SheReadsALot...seriously.

she's just a girl who loves books.

This author has skills! Urban fantasy lovers might want to check it out

Warlock in Training - T.J. Nichols
  4.5 HEARTS--I knew this author's first novel would be great. It was magical.



This isn't my first T.J. Nichols; all previous works were urban fantasy/ paranormal short stories: The Vampire's Dinner and A Wolf's Resistance . Both works had great world building and paranormal ideas. The same can be said for Warlock in Training. But what I wanted to see is what the author could do with something novel length.

Not disappointed.

Earth has changed, new countries have formed and magic is known. Well I should say warlocks and wizards are real on Earth, or Humanside. The Earth is continuing to change, forget global warming, it's approaching an ice age. Most of the population doesn't know what the cause is for it. Warlocks are believed to be the saviors to stop it, But what they don't want people to know is they're the culprits. Magic exists in Humanside and Demonside, a second world where demons and other paranormal beings live. Demonside is experiencing extreme global warming, the world turning into a desert, water is scarce. Do these changes share something in common?

Wizards practice magic without using demons. Warlocks on the other hand drain demons for their magic to be more power, have stronger magic. Wizards are looked down on in the magical society. Warlocks are the upper echelon, the 1% if you will.

Nineteen year old ginger Angus Donohue doesn't want to be a warlock, despite his prestigious warlock family history. His father is forced him to attend warlock college and threatened him not embarrass the family name or him. Angus doesn't even want to summon a demon during a requisite class and tries to fail.

And that's where the magic begins.

Enter demon Saka (I am 1000% for him). He chooses Angus despite Angus trying to fail and takes him to Demonside across the void (the bridge between the two worlds). Points to the story being dual POV. Both worlds are too interesting not to immerse yourself in.

The cover is so fitting! Because I think Angus has the potential to be the bridge.

Saka is a demon mage and is trying to help his world. He's smart, calm and wicked with a knife. He shows Angus there is more to life and magic. I couldn't help but imagine Saka something like Hellboy (black horns instead, no hair, the similar skin tone)



I always try to find a Hellboy in demons I read about. LOL

Saka teaches different types of magic: soul, blood and sex. Saka's really great at the last two.

A lot of urban fantasy, tends to have an alpha type as the lead. Not the case in Warlock in Training. Angus is nineteen and reads nineteen - unsure of himself, still learning his place in the world, exploring relationships with potential partners. But he's not the typical teenager. Demonside helps open his eyes.

There is a battle between two magical worlds that felt similar to what the political and global feel is right now. The 1% is ruining both worlds, damn the results as long as they're in power. It's magical politics. People are dying for a cause that does not benefit the greater good. The ones in charge lie to the masses and attacks any form of resistance.

But there is a resistance.



And it's growing.

The book ends with a cliffhanger of sorts. There are loose threads that need to be answered. Such as who really is in charge? Why the harvesting of so much power? The suspense is well written.

Before jumping all over this, I feel I should warn potential readers of possible triggers/deal breakers: There are romantic undertones rather than a defined romance. Both main characters have sex with other people (But I feel I should explain demons have different views on 'relationships' - monogamy is not the norm,) There were brief MF moments. (Also, didn't mind. The moments were a blip on the entire scale of things) Cutting is practiced for magical purposes.

How erotic does this get? There is on page sex but don't expect pages of a drawn out sex scene. (Quite happy about that, it can be a chore to read drawn out pages) The relationship between Saka and Angus is still forming, is kinda fluid. There is another character that has a potential of maybe making this a love/lust triangle. It's not romantic. More as a means to an end but there is potential for deeper feelings. Sex on Demonside can be and is used for ritualistic needs. If you are a reader who needs the one and only, I would say to approach with caution. Because the way the sex, relationship and openness is written fits the characters. And they struggle. But it's secondary to the world building, action and suspense.

I want to rate this all the hearts but I have tiny issues, pretty minor. Technically, the story reads well. But I feel some of the chapters ended in odd spots. I like the fact the chapters aren't overly long but some ended with where it could have just combined with half of the next chapter for better impact.

But I see this book as the foundation for more to come. War is approaching. What side are you on? Will the resistance win?

Bonus was that this book stars my favorite paranormal beings: DEMONS!



And a ginger warlock! It was like it was written just for me. ;P

Fans of urban fantasy should definitely check this series out because the world building is tops. The author obvious is an urban fantasy fan and it shows in their work. The first third is mostly building. The other two thirds are fast paced and filled with intrigue. My heart started to crumble in the last 5-8% but the author pulled it through.

I am so there for this series! And I'm definitely a fan of this author after this. It's 3 out of 3 for me!

Recommended.



A copy provided for an honest review.

 

NSFW: For those who like it twisted...M. Caspian always gets the tone right.

The Salt of Your Tears - M. Caspian

For the dudes and dudettes who like it extremely dark and kinky!

Twisted folks step right on up!

 

 

In His Skin - 4 Hearts


A mute submissive is given the world by his Master, but it comes with a price.


Warning: do not enter if you can't handle pain play, blood play, sharing amongst partners and piercing certain sensitive parts.

 

 

Dylan yearns to please his master Harrison. He tries his hardest to follow his rules and be the best that he can be. But he yearns for something...the sea.

 

Dylan doesn't have to cook or clean. All he has to do is please Harrison, obviously in the bedroom. Though he never utters a word throughout the story, Dylan's thoughts and emotions were very present. The story is slightly mysterious as well as erotic. Who Dylan is and how he came to be with Harrison is the leading the question that pulled me into the story.

 

I'm not one for pain play, so not on #TeamPain. (#Team Lube represent!) But the verbal humiliation helped ease my squickiness. And when  Harrison and Dylan are alone together, the trademark Caspian possessiveness came tot he forefront, where hot breaths and threats are prevalent.

 

"Did your hole get enough tonight? Oh, no, wait, it didn't because I haven't fucked you yet. Only me, you hear me? It's only me who gets to have you."

 

That I liked. I figured out the mystery close to the end. The writing read poetic and a little somber at times. But I was super happy with the concept. It's my kind of paranormal.

 

 

 

At the end, Dylan prioritized what he needed the most. I'd like to think was a HEA.

 

Please heed the warnings before trying.

 

Asking For It - 5 Hearts

 

CHEESUS AND CRACKERS! THIS IS LIKE IT WAS WRITTEN FOR ME!

