3.5 Stars, Extasy Books, Kazy Reed, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Taz

Review: Remember Him by Kazy Reed

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Title: Remember Him (The Amsel Clan: Book One)

Author: Kazy Reed

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 162 Pages

At a Glance: As a first book, this was a commendable contribution to vampiric storylore.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: While sketching the Temple of Dendur, graduate student Carter Denwright meets—and is seduced by—a powerful vampire by the name of Alder. Though they were once kept secret from the human world, now everyone knows of their existence. Blinded by mistaken feelings for Alder, Carter allows himself to be drawn into his life. Too late, he realizes two things: one, Alder is vicious and cruel, and two, Carter’s true love is Alder’s brother, Freyr.

The attraction between Carter and Freyr is strong, but they must fight this feeling or face the wrath of Alder. Despite their best efforts, Alder discovers the truth, and punishes Carter, hiding him from Freyr in a cruel game of cat and mouse.

Freyr is not as strong as his brother, but he vows that he will find Carter again and will stop at nothing to get him back. Carter, caught in Alder’s cruel grip, commits an act of desperation that will change all their lives forever. The question is: can Freyr find Carter, and is the bond between him and Carter enough to break Alder’s hold and spoil his plans to ruin them both?

Dividers

Review: I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Kazy at two of the GRL Retreats. I remember several things about her, including her awesome hair, her friendliness, and later, her heartfelt posts on Facebook about her family. Her personality rings of coolness and good energy…which was evident in her book.

Carter and Freyr are wonderfully lovable characters. Their emotions and love for one another are strong and grip the reader, forcing us to root for their happy ending. Alder is a magnificent villain, made even more so when a small piece of his emotions are revealed towards the end of the book. His motivation for throwing the proverbial wrench into the beautiful lives of our protagonists were self-serving, yes, but also driven out of respect for Carter.

It did not take long for the story to fall into motion. With a prologue that begins to do some world-building, followed by a leap to the present where we see how the history of the two main characters bleeds into the lives of the support cast, I was drawn in. The sex scenes were vivid and plentiful, always an enjoyable aspect to reading.

As a first book, this was a commendable contribution to vampiric storylore. Told in the first person and shifting points of view from chapter to chapter, we are taken on not one but two emotional journeys. As the action revs up, those points of view draw closer and closer together until we reach the climatic finale.

A couple of things which would have helped me to enjoy the book without any distraction at all would be in the finer details of revision and editing. I’ve heard from many authors who look back at their first work and note how much they’ve grown since they began writing. The traps Ms. Reed skimmed are common and, given the strength of the story, minor distractions. There were a few times when Ms. Reed told the reader the characters’ feelings rather than showing us through description and actions. Also, the initial chapters required me to suspend my view of how things might naturally occur. For instance, the love interest sparked instantly with proclamations of love happening without a getting-to-know-you phase. If we’d had some time to explore Freyr and Carter’s attraction and love in the face of the threat of Alder finding out and retaliating, the tension would have been amplified on two levels. First, we would have rooted for the protagonists even more (although I was rooting for them the whole time). Also, the ugliness of Alder’s character could have been an even greater obstacle because we’d be able to really hate him on a personal level rather than seeing him as an abuser of power who needed to be taken down.

Other than these two elements, the story gripped me and kept my attention right to the very end. I’m now invested and am looking forward to reading the next installment when it releases.

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3 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Not a Line of Bull by Charlie Richards

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Title: Not a Line of Bull (A Loving Nip: Book Six)

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 89 Pages

At a Glance: An interesting tale of a shifter that has been sequestered by an alpha who has very strange ideas about how to lead – and his rescue by his beloved.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Just a little love bite: The instinct to please your peers should never be stronger than your conscience.

Cassium Jones is closing in on his fourth century mark and over the years has held many roles, from farmer to soldier to vampire enforcer. Now, he’s ready to settle down in moderate relaxation…if working a cattle ranch can be considered relaxing. He loves the wide open spaces, the fresh clean air, and even tending the animals. Handling the maintenance and care for the Angus cows in the northern pastures offers plenty of solitude, and he should have been left pretty much alone. Instead, Cassium stumbles upon an injured Angus bull amongst the livestock, and realizes the bull is not only a shifter, but his beloved, his soul mate. Cassium learns Garth has been driven from his herd for disobeying a controlling alpha, leaving behind two young children. While Cassium is happy to help reunite the bull shifter with his kids, is he ready to take on the role of parent when all he wanted was to retire?

Dividers

Review: Note: Not a Line of Bull is book six in the A Loving Nip series, and while it’s helpful to have read the other stories in the series, this novella can easily be read as a standalone.

We met Cassium Jones in a previous installment of this series, when he becomes the unlikely hero in A Rose for Paul’s Protector and rescues the beloved of his cover master as he is going into “retirement” so that the humans don’t notice how he doesn’t seem to age.

As he’s repairing the fences in the pasture near his cabin, he sees and smells blood and recognizes it as not fully animal. He’s convinced it’s a shifter, and he locates the seriously wounded animal hiding in the herd. But, he knows he’s not a bull only, and he convinces the guy to shift, though he’s so injured that he can’t even remain conscious for the short trip back to Cassium’s cabin.

Cassium is somewhat adept at first aid, so he bandages up his guest as best he can. During bouts of consciousness, Cassium manages to get out of the bull shifter that his name is Garth, and he’s from a herd that is close by, but he’s obviously not in any shape to do much more than talk. It’s pretty apparent, really quickly, that Garth has been injured by his own herd’s enforcers, on orders from the alpha. Also, as Cassium gets to know Garth, he determines that he’s been very isolated from his herd and has some pretty farfetched ideas about not only shifters but other paranormals as well. He’s also very, very young compared to Cassium.

But the real surprise is that Garth has children, and he is extremely worried for them. Cassium explains to Garth a good deal about paranormals and the mate bond, and also confesses that he’s much older that Garth. Cassium decides he definitely needs backup, and contacts the head enforcer for his coven, and also their doctor since he’s still concerned about Garth’s injuries.

Of course, Garth’s herd is not content to just let him go, and once Cassium and his coven know children are involved, there is a concerted effort to make things right for Cassium and Garth.

These two are very sweet, and it was nice to see Cassium change as he realized what his life could be after all his years without his beloved. Garth is a sweet and naïve character who is a good man and a good father, and who knows a good thing when he sees it. :) Another enjoyable addition to this series.

 

 

 

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2 Stars, Extasy Books, Melody Lane, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Midnight Passion by Melody Lane

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Title: Midnight Passion (City Shifters: Book One)

Author: Melody Lane

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 98 Pages

At a Glance: Midnight Passion left me disappointed beyond belief.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Dr. Ryan Collen detests being a vampire although there is hope on the horizon in the form of a monthly infusion. Not only does Ryan hunger for the light of day but the touch of the man who might save him from his demons.

Eric Beck is a shapeshifting recovery agent by day and Muay Thai kickboxer by night. While assisting at the aftermath of a vampire convention attack, he meets his old high school flame Ryan who ignites a craving inside him like he’s never known. Can Eric help crush the evil that threatens to destroy many lives and lose his heart at the same time?

Dividers

Review: My love of vampires knows no bounds, but Midnight Passion left me disappointed beyond belief. The story did have an interesting plot, but the author did not develop it at all. I’m guessing here, but I think humans turned into vampires through some DNA mutation. There are shifters and other paranormals, too, but there’s no info or backstory on them, so we are left in the dark.

Ryan, the vamp, runs into his high school crush, Eric, who happens to be a shifter. There is nothing I love more than a hot vamp and shifter getting it on, but here the characters were just mediocre. I think the biggest issue I had was the dialogue. I can only describe it as amateurish and cringe-worthy. It didn’t convey passion or sadness, so I was not interested in the leads or in what they were doing.

