Monthly Archives: October 2013

Riley’s Regret by Stephani Hecht

Riley's RegretRiley’s Regret by Stephani Hecht
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  eXtasy Books
Short Story:  23,603 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  2
 

Hawk shifter Colin has been mentoring Eagle shifter Riley for several months now. Because Eagle shifters are so rare, Riley is constantly in danger of being captured and forced into slavery, so Colin has his hands full with training Riley to be a halfway decent soldier, protecting the younger man from their enemies and trying to fight the growing attraction they have for one another. Then Colin discovers a bigger threat to Riley, more dangerous than all the others. Riley can’t run away from this threat since it comes from within him. Will Colin be able to save Riley from himself, or will the Eagle be lost to his own internal demons?

Excerpt

So after I’ve had a stressful read I enjoy a less complicated and positive story.  This is one of those.  This is not a high quality read.  I found a lot of editing mistakes that the publisher should have caught.  Still I enjoyed the story.

To get a good grasp on this story it is best to read the series.  This is the 11th book in the series so it is quite far into it, but the dynamics of the whole “world” are important to this read.  This otherwise feels like you’ve started halfway or more into the book.

In all honesty I won’t be able to give this one a high rating.  Yes, I did enjoy the book and have the series as a whole but not for being a fabulously writing story.  The writing in this book was ok but not anything special.  I enjoyed the author making an attempt to write a character that has a mental issue and still give him love and support in the story line.  The characters were shallow and I really didn’t get much of a feel for Colin and though a bit better not really even one for Riley either.  Still if you want a short relaxing read with a guaranteed HEA then this is a good book.

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Past Tense by Ethan Stone

Past TensePast Tense by Ethan Stone
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Wilde City Press
Novella:  45,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

Jason Holt was a young man when he lost everything; his family, his boyfriend, and his safety. He’s been on the run since, hiding from an evil man bent on revenge. Las Vegas was supposed to just be another pit stop in his travels but when he learns the very man he’s hiding from is in Sin City Jason decides it’s time to stop hiding.

Private detective Quinn Reynolds lost the man he loved several years ago and since then he has been hiding from life. He can’t move on and is obsessed with making the man responsible for his lover’s death pay for the crime.

When Jason comes to Quinn for help, Quinn finds a reason to move on. The dangerous situation around them quickly escalates and together they face an unimaginable evil. Can they survive the darkness and make it through to the light on the other side?

Excerpt

Jason is on the run from a former friend that blames him for his father’s death.  Quinn is a PI that Jason hires in an attempt to escape from his past by faking his death.  Quinn has his own past with Jason’s ex-friend; he killed Quinn’s partner and lover.

This had a bit of a feel of two separate story lines, one intense crime thriller and the other paranormal.  The beginning seems more crime thriller but it does hint that there will be a paranormal aspect to it.  The crime thriller is a very interesting plot.  In some ways I think it would have stood very well on its own with no paranormal aspect to it.  To see how Jason confronts his former friend would have made a very interesting ending.  The paranormal changed up the story a lot.  It made it more about fighting evil or “monsters” instead of just humans.  I admit I have seen plenty of paranormal stories and would have enjoyed the thriller more but this was still a very well written and good read.

Jason and Quinn were interesting characters.  Jason didn’t make much sense to me.  Quinn I could get.  He is a romantic but he was saved by his first love and taken in by that man’s family.  Though Quinn lost Liam he had the set up for the perfect love.  Jason, Adian betrayed him in the end or at least we are lead to believe he has.  What I don’t understand is Jason from all appearances had a loving home.  His parents were wonderful examples.  Yes, he had them taken tragically and had to do things to survive but I just don’t see how he would have totally thrown that out.  Also if changing his name and identity didn’t work before I’m not sure how he thought it would work this time either.  On top of that the plan is quickly thrown out and never really discussed again.  These are some plot points I don’t quite understand.

I would love to see more of these two.  I really think there is a lot these have yet to tell us.

