5 Stars, Anthology, B.G. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press, Eli Easton, Genre Romance, Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Spirit by Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Eli Easton, and B.G. Thomas

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Title: Spirit (Gothika: Book Four)

Authors: Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Eli Easton, B. G. Thomas

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 260 Pages

At a Glance: Four top-notch authors have once again created an incredibly well written anthology with stories that are both entertaining and thoughtful.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Seeing dead people. Haunting and being haunted. Ghosts and those trying to deal with them add a supernatural flair to these four tales of romance. 

In Among the Dead, Neil Gaven sees dead people. A gentle ghost guides him to Trist, who needs his help. But Trist is tormented by spirits, so maybe together they can find a way to live among the dead.

Dei Ex Machina is the story of Sabbio, a Roman slave who was killed 1700 years ago. He’s been alone until he meets landscaper Mason. But because they’re separated by centuries, it will take a miracle to make love work.

The Mill brings a supernatural challenge to Frank Carter and his team of paranormal investigators. The owner’s personal psychic, Toby Reese, is supposed to help. Frank doesn’t have much respect for psychics, but when the dangers of the old mill threaten his team, he realizes he and Toby will have to work together to survive.

Mike Ellsworth finds himself suddenly deceased. Now he’s a ghost with lots left undone in Unfinished Business. He’s never been able to be honest with his wife. He’s never been able to tell the man he loves how he feels. He’s barely been able to admit he’s gay. If only there were a way he could make up for all he’s failed to do….

Dividers

Review:   There is a new Gothika anthology out, Spirit: Volume Four, and this time it has a supernatural and ghostly bent. Four top-notch authors have once again created an incredibly well written anthology with stories that are both entertaining and thoughtful.

The Mill by Jamie Fessenden:

Our first story is an incredibly well-crafted tale about paranormal investigators and psychics. Drawing from historical fact about the many horrific warehouse fires that took place in the early 1900s, the story focuses on an old sewing factory that burned to the ground with over one-hundred souls locked inside. Since then, Hawley Textile mill has attempted to house other industry, but most recently, plans were made to demolish the old building and turn the land into a shopping mall. However, several unexplained injuries and setbacks caused any renovation or demolition to come to a screeching halt.

The current owner, elderly Mrs. Hawley, has hired a paranormal investigative team to come in and debunk or verify the idea that the building is haunted. While visiting her favorite psychic, she also enlists his help to check out the site. When Frank Carter and his team begin to investigate, his little brother sees something on an upper floor of the building. Before any of the team can move to help him, Louis runs screaming from the large hall and falls down a flight of stairs. While he only suffers a concussion and a broken leg, for some inexplicable reason Louis slips into a coma-like state, and nothing the doctors can do seem to wake him up. Around this time, Frank and his team meet up with Toby Reese, and the general reaction is a lot of skepticism and even a bit of hostility. However, Frank slowly begins to understand that Toby is the genuine article. Not only that, but feelings long dormant are stirring in both Toby and Frank, and now they must team up to confront whatever is haunting the factory–and hope they come out unscathed.

What an incredible story. The pacing, the charged atmosphere that permeated every scene in the abandoned factory, and the growing attraction between Toby and Frank made for an exciting tale all around. Ghost stories are tricky things, and to make them raise that tingly feeling along your spine takes some real dedication to making the story as believable as possible. I really enjoyed how Jamie Fessenden used the distrust between the science of paranormal investigation as opposed to the “feelings” of the psychic. Setting up this foil between Frank and Toby made each supernatural moment in the story just that much scarier and more realistic. This was one of those types of short stories that I would love to see in serial form with many more adventures for this paranormal team. Rating: 5 stars

Dei Ex Machina by Kim Fielding:

In her story, Dei Ex Machina, Kim Fielding offers up a story of second chances. Focusing on two men–one corporeal, who has recently lost his husband, and the other one, who has lived in limbo for hundreds of years–this author brings the two together in a lovely story that focuses on the healing and redemptive power of love.

Once upon a time, centuries before Mason ever walked the earth, a young slave named Sabbio was taken from his home and forced to work on building a majestic palace in a small coastal town called Split.  When he died, he did so without ever understanding what real love is, without ever feeling the touch of a lover’s hand, and without ever fully realizing how love transforms a person. Because of that, Sabbio was destined to live a life in darkness, in a terrible form of limbo where he would often forget who he was and what he had once been. When he is able to pull himself from the dark pit, he walks the small town of Split to which his spirit is forever chained.  One day he sees a young American man, Mason. Mason is still grieving several months after his own husband was shot down on campus grounds where he worked. Having the one man he loved ripped from his life has left Mason empty and hurting.

As the days progress on this vacation Mason has agreed to take with his brother and friends, he will become increasingly aware of the feeling that someone is watching him. Little does he know that a chance encounter with one of the locals will lead to his dreams of being able to love again becoming a reality.

More than a ghost story, Dei Ex Machina, speaks of an instant connection, a spark that only one person can provide for another. That spark leads to recognition and, in Mason’s case, to a second chance at love. When two wounded hearts come together there is often healing, but Kim Fielding goes one step further in the story. Not only are Mason and Sabbio destined to be together, they discover they are the one thing that completes the other, they are soul mates.

This delightful story is complete and total fantasy, and I dare you not to fall in love with its two main characters. Rating: 4 stars

Among The Dead by Eli Easton:

In the third offering of this wonderful anthology, author Eli Easton gives us Among the Dead.

After a near fatal accident while windsailing, Neil finds himself with a brand new ability: that of being able to see dead people–spirits who are not yet at rest. At first he thought he was crazy, and after some intensive therapy, he realizes that the knock on his head has actually left him with this very real and horrifying ability. In an attempt to save his sanity, slowly but surely Neil becomes a recluse, only leaving the house every first Tuesday of the month for a check in with his boss at his IT job. Other than that, he has little interaction with the world around him.

On one such Tuesday jaunt, Neil sees a man in a bowler hat. Unlike other spirits, this man seems calm, slightly sad, and desiring to somehow communicate with Neil. At first Neil is terrified, for right after his accident he did try to help the spirits that he saw, sometimes with disastrous results. So, when this gentleman appears in Neil’s apartment, he decides to engage him in conversation. After many attempts, Neil is finally able to understand what the man wants. There is someone who needs Neil’s help; someone who Neil had seen before the accident, at the local park. When he agrees to help the man, the comfortable, quiet life he has been enduring will change forever.

This story had quite the shocker of an ending, but the ride getting there was really sublime. Neil was so cut off from everything and everyone after his accident. Alternating between the thought that he was insane, and grappling with the reality that he could see dead spirits, Neil coped by simply choosing to shut out life as much as possible. When he finally decides to help Trist, at the prodding of the ghost in the bowler hat, he is overjoyed to finally find someone like him–someone who also interacts with the spirit world. The instant attraction, the need to cling to one another, and the reality that neither of them is alone anymore is so incredibly beautiful. While the transition into lovers is rapid, it is also utterly believable. This was such a sweet story about finding your soul mate and defying all odds to hang on to him forever. Rating: 4.5 stars

Text by B.G. Thomas:

The last thing Mike remembers is that stupid text, the one that now has him walking the earth as a dead man–or nearly so. Prior to the accident, Mike had lead a double life. For years he has denied that he is gay; instead, he runs a successful business alongside his trophy wife. And for the last year, has been meeting the one person he really loves, Joel. Having met at one of Mike’s seminars, Joel and he have been meeting clandestinely every time Mike can get into the city. In fact, it is Joel who Mike is texting when he accidentally runs that red light and loses his life…sort of…

You see Mike is now seemingly brain dead, on life support and running out of time. He must somehow reach out to both Joel and his wife to let them know how he feels. He must set things straight before he passes on. But will there be time?

B.G. Thomas writes the most compelling story about what is most important in our lives, and the foolish way we have of taking it all for granted. By writing the character of Mike, the author hits the reader hard with the idea that any second may be our last, and we must live life to the fullest, be honest with those we love and never, ever take our eyes off the prize–love.

One should not look at this short story as just an advert against texting and driving—although it is a very strong reminder of just that idea. No, there is a bigger message here. While we watch those who Mike loved, and who loved him in return, agonize over things that were left undone and words of love that were left unspoken, we are forcibly reminded that every second of our lives counts. Now the question remains, what will you do with that very important message? Rating: 5 stars

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5 Stars, Anthology, Reviewed by Lana, Torquere Press

Review: Plaid Nights Anthology from Torquere Press

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Title: Plaid Nights Anthology

Author: Various (see blurb)

Publisher: Torquere Press

Pages/Word Count: 186 Pages

At a Glance: This book has a little of everything: sexy bad boys, a little mystery, a little paranormal, and a lot of entertainment. It’s a must read.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: In Plaid Nights, men in kilts are as varied as they are hot. Whether they’re caber tossers, rugby players, Highland warriors, country dancers, or time-traveling vampires, they’re up for surprises and sexy good times.

Rob Rosen starts us off with humor in “Tossing It.” Contemporary men discover love in unexpected places in “Whiskey and Want” by Megan McFerren, “Some Like It Scot” by Julia Talbot, “Perfect Working Order” by Elizabeth Coldwell, and “Off-Kilter” by Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae. We get a taste of the paranormal in “Sir WW” by Angelique Voisen, “Feumaidh Mi Ruith (I Have to Run)” by Missouri Dalton, and “Kilt in the Closet” by Logan Zachary. And we’re treated to forbidden love in historicals “Hunting for a Highlander” by Lila Mathews, “A Time to Heal” by Anna Mansel, and “As Fair Art Thou, My Bonny Lad” by McKay.

In these stories, some tartan-clad men wear their kilts in the “traditional manner,” while others are less daring. But all find love, and of course, a happy ending—especially at night, when the plaid comes off.

Dividers

Review: The Plaid Nights Anthology is a collection of stories about men in kilts. Yes, I said men in kilts! What else do you need? If your kink is men in kilts, like mine, then this book is for you. If it’s not, then it’s going to be if you read this book. I have three words to describe this anthology: Men. In. Kilts! All the stories were ridiculously hot and very well written, but really, all you need to know is that they were hot.

There’s a good assortment of styles and genres. While most of the stories were contemporary, two were historical: One about William Wallace, which I guarantee you’ve never read anything about him like it before. The other story was a fantasy about a witch and a highlander giving in to their desires despite being enemies. Both stories were very entertaining and in a short amount of time, totally sucked me into their worlds. I wish they were longer!

But, the story that was just up my alley was Feumaidh Mi Ruith (I Have to Run) by Missouri Dalton. Cary meets a sexy kilt wearing bad boy, Marcus, in a bar, and hooks up with him. Cary is a thief, so when the opportunity presents itself, he steals something from Marcus. Marcus just happens to be a cop and makes a deal with Cary: if Cary helps him retrieve a piece of jewelry, Marcus will let him go. Well, as you can imagine, it’s not that simple. They get tangled up with bad guys and have hot sex in between. I wanted more sex. Marcus is a typical Alpha, which I love, and he’s also part of a paranormal family. Cary is a twink thief with a heart of gold and some persuasion powers up his sleeve. This element of the story wasn’t really developed, but I wish it was because from the little tease, it sounds like fun! He’s the perfect foil for Marcus. The title is in reference to Cary wanting to run from Marcus, but in the end, he lets Marcus catch him. This was a sexy and romantic story that I didn’t want to end.

Any book that has gorgeous kilted men in it, who love sex and sin, is one I can get behind. This book has a little of everything: sexy bad boys, a little mystery, a little paranormal, and a lot of entertainment. It’s a must read.

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4 Stars, Anthology, Genre Romance, Love Lane Books, Meredith Russell, Reviewed by Karen, RJ Scott

Review: Sapphire Cay Volume One by RJ Scott and Meredith Russell

Title:  Sapphire Cay: Volume One

Authors:  RJ Scott and Meredith Russell

Publisher:  Love Lane Books

Page/Word Count:  277 Pages

At a Glance:  I found reading about Sapphire Cay was just about as relaxing as if I were laying on the beach right there with the characters.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  Volume One (Books 1-3)

Businessman on the edge of a breakdown, a wedding planner, another with a criminal past, and a former marine. Stories set on the stunning Sapphire Cay with sun, sand, and sexy times!

Follow the Sun

Can romance on a tropical island keep Dylan from moving on, and stop Lucas from working himself into an early grave?

