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Alpha Trine by Lexi Ander

Alpha TrineAlpha Trine by Lexi Ander
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Less Than Three Press
Novella:  49,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  4
 

The sole survivor on a science vessel adrift in deep space, Zeus was adopted by the Emperor and Empress of the Mar’Sani, though he is both human and blind, and seen by most as unfit to join the royal family. Though they were able to repair his vision, Zeus does not trust his eyes and the nobles of his parents’ court refuse to ever trust a frail human.

Dargon Kal-Turak, along with his symbiote and lover Alpha, command one of the most dangerous ships in the stars. Narrowly escaping a trap, they dock in a space port to make repairs, but find that the Psonics hunting them are closing in fast. In desperation they kidnap the port Master Mechanic, unaware that the man they’ve brought on board is more than he seems, and will bring far more upheaval to their ship, their lives, and the stars than any of them could have imagined.

Excerpt

This was a great book for the beginning of a series.  The world building done by the author was tremendous.  There are lots of different characters and worlds to describe to set up the story.  The author did well with integrating it with the story line so the reader doesn’t get this HUGE info dump that just bores and takes away from the story.  Instead she dives into it and gives us enough to not get lost and the rest we receive along the way without really noticing what the author is doing.

The characters the author created are very vivid and realistic.  Dargon is so arrogant and has to be taken down a notch.  Zeus is an interesting character.  I love that Zeus was adopted and then treated so much the same by his family.  I thought the author did a good job of setting it all up so you could see how a child like Zeus was struggled with the fact that he is but isn’t a race.  He was also very discerning when it came to skills.  He and Dargon did well with figuring out how to attack a problem.  The side characters are interesting and I am anxious to see what the author has in store for the whole group.

Though this is the first in a series and as the author leaves it there are a lot of loose ends but she does a good job in wrapping up this story in such a way that you aren’t climbing the walls waiting for the next book.  No cliffhangers!  Gotta like that;)

It was stated at the beginning of the story that this was created by a prompt from a group.  From that this series was born and the author was obviously inspired by it.  It is amazing what can come out of a fun prompt writing project!

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Cry Wolf by Jay Ellison

Cry WolfCry Wolf by Jay Ellison
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Courtesan Press
Novella:  51,738 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  Dead Rose
 

Call of the Wild…

Kevin Sullivan has never minded being a werewolf. He has a great job, a little sister who adores him, and plenty of good friends. But an erotic encounter with Roman Le Feuvre, the sexy, mysterious Alpha of the Bloodmoon Pack, leaves Kevin feeling lost, lonely and desperate for companionship for the first time in his life. Roman is shrewd as both master of Wall Street and king of the New York werewolves, but he harbors a dark secret that’s about to turn Kevin’s world upside down. Kevin wants nothing more than to find his place in Roman’s pack–and in his heart!–but dark forces may leave him crying wolf.

Excerpt

I bought this book on a whim.  I loved the different view of werewolves.  Unfortunately this book gives very little plot to go with it.  The story contains LOTS of sex.  This isn’t always a bad thing but in this case there was no connection to be felt between partners.  Yes, there is a “love” angle to the story but I really didn’t understand why they were in love.  They didn’t talk much or hang out very long.  It seemed like since they were both Pedigrees that they would get together with an open relationship.

I want to say that the writer really did make the characters interesting.  I believe if there had been more development to the story and a little less of the sex that the book would have been better.  I had no issues with the open nature of relationships portrayed by the author.  The issue is connection.  I felt nothing for the characters.  I actually felt more for Hannah, who is a side character.  I really felt that the author was more about the sex than the story line so it suffered.

So, I didn’t care for this book.  I may keep an eye out for the author since he seems to have some wicked story ideas and hope that his writing improves.

