire who has served the Archer family for over two-hundred-fifty years. Now, Desmond Archer is dying and wants True to find his estranged grandson and bring him home. Lane’s mother ran from her family at a young age and brought her son up thinking that he had no family but her.  When True arrives, claiming he is working for Lane’s grandfather, Lane is confused and wants nothing to do with him. Outside influences fling these two together, as True must protect Lane from family members who want him dead in order to claim Lane’s share of the Archer fortune.

See? So much promise. I wish that Sean Michael had spent more time on this story and really made a novel out of it, as the characters in and of themselves are rather interesting, and the plot is plausible. There are just too many unbelievable leaps and not enough development of characters or storyline for this to be a Sean Michael success.

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5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Genre Romance, L.A. Witt, Reviewed By Carrie, Samhain Publishing

Release Day Review: Not Safe for Work by L.A. Witt

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Amazon

Title: Not Safe for Work

Author: L.A. Witt

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 341 Pages

At a Glance: This is another great hit from L.A. Witt!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: They’re a match made in the dungeon…until their secret gets out.

Bored senseless in a meeting, architectural modeler Jon McNeill amuses himself with a kinky dating app on his phone. Then the app matches him with another user…who’s six feet away. Suddenly Jon finds himself on the same page as someone way above his pay grade: millionaire property developer Rick Pierce. His firm’s biggest—and hottest—client.

The app isn’t kidding either. They’re a perfect match. Jon’s a Dom, Rick’s a sub, and bondage is their thing. Both guys are well into their forties, know their way around the bedroom, and definitely appreciate a good suit. And the best part? They’re a match outside the bedroom too.

But office relationships aren’t easy to keep a secret. When the truth comes out, Jon is certain he’s about to get fired. Instead, his bosses throw him a curve ball—an ultimatum that puts both his job and his relationship in jeopardy.

Warning: Contains literal and figurative sex machines, blindfolds, a sub being punished during a business meeting, enough rope to tangle up a millionaire, and a Golden Girls marathon.

Dividers

Review: Jon McNeill is an architectural modeler. Rick Pierce is his firm’s biggest client and the reason the architectural firm is solvent. Jon has been told not to talk to clients, which ordinarily is something he has no problem with–until he hooks up with Rick on a kinky dating app. Jon is a Dom, and finding a sub as perfect as Rick is something that, at this stage in life, he thought he would never find.

L.A. Witt’s Not Safe for Work is so well written. It was refreshing to read how two men in their mid-forties navigate the real world and make their love and relationship work–I found this mature romance engaging, and the Dom/sub dynamic totally believable because these men had a very clear idea of what they wanted vs. what they needed from the relationship. I loved these characters and how they came alive off the page. I could practically smell the glue in Jon’s workroom. The secondary characters are interesting and keep the humor going when the emotions get heavy between the two men.

I highly recommend this book. The BDSM theme is there and a major part of the relationship between these men, but as they grow to love each other, it’s how they make it work day-to-day that is the real story. This is another great hit from L.A. Witt!

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4.5 Stars, All Romance Ebooks, Genre Romance, J.R. Gray, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Say Yes by J.R. Gray

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Title: Say Yes

Author: J.R. Gray

Publisher: OmniLit/ARe

Pages/Word Count: 93 Pages

At a Glance: Say Yes is a gritty story of control, and ultimately, of letting go.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Charles holds the key to salvation, but James has to say yes.

James failed. He tried to be what they wanted. He tried to deny it. He tried to be a good Catholic boy…but it’s become too much. He craves pain, submission. He’s denied himself far too long, and it’s eating him alive.

Charles thrives off the exchange of power. He knows the world revolves around control. It’s given and taken like currency, in business and in pleasure. He won’t get attached, though, or so he tells himself, until James turns his world upside down. He’s defiant and snarky, but Charles can taste the submission on him.

All James has to do is say one little word.

Dividers

Review: James is young, strong, vulnerable, and was brought up in an uptight, wealthy atmosphere. He has a façade permanently in place that projects the man he wants the world to see. When his father dies and his mother cuts him off, his world becomes all about survival and straddling a line between the world he knew and the world he now resides in. He is the epitome of a young man denying himself everything in the name of keeping his head above water.

Charles exudes dominant sexual tension. Running into the enigma that is James piques his interest in a way not many things have. Oh, he wants James, wants him bad—but first he has to get James to say yes.  The sexual tension between these two men is almost ludicrous—the banter, the flirting, the emotions underneath are heady.

The magnetism of the characters J.R. Gray has created is palpable. There is tight, fast paced writing in this short story and because of that, we get a complete story arc and believable, well-rounded characters with plenty of relationship building. There is a BDSM element to the story, but it is not the focus, merely an element in it. James must learn to embrace himself even if no one else does, and Charles has to overcome past hurts and defenses to be what James needs. In the end, it takes courage for both men to say yes and to find their own power in the doing of it.

This was my first book by this author, but after this novella, I bought another book written by him because of the narrative power he developed in this short story. I hope this is the beginning of a new series for J.R. Gray, as I would love to revisit these two men and get another glimpse into their lives.

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5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, J.A. Rock, Reviewed By Carrie, Riptide Publishing

Release Day Review: The Subs Club by J.A. Rock

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Title: The Subs Club (The Subs Club: Book One)

Author: J.A. Rock

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 297 Pages

At a Glance: I highly recommend this book and cannot wait for Pain Slut, coming out in February of 2016.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: A year ago, my best friend Hal died at the hands of an incompetent “dom.” So I started the Subs Club, a private blog where submissives can review doms and call out the douche bags.

A perfect example of the kind of arrogant asshole I mean? The Disciplinarian. He has a pornstache. He loves meat, stoicism, America, and real discipline. And he thinks subs exist to serve him.

But . . . not everything about him is awful. His Davy Crockett act just seems like a cover for his fear of intimacy, and part of me wants to show him it’s okay to get close to people. And, I mean, sue me, but I have fantasized about real discipline. Not role-play, but like, Dave, you’re gonna be thirty in four years and you still work in a mall; get your ass in gear or I’ll spank it.

Not that I’d ever trust anyone with that kind of control.

I’m gonna redefine “battle of wills” for the Disciplinarian. Or I’m gonna bone him. It’s hard to say.

—Dave

Dividers

Review: We all have preconceived notions of not just ourselves but the people and the roles they have in our lives. What happens when that reality is shattered and you are left to reinvent yourself inside a new paradigm? Like taking an old well-loved coat and repurposing it to something new and better than it was before – something that will grow with you and make you a better person. It hurts, but it is worth the transformation.

