Monthly Archives: November 2013

Tasting Cherry Blossoms by Marie Medina

Tasting Cherry BlossomsTasting Cherry Blossoms by Marie Medina
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Evernight Publishing
Short Story:  21,910 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  3
 

Simon has never feared the vampires who rule Valladora, yet he feels stunned and apprehensive when he meets Lord Ettore. The handsome vampire almost immediately declares that Simon is his mate, and though he knows he should feel honored, Simon can’t help resisting something that sounds impossible.

Ettore is overjoyed at finally finding his mate, even if the beautiful young man proves reluctant. Ettore is patient, enjoying the slow seduction despite his desire for Simon to give himself completely and stop holding back. When Simon disappears without a trace, Ettore doesn’t know if he should blame his political enemies or Simon’s reluctance to accept his love.

No matter what, Ettore is going to find Simon and bring him home. He knows their love is meant to be and will not rest until Simon is back in his arms, willingly offering both his blood and his heart.

Be Warned: m/m sex

Excerpt

Simon is a human servant in a world run by vampires.  The vampires don’t abuse people.  There is definitely a caste to the culture.  It reminds me of Victorian England with the nobles being the vampires.  Ettore is a royal vampire.  He is over 200 years old and has yet to find his mate.  Vampires know their mate through their blood, scent or taste.  Ettore and Simon met in Simon’s master’s garden, among the cherry trees.  Simon cut himself and Ettore came along.  Ettore immediately sweeps away Simon and changes his life.

This is a cute and fluffy read.  There is nothing spectacular about it.  It is rather too sweet.  It is a simple read that is great for a comfort read or before bedtime.  The writing is good.  The world building isn’t tremendous but decent.  The characters are fairly typical of this kind of writing.  Ettore is slightly dominate and Simon is very submissive.  They aren’t very deep and you really don’t learn much about their background which would have made the story a little more rounded.  Really isn’t much more to say about the story.  It is as it appears.

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My Regelence Rake by J.L. Langley

My Regelence RakeMy Regelence Rake by J.L. Langley
Reveiwer:  Tj
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Novel:  93,564 Words
Purchase at amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Before you find your prince, you have to kiss your share of rakes.

Sci-Regency, Book 3

With his days occupied with duties as Captain of the Guard, and nights consumed with upholding his reputation as a rake, Lord Sebastian Hastings’s schedule is filled. There’s no extra time to be anyone’s bodyguard, but the royal family’s safety is a task he sees to personally.

Prince Colton Townsend has loved Sebastian for as long as he can remember, but he’s done pining for a man who has vowed never to remarry. So he consoles himself with the second love of his life—horses. Stable building and horse racing consume his every thought, at least until he’s stuck with Sebastian dogging his every step.

While looking over the prospects at an auction, Colton is trying to ignore his sexy, pesky bodyguard when he feels compelled to take on a bully to protect an abused horse. Sebastian is dragged into the fray, and their good deed sparks a string of nasty rumors.

There’s only one way to quell the political storm: marry. But instead of solving everything, Colton realizes his new husband is a bundle of secrets, none of which he’ll give up easily. Unless Colton makes one, last-ditch effort that could break his heart for good.

Warning: Contains an obnoxious filly, a love-struck prince, a meddling king, a matchmaking duke, vicious rumors and hunky ex Special Forces soldiers.

Excerpt

Colton has had a crush on Sebastian since he was a young teen.  Sebastian has ignored Colton following him around and his puppy dog crush.  Sebastian is determined to never become attached again since his first marriage was a disaster.  Colton has finally got it through his head than Sebastian and him will never be together and begins to ignore Sebastian.  When saving a horse together they create an enemy that begins spreading rumors about the two of them.  Sebastian decides to marry Colton to save his reputation.  By now Sebastian has realized that he care so much more for Colton than he thought he did, but will Colton stay with him when Sebastian’s secrete is revealed.

I really didn’t enjoy this book near as much as the last book in the series.  I expected a lot more drama to the story than there was.  The troubles with the IN don’t advance really at all.  It is just a small side piece in the story overall.  It seems that the threads from previous stories are still left all there.  The story itself is cute but just not all that interesting.  I like Colton.  He seems like an interesting character that more could have been done with when paired with Sebastian.  I am disappointed by this.

The writing itself is good.  The story makes sense and flows smoothly.  I think the plot was a bit on the weak side.  Looking back on the whole read there just wasn’t much to it.  Yes, there is the romance, the two characters getting together and the mystery of Sebastian’s background.  The trouble is that the one element that seemed to be a key to the story isn’t addressed until the very end and then it isn’t even given much time to resolve or for anything much to occur after.   It really becomes a non-issue.  The characters are interesting but not much building is done on them.  I like that there are some new characters added but not much is revealed about them.

