4 Stars, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Lex Chase, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Loving and Loathing Vegas by Lex Chase

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Amazon

Title: Loving And Loathing Vegas (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Lex Chase

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 62 Pages

At a Glance: This little snippet is sure to delight and amuse you this holiday season.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Jackson has loved Vegas since God created Man—literally. As a demonic incubi hailing from the Seventh Circle of Hell, Jackson and Vegas have never been anything more than roommates. Now living among humans, they run Eaven, a TripAdvisor-recommended detour-worthy diner famous for its devilishly decadent pies. Business is dead on the holidays, and Jackson will gleefully stab himself with a spatula if he has to clean spotless pots and pans one more time.

For fun—or torture—Vegas makes him a bet that should Jackson win, they take a much-needed vacation. Should he lose, he’s doomed to clean out grease traps for all eternity. When the challenge is to fall in love with other people by Christmas, it proves Vegas isn’t the least bit interested. But when they find an abandoned baby in the trash, she could be the Christmas miracle to warm Jackson’s cynical heart.

Dividers

Review:   Author Lex Chase offers up a devilishly sweet story for the Sleigh Ride 2015 Dreamspinner Advent Calendar. Even demons, in this case incubi who feed off sex, deserve a holiday, and are determined to have it when they make a bet with each other to see who can fall in love by Christmas. The only hitch is Jackson is already in love—with his long time roommate and fellow demon, Vegas. The two have settled down and run a diner that is best known for its devilishly decadent pies, but Jackson is tired of cleaning the diner’s grease traps, and more than fed up with trying to hide his feelings for Vegas. To top off the whole crazy wager, a baby is left on their doorstep, and it is up to Jackson to make sure she is taken care of, especially since she can’t seem to stand the sight of poor Vegas.

Only Lex Chase could create such a crazy-hot and adorable Christmas story with a decidedly unique twist. The relationship and interchanges between Jackson and Vegas were sharp and humorous while also bordering on the frustrating—-all they had to do was admit how they felt, and yet the constant dance around those emotions made for a fun romp of a story. With more than a fair share of snark and sarcasm, the story flew along, fraught with sexual tension that you could cut with a knife. The resolution of that tension made for a very hot sex scene that left me breathless!

Loving and Loathing Vegas is an unusual and clever contribution to this year’s Advent calendar. While it would have been great to know a bit more about the baby’s origins and the backstory of the two incubi themselves, this little snippet is sure to delight and amuse you this holiday season.

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You can buy Loving And Loathing Vegas here:

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5 Stars, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, John Inman, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Scrudge & Barley, Inc. by John Inman

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Amazon

Amazon

Title: Scrudge & Barley, Inc.

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I found this story to be just brilliant.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: A classic tale takes off in sexy new directions! Poor Mr. Dickens must be twirling in his grave.

When E.B. Scrudge, putz extraordinaire and all-around numbnuts, is visited by his dead ex on Christmas Eve, he can’t imagine how his life could sink any lower. But the three ghostly spirits that come along after are even worse! Good lord, a dyke, a drag queen, and rounding out the trio, a big, hunky bear with nipple rings and a butt plug! What’s next?

What’s next is a good deal of soul-searching and some hard lessons learned with a dash of redemption thrown in for good measure.

And love too, believe it or not. Love that had been simmering all along at the heart of Scrudge’s miserable existence, although he was too selfish to see it—until a trio of holiday beasties pointed his sorry ass in the right direction.

Dividers

Review: Such a well-known story—that of Scrooge and his miserly life, which is interrupted by three ghostly apparitions one lonely Christmas eve. It’s a classic tale that is performed and read every holiday season. Imagine my delight when I heard that author John Inman had re-imagined the old tale and given it new life, a clever twist that morphed into an amazing story called Scrudge & Barley, Inc.