Dave. He’s complicated, witty, and a little immature (but trying so hard), loyal and an advocate for others. He’s a sub but he’s gonna make you work for it – especially if he feels you don’t deserve it. He is secure in himself as a submissive, and he knows what he needs and is convinced he will never find it or have the guts to ask for it, especially now. There used to be five of them, a circle of friends who are all subs. Now there are only four.  His best friend died at the hands of an irresponsible Dom, and it’s a wound that hasn’t healed for any of them. Their first night back at an event at Riddle, a local BDSM club—and the one where Hal died—Dave spies a man he nicknames Pornstache, and falls into insta-lust. “Come save me, Pornstache. But, I mean, don’t, because I’m not attracted to you and I’m not here to have fun. I’m here to reflect on how stupid-lonely I am, and how I prefer meaningless sex to relationships, and meaningless spankings to meaningless sex.”  Pornstache is actually Dave (yes, the main characters have the same name!), a Dom who goes by the name The Disciplinarian and, yeah, he noticed Dave too.  But Dave isn’t easy, and the wounds he carries for not just himself but for all of his friends, make this relationship painful and not just from the spankings.

This book really delves into a serious issue in the fet community—subs having a voice. Who is responsible when something goes wrong in a scene? Rules are there for a reason and should never be broken, and when they are, who do you blame?  Dave has an idea to start an online blog called The Subs Club where subs can go and talk about anything, and that includes the Dom’s they play with. It’s all about being safe, knowing who is playing safe and who isn’t and what kind of experiences they are having as subs. Sounds good, right? But what happens when people start talking about your new Dom on the blog?

This book is about moving forward from tragedy, wrapped inside the complicated world of discipline and submission. Brilliantly written, Dave is a man you truly want to find his HEA inside the domestic discipline relationship he craves, and Pornstache is just the Dom to give it to him! Dave finally realizes “Oh my fucking God.  Love really is the most dangerous game. And I want to play it.”

I highly recommend this book and cannot wait for Pain Slut, coming out in February of 2016.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed By Carrie, Therese Woodson

Review: Hapless by Therese Woodson

Small Gems

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Title: Hapless (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Therese Woodson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 49 Pages

At a Glance: I thoroughly enjoyed this short story from start to finish. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time I was reading it.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: All Ty wants is to propose to his boyfriend, Micah, before Christmas Eve. He has the perfect ring, the perfect setting, and the perfect plan, but the universe has other ideas. A sprained ankle, a choking woman, and a crying sister are just the tip of the iceberg as Ty stumbles toward his happy ever after. Now, as Christmas Eve looms before him, he has to figure out how to ask the biggest question of his life without his perfectionism getting in the way or he might lose the person he wants to spend the holiday, and every day after, with.

Dividers

Review: Ty wants to propose to Micah – before Christmas Eve – he does NOT want to be cliché.  He has plans. Why does everything have to be so hard?

Hapless is the delightful story of two guys who just know that the other one is “it” for him.  Micah and Ty have been together for three years. They graduated together, each got good jobs, settled into an apartment they love in a city that works for both of them. Ty can be a little uptight about things, though, and planning his proposal to Micah is the hardest thing he has ever done.

“Micah was always a whirlwind, chaotic and beautiful. Ty had fallen in love instantly. Micah possessed a wild spirit Ty found liberating… Micah was everything Ty didn’t know he wanted until he saw him…”

As try after try goes awry in this story, you just can’t help but really root for Ty to finally get it right.  The writing is witty and superb, with anecdotes like “Attempt number two was officially like swimmers in Jaws – dead in the water.” The running timeline down to Christmas keeps you in suspense; you can’t quit reading because you have to know what Ty is going to come up with next, and what the universe is going to come up with to counteract him.

I thoroughly enjoyed this short story from start to finish. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time I was reading it. Sometimes we have to be reminded of the Who and Why of doing things, not just the How. I really enjoyed Therese Woodson’s writing – I will definitely be looking for more by this author.

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5 Stars, Bru Baker, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Talk Turkey by Bru Baker

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Title: Talk Turkey (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Bru Baker

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 58 Pages

At a Glance: This is an incredibly delightful tale of turkey woe.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Carson is a California transplant settling into life in the Windy City. On his first Christmas away from home, he assures his worried family he’ll be having a real Christmas dinner.

Recent culinary school graduate Tom Stockton earns some extra money giving out cooking advice at the Talk Turkey hotline. Tom’s honeyed voice and sharp sense of humor are attractive to the lonely Carson, and Carson finds reasons to call the hotline again and again. But on Christmas Eve, Carson’s call is less playful and more panicked with the big meal looming. Carson is just looking for advice, but Tom has a surprise in store that might lead to much more.

Dividers

Review: Carson has been in Chicago for less than a month, and the loneliness of his existence is starting to overwhelm him. Too new in his job, he doesn’t have the option of vacation time to go home to California for the holiday.

“It said a lot about Carson’s current state of mind that he’d named the turkey currently taking up a good three-quarter of the real estate in his refrigerator. Sure, he’d be eating it. But that didn’t mean he shouldn’t name it. Especially since it was doing such a great service for him, being his sole companion for Christmas dinner. At the rate it was defrosting – which was interminably slow – it would be coming as a guest and not the meal, which was all the more reason to name it.”

Carson is in such a state because of his turkey that he calls the turkey hotline number he found in the grocery store, and meets Tom – a recent culinary school graduate who is working the hotline for extra cash during the holidays. What follows are delightfully well written and witty vignettes of Carson’s turkey troubles, and Tom’s sage advice peppered with a sharp sense of humor. Bru Baker writes a moving story of a young man navigating his first holiday on his own with uplifting humor and amusing secondary characters. The fact that Carson’s mom set up a Pinterest page for him with turkey boards is refreshingly current and relatable. How the author puts the two men together was ingeniously clever and had me laughing out loud.

I am becoming a huge fan of Bru Baker, she is an excellent writer whether the story is long or short, and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

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5 Stars, Drama, Genre Romance, HelenKay Dimon, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed By Carrie, Riptide Publishing

Review: Stranded by HelenKay Dimon

StrandedTitle: Stranded

Author: HelenKay Dimon

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 155 Pages

At a Glance: Oh heavens, this was a good book!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Brax Hughes lived hard and retired young to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Well, that was the plan, but before he can hang up his sniper rifle, he has one last mission: win back Kyle Cabe. Brax wants another chance, wants to come clean, but after months of lying to Cabe, he knows he could face a bullet — or worse — when they meet again. And they will meet. Brax made sure of that.