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Ghosts of Alcatraz by Carol Lynne

Ghosts of AlcatrazGhosts of Alcatraz by Carol Lynne
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Wilde City Press
Short Story:  33,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  5
 

Love is a powerful force. Unparalleled, unpredictable and often unforeseen. Yet it can surface in the most dangerous of situations. Suffocation, mutilation and dismemberment aren’t the normal outside influences that bring two people together, but inside the newly refurbished Alcatraz Prison, anything can happen.

As inmates begin dying in shocking and sometimes gruesome ways, the deaths prompt Warden Jensen Black to bring in sexy parapsychologist, Brian Phipps. With the help of Brian, Jensen hopes to get to the bottom of what is killing the men he is responsible for. But what he didn’t count on is falling—and falling hard—for the smaller man with the heart of a lion. The question is: will their love survive against the ghosts of Alcatraz?

Excerpt

Jensen is in charge of a newly reopened Alcatraz.  These prisoners are being held for cyber crimes.  That is way it is eerie when the prisoners start dying off.  The last victim is videoed tearing himself apart.  Jensen doesn’t believe this is an event that could even happen so he calls his boss and friend who hooks him up with Brian.  Brian is in the family business of fighting ghosts.  What he faces in Alcatraz is more than he expect though.

As a paranormal story goes this one had a great plot, it was full of action and danger.  The author did a wonderful job in keeping the world simple but creating such atmosphere.  The characters were well written and engaging.  The love relationship happens quickly and is quite intense.  I don’t think this is a stretch.  The conditions in the story make it very conceivable.  The ending of the story was dramatic and well done.  I would love if the author does go ahead and makes a series out of this book like she hints at in the ending of the book.

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Whitetail Rock by Anne Tenino

Whitetail RockWhitetail Rock by Anne Tenino
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Short Story:  26,000 Words
Purchase at All Romance
Roses:  3
 

Nikhil “Nik” Larson is a snarky, dark-skinned adoptee from India who grew up in the Whitest Town in America. Back to visit his parents Nik meets Trooper Jurgen Dammerung, a blond, butch motorcycle cop who’s so hot he leaves a con trail wherever he goes.

Jurgen is the epitome of everything Nik hated about growing up the lone Indian boy among a town of white people. But Jurgen surprises him rather (ahem) pleasantly, in spite of — or because of — Nik’s attempts to needle him. By the end of his visit, Nik realizes he likes Jurgen. But Jurgen’s so not the relationship type.

Right?

Excerpt

This was a short humorous read.  I love snarky characters, they are just so fun!  Nik is snarky.  The writing was good, shallow, but it was a short read.  I would have loved to have seen a little more from Jurgen’s point of view but with the way the story was written it would have been impossible even if the author tried.   There was no real lead up to the story and the setting was non-existent.  I also have doubts about the relationship and love.  Nik seems to have no trust and I’m not sure why, other than for sex, he likes Jurgen.  I also thought that Jurgen staying with Nik with Nik’s attitude was a little…off.  It happens but it’s not exactly what I think of romance.  Still I did love the characters Nik and Sam were funny and cute, confusing at times as well.  I think they really made the story.

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In the Company of Shadows: Afterimage by Santino Hassell and Ais

AfterimageIn the Company of Shadows: Afterimage by Santino Hassell and Ais
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Online Fiction
Novel:  1015 Pages
Download at In the Company of Shadows
Roses:  5
 

In the Company of Shadows is a series about two people who are thrown together as partners in a secret agency; their mission is to disband rebels who have propagated in a post-war future, but they have to deal with everything that comes with an unlikely partnership as well.

Miscommunication, periods of distance, fleeting smiles and learning to trust someone when a person can’t even trust himself, these are what they struggle with while still trying to do their jobs. One is a psychopath, called a murderer and monster and generally deemed subhuman by nearly everyone who knows of him; the other is an introvert, cold and emotionless and so lost in thoughts that he would agree that he can be called a monster of inhumanity. But what makes a person human; is it humanity, compassion, or is it simply the ability to reason? Can a monster be human, and general humanity breed monsters?