This book seems to fall into the category of “must read for the series”.  I am sure that in the series overall plot line that this story contains details that are needed or shown.  I think everyone that reads the series is much more interested in Trouble and Rexley’s story.

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Queen’s Man by K.D. Sarge

Queen's ManQueen’s Man by K.D. Sarge
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Turtleduck Press
Novel:  78,270
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  4
 

Joss Ravid works security for a major tribe on Kari’s Star, but he’ll tell anyone that he doesn’t actually care if the ruling families kill each other off. He’s not interested in politics; he just likes getting paid to hit jerks, and also the many opportunities for hitting on straight men. The Galactic-imposed Interdiction may keep Kari citizens stuck on their war-torn world, but Joss has connections. If the situation gets too messy, he can leave whenever he wants.

He’ll also tell anyone he doesn’t care about girls, but that doesn’t stop him from rescuing 12-year-old Paige Carlyle, newly arrived on the planet and newly orphaned by tribe violence.

If Joss were making a “don’t care” list, though, at the very top would be Zeke Cayden, Heir to powerful Tribe Cayden. Never mind that he and Joss were lovers; that’s long gone. Saving Zeke’s life when the shooting starts is just business. Some tribes don’t want peace, and killing a Galactic citizen like Paige—or controlling Cayden through the Heir—would serve them well.

So Joss is on the run, risking his life, his pretty face, and his precious liberty to keep Paige and Zeke alive and the peace plan that can lift the Interdiction on track. Why? Because…how often does a guy get to piss off half a planet while displaying his talents for woodcraft, cross-dressing, and scaring straight men?

When Paige is kidnapped, though, the lives of Paige and Zeke, the leadership of Cayden and the future of Kari’s Star all ride on the wrinkled shoulders of Joss’ work suit and he has to decide—does he care, or not?

The book opens quickly and leaves you little time to learn about the world you are in, you learn as you go.  Joss is one of the main characters and is thrown into a murder quickly.  He is a man of action and though he can’t save the man he just slept with he does save his daughter.  Eventually Joss is saddled with the girl, Paige, and his ex-lover/stalker Zeke.  Zeke is determined to have the smaller redhead for himself.  The three are forced to run for their lives.  Joss is the fighter and survivor that is determined to get them all out of this safely, even while acting like he could care less for the two others.

Joss is a very engaging character.  Despite his standoff attitude and his ego you get to like the man.  Zeke is never delved into too deeply.  You know he wants Joss and is determined to have him but that is about all as far as his character goes.  Joss doesn’t want to be kept.  He likes Zeke but is afraid he would be smothered if he stayed with him.  The characters are a great draw in this book.  They are funny and sarcastic.  Zeke seems to be the “straight man” in the group and doesn’t have as much of that spark to his character that the others do.

The plot line is fun and easy to follow.  There really isn’t romance in the story.  It seems to be more action and adventure.  I think with Joss being the focus of the story and his lack of…”softer” emotions it makes sense that you don’t see much of what is between Joss and Zeke.  By the end of the story just enough has leaked out to let you see that Joss really does care for Zeke.  I do wish there had been a little more interaction between the two men to make the relationship seem more solid though.  They really don’t have much of that during the whole of the book.  Other than that this was an excellent read.

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Forgotten Lullabies by Kallysen

Forgotten LullabiesForgotten Lullabies by Kallysen
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Online
Short Story:  17,560 Words
Available at Online Site
Roses:  2
 

In the novels Fangs & Lullabies and Demons & Lullabies, I have attempted to give readers a peek into the very unusual family formed by Jacob and his fathers, Andrew and Nicholas, both of whom are vampires. These two stories offer snapshots of Jacob’s and his fathers’ lives from his birth to adulthood.

This sample ebook is constructed the same way, although with fewer and shorter snapshots. Some of them were written as answers to prompts from readers and first posted as flash fiction on my site; some were written specifically for this ebook.

Whether you are just discovering the members of this little family or have followed their adventures before, I hope you will enjoy these glimpses into their lives.

(This is a free on-line fiction series.)  This particular book will only interest those that have read the series.  The book consists of a snapshot of the lives of Andrew, Nicolas, and Jacob occurring from Jacob’s birth until he is 17.  Each year is given a little peek into their lives.  The POV changes so it could be any of the main characters.  Some are long and some are short.  By the nature of the book the passages are very disjointed from each other.  There is no plot or frame work involved in the story.  This isn’t a “story” in and of itself that is why it will only appeal to those that have read the first two books.  For me, I enjoyed these extra little glimpses into their lives.  I thought the individual sections were well written and interesting.  I wouldn’t say this is a top read for me, since it has been some time since I read the series and it is not a story so it’s just not as good, but it is interesting and fun to read.