With a storm moving in and someone lurking outside the cabin, time is running out. Brax needs to talk fast and keep his weapons ready. And his best weapon is the truth.

* * * * * * *

NOTE: Twenty percent of the proceeds from this title will be donated to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center.

Dividers

Review: Do you like military style men with intriguing stories to tell? Then you will love this book like I did!

How do you describe Cabe and Brax… They are intense, male, alpha, dominating, controlling, broken, fierce, passionate, powerful, and consuming. These two men NEED the truth they find in each other, but they both have trust issues and control issues, and it is painful but oh-so-worth-it to watch them work through them.

Kyle Cabe was a product of the foster system; if it taught him anything, it taught him not to trust anyone. Ever. It was that lesson that makes him such a great operative and keeps him alive. That is, until Brax Hughes, another operative, wormed his way inside Cabe’s walls. Of course, then Brax shot and tried to kill him. Now Cabe is retired, as retired as a man can be from the business, and he wants to fade into anonymity and find peace.

Brax wants to retire also. After all, he is supposed to be dead. But Brax has one last mission, and that is to make sure that Cabe knows the truth of what happened that day he shot him. How does he convince the only man he has ever loved that he shot him in order to save him? These men’s lives are built on carefully crafted lies, and to get to the heart of them is a convoluted story full of intrigue, with missions gone bad and good intentions gone wrong. The passion between the two is never in question and, oh my, the sex is hot, but these two men have big obstacles to overcome, and the largest obstacles are inside themselves. I highly recommend this book!

HelenKay Dimon has dipped her toe into the M/M genre before, even though she mainly writes M/F, but all of her books are intense romances about intense people, and the attention to detail is what makes them so freaking good. I hope she produces more for the M/M genre, as it is greatly enhanced with her presence.

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3 Stars, Genre Romance, L.A. Witt, Reviewed By Carrie, Riptide Publishing

Review: Rain Shadow by L.A. Witt

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Amazon

Title: Rain Shadow (A Bluewater Bay Novel)

Author: L.A. Witt

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

At a Glance: All in all, another solid addition to the Bluewater Bay series.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jeremy Rose came to Bluewater Bay to work as Anna Maxwell’s bodyguard, not to escape his increasingly bitter relationship with his estranged kids. He just wants to focus on his job and be alone for a while. He’s done with love, especially now that three years after his long overdue divorce, he’s got a front-row seat to the rapid deterioration between Anna and her girlfriend. Cynical doesn’t even begin to describe him.

Then Anna and Leigh’s attempts to reconcile put him in the crosshairs of marriage counselor Scott Fletcher. Scott’s exactly what Jeremy needs right now: gorgeous, hot, horny, single, and 100% uninterested in a relationship. The problem is, too much no-strings-attached sex — and too much time in each other’s company — inevitably builds emotional connection.

Except Jeremy refuses to seek counseling for his broken family, and Scott refuses to get seriously involved with men who work dangerous jobs. They both need to realize they can only hide for so long from the pain they came here to escape. They must face their pasts before they lose their shot at a happy future.

Dividers

Review: Normally I love mature romances – give me two older men in love every time.  I like that older men have more of a backstory to tell and that they have established lives, aspects that are generally not a part of the storyline for younger characters. However, when the “start of life” storyline is taken away, then you have to come up with a reason why these men are still single and what their particular angst is going to be. For this story, it is the death of a previous partner for Scott, and a divorce for Jeremy. The storyline with Scott is heartbreaking, and you can totally understand his unwillingness to get close to another man.

For Jeremy, though, his divorce haunts him every day, and I think it took over the book. And, not in a good way.  Jeremy spends too much time blaming himself for the condition of his family, and his ex-wife and children are happy to let him have all the guilt and responsibility. When I finished the book I felt like I could go on and on with just how much was wrong with the way those relationships were written. This book was a bit of a dichotomy for me.  I loved aspects of it and I hated aspects of it.

However, I loved the romance between these two men. Jeremy and Scott have both loved and lost, and they approach their “just sex” agreement in a mature, seemingly rational way. Unfortunately, the heart is rarely rational, and the comfort and sense of belonging these men find in each other is amazing. Neither wants a relationship, but they cannot deny the ease with which they fit, like two adrift puzzle pieces that are finally placed home.

I really wanted to like this book as I have read all the Bluewater Bay stories, and thoroughly enjoyed them, not to mention I am usually a big fan of L.A. Witt, but this one is a fifty-fifty for me.

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4 Stars, April Kelley, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed By Carrie, Self-Published

Review: Leave it All by April Kelley

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Title: Leave it All (Saint Lakes: Book One)

Author: April Kelley

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 177 Pages

At a Glance: Leave it All is a quirky paranormal story.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Lucas just wanted to be a normal human being, but normal is highly over-rated.

Lucas Speck had been just some guy who worked at an office supply store and house-sat for his snowbird parents. He was nobody special. Or that’s what he thought before the headaches start and weird things start to happen to him. When people start chasing him his whole life gets turned upside down.

Bennett Somerset is a dragon shifter, who likes his quiet life in his quiet town. He isn’t looking for complications. He already has a family that defines the words, weird and crazy, to perfection. Good thing they live in a small town where nothing ever happens. That is until he smells the most delicious thing in the world and realizes it’s his mate. His little witch of a mate just made things way more complicated.

Dividers

Review: Lucas just wants to be normal, unobtrusive and circumspect.  Plain, he wants to be plain—he’s good with that. But then he starts having headaches, and these weird balls of white light keep shooting from his chest and reanimating his mother’s dead plants. What’s up with that? Then his (ex?) best friend lures him to a bar full of vampires, and frankly, life goes downhill from there. Come to find out he is the first male witch to be born in centuries, and to say he is all of a sudden popular with the wrong side of the paranormal spectrum is an understatement. On the run from vamps, he rents a cabin in the tiny town of Saint Lakes, where he meets Bennett Somerset, a dragon shifter and his true mate. Bennett is a large, fire breathing black dragon shifter, and has a personality to match. Some would call him moody, others, openly antagonistic, but Bennett would call him perfect. As beta to his brother Ramsey, it is his job to make sure that the clan is safe both from without and from within. A mate being chased by an entire coven of vampires is a challenge he is more than willing to conquer.

I truly liked these characters. April Kelley does a good job of creating her world of paranormals, and I can already see some of the future books from the characters she has created. You probably recognize her name from her Pickleville or Lakehouse Security series—an extensive number of books. The Saint Lakes Series is her newest and promises to be a fun one. Do I wish that she would give her characters a little more depth? Yes. But if you are looking for a fun and easy read, then this is for you.

