February 16th, 2012

Author Review: A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan

A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Genre: Gay, M/M, Historical Romance
Length: Novel

Summary:

To seal their bond, they must break the ties that bind.

Painfully introverted and rendered nearly mute by a heavy stammer, Lord George Albert Westin rarely ventures any farther than the club or his beloved gardens. When he hears rumors of an exotic new orchid sighted at a local hobbyist’s house, though, he girds himself with opiates and determination to attend a house party, hoping to sneak a peek.

He finds the orchid, yes…but he finds something else even more rare and exquisite: Michael Vallant. Professional sodomite.

Michael climbed out of an adolescent hell as a courtesan’s bastard to become successful and independent-minded, seeing men on his own terms, protected by a powerful friend. He is master of his own world—until Wes. Not only because, for once, the sex is for pleasure and not for profit. They are joined by tendrils of a shameful, unspoken history. The closer his shy, poppy-addicted lover lures him to the light of love, the harder his past works to drag him back into the dark.

There’s only one way out of this tangle. Help Wes face the fears that cripple him—right after Michael finds the courage to reveal the devastating truth that binds them.


Product Warnings

Contains wounded heroes, bibliophilic tendencies, orchid obsessions, a right bastard of a marquis, and gay men who get happily-ever-afters.

Barb Manning’s Review:

A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan is at its core the love story of Lord George Albert Westin and Michael Vallant. It’s a tale of failure and redemption in families, friendships and society.  Ms. Cullinan paints a vivid tapestry of passion and pain, of love gone down to the depths of hell and reclaimed at great costs.

Heidi Cullinan is not a gentle writer. She can draw beautiful imagery, such as her descriptions of Wes’ orchids and Michael’s books. However, her power as a writer is in her depiction of emotional trauma. As she explores the contours of Wes’ addiction to opium, Ms. Cullinan delivers some gut-wrenching scenes; likewise, with the recounting of Michael’s early life with his courtesan mother.

While Ms. Cullinan is hyper-focused on the romance between Wes and Michael, she peoples A Private Gentleman with characters who step onto the stage with their own powerful history. Her secondary characters are not mere stand-ins or tools to move the tale. They have their own stories to tell.

Penelope and Rodger are just two of the secondary characters who demand attention on Heidi Cullinan’s stage. On the surface, it appears that Penelope, the crusader, stands at one end of the social spectrum while Rodger, the brothel owner, stands at the other end, but neither character is so clear cut, both are good and bad.

A Private Gentleman is a great read! Ms. Cullinan’s Wes and Michael make you root for them. You want them to win through the pain and trauma of their lives because they deserve to win. There should be 10 stars just for this book. A Private Gentleman is definitely a keeper.

Rated 5 Ravens and a Recommended Read by Barb Manning!

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January 17th, 2012

Author Review: Jesse’s Christmas by RJ Scott

Jesse’s Christmas by RJ Scott
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: GLBT, M/M, Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Holiday
Length: 82 pages

Jesse's Christmas by RJ Scott

Summary:

For Jesse Connor, Christmas is nothing but a series of bad memories. It takes a man imbued with the spirit of Christmas to help him realize that the Christmas spirit lies in everyone–if they only know where to look.

Barb Manning’s Review:

RJ Scott has a sweet little story in Jesse’s Christmas, a holiday treat about a talented photographer with the attitude of Grinch regarding all things Christmas. On assignment from his editor, Jesse is in charming, remote Eden Vale to take some Christmas photos for a client’s online magazine.

Almost immediately, Jesse is knee-deep in Christmas with picture-perfect landscapes and the delightful young Gabriel McClurey, the son of Eden Vale’s innkeeper. RJ Scott paints a clear image of Jesse as a man packing a great deal of baggage from a broken relationship. Ms. Scott writes poetic descriptions of Eden Vale as the little hamlet goes through it’s annual celebrations of the holidays.

It’s impossible not to smile while reading this tale of lost and found love, as Jesse and Gabriel struggle (all too briefly) to develop a relationship in a situation that could ultimately be temporary. After all, Jesse is on an assignment for Christmas.

The only shortcoming in Jesse’s Christmas is the brevity of the story. For a small town boy, Gabriel is a little too quick to get involved with Jesse. Still, the writing is good; the flow of the story fine in Jesse’s Christmas by RJ Scott .

Rated 3 Ravens by Barb Manning!

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October 26th, 2011

Author Review: Mirror Image by Cherie Crystal

Mirror Image by Cherie Crystal
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: F/F, LGBT, Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Length: 41 pages

Summary:

Jaylyn Dayley, professional stuntwoman, isn’t afraid of anything. Except commitment. She can tuck and roll, crash and burn, and walk away unscathed, but can she survive the searing heat of her attraction for the lovely Monika Morning during her stint as the actress’ stunt double?

Tarsilla’s Review:

Mirror Image is not only an exciting read, but it is also one of the most unique stories I’ve read. I lost myself in its authentic British setting, and I thought Ms. Crystal did a wonderful job in creating idiosyncratic characters through a realistic and dynamic dialogue.

