4 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, M.A. Ray, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: The High King’s Will by M.A. Ray



Title: The High King’s Will (Steel for the Prince: Book One)

Author: M.A. Ray

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 185 Pages

At a Glance: The High King’s Will takes off on an exciting and action packed adventure.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: “The High King’s will crushes all before it. …Fare well, Eagle Eye Wormsbane. If you can.”

Eagle Eye’s world is full of magic. Fairies love him, and his only real friend is the resident unicorn, but since he killed the Worm of Shirith, nothing feels the same. When he collides with beautiful, broken Brother Fox a second time, he knows there’s no going back.

“I’m not in love with him. He needs help, that’s all.”

There’s no shortage of monsters in Fox’s life. The Worm was nothing compared to his own father, High King Beagar. When Eagle suggests an escape, Fox seizes the idea–and he wants Eagle with him.

“Damn propriety! I don’t want a servant! I want you to be my friend!”

The High King’s designs send Eagle and Fox across the sea to Rodansk, a land of summer sunshine at midnight and endless winter dark. Between the two, low-caste Eagle presents the bigger threat to Beagar’s power, and he didn’t even know it. Now that his Prince is giving him so much to lose, he won’t go down without a fight.

“Don’t be afraid. …I’m with you.”


Review: Filled with magic, betrayal, danger, and mayhem—not to mention a couple of engaging heroes—M.A. Ray’s The High King’s Will sweeps readers along on an exciting high fantasy adventure. Digging into this story, I have to confess I wasn’t sure whether I was reading a fable or folk lore or a fairy tale. It turns out the answer is yes, I was reading a little bit of all those things, and I found this book to be a delightful tale with a New Adult feel.

Eagle Eye has just been named Wormsbane. He’s slain a dragon and saved the life of Brother Fox, the Crown Prince, but feels unworthy of the title that’s been bestowed upon him by the High King Beagar, certain that it wasn’t skill but luck that was with him that day. When the author introduces us to Eagle and Fox (whose names are what kept me wondering at the start of the book if I was reading a fable or maybe the re-imagining of a Native American folk tale), we don’t learn as much about the slaying as we do about the High King—namely that he’s never going to be up for father of the year. He’s abusive in some brutal and heinous ways, and as the story evolves, we see exactly why Fox is so eager to set off with Eagle to see the world when he has the opportunity.

What I didn’t understand for a good ways into this tale is exactly what sort of creatures Eagle and Fox are. I only knew for sure they weren’t at all human—it’s actually a bit difficult to get a good mental picture of what they do look like, at least for me—but the author does make sure we get a clear picture of this fairy tale world inhabited by trolls, dragons, fairies, elves, as well as humans, not to mention the magic and courage our heroes possess. The world-building along with my compassion for Fox and respect for Eagle made for some good binge reading.

As it turns out, the High King allowing Fox to set off on his adventure, accompanied by Eagle as his guard, wasn’t a rare kindness displayed by a father toward his son. There were much more sinister motives involved, and as the boys discover their journey is going to turn into a fight for survival, this story draws you in to all the danger they face, in the classic hero’s journey fashion. The action scenes are well written and fraught with tension, making for a brisk paced read.

Our young lovers have only just begun, and there are more than a few obstacles they’ll have to overcome, not the least of which is that Fox’s life is the stuff of nightmares and there are many things he’s done and had done to him he can’t put behind him. As the book draws to a close, we’re also left on the cusp of change for Eagle… Yes, the story ends in a cliffhanger, so what that change is remains to be seen. I’m looking so forward to book two to find out, and can only hope these boys will find a talisman of good fortune or that fate will throw some luck their way. Something tells me they’re going to need it.

I’m always excited to be introduced to new authors, and if the entire series lives up to the promise of The High King’s Will, M.A. Ray is one I’ll be paying close attention to.






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4 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Boys Who Go Bump in the Night by Josephine Myles and JL Merrow



Title: Boys Who Go Bump in the Night (Mad About the Brit Boys: Book Two)

Author: Josephine Myles and JL Merrow

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 84 Pages

At a Glance: Short stories and the supernatural and this pair of authors combine to make for some really good reading.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: When boy meets (supernatural) boy

Buckle up as two queens of British gay romance take you on a whistlestop tour of all things paranormal. Vampires, genies, ghosts, magicians and shifters all get their chance for a bit of boy on boy action, in five erotic stories that span the range from the humorous to the sublime.

Will you seek to make your fortune with magic and ritual, or pin your hopes on a genie’s power to grant wishes? Discover a shifty young man on a Scottish shoreline, meet a hapless garlic farmer who’s been turned into one of the undead–and if you dare to venture into the cellar, gird your loins for a horny ghost!

These stories have all been previously published, but are now available exclusively in this anthology.


Review: Some authors you read no matter what: don’t care about the blurb, don’t care about the sub-genre, you just read them. Josephine Myles and JL Merrow happen to be two such authors for me. Combine this with my love of short stories, and Boys Who Go Bump in the Night was pretty much a guaranteed win.

Several of the stories in this anthology are short enough I might even call them flash fiction, but the common theme (besides the fact they’re all previously published) is that they share a paranormal/fantasy element, and some of them are just purely erotic and don’t play at being otherwise. JL Merrow starts the collection with Leeches and Layabouts, and the first thing that stands out is that the story is told with the author’s trademark sense of humor and gift for taking a fairly mundane human woe and turning it into a clever boy-meets-vampire story. A vampire who grows garlic? Yep. A human who loves living off of government assistance just a little too well. Yep. It’s the perfect marriage of need and want when Art interviews for a job with Crispin, who loves his garlic but can no longer eat it because, well…vampire. But ingenuity abounds, and Crispin gets both his man and his garlic fix.

A horny incubus in Something Queer, blood magic and stone circles in Sacrifice add to the mix of supernatural offered in this anthology, leading to the final two tales. JL Merrow’s Et in Orcadia is my absolute favorite of the five in the collection. It’s a story that blends the tragedy of lost love, the romanticism of man’s call to the sea, and a mysterious stranger who knows that call better than any human. But he also knows the allure of the land and the desire to comfort a man in his grief. A grief they both share. I loved the emotional intimacy of Runi and David’s story, brief though it was. It did a fantastic job of plucking at my sentimental heartstrings.

Finally, bookending the lighthearted beginning of Boys Who Go Bump in the Night is Josephine Myles’ One Last Wish, a fun and sweet little story about a poor genie who’s just tired of being imprisoned in his lamp for the past two hundred years. Scott is the lucky human to rub Xavier’s lamp just the right way—three wishes are his—but Scott ends up surprising Xavier with the way he chooses to use them. And then, well, they end up rubbing each other just the right way.

If you love one of these authors, or both of them, and love a good short story, I don’t think you can go wrong with this collection.






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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Truth in the Dark by Amy Lane – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

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Title: Truth in the Dark

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 4 Hours and 40 Minutes

At a Glance: Truth in the Dark is a fantastic fairy tale, and I loved how this one ended.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: “I am not beautiful…”

Knife’s entire existence has been as twisted as his flesh and his face. The only thing beautiful in his life is his sister. When Gwennie is obliged to turn a suitor down because she fears to leave her brother to the brutality of their village, Knife is desperate for anything to ensure her happiness.

Her suitor’s cousin offers him a way out, but it won’t be easy. Aerie-Smith has been cursed to walk upright in the form of a beast, and his beloved village suffers from the same spell. Aerie-Smith offers Gwen a trousseau and some hope, if only Knife will keep him company on his island for the span of a year and perform one “regrettable task” at year’s end.

Knife is unprepared for the form the island’s curse takes on his own misshapen body. In one moment of magic, he is given the body of his dreams—and he discovers that where flesh meets spirit and appearance meet reality; sometimes the only place to find truth is in the darkness of a lover’s arms.


Review: Truth in the Dark was actually the very first book I ever read by Amy Lane. I started off with a sample and before I knew it, I was downloading the rest of the story on my Kindle, and I haven’t missed one of her stories since, so when I saw that the book had finally made it to audio, my reaction was…MINE! And wow! It did more than meet my expectations as one of my all time favorite stories.

