5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Giveaways, Morticia Knight, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Jennifer

Release Day Review and Giveaway: The Safe Limits Blog Tour with Morticia Knight

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TitleSafe Limits (Kiss of Leather: Book Two)

Author: Morticia Knight

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 171 Pages

At a Glance: Strong follow-up to the first Kiss of Leather book.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: The men from Kiss of Leather gather together to rescue a terrified young sub. But it’s Master Derek who wants to keep him for good.

Master Gavin and his boy, Kyle, are celebrating their newly established bond when Master Josh calls requesting their help. Josh’s sub, David, needs the men to help his best friend from childhood while they’re away at a BDSM convention in San Francisco.

Corey ran away from his Master after a horrible scene, but he blames himself for everything that happened. No Master would ever want him if they were to find out what he did. Corey’s not sure if he’ll ever feel safe enough to give himself to a Master again anyway, even if all he’s ever wanted was to belong to somebody.

Master Derek agrees to watch over Corey until Josh and David return from the convention. All he needs is another pretty twink messing with his head and his heart, so the older, growly bear of a man determines to keep his distance. But when Corey wakes up screaming after a devastating nightmare, Derek is more drawn than ever to the young sub—the need to keep Corey safe from whatever or whoever has hurt him becoming his main priority.

Kyle and Corey develop a friendship when Corey assists Kyle in the dungeon furniture workshop. Kyle has his own fears—the ones that make him feel he’s broken because of the things he desires to do with Gavin. Through helping Kyle and receiving his own help via Derek, Corey decides he’s ready to let go of the demons from his past and move forward into a new life.

Now if Corey can only get Derek to believe that he’s ready—and to finally do something about it.

Reader Advisory: This book contains a flashback scene of rape by multiple aggressors.

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Review: I’ve been a fan of Morticia Knight since reading The Hampton Road Club series, which is BDSM historical fiction. Love it. And I loved the first Kiss of Leather book as well, so when I saw this book came out, I knew I had to read it to see what happened with the club and the men involved.

Before I start the bulk of the review, I will say that this is a series you need to read in order. While the meat of the story involved Derek and Corey, and doesn’t require prior knowledge of the first book, the first chapter is about Gavin and Kyle, and it’s set immediately after the events of book one. I’d also recommend maybe going back to reread the last chapter of book one if it’s been a long time, or if you can’t remember what happened with those boys.

That said, once Corey is safely deposited with Derek, they are the focus of the story, but in order to get there, Kyle and Gavin need to be present.

Corey is a friend of David, and when he gets into trouble, he calls David for help. Of course, David will do anything to help his friend, so, being out of town himself, he enlists the other people he trusts—Gavin, Kyle, and Derek—to help Corey out until he and his Master, Josh, get back. Having had a Dom who hurt him, Corey struggles to trust anyone. He shies away from Kyle and Gavin, and when he sees Derek for the first time, he’s intimidated. Not only is Derek huge and his body language screams Dom, but to Corey he’s gorgeous.

Derek doesn’t really have time for a sub. He’s drawn to young, pretty twinks, and Corey is all that and more. But, he doesn’t want to get involved with someone again, especially not when that person is coming out of a relationship he refuses to talk about. One that has clearly left him afraid. Derek doesn’t even know if the man wants another relationship with a Dom, and not having BDSM in his life is a deal breaker for him. When Gavin and Kyle leave Corey with him, the two have to figure out how to navigate around each other and come to terms with their mutual attraction.

What I love most about Morticia Knight is her ability to create such deep characters. Not one of her characters is alike, and each story is different from the last. While they might have some things in common, that’s what makes them great friends rather than too similar to be interesting. Derek is a gentle giant who likes to work on his Harley. Corey isn’t too sure about wanting a fulltime D/s relationship, unlike Kyle and David, and he loves how big, hairy, and protective Derek is. The insight into Derek’s past is interesting. Readers learn he used to wrestle, and that he has anger management issues. While that might seem like a bad combo for a Dom, he’s fully in control with subs, and his anger stems from people taking advantage of others.

If you’re a fan of Ms. Knight’s writing, I recommend this series, especially if you like her Hampton Road Club books. I eagerly await the next installment! I’m hoping for Marshall, since he was conspicuously absent from this book. Fingers crossed!

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You can buy Safe Limits here:

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Morticia Knight is giving away an e-copy of Building Bonds, book one of the Kiss of Leather series, to one winner.

Good luck!

THE GIVEAWAY

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Morticia KnightAbout the Author: Author Morticia Knight spends most of her nights writing about men loving men forever after. If there happens to be some friendly bondage or floggings involved, she doesn’t begrudge her characters whatever their filthy little heart’s desire. Even though she’s been crafting her naughty tales for more years than she’d like to share – her adventures as a published author began in 2011. Once upon a time she was the lead singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the northern Oregon coast and when she’s not fantasizing about hot men she takes walks along the ocean and annoys the local Karaoke bar patrons.

Where to find the author: Facebook || Twitter

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Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, The Novel Approach, Divine Magazine, The Hat Party, Happily Ever Chapter, Bayou Book Junkie, BFD Book Blog, V’s Reads, TTC Books and More, 3 Chicks After Dark, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Book Lovers 4Ever, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, MM Good Book Reviews, Nephy Hart, Bonkers About Books, Jessie G. Books, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Alpha Book Club, Velvet Panic, Gay Book Reviews

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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2 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sara Stark

Review: Leap Through Eternity by Sara Stark

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TitleLeap Through Eternity (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Sara Stark

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 26 Pages

At a Glance: An Advent Calendar short that missed the mark for me.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Being evacuated from his apartment in the middle of the night because some idiot forgot his cookies in the oven isn’t the ideal way to meet a guy, but Mason’s hot neighbor Cole sure looks great in his underwear. The trouble is, Mason is the idiot who started the fire, and Cole doesn’t appreciate being lied to any more than he appreciates being driven out into the cold. It looks like their romance might end before it gets started, but Christmas is a time for second chances….

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Review: I wanted to like this story because I love clumsy main characters. Maybe it’s because I’m a clumsy person myself and can connect to the character so much; however, with this story I just couldn’t. There’s not much to it, being only twenty-six pages long, but I just couldn’t care about the characters. The plot is decent enough as a story idea, but a bit of a stretch. I can’t see firemen not allowing someone to grab at least pants when a fire is just contained in one apartment. Especially when the weather is so cold. As for Mason, he tends to ramble, go off on tangents, and seems repetitive. I found it to be tiresome after a few pages.

Another thing I didn’t understand was the title. I love to discover how titles connect to the story, especially when they’re clever. I have gleeful little moments of “found it!” whenever I see it. However with this story, I just don’t get it. Maybe at the end a bit, I suppose, but the ending was overly sweet and romantic for two people who basically just met. Had their romance been dragged out longer, I may have bought it, but as it stands, it was just too much.

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You can buy Leap Through Eternity here:

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, E.T. Malinowski, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Hearth and Home by E.T. Malinowski

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TitleHearth and Home (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: E.T. Malinowski

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 56 Pages

At a Glance: Short but sweet story with an accident prone elf.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Thistle is a sweet elf with a kind heart. He tries his best to help all the other elves in Santa’s workshop. Unfortunately, Thistle tends to leave disaster in his wake despite his good intentions. He dreams of finding an elf who will love him in spite of his clumsiness, an elf he can make a home for. But what elf wants to live in constant peril? Thistle figures he should just stick with his anonymous treat baskets, especially where Bayberry, Santa’s production manager, is concerned.

Bayberry is a bit of a serious elf. A little distant from most of the North Pole crew, Bayberry is lonely. When another Thistle Incident occurs, pushing the production department behind schedule only a few weeks before Christmas, Bayberry gets a “suggestion” from The Big Guy to ask Thistle for help. What could an accident-prone elf do to assist him? But to Bayberry’s surprise, he might gain more than help with his monthly reports.

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Review: Hearth and Home is a story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar, and I loved it. Set in the North Pole at Santa’s workshop, it follows the accident prone elf Thistle, who wants nothing more than to help the others. The problem is he just gets in the way, and his magic is centered on the home. So while he’s great at baking and making a house a home, he’s not so good at making glass ornaments or toys. Thistle has a thing for Bayberry, the production manager, and when he accidentally breaks the glass ornaments, he’s drawn in to help Bayberry set it right by taking over the reports. And since it’s at Santa’s insistence, he can’t say no.

Bayberry has a crush on Thistle. While the other elves dislike how he gets in the way, Bayberry finds it endearing. So when he’s forced to work with Thistle, he takes it as an opportunity to get to know him. And when the two finally connect, sparks fly. Thistle meets the one who makes his magic worth it, and he finally feels useful to someone.

I enjoyed the story very much. It put me in a Christmas mood, and I liked seeing a clumsy elf falling in love. It was really cute and endearing. The only trouble? It made me crave cookies. Thistle always seemed to bake them!

If you’re looking for a short, heartwarming story, I highly recommend checking this story out. Well worth it!

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You can buy Hearth and Home here:

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2.5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dawn Flemington, Loose Id, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Naked Mailman by Dawn Flemington

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TitleNaked Mailman

Author: Dawn Flemington

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 121 Pages

At a Glance: Interesting concept, but too much packed into a novella.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Mailman Ken Lane is bored with his life. Nothing exciting ever happens to him. That is, until a nude man attacks him and leaves him bound and naked in the back of his mail truck. After all the excitement, Ken can’t stop thinking about the man, especially when he ends back up in Ken’s life and turns it upside down.

Correctional Officer Devon McLaren is a BDSM Dom non-shifting werewolf whose personal life has gone abruptly to hell. The subject of a non-consensual drug experiment, Devon is trying to get to the FBI with information regarding a drug cartel that would really rather he didn’t. On top of that, he’s consumed with lustful thoughts of the mailman he attacked and longs to do many kinky things to him.