Dragons and Mistletoe is a bonus Saint Lakes short story included in Leave it All, for the All Romance eBook, Smashword, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble users.

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3 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Mae Hancock, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Cotton Candy by Mae Hancock

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Title: Cotton Candy (Wyoming Lovers: Book Two)

Author: Mae Hancock

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 185 Pages

At a Glance: This one just didn’t do it for me.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Cowboy Cotton Reid is the laid-back type of guy who accepts people as they are, no matter how flawed. People think he’s fun, honest and crazy about his boss and friend the sexy rancher Bay Redman.

Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is something that family man Bay has done his whole life. Bay can be like a bear with a sore head if the hay isn’t stored symmetrically or his fridge contains an odd number of jars.

When the two men begin a hot affair, Cotton keeps an important secret from Bay. If he can’t find the courage to tell him the truth before someone else does, Bay may never be able to let it go.

Dividers

Review: Cotton Reid fell in love with his boss—but the man is more than his boss, he is the father figure for Cotton’s daughter Kristen.

Cotton is very laid back, on the outside. On the inside, the man is just full of angst, and it colors everything he does in his job as ranch hand. He is young, he is a father, and he comes to the ranch to meet his daughter and be a part of her life. And remains there for eighteen months, doing nothing about it, before the events of this book take place. Have to admit, I had some trouble with that one, but once the author explained why, it made sense. I still may not have agreed with it, but I had a clearer view of where the author was going. Cotton is a confused character on the inside, and many of Bay’s personality traits appeal to this cowboy who needs help in an overwhelming situation. Cotton is a loving character, he wants to care for Bay and be everything the rancher needs, and in this respect the author hits it spot on.  I rooted for Cotton, he just needed the support.

Bay is a successful rancher and businessman.  If his personal life is not as together as his work one, well he’ll take what he can get.  Bay also has OCD. I really applaud the author for how she treats this disorder in her character.  The way that Bay copes – or doesn’t cope – with the OCD is addressed in compassionate and believable scenarios. Bay becomes an unlikely hero in this story, as his life trauma makes his disorder worse, to the point of taking over, and how he copes with this unique malady and moves forward with his life is admirable. Control over everything is how Bay keeps sane. This seeps into his relationship with Cotton, and Bay’s commanding persona in the bedroom is the perfect complement to Cotton’s submissive heart. But Bay is broken and he needs Cotton to help him heal. As the events in his life swirl out of control, the only peace Bay can find from his OCD is in the calm that Cotton brings whenever Bay is around him.

I have to say, I disliked the secondary figures in the story.  The daughter, Kristen, was spoiled and ungrateful, and her behavior kept getting justified to the point of Bay apologizing to his daughter for the way SHE acted.  Uhm. No. And the ex-wife was horrendous, but then, she was supposed to be, so excellent writing there! Grandma was a mixed bag for me; she was supportive of Bay’s relationships but felt that he could do more to control his disorder. Which, if you have OCD you know that may not be true.

There is a lot of angst flying around in this book, and for that it was a mixed bag for me.  The book is compelling; it is worth the read for those who love cowboys with issues.  This is book two in this series, and I will probably read the next installment just to see where the author will go next with this ranch.

I loved the cover art on this book, done by Dar Albert. The depiction of Cotton was exactly as I pictured him! Thank you for an amazing visual that enhances the story.

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4 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Remmy Duchene, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Love Me Harder by Remmy Duchene

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Title: Love Me Harder

Author: Remmy Duchene

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 172 Pages

At a Glance: Love Me Harder is a solid interracial romance.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Life hasn’t been perfect for Mathew Chance. Between not knowing who his parents are, and being bounced from foster home to foster home, he’s had to work for everything in his life. But lately, he seems to be overdoing it. With two jobs that barely give him time to breath, love is the last thing on his mind. He doesn’t know whether to bless fate or curse it for shoving Asher Mulgrew right into his path.

Wealthy divorce lawyer Asher Mulgrew has it all worked out. From a successful practice to a supportive sister and a fantastic niece, life is good. But he’s lonely. Though he’s not actively searching for a man, he isn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth when he meets bartender, Mathew Chance. Mathew has a wall built around his heart and Asher isn’t sure he can break through even if he wants to.

Dividers

Review: Mathew Chance works hard—too hard.  Being on his own since he was eighteen, and aging out of the boys’ home the foster system had placed him in, all he has done is work. There has to be more to life than working himself into an early grave, but Mat doesn’t know what that is. Taking the easy road has never been his thing, and he refuses to bow to the pressures of his life now.

Remmy Duchene does a great job with Mathews’s character. She writes his hamster-on-a-treadmill life in a way that you both sympathize and empathize with his troubles and his way of thinking. How many of us feel trapped by life, unable to change the status quo because of finances or emotional instability? All we can do is try to keep going, hoping for something better, and that is Mat’s character to a T. Of course, Mathew’s something better comes wrapped in the package of Asher Mulgrew.

Asher runs his own law firm, and is sexy and established both in business and his personal life. He always longed for someone to share his life with, but so far, no luck—until he scopes out a quirky little bar where his sister wants to go, and runs into a gorgeous, reserved man named Mathew. Again, Remmy Duchene writes a character with feeling. After meeting Mat, Asher describes himself as feeling “intimately bankrupt,” and sets out to change that with Mathew. This is a romance in every sense of the word. The road is a long one for these guys, they begin the journey worlds apart, but they make it to their HEA in the end.

I felt like the story could have had a little more depth; the premise is a tricky one, with the poor black boy and the rich white guy, but I will say I never felt any part of this book to be gratuitous in its portrayals. The main characters are on an even keel in this one, despite their differences (as a matter of fact, their races are hardly mentioned). Love Me Harder is a solid romance between two men doing the best they can, and finding the road easier with someone to love by their side.

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4 Stars, Cate Ashwood, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Tasting Notes by Cate Ashwood

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Title: Tasting Notes

Author: Cate Ashwood

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: This is the first book in a new series for Cate Ashwood, and I am looking forward to the next installment!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: There’s nothing that can’t be solved over a glass of excellent wine.

Joseph “West” Weston has paid for his wealth and success with long hours at the office and no personal life to speak of. Meetings, conference calls, and paperwork dominate his waking hours and have kept him from honoring the promise he made to his late grandfather years before.