The writing can also be described as only so-so. The descriptive language should paint a three dimensional picture, but here it was one dimensional, boring, and not interesting.

At the end of the day, Midnight Passion left me cold and unsatisfied.

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3 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Driving Borscht Batty by Charlie Richards

Title: Driving Borscht Batty

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 103 Pages

At a Glance: A cute story of a vampire and a bat (I see what you did there, Charlie ::heh heh::) discovering they are mates, and another adventure rescuing more captive shifters.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Out of the Cage: Sometimes dealing with unexpected events can drive you crazy…but that isn’t always a bad thing.

Borscht Kuznetsov is the master of his vampire coven. He likes his donors silent, his people obedient, and his life orderly. When an alarm on the northern outskirts of his property alert him to intruders, he leads the charge to drive the humans from his land. To his surprise, Borscht discovers they were chasing an Egyptian fruit bat. Confused by his sudden onslaught of protectiveness, he realizes the little creature is a shifter…who refuses to shift.

With his only memories that of his time spent in captivity, Sekani doesn’t know much. He can’t even understand the words of the people around him after he escapes from his prison. Still, one of them smells really good…and the man saved him from the hunters. When the man finally says a few words in halting English, Sekani learns that his world is so much larger than he could ever have imagined.

Can Borscht handle his beloved’s overabundance of excitement, especially when he learns that Sekani has friends that need rescuing?

Dividers

Review: We first met Borscht Kustenov in The Vampire’s Geek, number twenty-six in the Wolves of Stone Ridge series. Borscht’s younger brother Tullion is the protagonist in that story, but we meet the whole Kustenov clan when Tullion turns to them for help. We know that Borscht is a good guy who is happy that Tullion has found his beloved – despite him being a human male. Not all of the family is so understanding, however.

In this story, Borscht goes out to confront a disturbance on his property, and he discovers men hunting. He finds a small bat is their intended quarry. He’s overwhelmed with wanting to protect the little guy, and as he returns to his home, he realizes that the bat is a shifter and that he is most likely his mate – his beloved. But Borscht doesn’t even know what kind of a bat he’s found, and his little bat won’t shift.

After trying to communicate with him in English rather than Russian, it appears that the bat is finally understanding him, and he shifts. Turns out he’s an Egyptian fruit bat named Sekani, who has basically spent his whole life in a cage and been the subject of the scientist’s experiments that entire time. His only friends are other shifters who were also captives. Even though he’s obviously a mature bat and human male, he has no concept of many things – like eating with utensils, a refrigerator, a bed, many foods, etc. He doesn’t like many clothes, and he is very nervous around people and Borscht’s family at first. Borscht’s brother and sisters are kind to him, offering to teach him about all the things he missed out on, but mostly he just wants to be with Borscht. He doesn’t understand his desire or his reaction to Borscht either, and has to have sex explained to him.

Borscht is so kind to Sekani, and he doesn’t want to push him in any way. He adores his little bat, and he desperately wants to protect him. Sekani is worried about his friends, who were being moved at the same time he escaped, and so Borscht calls in the Stone Ridge team and we get to see Jared (YAY!) and company come to the rescue. We also get cameos by some of the other Stone Ridge pack, including Raul, Lyle (the monitor lizard shifting human), and Dr. Carmichael. There are some really intense moments as the scientists and hunters try to get to Sekani, but you know if Jared’s on the case, they’ll never win.

Borscht and Sekani are cute together, and there is a lovely little surprise with Sekani’s taste in clothing. Borscht also puts up with no crap from his homophobic brother, and determines that he’ll do whatever is best for his mate. All in all an enjoyable, quick, cute and quirky read about our paranormals; and any story that has any Jared in it is full of win for me!

For fans of this series, this is a fun one.

 

 

 

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2.5 Stars, Ali Atwood, Extasy Books, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Bound to Brody by Ali Atwood

Title: Bound to Brody (Shifters and Lovers: Book One)

Author: Ali Atwood

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 78 Pages

At a Glance: This is a mystery with a paranormal twist that, though the storyline was interesting enough, never got off the ground.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Does a second chance at love have a price?

Zac McQuade is a former marine living two lives. On the surface, he’s a special agent for the FBI but undercover, he’s an assassin for the Secret Intelligence Service. When Zac returns to his childhood home for his niece’s christening, the last person he expects to see is Brody Maitland, his former college crush. Though Zac’s attraction to Brody has gone unfulfilled, he still thinks of him as the one who got away.

Dr. Brody Maitland is a practicing psychologist with a few secrets of his own. Though he has always admired Zac, he thinks he is terminally straight. Currently, Brody is conducting an off-the-record investigation, in search of a young male patient who’s gone missing. Believing Zac’s cover story, Brody enlists his help to solve the intricate case, plunging them both into a deadly game of intrigue and deception. As the attraction between the two very different men heats up, they are faced with the ultimate test of love and loyalty.

Dividers

Review: Zac McQuade is a government assassin who comes home for his niece’s christening. He reconnects with his college crush, Brody Maitland, who’s now a doctor. Brody’s investigating the disappearance of one of his patients, and he ropes Zac into helping him; albeit, the whole setup was not plausible at all because they haven’t seen each other in a number of years, then all of a sudden they are “working” together, and the police are okay with their help. Then, add to that that Brody turns out to be a shifter. To me, this plot development felt as though it was just thrown in without any thought to it. It wasn’t developed at all, and felt that way.

There’s also a crazed, yet typical, madman who is abducting gay men. He was a bit over-the-top, and I felt that at any minute he was going to do a maniacal laugh and twirl his mustache.

The two leads were likeable enough, and they embodied the type of characters I enjoy, but in a mediocre story, they became mediocre too. The plot also had a number of continuity issues which were distracting. I wish that it’d had a better editor to clean up these, and other, plot issues. I love reading shifter stories, but Bound to Brody was a disappointment. This is a mystery with a paranormal twist that, though the storyline was interesting enough, never got off the ground.

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2 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Reviewed by Lana, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: An Unforgettable Bite by Charlie Richards

Title: An Unforgettable Bite (A Loving Nip: Book Three)

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 83 Pages

At a Glance: An Unforgettable Bite is a vampire story that left me underwhelmed and a bit disappointed.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Nathan Hanson is still working through the recent changes to his life. When he walks away from Diana, his long-time girlfriend, he comes out to his father, Owen. To his surprise, he learns that Owen is gay, too. Unfortunately, Diana doesn’t want to move on. When she continues to call him, Nathan changes his phone number. Next, she starts dropping by his work, so he gives her description to his work’s lot security, asking them to keep her out. Nathan even moves into an apartment on the far side of town, near to where his father now lives, but sometimes he still feels like he’s being watched.

When Nathan finally gets up the courage and accompanies a few friends to a gay bar, he just wants to have a little mindless fun to take his mind off his problems…and maybe, finally act on his desires for another man. There, he meets Lexington Paistro, who is handsome, sexy, and into Nathan. He’s also a vampire. Having learned of paranormals when his father bonded with one, it’s not the biting that Nathan fears. It’s the possessiveness. He’s still trying to extricate himself from a woman who thinks she owns him. Will Lexington behave the same way?

Dividers

Review: An Unforgettable Bite is a vampire story that left me underwhelmed and a bit disappointed. This wasn’t a horrible story, but it could have been much better.

The plot was the usual vampire storyline: A vampire finds his true mate in a club and proceeds to bite him, thus binding them. His human mate knows about the existence of vamps because he’s part of the paranormal clique. He just got out of a controlling relationship with a woman, and is gun shy, but wants to explore his feelings for men. They meet in the club, sparks fly, pants come off, and the vamp can’t help but bite him. This formula should produce a pretty hot read, but here it never takes off. The characters were a bit one dimensional, and though Nathan, the human, was likeable, he wasn’t fully developed. We got very little of his backstory, and some of his interactions with the secondary characters, and Lex, the vamp, were just awkward.