Despite the danger, Devon takes Ken on the run with him, hoping that a trusted friend will help them out (and give them a place to do some of those kinky things). But when said friend proves to be a part of the problem, they’ve got to get out of the jam together, before Devon’s pack is destroyed. But can they, or will their obsession with each other get in the way?

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Review: The title alone of this book intrigued me, and I knew I had to read it. It has BDSM, shifters; I mean, really what more could I want?

Ken Lane, mailman, thinks nothing exciting ever happens in his life, but this all changes one day when out on a routine route, he is attacked, his clothes stolen, and he is left naked in the back of his mail truck. After several days of the news turning him into the Naked Mailman, he tries to resume his normal life only to find Devon, the man who stole his clothing, has broken into his apartment. What follows is an interesting adventure where Ken is dragged around the state, and he learns that werewolves exist. Throw in tarot reading coworkers with completely accurate horoscopes, and drug cartels, and you’re in for a ride.

While the beginning of the book was interesting and left me amused, I started to struggle by the time I got about halfway. Not only is there a lot going on in this story, there’s just not enough room for it. You have werewolves, BDSM, illegal drug experimentation, the FBI… the list goes on. Ken is dragged through it all, his world turned upside down, and he just goes along for the ride. Why? Because Devon is good looking and turns his submissive side on.

It seemed a stretch for me, and the issues started early. For example, I understand that Ken is a submissive, but to have your life threatened while at work and being forced to strip? I can see how it’s a fantasy for some, but this just didn’t feel right. Fast forward a few scenes and let’s talk about the blowjob Devon demands in a public restroom while they’re both wearing clothes they bought off homeless men. I had to cringe just at the thought of the smell of the dirty clothes. But that wasn’t even what bothered me the most. Once they meet Sir Gary—Devon’s Dom human friend—they’re offered the use of his playroom. Ken has never been involved in BDSM. He just knows about it, knows he’s a submissive, and that’s pretty much it. But they engage in a scene.

Without a safe word.

So despite Ken saying no, Devon doesn’t stop, and then Ken soars and floats and he’s happy. But the lack of the safe word while Ken was saying no bothered me. Because it seemed to me like he did want Devon to stop, and because there was no communication beforehand, he had no real way of telling Devon to stop if he really wanted him to.

Some of the dialogue is awkward, such as Devon and Gary referring to each other as Sir Gary and Sir Devon. I get that they’re Doms, but it just felt forced for these characters.

There’s more involved in the book such as the fact that Devon is a shifter who can’t shift—it’s described at one point as a handicap—but there’s just too much to mention in the review.

If you enjoy shifter books with BDSM themes, you may be interested in this book, but as for me, while enjoyable at first, I struggled to finish this one.

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You can buy Naked Mailman here:

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4 Stars, Mythology, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, T.A. Chase

Review: Pestilence by T.A. Chase

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TitlePestilence (The Four Horsemen: Book One)

Author: T.A. Chase

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 170 Pages

At a Glance: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in a romance novel? Yes, please!

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: For Pestilence, the White Horseman, love becomes the most powerful cure.

Having lost his wife and child during the Black Death, Pestilence accepts the fate destiny has given him as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. For centuries, Pestilence did his job, spreading plagues and disease around the world. He does it to keep the balance between good and evil, yet he hates every minute of it. He longs to be left alone, but suddenly fate seems to have a different plan for him.

When Bart Winston stumbles into an Amazon clearing, he’s terribly ill and sure he’s going to die. A tall white-haired man with unusual black eyes catches him in his arms and Bart’s life takes a turn into the unbelievable. Blaming the whole situation on his illness might have worked, but as he gets better and learns about the strange man who heals him, Bart must accept there are more things in the world than he ever guessed.

Pestilence and Bart heal each other, and begin to wonder if there can be a future for the White Horseman and the mortal he’s fallen in love with.

Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series.

Publisher’s Note: This book was previously released under the same title. It has been re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

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Review: It’s not often you find new books about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but every time I find one, I have to snatch it up. I’m not sure why exactly, but the mythology/legend/whatever you want to call it about the Horsemen has always fascinated me. Maybe it’s my love of post-apocalyptic fiction or dystopian societies that draws me to them, but I know when they show up, the end is near and everything is about to go from bad to worse, and I’m thrown into the societies either collapsing from their presence or struggling to overcome them. A few years ago I read a fantastic YA series that reimagined the Four Horsemen by drawing teenagers suffering from different problems into the roles. I adored it. I never thought I would find m/m fiction with the Horsemen. But here we are!

This first book is about Pestilence. In life he was an Italian doctor during the bubonic plague. After losing his wife and son, he commits suicide and is thrust into the role of Pestilence. He exists to bring plagues to mankind in order to maintain the balance between heaven and hell. But after several hundred years of doing this, while Pest is settled in his role, he’s far from happy. How could he be with what he does? Spreading plagues is the exact opposite of what he did when he was alive. When Bart literally stumbles into him in his home in the Amazon, Pest is drawn to the man suffering from an unknown disease. While he first attributes the attraction to the potential for finally helping a human, the attraction changes into desire, and soon he is lusting after his ward. And the feeling is mutual. Despite his illness, Bart is drawn to the white-haired, black-eyed man named Pestilence.

What follows is a story of love and redemption. Pestilence needs to find a way to forgive himself before he can let himself love—and be loved.

As the first book in the series, it clearly follows the first of the four horsemen who ride. Now, in religious mythology the first horseman on a white horse is more frequently known as Conquest, but there have been some changes, and he is more often known in pop culture as Pestilence. War and Famine do not make an appearance at all, but Death does, because Death rides with them all as the “de facto leader” of the Horsemen as Pest calls him. Also involved is Lam, one of the lambs of God. He’s the messenger for Death, and is more or less unwillingly dragged into helping Bart.

Each character is well developed and I loved reading about them. They each display distinct personalities. Though he isn’t in the book too long, I loved Lam and his desire to both help and please as well as fight against Death’s request. Pest does his job well, but when he’s not needed, he retreats to the Amazon, obsessed with finding cures for diseases in the undiscovered flora of the jungle. Even if he can’t cure people, he still needs to maintain his role as a doctor. And poor Bart, dumped in the jungle—literally—by an ex who used him for his research and then left him to die from an unknown disease; he unwittingly bumps into the one person who literally causes disease in anyone he touches with his hands, and has to rely on him for help. Of course, he doesn’t know Pest’s true nature, and it takes a long time for Pest to reveal it as it goes against the rules of the Horsemen. Then, when this unknown disease starts to spread, it’s up to Pest and Bart to stop it before it reaches epidemic levels that will upset the balance of the world, and the rider of the white horse must use his abilities for good rather than ill.

If you’re like me and you find reimagining mythology great reading, I highly recommend this book. I’m thrilled that I’ll also be reading and reviewing the next three books in the series. So watch out for them!

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You can buy Pestilence here:

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5 Stars, Avon Gale, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Let the Wrong Light In by Avon Gale

Let the Wrong Light InTitleLet the Wrong Light In

Author: Avon Gale

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

At a Glance: For a book about a “wrong” relationship, there is so much right.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Avery Hextall, a junior architect at a prestigious firm, is thrilled when his design is chosen for a new performing-arts center—even if it means working closely with his insufferably uptight project manager, Malin Lacroix. When a chance encounter in the boss’s office proves that Lacroix is anything but cold, Avery is determined to learn more about the real man beneath the aloof veneer.

Despite their growing attraction and their increasingly kinky encounters, the enigmatic Malin remains as emotionally distant as ever. Worse, Avery’s friends are convinced Malin thinks of Avery as a dirty secret and nothing more—a secret that might destroy both of their careers.

But the real secret is a single moment in time that haunts Malin and keeps him from committing to the life he wants with Avery. In order to move on, Avery must help Malin come to terms with the tragedy in his past before they can work on building a future together.

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Review: Wow. I’m not sure what I was expecting with this book, but what I got was so much more. Based on the description I figured, okay, Avery wants his boss, they have some fun, it’s a problem, and they make it work.

WRONG. I mean, well, right. But also wrong, because there is so much depth. Each page left me feeling like I had pulled back another layer to the characters. Avery wants one of his building designs to be chosen for a project, but he struggles. After demanding his boss explain, Avery gets put in his place and begins to fantasize about his boss. But not in what most would consider the standard fantasy. Avery fantasizes about Malin hitting him in the face. And man, does it turn him on. He’s not sure why, though.

When they finally get together, the encounter is hot. It’s rough, like Avery wants it, and he finally gets what he wants, so that should fix his problem, right? Again, wrong. Instead, he wants his boss even more and just can’t get him out of his head.

Up until this point it seems like the fairly standard scenario, just with a little kink thrown it. But when Avery finally corners Malin, it’s far from standard.

Yes, this book has BDSM elements, but more along the SM lines, I’d say. Malin likes to hurt, and Avery likes to be hurt. But their relationship starts off wrong. There is no structure. There is no discussion of limits and safewords or what they’re even looking for. Avery takes whatever Malin gives, even when it’s too much. With the help of some friends, though, Avery begins to see things aren’t right, but they could be.

I loved this book. Reading it, I was nervous because I realized this relationship didn’t seem safe or sane. Consensual, yes, but there was no discussion about what either man wanted, when they would stop, and what their relationship actually was. Watching Avery come to these realizations was a breath of fresh air. He struggled to understand himself, but he still kept pushing. The secondary characters who tried to guide him were great, but ultimately, they could only advise and then back off.

If you enjoy rocky relationships, BDSM, and employee/employer relationships, give this book a shot. However, be warned, the sex is rough and at times pretty forceful, so if that will bother you, maybe check out a different book instead.