Nick J. Russo is a fairly new-to-me narrator, but Dreamspinner Press and Amy Lane picked a winner for narrating this novel. Russo did an amazing job of bringing Naef (aka Knife) to life. I could actually close my eyes and picture everything in my mind’s eyes as Russo narrated the story. I could feel Naef’s bitterness for the curveball life had thrown at him; yet knowing that deep down in his soul lay a beautiful person that only a beast could see. I could also sense the burden that Aerie-Smith carried inside him over one selfish act that affected not only him but his people as well.

Truth in the Dark is a fantastic fairy tale, and I loved how this one ended. And, it’s a highly recommended listen, a novel I would gladly listen to again and again. If you can’t listen to it, read it!





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4 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Inkstained Succubus Press, Reviewed by Lisa, S. Zanne, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: 1KRV5 by S. Zanne

Title: 1KRV5

Author: S. Zanne

Publisher: Inkstained Succubus Press

Pages/Word Count: 67 Pages

At a Glance: The next time you’re in the mood for a short story that offers a little something outside the norm, something a bit different, I’d recommend giving this one a go.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: The world of genetic experimentation is highly regulated. Mikkel’s beautiful creations are as illegal as they are magnificent, and none so miraculous as Icarus, his perfect lover and companion. But love and good intent may not be enough to protect their little enclave. A new child may just tip the scales…and place Icarus and his Master at risk.


Review: When da Vinci sketched Vitruvian Man, it was meant to depict the artist’s vision of the perfectly formed male, a blend of artistry and anatomy. 1KRV5, known in this story as Icarus, is author S. Zanne’s blend of mythology and art set in a sort of cyberpunk alternate universe, where human tissue is harvested illegally to create a new species. Icarus is Mikkel’s greatest creation, beauty in both form and feature, an earthbound angel—wings and all.

Reading this short and haunting story, one can’t help but make comparisons to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus. There are similar moral questions involved, those that examine mere mortals playing gods in the creation of life; though, unlike Victor Frankenstein, Mikkel is not the human monster who plays his version of God and then abandons his creation. Rather, harkening to another character in mythology, we see a Pygmalion-esque relationship formed between Mikkel and Icarus, in that Mikkel has fallen deeply in love with the life that sprang from his experimentation.

1KRV5 is bleak in both tone and storyline, but at the same time there is a poetry to its telling. There is love, there is the frailty of human life paired with the beauty of the artificial life form, and there is a bitter irony, the mockery of a man given wings but not the ability to fly. Icarus is the caged bird who longs to take to the sky but must remain locked away, admired, even worshiped, by his Master, but still a possession in the end. And, when Mikkel’s hubris catches up with him in the form of a dysfunctional child he created, we are left at the end to wonder if we’ve witnessed a tragedy or merely an inevitable outcome of his arrogance.

1KRV5 is a different sort of love story, not romantic in content yet there is a romanticism among its darker elements. The next time you’re in the mood for a short story that offers a little something outside the norm, something a bit different, I’d recommend giving this one a go.





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5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, L.M. Brown, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Angel, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Tempestuous Tides by L.M. Brown

Title: Tempestuous Tides (Mermen and Magic: Book Two)

Author: L.M. Brown

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 270 Pages

At a Glance: An engaging sequel that furthers and enhances the amazing world L.M. Brown has created.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Bound by a curse, two mermen find the greatest love of their lives, but can they keep it?

Justin is a merman who has been raised on land. He hates his fins and wants nothing to do with his heritage.

Lucas is an ambitious merman who has lived his whole life in Atlantis. He has spent his adulthood hiding his sexuality because homosexual relationships are forbidden in the underwater city. Now he has been sent on a mission by King Nereus to locate his oldest son and bring him back to Atlantis to take his place as the heir to the throne.

Although his mission seems impossible, Lucas finds help from the Atlantean Goddess of Love, little knowing that she has her own reasons for bringing Lucas and Justin together.

Justin is no stranger to immortals, having been raised by two of them, but he has no idea of the consequences of angering the Goddess of Love. When he insults her, she curses him to find love only to lose it forever shortly after. As the love ‘em and leave ‘em type, Justin isn’t overly concerned, at least until Lucas enters his life and he sees how the curse will end.

Together they could have the greatest love of their lives, but only if they can appease the furious goddess before their time runs out.


Review: I have read L.M. Brown before, and I really enjoyed the worlds created and the author’s writing style. Tempestuous Tides is another book that follows the same pattern.

Tempestuous Tides isn’t a standalone story, as this book picks up soon after the first one, Forbidden Waters. I loved this sequel that furthered the original story and introduced wonderful and new characters. Once I began, I was immediately sucked back into this underwater world of gods and mortals, and read it straight on through. Hopefully, this review will entice you to try this series without overly spoiling the fantastically created and wonderful details of the series.

Tempestuous Tides returns to the world of Atlantis and its mer citizens. There are ancient gods and goddesses at work here in Brown’s world, reminiscent of the legends of the Greek gods and the Fae. The rules of the Atlantean world and modern society mix with the tropes of the shifter genre with an interesting outcome. I really loved how Brown weaves the legends of our world into the society that she has created.

The story is rich with details about both mortal and mer society, and I couldn’t wait to read about the citizens of this verse again. I was thrilled that Brown had several return characters play a part in this new story. It was wonderful to see how they had progressed, but the story is completely about Lucas and Justin.

While book one set the stage and background of the mer society, book two is more about how the mer people continue on when they are slowly dying out. Mortals are encroaching on the oceans, even though Atlantis is hidden, and there are the other inherent dangers of the oceans. Ancient rules and laws are stifling the society, and there is dissension in the ranks of the people because nothing is changing.

The King sees this and begins to make changes, but he needs his heir to continue on. An heir that possibly doesn’t even know he is royal. Lucas is appointed to find the King’s heir with only select knowledge about where he is going to attempt his mission.

Justin knows he’s mer, and wants nothing to do with the society he believes abandoned him and his mother. Enter Lucas, and all sorts of sparks fly, changing both men to a surprising degree.

Lucas and Justin’s story is similar to the old tales where the Fae or Greek gods interfered in mortal lives for entertainment. Ultimately, this book and verse is about acceptance, tolerance and compromise. There’s give and take in both worlds, and the old gods are waking, and no one is pleased about it; mortals or immortals.

The happy ending is hard fought for and won, and I loved how things worked out for Justin and Lucas. There is still the undercurrent of the society falling apart, but things are changing. Whether it is for the good or bad remains to be seen. I hope that Brown continues this verse, as I am eagerly looking forward to finding out how the mortals and immortals work things out.

Thank you, L. M. Brown, for another fantastic read!





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4 Stars, Diane Adams, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Rearranging the Stars by Diane Adams

Title: Rearranging Stars

Author: Diane Adams

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 117 Pages

At a Glance: All in all, as a love story, Rearranging Stars scores high points.

Blurb: The freedom to love comes with a cost.

As a guardian angel, Drake’s destiny is written in the stars. Choice is not part of an angel’s life. Drake never thought twice about it until he’s unexpectedly thrust into watching over Grey, who inspires passion in Drake but endangers his very identity as a guardian angel. Grey is more than just another human—he can see angels. When he discovers that unlike his previous angel Drake will talk to him, Grey becomes determined to pull Drake off the sidelines and into life. Attraction flares between them from the beginning and causes Drake to question his purpose for the first time. His distraction results in a decision that changes everything—and not just for him and Grey.


Review: Drake is a guardian angel. Unlike the others who seem to forget their humans the instant they pass away, Drake broods over every loss and spends time between assignments remembering the one who has died. You see, Drake is usually assigned to gay men, and they often commit suicide—something Drake is not allowed to intervene in to stop. Plus, his humans cannot see him, never interact with him, and are essentially unaware Drake even exists. However, Grey is different. He not only sees Drake but can touch him, hear him, and, eventually, wants him.