 

 

 

7+k words - I kid you not, I have about half of this story highlighted.  

"Bet you want it all the time, don't you, a boy like you? I'll have to visit you at work on your lunch break, gag you and tie your hands in the men's room, turn you around in a stall and fuck you 'til you're crying, then make you go back to your afternoon meeting with my seed dripping out of you."

 

 

 

All my favorites words came to play: cockslut, cunt, fuckboy!

 

Pornupcopia jackpot! Filth! Smut at its finest!

 

Cole needs. He needs bad. The 22 year old has been a good boy. He's repressed at work, doesn't try to explore the kink, the need in him. And when he tries to finally do something about it with a date with a Daddy type from online, he doesn't meet with much success.

 

Or does he?

"Your eyes are hungry, did you know that?"

Bar owner and bartender Garrett sees everything that night. And answers the body call Cole has going on.

 

"But you still need, don't you? It's okay boy. You've found me now."

 

Semi-public sex, humiliation dirty talk, possessive alpha Dom...I just don't where to begin on the high points.

 

The thrill Cole feels, the slight, miniscule dub-con feel to it all...oh the words.

 

If only that pool table could talk.

"I can't wait to fuck you raw, watch you push my cum out, see it dripping out of your hole."

Cole gets shown, owned and is so satisfied by Garret, any reservation has flew the coop.

 

And I imagine a very cum filled happy ending. From random hookup to lasting D/s relationship...

 

 

 

Aces in my book! ;)

Re-read worthy for sure!

 

 

A Song in the Blood - 4.5 Hearts

 

Where a masochist with a penchant for blood play finally meets his match.

 

 

Here's the thing. I started this a little confuzzled.

 

Then is as I read along I released this was “It is Our Bounden Duty To Protect The Empire”. (Love this new title BTW) and the tags helped make it clearer.

 

The tags: gun play, extreme violence, paranormal, power exchange, HEA, historical setting, Kiwi MC, extreme violence. All acts are consensual by the way.

 

Set after the turn of the 20th century, Corran McKenzie is a Kiwi soldier slowly dying in the African desert. He's picked up a friend by the name of Sephtis. And Sephtis watches and goads the young man as his will to live keeps him going.

 

Now if you look up the name Sephtis, you'll see exactly who Septhis is. Or I should say what he represents. Clever, clever, author. (It's a reason why I rated so high) We get a case study of Corran's life and the start of when he craved real pain and couldn't have his needs fulfilled.

"Your want is delicious."

All he needs is to make it hurt, to bleed.

 

Sephtis scratches that unfathomable itch. The story starts in 1902 and carries on into present day. There are erotic moments and scenes...like this:

 

 

Add that to the mindfuckery and it's a hot little number.

"Did you know your soul hungers? No wonder I heard you all the way out here in the middle of nowhere."

It reminded me of Deckard's "Better The Devil You Know", which had similar depravity, a witty entity and crisp writing.


Recommended for readers who can actually handle the tags, DMC and those who like extreme dark mixed in with their kink.

 



A copy provided for an honest review.

Easton kicks Dreamspun Desires ass yet again!

Snowblind (Dreamspun Desires Book 29) - Eli Easton

4.25 HEARTS--Tag team review with Adam

Dreamspun Desires aka cracky fluff has another home run with Snowblind by Eli Easton.



Me= when a new Dreamspun title is released

What fun romance tropes to find from the latest Dreamspun treasure? Stranded in a snowy cabin mixed with a damaged hero and disguise.

Delicious.

My favorite of the house line (so far) happens to be by this same author, so this book had big shoes to fill. A total 180 from The Stolen Suitor , this book toed the line of cracky fluff with dashes of realism. If this isn't your first time with the line, you know to expect some cheese, some sugar and fluff.

All founded in this novel.

Set in Alaska, Hutch is a damaged solitary former Marine (oohrah!) with a lot of baggage and not a lot of patience for others. He's suspicious of a nearly frostbitten stranger that falls on his property. He has a secluded cabin for a reason and is on high alert with the frozen man's arrival. The frozen man being model Jude Devereaux. Jude thaws...and so does Hutch. The story for the first half is all Hutch's POV.

What is it about their connection he wonders. Is it the fact they're stuck in a blizzard and have no chance for escape? Maybe the need for companionship? Whatever the circumstances, the men are trapped in that house for three days.

And what a hot three days it was...



I'm sure you heard all about it.

But sex only this story is not. It has quite a twisty plot. And the twists and turns change from instalove/stranded highs to betrayal, action, murder, gun fights...

Dudes, it was a wild and crazy ride.

The story doesn't feature Jude's POV until 51%. And once it does, the story twists even more. I got swept away in the cabin fever feelings and could almost but the love. See, it wasn't instantaneous ILY's but close. And the author did a decent job portraying the men's inner thoughts as to what drove them for the crazy actions.

I'll keep all the crazy plot twists to a minimum as to not spoil the read. Because even if you guess what went down, you get the scope of it until you read it.

How's the sex? Hot when it's there, even the fade to black/non-graphic interludes were hot. In the bedroom, the men do lack the chemistry. For what is allowed in the houseline, I found it to be hot.

How's the fluff? Not as fluffy and sugary, but it's there. A little heavier in the whipped sweet fluff in the second half.

It's a close second to my fave, just because there were moments when my fluff bubble popped. And I questioned Hutch's motives once or twice.

The extreme climes, the action, the subterfuge and intrigue....the romance. It all in all made it a satisfying read.

Recommended for fans of the cracky fluff, who like hot alpha men who are more on the silent side. But when it comes to their men, you can hear them loud and clear!



A copy provided for an honest review.

This is definitely going to be a series to watch...

An Unseen Attraction - K.J. Charles

A Tag Team Review with Chelsea!

FOUR HEARTS--K.J. Charles' newest Victorian romance series, Sins of the Cities, starts off on the right foot with An Unseen Attraction. A slow burn with an encompassing mystery and romance between two unassuming souls can be found in this novel.


"Rowley, there are lots of people who think I'm worth looking at. Not so many who think I'm worth listening to. Not like you."
A spasm of something passed across Rowley's face. "Then there are a lot of fools out there."




Swoon.

The words were, as usual, a joy to read from this author. And the shared moments between 28-year-old Clement Talleyfer - lodging house keeper and 35 year old, Rowley Green, a solitary preserver (taxidermist) made this book special.