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An Intrepid Trip to Love by Charlie Cochet

An Intrepid Trip to LoveAn Intrepid Trip to Love by Charlie Cochet
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Novella:  34,445 Words
Purchase at All Romance eBooks, LLC
Roses:  4
 

Tristan ‘Trip’ Hagan is a Husky shifter who was born to be the Hagan Clan’s next Alpha, a position of honor and nobility, a position he never wanted and was all too happy to pass onto his younger brother. But when they discovered his brother couldn’t have pups, the responsibility of continuing the Hagan Alpha line fell back to Trip. At the tender age of eighteen, Trip gave in under the weight of the Hagan Council’s demand for him to fulfill his duty, but after years of struggling to uphold his family’s traditions, Trip found the courage to do what no other Hagan Alpha had done in the history of the clan: he came out.

With his Enforcers—the Devil Dogs, at his side, Trip won the battle against the Council, who attempted to banish him and take his young son away. His victory allowed him to remain within the clan and raise Robbie. Now five years later, the dust has settled, and Trip is living a happy life with his cheeky pup and their own little makeshift family. Brook—Robbie’s mother, her true mate Deacon, and the Devil Dogs are the only ones who support Trip and know of his heartache.

True mates within canine shifter clans are very rare, but Trip has had one since he can remember. Despite losing his heart to Boone twenty years ago, Trip holds little hope of ever getting to bond with the sexy Enforcer, as it’s against clan laws for pure-bloods to bond with half-breeds. How much longer can Trip and Boone resist the longing in their hearts? With the call from their feral halves to seal the bond growing stronger by the day, can Trip and Boone find a way to be together without losing everything?

This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.

For a short story it is very well written.  I loved the idea of a husky shifter.  Trip is so funny and sarcastic.  He loves Boone so much, you could see the two of them just wanted to be together so bad.  I was very surprised that they stayed apart as long as they did.  This part seemed a little ill defined to me.  It was very vague about why they didn’t fight harder for their right to be together.  I could understand it until Trip came out but it didn’t make much sense after that.  Still I loved the mystery of what was happening to Trip and what the two became.  Fun story that wasn’t a complex read.  It is really wonderful that the author did this as a free story due to a prompt in the M/M Goodreads Group.

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Show Me Yours by Kaje Harper

Show Me YoursShow Me Yours by Kaje Harper
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  M/M Romance Group @ Goodreads
Novella:  116 Pages
Free at Goodreads
Roses:  3
 

The prompt: “It seems like we’ve known one another for ever, but he doesn’t really know me at all. He doesn’t know I’m gay and I’m really scared what will happen when he finds out. Especially when he finds out that I don’t want to be just friends anymore.”

Josh and Trey have been friends since they were kids, but Josh moved away when they were both seventeen. Their bond has been thinned by distance, by the weight of secrets withheld and a trust betrayed. For years now they’ve only exchanged short emails and occasional calls, over too many miles to cross. Trey’s been willing to live with that, even encouraged it. Because letting Josh get close again might make keeping Trey’s secrets impossible.

When Josh shows up on Trey’s doorstep with a request for help, it could well be an unmitigated disaster. But Trey finds he can’t say no. This is Josh asking Trey to lend a hand. Josh, the guy who still pushes every other man Trey ever looked at to second place. So Trey’s going to take the chance and say yes. He’s going to grab a few days with the straight guy he never stopped loving, take what crumbs he can get, and damn the consequences. Although those consequences may not turn out to be the ones Trey’s expecting.

This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s ‘Love is Always Write’ event.

This is a short that is free online.  Josh and Trey are together again after 8 years and a lot of misunderstandings.  Josh needs help running his Aunt and Uncle’s hobby farm and store and hopes this will give him a chance to get reacquainted with his best friend from childhood.  Trey is totally freaked.  Trey is gay and in love with Josh but Josh is a homophobe.  Trey could never resist Josh when he needs help.

There is a lot about this story that is good.  The characters are totally adorable and the descriptions are excellent.  The writing itself is very smooth and well done.  The problem was more the flow of the story.  Even though it is a short the story starts really slow.  There is a bit too much repeat of the internal dialogue so instead of you sympathizing with the characters you get annoyed.