Grey has been different all his life. With an innate sense of justice that led him to participate in a neighborhood watch, Grey seems to laugh at danger and the idea of a guardian angel. But Drake is different—more real—more captivating. When Grey discovers that angels can shuffle off their heavenly status and become corporeal, he never considers Drake may do just that—but, then again, he never thought he would fall in love with an angel either.

Rearranging Stars by Diane Adams is a clever take on the idea of each person having their own guardian angel. Deliberately leaving out any clues as to their origin and the idea of a “god” being their father, the author instead has her angel force in a sort of limbo, never understanding or questioning where they came from or whether god even exists. They have a job to guard their humans, and it is simple and direct, with clear rules about interfering in the natural order. If you are looking for an in-depth world building kingdom explaining the concept of angels, look again. This is a love story: pure, simple and sweet to the end.

That which causes Drake to consider becoming corporeal is none other than his love for his human, Grey. The driving force for more than half of this story is the simple yet profound theme of what freedom costs and what a person, supernatural or otherwise, will give up to love the one they desire. This theme is the main success story of this novella—it is straightforward and never abandoned. We watch as these two men fall deeply in love, and despair when it seems that even in human form, Drake is not going to have his happy ever after.

However, when the subplot announcing some sort of herald being needed to spur on the angels and re-ignite the fervor for their jobs was introduced, the story began to lose its way and I never quite understood the reason for this shift in the story. Apparently the “herald” would give them purpose, more compassion and connection to their person, and a desire to remain as guardians rather than toss it in and become human. Yet, what exactly these were and why it was so vital he appear was confusing. I know it had something to do with Drake and his survival, but the whole concept of what this super-angel would do was left undeveloped.

All in all, as a love story, Rearranging Stars scores high points. Unfortunately, the focus on the “savior” idea and how it would impact the angels was weaker and, I feel, watered down an otherwise strong and well written supernatural tale of sacrifice and love.





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5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Loose Id, Madeleine Ribbon, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Death by Dragon by Madeleine Ribbon

Title: Death by Dragon

Author: Madeleine Ribbon

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 283 Pages

At a Glance: A little bit of fairy tale and a heaping helping of fantasy with a side of action and danger kept this clever and fast paced story moving along.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Fell Harwick, half-incubus and witch extraordinaire, knows how he’ll die. Ever since he was a child, he’s had visions of a dragon tearing him to pieces. Since he’s not terribly fond of the idea–and the power-hungry vampire that killed his mother is now after him for his unprecedented healing abilities–he’s gone into hiding. But when a pair of shifters get shot in front of his cabin in the woods, he feels obligated to keep them safe.

Jett and Theodore are members of the local resistance, fighting against the same vamp that wants Fell. Theodore is a beautiful, tragic mess, and Jett hates all incubi on principle–something Fell finds out as he tries to take energy to power his healing magic.

Jett and Fell might have been able to work around one paranormal prejudice. Jett even encourages Fell into sex with Theodore when he needs energy. But then Fell discovers that his future killer has been sleeping on his couch.


Review: If you’ve ever finished a book and thought, Dear gods of all fiction, please let there be a sequel, then you’ve been exactly where I am after reading Madeleine Ribbon’s Death by Dragon. Not because the storyline necessarily needs one but because the characters and the world they live in need one. And me. I need one too.

Being a shameless Buy-Now-With-1-Click impulse shopping addict, there were two reasons I bought this book, author unknown to me. First, the title. The second reason, the cover (Fell’s definitely an “I licked him, therefore he is mine” sort of a guy). Why I loved this book, however, has much to do with the narrator of the story, Fell (short for Raphael) Harwick. Fell is a witch with extraordinary healing abilities. He’s also become a bit of a recluse since there’s a vampire who aims to kidnap him and make Fell his mindless meat-puppet in an attempt to reign supreme over the kingdom of “others” with which Ribbon has populated this novel. Witch: check. Vampires: check. Shifters: check. Dragon: check-check. What makes Fell an outcast even more than being a witch, though, is the other half of his biology, courtesy of his father. Fell’s also part incubus, and we all know what sort of shenanigans the incubi are capable of.

But wait, there’s more…

There’s also a great plot to Fell’s story, one that’s a little bit fairy tale and a heaping helping of fantasy with a side of action and danger that kept this clever and fast paced story moving along. Fell is a nerdy guy who has a wicked sense of humor and a sharp tongue he’s not afraid to hone on anyone who gets in his way. There were plenty of times I found myself grinning, if not outright laughing, while reading Death by Dragon, but there was also a good balance between that and the political drama in which Fell is involuntarily embroiled when it becomes clear someone’s broken the laws of Silence—which, in short, means there’ve been supernaturals exposing their existence to humans.

When a group of shifter-hunting men trespass on Fell’s lawn and bring danger to his doorstep, he’s forced into involuntary cohabitation with two of the injured survivors—Theodore and Jett. Being more or less a hermit for the past year, and trusting no one, let alone a grieving shifter and his incubus-loathing brother, Fell’s forced into some major adjustments to his routine; though, there are some fringe benefits to having Theodore and Jett in his house. Namely, Fell needs a soul’s energy to power his magic—whether through kissing or sex—and Jett’s happy to pimp Theodore out for the job, and Theodore’s more than willing to supply all the lip-smacking nookie Fell needs to keep his wards up and healing powers at maximum capacity.

The building of the relationship between Fell and Theodore, and the somewhat grudging (at least on Jett’s side) friendship between Fell and Jett is handled more as an aside to the core plot, which is keeping the vampire, Jamison, from getting his hands on Fell, so I wouldn’t strictly categorize this book as a romance, even with its grand sacrifice and perfect fairy tale ending. The beauty is in the buildup of the alliances, the evidence of betrayal, and the fallout from it all, which impacts Fell, Theodore, and Jett, all three, in a thoroughly heart-tugging way. And there’s even quite a touching reunion between Fell and his absentee incubus father, which I loved for its warmth and support of Fell.

Does Jett ever overcome his prejudice of Fell’s soul-sucker lineage? Does Fell’s vision of death-by-dragon come to fruition? Well, the blurb gives you a few clues to the riddle, but I’ll not give the rest because that would spoil the story. Suffice it to say, though, that finding the answers to these questions was an absolute treat, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you discover them on your own.



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4 Stars, Becky Black, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Reviewed by Taz, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Immutable by Becky Black

Title: Immutable

Author: Becky Black

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 62 Pages

At a Glance: I read Immutable with an eye for what the author was trying to teach, and that lesson seems to fall somewhere between the importance of honesty and the perils of selfishness.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Every night, in the tiny cottage he shares with his dying mother, lonely young shepherd Callum dreams of having a lover by his side. A man to share his bed and his life. One day, as he gathers driftwood on the beach, he finds Breen, a beautiful, naked stranger. Breen makes love to him, leaving Callum certain he’s only a fantasy. But the stunning Breen is there again the next day—fulfilling Callum’s every wish. Then Callum’s hopes are shattered when he learns of Breen’s true nature. Panic and desperation drive Callum to commit a terrible betrayal to try to keep Breen from leaving him.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.


Review: Immutable has a fairy tale/folklore feel to it. Set on an island with old fashioned views, where everyone knows everyone, our main character, Callum, is unable to live his life fully and completely. He cares for his ailing mother until she dies, but in his time of darkness, he finds happiness in Breen, a stranger he found by the sea, who seems more than human.

I’m really glad the publisher provided a disclaimer that the story was bittersweet because it does not have a HEA or HFN. Since I was prepared for this, I wasn’t frustrated when the relationship between the two protagonists began to falter and ultimately failed. Instead, I read with an eye for what the author was trying to teach, and that lesson seems to fall somewhere between the importance of honesty and the perils of selfishness. As the story progressed, Callum was outright deceitful in an attempt to hold onto Breen. This made him rather unlikable, but since I knew the story was bittersweet, I was able to look past his selfish choices.

Breen too was less than forthcoming about who he was, but as the story unfolded, we learned that his behavior was part of his nature. As a mystical creature of the sea, he would one day leave and not return. When Callum discovered this, he took steps to prevent that from happening, which, in turn, created animosity and disappointment between the two of them. Only at the end did he realize the error of his choices.