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4.5 Stars, Dark Hollows Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Victoria Sue

Review: Broken Circle by Victoria Sue

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TitleBroken Circle (Sirius Wolves: Book Two)

Author:  Victoria Sue

Publisher: Dark Hollows Press

Pages/Word Count: 202 Pages

At a Glance: So, is this book good? Yeah. Any book that can make me care that much about characters and cry so hard is awesome.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Blaze, the most powerful werewolf on the planet has found his omega, Aden. Together with Conner and Darric they finally become true mates, fulfilling an ancient prophecy by the goddess Sirius and forming Orion’s Circle. The battle against the terrorist group, the Winter Circle, has begun.

Blaze, however, is fighting his own battle. Aden is due to birth a child, and despite Blaze’s six hundred years of being an Alpha, nothing has prepared him for his hardest challenge yet — how to become a father. His struggles are hurting the people he loves the most and threatening their bond.

The madman who kidnapped and tortured Aden still hasn’t been caught, and when the worst happens and their circle is broken, Blaze has to fight his biggest threat yet – his own inner weakness – an enemy against which his Alpha strength will be useless. Blaze has to learn that true strength is only found in forgiveness, and sometimes the most powerful weapon is love.

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Review: A few months ago I had the pleasure of reading the first book in this series, and I was absolutely delighted by the world Victoria Sue set up. The mythology, the characters, the storyline…all of it was so fresh in a shifter-saturated market. This second book continues the story started in the first, and follows Aden, Blaze, Conner, and Darric as they discover the joys of fatherhood and navigate an increasingly dangerous world.

Seven months have passed since the first book, and Aden is ready to give birth to a baby. Yes, he is male, for readers just tuning in, so this book does have mpreg. The logistics are explained in the first book, and I found it fascinating as Aden and his alphas dote on their child. But there’s a lot at stake. Orion’s Circle is getting more powerful, but Aden and Blaze have not finished their bonding ceremony, and there are new threats to contend with. The villain, Madden (from the first book has disappeared), and a terrorist group that seems to be made of wolves is threatening wolf/human relations.

I can’t say much without giving too much away, but I will say a few things. First, you absolutely must read the first book to get the full story. The author does a decent job of catching readers up, but not everything is explained. Second, this book is devastating. There is a major character death and I sobbed in bed, reading to the end through wet lashes. That’s how much I was affected. I honestly didn’t think it would bother me as much as it did, and I had to eventually take my glasses off because they were so blurred with tears.

So, is this book good? Yeah. Any book that can make me care that much about characters and cry so hard is awesome. That’s not to say there aren’t issues, however. Like the first book, there are some inconsistencies. The baby’s name is mentioned before Aden and Blaze decide on it, which is frustrating. There are also instances of repetition that could have been cut. I started skimming at one point because it got to be just too much, but in the end, the author’s character building really brought me in and kept me engrossed in the story. I just really wish more attention had been payed to the editing.

Now, there is a third book, and I currently hold it in my hands. I’m afraid to read it, though. Why? I don’t think my heart can handle another blow like it did with this one. And I’m all out of tissues. Any more tears and I might need to start using the towels in my bathroom to sop up the mess.

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5 Stars, Dark Hollows Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Victoria Sue

Review: Eternal Circle by Victoria Sue

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TitleEternal Circle (Sirius Wolves: Book Three)

Author:  Victoria Sue

Publisher: Dark Hollows Press

Pages/Word Count: 143 Pages

At a GlanceThis book in the series is by far my favorite.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: How can you repair something that should have been unbreakable? Darric, Blaze and Conner had been together for centuries, and their bond, like their love, should have been eternal. Blaze is trying not only to hold his family together, but stop himself falling apart.

The fragile relationship between the werewolves and the humans is at risk once more, and the goddess Sirius seems to have deserted them. Inexplicable changes are taking place to their little Omega, and while Aden’s powers are increasing, Conner seems to be losing his.

The terrorist group, The Winter Circle, is getting bolder and placing everyone in danger. Worse, there is a traitor among them, perhaps someone a lot closer than they want to admit. Just when Blaze thought the worst that could have happened is behind them, the traitor is revealed, and Blaze realizes that their circle is not only broken, but in danger of being irreparably torn apart.

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Review: I’ll admit it. I read this book the same night I finished the second one because I’m clearly a masochist and like being in pain. I just couldn’t leave the wounds alone and had to find out what happened next to Aden, Blaze, Conner, and Darric. I’m happy to say that after even more crying, I was happy with the ending I got.

 

This book in the series is by far my favorite. Characters reach new depths, more of the legend of the wolves is told, and an even more evil villain shows up. And it’s someone I never expected. I was completely blown away, and right before it was revealed, I literally proclaimed, “NO WAY!” and could hardly read fast enough.

Well played, Victoria Sue. Well played. I did NOT see that coming. Holy cow.

This third book follows the boys as everything gets more intense. Conner is losing his empathic abilities, and Aden is struggling with this second pregnancy following so soon on the heels of the first. Blaze struggles to keep it together and be strong for this mates, but there’s still a traitor to unearth, wolves making trouble, and revealing their presence to humans.

Kellan, a former pack member of Aden’s, is causing trouble, and Conner finally gets to the bottom of it, but his inability to accurately sense emotions could doom them all. Again, I was not expecting the resolution to this one, either. Wow.

Just as in the first two books there are inconsistencies and some discrepancies with the other books that could be fixed with stronger editing. However, either I’ve gotten used to it or they weren’t as prevalent in the other books, because I didn’t mind nearly as much, and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

This book cannot be read as a standalone. You absolutely must read the first two, because the events in this book directly follow what happens in the first two. Could you get away with it? Probably, because the author did a good job of getting the readers caught up to speed, but why would you want to? Go back to the first two books and enjoy the ride.

Now, can I please have the next book? I want to know more about Ricoh and his mate(s) and the young snow white shifter from the beginning of the book. Oh, and I’d like to see more of Kellan as well.

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5 Stars, Anna Butler, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Wilde City Press

Review: Heart Scarab by Anna Butler

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Title: Heart Scarab (Taking Shield: Book Two)

Author: Anna Butler

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 300 Pages

At a Glance: Fast-paced, thrilling sequel to the first book in the series.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: In Heart Scarab, set more than a year and a half after Gyrfalcon, Shield Captain Bennet’s company is on a planet in imminent danger of being overrun by the Maess. Telnos is an unpleasant little planet, inhabited by religious fanatics in the festering marshlands and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines up in the hills. But the Maess want Telnos, and Bennet’s job is to get out as many civilians as he can. The enemy arrives before the evacuation is complete. Caught in a vicious fire fight, Bennet is left behind, presumed dead.

His family is grieving. Joss, his long-term partner, grieves with them; lost, unhappy, remorseful. First Lieutenant Flynn has no official ‘rights’ here. He isn’t family. He isn’t partner or lover.

All he is, is broken.

Dividers

Review: God, what a ride this book was. As a fan of the first book, I was thrilled to read this one. It gripped me from the beginning and took me for a ride until the very end. And I cannot wait for the third book.

After a failed attempt to evacuate the religious fanatics from Telnos before the Maess invade, Bennet is presumed dead; his signal is gone and Rosie has watched him fall after a strafing run. Left to pick up the pieces and move on are the people who loved him the most: his family, his lover Joss, his lieutenant Rosie, and Flynn.

Anna Butler is spectacular at characterization. While I had hated Joss in the first book, for the first half of this one I felt for him. She not only shows things from his perspective, but also switches to second person POV sometimes to show the depth of his thoughts and connect readers to Joss. The second half of the book I wanted to punch him. The same goes for Rosie. I felt for her and her unrequited love for Bennet, but I also hated how she couldn’t accept that he was in love with men. And Flynn. Oh, my poor Flynn. How can you not love him? The cocky flyboy who finds himself in love for the first time in his life only to discover his lover dead…and he’s unable to do anything about it.

While the first book deals a lot with the action part of science fiction, and the first half of this one does as well, the second half is more about the recovery process of loss, grief, and acceptance. How does one cope in a situation like this, where loved ones are gone for so long and placed in dangerous situations? I suppose it’s much like today’s military.

I highly recommend this book, though not without a few words of warning. First, you should definitely read the first book. The relationship between Bennet and Flynn is established in that book, and while T18 isn’t discussed much, it’s still integral to how their relationship began. And why would you want to miss out on Flynn finally falling in love? Second, though I do talk about romance, this book is not a romance. Yes, there are some romantic subplots, but as a whole, the book is science fiction and the relationships, while important, are not the main part of the book.

So, if you haven’t, go back and read the first book, and then come back for round two.

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3 Stars, Elizabeth Coldwell, Paranormal Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Into the Arena by Elizabeth Coldwell

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TitleInto the Arena (Lionhearts: Book Four)

Author:  Elizabeth Coldwell

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 146 Pages

At a Glance: The book starts off strong, but some parts were too much of a stretch.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: He will fight for the one he loves, no matter what it takes.
Cesare Bianco is a shifter without a pride. Exiled from his home town of Padua after losing a leadership fight to his corrupt, self-serving uncle, he travels to Rome in search of a new beginning. A chance meeting sees him taking a job on the catering crew of a Hollywood blockbuster. When he meets the movie’s handsome lead actor, Hayden, he knows he’s in the presence of his mate. But Hayden is human. Even though he offers the possibility of lasting love, Cesare must fight all his instincts to make it happen.
Hayden Skarz is on the verge of the big time. Landing the lead in sci-fi adventure Thrown to the Lions has put him on the road to stardom. Filming in Rome is a difficult new challenge for him, though being around Cesare, the hunk who works in the catering truck, makes his job much sweeter. Sex between them is passionate and wildly inventive. But Hayden has a stalker, who’s tired of being ignored in favor of other men. When what started as a crush turns into murderous obsession, can Cesare help Hayden make it off the film set alive?