The only other comment to add to this is that the characters love making seemed a bit more realistic from what I understand than is normally portrayed.  I do think that was an awesome addition to the story and a wonderful point to readers.

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After Midnight by Santino Hassell

After MidnightAfter Midnight by Santino Hassell
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Novel:  85,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  5
 

Gordon Frost is a survivor. He survived a war that ravaged the nation, and he made it through the orphanages and crime-ridden slums that followed. With few prospects for the future, Gordon carved out a niche for himself in the expanding drug trade of Lexington, PA. It’s not pretty, but it’s his, and it beats what he was doing before. But a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time results in a brush with death, going by the name of Adam. Afterward, the life that seemed good enough before, isn’t quite the same.

Adam Blake is an assassin on the brink of being terminated by the very organization that controls him. He completed his mission, but not without being seen. With his secrets in danger of being exposed by Gordon, Adam knows he should kill the smart-mouthed redhead, but finds himself intrigued by the troublesome civilian instead.

When Gordon’s knack for finding trouble combines with the dangerous consequences of Adam’s indecision, their worlds intertwine in an explosive way.

Excerpt

This is a standalone book that is a spinoff of “In the Company of Shadows”.  Gordon is a drug dealer.  He has been mostly alone all his life.  Orphaned and a sole survivor of a bombed elementary school during the war, he made his own way.  He has one friend, Carla, who is fierce in her protection of him.  Gordon and Carla are family to each other.  Adam is an assassin whose mission has gone wrong.  Looking to hide out until things cool off, he runs into Gordon.  Unfortunately for Gordon Adam can’t leave a witness, The Agency does not allow that.  Adam though goes against policy and lets Gordon live but keeps a close eye on him.  The two are forced into close proximity again when Adam’s next mission is to infiltrate Gordon’s drug group.  The two men are like magnets.  On the one hand they really repulse each other, but when close the sparks just fly and they can’t stay away from each other.

The author has created a wonderful book.  The writing is excellent.  The descriptions of the world and people are vivid and telling.  The characters are gritty and dark.  They aren’t “nice” guys but have some softness in them that sneaks out every once in a while.  The characters are perfectly flawed people.  I love that the use of the secondary characters wasn’t shadowy.  The author gives you authentic characters that have depth to them.  You don’t get to know how they really think or react all the time but they are solid and make you notice them.

This is a dark and gritty book.  As such it isn’t always pretty what occurs.  There are times you get angry with the characters and/or situations, there is violence, and there is unpredictability.  That is what makes this an excellent read.  The ending is very much in line with the book.  I have hopes there will be a follow up book since I would love to see more of these characters but if the author leaves it as it is it is still a compelling story.

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Guardian Elf by Grace Lynn

Guardian ElfGuardian Elf by Grace Lynn
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Siren-BookStrand, Inc.
Short Story:  24,156 Words
Purchase at BookStrand
Roses:  3
 

[Siren Classic ManLove: Erotic Alternative Paranormal Romance, M/M, werewolves, elves, HEA]

Sun City was once the greatest city in the world. It was built by the Elves during the height of their power, but now only one Elf remains in the city. High Prince Demend, a changeling and survivor of an accident that almost left him for dead.  Now, he drinks blood, shifts, and is trying to make the world a more tolerant place for the literary works of the ancient times.

Nathan Summers is an Alpha, but not by choice. Forced into the position by a pack he loves, Nathan took the position as a last resort. Alone and constantly harassed by his father, Nathan just wants to find his mate and keep his pack safe from his family’s cruelty.

Forced to work together, they must now face the future which seems to be grim. Can these two find everything they are wanting without destroying themselves in the process?

Excerpt

This world is totally created so the rules that sometimes apply for belief can be suspended.  Demend was changed as a child when the Great War started.  We are left to figure out a lot of the information on the war at the end of the story.  Demend grows up in a changed world.  He still has his family but he is much changed from them.  While trying to save some written history that the Werewolf council is about to destroy, Demend runs into his mate.  Nathan is an alpha werewolf but not by choice.  He doesn’t want the responsibility of alpha but it was him or his awful brother running the pack so he took it.

This isn’t really an insta-love like it appears, it is close though.  The two men are drawn together and most of the book is spent setting up the new pack.  Demend is an interesting character.  It might have been good to see how he grew into the man he is in the story.  Nathan is still a little be in the shadows as far as character goes.  We really don’t get much of his character coming through in the writing.  I think overall the character development is a bit shallow.  They may have been better if the story had been a little longer.  It is also possible that the characters’ development may show more in future books as well.

The world is very interesting and creative.  I’m not sure I will enjoy the fact that Demend needs other mates and there is no thought to male or female.  I believe that is personal and may not be a concern depending on how the author works the story.