Even though Callum did not end up with his love, he didn’t crumple to pieces and face an eternity of empty despair. The author leaves us with the idea that our central character, Callum, will go into the world a wiser person and, with some luck, will find the happiness he’d not found before. But we are also left with a sense of disappointment in him for having manipulated another person in order to suit his own needs. Even out of insecurity and longing for companionship, true love does not manifest itself in the form of trapping or compelling others to do things.

For me, this was a flaw in the story. Once Callum behaved selfishly, disregarding the needs of the man he loved, it became difficult for me to continue liking him and caring about the relationship. I was glad Breen left in the end, and hope Callum will remember the importance of honesty and the importance of giving rather than taking when in a relationship.



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5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Meg Amor, Reviewed by Lana, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Hawaiian Lei by Meg Amor

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Title: Hawaiian Lei

Author: Meg Amor

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 231 Pages

At a Glance: Don’t miss this one!

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Beau Toyama, a “mixed plate” Hawaiian/Japanese/Tahitian man, is a flight instructor on the Big Island of Hawai’i. He’s a lovely, gentle, shy soul from a dysfunctional island. One day his wife Mikey said, “I love you, babe, but this isn’t working. I need a good man…” She’d paused. “And so do you.”

Matt Quintal, a New Zealand painter with a Norfolk Island and Maori background, has been living the “gay scene” in LA and knows it’s a crock. Needing to escape, his Polynesian soul is drawn back to the Pacific. He visits his sister Rach in Kona on the Big Island, where his spirit connects.

When Matt’s heart is drawn to the sound of a biplane’s radial engines flying overhead, his life is about to change. There’s an instant soul connection and heat between Beau and Matt. Unbeknownst to them, the spirit of Beau’s mom, Tehani, has guided Matt home to Beau.

Beau and Matt need to work together to overcome family dysfunction and abuse. Can they reveal their deep emotional vulnerabilities to find redemption and healing? What they both want is a loving relationship. But they must allow their hearts and souls to open before they can love and trust again.


Review: How do I describe Hawaiian Lei? The only way I can is to say that it’s all about the feels! I suggest having a box of tissues and a pint of ice cream handy, because this is a very emotional story that you will not soon forget. I had goose bumps while reading it, and kept thinking about it long after I was done. Yes, I loved it.

The story is set in Hawaii, and after reading another Hawaii story, I think I have to plan a trip there soon! Hawaii itself is such a character.

Two men, Matt and Beau, are brought together through fate, destiny, or whatever you want to call it, but nevertheless, they were meant to be together. I do believe that sometimes there are forces at play that just cannot be explained. If you are not as open minded, though, this book might seem hokey. But, if you are open to the unexplained, you’ll be left with goose bumps as I was.

Matt is a Kiwi living in LA. He is an artist who’s fed up with the whole LA scene and after many one night stands, he escapes to Hawaii to stay with his sister. One day at the beach, they see a plane flying, and he needs to know who’s flying it. Something calls to him, and Matt is pulled toward it. The pilot is Beau, a Polynesian god who instantly feels the same connection to Matt, and they begin a tenuous relationship. Beau is newly out of the closet and has insecurities that he’s trying to overcome. Both have complicated histories, with lots of emotional baggage, extended family issues, and exes. This is a very emotional story, and the emotions leap off the page and stay with you.

I loved Beau and Matt. They are definitely going on my favorite couples list. Both men completed each other perfectly, and they were perfectly scorching together. Those parts of the book will make you a little bit hot and bothered.
The story deals with dreams and omens, and I really found it interesting the way all were woven together. The story is very mystical and symbolic. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s worth the read.

One more thing, I would like to think that the author wanted to be a little cheeky by naming the book Hawaiian Lei because I can definitely agree that this is a perfect “Lei” in more ways than one. Don’t miss this one!


You can buy Hawaiian Lei here:

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Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore

Guest Post: The Immortal Fairy Tale by Amy Lane


Blood in the Forest — What I Know of Fairy Tales

When I was a kid, my parents used to ship me off to my grandparents for the summer.  We didn’t have a lot of money—or a lot of space—so I was allowed to bring two books. Books were bad. If I brought books I would spend my time reading and no time interacting with the really boring old people I was staying with. (Some grandparents can be fun and exciting and do things like take their grandchildren camping and horseback riding and shopping. Some of them can be like these grandparents who played solitaire in the backyard for fun.)

So I took two books—I took giant anthologies of children’s stories and fairy tales, and I read the holy crap out of those two giant books.

One summer I brought The Blue Fairy Book and a collection of Norwegian fairy tales, and, again, read the holy crap out of those two giant books.  And I came to believe—like, in my bones believe—the following things:

  • It was not just because I was nine years old and being parented in the 70’s. The world really was that random.
  • Authority was capricious at best and cruel at the worst. It was totally cool to be a treasonous peon if you ended up with a bad prince or a psychotic queen.
  • It was not just my imagination—the cats, the horses, and even the damned plants all knew more than I did.
  • Punishment for being a total douche was just and brutal and could not be escaped.
  • Giants (including giant corporations and giant governments) really don’t have their hearts in their bodies.
  • Sex is everywhere, but it’s never spoken.
  • Women could be brave, resourceful, and vengeful. (It was only Disney who said they had to be rescued by a man.)
  • Men could raise children. They weren’t great at the girl stuff, but their hearts were in the right place.
  • Siblings were both a great trial and a great blessing.
  • If your husband/wife was a complete and total psychopath, it was totally cool to kill him/her and get the hell out of dodge with the scullery maid/stable boy.
  • There were three elements of all magic: touch, blood, and song.
  • Love the ugly and unattractive, because they could give you some kickass wedding gifts when the time came, or completely fuck you up if you messed with them.
  • Stepmothers and fairy godparents were a total crapshoot. Yeah, sometimes the stepmothers could be evil… but there was always that one in the obscure story in the middle who was on your side.  And the reverse goes with fairy godparents—remember, Maleficent was Aurora Dawn’s least favorite aunt.
  • Just because you got dumped into a pit with spiders and asps did not mean you were dead. Suck it up and keep going.

And, my favorite…

  • Ones own children were always the prettiest.

So, there you go. All of that beautiful passion, drilled into my head at a young impressionable age.  It was like… the key to the universe right there. Everything I wanted to know about the world, in a couple of jam-packed books!

“Ah,” but you’re thinking, “children grow up and then they learn that fairy tales aren’t for grownups at all!”

Uhm, no, actually.  Then I grew up and took a boatload of classes in literature and storytelling and how the history of the language evolved and the history of the stories we tell reflects the deeper currents of the world.  And I learned some pretty good shit.

So, did you know that…

In 1066, before the Norman invasion of England, the population of Great Britain was largely Celtic, Gaelic, or Saxon—and all of these cultures have some deeply pagan roots. In 1066, the country was taken over by the Normans, who did what conquerors do and made all of the conquer-ees into their lower classes.  So suddenly the women and men who had owned a great deal of property and had been born into prosperous families saw their property gifted to the Norman nobles (who didn’t stay around to rule and left unscrupulous men in charge) and saw their own families reduced to herding swine and tending the rich peoples’ children.

They were… disgruntled, to say the least.

And they had their stories, their legends of the old gods, the forest gods who both gave life and destroyed it, the great and terrible gods who meted out justice and hid in the smallest of natural things—the egg of a duck, three drops of blood, or a flower.

And the women, in particular, cut off from their families, forbidden by propriety to so much as speak out, were often put in the position of entertaining bored or fractious children.  So they told their old stories, the ones with the fearsome gods and the brutal justice.  But they didn’t want to frighten the children—that would be cruel—so the stories twisted, became subversive and coded.  Sex was cloaked in flowers blooming under a bed, or a kiss between a prince and a sleeping princess.  Treason was disguised as the stories of heroes overthrowing a wicked king with the help of a magic instrument that knew right from wrong. Sedition seeped out in stories of greedy giants who had no hearts, or in stolen harps that would give a kingdom back its glory.