Clement, or Clem, is of Indian descent and grew up an outsider for his entire life. Rowley has not had an easy childhood and bears the scars to prove it. The author has a fine hand on writing inclusive characters be it race or QUILTBAG, no one gets left out. And An Unseen Attraction is on par.

But what makes this book even more special was including a character with DCD (Developmental Coordination Disorder or Dyspraxia). She wrote the character in such a way that respected the disorder and an affected person's feelings, rather than using his disorder as a characteristic and not following up. (I'm not a fan of books that write characters with intellectual disabilities and can't back it up with thorough research). Based on the obvious research alone put into this tale, it's rated all the hearts.

Clem runs the lodging house and crushes on his lodger of eight months, the small, quiet Mr. Green, who runs a preserve shop next door. Clem's not one to easily discern if Mr. Green would welcome his affections, so quiet friendship is what he relies on to keep in respectable contact within that time period. You know what they say about the quiet ones? Because quiet Mr. Green notices Clem just as much.

Told in dual POV, the two become closer while surround by interesting characters at the lodging house. Their shared attraction obvious. A mystery is literally dropped on the house doorsteps by way of a dead body. The pair bond even more, trying to figure out what is the cause of the violent acts. Both men have damaging pasts, with internal and external scars. Clem is gorgeous (great cover by the way - it's very close to how I picture Clem). But with DCD, most treat him like an imbecile. Rowley, knows he's not as handsome and he tends to downplay himself. Not to the point of annoyance but thankfully Clem sees him as a worthy partner and vice versa.

I loved both main characters. (Can you tell?) Flawed individuals who make each other stronger together and bring out the best in each other without losing a sense of self. They aren't overt characters, rather it's the quietness and the little things that they both do that grabs the attention.

And their compatibility exists both in and out of the bedroom!


"I like to be...undemanding in bed. To, well, have the other person make the decisions. there's something about someone doing what he wants to do with me..."






I-- *clears throat*

Yes, I'm very fine with that.

Edging and submissiveness...oh yes, these two were definitely hot together.

While the two check off so many boxes on my characters-I-enjoy list, the story isn't without minor flaws.

Why not full throttle and dump all the hearts at this book's feet? There are some open ended issues that I would love to be answered. There's an arc that has enough mystery to probably cover the entire series. (That epilogue is everything)

But...something about the 'villain(s) ending'-- something about it s sticking in my craw. Maybe it could be more of a me thing but I wanted justice. I wanted a big never ending battle royal as a climax to the action scenes scattered about the story.

The cowardice irks me. Who is the accomplice? Mastermind? Ah!

But I do think the author kept the main character's personalities at the forefront at all times, so I'll just have to swallow and build a bridge to get over it.

Or read the rest of this series, which I DEFINITELY will be. Because I am all in for "Polish Mark". This author has me pining for themes I tend to shy away from - mysteries and psychics. *shakes head*

The writing is that good.

I don't plan on running through the ignored lists of books with those themes but it seems that if K.J. Charles has written it, I'll make an exception.

The secondary characters are just as intriguing as the main characters. And the story overall, is well written enough, suspenseful enough and romantic enough to check out!

Recommended.



A copy provided for an honest review via Netgalley.

For the fantasy lovers... aka me. ;P

The Shadow Mark (Lords of Davenia Book 2) - Mason Thomas
It's a unicorn gang review! Sara and Fantasy Living join the Mason Thomas reading party! (My 2 cents below):

3.75- 4 HEARTS
--I jumped at the chance to review The Shadow Mark without even reading the blurb. Why? Lord Mouse is one of my favorite reads last year (my review), and Mouse is hands down one of my fave characters written. What drew me in was the adventure, the fantasy based world Mason Thomas created, the snark and wit.

And of course, Mouse.

If you've read Lord Mouse first (it's not necessary, it can be read as a standalone), you know the snark is heavy. Mouse demands attention with his very being. He's just that type of personality.

That is not to be found in The Shadow Mark.

Auraq was a soldier with a lot of promise. Now he's living on edges of society due to being accused of murder. One night, his solitude is interrupted by a pair of small townsmen. The younger of the men, Kane has mysterious magical marks that attract the wrong attention, assassin attention. Upon a dying man's oath, Auraq ends up being Kane's protector and bodyguard while they try to search for answers to the mysterious marks.

It's a mostly fast paced adventure full of backstabbing characters, killers and fighting.




A captivating read from start to finish, though I'll have to say the second half outweighs the first half.

Where I find this author flourishes: action and suspense - Thomas is clearly a gamer and it shows. He knows how to set an action scene, make it impactful enough. I appreciate sword fights, especially well-written scenes. Thomas thinks out the swing, the lunges...it's great to read. Weaving a tale, keeping the suspense and action turned up high!




Where there is improvement: editing - Though I read an ARC, the tale in Shadow Mark is definitely more linear than Lord Mouse. Less time jumping which made a smoother read. Now as to a personal enjoyment, the fantasy is stepped up in Shadow Mark. The vocabulary read less modern compared to Lord Mouse (I don't mind either approach TBH)

Areas for improvement: The story is told mainly from Auraq POV, so his 'love' interest Kane and his attributes are told from Auraq. Auraq is tight-lipped and his 'romantic' feelings are definitely buried way, way, waaay deep. There wasn't much to go from since Kane was introduced as an annoyance and someone who was told to wait here and there, while Auraq took care of the grunt work. Kane could have been more even from Auraq's POV. He's introduced as young apprentice, didn't seem on much consequence. And he seemed like the means to an oath, not much a character with depth. Then the second half happened, where a romance sort of happens in between the mystery unfolds.

The romance is secondary in stories Thomas has presented so far. But I feel the initial reaction of Kane didn't wear off until way late. Just a glimpse or inkling more of Auraq's feelings would have made more of an impact for me. I'm fine with mere kisses, but the relationship goes from 0 to 100% and I'm still having difficulties buying it.

I live for tight-lipped heroes, especially ones that are not demonstrative. Auraq took that to an extreme. His protectiveness was palpable, it's what warmed me in the end. But the romance...it needed some work.

Readable? For sure.

But if you're a reader who needs sex in your romance or overly mushy displays, I wouldn't recommend The Shadow Mark. The novel is quieter than its predecessor, more of a tactical head game waiting to be played out.