Under the Sun

The former Marine and the uptight wedding planner; opposites attract on a sun drenched Cay.

Chase the Sun

Is meeting each other a case of second chances? Or will history repeat itself?

Dividers

Review: I am pretty sure I have mentioned it before, but if not, I tend to be a mood reader.  What I mean by that is that I usually tend to pick books to read depending on my mood, and sometimes I will start a book and will know within the first few pages if it is going to work for me at that point in time or not.  This probably seems obvious to some of you, but I am a little slow. It took some time for me to realize this about myself after reading a couple books and not really getting into them, and then, a while later, doing a reread and absolutely loving them.

Sometimes I need something dark and brooding, there is definitely a time for hot and sexy, other times I want something I know is going to tear me up and have me ugly crying, and then there is a time for the light, happy, non-angst, kind of sappy fluffy stuff, and this is where these books fall for me.  And believe me that isn’t a bad thing.  The more I read, the more I fell for these guys and just coasted through, waiting to see how their HEA was going to play out.  I found reading about Sapphire Cay was just about as relaxing as if I was laying on the beach right there with them.

The stories are super quick reads, I really liked that they were in a volume, and I just kept going, one right after the other (I am also a little impatient).  The couples in each books have their issues and things that they each need to overcome, and they are kind of insta-love but just what I needed to relax and get out of my head for a while.  I now have the others in this series added to my TBR and they will be moved right to the top of the list to buy next.

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4.5 Stars, Anthology, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel, Wilde City Press

Review: Butt Riders on the Range – An Anthology From Wilde City Press

Title: Butt Riders on the Range

Authors: Kage Alan, JP Barnaby, Ally Blue, TC Blue, Shae Conner, Jevocas Green, Kieran Kelly, and Eden Winters

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 448 Pages

At a Glance: An enjoyable and eclectic mix of cowboy stories from the mundane to the fantastic.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Do you imagine blazing gun battles, bandits, and saloons with watered-down drinks when you think of cowboys and the West? We don’t. Our minds go right to horse shifters, bull shifters, were-leopards, urban wannabes, an interrupted journey along Route 66, a man of mystery named Dr. Feel-Good, and high noon at the edge of the galaxy! The fourth time’s the charm as the Butt-Thology authors saddle up, ride their men hard, and put ‘em away wet.

Butt Riders on the Range…the bulls aren’t the only ones being grabbed by the horns!

Dividers

Review: Wait! Don’t let the title drive you away! LOL! I can imagine your first thought seeing it, because I am certain it was similar to my own. However, after a bit of searching I found out this anthology is one in a series of unconnected stories—except for the authors. These fabulous people gathered at a convention and came up with the idea of an anthology. They have since added to their numbers, as this is the fourth one in a not quite series for different takes on a genre. Did they ever deliver, especially with this anthology! I, for one, hope these talented authors continue their good work of providing us with awesome stories.

Short stories aren’t for everyone, but I can say this about them, they introduce you to new authors and give old favorites a chance to entice you again. That’s exactly what I have found here in this anthology. Here’s a short summary and review of each of the stories.

Hung Like A Horse by JP Barnaby: JP Barnaby is a new author for me, and I enjoyed my introduction to her work. My summary won’t do this short shifter story justice, but here goes. Riley Harper is a young man with a problem. He’s on the run and has decided to hide on a ranch where he’ll never be found. Not as a hand, though, as a horse. John North is a horse shifter who owns a ranch which houses abused horses. He knows his newest acquisition isn’t all he seems, so he is just biding his time until the day comes when he can confront the shifter hiding on his ranch.

Shifters aren’t out. In fact, if the government does find one, they are taken and imprisoned to be experimented on. It is one of these facilities that Riley has escaped from, and he isn’t willing to go back. He trusts no one, and after running himself to the limit, he’s forced back into his human form. North knows, and has known, that Riley was a shifter as he himself is a shifter. It’s been a long time since North has been around another shifter, and what he feels for the skittish young man isn’t something he’s felt in a long time, but it is going to take a gentle hand to settle Riley and rebuild his trust.

Barnaby has taken the tropes of shifters and turned it on its side. I loved the different take on this troupe and how distrustful Riley was. That John stood up for the young man and showed him there were still good people out there, people who would protect him regardless of his status, makes this story all the more intriguing. There is a background story on both North and Harper that the author barely touches on, and it caught my attention more so than the sexy scenes. I would love for the author to expand on this -verse if she ever decides to return to it.

Chinchilla Chimichangas by Kage Alan: Chris is an author, traveling on a bus, and he’s on a mission. He not only has to finish his next novel, but he’s making an homage trip with his father’s ashes. He’s having a bit of trouble doing both because the weather is wreaking havoc with his trip and the final destination. After a storm washes out the road, he’s stuck in a podunk little town. Here he meets Cameron, who offers him a little southern hospitality.

Alan is another new author for me, and I liked this story. I loved that Chris’s characters were real to him, enough so that he speaks to them in his head and also out loud. This was a hilarious take on how a writer lives with the voices in their head. Cameron is a down to earth guy just working his family farm. The relationship between the two characters seems a bit rushed as they try to cram all their life stories into a few select days before the roads are cleared. Both men have issues and while it isn’t exactly accepted to be gay in the little town, they make the promise to try to have a real relationship once Chris’s trip is over. The epilogue was bittersweet, in one way, but gave us the hope of a happily ever after.

Squatting with Spurs On by Kieran Kelly: Dooley McCallister finds himself the sudden owner of a ranch in Montana, bequeathed to him by an unknown man. Or, so he thinks. Once he arrives and takes possession of the ranch, he finds that it is rundown and in desperate need of repair, and that he has no way to unload the property. He also founds out that the place is haunted.

Kelly is a new author to me and while I enjoyed the writing style, I really don’t know what to say about this one without giving away the entire plot line, except to say I laughed some and cried a bit. It made me so sad in one way, but also there is a running theme of eternity and forever love throughout the story.

Faux Cowboy by Shae Conner: Jackson James is dressed to the nines in his cowboy regalia and has an image to uphold. Douglas Shaw is on vacation and visiting the Big Apple for the first time.

Shae Conner is another first time author for me, and I liked this one. It was a short, sweet and sexy romp. First time impressions can be deceiving, and this little story makes good use of that ideal. Jackson is hiding that he isn’t a real cowboy, and neither is Doug, for that matter. Not really, but they did enjoy one another.

Hooves and Horns by Eden Winters: Another shifter story with a bull shifter and a horse shifter, and the two classes just don’t mix. They are also rodeo men, and were building a life together until Armando’s family stepped in and Kerry felt betrayed. Each are the other’s nemesis on the circuit now too, and the chemistry between them is spark-worthy. I loved how Kerry, the horse shifter, and Armando, the bull shifter, traded out the dominance in their volatile relationship, both in and out of the rodeo ring. They had only ever allowed the other to ‘win’ against one another as their shifter selves while out on the circuit, so their final coming together and settling with one another was excellent after the disaster of their past.

The Boy from Battalion Bluff by Jevocas Greene: Unfortunately, this was my least favorite story in the book. I like sci-fi but this one was almost too much sci-fi for my taste, with an outer space succubus/incubus going at it almost in public, and a local boy getting caught up in the middle. The town waited with bated breath to see who was going to be chosen to experience Dr. Feel-Good’s wiles, but I just couldn’t connect with the story. The writing was easy to read, though I don’t think I’ll read more by this author.

The Five Hells War by Ally Blue: Ally Blue is new to me and I loved this story. It was a sci-fi tale of big corporation hustling the little guy on a backwater planet that has hidden resources. The BC lawyer is supposed to be a shark, but when he finds out what exactly is going on at the Five Hells Ranch, he puts aside his job and works to help out the very man he was sent to persuade to give up his ranch.

Rocky owns the Five Hells and came by it through his family. It was passed down and he owns the land fair and square, and he is not leaving without a fight. The romance that ensues between the two men was fun, and I liked seeing how the uncouth Rocky could unseat Balthazar, so much so that when they do win their suit, Balthazar decides to stay with Rocky on his farm.

And The Horse He Rode In On by TC Blue: I really liked this story, but it was so busy, and I think would have been better suited to a novella or longer version. Tyler is a horse shifter who runs a sheep farm, and something is killing his lambs. Turns out the something is a leopard shifter named Jason. Tyler takes Jason in after almost killing him while they were both in their alternate forms, and a romance begins. Personally, I loved Jason calling Ty the “attack pony,” and I laughed out loud when Tyler dumped a bunch of creamer packets and cat toys into Jason’s bed.

There is also an entire back-story going on at the same time as the romance, where we discover that predatory shifters usually don’t mix with prey shifters, and that there are severe consequences if it does happen. Jason was basically turned against this will, is without a Pard, and Tyler is a bit of a loner when it comes to his pack—or whatever it is you call a group of horses. He seems to have a good relationship with his sister Ari and her husband Blake, who is the horse shifters’ vet.

So, yes, I think I would have enjoyed this more if it were longer, but it does tell the tale well enough at its current length.

A huge thank you to all the authors for an enjoyable read!

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5 Stars, Anthology, C.S. Poe, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed By Carrie, Short Story

Review: Love Has No Expiration by C.S. Poe

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Title: Love Has No Expiration (A Story in the Daily Dose 2015 Package “Never too Late”)

Author: C.S. Poe

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 29 Pages

At a Glance: The perfect amuse-bouche for love… and a great little appetizer for the heart.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: There’s more to life than work, and love has no expiration, even for those approaching their forty-fifth birthday.

Daniel Richards is a private chef in New York City who has committed over a decade to his skills and passion. He has carved out a name for himself in the industry and has bookings for parties and dinners months in advance. Now that he’s in his midforties, however, he’s come to the realization that he’s lonely and desperate for companionship. Two days before Valentine’s Day, he meets Keith Maxwell at a farmer’s market and can’t keep the much younger man out of his thoughts. Keith is eager and willing to take a chance with someone older, but Daniel’s reluctance stops Keith’s every attempt. Worried his career will suffer if he dedicates time to a serious romance, or that Keith won’t be satisfied with someone so much older, Daniel nearly thwarts his own attempts at finding happiness.

Dividers

Review: Smart, sexy, successful, Daniel is a personal chef in New York and too busy to realize he is lonely. Love Has No Expiration begins a few days before Valentine’s Day, with Daniel shopping for vegetables from the sidewalk stalls where he meets Keith. A few corny vegetable puns later, and some asparagus, and Daniel’s life will never be the same again.

This is a story about happiness and how we will never be completely whole unless we stop and make time for love. Daniel is busy, Keith is busy with 2 jobs and school, but together they make a team that makes the busy worth it. Daniel is 14 years older than Keith, but as he realizes, “I took the bunch of asparagus out of the produce bag, staring at them and feeling a sickening combination of guilt and sudden determination. Romance didn’t have an expiration date. It didn’t go bad once your twenties were behind you, not even four years after your fortieth birthday.”

Love Has No Expiration is a fantastic short story. We get a slice of these men’s lives when they meet and first fall in love, and it leaves you feeling satisfied with the story just how it is told. It is the perfect amuse-bouche for love… and a great little appetizer for the heart.

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4 Stars, Anthology, Cleis Press, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Best Gay Romance 2015 – Edited by Felice Picano

Title: Best Gay Romance 2015

Author: Anthology – Edited by Felice Picano

Publisher: Cleis Press

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

At a Glance: A great collection of short stories with something for everyone.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Gay romance is coming into full bloom in the wake of the Defense of Marriage Act’s fall, and the literary world is giving this full expression. New series editor Felice Picano is one of the top gay writers in the world with many awards and much critical acclaim to his credit. Picano has written novels, plays, and major nonfiction works and he is at his finest when it comes to the subject of love. In Best Gay Romance 2015, he gathers a sweepingly romantic collection of short fiction that is long on love (and sex).

Dividers

Review: Anthologies of short stories are always great, because when you’re in the mood to read but not wanting to commit to a full novel, you can take your pick of stories. It’s also a great way to discover new authors. This anthology was a special treat to read for several reasons. First, it’s a Cleis Press anthology, so I knew it was going to have a good selection. I had enjoyed their BGR books from other years and have yet to find one that disappoints. Second, the editor is Felice Picano. I’ve read his works before, and it’s always high quality, so I knew that this collection would have excellent selections. And finally, many of the authors in this collection I’ve already read before and enjoyed, so I knew even if the unknown authors were a miss for me, I was sure to have several fantastic stories that made up for it. Lucky for me even the unknowns were chosen with care, and this anthology really does have a bit of everything. From a novel with demon-induced time travel to a story with Jane Eyre appearing in it, you’ll find at least one—but most likely several—stories to enjoy.