The children just knew good stories when they heard them.

It’s almost like a good horror movie, isn’t it? The kind with the creepy innocent children’s voices, singing songs that are steeped in blood?  Those are the fairy tales I read as a child. Those are the voices that sing in my head when I think of the secret fairy tales, the ones that nobody has ever heard of, like Felicia and the Pot of Pinks, The Little Goose-Girl and The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body. 

And as for the other fairy tales, the ones with slightly different origins? Oh, I see them in the same subverted, innocently bloody way.

Beauty and the Beast came out from Disney?  That’s great—which version, I’d read four of them by the time it debuted.  The one where Belle’s spoiled sisters try to kill their father in revenge for their poverty is my favorite.

The Little Mermaid?  That’s awesome—but I bet it didn’t have the real ending, the Hans Christian Anderson ending, where the mermaid gave up her voice and her family and her home for a man who did not love her, but she could have it all back if she killed the prince and threw his heart into the ocean.

Hey, kids, do you want to hear the story of Gawain and the Green Knight—the one where the people of King Arthur’s court are kicking the Green Knight’s head like a soccer ball after it gets cut off at a Christmas feast?  Do you want to know where he came from? About the real green man who devoured human offerings to bring the world back from the dead, year after year?

Let’s sing in ethereal voices about Bluebeard and his murdered wives, or the little white cat who got her head cut off to become a princess.  How much sweet-toned blood was spilled when they nailed the head of the Goose-Girl’s horse to the archway above the king’s garden? What happened to the women, grasping above their station, who got caught reaching above those with good and pure and heart? How grisly was their demise?

Oh yes—I grew up on fairy tales, and they affected me deeply.  I don’t write about rainbows and flowers, giggles and daisies, paths strewn with rose petals and happy endings within the hero’s grasp.

I grew up on fairy tales—be prepared to fight for that lover, against forces you don’t understand. Be prepared to sacrifice and to bleed, and to have random acts of magic and the brutal justice of the gods meted out before you are ready for the battle. Know that the magic weapon is drawn, the sacrifice wines have been spilled, and the tree of life is barbed and will as soon slice your throat as give you sustenance.

I grew up on fairy tales.  I dream of bloody trees and sex under the cover of darkness and the death knell of innocence in a child’s laugh.

These are the stories I devoured with pointed teeth in the cave of my room as a child. Just imagine the rare and dripping stories I can serve as an adult, who has learned what great and terrible magics are locked away in our own hearts.

Are you ready to grow up and read fairy tales?


Blurb: When Teyth was but a child, a cruel prince took over his village, building a great granite tower to rule over the folk. Greedy and capricious, the man will be the bane of Teyth’s existence as an adult, but as a boy, Teyth is too busy escaping his stepfather to worry about his ruler.

Sold into apprenticeship to the local blacksmith, Teyth finds that what was meant as a punishment is actually his salvation. Cairsten, the smith, and Diarmuid, his adopted son, are kind, and the smithy is the prosperous heart of a thriving village. As Teyth grows in the craft of metalwork, he also grows in love for Diarmuid, the gentle, clever young man who introduces him to smithing.

Their prince wants Diarmuid too. As the tyrant inflicts loss upon loss on Teyth and Diarmuid, Teyth’s passion for his craft twists into obsession. By the time Teyth resurfaces from his quest to create immortality, he’s nearly lost the love that makes being human worth the pain. Teyth was born to sculpt his emotion into metal, and Diarmuid was born to lead. Together, can they keep their village safe and sustain the love that will make them immortal?

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks


Amy LaneAbout the Author: I am creative, distracted, and terribly weird. I love my children to distraction, and I love my hobbies even when they piss me off. I come from a double line of extremely creative, intelligent people who hated authority so much they dodged higher education, and I married a wonderful man who is quiet, conservative, devestatingly funny, and perfect. Our children are constant reminders that God and Goddess have a profound sense of humor, and that all of the things you dislike most about yourself but pretend don’t exist really do come back on the karmic wheel to kick your ass when you least expect it. My family keeps me young and humble and I try every day to make them proud. I’ve written a LOT of books–I can’t even count anymore, most of them for Dreamspinner Press and Riptide Press, but some of them published on my own. I write to placate the voices in my head, profanity is the element I swim in, and knitting socks at stoplights has become my twitch.

Connect with Amy at: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

5 Stars, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: Immortal by Amy Lane

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: Immortal

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

At a Glance: Immortal is a gorgeous novel, eloquent in its joy and sorrow, hopeful in its promise of forever, meaningful in the way of fairy tales that teach us we are each the crucibles of love, and love is the conqueror of hate.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: When Teyth was but a child, a cruel prince took over his village, building a great granite tower to rule over the folk. Greedy and capricious, the man will be the bane of Teyth’s existence as an adult, but as a boy, Teyth is too busy escaping his stepfather to worry about his ruler.

Sold into apprenticeship to the local blacksmith, Teyth finds that what was meant as a punishment is actually his salvation. Cairsten, the smith, and Diarmuid, his adopted son, are kind, and the smithy is the prosperous heart of a thriving village. As Teyth grows in the craft of metalwork, he also grows in love for Diarmuid, the gentle, clever young man who introduces him to smithing.

Their prince wants Diarmuid too. As the tyrant inflicts loss upon loss on Teyth and Diarmuid, Teyth’s passion for his craft twists into obsession. By the time Teyth resurfaces from his quest to create immortality, he’s nearly lost the love that makes being human worth the pain. Teyth was born to sculpt his emotion into metal, and Diarmuid was born to lead. Together, can they keep their village safe and sustain the love that will make them immortal?


Review: Fairy tales are a true art form, often dismissed, I feel, for their foreordained destination (the happily-ever-after) rather than appreciated for the journey, which is where the alchemy and symbolism take place. There is a darkness to fairy tales, sometimes a darkness which makes it difficult to find the light at the end of the tale, but it’s during the dark (the figurative burning of the nigredo stage of the alchemical process the hero must endure on his transformative journey) that the richness of the story exists.

This truth is present and accounted for in Amy Lane’s Immortal, the story of a ten-year-old boy sold to the town blacksmith by his wicked stepfather, the foundational villain upon which Teyth’s life is built. Cairsten, the blacksmith, is the gentle giant in this story; Diarmuid, his stalwart protégé, is possessed of the kind and patient nature which serves as the balm Teyth’s soul needs to mend the damage his stepfather had tried to do. Diarmuid is the promise Teyth’s soul needs when his body is broken and bent but his heart and spirit endure. Diarmuid is Teyth’s ascension when a fall from grace seems to leave him all but one small step from death, and it’s here that the allegorical burn resides.

As no respectable fairy tale can be complete without one, the forest plays its part in this story as well—the magical realm within a realm where dark and light, questions and answers, coexist, and is the symbolic place within which our heroes discover the greatest mysteries of life, death, love, physical and spiritual union, and loss. And even as with Shakespeare’s own Birnam Wood, it is the forest which also serves in the end to play destiny to a malicious prince. Within this wood, there is salvation and sacrifice, where trees are the gods that hear confessions. Within this wood, there is vengeance and asylum. Within this wood, there is a covenant of divine energy which represents mortality and immortality in blood and earth. Without this wood, there is the good and evil of humanity.

The beauty of Immortal is in the meticulous weaving and layering of the relationships, the fantasy, and the forging of a life through trial in the fires of grief that threatens to consume, and a burning love that serves as salvation. Time is fleeting, the seasons are the ouroboros of figurative death and rebirth, and love is the immutable within the pages of this book: every detail in this story acts as a shaping and altering of its characters and the village its people suffer to protect, even as Teyth’s own shaping and altering of the base and precious metals gifted to him by their forest become the tangible proof of his heart and soul, his hurt and hope, and the symbols around which he will discover his own immortality.

There is a tang of bittersweet to this fairy tale, which is where the story ends, at a new beginning, begging the reader to find the happy ending within life’s cycles of love, sacrifice, and a separate peace. Teyth’s name means Silence, and is the irony of the words within the pages of a book—that the written word and the characters within are indeed the immortal of all immortals, speaking to us and living well beyond us all, keeping alive the mythologies and mysteries even beyond death.