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and bondage.

Dividers

Review: So far I have really enjoyed the Lionhearts series by Elizabeth Coldwell, and I was looking forward to this next installment. And while it is a good book, it did not live up to the other books in the series. It started off strong, but by the time the big reveal came for Cesare, I was pretty incredulous.

You do not need to read the other books in the series to enjoy this book. They all work as standalones, even if other characters are briefly mentioned. The main character from Vintage Pride is mentioned in about two sentences in this book, and then never is brought up again. Cesare and Hayden are new, as is the location. When Cesare is forced to leave his pride after a failed attempt at taking over, he travels to Rome where he helps Gail feed actors on a movie set. When he meets Hayden, he knows he’s met his mate.

I enjoyed the characters and their interactions, for the most part, but there didn’t seem to be much at stake for them. Yes, if they got caught together they’d be the talk of the set, but Hayden is already out as an actor, so it’s really not that big a deal. And while he has a stalker, it doesn’t turn really dangerous until the end. I never felt the tension I did during the other books. What bothered me the most was Cesare’s reveal to Hayden that he’s a shifter. Hayden mentions in passing that he felt a connection to the lion that was on set (Cesare after a forced shift), and when Cesare reveals it was him, there’s a page, maybe two, of Hayden not believing him, and then he’s suddenly accepting and, “Hey, I guess it makes sense.” Reading that threw me off. It just didn’t feel right, and I even backtracked a bit to see if I had missed pages. Likewise, the danger at the end was over so quickly, and easily resolved. I never felt that Hayden and Cesare were really in danger.

As a final note, the publisher warns of violence and bondage. Is there violence? Yes, but I’ve read worse in books without a warning. Is there bondage? Yes, to a small extent, but with a warning on it, I was expecting much more. Do I honestly think it was necessary to put either there? No.

If you’re a fan of the series, I’d be interested in seeing what you think of the book after reading it. If you’re new to the series, I recommend reading one of the first three books prior to reading this one.

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4 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Morticia Knight, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Building Bonds by Morticia Knight

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Title: Building Bonds (Kiss of Leather: Book One)

Author:  Morticia Knight

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 162 Pages

At a Glance: A solid start to a new, contemporary BDSM series.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Kyle’s a natural sub who builds dungeon furniture, yet has no interest in BDSM. It takes a hunky Dom to show him just what he’s been missing.

After Kyle’s partner of five years leaves him for another man on the night of their housewarming party, the shy, early-thirties carpenter needs to do a major reassessment of his life in addition to raising some serious cash. With no one to help him pay the lease on his Los Angeles condo, he worries how he’ll survive. His best friend sets up a meeting with one of the Doms and partners at Kiss of Leather, a gay BDSM club being built as a premier destination for those who want the best of the best.

Master Gavin not only wants the best—he demands it. When he meets Kyle, he assumes that part of the builder’s reticence to share anything personal with him must be due to his experiences with an abusive former Master. Not one to back down from a challenge, Gavin determines to break through the walls surrounding the beautiful man he can’t get out of his mind. He’s hopeful that once he convinces Kyle to sign an initial contract, Kyle might be the first sub to open up his heart.

Misunderstandings and accusations almost destroy everything between them before they have a real chance to begin. However, the true obstacle becomes not only whether Kyle will embrace BDSM as a lifestyle, but also whether he can handle a full-time D/s relationship with a big, bad, scary Dom who’s as sexy as hell.

Dividers

Review: When it comes to books with BDSM themes, there are some authors who are hit or miss, and there are others who build such wonderful worlds every time that I don’t even check to see what the blurb of the book says before digging in. That’s the case with Morticia Knight. As a fan and reviewer of her Hampton Road Club historical BDSM series, I was excited to see this new book out. When I grabbed it for review, I hadn’t even realized it was contemporary, so I was a bit surprised when I started reading. That didn’t deter me, however, because Morticia Knight knows her subject and she writes it well.

If Building Bonds is any indication, the Kiss of Leather series is going to be another great set of books. Set around a contemporary club just being built, this novel follows Kyle, a carpenter who builds BDSM furniture but isn’t in the lifestyle, and Master Gavin, a man without a permanent sub but wanting one. When the two meet, they are attracted to each other, but misunderstandings arise. Master Gavin assumes Kyle is a man abused by his former Dom, when Kyle is just shy and hesitant to speak about his past. Kyle, on the other hand, has never used any of the equipment he builds, and while he says he isn’t into the lifestyle, he is a little curious. When the two finally get together, it’s hot.

I loved the build of their relationship. Yes, it does seem to move fast, especially given Kyle’s reservations and shy nature, but I still enjoyed it. I loved meeting some of the new characters in this series, especially Liam. He might have been on the page for only three of them, but I enjoyed his interaction with Kyle, and I hope he gets his own book. Having him show up and comfort Kyle about his need to safeword just made the book that much deeper for me.

As an added bonus? The Hampton Road Club is mentioned briefly in this book. I thought it was a great homage to the first series. While the location is different, as well as the time period (obviously), I still enjoyed it and was happy to see the author didn’t forget about the series that drew me to her.

If you’re a fan of Morticia Knight, you should give this new series a go. If you’re a fan of BDSM novels, you’ll likely enjoy this book. Check it out!

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5 Stars, Geoffrey Knight, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Jennifer, Wilde City Press

Review: The Cross of Sins by Geoffrey Knight

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Title: Fathom’s Five #1: The Cross of Sins

Author:  Geoffrey Knight

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 233 Pages

At a Glance: A riveting adventure with danger, intrigue, and five sexy men.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Somewhere in the world is a statue so sinful that a secret sect of the Church wants it destroyed at any cost. Somewhere in the Turkish desert, in the streets of London, and in the depths of Venice, are the clues to find it. And, somewhere in the hearts of five sexy, daring, thrill-seeking gay men, is the courage and die-hard determination to unravel one of the greatest mysteries of all time.

Meet Luca da Roma, an Italian model and expert in art, both ancient and modern; Dr Eden Santiago, Brazilian biologist, physician and genetic engineer; Shane Houston, a Texas cowboy and an expert in cartography; Will Hunter, a San Diego college student and football star, majoring in ancient history; and Jake Stone, an adventurer-for-hire from New York and the newest member of Professor Fathom’s team of hot gay adventure seekers.

Together, they are Fathom’s Five, traveling the world, solving ancient mysteries, uncovering priceless treasures, and getting into hot, sticky and sexy situations, while thwarting danger at every turn! From Venice to Vienna, from Tuscany to Turkey, from the South Pacific to the seas off Sicily, join in the heroic adventures, hunky sex and hot, high-octane action of Fathom’s Five.

Dividers

Review: I first read this series years ago when it came out in print, but I could never find book one. After reading the rest of the series, I finally got my hands on a copy of the first book. And, years after that, I see the series is being rereleased by Wilde City Press with a gorgeous new cover. Of course, I snapped it up to see if the adventure series I loved so much still held up to my memory.

I’m happy to report that it does. If you’re a fan of adventure, you really don’t need to look any further than this.

Some reviewers have compared the series to Indiana Jones, and to be honest, it’s an apt description. Fathom’s men (Luca, Eden, Shane, Will, and Jake) are very different in their day jobs, but when it comes to finding adventure and missing treasure, they’re very much like Indy. Except, well, gay.

It’s impossible to pick just one favorite guy, as each one has his charms that adds to the story. They all have different backgrounds and such well-developed personalities. And, of course, then there’s the wonderful sex between some of them. Can’t argue with that, right? If I had to pick my favorite, though, it would have to be Will. There’s something so intriguing about him. Most of the time when you picture a football star, you won’t imagine his major being ancient history, but that’s Will for you.

One word of advice to readers: if you’re looking for romance, this book (series, really) is not for you. While yes, there is sex, it’s not of the romantic variety. If you go into this book expecting that, you’re going to be disappointed, but don’t let that keep you from reading it. Just go in with the mindset that this is an adventure, a mystery, and you’ll enjoy it thoroughly. This book will take you around the world, from London to Venice to the middle of the desert to an erupting volcano. Your heart will race as the boys get themselves into dangerous situations and back out by the skin of their teeth, and then tumble into bed together.

As far as whether or not the book has changed much from the first version, I honestly cannot tell. It was so long ago that I read it that while I remember the basic story and all of the characters, no place jumped out at me as being different. If you’ve read the story before, I’d say read it again. First, the new cover art is gorgeous, and second, who wouldn’t want to relive a Fathom’s Five adventure?

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5 Stars, Historical Romance, Loose Id, Nasia Maksima, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Unbound, Unbroken by Nasia Maksima

Unbound, Unbroken

Unbound, Unbroken

Title: Unbound, Unbroken (In His Arena: Book Two)

Author: Nasia Maksima

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 309 Pages

At a Glance: An excellent second installment in the In His Arena series.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: When rising star gladiator Titian finds himself paired with the vainglorious champion Galadros, he finds himself in mortal danger. For a dark spell binds them together, using their lust to make them pawns in the wicked schemes of Alession, the Empress’s right-hand man.

Their only hope is to fight against the bond and hope to break it before Alession forces them to fight each other to the death in the arena. But with every challenge they face, Titian finds himself more and more drawn to Galadros, strengthening the dark spell even as they try to break it.

What begins as pure survival quickly spirals into a whirlwind of lust and love as Titian fights—both for his life and for an impossible future with Galadros. But Galadros has an even darker secret—one that might destroy them both.