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No Tea, No Shade by Clancy Nacht

No Tea, No ShadeNo Tea, No Shade by Clancy Nacht
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id LLC
Novella:  37,721 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

When Hank’s father catches him in a not-so-innocent childhood embrace with the neighbor Hank’s older brothers refer to as “Ladyboy Lindsey,” he forbids Hank ever to see his best friend again and sends Lindsey home in tears. Later, despite landing on opposite ends of the social and sexual spectrum in high school, neither can forget the boy who gave him his first kiss. While Hank becomes a sports star and bully, Lindsey throws himself into an elaborate sexual game played from afar for Hank’s benefit. When Hank’s football scholarship takes him away to college, their tenuous bond seems severed for good.

After Lindsey finds his calling as drag diva Miss Anne Thrope, embracing both his male identity and the natural androgyny of his intersex body, he’s finally in control of his world…until the night his first love disrupts Miss Anne’s show after a decade of silence. Hank’s dysfunctional behavior, crazy father, and their bittersweet history together threaten to destroy their fragile new romance before it’s truly begun. Should they let go of the past, or is this unique love one worth saving?

This is a story of two childhood friends that are forced by one’s father to part but never really “closed” the relationship.  Lindsey is a drag queen and quite happy with the life he leads.  He had no ambitions in school and loves to dress up.  Hank was Lindsey’s best friend in childhood but when Hank’s Dad catches them in a compromising situation he bands them from ever playing together any more.  Hank stalks Lindsey throughout high school with Lindsey’s full knowledge.  All of that ends though when Hank goes away to college and the two part ways.  Now Hank has returned and they beginning seeing each other.

This was an interesting read.  I really didn’t connect to the characters.  Hank went from totally jerk to fool in love.  I just thought his character a bit wish-washy.  Lindsey’s character was more even keeled.  The two of them fit together though and the story was cute.

Now the writing itself was not as well executed as it should have been.  I enjoyed the descriptions.  The plot was good and could have made a really good book.  I think the author just crammed too much into too little.  The characters aren’t developed enough.  The critical points aren’t well developed.  They skim over everything and then develop “easy” solutions.  There isn’t the growth of the story that could turn the book into an excellent read.  It makes the story too soft but without the mushy feel that make “soft” books comfort reads.

Overall it was an ok read but really missed the mark on execution of the plot.  The book itself is a nice read.

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Masters & Boyd by S.J.D. Peterson

Masters & BoydMasters & Boyd by S.J.D. Peterson
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novella:  26,648 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Carrick Masters and Edward Boyd have already found true love—it’s the happy ever after that’s eluding them. Between Carrick’s job as an orthopedic surgeon and Ed’s career as a defense attorney, they have hardly any time to spend together, and what time they do have seems to be poisoned by resentment. Carrick and Ed know they need to refocus to make their marriage work, but they seriously need more than a spicy once-a-week date night to get them back on track.

Excerpt

This was a story originally done from a photo and a prompt in the Goodreads M/M Romance group.  The author has done a wonderful job within a short story format.  This is about and established couple and how their very happy marriage crumbles under real world pressures.  When the two men hit a point of their marriage almost breaking under the strain, they resolve to fix it.  The story itself chronicles their relationship for about 2 years.

Carrick is a surgeon and his husband, Ed, a lawyer.  They are both very successful but busy.  They notice that their relationship is becoming all work with the occasional night of sex.  They are losing touch with each other and the small things that mean so much to the relationship.  They finally take time to fix their marriage.  In the course of doing so they stumble across the fact that Ed likes to be spanked and Carrick likes to be in control during sex.  They start to explore this difference in their love life and find it something they both enjoy.

I thought the writer did a good job with the plot.  The whole of the story was pretty much a flash back which contains flash backs.  That sounds confusing but the writer manages to make it very smooth and with no confusion as to what is happening.  The believability of a relationship “hitting the rocks” like this makes the story interesting.  How do they change where they are headed?  And how did this vanilla couple put these kinks into their love life?

The characters are simple but easy to sympathize with.  They are made believable by how they are letting just the little stuff intrude and tear them apart.  I will say that I really didn’t connect with them though.  I think it is a bit of the nature of a short that it is very difficult to create a character that connects to the readers.  In this case I just didn’t have enough emotion devoted to the story to connect with the characters.

This is a sweet little story and good read.  I would recommend it to anyone.