Normally when I review an anthology, I like to review each story, but there’s just too many to do with this one. I will say that each story was enjoyable, but I’ve pulled my top three for review.

In “Discodemius” by Jerry L. Wheeler, Kevin attempts to summon the demon Azmodeus, but gets a different one instead, that sends him back to the 70s. Trapped there for two months, he finds love, only to have it ripped from him when the demon, Discodemius, sends him back to his own time. It seems like that’s it for his love, but is it?

I enjoyed this story because it was so unexpected. I’ve read Jerry Wheeler before—and had the wonderful opportunity to meet him and hang out—and he has a great sense of humor that translates well into his writing. I had been expecting another traditionally romantic story, but this one had elements of the fantastic that sucked me in. I laughed at the demon Discodemius, and laughed when Kevin was “entertained” by being sent back to the era of the disco. There is tension when his time is up, but a twist at the end had me laughing again, this time at the demon!

“Reader, I Married Him” by Michael Thomas Ford was perfect. If you’re an English major you know where that line comes from, and as soon as I saw it in the table of contents, I knew I would love the story. I was not mistaken. Though the story itself takes place during a single night, the title clearly lets the reader know that the story of Adam and Jay is far from over. And I really wish I had the entire book to read! I love that Adam is into Jane Eyre, and Jay is referred to as Bertha Rochester by his lady landlords (he lives in their attic apartment). The two of them just click so well, and it felt authentic reading it. Too bad there isn’t more!

Finally, “The Kingdom of Haeven” by Eric Andrews-Katz. This story is not what it appears to be. It seems, on the surface, to be a sci-fi story, but after reading it—and bursting into tears—I went back to reread the beginning and was hit with the beautiful intricacy of the story. It gives the brief glimpse of General Tyler and Captain Wilyem as they discover whether or not Tyler has been named the new king of Haeven after the passing of the previous king. After massive over-population on Earth far in the future, two new planets are settled with gay men moving to Haeven and lesbians moving to Minervite. I was deeply touched after reading this story. The twist at the end was as unexpected as it was heartbreaking.

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4.5 Stars, Anthology, Dreamspinner Press, Eli Easton, Historical Romance, Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Mythology, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Claw (Gothika: Volume Three) by Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, and Eli Easton

Title: Claw (Gothika: Volume Three)

Authors: Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Eli Easton

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

At a Glance: All three authors’ stories are unique not only in voice but in storyline too, and unlike with some anthologies I’ve read in the past, there isn’t a clunker story in this bunch.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Beasts lurk in the shadows of wild and forgotten places and in the hearts and souls of men. They are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, but are they feral and savage, or just misunderstood? Creatures of myth and legend stalk these tales of dark desire and animal passions. Three men come face-to-face with such creatures and find they are much more than they seem. While there is danger, there might be unexpected benefits as well, if they can accept the impossible and dare to venture into the primordial regions where nature and the beasts still reign. Three acclaimed authors of gay romance explore the boundaries between man and beast and the place where their worlds overlap.

Dividers

Review: There are a variety of reasons I wanted to give this collection of stories a good seeing to, not the least of which is the three authors involved. Sadly I’ve never had the chance to read Eli Easton’s work, and only a novella each by Jamie Fessenden and Kim Fielding. Too many books, too little time…

This speculative fiction anthology is the third in the Gothika omnibus, and Claw, as its title suggests, focuses on shifters. In this case, those of the canine variety: Jamie Fessenden’s Isolation, Kim Fielding’s Transformation, and The Black Dog by Eli Easton round out the threesome and each give their own personal touch to the werewolf lore.

Isolation is, at its heart, a second chance story, the tale of two men who fell in love as teenagers but couldn’t last through Sean’s betrayal of both himself and of Jack, the man Sean asked to stand beside him while he, Sean, did what was expected of him and married a woman.

Four years later, divorced, more than a little gun-shy and seeking forgiveness, Sean finds Jack in a cabin in the remote wilderness—the means to the title of this story. Jack has isolated himself, by choice, by necessity, it doesn’t matter. What matters is he’s living the way he wants to live, even if it is a lone-wolf sort of existence.

The shortest of the three stories, what Isolation lacks in word count it makes up for in heart, a little humor, and some truly suspenseful moments, not only from the creature that lurks without and within but in the sense that perhaps too much water has flowed under the proverbial bridge for these two men to find their way back to each other.

I like the spin Fessenden offers in his version of shifter lore, as well as the fact that the author resisted the urge to tie things up in a trite little bow of happily ever after at the end. I’m not sure why I expected it, but it was refreshing not to find it. There was simply too much left to resolve between these two would-be lovers for that outcome to be believable. Isolation was a satisfying appetizer to the start of this three-course read.

Kim Fielding’s Transformation is the second novella in this anthology, a story set in rural Oregon in the late 19th century. Transformation ticked all my boxes for a lovely historical read, as not only does the author ground readers in the time but also draws us into the sense of place, the rugged and untamed landscape in which the story takes place. In fact, if someone were to put a gun to my head and force me to choose, I’d have to say this one was my favorite of the trilogy. I’m such a sucker for the finding-love-against-all-odds trope, and that’s the story Fielding wrote here, with a supernatural twist.

This novella begins as a fish out of water story, though, when we’re introduced to Orris Spencer, the seventh son of a seventh son, his father an extravagantly wealthy man we never meet but certainly know the type. Orris was sent down from university after being caught in flagrante delicto with another student, Daniel, and to further add to Orris’s disgrace, his father sends him away, penniless and shamed, to live with his older brother Samuel, now an outcast himself as he’s shunned the soft life of privilege in New York City to work the land and provide for his family on their small Oregon farm.

I loved the portrayal of Orris and Samuel’s relationship, which blossoms under Orris’s own transformation, the more he proves to both himself and Samuel that he’s capable of being so much more than the studious misfit Samuel expects him to be. Samuel also proves to be not at all what I’d expected from him when first introduced, and I wanted to cheer out loud each time he imparted his wisdom and understanding on Orris.

There’s more to the story, however, than the brothers’ relationship, in the supernatural element and the canine beast that’s stalking and killing sheep on Samuel’s and surrounding farms. This storyline also serves to introduce the Bonn brothers, and more specifically Henry Bonn, the man in whom Orris discovers a kinship of loneliness and desire.

The duality of this novella’s title is revealed at its end, in the full transformation Orris undertakes, part sacrifice and part an honoring of his heart’s desire. Transformation is a wonderful second course in this trilogy.

To round things out, Eli Easton’s The Black Dog puts the finishing touch on the collection, set in the rugged landscapes of northern Scotland and bringing to life the legend of the coimheadair, a gigantic black dog said only to appear in times of national crisis.

Constable Hayden MacLairty doesn’t buy into the legend at all—it is just that, after all, a legend, a tall tale that’s been passed down from generation to generation in the small town of Laide, the place where American author Simon Conto has chosen to do some research on the Black Dog for his next book.

I have to say right off the bat, one of the things I loved immediately about Hayden is the Jamie Fraser visual that Eli Easton then references for a bit of a comical turn in this otherwise mystical and mythical tale. True to the Viking ancestry, Hayden is a mountain of a man who catches Simon’s eye—certainly after he was tackled and nearly flattened by Hayden in a case of wrong place, wrong time.

The local flavor and colorful population of Laide add to the charm of this story, moving the plot forward and adding to the suspense and mystique, as it’s revealed there are secrets locked inside the dementia addled mind of Hayden’s own mother, things Hayden has a difficult time reconciling.

While The Black Dog takes on the taste of the bittersweet in the end, Hayden and Simon find a way to their happy ending, and bring a lovely close to this charming trio of supernatural treats.

As an overall summary, I can easily recommend Claw when you’re in the mood for a touch of speculative fiction with a little variety in its mythology. All three authors’ stories are unique not only in voice but in storyline too, and unlike with some anthologies I’ve read in the past, there isn’t a single clunker story in this bunch.

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

Review: Rules to Live By – An Anthology From Riptide Publishing

Title: Rules to Live By

Author: Heidi Belleau, Anah Crow, Dianne Fox, Lisa Henry, Anna Zabo, and Cari Z.

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 250 Pages

At a Glance: Four very different tales of BDSM, each one well-crafted, with unique characters.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Four intimate tales of power exchange, discipline, risks taken, and pleasures earned.

A list of rules to live by.

In Cari Z’s House Rules, jealousy leads Jonathan to break the rules his lover has established. He can’t decide which he enjoys more: his punishment, or the reward afterward. Good thing he gets both.

A lesson in humility.

In The Harder They Fall by Heidi Belleau and Lisa Henry, spoiled college boy Tad hires a prostitute, but “Daddy” couldn’t care less about what Tad wants. Instead, he’s going to give his spoiled little boy exactly what he deserves.

A cage that means freedom.

In Master Key by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox, Marquis offers Navin the key to the most intimate of locks, hoping it will help them to prioritize their relationship. And it does—until work and insecurities threaten to drive them apart again.

A spool of rope and a desire to be bound.

In CTRL Me by Anna Zabo, a night out between friends turns hot and tempting when Gabe deliberately pushes Tom’s submissive buttons. Then Tom discovers rope in Gabe’s glove-box—and not the type for securing luggage.

Dividers

Review: This short anthology features four short stories featuring different couples experimenting with or engaging in BDSM. Seeing as there are only four stories, I decided to review each one on its own to give credit where credit is due.

In “Master Key,” Anah Crow and Dianne Fox have crafted a story about an interracial couple beginning to test the waters of BDSM. Marquis has had the desire to experiment before, but he’s never mentioned this to Navin. Navin, meanwhile, is growing frustrated because it seems that he is constantly being pushed aside in favor of work. And it’s true, because Marquis forgets a lot. I mean, his memory is worse than mine. Marquis thinks he finds a solution involving his secret desires, but as always, things don’t go as planned.

I enjoyed the dynamics between Marquis and Navin. They both come from different backgrounds, but they’re comfortable—for the most part—in who they are. More interesting is how they balance power. In his day job Marquis is important and responsible for a lot. He has a lot of power it seems, and he’s always working. He pretty much takes workaholic to another level. He’s just that dedicated. But he craves more, wanting to experience things as a submissive. Navin, on the other hand, has very little power in his family business. He’s pretty much described as his mother’s purse at the start of the story, and I felt for him. His older brother screws up a lot, and makes life difficult for Navin. But while he seems to be a pushover, once Marquis gives him the power, a Dominant side comes out that both men love.

This switch was great. It gave both characters depth, and I cheered for them the entire time. They have their bumps in the road, but what relationship doesn’t?

The second story is “House Rules” by Cari Z, which features two Hollywood stars: one an actor, the other a screenwriter. Shorter by far than the first story, this focuses on Jon at home the night of the Oscars, watching his partner, Alistair, on the red carpet. The description in the blurb makes it sound pretty lighthearted, but it has a lot of depth for such a short story. Jon not only has difficulty being in the spotlight, but a crazy lifestyle when he was younger has left him with HIV. Alistair helps ground him by setting rules for him to go by whenever he’s away from home, filming or doing publicity. After he’s been away for too long, Jon starts to neglect the rules and his health starts to suffer as a result. When Alistair comes home, he has to deal with Jon’s jealousy and the after effects.

This really tugged at my heart. Alistair is a strong, calm Dom who clearly cares for his partner and wants what is best for him. And Jon might be whiny at times, but he grows over the course of the story when he realizes Alistair really does want the best. Even though it did have its serious moments, I laughed hard when Jon received his first smack and he yelled “Jesus Christ!” and Alistair’s simple response was, “The Lord isn’t considered a unit of measurement, Jonathan. Try again.” Brilliant. I think for the next few days every time I utter that phrase, I’ll be thinking of that line.

Next up is “The Harder They Fall,” co-written by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau. This one may not be for everyone. To be honest, throughout I was torn between loving it and being so bothered by it that I didn’t want to love it. But I guess that’s good writing, right?