E.B. Scrudge is a nasty man. Having learned from his predecessor, Barley, Ebbie has taken to the love of money and the glee of inflicting misery on others with gusto. He has no regard for his fellow man and unashamedly uses his faithful secretary, Willie, for occasional physical release. This Christmas Eve finds Ebbie handing out his special brand of Christmas cheer in the guise of termination notices delivered by poor Willie. Once done, he ignores the small gift his secretary has for him, uses him for sex and then sends him on his way without a backward glance. After attending the ballet, Ebbie returns home to his penthouse apartment, and a night of terror, revelation and soul searching begins. By morning, E.B. Scrudge will be a changed man—but will it be too late to undo all the harm he has done and prove to Willie he does have a heart after all?

If you have never read Dickens’ version of Scrooge, then this brilliant and campy version may not mean quite as much to you, dear reader, but trust me when I tell you this piece of work was so cleverly done. Not only are the three “ghosts” who visit Ebbie simultaneously terrifying and amusing, the build up to the visits, the eerie setup with lights going off and noises rattling the night, are rather scary to read. But it is the transformation in Ebbie himself that is so genuinely played out as the hours race by—this is the real beauty of the story. Far beyond a truly delightful retelling of an old classic, Scrudge & Barley, Inc. explores the place in each of us that allows for that bit of selfishness to grow. How many times have we passed the homeless and thought they could find work if they truly tried? Or perhaps remarked that it is not “our responsibility” to save everyone? Just these few scenes—and the uncanny voice of the narrator reminding us that we too may see a bit of “Scrudge” in the mirror is enough to realize that lurking behind this simple Christmas fare is a deeper message: hold on to your humanity at all costs lest you find yourself a scrooge as well.

I found this story to be just brilliant. I enjoyed the careful way this author reworked a somewhat tired and overused story and made it relevant and entertaining again. Not only that, I loved that Willie was not a carpet for Ebbie to walk over but more a compassionate and loving man who faced his difficult life head on and knew his own mind. Scrudge & Barley, Inc. is a fantasy wrapped in love and a touch of whimsy. If you are looking for a fresh and well-written holiday story, Scrudge & Barley, Inc. will fill that ticket nicely. I highly recommend this one to you!

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You can buy Scrudge & Barley, Inc. here:

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4 Stars, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Rob Rosen, Short Story

Review: Best Laid Trap by Rob Rosen

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Best Laid Trap (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Rob Rosen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 24 Pages

At a Glance: Fans of Rob Rosen will immediately latch on to his wickedly humorous writing style and slightly crazed characters.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Roy has a crush on Steve, so when a work-related ski weekend is offered, Roy jumps at the chance to finally lay a trap for his hunky coworker. An abandoned cabin nearby is perfect for his scheme, and Roy stocks it with champagne, rubbers, and lube. But fate intervenes, and it’s not Steve, but Ranger Josh, who ends up trapped in the cabin with Roy during an avalanche. Roy’s plan might be ruined, but there’s still a chance for a very happy New Year indeed.

Dividers

Review: It’s holiday time and Rob Rosen offers up Best Laid Trap, another offering form the Dreamspinner Advent Calendar: Sleigh Ride. I must admit I am a huge fan of Rosen’s acerbic wit and snarky repartee, and this little short starts out in typical Rosen style, replete with a near stream of consciousness from the narrator and star of the story, Roy.

The plot is a simple one: Roy has been crushing on a coworker and accidentally finds an abandoned cabin right off the bunny trail at the ski resort they are both staying. With seduction on his mind, Roy sets the trap for his amour and sits back to wait. Little did he know that Mother Nature, a randy forest ranger, and some karma would change his whole night–and perhaps his future as well.

Be forewarned, this short story is about as insta-lust as you can get, but with lots of humor and a fairly hot, lengthy sex scene to boot. This is a mere snippet, so if you are looking for a great deal of character development, or much past a short rendezvous with a hint of a happy-ever-after, then this might not be the selection for you. However, fans of Rob Rosen will immediately latch on to his wickedly humorous writing style and slightly crazed characters.