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A Beautiful Disaster by Will Okati

A Beautiful DisasterA Beautiful Disaster by Willa Okati
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id LLC
Novella:  38,958 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

After being betrayed and abused by an ex-lover, Sean trusts no one–but he can’t help wishing he could trust gentle-hearted tattoo artist Riordan. When these two vulnerable men, scarred inside and out, find each other, neither is willing or able to walk away.

Both starved for touch and lonely in his self-imposed exile, Sean can’t help wanting Riordan both body and soul and in his bed, and Riordan is captivated by the sweet nature and the beauty he can still see beneath Sean’s scars. Yet despite his hunger for affection, Sean can’t break free of a cycle of shame and despair, not even as Riordan’s falling in love with his beautiful disaster.

Will Sean be able to break through the barriers he’s built around himself and let Riordan in–and will Riordan find the key to unlock Sean’s frozen heart?

Excerpt

We see Sean desperately trying to escape his boyfriend, Leo.  He is betrayed and run down by Leo.  We next go to Riordan and his friend Jae.  They see Sean at a bus stop.  This is the first that Riordan and Sean see each other and they think the last but fate has another plan.

This story has LOTS of potential.  I think the plot wasn’t as good as it could have been.  Sean is so wounded in body and spirit.  The biggest snag for me was Sean.  Sean would have been believed more by police and the system.  I’m not saying the boyfriend wouldn’t have gotten off still but he would have been believed.  He would have received counseling I’m sure.  I doubt how damaged he still was would have been missed by the professionals.  Considering that he supposedly didn’t have counseling he seemed like he was more open than I expected.  I also have a hard time with the amount of abuse he went through.  I’m sorry but he tried to escape and had those marks on his back they would have figured out what was happening and helped him more.  I almost wished the author wouldn’t have put in the running over item.  I think the story would have been more believable for me and may have made an even better one.  Sean would still be scarred so it would have fit with the direction of the story.  He would have also still been scared and ready to run which makes even more sense than the way it was portrayed in the storyline.

Riordan was a much more believable character.  That he wasn’t hardened by his work too much isn’t even a stretch.  I think the story was just a little too shallow.  We just don’t get much background details on the two men and so it leaves a lot of emotional detail lacking for the reader.  I wanted to like this story so much more than I did but in the end it failed to live up to the promise in the storyline.

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Ghoul’s Gym by T.J. Klune and Eric Arvin

Ghoul's GymGhoul’s Gym by T.J. Klune and Eric Arvin
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Wilde City Press
Novella:  100 Pages
Purchase at Amazon
Roses:  5
 

You’ll never want to exercise again as Eric Arvin and TJ Klune turn a gym full of hunks into a smorgasbord of terror in GHOUL’S GYM.

This is the individual release of Ghoul’s Gym which was originally published as part of the Zombie Boyz anthology.

Excerpt

Wow!  This wasn’t at all what I was expecting.  I think the authors did a fabulous job weaving together their two “voices” into this book.  The story doesn’t come off as having two authors but as having one.

The story is disturbingly bloody and vicious with humor too.  Under it all is a love story that makes you cry.  The whole of the story the authors keep you guessing at who is going to survive and what is going to happen next.

The characters are a bit strange.  Uly is a personal trainer who is a bit clueless about how much the love of his life is suffering with his body image.  Jake is teased by Uly’s boss and others at the gym because he isn’t all buffed up.  Uly doesn’t seem to get how much it is bothering Jake.  Jake really lets these bullies get to him.  He is bringing all of this into the relationship and making everything worse.  Talking to Uly doesn’t seem to make any impact on the situation either so Jake is internalizing it all.

The authors’ version of how zombies come to be is very interesting and creative.  I will admit that the read starts out sounding really bizarre and not at all like it will be enjoyable but by the end it captures you and makes you really care about the characters and their situation.

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Sub Zero by Angel Martinez

Sub ZeroSub Zero by Angel Martinez
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Amber Quill Press, LLC
Novella:  40,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Major Aren Dalsgaard’s newest assignment is to investigate a series of murders on the frigid planet, Drass, where relations between the Treaty settlers and the natives have taken a nasty turn. A linguist and trained xenologist, Aren should be the ideal Special Investigations officer for the assignment. So what’s the problem? Drass is where he died, more than a hundred and twenty years ago.