The plot is exceptional in its own way, and I was primarily drawn by the story surrounding Jaylyn. I had some reservations about Jaylyn being attracted to Monika because, in order for the mechanics of the story to work, they have to be almost identical physically. The idea of someone getting romantically involved with another who looks almost exactly like them was bothering me. However, Ms. Crystal did a good job differentiating the two women, even on a physical level. Furthermore, I really liked that she kept subtly accentuating their differences and bringing their clashing personalities (and nationalities) to the forefront.

Jaylyn, the main character, is very captivating. I love that this story is in first-person since it allowed me to be really attuned with this character. Mirror Image is very complex and emotional, and because of that I truly felt connected to Jaylyn and engaged with her emotions. Monika’s character was a little harder to get a sense of. She was sort of unapproachable in the beginning, and the reader keenly feels that distance since Jaylyn herself emphasizes that point. Then, all of a sudden, there’s this unexplained camaraderie between the two women. While the idea that they have an instant and effortless connection is the point of the story, I still would have appreciated a little more build-up in their relationship. Also, Monika’s behavior is a bit erratic, and while that’s not necessarily a problem, I would have liked to see a clearer reason behind her inconsistency.

Basically, I wanted a deeper connection with Monika’s character. Her romance with Jaylyn was lively and their antics really brought the story to life. But, I wasn’t quite convinced of Monika’s feelings. It was much easier to trust Jaylyn’s feelings instead. The resolution also happened too fast, which heavily contrasted with the slow pace of the beginning. Issues like the conflict with Josh, the director, were too easily resolved. I wasn’t too emotionally invested towards the end because, before I could grasp the meaning of what had happened, the story was already coming to an end.

Still, Mirror Image is truly an entertaining one-of-a-kind read. The international setting, combined with this unconventional couple and this fascinating narrator, all work together to create a real, sexy romantic story. I was sad to see it end so quickly. I’ll definitely keep my eye open and hope for a sequel.

Rated 4 Ravens by Tarsilla!

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October 14th, 2011

Author Review: Under the Skin by Nicki Bennett & Ariel Tachna

Under the Skin by Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M, GLBT, Erotic, Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary, Romance
Length: 200 pages

Summary:

Police detective Patrick Flaherty has no illusions about Russian mobster Alexei Boczar, but that doesn’t stop his fascination with the bodyguard to one of the most ruthless families in Chicago’s growing Eastern European crime community. From the moment Patrick meets Alexei’s eyes over the body of another Russian mobster, Alexei is a thorn in Patrick’s side, refusing to cooperate with the police and turning all of Patrick’s questions back on him. Alexei’s hard-as-nails persona whets Patrick’s professional determination to get the information he’s sure the gangster is hiding, while personally Patrick just wants to get his hands on Alexei’s hard body.

The tattoos marking Alexei’s skin tell the story of his criminal past, but the more Patrick learns about Alexei, the more he wants to know, until he finds himself over his head in a relationship that might cost him his job and could well cost Alexei his life. Alexei is equally fascinated by Patrick’s willingness to overlook his past and even his present associations, but he has secrets of his own that could drive a wedge between them forever.

Layne’s Review:

It took a minute to get used to the whiplash head hopping in Under The Skin, but once I did, I loved it. Authors Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna gives a great ‘Good guy cop, bad tattooed guy’ story, complete with intense love scenes and great chemistry.

That’s just the first chapter.

I loved Patrick first, because he’s the easiest to figure out, to understand. He’s a cop, doing his job the best way he can to clean up Chicago from the Russian mafia, but he’s also drawn to one of those men immersed deeply in the criminal underworld.

Great dialog and flawed characters. Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna deliver with intense, leap-off-the-pages sex. I enjoyed it, devoured it really. The plot was well written, conflicts heart-wrenching and seemingly insurmountable. I liked that I couldn’t pin down Alexei until almost the very end. He could be good and soft when he’s with Patrick, but he is a member of the Russian mafia. That in itself made him a very bad person.

These two men were strong willed and very passionate. I found myself anticipating their scenes together. Their tangible need for each other was pure palpable heat. The sex wasn’t too much, but I’ve always preferred a good sex to story ratio. Ms. Bennett and Ms. Tachna deliver exactly what I like in Under The Skin. The end was so sweet, so satisfying; it brought a big smile to my face.

The two strong men from Under The Skin stayed with me long after I’d finished reading and that, I think, is the biggest impact. I’ll be reading this story again and again.

Rated 4 1/2 Ravens by Layne!

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October 11th, 2011

Author Review: Packing Leather by Kim Dare

Packing Leather by Kim Dare
Sea, Sun and Submissions Series Book 1
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Genre: M/M, BDSM, Erotic, Contemporary, Romance
Length: Novella

Summary:

Sun, Sea and Submission Series, Book 1

When Darren wins a trip for two to an exclusive holiday resort and invites his work buddy Jamie to share it with him, they are the only two men in the office who know they won’t be enjoying a typical lads weekend away.

Neither of them has any intention of chasing after girls—or even chasing after any guys other than each other. After months of subtle flirtation, Darren and Jamie are finally ready to do a hell of a lot more than stare longingly across the office.

They both know they’re going to get laid, have a laugh and maybe even fall in lust. But neither realizes the weekend has other surprises in store for them—perhaps lust won’t be the only thing they fall in. Especially when one of them realizes that the other man doesn’t just have swimming trunks in his weekend bag—he’s packing leather.