After leaving the Marines, Robert “Rush” Coeman returns to his hometown and settles in as a Christmas tree farmer. His life is quiet and simple, and he likes it that way. When West arrives in town and buys Rush’s parents’ vineyard on a whim, that simple life is turned upside down. The animosity between them is palpable, but Rush shelves his preconceived notions in order to protect his parents’ legacy. He agrees to help West learn how to run the vineyard, and Rush soon realizes that love doesn’t necessarily come in the package he expected.

Dividers

Review: Joseph “West” Weston is a thirty-five-year-old venture capitalist, a man who has given everything he has to his job. Owning your own firm at such a young age is quite a feat, and it has made him a billionaire but left him wrung out and empty.

West’s grandfather meant everything to him as the old navy seadog raised him after his parents died when West was young.  When his grandfather died, West makes a promise to himself to scatter his grandfather’s ashes in the ocean – a promise he hasn’t fulfilled because he has been too busy at work. West is headed for a breakdown, and after witnessing a man die of a heart attack at lunch one day, he can’t take it anymore. Loading his one pair of jeans and his grandfather’s ashes into his Ferrari, he heads to the coast to finally pay homage to the man that raised him. When West stops in Canyon Creek, he feels a pull to the little town, and suddenly, he can’t leave. On the spur of the moment and for sentimental reasons, he buys the small boutique winery of Lennox Hill.

Lennox Hill winery has been in Rush’s family for generations. Dumfounded that his parents would sell it without his knowledge, he is irate at the man who bought it – even though he’d told his parents years ago that he didn’t want it. Retiring from the Marine Corps has left Rush with wounds that refuse to heal, and the little Christmas tree farm he owns gives him all the peace he now needs. But Rush is angry, a bit of a hothead, and when West comes knocking and asking for help with the winery, Rush is an ass. Snap judgements are one of his failings, and he has decided that West is just a spoiled rich prick who is going to ruin what his parents worked their whole lives to build.

Tasting Notes is an enemies-to-lovers tale, even though there is never really any mutual animosity – it is all one way, flowing from Rush to West. I have to say that I had a real problem with Rush at the beginning of this book, and it never really resolved itself in my mind. He never gets around to fully apologizing, just explaining why he has the reaction he does. West is an amazing character, even though at times he is rather immature emotionally, not a characteristic you would expect from such a successful venture capitalist. They begin with a fragile friendship, working the vines, and when the explosion comes it is worth it.

This book is hardcore romance from that point forward. West is a sweetly vulnerable character, and Rush needs that to help heal old wounds from his past. The scene where West scatters his grandfather’s ashes was incredibly written, and the love and caring just pour from the page. The journey toward the HEA is not easy for these two men, but the vignettes that the author draws for us really paint a picture of two men willing to go the distance to be with each other and make their love work.

I would recommend this book for all romance lovers out there. Yes, I had some issues with it, but they were not enough to detract from the enjoyment of the story as a whole. This is the first book in a new series for Cate Ashwood, and I am looking forward to the next installment!

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4.5 Stars, Bru Baker, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: King of the Kitchen by Bru Baker

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Title: King of the Kitchen

Author: Bru Baker

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy a real romance and slow buildup kind of story.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Rising kitchen talents Beck Douglas and Duncan Walters have been on the foodie paparazzi radar for years, since their status as heirs to two of the biggest celebrity chef empires around makes them culinary royalty. Beck is known for his charm and traditional food as cohost of his uncle’s popular TV cooking show, while Duncan earned himself a reputation as a culinary bad boy, both for his refusal to work in his father’s restaurants and his avant-garde approach to cooking.

They’re also heirs to a food rivalry that could put the Hatfields and McCoys to shame, and when they’re photographed in the middle of a heated argument, the press goes wild with speculation. Damage control ensues, with a fake friendship engineered by PR cronies that leaves both of them secretly pining for more.

Beck chafes under his uncle’s micromanagement, and Duncan’s relationship with his homophobic father becomes even more tenuous when Beck and Duncan start getting closer. It’s hard to hide their chemistry on national television when Duncan joins Beck’s cooking show, but they won’t be able to take their relationship—or their careers—to the next level without breaking a few eggs.

Dividers

Review: Duncan Walters is the culinary bad boy.  Young, brilliant in the kitchen, he works at various restaurants around Chicago, including a diner, refusing to settle down. His espouses the cooking regimen of molecular gastronomy, having graduated from college with a molecular biology degree, even though he is happiest slinging fried eggs at the diner. Duncan’s father is a 4 star Michelin chef, and Duncan started working in his dad’s kitchens when he was twelve. But, his relationship with his homophobic father is tenuous and, frankly, has soured Duncan on relationships, period. Duncan keeps it light, no strings, no long term commitments in love and his professional life – it’s just easier that way.

Beck Douglas is heir apparent to the culinary King empire. Managing several restaurants by night, by day he is the face of the King of the Kitchen TV show. Nephew to Christian King, the culinary powerhouse, Beck has no time for anything personal; there just are not enough hours in the day. To keep himself sane, he runs on a tight schedule, his every move scripted; it is the only way he can even try to live up to all that is expected of him. Being attracted to a man who wears t-shirts with stupid food slogans on them, or Chucks with his tuxedo, is just not an option.

I loved these guys.  This story takes a long time to develop, these men have a lot to overcome both personally and professionally, and they do it all in the public eye since they are celebrities of a sort. As such, they don’t have a real “moment” until the book is 75% done. Don’t get me wrong, we have witty dialog and awesome secondary characters that keep this book moving, and the way it all plays out is totally believable. These two men are like balls that keep pinging off each other, each new collision knocking off all the extraneous bonds of their lives until just the two of them remain, and they can’t resist each other. You will love all the food references, and the TV show could absolutely be on a channel today.

In the end, this book is about two men, though and the restaurant and food references are just aspects of these two men, adding depth and reality to the characters. I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy a real romance and slow buildup kind of story. This was my first Bru Baker story, but it definitely will not be my last!

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4 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Genre Romance, Morticia Knight, Pride Publishing, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Negotiating Love by Morticia Knight

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Title: Negotiating Love (Sin City Uniforms: Book Five)

Author: Morticia Knight

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 198 Pages

At a Glance: A power play dynamic between two powerful men – it’s a scorcher!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Can the kinky billionaire owner of the Dark Fantasy resort casino capture the heart of a muscled SWAT officer with a secret fetish?

SWAT Team Hostage Negotiator Steve wonders why he can’t stay away from the spoiled, rich Allistair, owner of Dark Fantasy Resort Casino. They have mutual kinks—ones Steve can’t find with other lovers—but there’s something else about the emotionally detached, beautiful man that calls to him.