Dividers

Review: Although Unbound, Unbroken is the second book in this series, you do not need to read the first in order to understand it. Though there are a few characters that make a reappearance, the lovers in this story are new. The previous lovers from book one are mentioned briefly, but as Titian and Galadros didn’t know them, they don’t know the entire story. Alession and the Empress return, as they are central, connecting figures of the series, but their history is explained for new readers and recapped for fans of the first.

Using the slavecraft from the first book, but this time as a stronger spell, Alession binds Titian and Galadros together for the cruel amusement of the Empress. In that, the storyline is not new; however, these two men are and the slavecraft is stronger. There are also darker elements. Monsters created by one of the houses from fallen gladiators appear which the lovers must fight in order to survive. Things are admittedly grim in this book, but the story was completely engrossing.

What I loved about Titian and Galadros was their personalities. Both are strong men, but their desires lie contrary to what the “rules” of Arena are. According to the unwritten rules, the weaker men are “seeded” by the stronger in order to make them stronger. But Titian, in his role as secutor, must submit to his mated provocator. Even though that’s his role, Titian wants to be the dominant man. Galadros, on the other hand, is the provocator, or another mated pair, and though it’s his role to give to his secutor, he craves a more submissive role in the bedroom. When fate throws them together, both men fight for and against what they want because of the rules their society has set in place. If Galadros truly submits like he wants to, he fears he will lose standing among the other gladiators when he wants to be the champion. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal, the admission of his desires could cause him to lose favor with the oddsmakers, which could be fatal.

If you liked the first book, Slave Eternal, you’ll love this one. If you like books with an alternate history intertwined with a bit of fantasy, then give this series a shot. A word of warning, however. There is some dubious consent in this book. It is at times masked by magic, but if that’s a trigger for you, just be warned.

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4 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Reviewed by Jennifer, Riptide Publishing, VJ Summers

Review: Light a Candle by VJ Summers

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Title: Light a Candle

Author: VJ Summers

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 136 Pages

At a Glance: Enjoyable story with BDSM, former friends getting reacquainted, and a man desperate to show how much he’s changed.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Will broke Dusty’s heart their senior year. One unexpected moment of passion between them, and Will freaked out. Not only wasn’t he gay, but he wasn’t kinky either—or so he insisted to Dusty. Their long friendship ended, and Dusty was left with only bittersweet memories of their last movie night together.

Ten years later, out as gay and a Dom, Will auditions for membership at Club Deviant, only to find that he’s been assigned an all-too-familiar submissive. His scene with Dustin feels like fate, and he’s determined to get back what they once had—and more.

Dustin had buried the pain of rejection deep, but playing with Will conjures all his memories of that one electric moment they shared and the friendship it destroyed. He’s built walls around his heart high enough to keep out the Trojan Army, but together, he and Will may find the courage to move beyond their past and face their future together.

Publisher’s note: This is a heavily expanded and revised edition of Velvet Memories, previously published in 2011. 

Dividers

Review: I did not read the first edition of this book, from which this one has been expanded, so I cannot compare the two and discuss how much has changed. However, I can say that I did enjoy this one and felt it was well-written and just the right length.

Going back and forth from the past to the present, Light a Candle reveals the history of Will and Dusty’s relationship. From their senior year in high school where a small moment of passion leaves Will running in the other direction, to the present where Will is a confident gay Dom auditioning for Club Deviant, where Dusty is a submissive. The two are brought together on new terms. Will wants to prove to Dusty that he’s changed and that he made a mistake, but Dusty has a hard time accepting that. So, the two retreat to what they know best: Dominance and submission.

While the story might sound familiar, and perhaps overused, I felt it was well done in this book. I became invested in both men, and hoped they could overcome the past and look to the future they could build together. The inclusion of that past was also a nice touch. Not many authors will include past history because it takes away from the present or because the younger versions of the characters are too unfitting to be addressed in an adult novel. VJ Summers did a nice job of balancing everything that really kept me hooked. Just when I wanted to know more of what happened in the past, the author revealed it. When I wanted to go back to the present, the author did that as well. It truly is a fine balance that reveals all the reader could want to know.

If you enjoy novels with BDSM elements I recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for something a little on the shorter side.

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4 Stars, Bonnie Dee, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Samhain Publishing, Summer Devon

Review: The Shepherd and the Solicitor by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

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Title: The Shepherd and the Solicitor

Author: Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 161 Pages

At a Glance: If you want a good historical fiction romance, you really can’t go wrong with this pair of authors.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: When a storm is brewing, taking shelter could be the most dangerous move of all.

One careless, public sign of affection cost Daniel Pierce’s lover his life at the hands of a hate-filled mob. Grief-stricken, Daniel retreated from society to a sheep farm in the wilds of the north. Years later, Gregory Tobin erupts into his solitary life.

Sent to confirm the existence—or the death—of the Pierce family’s lost heir, Tobin isn’t sure he’s found the right man. The gruff, shaggy hermit calling himself Jacob Bennet bears little resemblance to photographs of the younger Pierce. Tobin needs more time to study his quarry.

With lambing season in full swing, Daniel grudgingly admits he could use an extra hand. Through a long, exhausting night, they parry back and forth as Tobin probes closer and closer to the truth. And something beyond casual attraction simmers between them.

They come together in a crash of desire, but ultimately Daniel must overcome the terrors of the past to reconcile the man he was with the man he’s becoming—a man capable of loving again.

Dividers

Review: If you want a good historical fiction romance, you really can’t go wrong with this pair of authors. I have yet to read a novel by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon that I didn’t enjoy. The two just know how to write good books, and together they’re a winning combination.

After the death of his lover, Daniel Pierce flees London to become the lonely shepherd, Jacob Bennet. Hiding away in the north, he fights his nightmares and tends to his sheep. Being alone is just what he wants. Or is it? When solicitor Gregory Tobin is sent to find Daniel, the missing heir, Bennet wants nothing to do with him. He’s alone for a reason, and he wants to keep it that way, but Gregory just won’t leave. And with lambing season in full swing, it’s hard to turn down the extra help. So Gregory stays, and the longer he’s there, the more the men begin to desire each other.

While this book might not have the most original plot, it’s well written and I truly enjoyed the characters. Gregory is dangerously open in his interest in Bennet, but as they’re alone, there’s only a small worry they’ll be caught. And Bennet is stubborn, but given his history, his caution is understandable. I loved their first meeting and all the way to the last page. I mean, it’s hard not to love a man who gets trampled by overly friendly sheep, or who names the newborn lambs and figures out a way to save the one who isn’t getting enough food from its mother.

The setting is also beautiful. From the rolling hills to the small cottage Bennet lives in, I could easily picture it and wanted to be there with the men. Like Gregory, I started to see the pleasure in the simple yet challenging life of raising sheep out in the wilds of the north, with hardly anyone around. Talk about peaceful.

If you’re looking for a read with two different yet strong male leads, set in the country of historical England, look no further. Fans of Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee will enjoy their latest collaboration.

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4 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Holiday Romance, JMS Books LLC, Paranormal, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Desmond and Garrick (Book One) by Hayden Thorne

Title: Desmond and Garrick (Book One)

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press/JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

At a Glance: Another fantastic historical YA fantasy from Hayden Thorne.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: It’s 1815. Garrick Mortimer is a scholar extraordinaire, an underemployed and starving genius, who agrees to sign on as tutor to Desmond Hathaway, the youngest son of a vampire family living in Yorkshire. Desmond, heartbroken by another boy’s callous treatment of him in school, rebels against Garrick’s attempts at educating him and does everything he could to chase Garrick away, which proves to be a greater challenge than he first thought.

When Desmond’s older brother returns from Italy for a visit and brings with him a small group of talentless and self-absorbed poets, life in Dryden Abbey turns upside-down, mainly when Desmond meets Leigh Blaise Sherbourne, a sullen vampire poet.

Throw into the mix a desperate mother’s plea for grandchildren, a family-owned torture chamber, a cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle, and a grumpy family magician, and Garrick finds life in the Hathaway household to be a great deal more than he bargained for.

Dividers

Review: Hayden Thorne knows how to write historical YA, and historical fantasy YA, so when I had the opportunity to read Desmond and Garrick I was thrilled. First of all, it has a similarly haunting cover of some old building. Without even reading the blurb, I knew the house would play some interesting part in the story, and it did.

The first of a series (at least one other book is out, or soon to be out), Desmond and Garrick focuses on a vampire family and their young son, Desmond, who has been sent out of human schools for “provoking” human boys, like pretty much every young vampire has done. Desperate to change him and get him to settle down, his parents send for a human tutor and find Garrick, a brilliant scholar who detests teaching. But, the idea of working with vampires and learning about their species intrigues him.

What follows is a story as both teacher and pupil grow. Their growth may not necessarily be because of each other, but changes take place. Garrick is drawn more towards tutoring Desmond’s talented younger sister, who shows more promise than Desmond. And Desmond, attempting to get over the human boy he loved and lost, finds himself face to face with his older brother’s friend, Leigh Sherbourne, a vampire poet who both intrigues and repulses Desmond.

Like the author’s other YA books, there is very little romance, and what is there is incredibly slow to start, but also, like the other books, that’s okay. There’s more to this than the romance. Instead, you’ll be drawn to watching the vampire children (who act much younger than fifteen and sixteen) throwing themselves off the top of their home, locking themselves in the torture chamber’s various devices, watching vampire parents adding graveyards and collapsed walls to their cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle home.

I look forward to the next book, because this one leaves off in spot that suggests this would work well as one long book rather than two (or more) parts of one story.

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5 Stars, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Wayward Ink Publishing

Review: Of Heaven and Hell – An Anthology From Wayward Ink Publishing

Title: Of Heaven and Hell

Authors: Anthology

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 253 Pages

At a Glance: An anthology that offers a delightful mix of good, evil, and everything in between.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Whether you like your angels and demons naughty or nice…
Whether you like them angelic or demonic, we have a story for you.
Our authors have tuned up their harp strings, and let loose their inner demons.
We have demons with inner angels itching to be let loose.
And angels teetering on the brink.
We have dark. We have light.
We have angst. And forbidden love.
We have happy endings and not so happy endings…
We have the stories OF HEAVEN AND HELL.