Sent by his family to the chigyel city, Nyachung finds himself confronted with a murder charge, racial prejudice, and a cryo-revived investigator who claims to be a hero from his grandmother’s generation. Major Dalsgaard could be crazy or he could be lying, but the sincerity in his spring-green eyes disturbs Nyachung more than anything else he encounters in the foreigners’ city.

Now, confronted with mysterious black boxes and a beautiful yet evasive young man as a prime suspect, Aren hopes he can solve the murders before his fierce sexual attraction to Nyachung gets the better of him…

 Excerpt

Aren is the main character of the story.  He is a man lost in a future world.  Aren had been a linguist and a xenologist when he met with a man on Drass and fell in love.  He and his lover died in an accident and Aren was frozen by his government.  Now he has been revived over a hundred years later and all he knew is gone.  He now works as an investigator and is sent back to Drass to investigate a group of murders that is happening there.  Nyachung is a “native” of the planet Drass.  He is of the same race as Aren’s lover.  Nya is also the one that the authorities arrests for the murders that have happened in the city.  Now Aren must find out what is happening and what to do about his sudden attraction for Nya.

The world building that the author did in the book was amazing.  In short order without a huge info dump we are able to learn so much about the world we enter into.  Aren is an interesting character.  It is obvious that he was a rebel and believed in doing right.  Even now in this unknown future he struggles to make sure that what he believes is right it done even if it goes against the current bigotry and racism.  Aren isn’t current to the times but he does remember how hatred works and when things don’t make sense.

Nya is a singer.  When I first heard this and realized that the author was most likely to put these two together I couldn’t believe it.  A singer with a ledged and rebel, because that is what Aren is to Nya’s people.  Until I understood Nya’s people I didn’t think a singer would be a big role player in this world.  I love that Nya’s people are so peaceful.  They are a wonderful culture that I’m sure we all wish there were more like.  I think that human nature as it is took advantage of this sweet race of people.  I’m glad to see Aren return and help them.

This story is a really lovely one.  The writing was excellent and the characters and world just vibrant.  I really enjoyed the read.  I will say some may have difficulty with Aren and Nya’s relationship considering that Aren’s death, along with his lovers, seemed to him to have occurred a short time ago.  Some will wonder about the amount of time that Aren seems to have grieved for his lost love.  I will say it seemed to have been really quick.  I would have enjoyed seeing that play out a bit more.  The route to love seemed to get drowned in the story itself.

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Psychic Moon by M.D. Grimm

Psychic MoonPsychic Moon by M.D. Grimm
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novella:  24,400 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Nobel
Roses:  3
 

The Shifters: Book One

Humane Officer Derek Wiliams has been toying with the idea of asking out Brian O’Donogue since the veterinarian started working at the Pet Rescue Center two years ago. So why hasn’t he made his move? It’s complicated… but it has something to do with the fact that Derek occasionally likes to run around on four legs instead of two.

Recovering from an abusive relationship and hiding supernatural abilities of his own, Brian takes a chance and agrees to go on a date with Derek. The ensuing relationship is better than either of them could have hoped—until a rogue wolf shifter attacks Brian while he’s walking his dogs. The abrupt attack forces Derek to confront his feelings, but the danger isn’t over. The rogue shifter is out there, and he’s hunting them.

Excerpt

I’m going to be just a bit generous here.  Derek is a wolf shifter who works as a Humane Officer.  Horrible job for a shifter to work but Derek wants to save animals like his family does.  Brian is a veterinarian who works with the animals that Derek collects.  Brian seems to have a great affinity for animals.  He knows how to calm them and help them get better.  He has performed “miracles” with the animals compared to other vets.  Derek wants Brian and Brian is secretly in love with Derek but neither will make a move.  Finally Derek does.