This one follows Tad, a rich, spoiled brat, as he returns to a brothel in order to get some release. He’s gone before, and in his last visit he got Conor, the newest guy there, and treated him terribly. Seems he has a thing for being in control and abusing people. This time he decides he wants the oldest man there so he can further exert his power and abuse. What he gets might be the oldest man there, but he’s in for a surprise. Instead of being in control, this man, who insists Tad call him Daddy, is in complete control, and Tad is torn between going with it, and leaving. He fights at first, but then he decides to see what happens. He struggles the entire time they’re together and doesn’t just fall for the man, but the ending had a pleasant twist that I didn’t see coming.

Tad is pretty much the stereotypical spoiled rich boy. He hasn’t a care in the world, knows his absent parents will bail him out and do whatever he wants just to save face, and so he lacks all control even though he thinks he has it all. Daddy is pretty straightforward for the most part. He’s a Dom, he treats Tad like a little boy (and girl, sometimes, which disturbed me a bit), and expects his commands followed. The push and pull of their meeting was what kept me reading, because I wanted to know what followed. Even though Tad was a complete jerk to Conor, I did feel for him. Sure he has money, but as he points out later in the story, once everyone—friends included—have their money, they leave because that’s all they expect from him. So, though he’s terrible and has no empathy whatsoever, he was still a mildly sympathetic character. I would actually like to read a full story between them to watch Tad’s progress.

Finally, last but not least, “CTRL Me” by Anna Zabo. Tom and Gabe work together coding and share a cubicle. After a breakup with his girlfriend, bisexual Tom is asked out for a drink by Gabe, who he’s had a crush on since he moved to Pennsylvania. In Gabe’s car, he finds rope. Of course, Tom is a sub, and this immediately turns him on, but Gabe isn’t gay. And this isn’t a date. Or is it? Turns out it is, and not only is Gabe also bisexual, but he’s a Dom, and he’s wanted Tom for just as long.

Gabe and Tom click really well together. Their time out—and in—just felt natural, and I didn’t really think I was reading a first date between them. There was a lot of chemistry between them. Gabe has a thing for shibari—rope work—and Tom is eager to participate. He loves being tied up. The two just complement each other really well. Both are strong in their roles, and both enjoy and dislike the same things when it comes to BDSM. I would have loved if the story continued on to the party on Saturday where Gabe is going to demonstrate rope work on Tom. Heck, I’d like to read beyond that to see how they deal with dating at work, pushing each other to the next level, and so on.

As a whole, this anthology is fantastic. It really has something for everyone, and because the stories are fairly short, you might be able to try something new. All of the authors crafted fantastic stories with characters I cared about.

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4 Stars, Anthology, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lana, Writer Marketing

Review: Brit Boys: On Boys – An Anthology

Title: Brit Boys: On Boys

Authors: Ashe Barker, Clare London, Josephine Myles, KD Grace, Lily Harlem, Lucy Felthouse, M.K. Elliott, Sarah Masters

Publisher: Writer Marketing

Pages/Word Count: 470 Pages

At a Glance: Brit Boys: On Boys is the perfect weekend diversion for the Anglophile.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: From east to west and north to south, these British boys are having a blast in and out of the bedroom with the men of their dreams. They’re topping and bottoming from London to Cardiff, living out fantasies in the wildest fells and hooking up while serving HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

With passion and lust the name of the game, nothing is off limits. Throw in honed muscles, high-strength testosterone and an accent to die for and there is nothing they can’t do and no one they can’t get in this world or another.

Don’t miss Brit Boys: On Boys—a smokin’ hot box set, containing 147,000 words/440 pages of unforgettable M/M erotic romance from eight popular British authors.

Dividers

Review: Brit Boys: On Boys is a collection about, what else? British boys in all their glory. Since my first trip to England in my early 20s, I’ve been in love with British boys. Their accents and warped sense of humor make them stand out against American boys any day. They can be cheeky and sexy at the same time. Add to that two hot British boys together, and that’s the cherry on the cake.

This anthology has a good variety of stories to choose from. You have military boys, working class blokes, and some posh boys thrown in. My favorite story in the anthology was Breaking the Marine by MK Elliott. As you can tell by the title, it’s about Royal Marines, very hot Royal Marines, though the plot isn’t new and I’ve read a variation on this story before. A marine recruit has a one-night-stand the night before he’s due for training, and his hook up is his drill instructor! But, it doesn’t matter to me because I love these types of stories. They begin a torrid affair amidst the training, and develop true feelings for each other. The characters were very well written and likeable, very hot and very British. There are no surprises but like a frothy concoction, satisfying. I enjoyed this story and I would definitely read a longer novella.

Brit Boys is a good mix of stories and styles. It’s a perfect weekend diversion for the Anglophile.

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4 Stars, Anthology, Holiday Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Angel

Whaddaya Know, It’s Christmas in April – A Touch of Mistletoe from LT3 Press

Title: A Touch Of Mistletoe

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 182 Pages

At a Glance: An enjoyable mix of stories that had me visiting all ranges of the emotional spectrum.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Less Than Three Press presents a collection of stories about people brought together by the magic of mistletoe…

Here for You by J.K. Pendragon
Warren’s life has been shrinking ever since his wife passed away. Blind, and finding it difficult to adjust to life on his own, it’s easier to hide away in his house. When his friend Missy invites him to a Christmas party, an unexpected kiss with a stranger under the mistletoe leaves him confused and wondering…

The Christmas Spirit by Talya Andor
Christmas in Japan is no big deal for Ash Harmon, with his family half a world away and supernatural problems that have no respect for the holidays. When he picks up a bodyguard job for a rising star of figure skating who seems to be encountering trouble with a restless spirit, he stubbornly resists the unexpected attraction to his charge, wary of the risks that come with relationships. But the mistletoe has other ideas…

A Beautiful Thing by A.F. Henley
Sometimes, Fate gets tired of being ignored. And some nights, Fate decides something will just have to be done about it. Enter Drualus, Senior Correspondent for the Collective Assembly of Christmas Fae, working with the Night Before Reach Out Program. He’s got a few short hours to change Scott Misener’s outlook on life, love, and understanding. Lucky for Scott, Dru knows a tried and true trope that might just do the trick…

Ad Meliora by E.E. Ottoman
It’s Christmas Eve and An-An and M.C. have plans to spend Christmas in Texas with An-An’s family. But their plans are cut short when M.C. takes on a last minute case. Thankfully, though, it should be an easy exorcism.

Until they arrive at the snowbound lodge where trouble resides, and come face to face with a demon wolf unlike anything they’ve ever encountered.

Two Parts Mistletoe by Megan Derr
Kingston has worked hard to get where he is: owner of his own shop, master potion maker, well-respected… and lonely, too busy with life to enjoy more than his regular visits to Acacia House. If he wishes his loneliness might be eased by Hux, the man he meets at Acacia twice a month, well, someday he’ll work up the nerve to ask. Maybe.

Then Hux unexpectedly visits his shop, distressed and in desperate need of help to save his employer from a love potion…

Dividers

Review: I really enjoyed this diverse mix of stories, and the settings and themes.

Here for You by J.K. Pendragon: An odd sort of GFY/Bi-curious story and even now, I still don’t quite know how I feel about it. It was well written and had atmosphere, but the situation left me with something not unlike a bad aftertaste in my mouth. Warren was kind of a jerk to Kyung, and it also seemed as if Kyung was pushing Warren into the relationship. Not a very good start to things, in my opinion. However, I did like the individual characterization of both men, and the added details of the Korean culture were interesting. I’m not certain I’ll go looking for more of this new-to-me author’s works or not, but I won’t go out of my way to avoid it either.

The Christmas Spirit by Talya Andor: Another new-to-me author and a very interesting story with a Japanese and Southern flair this time. I loved the details about the culture and how Ash adjusted to being in a foreign country. The paranormal aspect and world building was fun, and I enjoyed that it had its roots in the real world. I will definitely seek out more by this author.

A Beautiful Thing by A.F. Henley: A cute and hilarious retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I so loved this one. I felt totally onboard with Scott and his grumpiness about the holiday, and when he goes off on a child whose parent was otherwise engaged, I laughed out loud. Who hasn’t wanted to scream at both the child and parent of said child when they are being rude, and you are given the excuse of ‘kids will be kids’?

Anyway, the reactions to Scott’s tirade were spot on, and I adored the changes to the script from there on as well. Dru was rather annoying at times, but I loved him as the Christmas Past/Present/Future vehicle, and I liked the way the ending wasn’t set in stone. Also, I adored that Scott’s awareness afterward was more along the lines of ‘gee, I need to quit being such an asshat’ than the ‘Magic of Christmas saved me’. I will look for more of this new-to-me author’s work.

Ad Meliora by E.E. Ottoman: Let me first say that finding a F/F story in the middle of what I thought was a M/M romance anthology was a surprise, but I went with it. I love the lady loving as well. Then, while in the midst of the awesome paranormal world building, it is thrown at you that one of the characters is transgender. Not a problem, again, love is love, I say. I was, however, thrown a bit by the overly clinical descriptions and pronoun usage. This just seemed to come out of nowhere. Perhaps it is just my unfamiliarity with transgender characters, but it was quite confusing, though I loved how accepting An-An was. The MC’s reaction was a bit off-putting, especially as she was the assertive character asking for the changes, and then she was suddenly reserved with An-An after their talk. Next, we have a bit of danger, which was great in moving forward the paranormal aspect, then the paranormal mystery was over, finished off-screen in a wrap-up talk between An-An and MC. One venue change and the focus of the rest of the story was on An-An and MC’s unexpectedly descriptive version of kinky sex and talk. I’m not certain I’ll go back for more of this author’s work, unfortunately.

Two Parts Mistletoe by Megan Derr: New-to-me author and I loved this story. I would have enjoyed more world building because the story was just that magical. I liked all the details for the potion making. I adored Kingston and Hux. They were so sweet on one another. I will definitely seek out more of this author’s work.

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5 Stars, Anthology, Giveaways, Kirby Crow, Mythology, Reviewed by Lisa, Riptide Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story, Steampunk, Tragic Romance

Spotlight, Review, and Giveaway: Hammer and Bone by Kirby Crow

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Title: Hammer and Bone

Author: Kirby Crow

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 236 Pages

At a Glance: Haunting and beautiful, Hammer and Bone is an impressive and inspired collection.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: The purest evil lives in the hearts of men

Carnival mystics. Zombie tribes. Bad magic in the Bayou. Mage-princes, alien cities, and soul-stealing priests. The grim monsters in the worlds of these dark, speculative tales are true horrors, but it’s the people you should fear the most.

People like Michel, a boy pining for his best friend, Ray. But a presence in the swamp calls Michel to avenge another lost love, and he must decide which summons to answer. Or Angelo, a prescient cop who denies his visions until they endanger the man he loves. Or Bellew, an overseer in a shantytown of criminals sheltering a revenant and feeding it from their ranks.

From ruined lands of steam and iron, to haunted Southern forests, to brutal city streets where hope and damnation flow from the same spring, only a few stubborn souls possess the heart to challenge evil on its own terms. Some wield magic, some turn to rage or even love, but the ones left standing will survive only if they find the courage to carve their own paths to freedom.

Even if it means carving through flesh.

Dividers

Review: Hammer and Bone is not the book I expected, but in the best way possible. It wasn’t until I’d got to the third chapter, wondering what plot sorcery the author was going to use to tie these divergent chapters together into a cohesive plot, that I finally realized I wasn’t reading a novel at all, but rather, a collection of short stories. Once I figured out I needed to read each piece as an independent story, it made it much easier to appreciate their brilliance and the author’s skill at weaving together rich and layered storylines, even if short.

If I were to attempt to sum up each story in just a few words, it would look a little something like this:

Crank is a bleak world yet offers a glimpse of a hopeful ending.
Hammer and Bone is a survival of the fittest story set in a desolate, dangerous, and dystopian landscape.
Hangfire is nothing less than heartbreaking, easily the most touching story in the collection.
No Gods and No Tomorrows is a fractured Faustian tale, the devil cloaked in righteousness, who attempts to strike a bargain with the wrong victim.
Shadow and Starlight is a self-fulfilled prophecy of horrors, with a great turn-of-the-tables ending.
Knights of the Risen God is a beautifully drawn David and Goliath story of gods and monsters and men.
Crowheart is a story of spiritual mysticism, prejudice, grief and retribution.
Sundog is a story of abuse, hatred and vengeance searching for a happy ending.