Lea’s Review:

Packing Leather is, at its core, a story of longing and fulfillment. The plot is the journey from the one extreme to the other. In this first story of Kim Dare’s Sun, Sea and Submission Series, we are presented with two men, having worked together platonically for some length of time, deciding to take a holiday to a gay resort. Each has great hopes for what the other man might be interested in pursuing on this vacation, but neither is at all sure what will actually work out.

Like most really good authors, Kim Dare writes stories with layers to be explored and examined. In Packing Leather the interaction between the main characters can be taken at face value, and the story is a fun male/male romance. But to pay attention to the little tidbits that give clues to what each man has struggled with and overcome to reach this point in his life, is to discover a story about hopes, experiences and insecurities that leave them each questioning how lovable, how desireable they really are, and to feel the heat pounding fear of rejection that is bubbling just barely below the surface for both. Each man takes a huge risk with this holiday, and each is carrying extra weight on his shoulders. One has some extra weight in his suitcase, as well.

A special little gift of the story is a very attentive employee of the resort who pops up for a few lines in a couple of chapters. Once again, the writer’s skill with character development shines through as she shows in so few lines the compassion and wonderful sense of humor in this character. I hope to see him in additional books of this series.

What’s not to like about this book? Beautiful location, good plot, excellent characters. There we go. For all Kim Dare fans and for all who love reading m/m BDSM, Packing Leather is a story showing the vulnerable, emotional underbelly of both positions in BDSM, that of the Dominant and that of the submissive. Nice job, Ms. Dare!

Rated 4 1/2 Ravens by Lea!

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May 18th, 2011

Author Review: Switch by Claire Thompson

Switch by Claire Thompson
Publisher: Romance Unbound Publishing
Genre: M/M, BDSM, Erotica
Length: 145 pages / 65400 words

Summary:

Two Doms, but only one Master: Dane Bishop is reigning king in the Austin BDSM scene. A chance meeting with a sexy local artist named Nathan Levi turns his world upside down. Nathan can see beyond Dane’s swaggering persona to the untapped submissive streak beneath the leather and chain. As each struggles to gain and maintain control, the sexual sparks fly. It’s only a matter of time before a spark catches and bursts into flame.

Kalyko’s Review:

Wow. Just WOW! Switch by Claire Thompson was amazing and I’m still going over the story in my head… and I finished it a week ago!

The incredible connection as well as the outright and very immediate sizzle between Dane and Nathan was wonderful and definitely indicative of the excellent story laid out before me. And I am completely taken with both men. Following along as Dane had to make some radical—and they were radical—mental changes was compelling; at the same time, though, it was often quite painful. I got very caught up in the emotional and mental turmoil in which Dane was caught; the emotions were percolating and then roaring off the page as his relationship with Nathan progressed. But if you’re thinking that Nathan was forcing this on Dane, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Nathan is something else. He’s a little younger than Dane, but you’d never think that once you get to know him. He’s incredibly tuned in to people and it’s just utterly amazing at how quickly, and how well, he understood Dane. But it’s Nathan’s philosophy that I really like: he doesn’t see himself as Dom or Dane as submissive. For him it’s more a matter of what works for them individually as well as together. He’s not someone that gets all tied up with labels, and I think that it’s this that finally gets to Dane.

Whatever it is, the relationship and the romance between Dane and Nathan in Switch is stunning in both complexity and power. And yet again, Claire Thompson has hit all the right buttons and continues to prove herself a consummate storyteller. Bravo!

Rated 5 Ravens by Kalyko!

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April 29th, 2011

Author Review: Enticing Elliott by Amber Kell

Enticing Elliott (Moon Pack #5) by Amber Kell
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: Erotica, BDSM, Gay, Paranormal/Alternate World, Shape-Shifter, Werewolves
Length: 84 pages

Summary:

Elliott comes to the Moon pack bar to meet with Anthony. Little does he know Anthony’s plans include handing him off to Parker, the pack security officer. Parker takes one look at the slim accountant and knows he’s found the submissive mate of his dreams.

Margaret’s Review:

In the Moon Pack series Amber Kell has written a cycle of short stories about paranormal creatures that live and work among humans. Unlike some paranormal books, in these stories humans are aware of and generally unafraid of the non-human beings that inhabit their world. Another feature of Ms. Kell’s Moon Pack stories is that most of the characters are homosexual males who live their lives as gay men without apology.

Like the other books in the series, Enticing Elliott is primarily about a pack of city-dwelling werewolves. The usual canon of shifters is preserved with the search for life-long pre-destined mates, and beings that can magically change form. Their enemies are appropriately creepy and there is a good deal of suspense and mystery surrounding them that makes it difficult to put the book down.

While Enticing Elliott can be read as a stand-alone story, the reader may become briefly confused when individuals are not fully introduced or the exposition of a plot line occurred in a previous book and is not repeated here. However, as the fifth book in a series, the story is a well crafted continuation of the struggles and loves of an enjoyable set of characters.

Each book has a theme and Enticing Elliott dips a toe into BDSM kinks, albeit lightly. Elliott Samuels is introduced to the series as a half-human wolf shifter with a submissive personality. Characters introduced previously are involved in this story as well, answering some “What happened next?” questions.