Lex is an enforcer for the vampire council, and the storyline about why he was in town was just hard to understand. I found it to be amateurishly written. As a couple they could have worked, and they did in some scenes, but their dialogue at times was just cheesy, and I was turned off.

Then the crazy girlfriend plotline was just that—crazy—and the resolution was ridiculous, not believable at all. Yes, this is a fantasy, but I wanted to be engrossed in that fantasy and I wasn’t.

An Unforgettable Bite was a subpar effort that could have done more with its characters, storyline, and in the writing department. It could have been more memorable, but it wasn’t.

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3.5 Stars, April Kelley, Extasy Books, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Hostage Love by April Kelley

Title: Hostage Love (Lakehouse Security: Book Two)

Author: April Kelley

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 80 Pages

At a Glance: A good, if a little repetitive, story.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Being a hostage isn’t so bad as long as you get to negotiate terms.

All Ryan Newell wants to do his prove to his brothers he is just as capable as them of going out on a mission. This time they actually listen, sending him out to rescue three men from a cult that is holding them prisoner. Right from the start things go wrong. One of the prisoners, Zach Landen, manages to break out of his cell and holds him at knife point.

Ryan hates the idea of calling for back up but knows he needs to after he learns Zach is very ill. It’s second nature for Ryan to take care of Zach, but Ryan’s giving nature has gotten him in trouble before. Does he really want to get hurt again?

Dividers

Review: Ryan Newell is struggling with being a younger brother of the Newells. At the age of twenty-five, he’s still dealing with very protective older brothers. Plus, he feels that his brothers don’t trust him to make good decisions, even though they’ve taught him everything they know about going out on a mission. Ryan’s finally given the chance to go out on a rescue mission by himself, and feels good about it, until he finds out that Tripp has been following him.

Zachary Landen left home to get away from overbearing parents, and a father who didn’t approve of him. He wound up homeless, but then the day came when a man offered him a job and he disappeared. He has been held in a religious cult compound for almost 9 years and is working on his escape, but suffering from pneumonia slows him down some until Ryan Newell shows up. Ryan has been an experienced paramedic for a while and is very good at taking care of the injured and sick.

Ryan successfully rescues Zach and they hole up in a motel. He’s trying to deal with getting Zach settled, and well, and decides to go off the grid so he doesn’t have to deal with his overly concerned brothers too. Zach and Ryan spend days together and share a lot about each other’s lives, and they really start to enjoy each other’s company. Ryan learns that Zach was somewhat of playboy in his high school and college years, which leaves Ryan questioning himself about caring for Zach. Being caring and nurturing, Ryan wears his heart on his sleeve and has been taken advantage of in past relationships that have never amounted to anything. Ryan is also worried about going home to face the wrath of his brothers for going off-grid. Zach picks up on it and has found himself not just liking Ryan, but he is becoming very protective of him too.

Hostage Love is good. I saw Ryan as a really a strong person, an in-charge type of guy in his own way. He cooks and cleans for his rowdy group of brothers, and I’m amazed they survive without him in this story. Nowhere in the series do other characters seem to bring this up, until Zach comes along. Zach turns out to be a good fit for Ryan, but he still has a lot of issues to deal with.

Besides being a little exciting, with some drama added in, there is also humor in this story. Though I have to say that while I’ve tried to be a fan of all of April Kelley’s work, I do sometimes find the stories to be a little repetitive, not to mention the editing of these books continues to be a problem for me.

Hostage Love is a continuing story in the Lakehouse Security series (Sudden Love is book #1 and is a must read, as April Kelley tends to create a lot of interesting characters and the stories do overlap).

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4.5 Stars, April Kelley, Extasy Books, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Getting Back to Good by April Kelley

Title: Getting Back to Good (Pickleville: Book Five)

Author: April Kelley

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 103 Pages

At a Glance: The best story in the series yet.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Luis Flynn has been fighting depression off and on most of his life. He figures it’s genetic or a product of his childhood or something. Whatever it is, he thought he’d won the war between himself and depression, until it seems to come back again. Little by little over the course of a few months, Luis finds himself slipping further and further into that black hole.

He’s also had a crush on Royce, his boss, since the day he met him, not that he would ever admit it. Luis can tell Royce finds him attractive, and they even kiss, but Royce constantly pushes him away, which doesn’t help his inner struggles.

When it comes to relationships, timing is everything. With Luis and Royce, the timing might be too off.

Dividers

Review: I really feel that Getting Back to Good is the best story so far in April Kelley’s Pickleville series. Dealing with depression and cutting are a reality for many people, and there are many who don’t get the love and support that’s reflected in this story. Many don’t recognize, or are even afraid to admit, they have these problems. April Kelley did a really great job of bringing these types of issues to light.

This story is told in a progression of the two main characters, Luis and Royce. The story follows Luis through his battle with relapsing into depression, including the cutting. This was his way of dealing with an abusive childhood, rejection, confusion and the feeling of losing loved ones. But Luis recognizes he is slipping back into the darkness and tells his brothers, Brad and Caden, that he needs to go back into treatment to get better. He looked to his older brother Brad as his rock, but Brad looked to Luis as being the one who was the strength in the family.

Royce also has to come to a reality that Luis has strong feelings for him, but Royce had made Luis feel rejected and confused by playing the age card and the “no involvement with employees” rule. Even though Royce is strong and tends to be gruff, he is very caring and protective of family and friends. When he sees Luis at his lowest point, he regrets how he treated Luis. Once he enters the hospital, Luis doesn’t want to see Royce at first, but he gives himself time and calls Royce to come and visit him. Royce discovers that Luis is afraid that everyone will leave him. Royce has to face his own fear that he could lose Luis, and how much he really cares for him.

My feeling was that Luis didn’t see how he has always been strong in his own way. It was also heartwarming to see how his brothers and friends provided love and support during Luis’s recovery. Luis deals with his issues and comes out to live, love, and accomplish a fantastic journey by himself, returning to a great life.

I highly suggest reading A Tarnished Strength (Pickleville: Book Four) to understand the full dynamic of the brothers Luis, Brad, and Caden.

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4 Stars, April Kelley, Extasy Books, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: A Tarnished Strength by April Kelley

Title: A Tarnished Strength (Pickleville: Book Four)

Author: April Kelley

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 101 Pages

At a Glance: There’s humor and love among the drama in A Tarnished Strength.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Brad Flynn had a rough start to life. With an abusive father and an addiction problem, his life hasn’t been easy. He has always been the resident bad ass and the town drunk. Even when he gets sober and becomes an upstanding member of the community, it doesn’t seem to change the town’s mind about him. If it weren’t for his two brothers, he would have no one.

His past doesn’t make having a love life easy either, but when he meets Kendrick Ashby, the local bar owner, he wants to give it a try. The only problem is Kendrick has his own problems, ones that make having a violent boyfriend impossible. Both have to decide if dating is even worth a try.

Dividers

Review: Brad Flynn lived a hard life in Pickleville. He lost his mother to cancer and was left in the hands of an abusive alcoholic father. When Brad comes home to find his younger brother Luis has been attacked by their father, he takes Luis, along with their brother Caden, and builds a new life with them, becoming their caretaker and protector. Brad was not without his share of problems as he grew up, though: he was hateful and an alcoholic and then found himself in jail for a few years. But, it was the best thing that could have happened to him. He got the therapy he needed to be a better person; though in this small town, he still has the reputation of being a drunk and a troublemaker to overcome.