While they learn about each other, they learn about themselves; where their loyalty and morality lies, and how learning to trust another person can be incredibly difficult, bittersweet, and rewarding all at the same time. Join Hsin Liu Vega (aka “Sin”) and Boyd Beaulieu as they struggle to find where they fit in a world slowly recovering from war.

If you are a fan of Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopic books this is a series you HAVE to read.  Each book is really long but the writing is superb.  The characters are very anti-hero.  Sin is…just psycho and doesn’t really understand himself.  Sin really didn’t grow up in a world like a normal child.  Abused by his mother, raised by his father to be the perfect assassin/agent, and tormented further by The Agency, Sin is a broken character.  Boyd grew up in an environment devoid of love.  After the death of his first love and his own institution Boyd has learned to isolate his emotions.  You learn all of this in the first book.  These two men find each other and become each other’s whole world.

In this book that world breaks apart.  Sin’s emotions have awoken but so have his memories and he becomes even more depressed and dysfunctional.  Boyd decided to go through a selection process to become a level 10 agent, which is as high as agents go in levels.  Sin’s “world” is going to be gone for 3 months just when he needs him the most.  Needless to say Sin’s world implodes.

Lots of action goes on throughout the book.  It goes all over the whole and shows some of the devastation done by a world nuclear war.  One of things I enjoy about the series is the descriptions that they give.  Places are described before and after and it makes the world seem more real.  The characters are so well done that it’s easy to get sucked into the story.

This book varies from the first.  The first seemed to be all about Sin and Boyd and their relationship.  This second book they are broken up and apart throughout most of it.  It shows how each character is growing and changing even some of the side characters.  (I’m interested if we will find out what ends up happening with Cade.)  The particular book isn’t as much a romance since the main couple isn’t together.  I think it really gets you even deeper into the characters by showing you more of what is going on in their lives and how and why they are changing.

There are a few editing problems but this isn’t a “published” book and there really aren’t that many considering the length.  The authors of this series really give you a wonderful read.   It is very hard to imagine that this isn’t even a published series and offered for free.  Since I didn’t review the first book in the series I will state I would have given it the bouquet!

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The Island by Lisa Henry

The IslandThe Island by Lisa Henry
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id LLC
Novel:  78,380 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  5
 

Shaw is in Fiji to sell a stolen painting to the crime boss, Vornis. It will be the deal of a lifetime, if Shaw can pull it off. But then Vornis to parade his latest toy around in front of him–a captured DEA agent whose time is running out. It’s none of Shaw’s business, and it doesn’t matter that under any other circumstances Lee would be exactly Shaw’s type: he’s young, he’s hot, and he might even have a personality if they hadn’t beaten it out of him. Too bad there’s no way Lee is getting off the island. Too bad there’s nothing Shaw can do for him. And too bad there are some lines that even Shaw won’t cross.

Keeping his hands off Lee proves harder than he thinks, but Shaw’s not stupid enough to fall for the tortured captive of a dangerous crime boss, is he? If he did, it wouldn’t be just his job he would be risking–it would be his life.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices, violence, flashback to sexual violence.

Publisher’s warning: Readers with a history of rape or sexual abuse may find elements of this story disturbing.

 Excerpt

I was prepared for a story a whole lot darker than this story was.  Lee is a captured DEA agent that is being raped and tortured on a Fiji island.  Shaw is a “middle” man whose business is putting together buyers and sellers.  He’s on the island to sell a stolen painting to the man who has Lee.  The story has many twists and turns to it.  You can’t help feeling for Lee and wondering why Shaw is being such a jerk, for want of a word.

The writer has done an outstanding job in detailing the scene and characters.  I thought there would have been a bit more explanations of Lee’s character, especially later in the story, but it didn’t detract from the story.  The characters are believable for the most part.  I did think it strange about Lee with his age and work history.  I just had a hard time believing that at his age he would be on an operation like he was with no indication of prior experience.  They also made him appear a lot more naïve than I think most in law enforcement are.  This didn’t put me off the story and may not have even raised any questions in my mind if I didn’t have a bit of experience in this field.  I really enjoyed seeing these two and what they went through, how they made a connection out the chaos around them.