Ms. Kell packs a lot of detail into a short story. She also leaves the reader anxious for the next one. There is humor, suspense, a few surprises and plenty of hot sex of the m/m variety as characters interact with their mates and fulfill that part of their destinies.

Rated 4 Ravens by Margaret!

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April 27th, 2011

Author Review: Turn the Other Cheek by Chris Owen

Turn the Other Cheek by Chris Owen
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: M/M, GLBT, Contemporary, Erotic Romance

Review Copy Received from Publisher

Summary:

In this sequel to the popular Cheek to Cheek, Mallory and Will have moved past dating, though it’s still a race to hit the sheets every time they look at each other. Trouble is brewing, however, since hitting the sheets is a no-no for firefighters who work together. Will is ready to move forward, to tell the world that they’re together, but Mallory is still trying to keep their private lives to themselves.

With their careers on the line, Will’s brother pushing his own agenda and Mallory’s keen desire to live on his own terms, choices have to be made. Their work situation needs to change, and so does Mal’s attitude, or he’ll lose the one thing he wants more than anything in the world — Will.

Can a change of schedule save Mallory and Will’s relationship and send them dancing into their future, or will tension and frustration tear them apart forever when Will’s had enough? Find out in Turn the Other Cheek!

Pomme’s Review:

At 233 pages, this follow-up to the popular Cheek to Cheek by Chris Owen delivers on its promise to give us more of the main characters and answer some of the issues raised by the first novella. If you’ve liked Cheek to Cheek then I definitely recommend picking up Turn The Other Cheek without even reading the rest of this review: Chris Owen‘s writing is so consistent that the transition between the two books is seamless. You won’t even realise you’ve picked up another book, as opposed to just further chapters!

The plot picks up right where Cheek to Cheek left off, meaning reading Cheek to Cheek beforehand is a definite plus. I re-read my own copy in order to review this and it very much put things into perspective. The main characters, Mal and Will, have realised they do have something that isn’t just ‘casual’ and are dealing with that realisation: this involves dealing with the outside world (in terms of their friends and co-workers and family) which makes for some tense times. Now, Mal and Will have amazing chemistry in bed, which is what initially brought them together. I very much enjoyed how they translated that to outside the sheets by going out more often together, and not just to the gay bar where they met.

The story itself is told from the limited third person point of view of Mal: it was very entertaining to see how he coped with the whole situation spinning slowly out of control. I loved how entitled Will’s brother was and how he nudged the deck of cards that was their relationship, forcing it into the open and changing the whole way Mal and Will worked together. Chris Owen is very good at describing Mal’s feelings and I was right there with him when he felt trapped and forced to make choices, at work and in his private life, that he didn’t want to make, and when his stubbornness almost cost him everything.

The only quibble I have is with the one decision Mal takes and on which hinges the last third of the book: I personally thought it was too sudden. I’m not asking for foreshadowing, but as a reader I had no inkling that Mal’s thoughts were even headed the way they were, so I was as surprised as Will when Mal did his one-eighty. It was the only time I had to suspend my disbelief to continue enjoying the rest of the book.

The secondary characters are fleshed out and three-dimensional: we see more of Will’s brother, whom Mal cannot abide, and we meet Mal’s parents for the first time. They’re a riot, and I just wished they had been introduced earlier! There is also a cameo by the main characters of 911, the other novel in this series, but it is incorporated seamlessly into the story and the reader definitely doesn’t need previous knowledge of the characters to understand how all these men know each other and have come together.

Obviously there is sex, and it is well written and very much on the hot side. I love how Mal and Will can’t keep their hands off each other, but I really enjoy the fact that they use dancing as foreplay. The scenes at Cleo’s, the local bar, are the highlight of the book, especially when Mal decides to stake a claim on Will.

I found only one typo, as the book is well-edited and the publisher changed the font size to a bigger one (at least in the pdf version I got), which is a definite plus for people who tend to read on small screens.

In summary, this is an excellent continuation to the original novella. The main characters are solidly portrayed, likable, and very, very hot together, but the sex doesn’t steal the show. The secondary characters add depth to the adventures of Mal and Will, taking them out of a relationship vacuum and putting them in a real life setting. Personally, I don’t think reading Turn the Other Cheek on its own is a good idea, just because this book deals with issues stemming from a relationship already established and a network of characters that have already been introduced. Also, reading this before Cheek to Cheek takes away half the fun!

Rated 4 Ravens by Pomme!

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April 27th, 2011

Author Review: The Dark Farewell by Josh Lanyon

The Dark Farewell by Josh Lanyon
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Historical, Erotic Romance, GLBT, M/M
Length: Category

Review Copy Purchased by Review Site

Summary:

Don’t talk to strangers, young man—especially the dead ones.

It’s the Roaring Twenties. Skirts are short, crime is rampant and booze is in short supply. Prohibition has hit Little Egypt, where newspaperman David Flynn has come to do a follow-up story on the Herren Massacre. The massacre isn’t the only news in town though. Spiritualist medium Julian Devereux claims to speak to the dead—and he charges a pretty penny for it.

Flynn knows a phoney when he sees one, and he’s convinced Devereux is as fake as a cigar store Indian. But the reluctant attraction he feels for the deceptively soft, not-his-type Julian is as real as it gets.

Suddenly Julian begins to have authentic, bloodstained visions of a serial killer, and the cynical Mr. Flynn finds himself willing to defend Julian with not only his life, but his body.