This is a cute story that is a sweet, comfy read.  I enjoyed the characters and though predictable the plot.  The major problem with the book is no depth.  I never, except a very small glimpse, the background of either of the main characters.  There really isn’t supporting characters.  The book would have been so much better just filling in the backgrounds of these two men.  Now this is a first book in a series so it is possible that maybe later in the series that will happen but it is hard to become involved with the characters when you have so little to go on.  It was a disappointment, but because of the fact that this is a first book in a series I am willing to give some leeway.  I also have a soft spot for easy romances.  They can be a wonderful comfort read.

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Ty Hard by L.E. Harner

Ty HardTy Hard by L.E. Harner
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Hot Corner Press
Novella:  30,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  2
 

Tyler has used Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a shield against the truth since he was seventeen. Cut loose from his Navy career and mourning his mentor’s death, Ty must come to terms with his desire for another man, even while he fights to keep his PTSD from pulling him under. Rancher Cass Cartwright’s relationships never last more than a few hours, and that’s just the way he likes it. Now he’s done the one thing he swore never to do: fallen in love. Can Cass convince Ty to let go of his past or will sabotage at the ranch kill their love before it has a chance to grow?

Excerpt

Ty has just been medically discharged from the military.  He has no family or friends to go to except for his friend, Gibby, whom he served under for a time.  Gibby is like a father to him and has invited him to come out to the ranch he works on to get his head together.  Unfortunately just as he arrives he finds his old friend has died.  Cass is the owner of The Willow Springs ranch.  He gives the bad news to Ty.  The next day Cass convinces Ty to stay on a while just like Gibby would have wanted.  Cass wants more than that from Ty though.

The writing was good and flowed well.  I enjoyed the overall story line.  I have to say that I was a bit disappointed by the shallowness of the story though.  There was some background to Ty though it was spotty at best and Cass’s was little better.  The romance was fast.  There was little time between them meeting and them falling in love.  With both men swearing they wouldn’t get involved with anyone, they sure didn’t fight it much.  Ty being a military man I have a hard time believing he would be thrilled with all the “baby”s that were said by Cass.  I also think with Ty having gone so long NOT being involved and even having his first kiss and first sexual experience being so traumatic would cave under so fast even if he was in love.  I just didn’t connect with these characters.  The story had so much to make it a very enjoyable read but was rushed and lightened too much.  I am going to be generous on the rating though because there was something enough to it that I am considering reading the second book.

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Deadly Shades of Gold by L.E. Harner and T.A. Webb

Deadly Shades of GoldDeadly Shades of Gold by L.E. Harner and T.A. Webb
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Hot Corner Press
Novella:  40,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  5
 

“Wolf or vamp? Decide. It has to be now.”

Those were the last words Sam Garrett ever heard—as a human. Now on the para side of normal, the NOPD slammed the proverbial door on his career.

Travis Boudreaux knows exactly how his former partner feels—but when some doors close, the golden window of opportunity opens. Crimes against supernaturals require a new and different approach, and once the Feds show up, the Odd Squad isn’t the only law enforcement game in town.

After a revenge-seeking vampire creates deadly havoc, the new agent-in-charge is on a recruiting mission—and he’s more than ready to fight fire with fire. What do you get when you mix old friends, new enemies, and a license to kill?

Pure dynamite.

Warning: This is an erotic urban fantasy. In this series the vampires don’t sparkle, werewolves kill, and the men sometimes have sex. With each other.

Excerpt

This is the second book in the series.  Sam has been changed into a werewolf after an attack by a vampire that almost killed him.  Travis is involved in this book but it is geared towards Sam.  The writing is awesome.  There is plenty of action.  There are mob bosses and turf wars.  The characters are all male and there is plenty of sex going around.

I enjoyed this book.  It was full of twists and turns and ends with the promise of more but not a cliffhanger.  Sam and Travis have something going on that still is waiting to be uncovered.  I love that the whole of the book isn’t black and white.  The authors give you the real world that is full of good and bad in most people.  They don’t shy away from the brutality of werewolves and vampires or from bad things happening to good people.

The relationships in the book are very complex and sometimes simple.  They really lend to the depth of the story.  I will enjoy seeing where it is all headed.

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