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Room at the Edge by Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow

Room at the EdgeRoom at the Edge by Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id
Novel:  108,498 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

Genre: LGBT, Menage & Polyamory, Contemporary
Previous Book: Room at the Top

Three sexy men, one hot relationship. In Room at the Top, devoted sub couple Jay and Austin went looking for a no-strings attached Dom and ended up falling for Liam, who, much to his surprise, turned out to be the Dom of their dreams. But their happy ending was only the beginning of their story.

Now Jay is begging Liam to turn up the heat with fire play and Austin wants them all under one roof, no matter what people might think. Caught up in the difficulties and pleasures of their new relationship, it’s easy to miss the way they’re moving dangerously close to the edge of falling apart, not deeper in love.

 Excerpt

Austin, Jay, and Liam are busy trying to figure out their relationship and how to make it work.  The boys are getting restless, they want more.  Liam is still in the closet because of his career and family.  Still, Liam wants more too.  So what should they do and will it still work between them all if they change up what is between them.  Jay wants to push for more in their scenes too.  He is rebelling but doesn’t know any way to accept without fighting it.  Liam is unsure about his ability to tame Jay and make him trust him.

The writing like the first one is very good.  The characters are complex and individual.  The major thing with this book is the sex.  It plays a huge role in the three’s relationship so of course there is a lot of it in the book.  It was a bit of a disappointment to not really see a lot more in the relationship without sex especially involving Liam.  Liam still seems so separate from Austin and Jay outside of the house.  I know that is what is suppose to be what has to be for Liam’s life it just seemed like a lingering issue that may never get resolved.  Still the rest of the story does deepen and grow the three together more.  I enjoyed learning about fire play since I had never heard of it.

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The Flesh Cartel #2: Auction by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau

The Flesh Cartel #2 AuctionThe Flesh Cartel #2: Auction by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Riptide Publishing
Short Story:  17,600 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  5
 

Sublime service, made to order.

In episode two of The Flesh Cartel, the dark purpose behind Mat and Dougie Carmichael’s abduction is revealed. Though Dougie is protected from the worst of the guards’ brutality, he’s disgusted to find himself halfway to broken—despairing of escape and terrified of pain. Mat holds onto hope despite repeated rapes and beatings, but threats toward his brother teach him well to lay aside his pride and pick his battles carefully.

Worn down by days of unrelenting fear and abuse, Mat and Dougie are packaged and marketed with the same ruthless efficiency as any consumer product: Dougie the prettyboy twink, Mat the rabid pit bull. They are led to the auction block as the showpiece of the house’s collection.

Mat would rather be beaten to death than play the role of obedient slave for sale, but Dougie, desperate not to be separated from his brother, strikes a deal with the pitiless Madame who runs the auction house and controls both their fates. It might just be enough to keep them together—slaves, but together—assuming Mat even wants to be after Dougie fulfills his end of his deal with the devil.

Excerpt

*sigh*  This is a hard book to rate.  This is part of series that is being published.  It is VERY graphic and harsh and not for the faint of heart.  Doug and Mat have been kidnapped and have no clue why and what is to become of them.  They have been brutalized, raped and dehumanized.  They are “holes” and are to act exactly as their kidnappers demand or the punishment is unbelievable.

As I’ve said this is a brutal story.  I’ve thought of stopping reading it because it is so harsh and seems that there is no hope for the brothers, especially for Mat who is the less wanted of the two.  I must admit right off the writing is gritty but good.  You really feel for the brothers.  The authors do a wonderful job of putting you right into the men’s head space and bring you suffering along.  The character grab you from the start and the more the story goes and you learn about these men the more you become attached to them.  It’s easy to feel for either of them though they each go through very different suffering.  The quality that the two author bring to the story is amazing.  If not for that I would never had finish the first book.

This is a book that is hard to read but sooooo good.  It is so hard to explain the disgust you can get with it and yet want to keep reading.  If this wasn’t just a single piece of a bigger story I would give it a bouquet but I just can’t go that far with this story and how short it was.