CORRUPTION by Kim Fielding
Tenrael was once a proud demon who carried nightmares to humans. Now he exists in miserable servitude to men who plunk down ten dollars to fulfill their dark desires. Agent Charles Grimes figures a captive demon is just another assignment… That is until he meets Tenrael.

PURGATORY by M.C. Rayne
Bailey discovered that losing the person you love can do more than break your heart. It can shatter it into a million different pieces. And have you stepping into darkness. All he wanted was to be reunited with Greyson. He didn’t know his actions would lead him to his nightmare.

SIN TO GET SAVED by Michael P. Thomas
Earnest anti-gay evangelical Hubert dies in a freak accident. When a handsome angel named Bartholomew makes brazen overtures in the Afterlife, humble Hubert realizes his soul may have taken a wrong turn. But turning back to the straight and narrow isn’t quite as easy as he hopes it will be.

CARDINAL SINS by Mann Ramblings
Black magic, angels, and decadence bind Jacob and Ozzie together in a twisted web of fascination with each other. Now a new element has risen to test them: Danger.

A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY DEMON by Asta Idonea
It should have been an easy job: a contract signed and a new soul earmarked for Hell. But when suave demon deal-maker Saul chooses nerdy Thomas Ives as his next target, little does he know what lies in store.

PURGATORY PINK: A FABULOUS FABLE by Eric Gober
A fable with no morals . . . About an angel with desires . . . For the demon who torments him. Will they both burn in hell?

FADE TO LIGHT by Nephy Hart
One of them has no past. One has no future. Loss is inevitable, but when demons come calling, a soul is too high a price to pay.

GUARDIAN by Eddy LeFey
A Guardian Angel’s whole being is controlled directly by God. Callum trusts in that. So when he meets his new human charge—a special college student named Rory—he doesn’t count on feeling attraction. And he certainly doesn’t expect Rory to change his life… forever.

DRAWING DEAD by S.Zanne
Devin is a demon. James is merely human. But who holds the winning hand is still in question…

A WOLF IN THE FOLD by Jana Denardo
For centuries Carduus followed his incubus nature. Joyfully seducing and draining the life force of his lovers. That is, until the day he met Mark, a lover Carduus didn’t want to kill. Before he knew it, Carduus found himself helping the detective by taking out criminals. But can a demon really work for the side of the angels?

DRIPPING IN SIN by Kassandra Lea
Finding an appropriate outfit to wear for an important date is never easy. Not even for a demon Flynn is trying but it’s a hard task… Especially when encounters with his angel usually involve no clothing at all…

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Review: It’s very rare for me to like every single story in an anthology, but that has happened in Of Heaven and Hell. I was a bit wary, to be honest, going into it because Wayward Ink is a fairly new-to-me press, and anthologies are so difficult, even with presses I’m familiar with. But, the premise behind it intrigued me. I’m so glad I gave it a chance because every story is unique and offers a different perspective on the themes of Heaven and Hell.

Part of me wants to review every story in this anthology, but I can’t. There are eleven and this review would easily pass twelve pages. Instead, I’ll pick out some of my favorites, which isn’t easy to do. I will say this: the blurbs given for each story don’t do them justice. They are so rich and complex, and the book blurb shortened them to barely recognizable.

What makes this so unique is the duality of the book. Some stories focus on Heaven, some on Hell, and some on both. Some of the stories are explicitly Heaven and Hell, while others just have terms that make it seems as if it fits those categories (“Purgatory Pink”). Some have angels, some demons, and again, some both. Some have explicit sex, others have none. It’s such a broad range of ideas that, really, every facet of the subjects are covered. Well done!

First up, “Drawing Dead” by S. Zanne: I think this was my favorite in the volume because immediately after reading it, I took to Twitter and asked the author of there was more. I didn’t want the story to end, but it did. This story focuses on a demon, Devin, who returns to earth to look for a new victim to play with. His victims always follow the same pattern, though, and it’s hinted at that it is because when he was human, his husband looked like them. When Devin runs into James, he thinks he’s found a fun, easy target to pull the screams from.

This story isn’t for everyone because it’s dark. I would say the top two in terms of darkness in the anthology for themes of pure evil. Devin is a demon and he thrives on pain. It’s very apparent in this story. However, James is not the easy target he appears to be at first. In fact, there’s a lot going on with him, and readers see glimpses of his childhood scattered throughout the story, while his and Devin’s history is slowly revealed.

Honestly, it was brilliant and by the last page, I was dying to know what came next. The author painted a vivid world set in the near future.

Next is “Corruption” by Kim Fielding. This is another dark one that deals with demons, however Tenrael is not that evil. He’s been taken captive and put in a circus, where men can view him and, for the right price, abuse him. All he wants is to be free to bring nightmares to sleeping humans. When a human agent is sent to kill the demon, he quickly realize Tenrael is not the evil creature he’s supposed to be, and the human is drawn towards him.

I felt for Tenrael in this story. It heavily features abuse, so trigger warning for some people, but of all the characters, the demon Tenrael seemed the most human.

Finally, I’ll review a story with angels: “Guardian” by Eddy LeFey. While some of the story seemed a little too perfect, I enjoyed the idea of guardian angels popping in during a trying time in our life to help us make the best decisions. Of course, it goes a little past that in this story, when Callum is assigned to Rory and reveals his true name and nature to the enigmatic college student. What follows is a change for both of them, and they must trust in each other and God in order to overcome the trials they face.

I would have liked to read more to see what’s in store for Rory and his angel, but the story is a great length and perfect for the anthology, and it introduced me to a new author I would like to read more from.

I highly recommend this anthology. Whether you love angels or demons, there is something for everyone in here.

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4 Stars, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Keep the Stars Running – An Anthology from Less Than Three Press

Title: Keep the Stars Running

Author: Various

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 419 Pages

At a Glance: A diverse anthology with great stories and even greater characters.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Space is not always filled with adventures and glory. Not everybody goes racing off to battle evil and save the galaxy. Between the rebels, pirates, royals, and spies are the everyday people who work hard just to get by and ensure everyone gets home safe. Less Than Three Press presents a collection of tales about the ordinary folks who keep the stars running.

The Prince and the Programmer by Cassandra Pierce
The Aurora Conspiracy by Lexi Ander
About a Bot by Andrea Speed
Flight Risk by Talya Andor
Survival by Leona Carver

Dividers

Review: I greatly appreciate the scope of this project. Though at times it dragged, the focus behind this anthology is unique and was a pleasure to read because it focused on the lesser known aspects of space adventures. As the blurb states, it’s not always filled with adventures and glory, and very often those behind the scenes are unrecognized. In this anthology, however, the mechanics and other personnel get to truly shine.

It’s difficult reviewing an anthology as a whole because of the individual stories it contains, but I will do this review in two parts. First, each story as an individual, and then the anthology as a whole. Because there are only five stories in this anthology, reviewing each one isn’t too difficult, even if they could—and sometimes should¬—have been published on their own. I am presenting the stories in the order that they are published in the book. Also, please forgive my poor descriptions of the stories. I tried to write short blurbs for them, but failed a bit.

The Prince and the Programmer by Cassandra Pierce

Jasno Erys is a foodsynth repair technician. When he is called to the suite of Prince Darex, he expects to get his job done and move on, but that’s not to be the case. When kidnappers enter the suite and find only Jasno, they mistake him for the prince and take him to their client. Of course, the client realizes he isn’t the prince, but Jasno manages to find himself in a position he’d always dreamed of—creating new foodsynth items and becoming a chef.

I rather liked this story. Of course, it has some elements where you need to suspend belief (just look at the title), but it was a fun story and I felt for Jasno. He’s stuck in a position he excels at, but his superiors won’t let him test his creativity. That’s just beyond the scope of his position. While he can fix the foodsynth machines, he can also create new recipes that actually taste like something. And Prince Tergus is not all he appears to be either. He’s a desperate man in love, who realizes almost too late that what he really wants wasn’t what he initially thought.
As a start to an anthology, I thought this story was perfect. It kept me engaged and really set the pace. I appreciated Jasno’s position as a foodsynth repairman-turned-chef (think of a Star Trek replicator for food only). It’s not something one would usually think of for a science fiction story, but hey, those things are going to break down at some time, right? It’s a dirty, tedious job, but someone has to do it.

In terms of the length, this story took up 18% of the book (according to my Kindle), which was a decent length for a shorter novella. Given that they are five stories, I thought it was the perfect length.

About a Bot by Andrea Speed.

Tahir is the Chief Maintenance Officer of a space station, though he refers to himself as the head janitor. His job is rather monotonous, as he is the only flesh and blood member of his staff. The rest consists of various robots. His task is to make sure they perform up to their standards and tinker with them when they’re taken offline to be replaced. When a new station decides to do a report on the people “behind the scenes,” Tahir is chosen and runs into his former crush, Jorian. But, unbeknownst to them, they’re about to contend with an alien enemy that humanity can barely stand up against.

This was my favorite story in the book for one reason, and I have just two words: Bagel bot.

Andrea Speed has such a unique sense of humor, and that is entirely on display in this story. Tahir has “pets” from robots no longer needed, and one of them is the aptly named Bagel bot who is shaped like, well, a bagel. There are others, but there was something just so endearing about her that made the story, even when I was wondering if mankind was about to be destroyed.

Tahir and Jorian have good chemistry, and when the enemy targets the space station, Tahir’s quick thinking and bumbling manages to buy them more time. Sadly, this story is short, and I really wanted more. I could easily see this turned into a full novel, and if I could, I would demand it. In terms of length, it’s the shortest at just 12% of the book. It ended far too soon.