The writing was well done.  I had trouble with some of the sentence structures but otherwise it was very descriptive and informative.  For the first book in a series that sets up a whole world and with its length it is quite good.  I will be keeping this author in mind for future reads as her writing matures.

I struggled with the rating but settled on three because of the character development but feel strongly that the author will improve with time.

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Lucius: Spartan Warrior by Stormy Glenn

Lucius Spartan WarriorLucius: Spartan Warrior by Stormy Glenn
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Siren-BookStrand, Inc.
Novella:  37,728 Words
Purchase at BookStrand
Roses:  3
 

[Siren Classic ManLove: Erotic Alternative Futuristic Romance, M/M, sci-fi elements, HEA]

Lucius is Spartan, a genetically enhanced soldier created for the sole purpose of fighting. But what is he to do when the war is over? Exiled with his unit to an island off the Pacific coastline, Lucius is shocked when he finds more than a deserted island when he meets Ari, a man determined to live by his own rules even at the cost of his own life.

Ari was just a teenager when he was abandoned by his family and exiled because he didn’t meet the new moral code. He does what he needs to do to survive. When he meets Lucius and the other Spartan, he finds that the fierce warriors need even more help than he does.

Emotions have been drummed out of the Spartans, deemed useless to men taught nothing but killing. Teaching them to feel just might be harder than Ari thinks, especially when he needs Lucius to be the killing machine he was born to be in order to save them all when the enemy attacks. But the cost might be the man he is falling in love with.

Excerpt

Lucius and his men have no idea how to behave outside of war and training.  When Lucius stumbles across Ari when he and his men are dropped onto a “deserted” island, Lucius has no idea what he is feeling and what to do about it.  Ari isn’t sure what he should do about Lucius.  He is attracted to him but knows Lucius isn’t supposed to have emotions.  They should have been all bred and trained out of Lucius and the other Spartan.

I thought the idea of this story is cute.  It has been done similarly before.  The writing was good.  The plot is not unique but fun and interesting.  The characters are fairly typical of this author’s writing.  Ari is smaller but is really a strong man who changes Lucius for the better.  Lucius then has to prove he cares for Ari when Ari is in trouble.

This story seems to be written as a standalone but there are so many threads left dangling that I would love to see it become a series.  If it is a single book there are a lot of holes that are not filled.  I enjoyed the book even though it isn’t the greatest writing.  This is a comfort read for those days when one needs a fun, easy read.  It lifts your spirits.

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The Rock Star and the Wolf by J.C. Holly

The Rock Star and the WolfThe Rock Star and the Wolf by J.C. Holly
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Siren-BookStrand, Inc.
Novella:  42,347 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Harlan Weatherly is a Hunter, a shifter who metes out justice to those of his kin who think themselves above the law. He’s also horny as hell.

After his latest hunt goes wrong, leaving a fleeing and bitten victim, he has to work hard to track down the man and train him in the ways of shifters. His job gets that much harder when he finds out that the man in question is none other than Mitchell “Mitch” Shaw, world famous rock star. After a chance encounter in a gay bar the two soon come together, but it quickly becomes clear that training isn’t the only thing on their minds.

On top of a burgeoning relationship, and getting used to living the life of luxury, Harlan also has to avoid the increasingly ferocious attacks of his latest target’s wolf pack.

Can Harlan and Mitch’s relationship weather the oncoming storm?

Excerpt

Mitch is a world famous rock star coming off his tour when he is bitten by a wolf.  He doesn’t know it is a werewolf and has changed him.  Harlan is an enforcer.  His job is to take care of werewolves that are not following the rules.  He has been hunting the werewolf who bit Mitch but arrived just a fraction too late to prevent Mitch from being bitten.

I thought this was an interesting take on werewolves.  The writing was pretty good.  I couldn’t get into the story though.  The characters seemed good.  Mitch being a star didn’t play a huge role overall.  It seemed that Harlan took care of most troubles and never really needed help.  I There characters at times didn’t act in the way that I would expect.  Not much freaking out for Mitch when he discovers what has actually happened to him and the way Harlan lied (by omission) to him.  There is no explanation of the werewolf culture or these rules that Harlan is to enforce.  We have little to explain the Ancients that are the ultimate werewolves.  The world building just seems awful weak to me.  The characters aren’t all that off, I guess, but I really don’t understand what they see in each other.  They hardly talked in the story or if they did it was “and they talked”.  No description or other relationship building material to make out of it.  It all just seemed so flat to me, I couldn’t connect and get into the story.

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