Product Warnings: This novella contains phony spiritualists, cynical newspapermen, labor disputes, illicit love affairs, high-calorie southern cooking, and more than fifty-percent humidity!

Taz’s Review:

The Dark Farewell is the second book I have read by Josh Lanyon. Although I typically don’t choose to read historical fiction, I’ve been in a bit of a stint with them and have come to appreciate what I like and dislike about the genre. What I dislike are stories where the author has worked so hard to maintain the authenticity of the time period, that the story gets lost in that process. What I DO like about the genre is when the authenticity places me into the time period, but the story is enhanced, not driven by the details of the era. Josh Lanyon most definitely falls into the second category of what I described above.

This book follows David Flynn, a reporter from New York City who has travelled to Little Egypt in Illinois to follow-up on the Herrin Massacre. When he arrives, he meets young Julian, a clairvoyant who sets her nerves on end from the first moment they meet. But Flynn realizes that what he originally thought was agitation setting him off was actually attraction. As he interviews people about the massacre, there is also talk about a serial killer targeting women. When a fourth woman is discovered, Flynn’s investigative mind takes him in a different direction; one that points the finger at several possible suspects right in Little Egypt.

Unlike most murder mysteries, this story does not keep a race-against-the-clock pace. It takes its time to weave together the people, the events, and the raw emotions that grow between Flynn and Julian. The use of language throughout the story is masterful, each phrase and word seemingly hand-picked to match precisely with the image Mr. Lanyon wanted to invoke.

The physical experiences between the two heroes was not as intense as other m/m erotic romance’s that I have read, but the emotions behind the actions are present and heart-warming. As Flynn’s heart opened to Julian, moving from annoyed to enraptured, I found that my open desire to see the couple succeed travelled the same path. It was wonderful to be guided along Flynn’s journey without even realizing it. To recognize after the fact that my feelings about the two of them changed was a pleasant surprise and adds to my admiration of the subtlety of Mr. Lanyon’s writing style.

While the pace was a bit slow for my taste and the heat index wasn’t as high as I personally prefer, those are personal tastes that have no bearing on my rating. The only thing that fell short of my expectations in this novel was the ending which seemed to occur rather abruptly. The story unfolded at a languid pace. Details were laid out with pain-staking precision and with provocative imagery. When the climax of the story was achieved, the story ended and I missed the slow wind-down of events that tends to give a hint of how life would progress for the heroes from now on. Perhaps this was intentional by the author so that the reader could form their own opinion about what will happen next. Maybe these two characters will resurface in a second novel. Whatever the reason, it was the one aspect to the story that left me hanging.

Overall, an excellent read and another success by this talented author.

Rated 4.5 Ravens by Taz!

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April 27th, 2011

Author Review: Wait Until Dawn by Bailey Bradford

Wait Until Dawn by Bailey Bradford
Publisher: Total E-Bound
Genre: Erotica, M/M, Paranormal Romance, GLBT
Length: 97pagesl

Summary:

Book four in the Southern Spirits Series

Beware of what follows you back from the dead…

Detective Rich Montoya was attacked by Sheriff Stenley’s stalker in When the Dead Speak. A year later, Rich is having a rough time, haunted by a malevolent spirit that’s making his already fragile existence hellacious.

Rich, who’s kept to himself for the past year, is scarred more than physically. The last thing he thinks he needs is a lover, little does he know…Chris Neeland is a big guy who drives a big rig, and all it takes is one look at the sexy, wounded man driving the cute little Miata and Chris is sunk. His mystical mother always told him love would hit Chris like a bolt of lightning, fast and hard and not without pain, but he kind of hadn’t believed her until he meets Rich.

Reader Advisory: This book is part of a series but may be read as a stand alone title.

Kathy’s Review:

Wait Until Dawn is creepy scary and sexy all rolled into one engrossing book. Bailey Bradford takes the fourth book in the Southern Spirits to a much darker place as readers learn what has been happening to Rich Montoya in the year following his close brush with death.

Completely isolated from his friends and loved ones, Rich has hit rock bottom. He is haunted and not just by the traumatic torture he suffered at the hands of a madman. No, Rich is haunted by a dark and evil spirit. And the reader feels every ounce of his pain, hopelessness, and anguish right from the beginning of Wait Until Dawn. With his father’s “encouragement”, Rich heads back to McKinton to face his past and lay his ghosts to rest.

On his way back to McKinton, Rich crosses paths with the oh so sexy Chris Neeland. Along with an intense sexual attraction , Chris also feels an instant emotional connection with the vulnerable man Rich has become. Chris is definitely not Rich’s usual type, but he finds himself inexplicably drawn to the multi-pierced and drool worthy muscular hunk.

Bailey Bradford’s clever mix of characters and spirits from previous books in the Southern Spirits series will delight her readers. A little more serious than the other novels in the series, Wait Until Dawn maintains the light-hearted charm that makes this such a delightful series. This novel can be read as a standalone title but you won’t want to miss a single installment in this fun and fabulous series.

Rated 4 Ravens by Kathy!