Roy is sweet and funny as he lays out his night of seduction for a coworker. When he finds that he is going to be left high and dry, he barely has time to be disappointed before the ranger of his dreams appears and he grabs opportunity with both hands! Barely a short story, Rosen still manages to pack this gem with soppy moments filled with inner dialogue from Roy’s head that will have you laughing. All in all, this was a fun romp that will leave you wanting just a little more!

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You can buy Best Laid Trap here:

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5 Stars, Abigail Roux, Andrea Speed, Anne Tenino, Anthology, Comedy, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Riptide Publishing

Review: My Haunted Blender’s Gay Love Affair, and Other Twisted Tales Anthology

Title: My Haunted Blender’s Gay Love Affair, and Other Twisted Tales

Authors: Abigail Roux, Andrea Speed, and Anne Tenino

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 340 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: A collection of not-so-chilling tales of love and laughter from three of the genre’s masters of pulp.

In The Bone Orchard by Abigail Roux – Pinkerton investigator Ezra Johns and US Marshal Ambrose Shaw have a lot to learn about life—and the afterlife—in their quest to bring a vicious murderer to justice. Fortunately, they’ve got all the time in the world to figure it out. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Comedy, Hank Edwards, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Kim, Wilde City Press

Review: “Repossession is 9/10ths of the Law” by Hank Edwards

Title: Repossession Is 9/10ths of the Law

Author: Hank Edwards

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count:

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Alan Baxter barely scrapes by working as a deejay in suburban Detroit. To make ends meet, he takes a job as an automobile repossession agent, and discovers his very first assignment is a car owned by his drug dealer ex-boyfriend. On top of that, a body is discovered in the trunk…by a cop. Soon Alan’s life is completely upturned as he is pulled into a mystery involving more bodies, a highly lethal new street drug, a mysterious man with a top hat and cane, raging dwarves, a house fire, a cranky police detective, and his even crankier cat! Continue reading

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3 Stars, Andrea Speed, Comedy, Reviewed by Rena, Riptide Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Andrea Speed’s “City of Monsters” Is A Fun Paranormal Romp

Title: City of Monsters

Author: Andrea Speed

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 72 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: Hunter is a human turned animal shifter in Nightshade, a literal city of monsters in a near-Earth dimension called Dev. All sorts of beasts reside here, unable to return to Earth, yet still plagued by the same jealousies, rivalries, and needs of any human. Resolving them is Hunter’s job. Continue reading

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4.5 Stars, Comedy, Genre Romance, JL Merrow, Reviewed by Jules, Romantic Comedy, Samhain Publishing

A Man Can’t Outrun His Past In JL Merrow’s “Caught!”

“Love is the absence of judgement.” – Dalai Lama


Title: Caught! (The Shamwell Tales: Book One)

Author: JL Merrow

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 276 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: You can run from the past…but the past runs faster.

Behind Robert’s cheerfully eccentric exterior lies a young heart battered and bruised by his past. He’s taken a job teaching in a village primary school to make a fresh start, and love isn’t part of his plans. But he’s knocked for six—literally—by a chance encounter with the uncle of two of his pupils. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Comedy, Marshall Thornton, Reviewed by Kim, Wilde City Press

A Boyfriend May Be The Answer To The Problem In Marshall Thornton’s “My Favorite Uncle”

Title: My Favorite Uncle

Author: Marshall Thornton

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Martin Dixon’s carefully constructed peaceful life is turned upside down.

When his super Christian eighteen year-old nephew Carter shows up unexpectedly on his doorstep and announces that he’s gay, Martin’s first impulse is to send him back to his parents. But when he discovers that Carter has been in a mental hospital to cure his gay-ness, he realizes he’s stuck with the boy. Unfortunately, the two get on each other’s nerves, each driving the other to distraction. Independently, they each arrive at the same conclusion. The other would be much less annoying if he only had…a boyfriend. Continue reading

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