Billionaire Allistair stays alone in his luxury penthouse apartment at the top of Dark Fantasy, terrified of the real world and of opening himself up to genuine emotions. He takes lover after lover, all of them allowing him to do whatever he wants to their bodies, in the hopes that they can scam something from him.

One night is all he ever shares with a plaything—he knows they only want the money and luxury he can offer them and nothing more. But the down to earth Steve is different. They share the same kinks and are explosive when together. But could the muscled law officer ever want more than the lust-filled encounters that have become such an addiction?

As they grow closer, they discover they also have to find a balance between Steve’s everyday world and Allistair’s entitled world before they can truly find an ever after. They also have to make sure Allistair stays safe. Filthy rich playboys are too tempting to those who seek the ultimate payday—and who aren’t afraid of hurting someone to get it.

Dividers

Review: Steve is a hardnosed SWAT negotiator whose job is killing him from the inside out. He’s heavy into BDSM, the release he gets from being a submissive the only thing that keeps him going some days when the hostage situations go bad.

Allistair lives in his penthouse – a jail of his own making – his wealth and own insecurities keeping him prisoner.  He craves a real connection with a partner, and Steve is the only sub he has ever done a scene with more than once. He knows they could connect outside the playroom, if only he could muster the confidence to approach Steve as a man instead of just a Dom.

I enjoyed this book, didn’t love it but enjoyed it. Steve and Allistair together are a very kinky couple, and the sex is hot. I just needed more characterization to go around the scenes.  I enjoy Morticia Knight’s writing and usually she hits it spot-on with her characters, but this one just felt a little one dimensional to me. It’s a great and easy read. The little nuggets we get to see of these men – like Allistair lacing a corset around Steve for the first time – were beautifully written, and it’s these glimpses that keep you reading to the HEA. Though I think the storyline of the relationship between Allistair and his brother (our antagonist in the story) would have been a little more believable if it were fleshed out more.

Negotiating Love follows Held Hostage, and is the fourth book in the Sin City Uniforms series. The books do overlap somewhat, but you do not need to read them in any kind of order, as each story is individual. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting an interesting power dynamic between two men who really can’t get enough of each other.

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5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed By Carrie, SJD Peterson

Review: Innocence to the Max by SJD Peterson

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Title: Innocence to the Max

Author: SJD Peterson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

At a Glance: Do you love vampires?  I love vampires, and I loved Innocence to the Max!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: On his sixteenth birthday, Francisco “Cisco” Aguilar first sets eyes on Maximilian De Ferrari, owner of Wicked Grounds, an exclusive BDSM club. Cisco has been lost, unsure of what is missing in his life. Over a century old, Max leads a vampire clan, and Cisco is drawn to him in a way he can’t explain. The moment he sees Max he knows his quest isn’t about what he’s been missing, but who.

Five years’ wait seems more than Cisco can bear, but he perseveres and on his twenty-first birthday he walks into Wicked Ground. He’s unafraid to meet the vampire he’s sure is his destiny. Max has been waiting for him, too.

What Max has known all these years, and what Cisco soon discovers, is that more than fate is drawing them together. Iunctio Copula is a powerful binding link capable of restoring cold, dead hearts. With Max and Cisco bound, Cisco will be Max’s greatest weakness. Unable to let Max go, Cisco is thrust into a dark world, where he’s nearly powerless, left to fight for his life and his future with Max. Worse, he’s at the mercy of those who will use him—and hurt him—just to get to the powerful vampire.

Dividers

Review: SJD Peterson is one of my go-to writers whenever I need a really well written book, and Innocence to the Max falls right in line. Is this a new series?  Gosh, I hope so. There are so many incredible characters in this book that deserve their own story.

Max is a centuries old vampire, and the head of his clan, searching for something he doesn’t even believe exists, not really. And then one night, he is taking a quiet break from his club. Cisco is in a car, driving down the street in front of him, and his path is forever changed. Cisco is celebrating his sixteenth birthday, looks down an alley, and his body lights up with recognition of a man he cannot see for the shadows, and cannot pursue because of his age. Five years later, and Cisco is out to claim the man from the shadows, knowing he is a vampire and his Master—Cisco wants nothing more than to serve the man who stole his heart from a street corner.

This book does have some disturbing scenes of violence and rape, so be warned, but it is not the point of the story, merely an aspect of it. This is a story about two men struggling hard to be the men they need to be for themselves as well as for each other. It is a happy-for-now tale, with the promise for more. As well written as the main characters are, the secondary characters carry the story forward with wit and fortitude, and I really want a book for Benny!

I highly recommend this story. If you are into hot vampires, with some light BDSM and soul mates, then this is a book you will definitely enjoy.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed By Carrie, S.C. Wynne

Review: Home to Danger by S.C. Wynne

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Title: Home to Danger

Author: S.C. Wynne

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I highly recommend this book, as it was an engaging and easy read.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jason Sinclair isn’t very good at relationships, which is no surprise given a childhood with an eccentric father and an unloving, emotionally damaged mother. After leaving home at seventeen, Jason has spent the past four years doing everything he could to stay away. That changes when he learns his mother is dying of cancer, and he grudgingly returns to Larame Bay to say good-bye.

Word on the street is that Jason will sell his family’s property and run back to LA the minute his mother dies, but when Jason meets the new groundskeeper, the sexy and confident Adam Trent, all that changes. As Jason begins to fall for Adam, he surprises everyone, including himself, by sticking around after all.

However, it doesn’t take long to realize someone out there desperately wants Jason gone from Larame Bay and will make sure that happens—one way or another.

Dividers

Review: S.C. Wynne’s bio states that she likes to write characters who are usually a little jaded, funny and ultimately, redeemed through love…. this sums up Jason Sinclair exactly.

Jason has had a hard upbringing, what with his dad dying when he was young and his mother being emotionally distant. Is it any wonder that his last boyfriend called him dead inside? S.C. Wynne knows how to write her characterizations – I could picture Jason and his mother, the housekeeper Belinda, and Adam the very sexy groundskeeper. This is not an easy journey, as absolution never is, but it is a believable journey, and my heart ached for these characters – while simultaneously laughing at the jokes Jason tells. Nothing about this story is trite; add a little mystery on top of the emotional, and the time while reading this book just flies by!  Because not only are Jason and Adam falling in love, but since Jason’s mom is dying, the vultures are circling for the lucrative property they own, which will go to Jason on his mother’s death, and someone is willing to commit murder to make sure that they get first dibs on the land. Jason learns to open himself up emotionally with the help and support of Adam, and they both have to figure out how not to die in the process.