What Kirby Crow has done with this anthology is opened up her imagination and let it flow onto the page. The prose is at times sheer poetry, the imagery stark and striking, the settings foreign and familiar, the allegory and fantastical elements a backdrop for the best and worst of men and magic. These are not stories to be read in hopes of finding romance and happy endings. They are stories to be savored for the love of words and the skillful crafting of short stories that are complete in their telling.

Haunting and beautiful, Hammer and Bone is an impressive and inspired collection.






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Author BioAbout the Author: Kirby Crow is an American writer born and raised in the Deep South. She is a winner of the EPIC Award and the Rainbow Award, and is the author of the bestselling “Scarlet and the White Wolf” series of fantasy novels. Kirby and her husband and their son share an old, lopsided house in the Blue Ridge with a cat. Always a cat.

Her published novels are:

Prisoner of the Raven (historical romance)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: The Pedlar and the Bandit King (New Adult fantasy, m/m, Torquere Press)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: Mariner’s Luck (New Adult fantasy, m/m, Torquere Press)
Scarlet and the White Wolf: The Land of Night (New Adult fantasy, m/m, Torquere Press)
Angels of the Deep (paranormal/horror)
Circuit Theory (novella, scifi, Riptide)

Coming Soon:

Malachite (speculative m/m, New Adult, 2015)
Poison Apples (collection, dark fantasy, m/m, 2015)
Scarlet and the White Wolf 4 (New Adult fantasy, m/m, 2015)

For upcoming news of her future novels, visit her Website

Links:

Amazon Link | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads

Dividers

Giveaways

THE GIVEAWAY: Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a $15 Riptide store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 7. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

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3 Stars, Anthology, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Reviewed by Angel, Totally Bound

Review: Hard Riders – An Anthology From Totally Bound

Title: Hard Riders Anthology

Author: Jenna Byrnes, L.M. Somerton, Morticia Knight

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count:

At a Glance:  If you like the Sons of Anarchy show and lots of sexy times, then this book is for you.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurbs: Clear Blue Sky by Jenna Byrnes

Respect all, fear none is the Rebel Riders Motorcycle Club’s motto. Will the Riders step up when the Demon Outlaws go after one of their own? 

Sky Warren doesn’t let the screen door smack him on the way out of Kansas. When his former abusive partner Duke is arrested for selling drugs, Sky takes off. He’s ready for a clean start and a change of scenery. Moving to Lakewood, Colorado, with his cousin and accepting a job in Billy’s bike shop seems like just what he needs to start over. In Billy’s riding club he meets Task Rivers, a handsome, sexy biker, and they hit it off immediately. Task is edgy, yet he shows Sky how a respectful and considerate man treats his partner. The two fall into a lusty, passionate relationship.

Death before dishonor. The Demon Outlaws have another way of looking at life. When Duke Lessing comes after Sky and is rebuffed, he joins the Outlaws in their troublemaking ways. With the Demons spoiling for a fight, Task calls on a few of the more hardcore Rebel Riders. As the night heats up, Sky is determined to avoid what seems like inevitable bloodshed. He wants to leave and lure the Demons away, but Task and the Rebel Riders have other ideas. Sky knows Duke doesn’t give up easily and learns that neither does Task, who’s fighting for what he wants. But will it be a fight to the death?

Mantrap by L.M. Somerton

Not all cages have bars.

The Wyverns Motorcycle Club has a reputation as fierce as its dragon emblem. Its enigmatic leader, Rogue Hellaby, has a police file so thick you could prop up a table with it. The qualifications for membership are a reckless disregard for authority and the attitude of a spitting cobra. But The Wyverns MC is not quite what it seems. All the riders have dubious histories in the military or the police—now they just serve and protect their own interests and those of Horatio Trap, the manipulative bastard who recruited them.

When Rogue receives an instruction to kidnap and hold hostage the son of a powerful drug lord, he doesn’t bat an eyelid. But Rogue has never had to deal with a captive like Orlando de la Pena. Orlando is furious—not because he’s being held prisoner, but because he’s prevented from partying at his favorite BDSM club. Rogue discovers that the only way to deal with Orlando is to become the Dom he so obviously needs. But Orlando’s father wants him back, and The Wyverns must face a battle that could cost them their lives.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of light BDSM.

Biking Bad by Morticia Knight

When Dylan, a young wannabe investigator, stumbles into the Mojave Sidewinder’s MC bar, he finds all kinds of trouble—especially in biker Luc ‘Zero’ Villarojas.

The Mojave Sidewinders is the largest gay MC club in Southern California. They’re also one-percenters, which makes them alluring to those looking for trouble and a danger to those making it. Luc ‘Zero’ Villarojas has been a brother ever since the club’s prez took him in as a runaway. At thirty-four years of age, he’s content to ride his hog, chase tail and run his tattoo and piercing parlor, Zero to Sixty.

Dylan has had to take care of himself since his aunt died when he was still a teen. Even though he’s barely twenty-two years old, the small spitfire has made his way in the world as best as he can and has even started his own would-be investigative agency. He’s proud of himself, even if his agency is on the edge of town in a ramshackle building.

Working his first big case involving a missing young man, Dylan barges into Road Rage, the Mojave Sidewinder’s exclusive bar, and starts asking questions. When it looks as though he’s about to get beaten up, a large, muscled biker covered in ink comes to his aid. Dylan’s incredibly attracted to him—even if Zero is pretty scary and Dylan’s still a virgin. But is there something Zero knows about the missing man that he’s hiding? And is Dylan in more danger than he realises?

Dividers

Review: I will say this about the Hard Riders anthology: the stories were well written, sexy and exciting. I don’t know what it is these days about the 1%ers that has become such a fascination, but I just didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would. I don’t know what I was expecting when I started reading the book, but it wasn’t a gay version of Sons of Anarchy. Not that there is anything wrong with that, and I am most likely in the minority here, but I think everything was over the top.

Motorcyclists have always been subjected to scrutiny and disdain, but I think Hollywood has added too much hype on what was once considered a way of getting back the comradeship of the trust built in the trenches by the soldiers returning from war in the 40’s, and an overabundance of military bikes. History shows us that all it took was one drunken incident to paint those who ride with a tar and feather brush, and I think sensationalizing the lifestyle doesn’t do anyone any good.

Anyway.

I enjoyed the mystery aspect of Morticia Knight’s Biking Bad; the story I liked most of the three. Jenna Byrnes’ Clear Blue Sky troubled me. I didn’t like the fact that Sky continued to put up with what I considered abusive behavior after promising himself not to fall back into that lifestyle. Realistic, but disappointing. L.M. Somerton’s Mantrap was pure smutty goodness, BDSM parts included, despite the improbable outcome of the MC overcoming a drug lord’s thugs. Fun premise, though.

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4.5 Stars, Amy Lane, Anne Tenino, Anthology, Holiday Romance, L.A. Witt, Reviewed by Lisa, Riptide Publishing, SE Jakes, Z.A. Maxfield

Review: Lights, Camera, Cupid! An Anthology From Riptide Publishing

Title: Lights, Camera, Cupid!

Author: L.A. Witt, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, Anne Tenino, Z.A. Maxfield

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

At a Glance: Instant gratification in five satisfying pieces

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Cupid is visiting Bluewater Bay, and he’s leaving chaos in his wake.

Nothing’s been the same in this sleepy little logging town since Hollywood came to shoot the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing—especially Valentine’s Day.

In L.A. Witt’s Just Another Day, beloved actors Levi Pritchard and Carter Samuels have an announcement for their fans, while in Z.A. Maxfield’s I’ll Be There, actor Spencer Kepler and his boyfriend Nash Holly brave a blizzard and a fan convention to spend their first February the 14th together.

Of course, it’s not just TV stars celebrating the day. In Anne Tenino’s Helping Hand, an aspiring artist eager to escape Bluewater Bay decides he just might have a reason to stay: lust-inspiring logger Gabriel Savage. In S.E. Jakes’s No Easy Way, a local teacher reconnects with an old lover working security on the film set. And in Amy Lane’s Nascha, a Bluewater Bay elder recalls how his own unconventional family used to celebrate the holiday.

Real life may be nothing like TV, but when Cupid comes to town, there’s plenty of romance and drama to go around.

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Review: If you’re like me, going into an anthology with the anticipation that there’s going to be one “weak link” story which then makes for an imperfect reading experience, I think I can safely say you can put that expectation away for Lights, Camera, Cupid!, a collection of stories set in the Bluewater Bay-verse and centered around Valentine’s Day.

Whether or not you’ve read every book in this series, or just a select few, it shouldn’t affect at all the ability to enjoy this collection for what it is: a glimpse into the lives and loves of its characters on the one day of the year dedicated to romance. In fact, at publication time, only L.A. Witt’s and Z.A. Maxfield’s characters have been introduced in Baywater, Washington, home to the popular TV series Wolf’s Landing, so enjoying the remaining three stories in the anthology is based solely on the talent of the authors and the strength of their writing.

Fittingly, L.A. Witt’s Just Another Day kicks off the collection with Levi Pritchard and Carter Samuels, as they were the first men to be introduced in the Bluewater Bay series, in Starstruck.

Levi feels a lot like I, and many others do, about Valentine’s Day and the poor excuse it makes for picking a man’s pocket every 14th of February. Being in a relationship, however, means thinking not about himself but about the man he loves. Carter doesn’t want grand and ostentatious shows of commercialism. He just wants his and Levi’s first Valentine’s Day to be special.

And wow… does Levi deliver.

There’s a bit of conflict thrown into this day founded on the idea of romance, but it’s that conflict’s sweet and satisfying resolution that is the true definition of the word romantic.

Nascha, Amy Lane’s contribution to the anthology introduces characters who have yet to be discovered in Bluewater Bay, and won’t be until The Deep of the Sound is released in June 2015. Cal McCorkle’s introduction, that novel’s MC, is peripheral to the story told in Nascha, that of Cal’s aging granduncle and how Cal and his brother Keir came to live with Nascha.

This story is told in the present and through flashbacks, plucked from the mind of a man whose lucidity ebbs and flows. For this brief moment, Nascha relives his past and recalls the love he shared with a man and woman with whom he’d intended to spend the rest of his life, but for the fact that fate and circumstance intervened, then the system declared his relationship an unfit environment in which to raise a child—his niece Beth.

There is a strong sense of longing woven throughout this unexpected tale, threaded with the sharp sting of regret and the pain of lost years, and, without giving any more of this story away, it ends with an unapologetic tug at the heartstrings, which is probably not altogether unexpected from an Amy Lane story, is it?

SE Jakes’ addition to the collection, No Easy Way, is, I must say, my favorite novella in Lights, Camera, Cupid!, and that’s saying something because I found all the stories engaging.

At the age of sixteen, Cary Teijan lost the love of his young life. Dylan James disappeared without a word or a backward glance, so when Dylan turns back up in Bluewater Bay, working security on the set of Wolf’s Landing, not to mention returning with the intent to claim Cary—finally and irrevocably—the stage is set for six years of anger and resentment to throw plenty of roadblocks in the way of their journey to reconciliation.

There are secrets that Dylan’s been keeping from Cary which, coupled with the fact he saw nothing of his future but the possibility of following in his own father’s miserable footsteps, is why he enlisted and is what kept him from returning to Bluewater Bay until he’d worked to become the man Cary deserves.

Jakes mixes just the right amount of emotional conflict with sexual tension, unresolved anger, and regret to deliver a great second-chance love story.

Anne Tenino’s Helping Hand wins the award for story most in need of a sequel, and I’m hoping Lucas Wilder and Gabriel Savage are set to have their own novel in the series.

This story has a bit of a different flair to it, as it’s a coming out/coming of age story. Lucas has always been the odd piece in his blue collar family’s puzzle, and he’s just been accepted into the California College of the Arts, but first he has to break the news to his parents. Which he does…right about the same time he also announces to them that he’s gay.

Family tensions run high in this story, but not nearly as high as the sexual tension between Lu and his brother’s friend Gabriel. One moment of passion between the two leaves us with an inkling that Gabriel’s not half the ass he lets Lucas believe he is, and left me wanting more—Lu and Gabe, the post college years.

Tenino wrote this story with humor and heart, but if you’re not a fan of loose ends, well, just be prepared.

Finally, providing the bookend to L.A. Witt’s piece, Z.A. Maxfield treats readers to another taste of the delicious that is Nash Holly, first introduced in his and Spencer Kepler’s novel Hell on Wheels.