The story and mystery are the main players, along with Auraq, the seemingly irredeemable criminal warrior with a heart of loyal gold. I loved the mystery, kinda guessed who was the culprit behind the treasonous crime. But how everything came together? That was fun.

Enjoyed the last chapter even more than the epilogue. Am I seeing a possible link between book #1 and #2's Lords? I really hope so.

Overall, great story stronger in all parts but romance than book #1. I'm definitely a fan of this series.



A copy provided for an honest review.

The writing, the characters....oh this book is too great! *hugs*

Private Truths - C.B. Lewis
Tag Team Review w/ Sara

FIVE HEARTS
--I love reading romance.

I love reading about all types of protagonists: the socially awkward, the ultra-suave, the shy, the grumpy, etc. Hell even the super possessive 'alpha' has a place and time. Call it fantasy, guilty pleasure, whatever, just give me a good romance where the main characters have to work for a happy ending, and you will have a fan in me.




Private Truths by C.B. Lewis did this for me, hooked me with layered main characters who didn't expect love to be the final order....and were so happy that it happened to them.

A publicly closeted aristocrat and a war damaged veteran, who at the core of what matters, are great people who totally deserve each other. That's what you can find in Private Truths. This is my first 2017 fave for a reason, it's getting harder and harder I'm finding to read a book I actively want to re-read and bask in. I took joy in starting my day reading about Jack and Edward and seeing what the world threw at them next.

Set in present day London, the book starts with ginger haired vet Jack McCall being sort of forced into promoting his charity for vets in need, Those Returned, at a dress up event. His boss put him on the trail of wealthy Edward Marsden, Viscount Routhsley. Jack awkwardly places a bid for Those Returned, doesn't make much small talk and hightails it out of there as soon as he could. What he doesn't expect is really capturing the attention of the presumed ladies man viscount Routhsley.

I knew this book was going to be a winner from 4%. Jack and Edward have a chemistry that slow burned and simmered from that event and it carried itself all the way to the final page.

"I had no notion I would grow so attached to you, Mr. McCall."
"I'll second that." He leaned sideways until his shoulder rested against Edward's hip. Edward's fingers stroked through his hair and brushed down his neck. There was something comforting about the casual intimacy of that touch. "I'm glad it happened, though."
Edward kneaded his neck gently. "And I," he murmured, "shall second that."


Class differences? Yes. But Lewis didn't make it be the leading difference. Edward is smooth but he cares for people. And he takes a shine on Jack. However his public life is fodder for the gossip rags and ruthless paparazzi. So in the closet Edward remains. He and a reluctant Jack start of as men with a shared passion to help others in need, to friends, to lovers.

Jack gets swept into Edward's world. But Jack's had a taste of the limelight via harassing paparazzi. and for a man on edge and has PTSD, the results weren't favorable.

The story shines a light on those who suffer PTSD without going to extremes or brushing the aftereffects for a far fetched plot line. It's realistic. The relationship between the men doesn't happen overnight, the author wonderfully gives them time. Slow burn is the aim, over saturated sex-fests that drown out the plot won't be found here.

"Why the hell do you care?"
Edward's hand was warm against his cheek, and he had to fight the urge to tilt his head into Edward's touch.
"Why wouldn't I?" Edward asked quietly.

The passion is abundant as is the romance. The author (yes I nerded out to find out more about this author after reading) calls this book an "old fashioned romance", I couldn't agree more. At times, it gave me historical romance in present day feels. I could have easily put two men in a different time period and the story would still work.

The story mainly from Jack's POV. The reader gets to share in his wide range of emotion. The lust (yes, there is a good amount of sex, though not overly graphic), the fear and the uncertainty of falling for someone. Plus, the paparazzi/villainous angle also helped move the story along.

And the humor!

"Jesus Christ!" he exclaimed, rushing around the table to hug her, her round belly knocking against his ribs. "What's that big clown been doing to you?"
"Same thing you lads just done," Tommy said smugly, "with a hundred percent more fanny."

The humor was wonderfully mixed in throughout the book. Edward was a dashing leading man. I could buy why Jack was enamored. And Edward's parents are a hilarious delight. Even when times got rough, the humor peeked though, Great mix.

Another facet of this story is that it's on the quieter side of romance but their chemistry spoke volumes. I do enjoy a well written quieter romance, where the little moments tell a lot about the main characters' feelings. A touch can say so much.

I'm a quote-nista. I love a good quote. The more I love a story, the more quotes I save like a mad woman. Sara has 5 pages of quotes. (I'm pretty close w/ # pages of quotes from Private Truths) After my first time reading C.B. Lewis, I am a fan. I loved her words, pacing, the moments & in-between and all of her characters (even the arsehole ones)

Good persevered, an important light on veterans was portrayed with respect and a romance that definitely left a lasting impression was written. This ends with a solid HEA for me.

I'll be looking for more C.B. Lewis with bells on.

Recommended to readers who love romance between layered characters and enjoy reading slow burn.



A copy provided for an honest review.

A MM story I finally got to...heh.

Bullet - Garrett Leigh
3.75 HEARTS-- Always fashionably late to the party...



Look at the table setting at the Blue Boy party!

I think I might one of the few stragglers who hasn't read Bullet. This is also my second Garrett Leigh. Can I still visit the party with my low Leigh credentials? I promise after reading the re-release version of Bullet...I'll make more an effort to read her work.

The novella stars seasoned porn actor Levi Ramone is a well known top in the industry. Ripped, bearded and rough, Levi is a lumbersexual wet dream. (Oh the new cover fits him, does it not?)Does he enjoy his job? In a way, yes. He gets all the ass he wants and doesn't have to worry about commitments. But...he's virtually alone. His father committed suicide and his mother is an alcoholic with a grudge against her son, Levi doesn't have really close connections. The majority of his money is pay for his mother's bills despite her animosity towards him. He's desperate for cash to help.

It's a sad existence.

Enter the "bitchy twink" (in Levi's eyes) Sonny, a fellow Blue Boy porn actor who also works at the pron studio's go-go club as a dancer/stripper. Sonny sees there is more than meets the eye to Levi. He calls Levi out for not being into his porn scenes, being too aggressive and not considerate. When Sonny and Levi's boss offers more money to star in a threesome, Levi accepts. Even though Sonny gets under his skin and the fact that he'll have to lost his butt cherry.

That setup though...



"Dude, you don't want to go there for the first time without a good lead off. Do you want me to suck you off?"
"What? No!"
"You're kinda coy for a hard-core porn star. It's cute."