Kendrick Ashby owns TJ’s bar. He was in a relationship that had become abusive, and eventually ended up in the hospital for three days. All is not well with Kendrick. It’s bad enough that he still has flashbacks of the violence in his life, but he also has a leaking roof at the club and knows he has to call Brad to have it fixed. Even though Kendrick is nervous around Brad, they make a date to have dinner. When Kendrick realizes he needs to go grocery shopping, he starts to have a panic attack and calls Brad to go with him. As they spend more time together and learn about each other’s lives, Brad tells Kendrick why he went to jail, leading Kendrick to the decision that he needs time to think about what he’s learned. When Brad returns to the bar to finish the roof repairs, he tries to talk with Kendrick with less than perfect results. Once Brad gets home, he receives a call from Kendrick, and, in the end, comes to the conclusion he’s not good enough for Kendrick.

A Tarnished Strength is the fourth installment in April Kelley’s Pickleville series. I like the way the author brought humor and love to this novel, in the relationship between the brothers. The support from their friends also gives the story a nice feel. I, for one, am interested to see how Luis’s story turns out.

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2 Stars, Ellen Cross, Extasy Books, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Throwaway Mate by Ellen Cross

Title: Throwaway Mate

Author: Ellen Cross

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 63 Pages

At a Glance: Good premise that would have been better executed as a novel.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: One man’s trash is another man’s destiny.

Aiden is the black sheep of his family. Of course, always being covered in grease hasn’t helped, but put anything mechanically broken into his hands and he can fix it. His cold-hearted parents have lived off his talent for years, but apparently, it wasn’t enough. They sell Aiden to slavers and plan to use the funds to buy themselves a life of high social standing within the city. Dumped on a refuse recycling planet along with other enslaved women and children, Aiden uses his talent to transform an ancient wreck of a cargo transport into their escape plan. His plan would have gone off without a hitch, if he hadn’t been shot in the escape. Bleeding, dying, Aiden locks himself into the cockpit of the ship the second help arrives and aids their landing, knowing that unlike the other slaves who have eager families to return to, he has no one. It’s just better if he fades away from this existence.

Jaylon lost all hope of love years ago, when his intended killed herself on the morning of their wedding, rather than face him over her betrayal. Now, as a medic, he has no time to think of what could have been, until a hunk of metal posing as a ship literally falls from the sky. When Jaylon breaks down the cockpit door to the sight of a pale, skinny, yet breathtaking man, bleeding out on the floor, he has to wonder if fate has sent him a second chance at a future, or if it is just reopening an old wound and pouring salt onto it.

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Review: I had high hopes for this story because the blurb sounded fantastic, but in the end, it was just too much packed into too short a space.

The author has a good idea: Aiden is treated terribly by his family, and when they need money, they sell him off to slavers. Aiden manages to save other slaves but endangers his life to do so. A healer named Jaylon is there when he crash lands and has to fight Aiden in order to save him from himself. In order to do that, he needs to mate with him. There are a lot of twists revealed, and several different alien species with complex societies that I wanted to know more about, but it really needed more space to fully flesh them out. Sixty-three pages just wasn’t enough.

I liked Jaylon and Aiden. Their unique abilities make them a good pair. Once Aiden is rescued, the truth of his origin is revealed, and everything moves too quickly. A hidden species is very quickly found and brought into play, even though they’re supposed to be secretive and nearly extinct. And did Aiden’s captors ever come back? They seemed to give up so quickly.

I should also mention that the title is actually pretty clever. While it at first appears that Aiden is the throwaway mate, it could actually go both ways if you take into consideration Jaylon’s previous circumstances.

There is a lot of telling rather than showing in this novel, and quite a bit of info dumping. If this were rewritten as a full novel, however, I think that would take care of those problems. A strong edit would also help tighten everything.

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3.5 Stars, April Kelley, Extasy Books, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Sudden Love by April Kelley

Title: Sudden Love (Lakehouse Security: Book One)

Author: April Kelley

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 95 Pages

At a Glance: Sudden Love is the type of book you really don’t have to think too hard about; it has humor, a little mystery, hot guys with guns, and plenty of sex.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When Love comes suddenly, sometimes you just have to go with it.

Xander Newell isn’t the one night stand type of guy. He wants a commitment with someone who is willing to put up with his crazy family and being away on the job sometimes. Finding someone who is willing to put up his brothers, who he lives and works with on a daily basis, is hard. Still, Xander’s not willing to compromise.

Xander gets called off bodyguard duty to investigate a religious cult that may be tied to some kidnappings of young men. He finds Aaron Keller, one of the missing young men. What he doesn’t expect is the instant attraction and longing for the man. Xander just wants to keep Aaron safe, even if that means backing off.

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Review: Lakehouse Security is owned by the Newell brothers, Aiden, Xander, Ryan, Danny, and Zane. The brothers bought and restored an old mansion that sits on the beach along Lake Michigan. The Newell brothers not only live in the mansion but run their security company from it. Tripp and Mikkel are just like family to the brothers and also work for the company.

Xander Newell is already out on a job, protecting Damon Shield, a porn star. Damon kept coming on to Xander, but at thirty-two, Xander has made a vow: no fooling around on the job, or anywhere else. He’s now looking for a commitment and someone to build a family with.

Aiden calls Xander home and sends Mikkel to watch Damon. When Xander enters Aidens office, Chief Griffin is there, and he’s brought three missing person reports to them. Xander reviews each of the young men’s files, and his eye catches the last case, with a photo of Aaron Keller. An anonymous call from a women had come in, reporting Aaron missing and stating Aaron’s family had disappeared nine years ago in connection with a religious cult. Chief Griffin doesn’t want his police force involved in a religious cult case and is calling on Lakehouse Security to investigate.

April Kelley always introduces a wide variety of interesting characters in her stories. Sudden Love is the type of book you really don’t have to think too hard about; it has humor, a little mystery, hot guys with guns, and plenty of sex. The Lakehouse Security series has great potential, so I’m really interested to see where the next book takes me. The one thing that needs a slight improvement is the editing, but that doesn’t take away from the story.

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3 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Tempting the Bear by Charlie Richards

Title: Tempting the Bear (A Paranormal’s Love: Book Twelve)

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 108 Pages

At a Glance: Anther gargoyle finds his mate – and we also get to hear about my favorite thing in this series – gargoyle babies!

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Into the Paranormal World: Sometimes falling down the rabbit hole involves a rather painful and embarrassing face-plant.

Wren Cleaver only wants to keep his goddaughter safe. Having looked after Penelope since her parents died when she was sixteen, Wren is used to keeping tabs on her. It’s hard for him to remember that she’s an adult. It’s also hard for him to accept that she’s dating a man twice her age, GolrenRabenau. When Wren drops by her home one evening to talk to Penelope about her involvement with Golren—who he discovers is not who he says he is—Wren arrives just in time to see her climb into the man’s SUV. Wanting to know where Golren is taking his goddaughter, Wren follows them to the grounds of the massive Falias Estate, a place, according to town gossip, has been shrouded in mystery for decades. Sneaking onto the grounds, Wren thinks the arboretum will be a safe place to sneak inside so he can learn a bit more about the place’s occupants. Unfortunately, he’s faced with the shock of his life…massive snakes. Watching them transform into humans would cause anyone to faint from shock. Right?

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Review: Tempting the Bear is book 12.0 in this series, and they are probably best read in order since a lot about gargoyles is explained in previous books. I found this to be one of the most enjoyable books in this series so far. There was humor and drama and my favorite – gargoyle babies !

Wren is the human owner of the local restaurant where a lot of action has taken place in previous books in this series. His goddaughter has taken up with one of the residents of the mysterious Falias estate outside of town. He’s worried about her, so he follows one day when she leaves her house with her boyfriend. Somehow he manages to sneak onto the property and into the arboretum – where he sees two huge snakes transform into humans. Needless to say, this causes quite a shock – so much so that he faints and hits his head. The shifters take him to see Dr. Perseus, the head doctor at the compound, and it turns out that Wren is his mate.