Immortal is a gorgeous novel, eloquent in its joy and sorrow, hopeful in its promise of forever, meaningful in the way of fairy tales that teach us we are each the crucibles of love, and love is the conqueror of hate. Teyth and Diarmuid are each other’s strength and weakness, their lives tainted by evil and redeemed by their ability to embrace what they’d built together through their hurt and heartache. Immortal is the sort of book that will be unique to each reader, personal in the way of our own perceptions and interpretations influencing the story. But, whichever way you look at it, it’s the journey as well as the destination that make it all worthwhile.


You can buy Immortal here:

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5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Loose Id, Nessa Vincent, Reviewed by Lana, Romantic Comedy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: The Chase by Nessa Vincent

Title: The Chase

Author: Nessa Vincent

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 136 Pages

At a Glance: This story is a gem and I highly recommend it.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Halym knows better than to trust humans. Even though he’s a dragon at the top of the magical food chain, he just can’t get any respect from humans—particularly not from a magician like Merrick Leigh, who has the audacity to steal Halym’s soul.

Merrick has good reasons for taking the dragon captive, though it leaves him holding the proverbial wolf by the ear. He wants to use Halym’s powerful magical abilities to work an important spell, but Halym has other plans. Something about this magician piques Halym’s curiosity and whets his sexual appetite. Once Halym gives chase, Merrick finds he doesn’t have the will or the wiles to fend off the dragon’s advances. Although the dragon is under Merrick’s control, Merrick realizes he’s not the one in charge…and he likes it that way.

But everything changes when Halym steals back his soul. Now that Halym is free to leave, he isn’t sure he wants to. Yet staying with Merrick means not only learning to trust humans, but becoming one.


Review: What do you get when you put together an uptight magician and a sexy sarcastic dragon? You get a fun and amusing story that will make you laugh out loud and fall in love with the MCs. I simply loved it and wanted more.

The Chase is a fantasy story set in modern day England. Merrick is a magician who tricks a dragon, Halym, and steals his soul then enslaves him. Merrick is trying to bring back to life his lover, who was killed in WWII, and thinks that the dragon will help him. Halym is your typical dragon, sexy in human form, sarcastic, an all around wise-ass. He’s not on board to help Merrick with his scheme, but he’s completely into a tussle in the sheets with Merrick.

There’s much more to the plot, which I’m not going to give away, but I will say that the ending was everything and more. I loved Merrick and Halym as a couple. I totally see them verbally sparring, Merrick rolling his eyes, and then Halym grabbing him for a kiss. Yes, I’m writing a new story in my head, but I think Ms. Vincent would do a better job than me.

This story is a gem and I highly recommend it. The writing was very good. The story flowed without any snags. It’s fun, fast, sexy and hot. So pick up a copy. And I hope there will be more.


You can buy The Chase here:

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4 Stars, Alana Ankh, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Splat! by Alana Ankh

Title: Splat!

Author: Alana Ankh

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 127 Pages

At a Glance: Fairies, sex, and angst. Great read for a sunny afternoon.

Blurb: Splat!

When a small creature has an unfortunate run-in with his car, Deacon Hearst wonders what in the world hit his windshield. A bird? A butterfly? No, that would make Deacon’s crazy life too simple. It is a fairy—or rather a Sidhe—with a gaze the color of the moon and thus eloquently named Mooneyes. The little creature’s wing is broken, and it’s shivering in the rain, and well… Deacon has a heart, after all.

While nursing Moon back to health, Deacon discovers Moon’s beauty is more than skin deep. Though they’re very different, especially in size, they’re alike in their loneliness, their need for affection. Despite the weirdness of the situation, Deacon finds himself falling for his not-quite victim.

Deacon thinks it’s a hopeless—gah!—love, but what if it isn’t? Moon might just have a few secrets of his own, secrets that could change everything in an instant and weave a different path for them both.


Review: A novella involving a fairy that crashes into a windshield, a healthy dose of angst, and some fantastic sex makes a great read for a sunny afternoon when you have nothing to do but relax in the sun. Splat! has all of these things, with great humor thrown into the mix.

Though short, I enjoyed this book. Deacon and Moon meet when the fairy goes splat against his windshield while he’s driving home one day. Of course, he thinks he’s in a dream but when he goes back to help Moon, his life gets irrevocably intertwined with the tiny fairy.

Deacon and Moon are able to connect with each other because of their similar situations in life. Deacon is currently fending off parents who, even though he’s thirty-three, still think his sexuality is just a “phase” and continually try to set him up with women they deem acceptable. Likewise, Moon also has this problem. Ever since discovering his ability for song-weaving, his parents have rejected his sexuality—which wouldn’t normally be a problem—in order to put their family in a better position in fae society. And that means marrying him to their leader’s daughter, whether Moon likes it or not. So he flees and literally runs into Deacon.

The tension between the families added to the book, though at times I did want to smack Moon and tell him to wake up and stand up for himself. After all, he had the power to do so. He just didn’t act on it.

Deacon didn’t have this problem, and for that I was thankful. He knew what he wanted, and once he realized he wasn’t in a dream, he went for it.

If you’re looking for a fun read with a good amount of angst, I recommend giving Splat! a shot.


You can buy Splat! here:

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4.5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Keira Andrews, Leta Blake, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Rise by Keira Andrews and Leta Blake

Title: Rise: A Gay Fairy Tale

Author: Keira Andrews and Leta Blake

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 106 Pages

At a Glance: Rise is everything you’d expect a fairy tale to be: magical, mystical, romantic, and it’s well written to boot.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: What happens when Jack meets a sexy man atop that beanstalk?

Rumors of treasure have long sent fortune hunters clambering up a magic beanstalk to a mysterious castle in the clouds. Survivors told of an evil giant who guards the gold and glittering jewels with savage strength. No sane man would dare risk the climb—but Jack has nothing left to lose. Shunned for his evil red hair and abandoned by his cruel lover, he’s desperate to escape his life.

Rion isn’t a giant, only a man bearing the burden of protecting his family’s legacy. It’s a lonely existence, but he’s duty bound. Then Jack appears, and Rion’s world is turned upside down. After a blazing confrontation, undeniable lust sparks. Isolated in the clouds, Jack and Rion give in to their desire and growing connection. But do they have the courage to let go of the past and follow their dreams?

Soon they must protect the treasure—and each other—from a new threat. And they have everything to lose.


Review: I love fairy tales, not the happily-ever-after (though that’s lovely) but the fact they’re so much more than they appear on the surface—the symbolism, the alchemy, the moral lessons they originated as—and re-imagined fairy tales, whether fractured or mostly true to their archetypes, are a time-honored favorite in fiction, particularly in romantic fiction. Authors Keira Andrews and Leta Blake have put their own personal stamp on the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk in Rise, and have not only given the tale a gay twist but an erotic one as well.

Rise is the revised and re-released version of their story Ascending Hearts, a novella I read a couple of years ago and loved enough that I happily agreed to visit it again in its latest incarnation. The story structure hasn’t changed at all; it’s still the same love-conquers-all romance, still just as heart-tugging in its telling, still just as uplifting as the healing power of love which is the heart of this tale, and though different in scope from the original, still symbolizes the rise of a poor man from his lowly state. This time, however, Jack and his “giant” become all the richer for having found the love of a lifetime.

The fracturing of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale is the necessary cog to introduce Jack and the plight he faces, being an outcast in his village. Not because he’s gay but because he’s stigmatized as the Devil’s spawn by virtue of his red hair, a canon with a long and storied history and the impetus for his being friendless, spurned by his family, used and then cast aside. Jack is rejected and dejected, and the final crack in his already burdened soul comes at the hands of his own mother’s betrayal; though it’s this betrayal which is the catalyst for Jack’s ascension, leading him to his destiny.