Sonny picks through the wall Levi builds around himself. He also helps Levi discover the untapped pleasures...below. As the upcoming bottoming scene looms as the novella progresses, there is also Levi's broken home/ dealing with a harridan of an alcoholic mother.

Now I thought it might've went one way with the mother, I was not expecting some of the resulting blows from that front. Or bottom assistance/prep/seduction

Though Sonny is helping his future scene actor out, there seems to be an underlying current of care...along with the obvious attraction between both men. Also for a book about porn, it's not as sex filled as you might think. I'm still new to Leigh's writing style, but methinks angst is her forte, yes? There was definitely a decent amount of emotions from Sonny to help carry this novella along, along with the obvious courting via anal play.

When Sonny and Levi finally culminate the obvious courting...the book ends!

Where is the rest of the story? I had to stop myself from shaking my Kindle upside down. There is no way Levi and Sonny just ends the relationship like that.

Right?

*listens to the squawking from the party*

There's follow up in the rest of the series? Is that so?

Well, hell looks like I need to rest of this series! I'm so curious to see what happens with the other characters. And Sonny and Levi of course...there's a hint of unresolved drug abuse somewhere along the line.

I'm invested.

Gonna see if I can get my Garrett Leigh dance card filled out now that I've joined the party:



I enjoy what I've read so far.

Recommended for readers who like some angst, some sexy and characters that have some baggage too.



A copy provided for an honest review.

Ten years later and neither one of them grew up? Boo.

The Education of Caroline - Jane Harvey-Berrick

I'm happy for the reunion. And happy ending.

But...Caro and Sebastian both acted childish.

Ten years apart didn't help them grow.

Carolina is the same insecure person (jealous and mean spirited considering any woman interested in Sebastian as a bitch, or wants to smack them, etc)

Sebastian is demanding, possessive, jealous and sometimes OTT. He acted like the same jealous 17 year old when other men deemed to look at Carolina.

And they acted like teenagers when together.

And yet I couldn't stop reading.

Even after rolling my eyes.

I even read the 2 extra epilogues.

The writing isn't world moving but I guess a good thing I'd say is that both main characters were consistent in characterization.

Carolina was a doormat when step away from the romantic haze. She gave in, rolled over for anything Sebastian came up with.

Still.

Sebastian loved her. Carolina loves him. Never doubted it but the time apart didn't seem to help them grow...much.

3.5 stars

(I'll most likely cave and read the companion piece too.)

Despite my gripes.

I can't seem to be able to let this couple go.

I'm on a blizzard streak!

Whiteout (Seasons of Love) (Volume 1) - Elyse Springer
4 HEARTS-- Before reading : Amnesia and a stranded trope?

*cackles wildly*

Want!

After reading : Damn, no matter how hard I try, I just can't escape the Santa jizz. ;P

Debut novel by Elyse Springer, Whiteout has more to offer than just Jizzmas (thankfully). I went in expecting a lot of snow, a guy with amnesia possibly regaining his memory, some romance and more snow.



And we do get that.
But it's more than just a standard amnesia trope. (Gah, do I enjoy the amnesia trope)

Noah Landers wakes up not remembering who his is after hitting his head while on his Christmas Colorado vacation. His older lover, Jason O'Reilly, attends to injured and memory lost Noah's every need as best as he can while they are stuck in their vacation cabin. Following medical orders from a doctor on the phone, Jason lets Noah work through his thoughts and see if his retrograde amnesia will sort itself out as Noah heals.

The thing is, something is off to Noah. In the back of his consciousness, something is ringing false. Who can he trust while he is stuck in the woods, and has rely on a man he feels a connection to but isn't sure if he can trust.

Springer creates a mystery, slowly piecing along the puzzle of Noah Landers. Can we trust Jason with the crumbs of info Noah gets out of him? Can we trust Noah? With all these questions, the lovers have a shared chemistry that can't be faked. The author doesn't have her men jump directly into the sack for the couple of days of being stranded. The sexual tension builds as well as the intrigue.




Whiteout is separated in two parts, Part 1 set in a small Colorado cabin - 60% and Part 2 is back in NYC. Part 1 is the entire mystery of Noah, which I solved somewhere around 25% of the story. But I couldn't stop from reading to see their individual reactions. Even with the sugar and Jizzmas feels that Jason slathered in that cabin. I know there are Christmas tradition people out there, but I was leery along with Noah with some of the demonstrations.

Expect sweet romance that got to be borderline sugar coma for parts of Part 1.

And when it ends, well that's when the true work begins for Noah. (You can kinda guess how part 1 closes out)

Part 2 was well matched for part 1, despite being slightly shorter in length. It made me appreciate and adore the schoompy sugar of part 1. No more mystery. Now we get to read the men in their habitat. Kudos to the author writing a great portrayal of NYC (including Brooklyn). It definitely read like winter in NYC.

What I didn't except was the love affair with Broadway.




That passion along with the hurt/comfort aspect, second chances and learning who the real Noah is with him for the second time around was exciting to read. The author had a great balance with main and secondary characters (glad to see Noah's friends will lead in the other three books in the series) They were really great friends. And flashbacks go either way for me when I read a flashback heavy romance. Springer did a great job with using them without the main plot getting lost.

This was definitely plot heavy without making the story too angsty to read. With solid characters, realistic angst (part 2) and reading how a certain someone redeems himself...how could I not be hooked. I don't have much issues with Whiteout, the editing, pacing were great. The sugar was a tad heavy but after reflecting back, it's just the kind of guy Jason is. The revenge angle...personally I could have done without it but it's necessary for the plot.

When you read the novel, you'll see. ;)

Great couple, great characters and a sweet plot with droplets of hurt/comfort to break it up.

Recommended for fans of second chances with a side helping of amnesia.

I'll be reading more from this author for sure.




A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.

NERDS! This one might catch your fancy!

Heartifact - Aisling Mancy
3.5 HEARTS--NERDS! This one might catch your fancy!



If you're a nerd who loves mythology, marine archeology and a lot of nautical terms, there are terms galore in Heartifact by Aisling Mancy. It's a research dense novella that stars a marine archaeologist and a trapped mythological deity that only get physical in the mind. A mythology-dense contemporary suspense with romantic tones  Are you nerdgasming yet? I have a microfiber cloth for your fogged up bifocals. Oh baby!

