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Shifting Sands by Jet Mykles, Willa Okati, Ally Blue, J.L. Langley, Kimberly Gardner, and Brenda Bryce

Shifting sandsShifting Sands by Jet Mykles, Willa Okati, Ally Blue, J.L. Langley, Kimberly Gardner, and Brenda Bryce
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  MLR Press
Novel:  100,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Witches, shifters and ancient curses, such is life on the Shifting Sands.

A woman’s wrath is bad, but a witch’s wrath is hell on earth. No one knows this better than the six men of Shifting Sands Ranch. When the owner’s Chinese witch of a wife abandons him and the ranch, she takes one of the cowboys and leaves behind a curse that dooms the remaining inhabitants to a life that is anything but normal. Now, every month when the moon comes full, each man takes on the form of an animal. Witches, shifters and ancient curses, such is life on the Shifting Sands.

Excerpt

Unlike most anthologies I have read this one begins with a story that will tie all the others together.  The men on Shifting Sands Ranch in Texas have been cursed by their boss’s wife because they are gay.  She is a witch and so the curse comes true.  Each cowboy turns into an animal from the Chinese zodiac.  Daniel, the boss, is the only mythical creature, a dragon.

“Snake Charmer” by Kimberly Gardner

Cy turns into a snake.  Bobby Lee is his lover and love.  Problem, Bobby Lee is afraid of snakes.  Cy knows he needs to tell his Bobby but is so afraid.  This is such a short story segment that it is hard to get a real “feel” for the characters.  I thought the writing was good but the story just didn’t quite catch me.

Roses:  2

“All the Moon Long” by Ally Blue

Judson turns into a rat.  He has had a crush on Woody for a long time.  Woody is difficult to figure out.  He loves animals and collects injured ones.  Judson is usually a fairly level headed guy but just can’t help himself around Woody.  Well written but just like the first one I couldn’t connect to the story or the characters.  It is sweet and cute but missing something.

Roses:  2

“Cock of the Wall” by Willa Okati

Michael turns into a rooster.  Zan is an excitable little guy.  They meet at a dance and Zan won’t give up on have Michael.  Michael fights hard.  I liked Zan’s character, he was a fun guy.  This one was a little better than the first two.  I was laughing and having a good time.  Yes, the story is still shallow but it is well written and the characters are fun.

Roses:  3

“Hare of the Bull” by Brenda Bryce

Gordy turns into an ox.  Tristan is a new addition to the ranch.  He cleans the house and bunkhouse.  He has been abused by his last boyfriend and is scared of all the large men on the ranch.  Gordy can’t help liking the man and of course that means he goes after him.  Like the other stories in this anthology it’s shallow and not real detailed.  I loved the characters.  The writing was well done too but still too short.

Roses:  3

“Lost and Found” by J.L. Langley

Ben turns into a horse.  Shay is a witch.  Shay has been discovered by the cowboys he works with of being a witch and they have decided to do something with him.  Shay escaped but is injured and falls into a stock pond at Shifting Sands Ranch.  Ben and Gordy save him from drowning.  I thought this particular story was very good.  Well written and entertaining.  It was interesting to see if Ben could handle being with a witch.  In my opinion this would have made an excellent longer story.

Roses:  4

“Pulling the Dragon’s Tail” by Jet Mykles

Daniel turns into a dragon.  Russell is the cowboy who betrayed the ranch by sleeping and leaving with Daniel’s wife, the one that cursed them all.  Russell didn’t though, he was spelled into it.  This was a cute story.  Once again not much depth but good overall writing and characterizations.  I loved the little detail about the dragon, like the vision and how Daniel learned how to control his size.

Roses:  3

The ending of the book is a wrapping up of loose ties for the whole of the story.  It’s a cute little anthology but due to the lengths of each individual story very shallow.  I think it would have made a nice series but a so-so for a book.

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Wolf Moon by Ethan Stone

Wolf MoonWolf Moon by Ethan Stone
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  65,875 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

When college student Jack Coleman meets Derek Malone at a party, it’s mutual lust at first sight. Lies and secrets almost derail the relationship, but they face the problems head on, and it isn’t long before Jack and Derek decide to take their relationship to the next level. That’s when things get complicated.

It turns out Derek and several other people Jack thought he knew are werewolves… and so is Jack. In fact, his unusual birthmark brands him as a Chosen One, a werewolf of great power destined to be alpha. But Jack isn’t sure he’s cut out to be a leader. When a pack rival, Elias Fairchild, kidnaps Derek to force Jack’s hand, Jack has to make up his mind: Will he deny his newfound heritage or risk it all to save Derek’s life?

Excerpt

Jack is the narrator of the story.  To be honest his “voice” felt flat to me.  I know that this is a romance but the story line just didn’t support the paranormal side.  At times it seemed that the story was a contemporary and then it would jump to paranormal…way out there paranormal.  I had a hard time at Jack’s acceptance of his real heritage.  He was upset over Derek and Josh’s relationship but never had a problem with them keeping this much larger secret or the fact they pushed so hard for unprotected sex and knew what would happen but gave no warning.  Derek was too perfect.  I thought in a lot of other stories he would have been the bad guy because of the way he was acting.  I did enjoy the characters to a degree.  The interaction between them was good but again it felt that little too perfect.  Believe me I normally would never say a book had too much sex but this one did with little plot to back it up. Normally I have enjoyed this author’s books.  This one just didn’t do it.

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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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