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April 26th, 2011

Author Review: Spring by Carol Lynne

Spring by Carol Lynne
Publisher: Total E-Bound
Genre: Erotic, M/M, Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel

Summary:

Book one in the Seasons of Love Serial

Seasons of Love follows forty years in the lives of two men, Sidney Wilks and Grady Nash, from the Spring of their relationship when love is new and shiny through to the Winter of their partnership when thirty years of being a couple has begun to lose its sheen.

On the day of his mother’s funeral, ten-year old Sidney Wilks is silently comforted by the presence of one man, ranch hand Grady Nash. Little did Sidney know that Nash would become the only stable figure in his life for the next forty years.

Years later, after an evening of typical college fun, Sidney is involved in a serious car wreck. It’s Nash who once again steps in to rescue Sidney and nurse him back to health.

While trying to get close enough to Sidney to help him heal, Nash’s feelings begin to change towards the twenty-one year old. For him, loving Sidney was nothing new, but when his body begins to desire the small man, Nash is forced to re-evaluate his protective instincts.

What kind of future could the two men possibly have? Nash’s life is centred on horses and cattle, while Sidney has dreams of escaping the small-town Kansas life to build skyscrapers. How can two men who want opposite lifestyles come to a compromise, or will Nash be forced to allow Sidney to spread his wings without him?

Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series as all four stories follow the lives of Sidney and Grady

Kathy’s Review:

The concept behind Carol Lynne’s new serial, Seasons of Love, is refreshingly unique and utterly fabulous. It is a four book series that spans forty years of Sidney Wilks and Grady Nash’s life together. Spring is the opening chapter of Sidney and Nash’s story, and it is an outstanding read.

We first meet Sidney and Nash following Sidney’s mother’s funeral. The first chapter of the book shows Sidney at various ages and stages of his life, and gives the reader an in depth view of Sidney’s life and a greater understanding of his developing relationship with Nash.

Time slows down in the later chapters and Ms. Lynne fully fleshes out Nash and Sidney’s characters. Sidney’s relationship with his father is contentious and Nash proves to be the only steady presence in his life. Their relationship evolves slowly over time from friends to lovers, and they face many challenges as a couple.

Carol Lynne’s readers are going to fall in love with Spring. Interesting plot twists, engaging protagonists and strong emotion keep this engrossing novel moving at a fast pace. Ms. Lynne masterfully leaves her fans impatiently awaiting the next chapter in Nash and Sidney’s captivating story.

Rated 4 Ravens by Kathy!

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April 26th, 2011

Author Review: Alpha Born by Stormy Glenn

Alpha Born by Stormy Glenn
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand, Inc
Genre: Paranormal,  Erotic Romance, M/M, M/M/M, Menage a Trois/Quatre, Vampires/Werewolves
Word Count: 64,404

Summary:

[Ménage Amour ManLove: Erotic Alternative Paranormal Ménage a Trois Romance, M/M/M, werewolves, vampires]

Alpha Caleb Redding has spent 20 years trying to bring his first love back into his life. When he finally devises a plan, the Council of Elders agrees to it, but they add their own stipulations. In order for the mate covenant to happen, Caleb has to agree to give up his clan and alpha status, submitting to Grayson.

Alpha Grayson Cane has watched Caleb from afar, never able to touch him or speak to him due to clan conflict. It’s been a heartache that has stabbed at him for 20 years. When a peace treaty comes in the form of a mate covenant between their two clans, Grayson is all too eager to agree, especially when he learns that Caleb must submit to him.

But when the vampire mediator sent to broker the peace agreement disappears, will their second chance at being together also vanish? And what happens when Grayson accidentally mates the vampire while trying to save his life? Will Caleb have to give up his clan, his alpha status, and his dream of being with Grayson? Or will being alpha born have its advantages?

A Siren Erotic Romance

Margaret’s Review:

As we continue our journey into the new waters of Stormy Glenn’s True Blood Mate series, book 2, Alpha Born, introduces us to two new alpha werewolves, Grayson and Caleb and the enigmatic leader of a coven of vampires, Alejandro, aka J.O.E.L.

The characters are not only well developed, I became so attached to them, especially Caleb, that I became emotional at the injustices and brutal attacks Caleb suffered for the sake of loving Grayson. Where a lesser wolf or man would have felt rage at the second mating, accidental or not, of his lover Grayson to the vampire Joel, Caleb forced himself to sublimate his own feelings and “alphaness” for the good of Grayson and their werewolf clans.

While Alpha Born can be read as a standalone novella, reading Heart Song first will make Alpha Born a richer experience. We catch up with some of the werewolves we met in Heart Song and are shocked by new revelations of relationships and a glimpse into the history of werewolf and vampire cultures, as crafted by Ms. Glenn.

The final editing could have been a little more meticulous. The occasional missing word or grammar error is noted but not disruptive to the story. All in all it is such a beautifully written story that a few small bloopers can easily be dismissed.

The plot is exciting and mysterious. Are vampires the villains or are werewolves the source of dark subterfuge? Or… are there other forces at work? Who can be trusted?

There is plenty of erotic sex, with a little light spanking, a complicated ménage that forms and reforms throughout the book, lots of man on man action, and even a case of dubious consent that will, believe it or not, make you chuckle out of spite.

Ms. Glenn’s second book in this series is an even stronger, more cohesive story than the first one. I can hardly wait to read the next one!

Rated 5 Ravens by Margaret!