Dr. Harper Kidd is having a rough time in reality. He doesn't have a romantic partner, he's not working on a job that best uses his capabilities. His best friend offers him an out by joining her on a mission in the Mediterranean where the pay is great and there is possible treasure (of the historical variety) to be discovered. But from the beginning of the story as Dr. Kidd's life appears to be what he'd like it to be, it seems his subconscious has created a dream man that takes care of his sexual needs.

A creation that he can't see, but knows ALL of his thoughts and desires.



But the dreams feel real. And what starts as sporadic, moves to a constant night time occurrence. Harper's dream man is taking over, meshing into his reality as he and his friend, Stick and the archaeology team discovers ruins that hasn't been touched for centuries.

Something Harper is drawn to...especially when a discovery at the site seems to be a centuries old statue of his dream lover.



Pelora or Dr. Manhattan?


His dream lover, or Pelora is described as this otherworldly being that is ripped and blue. And once the descriptions were given, I couldn't get Dr. Manhattan out of the brain.

I'm unsure how to categorize Heartifact.

Is this romance? In a way, it is. And in a way, it isn't. The great thing about romance is that it's subjective. Heartifact doesn't fall under the traditional romance category. So if you're a reader who needs tradition, I wouldn't recommend. However, if you like puzzling history/mythology laden suspense trips, well then...welcome aboard.

The subject matter is interesting, the plot is fast paced. The mystery is not easily solved. But while the story is interesting and readable, the plot isn't as developed in crucial spots: Dr. Kidd falling in love (rather than having the reader told). The thoughts of Harper weren't as easily shared though it's told from his POV, so getting a grasp of what stage he was at different points during the book was not impactful as it could have been. The meld between the technical terms and romance could have been a little smoother. Since the most interaction we get of Harper and his dream man are in his dreams, I kinda wish just as much detail went into those dreams as the archeology parts.

For me, it was an unequal balance.

Interesting, but it could have been a touch longer to smooth out those parts. As is, we get brief dreams and nighttime moments to base the L word on.

The suspense part was cool. The ending is surprising (you couldn't get it on your best day). The epilogue...eh...I'm iffy on. The rest of the book sold me. I definitely dug the ideas this author has, and would read more from them.

If there was ever any follow up, I'd read it.

Do you need some alone time to nerd it out? Dr. Manhattan did it for you, huh?




I thought so. Our little secret. ;D

On a serious tip: net proceeds from this book goes to the following organizations: The Trevor Project in the US, le Refuge in France, and Arcigay in Italy!

Read for worthy causes! *Nerd high five*



A copy provided for an honest review.

Laissez les bons temps rouler, bebe!

Lagniappe: An Iron Lace Story - Mercy Celeste

 

Laissez les bons temps rouler, bebe!



Whoo boy, was this an unexpected surprise from MC.
A Jizzmas gift from a fave MC couple, Darcy and Caleb (Remy)!

Mercy Celeste is my kinda comfort read: hot times between passionate guys and dramatics to keep the page turning.

And for less than 100 pgs, we get just that.

Lagniappe starts months later from the ending of Behind Iron Lace. The couple is going strong in Oregon. But Darcy is Darcy, clueless and trying to help everyone. And Caleb's new restaurant & bar is almost open.

But their exes won't let the lovebirds be great. Jealousies, light OTT antics and a plot twist that you could see a mile coming happens in this Jizzmas tale. Throw in insatiable sex and chemistry when their exes aren't testing Darcy and Caleb's limits.

The ending isn't one I saw coming (for a pair of secondary characters). I'm kinda happy with it. Expect twists

a baby!

(show spoiler)



This is an erotic glimpse in the future. The Cajun is just as hot and volatile. *grins*

There were a few editing issues but I didn't care. I came for Darcy and Caleb and their hot loving.

And it's what I got.

Also, I'd like to thank my secret Jizzmas Santa for getting me this. You're A++++!

Stereotypes in insta-love. Ho hum.

Permanent Ink - Jaime Samms
A Hearts On Fire Review

TWO HEARTS--The re-release of Permanent Ink by Jaime Samms is a short story that features a very quick pairing between white college basketball player Eric and black tatted/pierced ex-con Dwayne. Eric's best friend is Dwayne's cousin, Angel, meaning they knew of each other but never formally hung out. Eric judges Dwayne based on his outward appearance, assuming the worst. Though Dwayne doesn't help Eric's preconception in the beginning of the short when he brags about his ass pain from a hookup the night before. The two start on the wrong foot and it quickly turns around into a HEA.

Race is an important factor in this short. And unfortunately, so are a few stereotypes.

This is a re-release, I haven't read the original version but I'm going to take a stab that not much changed. Though the time period could be implied as modern day, it read more like any reference to the time period was vaguely mentioned. An example, Dwayne is supposed to look like a "thug" with cornrows and beads because he came from the hood and had to wear the "thug" exterior to protect himself on the "inside".

*sigh*

I just can't buy the characterization as justification for writing Dwayne this way. I'm unsure if the story is supposed to be based in the UK or America, so it could help me reference the characters. Maybe that's how the "thugs" dress and act in a different part of the world? *shrug*

I think I see what the author was going for, opposites attract insta-love romance but the beginning was rough. I didn't like Eric. He was privileged and didn't really come away as a better person in the end. Dwayne read more like 2-D character who had past rape added to his life to give depth?

Past rape was given as the reason for the "armor" of tattoos and 'tough persona....why have him brag about sleeping around if he has a sexual hang up (about bottoming). There were contradicting factors - hooking up with random men to never having sex since jail.

Didn't make the impact it tried to go for.

My second biggest gripe (after poor characterization) is if this was reedited, why not make it read more current? Angel tried to give something about race relations when he tried to give a teaching moment with Eric. But it kinda fell off to the wayside. Story is too short to try and encompass crime, rape PTSD. Not a fan of the way it was written or presented.

The one sex scene was a bust because the main characters read awkward and acted awkward to me. Example, it'd be a kiss then stall then kiss then pause...not smooth writing. Along with the vagueness in the writing.

I've read this author in the past. Samms's books have a tendency to be full of angst. I don't think the topics added to make the story...interesting (for lack of a better word) was needed.

How could the story have been better? More length, show how the two connected rather than insta-love over time. There were very tiny bits of that that just didn't go anywhere.

Didn't like Eric by the end - he still read like a privileged rich kid. I doubt he grew or will grow from his relationship with Dwayne. Dwayne could do so much better.