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Shattered Heart by Nikki McCoy

Shattered heartShattered Heart by Nikki McCoy
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Silver Publishing
Novel:  61,908 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

The ravages of biochemical warfare have devastated the human population. Born of rape and forced to become a pleasure slave, Corin has only known the kindness of his sisters, but his life changed when he was sold to Markus–a man known for his ruthlessness. In the depths of his despair over the loss of his sisters, however, he discovered mercy in the least likely of places, the heart of his new Master. Together they learn to need that which has always been denied them by the harsh hand of fate, but their cravings for love may not withstand the impending war. How far will they go to hold onto their morals, and each other?

CONTENT ADVISORY: This title contains extreme BDSM and scenes of dubious consent. It also includes scenes of rape and intense violence.

Excerpt

This was a very interesting book.  This is a post-apocalyptic world in which the world is controlled by basically gangs in charge of territories.  There is slavery in the world again as well.  Corin is living a hellish life.  His mother despises him due to the nature of his birth and his stepfather abuses and uses him, including renting him out as a pleasure slave.  His stepfather actually saved his life as a baby by telling his mother that Corin would be their slave.  Corin’s only light in his dark world are his two younger sisters.  He adores them and protects them knowing if he wasn’t there that his stepfather would turn on them.

Markus is the boss of the territory that Corin and his family live in.  When Corin’s stepfather can’t pay the “rent” on their hotel Corin’s Mom sells him to Markus as a pleasure slave.  Corin is heartbroken.  How will he protect his sisters now?  He also has heard that Markus is a cruel and ruthless man.

I really didn’t like Markus at first.  Who would?  He was no better than a rapist!  Still as time goes on you start to feel for the man and realize he isn’t as heartless as he seems.  Markus would have just been a Dom in this world and Corin a submissive.  Unfortunately the future world isn’t that nice and Markus has had a very painful past.  I came to really appreciate what these two had in this future world which seemed to leave so little room for gentle emotions.  Though these two’s relationship is brutal it is a lovely thing as well.

The writing in the story was well done.  The plot line wasn’t truly unique but I liked the author’s spin on it.  The characters really do grow on you and you learn to appreciate their different viewpoints.  I’m not sure if I liked the change of perspective the last chapter gives you or not but it was sweet.

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Frozen Hearts by Teegan Loy

Frozen HeartsFrozen Hearts by Teegan Loy
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Silver Publishing
Novel:  53,653 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

The best college hockey player in the nation is hanging up his skates because he’s tired of living a lie. Five years ago, Erik Fox was forced by his father to change schools in the middle of the night when his father found out about his indiscretion. Erik had a boyfriend and hockey players do not date boys.

With his college career over, Erik is determined to change his life. Can Erik make peace with the boy he left behind and find the life he wants to live, or is he going to fold under the pressure from his father and everyone else who thinks he is defined by the game of hockey.

 Excerpt

Erik was a man that is tortured by living a life that was set by his father.  His father controls it all.  Erik is determined that now that college is almost over it is time to take back his life from his father’s control.  Nothing goes too well at first for him.  Poor guy gets abused at every turn.  The good thing that comes from all of this is being with his first love and former best friend, Tyce.  Erik hurt Tyce when he was forced to leave by his father and never contacted Tyce after.  Now the two make strides to make up for the past.

The idea of this story isn’t really new.  It has elements of a lot of different story lines I’ve read before just maybe not ALL together.  I thought the writing was good.  I did think that Erik giving up professional hockey seemed a bit of a stretch.  He could have just called it quits with the girlfriend and I think that is what in real life would happen.  Still with some of Erik’s background and thinking explained it could be believed.

The characters were well written.  What I found strange is that I connected with all the characters but Tyce.  We just don’t get much of a feel for him.  I thought since he was a main character there would be more that we discovered with him but it didn’t seem to happen.  I would have liked a little more realism in the story, Erik giving up his career, Tyce’s easy forgiveness, Sam not getting police involvement in his incident, and the ending.   I think the author could have added a lot more dimension and believability in adding some to these events, would have made for a much more dramatic and heart appealing read.  Still the story makes for a great comfort read and would be great for a rainy night.

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