The Aurora Conspiracy by Lexi Ander

Aliens and mining gone wrong. Conspiracies. Long lost loves. I don’t really know how else to describe this.

My second favorite story in this anthology because ALIENS. There’s something just so awesome about reading tales of alien species. Regin and Makari are great characters. I found Regin amusing, partially because of his small amount of feline DNA and how they drugged him with catnip to interrogate him, and Makari for his protective instincts concerning Regin, whom he loves and considers his mate, despite their years of separation.

At 20% of the book, this is a sizeable and well-paced story that starts with an interrogation and follows Regin, Makari, and friends to discover the possible conspiracy with the mining company. Add in a robot named Danny, who thinks he is James Bond, and, well, you have some great entertainment. Regin and Makari made me swoon, and Danny made me laugh. All of which make a great combination. The book is packed with action right until the end, and I really hoped for a good outcome for the boys since they had been torn apart years before.

Flight Risk by Talya Andor

Kiel is a hearing impaired mechanic who works on Gryphon Gears on a planet with limited water resources. He prefers to work on the gears, keeps his head down, and keep to himself, away from the pilots who like to torment him and the other mechanics. When Marco transfers in and is assigned to Bravo team, he doesn’t leave Kiel alone, even though it’s just what Kiel wants. Or is it? When a possible security breach and treason threatens their safety, it’s up to Marco and Kiel to save everyone at the base.

For me, initially, this story dragged. While I enjoyed Kiel and learning about what made him tick, and enjoyed watching Marco try to get Kiel into bed, I often put the book down. It’s only about 22% of the book, but it seemed a lot longer. At the end, however, the action picked up and I couldn’t put down the story. There were a few things that bothered me, such as the outright nastiness in Bravo team’s personalities, especially given what they were trying to do. It seemed contradictory, but I didn’t notice until after I finished the story. I liked Marco and Kiel, but they were the only characters who really got to shine, and I would have liked some other supporting characters who had more screen time.

Survival by Leona Carver

Valentin Mashir was supposed to be a colonist put in cryo for a trip to a new planet, but he’s been upgraded to work in one of the botanical labs and is given a crash course before the trip is underway. After a harrowing experience being put into cryo, Valentin is rudely awakened seventy years early, when the ship sensors detect problems with the plant life in the park. Along with a skeleton crew, they’ll have to get the park back under control and figure out what’s going on, or destroy the park to save the ship.

I don’t even know where to go with this review. The story starts going in one direction, and I’m like, oh, cool, this is nice. And then I think I know what’s going to happen, but the author does a 90 degree turn into the realm of mythology, and I’m staring at the book like, what… the heck just happened? It’s not bad, per se, I rather enjoyed it, but it took an interesting route that I did NOT expect.

This story has very little romance. There’s sex, yes, two men blowing off steam, but that’s it. I wanted romance, but didn’t get it. Fyodor is an intriguing character as a genetically engineered being, and I rather liked his cocky attitude. Valentin is a human who is used to the slums of earth, but he loves the trees he helped plant and wants to work with them.

I really can’t give away too much without ruining the story, but I will say that after being rudely woken from his cryo sleep, Valentin and the group discover something has caused the park to grow exponentially fast, and the roots have spread and are interfering with the ship. While the story is long, the longest in the book, it read pretty quickly.

As an entire anthology, I liked Keep the Stars Running for several reasons. First, the obvious: it goes behind the scenes and really looks at the various people who form support staff. I like that they are given their moments to shine. Some end up saving lives, others don’t, but they all do their jobs well. Second is the diversity. While yes, they all have gay characters, they are also a diverse cast. There are several people of color, and I’m not talking about the alien species encountered, but humans. I loved that. Too often people of color are left out of science fiction, and I think that hurts the genre. Finally, most of the stories have characters with disabilities. They were injured in one way or another, but that doesn’t stop them from working. Some have cybernetic implants to help them, others have had new limbs attached that aren’t quite up to the task. In the case of Kiel, he and the other mechanics have lost their hearing due to the nature of their jobs. The authors really went above and beyond to show that there is no cookie cutter mold for a hero, and they created an incredibly diverse cast within their respective stories. For that I commend them and the publisher.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. I only hope there are more anthologies like this one in the works, because I now have a soft spot for mechanics.

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Historical Romance, Pearl Love, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: The First Bloom of Winter by Pearl Love

Title: The First Bloom of Winter (Garden Series: Book Two)

Author: Pearl Love

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 136 Pages

At a Glance: I wish there had been more to this story. I look forward to the other books, though, to see what happens to everyone else.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Holden Peters is a normal, middle-class English lad in all respects save for his preference for his own gender. Caught in a compromising position with his father’s clerk, Holden is forced from his childhood home and sent to The Garden, a mysterious tea and flower shop located in the heart of the notorious Seven Dials slum. To his dismay, Holden soon learns that the shop sells more than floral arrangements. Behind its genteel façade, The Garden is as an all-male brothel, and he is to be its newest acquisition in order to pay off the debts his father owes the enigmatic owner, Mr. Leslie. But Holden’s nightmare grows only more grim when he learns that, before he is allowed to see his first customer, his new employer will personally see to relieving him of his inconvenient virginity. Now Holden must steel himself and face his fears if he is to survive his new life as a courtesan in Victorian London’s depraved underbelly.

Dividers

Review: Any book in a historical setting that includes an all-male brothel usually intrigues me, and that was the case with this book. Of course, it’s the second in a series, and I have not read the first one, but I don’t think that was a problem at all. I completely understood the story and was able to follow it.

Holden is a great character who gets caught by his father with another man. As a result he is sent away to Mr. Leslie, whom his father is indebted to. His father doesn’t know the extent of Mr. Leslie’s work, so it horrifies Holden when he discovers he will be one of the young men at a brothel. Especially since he’s a virgin.

He meets the other young men—Hibiscus, Peony, Gardenia, and Amaryllis—and earns his new name, Aster. I thought it was a great touch to have the boys named after flowers. It added to the allusion of The Garden.

While Holden is there against his will, and I was frustrated with him for feeling loyalty to the father that sold him, I enjoyed his interactions with the other boys. I also liked that he held onto his hatred for Mr. Leslie. It added to the story and made it a touch more realistic.

In the end, Richard and Gardenia are the most intriguing characters for me. Gardenia, because he keeps his past hidden, and Richard, for mostly the same reasons. Plus, I loved Gardenia’s playful nature when it came to Aster.

I wish there had been more to this story. I know it’s part of a series, but it seems like each book focuses on different characters, and I really wanted to see more of Richard and Aster, especially as Aster falls into his roll at The Garden, and as Richard becomes his handler. I look forward to the other books, though, to see what happens to everyone else.

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2 Stars, DSP Publications, Lyn Gala, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Desert World Allegiances by Lyn Gala

Title: Desert World Allegiances (Desert World #1)

Author: Lyn Gala

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 240 Pages

At a Glance: To be honest, I struggled to get through this book.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Being condemned to slavery is a common enough occurrence on the desert planet of Livre, but this time, priest Shan Polli is determined to prevent the corrupt, soul-eating system from destroying one more life. Temar Grazer was sentenced for what amounted to a criminal prank—but Shan soon finds that the dangers extend far beyond Temar’s crime.

Caught between guilt and hope, Shan must find his true path in either the priesthood or in a man whose strength and survival defies the odds. Can the two men unravel a plot that threatens the entire world before Temar is broken by a system of slavery that has twisted out of control?

Dividers

Review: I knew going into this book that there would be no romance, so that aspect didn’t bother me. If you really want to read a romance, then this book is not for you, but if you want to read a science fiction novel with some terraforming and a world where water is scarce, then you might enjoy Desert World Allegiance.

To be honest, I struggled to get through this book. While the world-building is well done and the descriptions are vivid, I just couldn’t connect with the characters, and that’s what made most of the book so difficult for me. I didn’t care. From the first pages I was immediately frustrated because I knew how horribly wrong things were going to go, and it didn’t leave me in suspense. It just left me screaming at Temar for being an idiot. I knew everything was going to go from bad to worse. Temar and his sister are the victims of water theft, which is a big deal on a planet where water is scarce. An accident occurs and Temar’s sentence is short-term slavery. Enter Shan, who is against the sentence for Temar, and as he investigates the story he uncovers a conspiracy.

There is a lot of politics in the novel, which I have to be in a certain mood to read. I guess I wasn’t when I was reading Desert World Allegiance, because while it intrigued me sometimes, most of the time I didn’t want to read it. I often felt compelled to put the book down and do something else.

I also struggled with some of the concepts of the book. While I’m not averse to stories with slavery, in some it just doesn’t make sense. This book was borderline. On one hand I could see that as a severe punishment, the threat of slavery would be a deterrent to committing crimes. But on the other hand, for this society, which seems to be advanced, slavery felt a bit incongruous.

There is a second book to this series which I hear has more of a romantic aspect in it. Will I read it? Probably not. I don’t have enough of an emotional investment in the characters.

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4 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, T. Nielson

Review: Submission Guidelines by T. Nielsen

Title: Submission Guidelines

Author: T. Neilson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 105 Pages

At a Glance: The BDSM is not particularly heavy in this book, so if you’re not looking for a lot, this would be a good book.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Cole Doren is starting over. He’s moved, started working as a food writer again, and is crushing hard on his new neighbor, Daniel Mazurek, who is a genuinely nice guy and as hot as a supernova.

Too bad for Cole, Daniel’s not what he seems.