I’ll Be There finds the men hundreds of miles apart in the days before Valentine’s Day, with a snowstorm bearing down on the Midwest that threatens to keep them apart on their first February 14th together.

For all you readers who attended GRL2014, be prepared to recognize the setting of the convention Spencer’s attending, and be prepared to smile at the tenacity and ingenuity Nash uses to make sure he makes it to Bloomingdale, Illinois to be with Spencer, come hell or high water. Or feet of snow and treacherous road conditions, as the case may be.

This is the one story in the collection that I’d suggest might be best appreciated by reading Hell on Wheels first—to know these guys is to love them—but as sweet and romantic gestures go, Nash’s is just about the sweetest and romantickest. If not the dangerest.

If you’re looking for a little variety, solid storytelling, and some romance to round it all out, Lights, Camera, Cupid! is instant gratification in five satisfying pieces.






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Anthology, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Totally Bound

Review: Semper Fidelis – A Totally Bound Anthology

24058781Title: Semper Fidelis

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 213 Pages

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: ‘Anomaly’ by S.A. McAuley

Warning: Untested chemical reactions in process…

When Staff Sergeant Galen Welc is handed Temporary Additional Duty orders that move him to the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, he thinks he’s prepared for what’s to come. Known for his uncanny ability to spot improvised explosive devices, he’s pitted against the latest in defense technology. He trusts his instincts and his training, but they may just be leading him somewhere—and to an explosive reaction with someone—he could never see coming.

‘Always Ready’ by T.A. Chase

Making a living on the Bering Sea is hard enough, but throw love into the equation, and things can blow into a hurricane.

Senior Chief Dean ‘Jake’ Jacobson loves his job as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. Saving lives is the second best thing he could ever do. The first is loving Phil ‘Rhody’ Rhodes.

Phil is a third generation crabber who fishes the Bering Sea. Being gay and in love with Dean isn’t something he talks about, especially not with the six men he lives with on the Angela Kayla for weeks on end. But he’s been happy with his life.

Until one day the Bering Sea reminds them that she is a dangerous place to work. As her icy waters surround them, they discover one truth. Dean and Phil must always be ready to love each other because life can be taken so easily when one works on the sea.

‘A Ring and a Vow’ by Devon Rhodes

Every promise must someday be fulfilled, and the best way Owen knows how to reward Cary’s faith is with a vow.

It’s been nearly five years since Owen went down on one knee with his Academy ring and promised Cary he’d someday do it for real. With Cary being a Naval aviator and Owen a Marine officer serving in Iraq, they’re rarely on the same continent, let alone together.

About time for them to fill out paperwork to re-up, Owen realizes that if they were married, they’d have a much better chance of being stationed nearby. But time is not on their side, so he’s forced to compromise on his proposal in order to make it work.

Cary has been waiting for Owen for years—there was no chance he’d ever say anything but yes. Owen is coming home at last, and wants to make a home with him. However, between the chronic nightmares he’s been fighting and the ever more complicated wedding plans, the next month could be anything but a dream.
Publisher’s Note: This book is the sequel to A Ring and a Promise.

‘My Marine’ by LE Franks and Sara York

For a man who made his career in intelligence, falling for an Afghani national in the middle of a war zone wasn’t the smartest thing a Marine could do.

Marine Captain Sean Kelley loves his country and the men he serves with, but when he meets Akim, he’s tempted to throw it all away for the mysterious man. He knows better than to chase after a local, but repeat encounters culminating in a moment of passion leave him reeling—he’ll do almost anything to figure out how they can be together.

Akim Bijan has a secret of his own—one large enough to get more than just himself killed if it’s revealed. But from the moment he first lays eyes on the handsome Marine, he’s tempted to do just that rather than hide his growing attraction to the man. Being a translator allows him access to the base and he finds Sean alone one night. They take things farther than he ever intended. If only he could tell Sean everything, but his lips are sealed.

When tragedy strikes, Akim is afraid he’s lost Sean for good and he’s forced to make a decision that will change both their lives. Will love win—or will Sean and Akim be separated forever?

‘Soul Sick’ by Kendall McKenna

Jamie thought he made it home to Tucker, leaving war behind. Now, each day he battles to fit into his own life, and save the love that saved his life.

Jamie is a captain in the US Marine Corps who carried a photo of Tucker with him throughout his deployment. His body and his heart both make it home, but he isn’t sure about his sanity. It no longer feels as if his own life even fits.

Tucker is a reformed bad boy who has an advanced degree and an important job but still sports long hair and tattoos. He missed Jamie while he was deployed, but he couldn’t stop living his own life. Now, they’re struggling to learn to live with each other again, and things are going downhill fast.

Jamie wants everything to be the way it used to, but his anger and self-destructive behavior begin to push Tucker away. Too much alcohol and a night of violence inside their home take them nearly to the brink. Tucker is willing to fight alongside Jamie to keep it all from falling apart, if Jamie can learn to accept the help he needs…before it’s too late.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of domestic violence.

‘Safe Shores’ by Morticia Knight

Kirk’s Coast Guard lover, Shane, is the only person who can save his son from a vicious storm—if he’s not too late.

Fishing is the only life Kirk has ever known. Born and raised in a small town on the Northern Oregon Coast, coming out of the closet was a struggle. Fortunately, he’s been lucky to find an amazing man to be with who serves in the Coast Guard. But he can’t help but wonder whether Shane wants more than just a shore leave romance.

Shane loves the Coast Guard, loves the sea. That’s one of the main things he has in common with his fisherman lover, Kirk. He just needs to make sure that Kirk knows how serious he is about their relationship and what he plans on doing about it.

Shane and Kirk’s joyful reunion is interrupted when an unusually vicious gale storm threatens the coast. Kirk has to stand by helplessly and wait while his lover battles the raging seas to save his son. In an instant, Kirk could lose everyone he holds dear.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of BDSM.

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Review: Anomaly by S.A. McAuley

Staff Sergeant Galen Welc has a nickname—Magneto. He has this strange ability to uncover IED’s before they take out his brothers in arms. When he is sent to a training facility to pit his abilities against that of new military drones, the last thing Galen is expecting is to meet a man who pushes all his buttons in just the right way. When he finds out that the man he has just met is the scientist behind the creation of the latest drone, sparks fly!

While I liked the promise of this story, it was so short that I found myself wondering who these guys were and how they could ever really match up beyond their love for the challenge of being the fastest man to uncover IED’s. The romance element never went beyond a seeming one-night stand and I had to make the leap from that to a potential relationship by story’s end. I just really wanted to get to know these guys more, and we ran out of story before I could do that. 2.5 stars

Always Ready by T.A. Chase

Jake is part of the Coast Guard whose one job is to save lives on the open sea. Phil is a crabber—on the Bering Sea where storms and gale force winds are not uncommon. One man lives for the danger, the other for the rescue. Each lives for the other. But Phil is in the closet and afraid to tell his family that he is deeply in love with Jake. Two years of hiding and torrid, fast hookups on a rare weekend a month have left both men wondering about their jobs and the distance it forces between them and whether they can go on living so far apart.

For a short story, I felt there was such depth to these characters. Their love for each other was as apparent as was their love for their jobs. How to rectify the great distance between them that gave them only a weekend a month to be together was an overwhelming concern for both of them. I felt the real pull that Jake felt for his job versus his lover, Phil. Jake rescues people for a living and he loves his job—despite the real fact that sometimes mother nature wins and Jake cannot save everyone. Phil is poised to take over a many generation boating legacy and already feels strongly for his crew—viewing them as a captain would. But Phil is so tired of hiding his love for Jake and while Jake would never push Phil to come out, his own disastrous coming out story shadows how he thinks. Well written, the story of love and respect that these two men have for each other is palpable and told in such a way as to also prove to be a loving tribute to those who keep our waters safe. 4.5 stars

A Ring And A Vow by Devon Rhodes

First, let me say that reading this short sequel has made me go off and purchase the original novel this short story is based on. Secondly, I am hoping that a major plot point is somehow addressed in the initial book, as I felt it was the only weak spot in an otherwise lovely finish to the tale of two young men so very much in love.

Cary is a pilot in the navy, Owen is in the marines, and at the opening of the story is deployed in enemy territory. They have spent the five years since the academy, where they met and fell in love, being stationed apart and longing for each other. During that time, Cary has been plagued with violent nightmares of Owen’s death. One month prior to coming home, Owen finally makes good on his promise, given years before, and asks Cary to marry him. Cary accepts and the rest of this story describes their time together in small vignettes leading up to their actual wedding day.

I was smitten with these two young men right away. The story balanced both their inner thoughts and fears against their love and support for each other. I felt so drawn to them and enjoyed how each chapter seemed to be another peek at their whirlwind wedding preparations and their new assignments in their various branches of service.

However, I never felt that the near paralyzing nightmares that Cary had been experiencing were fully addressed and indeed, they just seemed to disappear altogether. While I know that having Owen home would and should relieve Cary of his dreams, I also know the author chose to have Cary plagued by a last nightmare after Owen was home and in his arms their first night. For me, never really stating that Cary’s nightmares were gone left a major plot point unfinished and was, absolutely, the only flaw in an otherwise lovely story. 4 stars

My Marine by LE Franks & Sara York

Sean Green has seen the Afghani interpreter, Akim, come and go on the base and has taken notice of him. If only he could speak with the man, find out more about him. But this is wartime and while the interpreter is aiding the US, he is also the enemy. Then one chance meeting, and lust and yearning take over, and suddenly Sean knows that when he is finally sent stateside again he will do everything in his power to bring Akim with him. But what if Akin is not who he says he is? What if he is hiding a secret that will tear the two men apart?

My Marine was a sweet story with a few interesting twists and turns. When Akim’s secret was revealed I must admit I was pretty surprised and to be honest, understood Sean’s reactions completely. And it was just here that the story fell apart a bit for me. Sean began with strong sentiments about how Akin had lied to him. He admitted to himself that it was like he never really knew Akim, so why the sudden and swift capitulation at the story’s end? I felt that both men should have worked a little harder at reestablishing trust and not moved into intimacy immediately. There had, up to that point, been a plausible and very interesting story—if only the ending had been just a bit more drawn out. 3.5 stars

Soul Sick by Kendall McKenna

Jamie brings more than external scars from shrapnel home from deployment. Inside he is still trapped on the battlefield, and he is rapidly losing ground. Tucker has been waiting a year for his lover, but the man who comes home bears little resemblance to the one who left, and Tucker is worried that if Jamie doesn’t seek help soon, more will be lost than their partnership.

This was a very raw look at the effects of PTSD on a returning soldier. Jamie simply comes unraveled, going as far as physically threatening Tucker. Jamie wants to have everything as it was, but even the smallest of things picks at him, making him bleed a little more each day. It is both sad and scary watching Jamie devolve into a madman who cannot always be reasoned with before he lashes out.

My only regret with this story was the way it jumped, seemingly without a segue, into the future, where Jamie was apparently beginning to turn things around with the help of counseling. Admittedly and wisely, author Kendall McKenna did not allow Jamie to be instantly “fixed”; rather, we saw his ongoing turmoil right up to the end. But it was the abrupt way in which we were thrust into this future time of recovery that jangled a bit. Suddenly we were there and made to understand that during this unmarked time, Tucker and Jamie had actually been sleeping apart. Because the ending seemed to thrust us into a future that had no explanation, I felt the story rushed to the end and we never had a sense of healing or, more importantly, rebuilt trust between the two lovers. 3 stars

Safe Shores by Morticia Knight

Months go by before Kirk, a small time fisherman, and his lover Shane, a coast guard diver, are able to see one another. But their relationship has only gotten better over the last two years, and this visit finds both of them contemplating saying those three little words that every one yearns to hear. But Kirk is older than Shane by ten years and has a son by a long dissolved marriage that keeps him tethered to the small town he grew up in. Can these two make a go of it when distance and time seem intent on keeping them apart?

Safe Shores is a full out love story between two men who are ready to take the leap at a future they both desire. Even though both feel deeply for the other, saying I love you does not roll easily off the tongue, and both Shane and Kirk are worried that the other may not be ready for such a huge commitment.

I really enjoyed this story. I felt immediately drawn to these characters and felt completely invested in their story as a result. I particularly liked how both the men were very strong in their own right—while BDSM was a brief part of this love story, it was done with strength and truth, making it very erotic. All in all, Safe Shores was a nice way to end this well done anthology. 5 stars






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Anthology, Ariel Tachna, Dreamspinner Press, Emma Michaels, Holiday Romance, J.J. Carroll, Michael Cross, Reviewed by Angel, Rory Ni Coileain, Sean Michael

Wrap Up Reviews: Dreamspinner Advent Anthology – Celebrate!