So, if it isn’t enough that now Wren has seen shifters, he also then is exposed to the whole paranormal world, including his gargoyle mate. Perseus only has one form (gargoyle) since he hasn’t mated yet, and his imposing presentation both stuns and arouses Wren. However, at some point he becomes convinced that none of this is real and he’s in some sort of dream or fugue state from being hit on the head.

While Perseus is trying to figure out a way to help his mate to get to know him, Wren is dealing with some annoying stuff at his place of business. He’s being continually harassed by a crooked inspector who wants a payoff in sexual favors. Wren is no prude, but this awful guy is married, and he’s basically conducting a shakedown to get sex in exchange for a clean health code inspection. Definitely not something Wren wants any part of.

Perseus decides to try to woo Wren through food. :) He’s a restaurateur, so probably nobody ever cooks for him. Given how much Perseus likes to eat, he decides the way to the man’s heart might be through his stomach. His surprise is definitely effective, not only for Wren, but there are some unintended surprises from this visit as well.

Wren takes a little while to come around, but frankly, the mate pull is fierce, and he won’t be able to resist for long. He’s been alone for some time and really wants to have a connection with Perseus. He’s impressed with Perseus’s compassion as a doctor, his loyalty and his dedication to his community, and his fierce possessiveness of Wren. They are also very sexually compatible as it turns out!

Besides Perseus’s pursuit of Wren, we also see him taking care of his practice and checking in with parents of a sick young gargoyle baby (my favorite Vaclar- YAY!) and confirming the expectation of another gargoyle baby. :) Honestly, I just love this mPreg storyline with these gargoyles and their mates. So adorable these babies!

All in all, a really fun and quick story that left a smile on my face and has me looking forward to the next installment of this series, to see who will find their mate and who is the next to be having a gargoyle baby.






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4 Stars, Extasy Books, Genre Romance, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Kathie, Tina Blenke

Review: Shifting Cargo by Tina Blenke

Title: Shifting Cargo (Shifting Paradigm: Book Three)

Author: Tina Blenke

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 75 Pages

At a Glance: This story is seventy-nine pages of sweetness and love, or is it? Blenke is an intelligent author, and it shows in her writing.

Reviewed By: Kathie

Blurb: Ramey’s world is shattered when his brother dies suddenly. He tries to go through the motions, day by agonizing day, doing the best that he can at his job, but it’s not enough. Months of depression escalates into alcohol use and drug abuse to numb the pain. For the past year, he’s been dreading meeting with his lawyer and accepting his brother’s death. The pain becomes too much to bear and Ramey is caught with cocaine at work and fired immediately.

When he hits rock bottom, he realizes that he’s disrespecting his brother’s memory and checks himself into rehab with the help of an unlikely friend.

Londyn’s life is perfect living as a wolf Shifter in the Pack Lands. He’s been working in the family business and happy living in his cabin in the woods. Londyn has high expectations for the perfect mate to make his life complete.

Can Ramey accept his destiny as a Shifter’s mate? And is his love for the wolf Shifter worth leaving behind the demons and the only world he’s ever known?

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Review: The love story of Ramey and Londyn can be read as a standalone , but why do that when you can read all three books and immerse yourself in the Shifting Paradigm World that Tina Blenke has created? I think this story really resonates with what is going on in the news right now. Can we live together and love each other, no matter what our religion, skin color, or, in this case, if you’re a wolf shifter?

The essence of the story is Londyn and Ramey meeting, trusting, and falling in love. The story is told in flashbacks, very much needed to fill out the characters and setting. With the flashbacks I was able to understand Ramey’s actions and why he was so troubled.

Another great facet of this story, and all of Tina Blenke’s stories, is the sexual chemistry she writes for her characters. Can you say Hot! Hot! Hot!? I would have to say her scenes are some of the best I have read.

This story is seventy-nine pages of sweetness and love, or is it? Blenke is an intelligent author, and it shows in her writing. Read the story one time, and yes, it’s the story of a man with a positive attitude, Londyn, hitting rock bottom; and of Ramey recovering from drug addiction. Now, read the book a second time, and it’s a story about race and family dynamics, sprinkled with little nuggets of insight.

“Loving Londyn was perfect. It was living.”

There are many more nuggets like this, if you take a moment while you are reading to find them. I promise…

Shifting Paradigm is one of my favorite series, and I hope it continues. My only complaint about Shifting Cargo is I wish it would have been longer. Then maybe I would have learned more about Ramey’s stay in rehab, or maybe more about Londyn and his family. I am just more of a novel kind of reader, I guess; novellas are just too short.

TNA_Signature_Kathie






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4 Stars, Extasy Books, Genre Romance, Julie Lynn Hayes, Reviewed by Sadonna, Short Story

Review: Crossroads by Julie Lynn Hayes

Title: Crossroads

Author: Julie Lynn Hayes

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 41 Pages

At a Glance: A story of a serendipitous meeting that might lead to something much better for Clete and Tal than the lives they are leaving behind.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: When you feel as though you’ve lost everything, you have everything to gain.

Crossroads: a point at which a crucial decision must be made that will have far-reaching consequences…

Clete Deveraux is a little old Southern boy a long way from home, drifting the highways with his abusive boyfriend, Vern. Tal Clark is newly graduated from the University of Missouri in Columbia, but his plans for a carefree summer have just been derailed and he’s not sure what he’s going to do.

Things happen for a reason…

Clete and Tal’s lives intersect at a rest stop in central Missouri, but sometimes first impressions aren’t the best. And finding the right path isn’t always easy.

Clete and Tal have reached a crossroads… and now they have to decide which way they want to go. And who they want to go with.

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Review: This author wrote one of my very favorite short stories, The Prince Wore Pink Stilettos, so when offered this novellette, I jumped at the chance to read it. Crossroads is much darker, but once again, I was drawn in by the story.

Tal has just graduated from the University of Missouri, and he’s on his way home to St. Louis, when he should have been going on a road trip with his girlfriend. But she has broken up with him, and he’s not sure what to do – especially given the reason she broke up with him.

Clete is on a road trip with his abusive, on-again/off-again “boyfriend” Vern, when things take a very bad turn for the worse. Clete is states away from the town he grew up in, but as a kid who grew up in the foster system, he has no family or safety net anyway. When he’s left behind after Vern informs him things are changing, he has no idea what to do.

Meanwhile, Tal stops at the rest stop where Clete has been left and while he is afraid what his girlfriend thinks about him is true, he freaks out when he sees Clete and realizes he’s attracted to him. He tries to get away, but his car has other ideas.

While trying to figure his way out of his car trouble, Tal takes stock of his life and his behavior. He really is a good guy and tries to make amends with Clete. He realizes some things about himself and also about Clete. Maybe they do have more in common than he thought, and maybe he needs to take a chance.

Some parts of this story really broke my heart. Clete has not had anything go easy in his life, and Vern is a first class asshole. I didn’t want to see Clete suffer anymore and was happy when Tal figured out he didn’t need to be a jerk. There are also some nice surprises that made me smile. This is really a lovely short story. I’d actually like to read more about these two. If I have any complaint, it’s that I wish the story were longer.






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Extasy Books, Giveaways, Tina Blenke

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Shifting Cargo Blog Tour With Tina Blenke

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The Novel Approach welcomes Tina Blenke today on the Shifting Cargo blog tour. I asked Tina to tell us a bit about the novel’s characters, Ramey and Londyn, more specifically, what intrigued her about contrasting Ramey’s very human depression and subsequent addictions to Londyn’s perfect life as a shifter, and why was that contrast important to their development?

Enjoy Tina’s answer, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

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Tina: Ramey’s character is very personal to me in so many ways. Much of what he went through was a knee-jerk reaction to an event that struck him to the very core and who knows how any of us would have reacted to such a live changing traumatic experience. There were a series of my own life experiences that have happened recently and this story is a conglomeration of some of those events. But, when I first wrote about Ramey, I didn’t expect him to have his own story. I was intrigued about why he was behaving the way he was and I wanted him to have a happy ending.