Meeting Rion, the greedy giant who hoards his riches while the Outsiders below starve and suffer, begins with misperceptions and mirrored prejudices between him and Jack. It’s not until they begin to question everything they’ve been told about each other, and begin listening to their hearts’ and carnal desires rather than leaning on the long-held beliefs passed in stories from generation to generation, that this fairy tale love story begins, that the authors pull out all the stops in the romance, playing on our emotions and our hopes for that aforementioned happy ending despite what seems to be poor odds.

Rise is everything you’d expect a fairy tale to be: magical, mystical, romantic, and it’s well written to boot. I was enchanted, start to finish, and it was entirely worth the revisit.

You can buy Rise: A Gay Fairy Tale here:

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3 Stars, Breathless Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Holiday Romance, Pelaam, Reviewed by Rena

Review: Horse of Bells by Pelaam

Title: Horse of Bells

Author: Pelaam

Publisher: Breathless Press

Pages/Word Count: 29000 Words

At a Glance: While the novella’s a quick, fun read, I still can’t help but think of missed opportunities

Blurb: A legendary horse, magic, and a man shrouded in mystery. Who can he trust? Caolan risks both his heart and his life to uncover the truth.

When his life is saved by a stranger, Prince Caolan feels an immediate connection to the man, and promises to meet him again. Forced to break that promise to protect his brother Donal, Caolan waits for the day he can return to the forest.

On their trip home, almost a year later, he and Donal are tricked by their step-mother into attempting to steal the legendary Horse of Bells from the infamous Dark Prince Tuathal. Honor-bound to accept the geis she set them, the brothers leave their castle to complete the quest.

During their journey, they meet the enigmatic Traveler. Caolan is confused and troubled by his reaction to the man. Is he a friend, or are his intentions darker and more deadly?


Review: Horse of Bells is a novella in which things go – pretty fast – with not much by way of character or plot development. As a light fairy tale romance, it certainly works, and for fans of insta-love plots with light conflict, this fits the bill.

When I say things move quickly, it’s exactly that. Caolan meets a stranger in the forest while hunting wild boars. They make eye contact, and within seconds, they’re kissing. There’s a great deal made about gut feelings telling each man that the person he’s looking at is the one, as in the one and only true love of his life, with whom he’ll be sharing the rest of his years. But there’s not much else done about it besides the brief ten-month separation that Caolan reluctantly agrees to. And even then, the time apart isn’t really explored by way of how it affects the lovers. When they do reunite, the tension is there, sure, but again, the problem is sorted out easily, and they consummate their love.

The same goes with Donal and Tuathal, who meet under near-catastrophic circumstances but within hours are in bed, declaring undying love to each other. The rest of the book’s conflict, which is Doireann’s ambitions to take over the kingdom, is dealt with also pretty quickly. The book could’ve used a little more development both in terms of characterization and also setting. It’s a fantasy story, and the setting – what little we’re given, anyway – sounds absolutely wonderful, but there are barely any descriptions of time and place. References to drawbridges and forests and cottages are few and far between, and they also tend to be pretty generic, so whatever mental picture you might have of a Medieval castle, for instance, would fit the bill.

Much of the focus of the book is on Caolan, the younger brother who suffers from unjust expectations (or lack thereof) from the king. And his story follows a pretty standard plot for gay romances, especially those that hew very closely to yaoi conventions as I saw it. The characters are all archetypes, which is fine to begin with, but they never really go beyond that. Caolan is young, beautiful, emotional, and is always in danger and is always rescued by his lover (who’s older and stronger). It isn’t till the end of the book where Caolan asserts himself, which made me wish there’d been more to him (as well as the other characters) from the start.

There are only two female characters in the book, and one’s killed off, while the other is the main villain. Doireann sounds like a great nemesis, but she’s also not as fully developed as I’d expected, which is a shame.

What does stand out for me – and I loved it – was the backstory serving as a thread that connects Tuathal, Berach, and Doireann. It’s a great little backstory that’s rich in folklore elements, with a generous helping of mysticism. The horse itself is a strange, magical creature, and its existence adds that extra layer of mystery and magic that go beyond human understanding.

On a more technical level, there are odd errors peppered throughout the book involving the use of periods where commas should be in dialogue. For instance (not taken from the book, obviously, but it’s here to illustrate my point):

“Jack and Jill fell down a hill.” Mary said.

On the whole, while the novella’s a quick, fun read, I still can’t help but think of missed opportunities for a fully developed fairy tale romance. The book clocks in at over 29K words, so it certainly could’ve been expanded into a category length romance, if not a long novella, that provides us with a richer, more layered cast of characters and a setting that we can really sink our teeth into.

You can buy Horse of Bells here:

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4 Stars, Alexis Hall, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Reviewed by Jennifer, Riptide Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall

Title: Sand and Ruin and Gold

Author: Alexis Hall

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 48 Pages

At a Glance: An interesting twist on mermaids in a dystopian-esque setting.

Blurb: Once upon a time . . . that’s how the old stories always begin.

Once upon a time there was a king of a fallen kingdom. He was just and he was beloved. Or so the numbers said. One day, he gathered together the greatest, wisest minds in all the land—not sorcerers, but scientists—and he bade them fashion him a son. A prince. A perfect prince to embody his father’s legacy.

The scientists each brought the prince a gift: beauty, strength, ambition, intellect, pride. But they must have forgotten something because when he saw the mermaids dance at the Cirque de la Mer, he ran away to join them.

For a year, he trained them, performed with them, thought he was happy. For a year he thought he was free. But then Nerites came: A merman who refused to be tamed. A captive from another kingdom. A beast in a glass cage.

The old stories always end with happy ever after. But this isn’t one of the old stories. This is a story of princes and monsters.


Review: Most readers will probably be able to read this short story in an hour or two, but even though it’s so short, I thought it was a good read with a fresh approach to the legend of mermaids.

Set in what appears to be a dystopian world, the story is told in the first person narrative, but the narrator never gives his name. In fact, none of the human characters are named. There are, if I remember correctly, eight named characters in the entire book, and they are all mer creatures. There isn’t even any dialogue. The entire story is written as a reflection by the narrator on his experiences with Cirque de la Mer and the mer creatures.

I must admit the cover drew me in. It’s stunning. And when you read the book, it’s clear that the artist paid attention to the author’s description of the merman Nerites because all of the details appear to be there. It’s beautiful.

There are many different takes on the mermaid mythos, and this one adds a new twist to it. At least new to me. In what I’ve read, mer creatures are beautiful, intelligent creatures capable of human speech and complex, human-like relationships. Not so in this story. Sure, they’re beautiful, mystical creatures that draw crowds, but they’re monsters. Beasts. They have a matriarchal society, but they behave as other wild animals do. They are violent. Vicious. They do not speak. They are caged animals in a Sea-World like environment where they perform for the crowds on a daily basis.

While this might sound like it wouldn’t belong in the M/M genre, the author has twisted the story. Somehow the narrator and Nerites form a bond and while it may not be love, they certainly lust after one another. The narrator may not understand what is happening, but as a reader, you see that the caged animals may not be complete animals at all. Just different from humans.

As I read this, I couldn’t help but think about the whales and dolphins that are kept in aquariums around the world. They are intelligent in their own way, even if we cannot understand them. Is it right to keep them caged like the mermaids and mermen in this story? Perhaps not.

It’s amazing how such a short fantasy story about a prince who neglected his duty and ran off to work with mermaids got me thinking so much in such a short span of time.





You can buy Sand and Ruin and Gold here:

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5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Love Lane Books, Meredith Russell, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Just Jack by Meredith Russell

Title: Just Jack

Author:  Meredith Russell

Publisher: Love Lane Books

Pages/Word Count: 149 Pages

At a Glance: Wonderfully written characters and a beautiful world where magic exists

Blurb: When the line between fairy tales and magic, and the real world become blurred, can love really conquer anything?

Leo Marsh is having a bad day. He just caught his boyfriend cheating on him, and not for the first time, then he falls, quite literally, for a man who has to be too good to be true…. When Leo slips and falls on some ice in front of Jack, Jack sees something all too familiar in Leo’s eyes. For over fifty years, Jack has existed in a solitary life of ice and bitterness. Just like Leo, he was betrayed by a man he loved, and swore no one would ever break his heart again: he gave up on love, and it seemed love had given up on him.