Hello! Angel here again with five more reviews from Dreamspinner’s Advent 2014 Anthology,  Celebrate!

CelebrateTitle: Ilya and The Wolf

Author:  Rory Ni Coileain

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 25 Pages

At a Glance:  Highly recommended! 

Blurb: Ilya, the youngest son of a Moscow oligarch, is so deep in the closet he’d find Narnia if that weren’t a decadent Western story. On Christmas Eve, his brothers lure him into the forest, intending to murder him and erase the shame he inflicts on their family by existing. However, the attempt is interrupted by Volyk, a wolf who carries the blood of the ancient oboroten’ —shapeshifters. Ilya never imagined a Christmas gift like the handsome wolf, but accepting what Volyk offers will have consequences that change both of their lives forever.

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Review:  Too short! And by that I mean, I was really getting into the story, and then it ended. On a good note, but still I wanted more of this tale. I loved the author’s take on the fairytale and shifter aspects of the story. The world building was fantastic for such a short piece, and I liked that it was contemporary. It had an old world feel to it, though. I adored the Russian setting and politics, which added to the tale.

One minor squabble with what I thought was the continuity editing. At first, it was stated that the time frame was January, then suddenly it was Christmas Eve. However, after posting my thoughts on this story to Goodreads, the author contacted me and informed me that Russian Orthodox Christmas was celebrated on January 6th. It was good to get the clarification, but I think it would have better served some readers like myself, who might be unfamiliar  with the traditions, if this could have been explained somehow in the story itself.

I really enjoyed this author’s writing, and with the promise of more from this particular verse, I will definitely seek out more works.

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Title: Business or Pleasure

Author: Michael Cross & Emma Michaels

Pages/Word Count:  36 Pages

At a Glance:  Jumpy storytelling that doesn’t fit together well

Blurb: When American Ian lands a secretarial job in the United Kingdom, he thinks he’s set for life. Admittedly, he’s still a bachelor living in a small apartment and working for a complete jackass, but other than that, his life is everything he ever hoped for in an enticing city full of beautiful people. When Alistair Security is robbed during the Christmas Fundraiser, the last thing Ian expects is to end up locked in with his boss, Alex Alistair, and to realize he might have mistaken his resentment for something else. The two men find common ground throughout the night, but when morning comes and the news hits the headlines, their connection will be tested. Ian might find himself at the start of a hot office romance—or he’ll spend the holidays browsing the classifieds.

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Review:  I hate to run down anyone’s story, and I am not going to do so here, but this one needed some help. Not the editing of the spelling, grammar or punctuation, but an editor to say something along the lines of, “We need more to make this smooth.” Granted, this is my opinion after reading, but the entire story just made me cringe with the homophobic references and insults, the implication of blackmail for employment, as well as the jumpiness of the segues. Don’t get me wrong, executed differently this would have made for a good story. I liked the set-up, as it appeared to be one of those billionaire/assistant stories that is so popular now; however, I quickly changed my opinion. Neither of the MCs were that likeable. Ian was this arrogant man who was God’s gift to personal assistants, but supposedly had a heart of gold, and Alex, well, let’s just say that he was a jerk is the nicest thing I can say about him. Al Bundy had more tact, and if that doesn’t date me, I don’t know what will. I hated Alex from the get-go, and nothing he did could redeem him.

There were crazy jumps in both plot and the romance that made my head spin and forced me to go back to see if I had misread something. But I hadn’t and didn’t miss them even on a second read thorough. I really tried to give this story the benefit of doubt, but in the end there were so many odd happenings coming out of nowhere that I just can’t recommend it. I’m not certain I’ll look for other works either, which I can honestly say makes me disappointed.

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Title: Home For Chirappu

Author: Ariel Tachna

Pages/Word Count: 53 Pages

At a Glance:  Highly recommended!

Blurb: Nikhilesh (Nik) Sharma hasn’t been home to Alappuzha, India, since he came out to his family ten years ago. Now that his relationship with them is less strained, he’s bringing his boyfriend Trent along to celebrate the winter holidays. As excited as he is to see everyone again, he worries the foreign culture, religious differences, and disapproval might shock Trent. At the same time, Trent worries Nik’s big, close-knit family won’t accept an American—much less a man—as Nik’s partner and that his presence will impede the otherwise happy reunion. Whether the trip leads to misunderstandings that will drive them apart or to a new understanding that will draw them closer than ever, it’s sure to be an experience they’ll never forget.

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Review:  Again, this is how you tell a short story. I’ve read Ms. Tachna before, and she just about killed me with her book, Once in a Lifetime, so I was prepared to cry. However, I didn’t and fell in love with more of her characters and writing.

This story was wonderfully detailed with characters, Christmas traditions from India, the culture and the place itself. Tachna weaves a story of family approval and how being gay affects people the world over. I have never been out of the states, but Tachna’s writing put me there right smack-dab in the middle of India. I could almost smell the spices and incense, feel the heat, and enjoyed every minute of it.

The problems Trent and Nik faced felt real and not contrived. The anxiety each man had wasn’t overdone nor did it weigh down the story. The flow and continuity of the story was slow but deliberate and I liked that aspect. It gave insight into the characters without the sex getting in the way. Mind, I love a good sexy story as much as the next person, but I loved the character development more. Nik’s family was diverse and wonderful, and I would gladly read more about him and his sister as she finishes her surgeoncy (Indian term for medical residency), and finding her husband.

I can’t recommend this, and more of Tachna’s writing, enough and will continue to seek out her works.

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Title:  A Snowman Made of Sand

Author:  J.J. Carroll

Pages/Word Count: 37 Pages

At a Glance: Recommended, cute story, but more show than tell

Blurb:  Last year in England, Australian Ethan Harvey not only met his “perfect” man in Tristan Lewin-Jones, Ethan shared a wonderful Christmas with Tristan’s “perfect” family—an ideal British holiday full of genteel good cheer and all the traditional trimmings.

Now Tris and Ethan are living in Sydney, and Tris wants the quintessential Australian beach Christmas, with sun, sand, surf, seafood… and the Harveys. But Ethan didn’t mention the Harveys are politically incorrect, rude, crude, and loud. He worries his family will drive Tris away. Giving Tris the perfect beach Christmas with the imperfect Harveys is going to take a holiday miracle

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Review:  As much as I enjoyed this story, I really would have loved to see Ethan’s crazy family antics than just read a recap of them. There was one incident shown and I loved it. It rather sounded like something that would happen at my own Christmas gathering. I laughed throughout the story because I know families like this. I’m part of one, and while you can chose who you fall in love with, you are stuck with family, no matter what.

Despite Ethan’s family being so crazy, they love and support him. Tristan is thrilled with the happenings and just can’t understand why Ethan was so upset. Their priorities are important and both of them have points when it comes to the definition of family and perfection, but it all boils down to actions speak louder than words.

In spite of the ‘telling’ of the story, I enjoyed this author’s humor and will seek out more of her work.

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Title:  The Swag Man Delivers

Author: Sean Michael

Pages/Word Count: 31 Pages

At a Glance:  If you like a ton of smut, then this is the story for you

Blurb: Orpheus “O” Drummond, a recent Ph.D. graduate, is visiting Australia after defending his thesis, and being dumped by his boyfriend. While alone on the beach in Australia was not how he’d originally planned on spending his Christmas, when O runs into Gage, he figures Santa knew exactly what he was doing.

Gage is traveling away from his Texan home, trying to “find himself.” When he finds O instead, he doesn’t think things could have worked out better. Together Gage and O celebrate Christmas in the best way they can think of.

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Review:  The best way to celebrate Christmas… sex with a stranger in a strange country. Yup, that’s about all there is to this story. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the story, because at its heart it was about a hook-up and like I said earlier, sometimes all you need is a sexy story to fill a reading need.  It was sexy, at times, but I found the characters annoying. The banter O and Gage have is filled with not-so-funny puns and cutesy pet names. Not really my cup of tea in the best times, but it wasn’t bad writing.

I might seek out more of this author’s works because, for what it’s worth, the story set out to tell the tale the blurb promised.

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You can buy the Celebrate! Anthology, or each of the stories individually, here:

Dreamspinner Press

Dreamspinner Press

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Andrew Grey, Anthology, Connie Bailey, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, John Amory, Louise Lyons, Reviewed by Angel

Reviews: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar 2014 – Celebrate!

Short stories are hard to write—and review. I love them, personally, but it does take a special type of author to get them correct, in my opinion. I think Stephen King said it best, and I am paraphrasing here, Short stories are like kisses from strangers in the dark. And they are, you never know if you are going to enjoy that stolen kiss or not. I’m adventurous and I usually do like that caress, and tend to go seeking out more than just kisses as well. **g**

That said, here are four stories from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calender package “Celebrate!” This package contains 31 stories total, with a recurrent theme throughout of the holiday season away from home.

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BestLaidPlansTitle: Best Laid Plans

Author:  John Amory

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 21 Pages

Rating: 2 Stars

Blurb: George is an anxious, neurotic mess. The only thing that calms him is his partner of ten years, Scott. So despite how nervous it makes George to travel alone, he decides to go to Europe, where Scott has been working for two months, to visit for Christmas. George plans a day on his own in London before traveling to Paris, where Scott is staying. But on George’s day of sightseeing and shopping, everything goes wrong, from a misunderstanding with the hotel concierge to getting lost in Harrods. All George wants is to be with his partner for Christmas, but he’s not sure he’ll survive long enough for that to happen.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

Review: I did enjoy this one, but  the story fell a bit short, I think. It was sweet and had a Christmassy feel, but there was just something lacking. I’m not certain what it was. It could have just been me. Regardless, I felt bad for George. EVERYONE was so rude to him. His plans fell through, and he was trapped in a strange city with nowhere to go. He, and the writing, tended to ramble on in overlong sentences, and I kinda wanted to tell him to get over himself. If you can fly halfway round the world for your lover, you can overcome anything. Scott, though, is George’s rock, and sets everything to rights by coming to his rescue. He doesn’t actually show up, but manages to calm George down long enough to give him proper directions to carry on with his trip, where we finally get to meet Scott.

The ending makes up for George’s horrible experience, with a sweeter than sweet romantic proposal at the top of the Eiffel Tower after they spend the day together. Overall, I liked the author’s writing and will probably seek out more of his work.

DividersThreeWiseMenTitle: Three Wise Men

Author:  Connie Bailey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 29 Pages

Rating:  2 Stars

Blurb: College friends Joon, Tae, and Sangsun parted ways after an aborted attempt at a threesome. Ten years later, life has carried them down very different paths, but Joon misses his friends and decides to invite them to his home in South Korea for Christmas. He believes they belong together, but convincing the others to defy tradition and try again will take faith, hope, and a lot of talking—especially since all three of them are still in the closet.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

Review: I didn’t really like this one; however, the writing was not terrible. The story was rough and felt like a beginning even though it ended, if that makes any sort of sense. It was over before I could even get involved with any of the characters, and I kinda felt like I had missed something entirely. Especially since this was rooted largely in Korean traditions, which, I gathered from the story, aren’t exactly homosexual friendly. It wasn’t really touched on, though, just kinda glossed over that they had a duty to family and couldn’t have their triad.

Basically, I think it was too short for the themes visited, and confusing to boot. It isn’t until after the three men are together again that you realize the threesome was aborted. In fact, it is revealed that only two of the three slept together, and one got completely left out. Horrible, really, and yet, ten years after the fact, the one left out, Joon, is still in love with the other two. It also seemed to me that Joon was just there as a connecting piece because the real chemistry was between Tae and Sangsun, the two that actually had sex.

Ten years is a long time, in my opinion, and people change. Tae certainly did despite sometimes indulging in men, but Sangsun was in the firm no-never-happened-never-will-again camp. Poor Joon was just left on the sideline, still, and a virgin after ten years.  It was also confusing because suddenly they were all closeted, two of them refusing to change, then bam! we had an orgy on our hands and all promised to make a change so they could be together in their triad. Talk about tale spin. I hate to say it, but I probably won’t seek out any more stories by this author.