And too bad for Daniel, the cute boy-next-door’s DNA says he’s one of America’s most wanted, and it’s Daniel’s job to confirm that and bring him down. Digging through Cole’s past, Daniel finds out about Cole’s BDSM videos and while it should set off warning bells, it only leaves Daniel damn hot for Cole. Getting closer to his subject is easy, but starting a relationship built on trust is a lot harder when everything Daniel’s ever told Cole has been a lie.

Dividers

Review: New twists on the BDSM genre are hard to find. Too often the stories involve Doms or subs going to a club to find someone to play with and then meeting their perfect partner. Not so with Submission Guidelines.

Daniel is a bounty hunter looking to bring down a dangerous criminal, and he thinks he’s found that in Cole. Meanwhile, Cole has moved into a new place and meets his hot neighbor when he drunkenly breaks into his house, thinking it’s his own. Cole is adorable, dorky, and a bit shy. And totally not the man Daniel is looking for. At least, not for work.

It’s interesting that the blurb for the book says that Daniel is not what he seems, because I found this to be true with both men. Both Daniel and Cole are keeping secrets. Cole is a food writer with a past history of starring in BDSM videos. And Daniel is looking for the man that got away, and almost killed him in the process.

The BDSM is not particularly heavy in this book, so if you’re not looking for a lot, this would be a good book. It focuses more on the budding relationship between Daniel and Cole, and their attempts at building that relationship when both of them are hiding things. When the truth comes out, it’s hard for them to trust, which is completely understandable, given the situation. And when the tension ramps up and danger lurks around the corner (literally), they have to learn to trust each other again or risk losing everything.

I enjoyed the ending and found it satisfying. I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say, unlike in other books, neither of them give up their lives for the other person. There are no major sacrifices, but they’re both happy. I wasn’t sure how it would work out, given Daniel’s job, but the author managed it really well!

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5 Stars, Carina Press, Jenn Burke, Kelly Jensen, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Lonely Shore by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

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Title: Lonely Shore (Chaos Station: Book Two)

Author: Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 187 Pages

At a Glance: A lot of emotions packed into this book, and so worth every tear.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: All they can do is live day to day…

Felix Ingesson has returned to his duties as the Chaos’s engineer with Zander Anatolius, his ex-boyfriend-turned-broken-super-soldier, at his side. Hope means something again. But there’s nothing Felix can do to battle the alien poison flowing through Zander’s veins, or his imminent mental decline. With each passing day, the side effects of Zander’s experimental training are becoming more difficult to ignore.

When the ruthless Agrius Cartel seeks their revenge—including an ambush and an attempt to kidnap the Chaos’s crew—Zander is pushed over the edge. He can no longer hide his symptoms, nor does he want to. But hurting Felix when he’s not in control of himself is Zander’s worst nightmare—when it nearly happens, he agrees to seek help. Even if that means trusting the unknown.

As Zander places his life in alien hands, Felix appoints himself his lover’s keeper. And though he tries to be strong, he can’t ignore the fact that he might lose Zander…forever this time.

Dividers

Review: If book one in this series was intense, book two punches you in the gut on page one and keeps going until the end. I mean honestly, the authors do not let up, and even though you want the pain to stop, you need to know what happens, so you keep reading. I whimpered from page one on, and full out cried from chapter ten through sixteen, and I’m not exaggerating either.

If you haven’t read book one, Chaos Station, you really need to go back and read it. You will be completely lost if you don’t have that information, as what happens in book two is a progression of events from book one.

That said, this book follows the Chaos crew as Zed’s side effects grow increasingly unstable, and Flick attempts to both cope with the changes in his best friend and lover, and the possibility of losing him. Meanwhile, the Agrius cartel is still after them, and when a possible solution is presented for Zed’s problem, it could mean losing Qek.

Every character in this book is developed even more, which I loved. While I love Zed and Flick, Qek shines yet again. Zed and Flick made me cry often, but Qek brought her brand of humor and understanding to the pages. Getting to explore her culture more in this book and seeing her home world was a treat, even if being there is dangerous for Qek. For readers who wanted more of the Ashushk culture, this is your chance!

If you read book one, you must read this book. If you like science fiction, I highly recommend this series. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, Skip Trace, which I’m sure will be another fantastic installment!

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4 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Christine D'Abo, Reviewed by Jennifer, Riptide Publishing

Review: The Dom Around the Corner by Christine D’Abo

Title: The Dom Around the Corner (Escape #1)

Author: Christine d’Abo

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 111 Pages

At a Glance: For such a short book, one thing it’s not short on is angst and two hot men.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Simon is jaded. His bookstore is failing, his personal life is nonexistent, and he’s tired of the local scene. He’s desperate for a change, and hopes to find it at Escape, the hot new BDSM club in town.

What he finds there is Gavin. One look at the sexy submissive is all he needs to know that his trip to Escape was the right decision. And their night of no-holds-barred kinky sex feels like only the beginning . . . until his promising new sub vanishes with the dawn.

Then Gavin walks through the door of Simon’s bookstore—for business, not pleasure. To both of their surprise, he’s the consultant Simon hired to help save the store. As they work together, Simon realizes that he might have another shot at happiness, if only he can convince Gavin that he’s worth sticking around for.

Publisher’s note: This title is a heavily revised re-issue of a prior story, Commanding Acquisitions, originally released in 2010.

Dividers

Review: I’m a sucker for books about bookstore owners. Maybe it’s the part in me that hopes and dreams of someday owning a bookstore and café, but whenever I see a book where one of the characters is an owner? Well, count me in! Add to that a delicious helping of BDSM? Yes, please!

I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this story, from Simon’s gruff attitude at the store and his clear sexual frustration, to Gavin’s expertise in handling business and his sweetly submissive nature. When the two of them connect, it’s great. But Gavin disappears and leaves Simon wondering, until he shows up to save Simon’s business.

Of course, try as they might, they can’t resist each other, and Gavin flees yet again, but he does start to grow. Even as he maintains his submissive side, he becomes surer of himself, which is great. Too often I’ve read books where the submissive is meek in every aspect of his life, and that’s not always the case. Sometimes a submissive is a strong person who needs to let off steam. That’s Gavin.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of this book was that it’s the first in a series called Escape. The club where Gavin and Simon meet is called Escape, and it made me wonder a few things. I know future stories will somehow involve this club and the characters either meeting there or working there. But will Christine d’Abo write the future installments? Or is this a sort of open world setting where other authors will step in and add characters based on the location? I’m sure it’s the former, but the latter would also be really fun to read. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a series that did that!

If you’re looking for a quick read with BDSM elements, I recommend this book. Not only will it satisfy that craving, but if you want more, there will be at some point in the (hopefully) near future.

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4 Stars, Dark Hollows Press, M/M/M and More, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Victoria Sue

Review: Orion’s Circle by Victoria Sue

Title: Orion’s Circle (Sirius Wolves: Part One)

Author: Victoria Sue

Publisher: Dark Hollows Press

Pages/Word Count: 156 pages

At a Glance: A shifter story with ménage and unique mythology.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: According to legend, when humankind is at its most desperate, the goddess Sirius will send three of the most powerful werewolf shifters ever created to save mankind. However, because they are so powerful, they will need a fourth to complete them, to calm them and help them reach their full potential.

Aden, a young were, has been his pack’s omega ever since, at the age of fifteen, he didn’t shift like everyone else. Caught, reviled, and tortured because of his empathic abilities, he knew on the night he was told to run as sport for the pack hunters that it would end in his death. What he didn’t know, however, was that on the same night he’d also meet the love of his life and a pathway to answers, because Aden is far more than just a pack omega.

What begins as a hunt soon becomes a new adventure as Aden discovers that he has not only one, but three destined mates, and his role as lover is far more than trivial. The fate of all humankind rests upon it.

Dividers

Review: There is something incredibly sexy about two alpha wolves together. Maybe it’s the fight for dominance, but I enjoy seeing the interplay between them. This book, however, takes it a step further. There are three alpha wolves in a relationship when Aden, a lowly omega, joins the group and completes their—for lack of a better word—family.

Shifter group dynamics have always fascinated me as well. The various roles and jobs that the different leveled wolves are responsible for. And because I’m a sucker for the underdog, I always loved reading stories about the omega. It’s rare, though. Most books seem to focus on the alpha wolves. However, Victoria Sue incorporates the omega in her novel, and turns his role into a rather powerful one.

Aden is an omega in his pack. He is used as an outlet for the alpha’s frustration, and after being locked up, he’s let out for sport as the other wolves hunt him down. He’s rescued, however, when a mysterious stranger shows up with two wolves and rescues him from the hunt. These three strangers are the alphas Blaze, Connor, and Darric, and soon Aden discovers he has a very large role in their lives. He is the “release valve” that allows them to function. His presence calms Darric’s sensual nature and eases Connor’s strong empathy, which allows Blaze to focus on being a leader. And even though Aden is submissive and cautious, unsure of his role in the Alphas’ lives, he slowly starts to gain a little confidence. There were times I wanted to shake him for being so stubborn, and my heart broke for him, but considering his last pack, you can’t really blame him for being the way he is.

Not only is the ménage aspect fairly unique, but the author includes mythology for her world that carries throughout the book. What is Orion’s Circle? What is its purpose? All of these questions are answered throughout the novel.

While the story is great and I love the characters, I did have some issues with consistency in the book. There were some areas that I felt needed a strong editor. For example, there seems to be a case of the magical pants in one place. You know, where they’re off on one page and then being removed again on the next. It slowed me down sometimes because I had to backtrack and reread to make sure I had my information correct, and that was frustrating, but I feel the characters and story were strong enough to overlook these things.

I absolutely look forward to the next book in the series. This one leaves off on a bit of a cliffhanger, which I normally wouldn’t include, but since some readers may not like this type of thing, I will mention it. In this author’s world, omega wolves—male omegas—can get pregnant. So, mpreg awaits!

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