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April 26th, 2011

Author Review: Heart Song by Stormy Glenn

Heart Song by Stormy Glenn
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand, Inc
Genre: Erotic Romance, M/M , Paranormal, Vampires/Werewolves
Word Count: 52,101

Summary:

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

Ten years ago, Darren Hart was rescued from a fall by a gorgeous man that tells him an outlandish tale. Once he returns to civilization, his memories blur and he begins to believe the voice in his head is a figment of his imagination.

Now, Darren is a successful veterinarian who believes he is just a bit crazy. After years of therapy and medications, he has learned to live with the sexy voice in his head. He even carries on conversations and occasionally fantasizes about the voice. When he’s attacked, Darren doesn’t know what to think, but when the voice comes to rescue him in the form of the most gorgeous man he’s ever met, Darren is positive he’s lost his mind.

On the run from a killer, Darren has to come to terms with the fact that the voice is real and has a name. Asher Stone is the alpha of a werewolf clan and claims that Darren is his alpha mate. Can Darren believe in Asher’s promise that they were meant to be together or will an unknown assailant kill him before he realizes that being the alpha mate is what he desires most in the world?

A Siren Erotic Romance

Margaret’s Review:

First I must admit that this book had me at “Stormy Glenn”. I’ve enjoyed her other shifter series and was eager to read this new one. Interestingly, with Heart Song, Ms. Glenn changed the werewolf rules a bit, making this book even more interesting and less predictable.

A collection of werewolves is no longer a pack, it is a clan, babies can shift and the differences go on from there. This is not the pat werewolf finds his human mate and everyone lives happily ever after fairytale. It has mystery, romance, tension, kidnappers, killers, and enough crazy people to populate a psychiatric ward.

The characters are each unique, behave consistently throughout the book, and in the paranormal society Ms. Glenn creates they are believable. The veterinarian actually works his profession and the fact that he has those skills becomes very important to the story. There were enough veterinary details to indicate that Ms. Glenn did her homework.

The passion and sexual hunger between Darren and Ash is sizzling! They can’t stand for anyone else to even look too long at their mate before they want to go all caveman and drag each other off to the nearest flat surface, which they do often and enthusiastically.

I would like to have seen the conclusion of one plot point but then again, this is the first in a series so perhaps the denouement of that arc will occur in a later book.

Heart Song sang to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to the rest of the series to see more of Ms. Glenn’s new werewolf dogma (pun intended!).

Rated 4 ½ Ravens by Margaret!

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April 16th, 2011

Author Review: Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon

Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Historical Romance, Male/Male, Mystery, Romance
Word Count: 44,490


Review Copy Received from Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Los Angeles, 1943

Reporter Nathan Doyle had his reasons to want Phil Arlen dead, but when he sees the man’s body pulled from the La Brea tar pit, he knows he’ll be the prime suspect. He also knows that his life won’t stand up to intense police scrutiny, so he sets out to crack the case himself.

Lieutenant Matthew Spain’s official inquiries soon lead him to believe that Nathan knows more than he’s saying. But that’s not the only reason Matt takes notice of the handsome journalist. Matt’s been drawn to men before, but he must hide his true feelings—or risk his entire career.

As Nathan digs deeper, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay one step ahead of Matt Spain—and to deny his intense attraction to him. Nathan’s secrets may not include murder, but has his hunt put him right in the path of the real killer?

Previously published, newly revised by author.

Kathy’s Review:

Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon is an exceptional Noir murder mystery that is highly engaging and transports the reader back to a bygone era of glitz and glam.

Nathan Doyle and Matt Spain are complex and multi-layered protagonists. In a time when homosexuality is considered a crime, both men are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality albeit in different ways. Matt’s solution is to simply ignore his attraction to other men. On the other hand, Nathan is driven to heedlessly give into his desires again and again. Although both men are fully aware a future between them is futile, Nathan and Matt eventually give in to the passion burning between them.

The murder investigation into Phil Arlen’s death is finely crafted, and Mr. Lanyon does a brilliant job of keeping the killer tightly under wraps until the reveal at the novel’s end. The secondary cast of characters is three dimensional, and hopefully Mr. Lanyon plans to bring a few of them back in future works.

Snowball in Hell is a gritty, atmospheric novel that perfectly captures 1940s America. Nathan and Matt are fabulous yet flawed heroes whose seemingly ill-fated love breaks the reader’s heart. Josh Lanyon masterfully leaves his fans eagerly awaiting the next book in this spectacular new series.

Rated 4 Ravens by Kathy!

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April 16th, 2011

Author Review: By Your Side by Willa Okati

By Your Side by Willa Okati
Publisher: Loose, Id
Genre: LGBT, M/M, Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Length: Novella

Review Copy Received from Publisher

Summary:

Seven years ago, during a sultry summer by a lake, Matthieu fell in love with a man fifteen years his junior. Intelligent, passionate and talented, Roman swore he wanted nothing more than to settle down with Matthieu for the rest of his life. Matthieu couldn’t let that happen. The way he saw it, Roman had too much talent to waste with a small life and small dreams. He tried to do the right thing by severing all ties with the young man who commanded his passion, hoping that one day Roman would forgive and forget him.

That was never going to happen.