The contrast between him and Londyn are so different. It starts with the differences in their families and upbringing but both men had happy childhoods and came from loving supportive families. What I really liked was the point in their lives where they meet. Ramey is feeling that his life has reached rock bottom and he has no hope for the future while Londyn believes that his life is just beginning because he’s found his mate.

Some of this contrast is portrayed in the flashbacks that Ramey has. He exists in the present but much of his life is lived in the past with the ramifications of many bad decisions. Londyn lives in the future and can only see forward without initially realizing that the couple isn’t starting on the same page. It’s something that they both need to overcome.

In your research of depression, addiction, and recovery, did you find that some of the things you learned also affected the way you portrayed Londyn? How so?

Unfortunately, I’ll admit that most of my research was all firsthand experience. I won’t go into details here, but it was important to portray the difficulty in how these experiences affect a relationship. There’s the combined actuality of Ramey living with the recovery as well as Londyn trying to understand Ramey’s triggers and sensitivity. Both men must make the mental determination to make this relationship work. They both have to give a little. Londyn has the compassion to love Ramey but he has to put aside his ideal world and learn that sometimes life is messy, sometimes it’s out of his control. I think that this makes for a more heartwarming story that can be consumed and digested in a sweet short love story.

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shiftingcargo72Blurb: Ramey’s world is shattered when his brother dies suddenly. He tries to go through the motions, day by agonizing day, doing the best that he can at his job, but it’s not enough. Months of depression escalates into alcohol use and drug abuse to numb the pain. For the past year, he’s been dreading meeting with his lawyer and accepting his brother’s death. The pain becomes too much to bear and Ramey is caught with cocaine at work and fired immediately. When he hits rock bottom, he realizes that he’s disrespecting his brother’s memory and checks himself into rehab with the help of an unlikely friend.

Londyn’s life is perfect living as a wolf Shifter in the Pack Lands. He’s been working in the family business and happy living in his cabin in the woods. Londyn has high expectations for the perfect mate to make his life complete.

Can Ramey accept his destiny as a Shifter’s mate? And is his love for the wolf Shifter worth leaving behind the demons and the only world he’s ever known?

Buy Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon

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Author BioAbout the Author: Tina is a retired Air Force brat and has lived in several states as well as a handful of countries. She has always had a soft spot for literature and is a voracious reader. When she isn’t writing, she can be found cuddled up with a good book. Though Tina adores a thrilling novel with sappy lovesick heroes, she is terrified of things that go bump in the night. This makes for quite a complicated relationship with zombies, something that she just can’t get enough of.

Connect With Tina: Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Amazon | eXtasy link | Goodreads | Tsu | WordPress | Website

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3 Stars, Extasy Books, Genre Romance, Jackie Nacht, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: But I Look Terrible in Green by Jackie Nacht

Title: But I look Terrible in Green

Author: Jackie Nacht

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 31 Pages

At a Glance: Another sweet and romantic story in this series that always leaves me with a smile.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Since the beginning of his senior year in college, Jimmy has lived above the very popular Irish Pub O’Dwyer’s. Sure, the music is loud and the co-eds constantly party, but the bonus is seeing graduate student Niall come in and out of work on a daily basis. Working separate shifts hasn’t given the two much time to get to know one another. So it’s quite a shock when Niall comes pounding on his door on St. Patrick’s Day asking for help working at the pub on the busiest day of the year. Even though Jimmy just finished with his own shift, being next to Niall for the night is too tempting to resist. Will sparks finally ignite? And will Jimmy find himself having a little luck of the Irish to finally make Niall notice him?

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Review: I really enjoy this series and was lucky enough to be able to tell Jackie that personally last year at GRL. I have a really long commute to work and at the end of the day, usually my blood pressure is up and sometimes I can be in a rather foul mood. That’s when I like to break out these stories so that I can be in a better mood by the time I get home.

Jimmy is a college senior, and through a housing screw up, he kind of lucks into a job and a place to live above O’Dwyer’s pub. He also gets to see Niall, the handsome nephew of the owner, and he quickly develops a crush. On St. Patrick’s Day, Jimmy and Niall work long shifts together and something changes between them.

Niall decides that he’d like to get to know Jimmy better, so he seeks him out and they start dating. Niall is in graduate school so their schedules don’t match up too well, but they do their best to work around that. Luckily, Uncle Angus helps too. :)

All of the stories in this series are in the setting of this college, and they all intertwine in some way. In each short story, we get to meet the young men who are looking for love and making their way into adulthood. Each story has a happy ending. But I Look Terrible in Green is recommended especially for those times when life is rough and a little sweetness can make things better.

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3 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Paws for Change by Charlie Richards

Title: Paws for Change

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 107 Pages

At a Glance: A rather predictable but enjoyable addition to the Wolves of Stone Ridge series that would have benefitted from some tied up loose ends and a more satisfying finish.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Out of the Cage: Pause…a temporary stop or rest, a cessation of activity because of doubt or uncertainty.

Derek Sommers is fleeing a bad situation, made worse by foolish decisions from years before. He’d given into his father’s demands once and it had cost him a relationship with his brother, Deke. When Derek’s father demands he marry a certain woman, Derek has had enough. He decides to find out if Deke’s partner was telling the truth and travels to Stone Ridge in hopes of repairing ties with his brother. Except, even from states away, Derek’s father doesn’t want to let him go.

Dillan Shoreman travels to Stone Ridge to visit his godson, Edwin. When he nearly takes out a man jay-walking, he discovers the battered human is his mate. Having been alone a long time, Dillan thanks Fate’s oddly timed blessing. Unfortunately, he discovers that convincing his mate they have a future together will be harder than he thinks. Between a manipulative father, a guilt-tripping mother, and a conniving wannabe bride, Dillan’s mate already has plenty on his mind. Can Dillan convince Derek that he can give him the peace, healing, and strength that his heart so desperately needs?

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Review: This is the latest episode in Charlie Richards’ The Wolves of Stone Ridge series – #28 for anybody who is playing along at home. ;) In this installment, we get to see more of Deke (the mate from #25 ) Sommers’ brother Dillan, and Edwin (the mate from #22) Aldridge’s godfather Derek Shoreman, who also happens to be a puma shifter.

When we last saw Dillan, he had interrupted some of the Stone Ridge pack as they were moving Deke’s things to Colorado, so he at least knows where his brother has relocated. He has had it with his controlling father and decides to try to make amends with Deke, so he takes off. He’s exhausted and not really paying attention by the time he arrives in Stone Ridge, and nearly is run over by a motorcycle. The driver just happens to be Derek, in town visiting his godson. Derek immediately recognizes that Dillan is exhausted and that, more importantly, he is his mate!

Dillan lets Derek take him to the cabin he is renting, and he gets some much needed rest. He can’t figure out why he is so attracted to Derek since he’s never let himself act on any desire for a man before. He used the excuse of studying in law school and working to keep from developing any relationships, and that way he has kept his mind off what he might really desire. He definitely learned his lesson after his parents disowned and threw out Deke when he came out.

Of course, breaking away from his family isn’t easy, and they really pull out all the stops to try to get him to return. Derek, of course, is supportive and tries not to pressure Dillan. There are a few surprises, but disappointingly we are missing the answers to several questions at the end of the story, and I’m hoping a character who was introduced in a rather offhanded way is going to make some sort of an appearance down the road since we’re left hanging about his role, his past and his skills.

We do get to see Jared Templeton (my favorite human mate in the series), but no Carson, :( so it’s a rather boring cameo. We also see Declan (the pack Alpha) but there’s no interaction. Finally, it just felt like the ending was a bit like missing the last step as you descend a staircase. I was thrown a little bit off balance. I hope the next story ties up some of the loose ends and gives us a more satisfying ending.