How does S.C. Wynne keep all these balls in the air, plot-wise, while keeping the whole book upbeat and witty?  Incredibly.  Interestingly. Impossibly well! I highly recommend this book, as it was an engaging and easy read. I thoroughly enjoyed this story!

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Island Tales Press, K.C. Wells, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Submitting to the Darkness by K.C. Wells

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Title: Submitting to the Darkness (Island Tales: Book Three)

Author: K.C. Wells

Publisher: Island Tales Press

Pages/Word Count: 278 Pages

At a Glance: This is an emotional journey of learning to live with blindness, and how love can help you see the way.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Three weeks after being diagnosed with acute glaucoma, Adam Kent lost his vision. Two months down the line, and he’s left behind his life in London as an author of political history books and retreated to the Isle of Wight, to live in the house he inherited in Steephill Cove. But that’s not all Adam’s left behind him: the trappings of his life as a Dom are packed away into three boxes and stored in his attic. After all, he’s never going to need them again, right? Who’d want a blind Dom anyway?

Paul Vaughan is employed to be a live-in companion to Adam, but his new employer makes it very clear he wants to be left alone. Paul can see Adam is hurting and struggles to help him, even though Adam resists him at every turn. Thankfully, Paul’s friends Taylor, Mark and Sam are there to lend an ear when he needs to vent – and also to try setting him up with a guy or two. It’s not that Paul doesn’t appreciate their efforts, but the guys they keep sending his way are way too… vanilla. A chance visit to a club had already shown Paul a side to him he’d never expected: maybe his tastes are a little kinkier.
Two events occur to rock Paul’s life: he discovers his boss isn’t as straight as Paul had thought, and he takes a peek into a box…

Dividers

Review: Submitting to the Darkness is book three in the Island Tales Series, and I have to say I liked this one the best.

Adam is a highly successful businessman, entrepreneur and author.  At the age of forty, he is at the top of his game…until he is diagnosed with acute glaucoma and within three weeks, is blind. In his opinion, everything he loved to do: write, sail, be a Dom, things he needs his eyes for, are gone. Retreating to his house on the Isle of Wight, he lives in darkness and cannot find his way out. Adam’s character is beautifully drawn; you feel the depth of his pain. He has relegated himself to one room of the house, being too far into depression to venture further.

Paul is young. He’s twenty-three and a physical therapist but cannot find work in his field, so he applies for the job of caretaker and companion to a gentleman. And gets almost more than he can handle with Adam. But even though he is young, he has a backbone of steel and good heart, and he quickly learns he will need both with his new charge.

It’s not easy, K.C. Wells gives us our HEA—she just puts her characters through hell to get there—but that’s what makes it so good.  This is not a light, fluffy romance; it is a book with substance and a heavy subject matter which the author tackles beautifully.  The situations with Adam’s blindness are neither contrived nor drawn out, which make the book not so much about the situation the men are in but about the men themselves and how the circumstances bring them together to make a whole. There is a BDSM element in this book but it is secondary to the storyline, and it adds a bit of spice without being the focus. When these two men finally get together the sparks fly, and yeah, it gets hot…

I loved this book and would highly recommend it and all the Island Tales series.

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5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Pride Publishing, Reviewed By Carrie, Sean Michael

Release Day Review: Brewing by Sean Michael

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Title: Brewing (Beer and Clay: Book Four)

Author: Sean Michael

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 130 Pages

At a Glance: We finally get to the HEA for Toby and Damon in this fourth installment of the story, and I recommend this series.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: As the love between Toby and Damon deepens, the man intent on destroying their happiness increases his efforts.

Toby and Damon are back in Brewing, their relationship deepening more despite the continuing efforts of a stranger to bring them down.

Helping in their efforts are their best friends Peter and Christian. Peter’s new investment in a three-story building on the same block as Damon’s bar offers Toby the opportunity of having a studio close to home. It also gives Peter and Christian a home they’ve made together, which Peter hopes will bring them closer together.

A former soldier, Christian has a hard time letting go and finding his subspace. It’s going to take a lot to break the conditioning he’s learned in the Army. Peter is stubborn, though, and he’s seriously falling for his strong sub.

Will yet another attack bring down two couples this time?

Dividers

Review: What was started in Malting, and continued in Milling and Mashing, has finally reached a satisfying conclusion in Brewing. You cannot read any of these books separately as this is an ongoing story, but buy all four and read the series from beginning to end; you won’t regret it.

Toby is really coming into his own as a sculptor and a submissive.  He is growing and maturing, and we really get to see glimpses of the man he is becoming. Being able to trust in the love and support from Damon has allowed him to gain a confidence in himself and his art that he would not have ever given a try on his own.

Damon is the steady rock.  The sexy and stable bar owner is the perfect fit for his excitable sub. The care he gives to Toby, making sure he does not lose himself in his art or inside his own head, gives Toby a place to call home.

We also get to see more of Peter and Christian in this story, as the two couples learn that having friends to rely on can be a powerful and good thing. I hope that Sean Michael writes Peter and Christian’s story and that we get to see Toby and Damon again!

I recommend this story – which is all four books. It’s an easy read and a great way to spend an afternoon.

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You can buy Brewing here:

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5 Stars, Charlie Cochrane, Historical Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed By Carrie, Riptide Publishing

Review: Lessons for Sleeping Dogs by Charlie Cochrane

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Title: Lessons for Sleeping Dogs (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries)

Author: Charlie Cochrane

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 208 Pages

At a Glance: If you like period appropriate verbiage and staging, REALLY GOOD mysteries, and colorful and witty characters, then this series is for you.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Cambridge, 1921

When amateur sleuth Jonty Stewart comes home with a new case to investigate, his partner Orlando Coppersmith always feels his day has been made. Although, can there be anything to solve in the apparent mercy killing of a disabled man by a doctor who then kills himself, especially when everything takes place in a locked room?

But things are never straightforward where the Cambridge fellows are concerned, so when they discover that more than one person has a motive to kill the dead men—motives linked to another double death—their wits get stretched to the breaking point.

And when the case disinters long buried memories for Jonty, memories about a promise he made and hasn’t kept, their emotions get pulled apart as well. This time, Jonty and Orlando will have to separate fact from fiction—and truth from emotion—to get to the bottom of things.

Dividers

Review: It is now 1921. Jonty and Orlando are in their forties, and it has been awhile since that business with the wooden cat. While working at the University is challenging, Orlando is beginning to think they will never have another case to solve… But then Jonty goes to tea and a case is presented, along with a particularly good nosebag.