Roman has always known exactly who and what he wants — who he loves. Now that he’s found Matthieu again, Roman’s willing to do anything it takes to prove it. He’ll use his body, his music, and all his wiles to show the older man that their love is as real as their passion, and that they are meant to be together. Matthieu isn’t easily convinced, but Roman isn’t easily bested. He’s never been good at taking “no” for an answer — especially when he knows his partner well enough to be sure what he really wants to say is yes, yes, yes.

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

Sofi’s Review:

“So that’s all right then.” Might be a bit of an understatement for this book, but it’s a start. I suppose if guitar playing main character Roman wrote music that turned into words, it might somehow resemble the lyrical, impressionistic prose Ms. Okati has put forth in Buy Your Side

There are a lot of things about this book that I loved. First and foremost was the mixture of southern drawl and sweet melody in her writing style. Everything just flowed in a lazy, small-town relaxed way perfect for the story and its setting.

Next is Roman. We should all be so lucky to have a Roman in our lives; someone who never gives up believing and trying and hoping. This strong, determined character just won my heart.

Then there’s Justine. I’ve noticed over the years, gay romance often lacks in strong, sympathetic female characters who aren’t walking stereotypes. I found Justine’s vulnerability in wanting her big brother back in her life, cast against her own personal strength, refreshing and real. She’s no push over. But she does have a soft, hopeful side.

And then, of course, there’s Matthieu. I confess, I maybe wanted to knock him over the head a bit, but even still, he has an honest, caring kind of strength that makes it believable that he would want the best for Roman. That short-sighted kindness also lets me buy that both Roman and Justine will forgive him for being a bit of a dork in not seeing what the best really is.

Overall, I loved this book for the sweet, slow drawl, the perfect symbiosis between characters, setting and style. It was an absolute joy to bask in this lazy summer journey with these characters and Ms. Okati.

Rated 5 Ravens by Sofi!

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April 6th, 2011

Author Review: Attracting Anthony by Amber Kell

Attracting Anthony by Amber Kell
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Erotic Romance, GLBT, M/M
Length: 83 pages

Summary:

Anthony goes to the club to start dating again after the death of his lover. He didn’t plan on being anyone’s mate. The pack alpha had other ideas.

MacKenzie’s Review:

For those of you that think you have seen this book before, you may well have. Attracting Anthony is a reissue of a previously published story by the same title. I actually had the opportunity to read the original way back when, and I’m very happy to see the expanded version as well as the continuation of the series as a whole.

Even though I’ve read the original, Attracting Anthony has a completely new feel to it. I remember the basic premise and how much fun the characters were, but other than that I have no preconceived notions of what should be happening. It’s like starting fresh, but familiar.

While this story is much longer than the original (a good 30 pages longer), I felt it could have used just a bit more story building, especially in this first installment. The reader feels a bit like they’ve jumped into the middle of a series, rather than being drawn into another realm. I’m hoping that as the series moves forward, that feeling subsides and the story itself takes over to a greater extent.

If you’re looking for a guilty-pleasure-read, this may well be it. It’s fun, quick and delightful. The sex scenes and sensual moments are an ooey, gooey pleasure that should be reserved for a time when you’re looking for a lighthearted read that will soothe the senses.

I can’t wait to see what Amber Kell does with the rest of this charming series. I think we’re all in for an entertaining treat.

Rated 3 1/2 Ravens by MacKenzie!

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April 6th, 2011

Author Review: Red Light by Thom Lane

Red Light by Thom Lane
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC
Genre: M/M, Contemporary Romance, GLBT
Length: Novella

Summary:

A “Moonlight, Wine & Roses” Story!

Jeff is a deliberate loner: he’s had his heart broken once, and he won’t let it happen again. Ready to rebuild his life, he goes on holiday. Alone. Until he meets Benet — and finds that the human heart is not so easily controlled.

Unable to resist the siren call of Benet’s sweet, beautiful nature, Jeff decides a fling can’t hurt, but all he wants is sex and company; anything more just leads inevitably to disappointment and betrayal. But Benet slithers under his guards and breaks all Jeff’s new-set rules. Will he obey his brain and stop for the Red Light or will he give in to the heart’s impulse and run it?

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

Eryka’s Review:

Red Light was my first book by author Thom Lane and I will most certainly be looking for more. I really enjoyed Jeff and Benet’s story. Seeing Jeff struggling to keep his relationship with Benet strictly a fling after having his heart broken was simply heartwrenching. As a reader, I was hoping that Jeff’s broken heart would heal and he would have his HEA with Benet. Benet seemed to mature so much during the story, which at times I wondered if he was more grown-up than Jeff who was older.

If you are expecting explicit sex scenes, you will not find them in this story. This is more of a romance story than one sex scene after another. Mr. Lane tries to capture the romance and splendor to Jeff and Benet’s time together. It’s about being able to put the risk of being hurt aside and falling in love again. The first person narration shows Jeff’s fear of relationships and his growing love for Benet. The secondary characters are very charming and the setting in France adds to the romance of the story.

I did not realize this book was a sequel of sorts, to another of Thom Lane’s books – White Flag, which I will be reading in the future. It is my understanding that you don’t need to read the first book since they are only connected in the general sense.

I can definitely see rereading this story in the future! Mr. Lane certainly has a new reader in me.

Rated 4 Ravens by Eryka!

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