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Accidental Alpha by Poppy Dennison

Accidental AlphaAccidental Alpha by Poppy Dennison
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Wilde City Press
Short Story:  24,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon
Roses:  4
 

A quiet life. A break from the dangers of being a cop. Yep, Lex Tompkins has his future all worked out. That is, until fate—or rather the stray toddler from the house across the street—bites those plans in the ass. Well, technically Lex’s neck. Suddenly, he’s transformed into the Alpha of the secret werewolf clan hiding in the perfect, out of the way neighborhood of Lex’s dreams.

Now Lex is the unlikely leader of a dysfunctional pack… except for Spencer Robinson, the one shifter Lex can’t seem to keep his paws off. Will Spencer be able to teach Lex how to embrace who he has truly become?

Because accidents happen…

…but fate marks its own territory.

Excerpt

Lex is recovering from a stabbing while he was a cop.  The department has put him on early retirement and disability because he is not in top shape anymore and the psychologist won’t clear him.  He wants to be away from people but his one neighbor has a lot of people over often.  Spencer is the neighbor and though Lex sees Spencer look at him once he believes Spencer isn’t his type.

I loved this book.  It isn’t for everyone.  It is a sweet easy read but it was fun.  Lex is “Mr. Grumpy”, anti-social but after he is bitten his whole life and attitude changes.  Spencer isn’t as well defined as character.  We get that he is hurt that Lex only came after him after he was turned.

My only real difficulty with the book was with the sudden turnaround in attitude by Lex.  I would say that it is all about his turning but it doesn’t quite cover it.  Still I enjoyed the story and characters a great deal.  Look forward to the next in the series.

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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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Cowboys & Vampires by Hank Edwards

Cowboys & Vampires Venom Valley Book OneCowboys & Vampires by Hank Edwards
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Wilde City Press
Novella:  49,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

In the frontier town of Belkin’s Pass, as a vampire quietly feeds on the local saloon girls and their customers, a tragedy teaches resident Josh Stanton he has the ability to raise the dead. Knowing he is now a wanted man, Josh flees into the arid plains of Venom Valley. Pursued by Dex, the town deputy and Josh’s best friend, the two realize their friendship is truly something deeper, and Dex has to decide if he’s a man of the law, or a man in love. The vampire, drawn by Josh’s power, circles ever closer, gathering his forces against them.

Excerpt

Josh is an orphan.  No one ever knew of his father and his mother disappeared one night when he was 5.  Josh was raised by the town’s school teacher.  He loved Agnes like she was his own mother.  To his horror one night he comes upon her dead and feels a familiar heat in his blood.  Agnes eventually arises and attacks him.  He shoots her.  He has faced having to do this earlier when a neighbor did the same thing.  Now Josh must run because who would believe him.

Dex is Josh’s best friend and has been secretly in love with Josh for a long time.  Dex is a deputy.  When a woman comes to town and reports that Josh has shot and killed Agnes Dex is torn between duty and love.

This is an action packed horror.  The romance is pretty minimal.  The writing is well done, maybe a little heavy on poetic descriptions but to some degree that adds to the chill of the read.  I enjoyed the characters but to be honest it is the story itself that had more of a draw on me.  I just couldn’t get into the characters.  They weren’t cohesive enough for me.  I couldn’t really feel if Josh is a gentle man or a rough guy, big and tough or smaller and more delicate.  I get that compared to Dex Josh is a smaller man but it really doesn’t describe him.  Even more was the fact that the actual character of the two men was impossible to grasp.  You jump so fast into the story that you are left to catch up on the characters themselves.

Now the story was interesting.  I must give the author lots of props for his writing.  You get pulled in right away to the mystery and horror that is going on in the town of Belkin’s Pass.  It seemed like only a select few can even see or acknowledge what is happening.  Now for the things that struck me as strange.  Why did the vampire wait so long?  From the story he was around for quite a while but suddenly just when Josh is having his horror show the Vampire starts raising havoc.  I am hoping that with this being a series this may be answered later in later books.  The second things were the sex scenes.  They happened fast and seemed a bit anticlimactic after all the woe the two men went through with their attraction to each other.  I wouldn’t think it would be that easy.  I also would have thought the sex would have been more painful.  I hear all the time, “Spit is not enough!” and the first time is painful so why did that not happen?  It kinda through me a bit and made me pause at the thoughts.  These were where I had the hardest times with the story.

I really think this series will be an enjoyable one for me.  We have raising the dead, they are kind of like zombies, and vampires, the bad kind, to make this a very action pack time.  The author does leave the story on a cliffhanger as a warning.  I know some don’t care for that but it should be expected with this kind of read.  I await in anticipation for what will happen with Josh next.

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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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A Marrying Man by Sandrine Gasq-Dion

marryingmanA Marrying Man by Sandrine Gasq-Dion
Reviewer: LisaG
Wilde City Press
Novella: 40,000 words approximate
Purchase at Wilde City Press
Roses: 4

It’s been almost a year since a disastrous bet dropped Blaine McKlintock and his best friend, Kent Samson in hot water. Now, Kent is getting ready to propose to Terry Barron. Blaine couldn’t be happier for his best friend, but when Kent asks Blaine to plan the wedding, Blaine is thrown for a loop, especially when Kent drops another bomb. Spencer Cassidy will be helping. Blaine remembers Spencer very well, but the former Wall Street force doesn’t seem to remember him. Blaine’s changed a lot since the bet, but will Spencer see it too?

____________

A Marrying Man is the sequel to A Betting Man, however, the author does a great job of filling the background so that reading the first book isn’t a requirement to enjoy and follow along.

Blaine has worked quite hard to make up for suggesting the bet that nearly ruined his best friend’s relationship with Terry.  He is even willing to help plan their wedding on short notice.  The only fly in the ointment is that he has to work with Spencer Cassidy, his childhood crush.  He believes that Spencer dislikes him because of his part in the infamous bet and is defensive whenever Spence is around.  Not to mention the fact that Spencer is straight.

Spencer on the other hand finds Blaine quite attractive and interesting and wants to get to know him better.  Their interactions while planning the wedding are funny and creative.  The incident at the cake tasting was particularly humorous.  I loved Blaine’s reactions to Spencer’s daughter Valerie and the way she brought out the child in him at times.

The only problem I had with this book was the way the evil ex-wife suddenly had a change of heart at the end.  It seemed far too abrupt after the way she’d behaved all through the book.

This was a new to me author and I will be picking up more of her books, including the first book in this series.

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