Not recommended.

Fun historical road trip romance!

Wanted, A Gentleman - K.J. Charles
A tag team review with Chelsea

3.75-4 HEARTS (sliding scale)--

WANTED, A Gentleman of better character than he knows, who plays the Villain to the manner born. Prompt application to M.St.V. is greatly desired as a Promise remains to be kept.

Oh this was fun!

Wanted, A Gentleman is officially my first book of the year and I couldn't have chosen any better to start the new year off! Take one overworked scribbler who is a bit shifty (Theo Swann) and pair Theo with a former slave turned well to do merchant who is straightforward (Martin St. Vincent) and get a surprisingly light, and sexy opposites attract budding romance(?)

It's romantic in a sense though the story starts with a HFN feel, it's a promising start which read like an organic conclusion.

St. Vincent (I've had a great track record with historical St. Vincents) needs help locating a wayward teen who is determined to marry a liar. The girl is the only child of St. Vincent's former masters = complicated city. Theo runs a matrimonial matchmaking advertising business where the lonely and desperate write for potential matches. The two men are thrown together during desperate measures, Martin wants to help a child he grew up with though the ties still uneasy to fathom and Theo wants the money Martin promises him....even though he can't stop his attraction to Martin.

The two start off as strangers, are thrown together in a race to catch up with the eloping pair. And you know what happens during that road trip when mutual passion and chemistry is shared between the pair?

Road side hooking up.




This isn't PWP in the least and the road trip plot and chasing the wayward teen and her crappy swain plays second fiddle to Martin and Theo's page time. Thankfully.

The story is a definite win, but some parts were better than others.

Where this book excels : The main characters are the read and butter of this story. From the moment they meet to the very last scene, Martin St. Vincent and Theodore Swann grab the reader's attention.Well known Charles is a wordsmith and exceeds with excellent dialogue between her main characters. No different in Wanted. Theo and Martin have great balance of funny, serious, sexual and damaged.

"This has been a delightful interlude, but if you don't fuck me right now, I am going to set fire to your house. Consider yourself warned."
"Well, if you put it that way. How do you like it?"
"In."
"I'm trying to treat you with respect and consideration. The least you could do is stop playing the harlot."
"What makes you think I'm playing?"

Well matched pair.

Another point where the story excels is the fact that Martin is a conflicted character. The story is light in tone but it by no means diminishes Martin's history. I think it gave a great grasp on being...'other' than what society deems 'the normal'. It was cool to read Charles' take on a merchant Black Briton in the Georgian era. Martin is layered. He's proud of his accomplishments (freed slave now merchant), never mistreated as a slave and grateful for that because it could have been worse. But he is still angry. (Justifiably so) Traveling north of London, the reader gets a taste of the subtle racism Martin endures, learns why he chooses to continue this 'mission' and get to learn all of facets.

All while having Martin find a possible partner. And it wasn't angst riddled.

Out of the pair, Martin wins for me slightly over Theo, though Theo is definitely no slouch in the great character department: witty, quick thinking and just a bit criminal. Both are damaged by their upbringing but aren't bitter at the world.

Where the book was good : The plot was simple and engaging. I've lost track of how many historical romances I've read that used a Gretna Green road trip plot device to throw opposites together. It was nice to read one with a queer main couple. It's a quick read so, there aren't everlasting declarations made (Totally wouldn't work BTW) There was a big twist at 65% that seems a little left field...how? what? who? But overall, it works for the arc.

Where the book could have done better: It's little nitpicks but knowing I've read stellar reads from this author in the past, I know this story could have been more. Maybe a little more exposition on Theo. It's a Martin/Theo book and we get more depth on Martin. Theo is an interesting character. He leads a double (or triple) life. Once the twist is thrown in, Theo loses a little of his sparkle. I think I wouldn't have minded more page time, maybe a little more written at the stage stops on the road. The reasoning of why Martin chose to chase after 'Cressida' is given but maybe a touch more.

Altogether, the story more than gets the job done.

Would I read more of this pairing? Yes...and no. The story ends on the right hopeful note. I wouldn't say no to possible future snippets of their future but the story really drove the main point across.

Martin is living a HEA (as much as can be expected in that time period) being free and being able to help the poor Britons in need.

Theo was a delightful addition. Two lonely hearts entwined for however long they fancy.

Sometimes a budding and hopeful end is all we need.

Recommended for readers familiar with Charles work, readers of historical romance who don't mind different interpretations of a HEA.

Back again for L.M. Brown's mermen!

Dangerous Waves (Mermen & Magic Book 3) - L.M. Brown
3.75 HEARTS--Back again for L.M. Brown's mermen!




(You know if I return to a series more than once, I've been hooked)

The last 2016 review on the blog is all about the fantasy. (Hey, this is me we're talking about-it's a fave genre)

L.M. Brown has created quite the world in the Merman & Magic series--readers visit the sunken island of Atlantis, inhabited with merfolk and sea creatures. Plus there's mythology thrown in with an interesting cast of god/goddess side characters that add a sense of magical instability in the tales. The gods are awakening from their stasis...the world doesn't know what it's in for.

In the third installment, Dangerous Waves, the prophetic Oracle mer family are the focus as well as Dax was the ex-lover from book #1. The Oracles are a group of three merfolk who are blind due to their psychic-like abilities. They are blinded once their get their powers at puberty, meaning they are virgins and must remain untouched. Kai, the Oracle of the present and protagonist, longs for a love to call his own, even though it's forbidden. He calls for help from the meddling goddess of love, Medina.

If you've been following along in the series (and I strongly suggest reading in order), then you know mer people are highly sexual. The Oracles aren't allowed any freedoms, basically prisoners in the kingdom of Atlantis. Enter the highly sexual Dax, the former lover of book #1's Kyle. Dax starts the book as the third in a temporary menage, a loner among yet another nomadic tribe that wants to move to Atlantis for stability.

Medina sense Dax's and Kai's fate and meddles in the only way she knows how.

It's hyper sexual vs. virginity, Dax and Kai couldn't be more different experience wise. But their chemistry is electric.




I like the route the author took with these two. It wasn't automatic jumping of bones, no sexy times happen until the last quarter of the book. The men get to know each other through a ocean road trip. Kai finally gets to experience life while traveling to England to help Dax check in on his former lover.