But if by fate or magic, Jack and Leo find their paths crossing for a second time, and with a little guidance from friends, dare to take a chance on each other. The problem is, Jack isn’t the charming and uncomplicated guy Leo thinks he is. When Jack gave away his ability to love, he became something else, someone cold and unloving. He became Jack Frost.

As Jack and Leo get closer, Jack is left torn and confused. Jack yearns for anything that reminds him of his humanity, but the truth is, he feels nothing, not warmth, not love, and he knows he might never be able to love Leo the way he deserves to be loved.


Review: First off let me just say I love the cover of this novel. It’s stunning and fits the story so perfectly. The color is so eye-catching and really makes me think of Jack’s eyes, which are described often throughout the story and captivate Leo. And the cover model? Gorgeous.

With that out of the way, I have a confession to make. I adore the character Jack Frost and have had a mild obsession with him since watching Rise of the Guardians when it came out. I’m not ashamed to admit it. However, it was nice to see in a recent interview with the author that she, too, enjoyed the character, and this book is a result from that.

I loved it. Jack Frost might be a popular winter character in folk tales, but Russell gives him a new story. This Jack is not the only Frost out there, but one of many. He is a man who finds himself with a heart of ice after he gives up on love and is then doomed to exist forever without love.

The story broke my heart and had me tearing up often. I also laughed a lot, because while heartbreaking, Jack has a mischievous spirit which follows along with the tales many of us are familiar with.

And then there’s Leo. The book opens with him catching his boyfriend of several years cheating. Despite what should be a clear way out, Leo is torn because this isn’t the first time Mac has cheated. It’s the first time he’s caught him, but it has happened before, and he still loves him. After leaving, he runs into Jack—Just Jack—who helps him when he slips on the ice and hits his head.

Totally Jack’s fault, by the way.

While the two of them are attracted to each other and Leo wants more, there’s just one problem: how can a man with a frozen heart love someone? A man who cannot even feel the warmth of a human body? Oh yeah, and there’s one other teensy tiny problem with the whole magic ice thing: Leo doesn’t know who Jack really is.

This book really was fantastic. I loved the reimagining of the Jack Frost story, and what made it special was the idea that many Jacks exist, not just one. In fact, I would love to see more stories about Jack Frost from this author. Some people might think that would be repetitive, considering the characters would have the same name, but really, the possibilities are endless! Russell has taken a well-known story and made it her own with wonderfully written characters and a beautiful world where magic exists.


You can buy Just Jack here:

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Pia, Skye Dragen

Review: Twisted Roses by Skye Dragen

Title: Twisted Roses

Author: Skye Dragen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 144 Pages

At a Glance: A fun, sexy paranormal read

Blurb: Payne has always had trouble fitting in, and being abandoned by his parents has left him reluctant to trust anyone. He knows he’s different, but he has no idea how different until his grandfather invites him to Blackwater Falls—a beautiful estate he’s offered as his inheritance. Payne thinks it’s too good to be true, and it turns out he’s right.

Walking the wooded trails of the estate begins to awaken something in Payne. As he discovers his Fae nature, he learns his family’s legacy: to serve as caretakers to a preserve for Sidhe, Fae, and other magical creatures. Word of the return of the long-lost Fae prince reaches the preserve’s inhabitants, and Payne must navigate a world of political intrigue he can’t begin to understand as various factions seek to entice him to their Courts.

Dragon Aden Canicus offers to tutor Payne, and the tension between them is instant and growing. But prickly and aloof Aden keeps Payne at arm’s length. Unable to trust their connection when his family is threatened, Payne seeks other allies. Their direction leads him down a dangerous path where a dragon’s affection is the least of his concerns and may even end his life.


Review: ::sighs dreamily:: I might have let out a little squee with this one. Who doesn’t like a good sidhe/fae, all things magical romance every now and then?

In Skye Dragens’ Twisted Roses, we meet eighteen-year-old Payne, who is in for the shock of his life when his absentee father shows up out of the blue to bring Payne back to the family estate. What’s waiting for him is a nothing short of amazing.

Like I said, we meet all sorts of magical creatures, some drool worthy, some so nasty you might want to vomit a little bit. I liked Payne as a character and thought he made a believable weary, horny slightly out of control teenager. I like that he has a little freak out after learning that magic is real, and it suddenly plays a huge part in his life. Then we meet Aden, one of the drool worthy creatures, who is not only Payne’s tutor but also someone Payne has a bit of a hidden past with. It was so fun watching Payne try to seduce the grumpy Aden. You almost feel like fist pumping whenever Aden gives in.

So if you’re in the mood for a fun, sexy paranormal read, this book is probably for you!

You can buy Twisted Roses here:

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3 Stars, Bottom Drawer Publications, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, L.J. LaBarthe, Reviewed by Rena

Review: Mythica by L.J. LaBarthe

Title: Mythica

Author: L.J. LaBarthe

Publisher: Bottom Drawer Publications

Pages/Word Count: 235 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: Caiden Jones is part-selkie and lives an idyllic life by the sea in South Australia. He’s had his fair share of disappointments, like being kept out of the Navy due to his mythica status, but overall he’s got a pretty good life. Until he’s in the wrong place at the right time. Continue reading

3.5 Stars, C. Margery Kempe, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Reviewed by Lisa, Tigearr Publishing

Review: Spinning Gold by C. Margery Kempe

Title: Spinning Gold

Author: C. Margery Kempe

Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 23 Pages

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb: How long would it be before the prince discovered Freawine couldn’t really spin straw into gold-or that this “peasant girl” was really a boy?
Continue reading

3 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Rena, S.R. Carrillo, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: The Soul by S.R. Carrillo

Title: The Soul

Author: S.R. Carrillo

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 165 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: Evil has flourished since the beginning of time, but at long last it has come to pass – that the world should end at the hands of the divine. A Lesser Earth thrives in the ashes of the old world.

As does an unnamed lost boy, the abandoned effigy of evil, who wanders the globe without a clue and without a purpose. Continue reading

4.5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Reviewed by Lana, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Totally Bound, Valentina Heart

Review: King’s Conquest by Valentina Heart

Title: King’s Conquest

Author: Valentina Heart

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 68 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: The only way for Prince Rin to save his kingdom is to marry a king and bear a child, but will he survive his fate?

In a world where two kingdoms are constantly at war, Prince Rin, heir to the throne of Kari kingdom, has been demanded as a war conquest by King Merinej of Jeda. The prince must travel to his enemy’s kingdom and share the king’s bed, bearing him a child or the war will continue. But the prince will not lower himself to what he sees as nothing but the title of a whore, so he demands a contract requiring the king to be faithful. After all to give Merin a child, Rin will risk his own life. Continue reading

5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Kim Fielding, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Brute by Kim Fielding – Narrated by K.C. Kelly

Title: Brute

Author: Kim Fielding

Narrator:: K.C. Kelly

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 11 Hours, 14 Minutes

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Brute leads a lonely life in a world where magic is commonplace. He is seven and a half feet of ugly, and of disreputable descent. No one, including Brute, expects him to be more than a laborer. But heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and when he is maimed while rescuing a prince, Brute’s life changes abruptly. He is summoned to serve at the palace in Tellomer as a guard for a single prisoner. It sounds easy but turns out to be the challenge of his life. Continue reading

4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Lex Chase, Reviewed by Sammy, Romantic Comedy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Americana Fairy Tale by Lex Chase

Title: Americana Fairy Tale

Author: Lex Chase

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 340 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Modern fairy-tale princess Taylor Hatfield has problems. One: he’s a guy. Two: his perfect brother Atticus is the reincarnation of Snow White. Three: Taylor has no idea which princess he is supposed to be. Four: Taylor just left his prince (a girl) at the altar. Despite his enchanted lineage, Taylor is desperate to find his Happily Ever After away from magic, witches, and stuffy traditions. Regrettably, destiny has other plans for him. Dammit. Continue reading