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SecondBiteoftheCherryTitle: Second Bite of the Cherry

Author:  Louise Lyons

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 28 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: When Daniel Berrisford reluctantly agrees to accompany his best friend Kate to the New Year’s Eve celebrations in London, he doesn’t expect to enjoy himself. Daniel is pleasantly surprised to see his first boyfriend, James Allison, among the merrymakers. The pair haven’t seen each other for four years, but as they talk and midnight approaches, it becomes clear the spark between them is still there. The New Year is a time for new beginnings, and for Daniel and James, it might be the time to give love another chance.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

Review: This story I enjoyed in spite of the cutesy nicknames. That’s a pet peeve of mine in particular, so ignore my idiosyncrasies. There was background and while it was short on details, you could almost feel the chemistry between Daniel and James. It was a mature look at a second chance romance between two people who thought they might have had a connection but realized they were too young to do so. And really I think that’s a smart thing. A little pining is revealed when our couple take a break from the New Year’s celebrations, and it shows that in spite of being mature when they were young, it was also a learning experience for both of them. They found themselves and found one another again and decided to make a go of it. A perfectly serviceable and amicable read. I really enjoyed this author’s writing and pacing and will most likely seek out more by her.

DividersStardustTitle: Stardust

Author:  Andrew Grey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 62 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Duncan is an ocean from home over the holidays and expects to spend them alone. To his pleasant surprise, one of his European co-workers, Georg, befriends him and includes Duncan in the holiday traditions of his homeland: cutting a Christmas tree under starry skies at Georg’s country estate, decorating it at the family’s city home, and shopping at the Christmas market in Munich. Both men are lonely and realize they have much in common. But Georg’s life is in Germany and Duncan’s is in Boston. With the project they’re working on nearing completion, any chance for more than a holiday fling seems as elusive as stardust.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

Review: This is how you do a short story. This story is truly a wonderful Advent gift. Grey is new to me and after this introduction, I will definitely be seeking more works by him.

Amazing detail and plot without being overly dramatic, Stardust is a sweet tale of romance and finding your place. I don’t even care that the happily ever after never occurs because Duncan and Georg were fully realized, and there was the hope of them making it in spite of their long distance relationship plans.

This was the first of the Advent stories I read that didn’t leave me feeling as if the setting was just another plot device. The holiday, the Germanic traditions, and the characters were amazing in their completion and detailing. I wanted more of the story at the ending of the book, but I was just so satisfied with how Grey ended everything; once again, it didn’t matter the bow wasn’t on this fantastic gift of a story.

I’ve got more of the stories from the anthology to read, but I wanted to take the time to share my thoughts on these few. I’ll be back with more thoughts on the stories at a later date.

 

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4 Stars, Anthology, Reviewed by Lana, Totally Bound

Review: What’s His Passion – An Anthology From Totally Bound

Title: What’s His Passion?

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 367 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars Overall

Blurb: Explore our contemporary collection of men and their passions.

We all have our passions—whether they’re simple pleasures like fine wine and good music, or more ambitious like climbing mountains or jumping out of airplanes. It might even be revelling in the edgier side of sex!

Dive in and discover the many passions of the amorous men explored in our new imprint—What’s His Passion?

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Review: I like reading anthologies because it’s a great way to sample different authors. Sometimes the selection is great and sometimes not so much. What’s His Passion? delivered on some and not on others. The stories here were a mix of a man’s love of something and someone. Most of these were ok and didn’t move me at all save for one. Picturing Lysander by LM Somerton was the exception to the rule. It ticked all my boxes in the “this is a great” story department. I will definitely be on the lookout for more from this author.

Picturing Lysander is a hot little story that needed to be much, much longer. The writing was exceptional and the story flowed without any snags. The plot was a variation on a theme that I’ve read before but that I enjoy never the less.

Kyle works for a spy agency, and they need Lysander to take pictures of some foreign government installations. Lysander is a photographer and an adrenaline junkie. Kyle uses unusual ways to make Lysander cooperate, fun ways for sure, but there is dubious consent because Kyle gets a little rough. So, if you’re not into a little domination, be forewarned.

The interaction between the two is off the charts. For a short story, the characters where nicely developed, which doesn’t always happen. Their banter was fun to read and ramped up the sexual tension between the two. They have been added to my list of favorite couples. They had the couple dynamic that I love reading about, and I would have loved to have gotten more background on them, so if the author is reading this, please, please make this little gem into a full length book.

What’s His Passion? is a collection that didn’t spark passion in me, except for Picturing Lysander, and for that it’s worth a read.








You can buy What’s His Passion? here:

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3.5 Stars, Anthology, Ava Penn, Beaten Track Publishing, Holiday Romance, Kathleen Hayes, Raine O'Tierney, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Boughs of Evergreen Roundup – Xmas Cake, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend

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Titles: Xmas Cake: A Modern Fairy Tale, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend

Authors: Raine O’Tierney, Ava Penn, Kathleen Hayes

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing – Boughs of Evergreen Anthology benefitting The Trevor Project

Pages/Word Count: 43 Pages/52 Pages/35 Pages

Rating: 3.5 Stars Overall

Blurbs:

Xmas Cake: Once upon a snowy Christmas season, in the glowing metropolis of Midday…

If this were a fairy tale Kyle would be the handsome prince and Riley would be the poor baker in distress. Oh wait, but that’s exactly what it is!

When Kyle Prince sees Riley collapse in the snow-covered parking lot, he swoops in to the rescue, whisking the feverish young man off to his high-rise apartment without a second thought.

As Riley mends under Kyle’s care, a feeling of closeness grows between the two men. But every fairy tale has its complications. Will the two find their happily ever after this Christmas?

Coming in from the Cold: What’s a poor, East coast boy fending for himself in Colorado to do when winter sets in on the Rockies?

Declan Stoeber finds himself freezing every minute of the day once autumn ends and the snow begins to fall in the Centennial State. With no family to go home to for the holiday season, he plans to put extra time into his studies and maybe look for a part-time job. What he gets is a part-time job with benefits and a few new friends.

Xander Duchesne is a savvy businessman in the harsh world of deals and projects. Estranged from his mother due to her matchmaking tendencies, he is resolved to spending Yule (or Winter Solstice) by himself for the first time in his life. He wasn’t expecting his mother’s impossible-to-ignore demands, and he certainly wasn’t prepared for a college freshman who was just coming in from the cold.

The Bard and His Boyfriend: Seth is a member of an ancient clan of druids that have existed for over 5,000 years. The rituals they perform at the changing of the seasons keep the very fabric of reality from unraveling. But as he goes home for the Winter Solstice, all Seth can think about is the huge fight he had with his boyfriend before he left school for the holiday break.

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Review: There is nothing better than getting into the holiday spirit with romantic Christmas stories. A holiday story that is heartfelt, cute and most importantly sweet, always leaves me warm and fuzzy. My selection from this holiday collection wereXmas Cake by Raine O’Tierney, Coming in from the Cold by Ava Penn, and The Bard and His Boyfriend by Kathleen Hayes. They were all cute if not a bit formulaic.

In Xmas Cake, a waif finds his true love after a case of mistaken identity. I though the story could have been better if it were written in a different way. I think the author was trying to go with the whole fairy tale vibe, which didn’t work for me, and I felt the story was a little boring.

In Coming in from the Cold, two men meet each other just before Christmas and find true love. These themes usually have me salivating, but this story was just ordinary for me. It was also pretty mild on the heat level and is perfect for anyone looking for an introduction to m/m fiction.

The story that really caught my attention was The Bard and His Boyfriend, a cute take on the fantasy genre. Seth is part of a Celtic Clan in America, and the caretaker of a mystical ritual. Honestly, I was a little bit confused by the explanation, but I think if this were a longer novella and more background was given, it could have the potential to be a really good story. During the winter solstice celebration, Seth’s boyfriend Ale shows up. The only problem is that the location of the Clan is a secret, and no one outside the Clan knows the location. But it turns out that Ale is Seth’s chosen and knows the location in his heart. The story is cute and sweet, but is just too short to leave any sort of lasting impression.

My selections from Boughs of Evergreen were okay for a quick read, and in the end, not too filling.








You can buy Xmas Cake, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend here:

All Romance eBooks

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4 Stars, Anthology, B.G. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press, Eli Easton, Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Bones (Gothika: Volume Two) by Kim Fielding, Eli Easton, Jamie Fessenden, and B.G. Thomas

Title: Bones (Gothika: Volume Two)

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 260 Pages

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Vodou. Obeah. Santeria. These religions seem mysterious and dark to the uninitiated, but the truth is often very different. Still, while they hold the potential for great power, they can be dangerous to those who don’t take appropriate precautions. Interfering with the spirits is best left to those who know what they’re doing, for when the proper respect isn’t shown, trouble can follow. In these four novellas, steamy nights of possession and exotic ritual will trigger forbidden passion and love. You cannot hide your desires from the loa, or from the maddening spell of the drums. Four acclaimed m/m authors imagine homoerotic love under the spell of Voodoo. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Anthology, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lana, Storm Moon Press

Review: Blood Embrace – An Anthology

Title: Blood Embrace

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Storm Moon Press

Pages/Word Count: 133 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Vampires have become the ultimate erotic figure in paranormal literature, but the creatures in “Blood Embrace” are more than just pretty immortals who suck the blood from their victims or companions. This anthology showcases M/M short stories that have unique ideas in the vampire genre, taking them beyond their traditional settings and extravagance. No angst-ridden “sparklepires” or caped Transylvanians who “never drink… wine” here! These tales show off the new and wonderful things that can be done with this tried and true erotic theme. Continue reading

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3 Stars, Anthology, Drew Zachary, Reviewed by Lana, Torquere Press

Review: Ordinary Heroes by Drew Zachary

Title: Ordinary Heroes

Author: Drew Zachary

Publisher: Torquere Press

Pages/Word Count: 65 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: These four tales by Drew Zachary celebrate the everyday hero. Whether it’s a midnight romp in a corn maze under the moonlight at Halloween, or a vet returning to his small hometown years after leaving for the big city, a guard in an office building or a waiter at a holiday resort, these ordinary men are heroes to the men who fall in love with them.

These four previously published stories include Maze and Moon, Peter’s Day Off, Night at the Office, and You Can Go Home Again. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Anthology, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Lana, Young Adult

Review: First Time for Everything – A Harmony Ink Press Anthology

Title: First Time for Everything

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: There’s nothing like the first time. Whether it’s a first crush, first date, first kiss, or finding tolerance and approval for the first time, for gay, lesbian, bi, and trans teens—or those still exploring and discovering their sexuality and identity—these important firsts can shape the rest of their lives. Gathering the courage to come out to their families, admit their feelings to a friend, or go to school presenting as the people they really are can be a struggle. But with the support of their allies and their own inner strength, the brave young people in these stories take the first steps toward happiness and living on their own terms. From sweet stories of newly discovered love, humorous accounts of awkward dinners and dances, to fights for acceptance and even survival, the teens in this anthology must face new challenges and rise to meet them. These are the first times they’ll never forget. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Annabeth Albert, Anthology, Bianca Sommerland, C-Squared Publishing, Cassandra Carr, Dalton Diaz, Erotica, KyAnn Waters, L.A. Witt, Mia Downing, New Adult, Reviewed by Lana, Sara York, Whitley Gray

Review: Campus Cravings Anthology

Title: Campus Cravings

Author: Anthology

Publisher: C-Squared Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 392 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Welcome to Cathia University, where school is in session! Nine of today’s hottest gay romance authors have crafted brand-new interrelated novellas celebrating everything wonderful about college, including sophisticated professors, sexy teaching assistants, ambitious grad students, and spirited undergraduates, all looking for the same thing: an A+ in true love. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Anthology, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Kathie

Sound Bite Sunday Review: Grand Adventure Anthology by Dreamspinner Press

Title: Grand Adventure

Author: Anthology

Narrator:: Various

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 15 Hours, 33 Minutes

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: On September 1, 2011, TJ Klune wrote, “…it’s not about the ending, it’s about the journey…” in a review of Eric Arvin’s Woke Up in a Strange Place. With those words, two men began a journey of love and invited us to ride along. TJ and Eric have shared so much with us: their wonderful books, their smiles, their humor, their lives, and their inspiring devotion to each other. In December of 2013, their journey took a detour when Eric was taken to the emergency room. He survived the surgery to remove a cavernous hemangioma from his brain stem, but the challenges TJ and Eric face are far from over. Continue reading

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