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4 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Hot-Blooded Alligator by Charlie Richards

Title: Hot-Blooded Alligator

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 111 Pages

At a Glance: One of the stronger episodes of this long running series, although I would have liked a more cohesive ending.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Tristan has never been what someone would call a social guy. Like the alligator he shares his spirit with, he prefers being alone. Now, after enduring decades of forced isolation as an animal attraction in a curiosity show, Tristan is even more reclusive than ever. He lives mainly in animal form, swimming in the large pond on the gargoyle’s estate. When he helps kidnap his abuser, Bud Wallice, Tristan decides interrogating the bastard is a great reason to finally interact with others.

Eventually, Bud is reported missing by his wife, and the trail leads to the gargoyle’s estate. Tristan meets Detective Collin DeSoto, who is looking into the disappearance. Tristan immediately recognizes the man as his mate, and while the sex between them is explosive, that’s the only easy thing between them. Collin isn’t out to his incredibly large family, and he doesn’t approve of how Tristan handles Bud. Can the pair resolve their differences, or will Tristan end up returning to his pond…alone?

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Review: Full disclosure: Charlie Richards’ shifter/paranormal series are my crack. I HAVE to read all of them. This is my 64th book by Charlie. :)

In this installment, one of the recently rescued shifters from the travelling exotic animal show finally gets his hands on the man who was mostly responsible for his captivity. Tristan is an albino alligator who was not only rejected and kicked out by his family, but was for years caged as an animal attraction. Bud Wallice, the owner of the carnival, is now in captivity at the Gargoyle estate where Tristan is staying, and Tristan has been entrusted to interrogate Bud. The Gargoyle clutch and the other paranormals need to find out exactly what it is he knows about the them, and who has been helping him.

In the meantime, it seems Bud’s wife and his smarmy lawyer have shown up in town, claiming Bud is a missing person and the victim of foul play. Local, deeply closeted detective Collin DeSoto catches the case and visits the Gargoyle estate after determining they might have something to do with Bud’s disappearance. He meets Tristan and doesn’t understand his attraction until he hears the word mate.

While the story follows along in a similar vein as many of the stories in this series, I really liked that the author threw in some surprising twists. Collin’s family and his relationship with them were attention-grabbing and fascinating to watch. There is definitely a reason Collin is so far in the closet. Also, the mystery with Bud and his cohorts was a bit more complex than some of the other plot devices that keep the mates separated in some of these books.

I really liked Collin and Tristan’s interplay. My only disappointment was in the ending, which seemed a little bit rushed and abrupt. For fans of this series, I think you’ll enjoy seeing these two characters and their road to happiness, and I hope we get to see more of some of Collin’s family.






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3 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: For a Dragon’s Redemption by Charlie Richards

Title: For a Dragon’s Redemption

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books 

Pages/Word Count: 76 pages

At a Glance: This book was far too short. I would have enjoyed a lot more.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb:Two men. One will do anything for family. One will discover the true meaning of responsibility.

Ross McCord will do anything to fulfill his mother’s dying wish…protect family above all else. He does his best, keeping their sheep herd healthy and strong as he watches over his crippled father, Achaius, and his pretty but dim sister, Skena. When Chieftain Goth notices Skena’s beauty, he demands to use her as a bride-price to complete an alliance with a neighboring clan. Attempting to keep his sister from being heartbroken, Ross embarks on a dangerous mission to earn a boon from Chieftain Goth. He heads north in search of a secret way for his chieftain’s warriors to attack the clan who took in Goth’s son, Ian. Much to Ross’s distress, he’s captured by the brawny redhead, Ziethman. He expects to be killed for trespassing, but Ziethman offers a much more pleasurable form of…interrogation. Experiencing sensations he’s never imagined, Ross finds himself craving the other man’s touch. When Ross learns that Ziethman is more than a man, and is in fact a dragon, can he accept the male’s differences and the help he offers, or will it be too much, sending him running back to his clan to fulfill his mission?

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Review: Full disclosure: I did not read the first four books in this series. However, that did not impact my enjoyment or understanding of this book. Even though the books are part of the same world, they clearly follow other characters, who are only mentioned in this novel. It was not a hindrance to have no background of Ross and Ziethman’s world. Chieftain Goth is present, and his son Ian is mentioned, but the author does a good job of relating past events to the reader so it’s not necessary to read the books in order.

As for the story itself, I really did enjoy it. It’s not about shifters, per se, but dragons with the ability to turn into humans. Ross goes on a mission to protect his sister, Skena, from being married off for their clan’s benefit, and runs into the territory of the dragons. And, of course, he meets Ziethman right away.

The dialogue is heavily accented with a Scottish brogue, at least on Ross’s side, but I didn’t find it distracting. For me, the most distracting part was Ziethman’s penchant for calling Ross the “sexy human asda.” I’m not sure why, but the use of the word sexy just didn’t mesh well with the rest of the dialect chosen.

The book, I found, was also far too short. I would have enjoyed a lot more. I was expecting Chieftain Goth to show up at the very end, but he did not. If the book had been another thirty pages longer, it would have been that much stronger. I want to know how everything works out for Ross, Ziethman, and Ross’s family as they try to integrate into dragon lands.

That said, would I go back and read the first four book in the series? Yes. Would I read a sequel to this? Absolutely. My hope is that all of these smaller books are leading up to serious battle between the dragons and Goth.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy For a Dragon’s Redemption here:

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April Kelley, Extasy Books, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: Whispers of Home by April Kelley

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The Novel Approach is pleased to welcome author April Kelley today on the Whispers of Home blog tour. April tells us a bit about Pickleville, the small town where her story is set, and she’s also offering the chance to win an e-copy of the book. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

And now, here’s April.

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April: Pickleville is one of those blink and you’ll miss it type of towns. On main street there are several little shops on both sides of the road. A few years before Jaron and Travis’ story takes place, the city officials decided to redo the sidewalks. Small trees were planted at that time. Flowers are planted at the base of the trees every spring. During the football season, banners with the football players and cheerleaders faces on them fly from light posts.

The diner is downtown, right on the center and the grocery store a few shops down from that. Down even further is the police station. Four years after Jaron moves to town, his good friend Detective Andrew Martinez also moves there, taking the job of Police chief. Across the street from the police station is Hessing’s Garage, which is owned by Royce Hessing. Kyler Huffington and Luis Flynn work for him. His day isn’t boring with these two, that’s for sure. TJ’s Bar is up the street and next to a flower shop. Every Tuesday they have Karaoke night, which becomes an important piece of information in book two. Kendrick Ashby owns the bar. He bought it from Royce, who is his cousin. Kendrick moved into town after getting out of an abusive relationship.

At the east end of town is a small highway and recently, two chain fast-food restaurants have went up. Despite the fact that these restaurants exist, the town is still mostly made up of farmers and factory workers. A few miles beyond this highway is Jackson’s small farm.

For Jaron the town definitely affects his part of the story in very big ways. Jaron finds the town repressive when he’s a teenager. He feels alone, and as the only openly gay person in town, he largely is. So for a teenage Jaron, the town probably does feel a little bit menacing. Years later, when he needs to go back, the town represents safety and comfort, although he doesn’t realize that’s what he’s looking for at first. He just sees a safer place to raise his son. He doesn’t realize that he needs safety and comfort as well.

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whispers of homeBlurb: All Jaron McAllister wanted to do was get out of the small town where he grew up. After being bullied all his life for being gay, that’s exactly what he does. He loses all contact with everyone in the town of Pickleville, including his emotionally distant mother and the only true friend he ever had.