I knew from the opening salvo, “Inspired by the many mysteries in real life that defy solution.”, that I was in for a great mystery with this book, and it did not disappoint! How do you solve a mystery that isn’t really a mystery on the surface? A mercy killing by a doctor, who then takes his own life in regret, two suicide letters explaining it all, and the whole scenario happening behind a closed door which was locked from the inside. What’s left to know? Well, a lot it seems. What they find is a case that stretches them morally and emotionally, and the decision has to be made whether to publish their findings to the world, or just to let sleeping dogs lie.

Each of these books has not only a mystery which has to be solved but a personal battle which must be fought, and in this book the power is in Jonty’s hands to right an old wrong and to realize sometimes the truth can help old sleeping dogs to lie more comfortably. This book, while still being an intense mystery, was a little lighter than some of the others have been. Lessons for Sleeping Dogs is one of my favorites in the Cambridge Fellows Mystery Series. All of Charlie Cochranes books are amazing, but being historically accurate sometimes means the emotions of two men can be constrained. This book has a warmth to it between Jonty and Orlando reminiscent of some of the earlier books in the series when they were sorting through the beginnings of their relationship. The two men are celebrating the sixteenth year of their meeting, and in my opinion, the mysteries and the emotions just keep getting deeper and better. As the pair say,

“Happy Anniversary. May there be many more of them.”

“Amen to that. More anniversaries, more cases to solve, more mattresses to put through their paces.”

“I agree on all three counts. Especially the last.”

If you like period appropriate verbiage and staging, REALLY GOOD mysteries, and colorful and witty characters, then this series is for you. You do not have to read these mysteries in order, just pick one up – it will not disappoint – and then you will go back for more!

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You can buy Lessons for Sleeping Dogs here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Lane Hayes, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Better Than Safe by Lane Hayes

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Title: Better Than Safe (A Better Than Story)

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

At a Glance: The Better Than series just gets better and better!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Paul Fallon is a fashion advertising guru. He’s a genius at dealing with difficult editors, art directors, and designers alike. He thrives on the chaotic atmosphere and constant challenges. But in his personal life, he’s hoping for peace and stability. Settling down with a nice doctor or lawyer sounds perfect. Anyone but an artist. He’s been there, done that, and he doesn’t want to relive the heartache.

Seth Landau is a model, occasional guitarist, and aspiring painter. He’s quirky, flighty, and wise beyond his years. Life has taught him some tough lessons, then given him opportunities he never dreamed of. He’s learned to appreciate the fragility of life and to express it in his work. Seth’s flare for the absurd combined with a supple mind and a beautiful body are too alluring for Paul to ignore. Against his best intentions, Paul is drawn to the younger man whose particular brand of crazy challenges Paul to accept that things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes taking a chance is better than being safe.

Dividers

Review: Better Than Safe is the fourth book in the Better Than Series, and Lane Hayes has really hit her stride in writing about these men. Each of these books is a standalone story, but the men are all friends and so the books overlap as these men come in and out of the featured main characters’ lives.

Book four in the series is about Paul and Seth. Paul – a Brit who seems so in control and so is not, and Seth – a budding artist and international cover model. These men need each other to complete each other and heal emotional wounds that only someone with their particular experiences can heal. Paul needs Seth to heal the wounds left by his artist father and chaotic upbringing, and Seth needs Paul to ground him and be his steady rock in the storm of his life. As Paul says, “I love you. All of you. You know me. You know how to make me think, make me laugh, make me feel. You are totally unexpected.”

Lane Hayes has a sophisticated writing style which flows through her books – she writes sophisticated stories about sophisticated men. It is this writing style which keeps you riveted to the plot and makes the journey toward the HEA one you definitely want to go on. It’s never easy, the first dates that Seth and Paul go on are total disasters, and they are adamant about not seeing each other ever again for the whole first half of the book. But these men need each other, and like two planets colliding, just can’t help being drawn together.

I love this series, in my opinion it is one of the best series of m/m books out there, and I would highly recommend you buy not just Better Than Safe but all the books in the Better Than Series.

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You can buy Better Than Safe here:

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3 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Genre Romance, Meredith O'Reilly, Reviewed By Carrie, Stormy Night Publications

Review: His Captive’s Heart by Meredith O’Reilly

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Title: His Captive’s Heart

Author: Meredith O’Reilly

Publisher: Stormy Night Publications

Pages/Word Count: 79 Pages

At a Glance: I would recommend this book if you’re looking for light BDSM and a sweet romance.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Twenty-nine-year-old lawyer Marcus Bradberry has fantasized for years about finding a firm-handed man who would not hesitate to provide both guidance and discipline while also bringing him the kind of fulfillment he’s only dreamed about. When he meets Dimitri Anderson, the owner of a local kink club, Marcus takes a chance and shares the wildest fantasy he’s ever had with him.

Though he confesses to Dimitri that nothing excites him more than the idea of a being overpowered, kidnapped, and mastered completely by a strong, handsome man, Marcus is nonetheless shocked when Dimitri takes it upon himself to bring this fantasy to life. When Dimitri surprises him after work on a Friday, Marcus soon finds himself blindfolded, handcuffed, and driven away to an unknown place.

It quickly becomes clear that Dimitri knows exactly what his captive sub needs and is more than ready to give it to him, but as the weekend progresses, Marcus realizes that trusting his new master is at times much harder than he expected. Will he surrender to his most secret desires or will his fears drive him away from his master’s loving arms?

Dividers

Review: Marcus is a twenty-nine-year-old lawyer who dreams of having a Dom who will meet all his fantasies, when he sees an ad for an opportunity to visit a local kink club for the night and see how the lifestyle plays out in real life.

Once at the club, he meets Dmitri Anderson and through the course of the night, confides his ultimate fantasy of being kidnapped and forced to submit for a weekend. Dmitri is the owner of the club and a little jaded as far as subs go…until he meets Marcus. Instant attraction flares between the two and Dmitri sets out to fulfill Marcus’ fantasy.

While this story is about a Dom/sub relationship, it is the connection between the two men and how they grow to fall in love over the weekend that is the real story. Marcus needs a Dom—he can be a bit of a brat, he questions everything. It’s what makes him such a good lawyer. Dmitri has the patience of a saint and is a loving but strict Dom, which is exactly what Marcus needs.

This was a really sweet love story at the core and an easy, light novella to read. I would recommend this book if you’re looking for light BDSM and a sweet romance.

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