On the road, the two start opening up and learning about a common theme they seem to share, loners. But Dax thinks with his cock (that hasn't changed since book 1) and any time I fins myself liking him, he'd remember to be the jerk from book #1. He viewed sex as sex, Kai was a romantic. warning there is a sex scene with a MC and another person. That didn't piss me off. It wasn't cheating, but usually that's first third behavior of a novel, not so late in the game as the MC's start to get closer. I liked it. It remained true to his character.

It didn't read like insta-love, though the romantic aspect read short when coming to the romantic aspect. It took one of the men a little longer to realize his feelings. I felt it could have been played up just a little more for him.

Why this isn't 5 Hearts The goddess Medina seemed to be a main player in the beginning and them quiets (when hinted to being super powerful) and then shows up to not make much of an impact. The gods awakening is another larger series ARC but compared to the last two books, Dangerous Waves was weaker. We get to meet 2 new gods, add to Medina and series mainstays, Cari & Caspian, it's starting to get crowded. There are hints of conflicts to come, but it'd be nice if they were a little more defined. And the big conflict in the end? It was solved by a different being instead off the one who went to help. Something about the entire thing read anticlimactic.

Overall, a fun read.

There's opposites attract, mythology and magical hijinks. Plus, I'm enjoying the characters. I can't wait to read about Delwyn (Oracle of the past) in the future.

Not my fave pairing of the partnerships...but close.

If you're looking for a lighter urban fantasy series to try, I recommend giving the Mermen & Magic series a try.






A copy provided for an honest review.

This author writes urban fantasy with elements I enjoy...

The Vampire's Dinner - T.J. Nichols
It's that scary time again...Jizzmas time. It's week #5 of Jizzmas reviews!



4.75 Hearts--

"What the hell? I don't do blood play?"
Charles kept him caged in the chair and trapped by the table. "I can assure you I am not playing."

Well...it might be too soon to call it since we have just one more week of our Jizzmas reviews, but this is my FAVE of the bunch! (I've started and faltered with more than you know)

THIS IS HOW I LIKE MY VAMPIRES WRITTEN!



Good lord...hands down one of my fave 2016 vampire reads. And it's just 39 deliciously deviant pages. (And I have so many quotes saved)

Charles is a 400 year old vampire who indulges himself and revels in his baser needs for death, one time of year, Christmas day. He hires a rentboy, Blake and rents out a penthouse suite in a lavish hotel, plans the night accordingly. Blake's escorting to pay his way through college (cliché yes but *shrugs*), has virtually no familial ties and needs the cash his new client offered. What Blake thinks is a jackpot client: not only is he being paid highly, he gets to spend it in a posh hotel and eat a fancy meal.

Only thing is...Blake is Charles' dinner.

I read this author's work in another anthology - A Wolf's Résistance. Nichols writes paranormal/urban fantasy pretty well. Strong hand in setting the scene and I enjoy Nichols' characters and premises. The Vampire's Dinner surpassed what I expected.

Why this was magical? It's the little things that will always get my attention. Here the author portrayed a 400 year old being in present day. Charles spoke formally. He was a warrior, an assassin, not used to being overt. His thoughts read as such. When we're shown his thoughts, I bought it. Blake is scared shitless. BUT he's a rent boy first, where he sells himself and acts to his clients specifications. Blake was the ultimate actor, thought on his feet and used his wits. My kinda rent boy! ;P

The story ends HFN, as I think is fitting for the setting and tone. Any semblance of romance or HEA would ruin the effect the author is going for. The open-ended feel of that fateful night just lends more to the mysterious dark ribbon entwined. Will the bargain actually make it to the agreed upon terms? Can the pair be more than john and client? What's in store for their future? Part of me wants to learn more, but the other part that responded to this story...loves it exactly how it is.

The Jizzmas spirit is nonexistent here. Christmas is just the prop, thankfully in the background.

Not recommended for those who need on page penetrative sex, HEA and definitive romance. Recommended for readers who can handle a little dark, mystery and fangs. Who doesn't like reading about predator and prey having an agreement from time to time?



Don't mind if I do.

I'm definitely checking more of this author's work.


A copy provided for an honest review.

My Jizzmas spirit (ha) was a little underwhelmed with this one.

Cursed Miracles  - Meg Harding
It's the Jizzmas 'Corns vs. Grumpicorns Round #3!

Check out all of our reviews here for this week's latest batch of Sunday Funday Jizzmas



3-3.5 HEARTS (a sliding scale)


Out of all the Jizzmas tales from this anthology--I'll admit I didn't look through them all for fear of turning into gingerbread--this was the one I wanted to read hard. That cover, the author and that blurb?




Buuuuuuuuuuuuut...after reading, I'm not feeling the magic. And once again, it's nothing to do with the Santa Semen. In fact, the Christmas aspect in Cursed Miracles could be considered a throwaway for as much as it really mattered. Had nothing to do with the central plot which was long lost lovers.

Two hundred years ago in Britain, childhood friends turned lovers Lords William Mashinter and Brady Gallagher go through trials to hide their love. On Christmas, the love is tested ultimately where one is frozen in time cursed to walk the earth, the other is killed, cursed to be reborn and remembering his past life, yearning for what he can't have. We jump to present day after the curse and that's where the unease starts for me. (I'm ignoring the modern feel of the historical part)

Present day starts off a little cheesy with 'frozen' lover working in an office, being forced to wear a candy cane tie. Minor issue but I could do without the slice of silly. And when the grand reunion happens, I was expecting thunder and lightning...something. Two hundred years of yearning for this man, your soul mate and it read a little anticlimactic. What happened to the person who cursed them? Why wouldn't William keep tabs on them? Who is she? What is she? What's the purpose of cursing? All these unanswered questions I have.

Was the reunion worth the read? I guess. But the epilogue was too long I would have rather than focus be put into the reunion or building the tension prior to William and Brady's reunion. I can't rate this high than 3 Hearts because I've read 2 variations of a past life plot that left an impression--one recently that was bombastic compared to Cursed Miracles. I think it might be why I was underwhelmed. I can't help wishing maybe this was a little longer and stronger in places.

Overall, the story is readable.

Boy meets boy, says he loves him. He's taken away and he travels the earth cursed looking until he stops. And he ends up where he least expects him. Oh and the sprinklings of Christmas jizz. *shrugs* The meld of past and present wasn't as smooth for me.




A copy provided for an honest review.

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