When his best friend and mother of the child they share, get murdered he knows he must ask for help in the one place he thought he would never go back to. Coming back home isn’t easy and finding himself attracted to the town man-slut spells disaster. Travis Heath isn’t at all what his reputation suggests though.

Buy Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

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Author BioAbout the Author: Born and raised in Southwest Michigan, April lives with her husband and two kids. She has been an avid reader for several years. Writing her first story at the age of ten, the characters in her head still won’t stop telling their stories. If April isn’t reading or writing she can be found outside playing with a farm full of animals or taking a long walk in the woods.

Contact April on Facebook or by Email

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THE GIVEAWAY:

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4.5 Stars, Extasy Books, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie, Scarlet Blackwell

Review: Rescue Me by Scarlet Blackwell

Title: Rescue Me

Author: Scarlet Blackwell

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 284 Pages

At a Glance: All in all I loved this story, but it won’t be for everyone.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: After a near fatal car crash leaves him scarred both physically and emotionally, Matt Harmon finds the solitude of his huge, lonely house too much to bear. Hiring nurse James Hayden to look after him seems like the best idea for Matt, whose fierce independence has been compromised by his injuries. The two men clash from the start as James struggles to help Matt rebuild his shattered body and heal his crushed soul. The bond they form is forged in fire and ice, and the wounds they inflict on one another can only be erased by Matt’s admission that he can’t live without James’s loving touch. Will Matt realize too late that James is the only one who can rescue him from himself?

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Review: WOW! That was the first word that entered my mind when I sat down to write this review. In her usual style, Ms. Blackwell has given us two polar opposite characters, and yes, one of them is a real JERK. For me, that makes the book just that much better. I like it when the story isn’t full of hearts and flowers one hundred percent of the time. There is something to be said for redeeming a character like Matt, especially when he appears to be completely irredeemable at points in the story.

Now, I got where Matt was coming from. I can’t imagine how I would react to his situation. He has never had a loving, healthy relationship before, so when he and James begin to grow closer, it wasn’t so shocking that Matt would screw it up royally! I believe it is a testament to Scarlet Blackwell’s writing skills that I was actually happy for James and Matt by the end of the book. That doesn’t mean there weren’t times where I felt James should have run for his life and never looked back. Thankfully he didn’t, though, because watching Matt turn into an actual human being was absolutely wonderful.

Did Matt get a little “sweet” at the end? Maybe. Did I care? NO! I think James earned himself some sweet after the emotional and physical road he went down with Matt. This story will push your boundaries, that’s for sure. There were times I almost couldn’t finish the story, but I soldiered on, and I am happy for it.

There was some angry physical times between Matt and James, but I don’t feel as though they were anything more than growing experiences between the two men. I wouldn’t consider it abuse, so it shouldn’t push any trigger buttons.

All in all I loved this story, but it won’t be for everyone. If you are going to read this one, be sure to pull on your big girl, or boy, panties and buckle up for a wild ride.






You can buy Rescue Me here:

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3 Stars, Erotica, Extasy Books, Ora Le Brocq, Reviewed by Rena, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: The Moonwar: The Beginning by Ora Le Brocq

Title: The Moonwar: The Beginning

Author: Ora Le Brocq

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 56 Pages

At a Glance: It’d be interesting to see where the series takes us, for sure, though I hope the next installment offers us something more.

Reviewed By: Rena

Blurb: Can two young men find love against the horrific outbreak of the Moon War? Will they even survive the first attack by an unseen, unknown alien foe?

The landlord’s son of the Fox and Grapes welcomes everyone with a cheerful smile and good service, but when William meets Professor Ethan Wanstead, his service becomes far more intimate.

Unfortunately, William doesn’t know that Ethan has a hidden agenda. Ethan knows that the Earth is in danger, for this is the start of the Moon War. Ethan may be the planet’s only hope, so it is unfortunate that he is suddenly experiencing a whole new world of physical and emotional pleasure with William…

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Review: “The Moon War” is one of those stories that I wish I could talk about in more detail but really can’t because it’s not only very short in length, it’s also very short in plot and content. At around 12K words, most of that isn’t even spent in the establishing of the events noted in the blurb, but on two concurrent sex scenes.

And it’s a shame. When I read the blurb the first time around, I was absolutely intrigued by the concept of moon wars and Ethan’s mysterious role. I was hoping that the book took the time to lay out the foundation – however lightly – for future installments of the series, but unfortunately the instant attraction between William and Ethan turned into the book’s focal point, followed by Oz’s somewhat hilarious romp in the hay (literally).

By the time things begin to happen, we only get a glimpse of a catastrophe and Ethan’s frantic claims about someone trying to destroy the moon with a tachyon beam. On one hand, we’re left with a cliffhanger of sorts, but on the other hand, I found it difficult caring for the characters considering how little we’re given insofar as the context of danger is concerned. While Will and Ethan appear to be a lovely couple, and Oz is a humorous scoundrel-sidekick type of character, there’s still not much to hang anything on when it comes to characterization.

It’d be interesting to see where the series takes us, for sure, though I hope the next installment offers us something more. And as a final note, this book is Ora Le Brocq’s first attempt at writing M/M, having established herself as a writer of erotic het fiction. The sex scenes are well-written, for sure, and do her much credit for her first effort.






You can buy The Moonwar: The Beginning here:

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4 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Lifting Technique by Charlie Richards

Title: Lifting Techniques

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 141 Pages

At a Glance: A sweet, low angst story

Blurb: Detective Ryan Straton is known as the happy-go-lucky playboy of the precinct, the consummate bachelor of the department. At a Halloween party, he enjoys admiring the eye-candy, including a lovely lady–who he learns is Doctor Morgan Pruitt–dressed as Marilyn Monroe. When Ryan stumbles across Morgan getting backed into a corner by a trio of men, he plays hero and rescues her. He’s shocked to be offered a blowjob in thanks, but quickly gets on board when the woman proves just how adept she is with her hands…and her mouth.

When the deed is done, Ryan discovers that Morgan isn’t a woman, and he’s just received the best blowjob of his life from a man. As he’s done with every woman he’s bedded for almost a decade, he plans to move on and forget about Morgan

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Review: Ryan Straton comes off as a bit of a jerk when it comes to women, and I’m not sure I liked him. I didn’t really care he’d been hurt by a woman in the past. You just don’t treat women as throw-aways after you’ve had your fun. But that becomes an irony, then, when Ryan rescues Marilyn from a homophobic attack. Even after Ryan found out that Marilyn was a man named Morgan, he couldn’t stop obsessing over that blowjob! Oh, how the mighty do fall… Ryan’s love ‘em and leave ‘em strategy doesn’t quite work out when it comes to Morgan. In fact, it’s the one time that Ryan finds himself coming back for more, when he later seeks out Dr. Morgan Pruitt and proposes that he, Ryan, is bi-curious and would like to find out more about what it’s like to be with a man.

The romance part of Lifting Techniques is so sweet, and I loved how Ryan succumbed to Morgan’s charms as they got to know each other. I couldn’t help but fall a little in love with Morgan too. He was just so sweet! The only thing I would say against this book is the part with the serial killer was resolved too quickly and could have been better developed.

I would highly recommend Lifting Techniques to readers who love to watch two people dance to the tune of falling in love without a whole lot of angst to drive you nuts.






You can buy Lifting Techniques here:

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3 Stars, Drama, Extasy Books, Reviewed by Lynn, Scarlet Blackwell

Review: Into the Light by Scarlet Blackwell

Title: Into the Light

Author: Scarlet Blackwell

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 104 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: Sheriff Sean Keller hides a terrible secret – he watched a heinous crime committed eighteen years ago and did nothing to prevent it. Now he finds himself face to face with Eden Gray, the victim of that crime, who is now not so much the boy anymore, but the man. Eden makes Sean sit up and remember those forbidden desires he thought he had locked away forever and the guilt which has blighted his life. Continue reading

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