Tuesday, January 19, 2010

King in Check

Title: King in Check
Author: Treva Harte
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher URL: http://www.loose-id.com/
ISBN: 978-1-60737-501-2
Genre: {M/F} {M/M} Cowpunk/Futuristic Western
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Scandalous Minx

Mosquito has come to understand his role on the compound. The respect held by the workers for the former foreman is like a living thing, breathing life into the daily operations and circumventing any authority that Mosquito could establish. Mosquito encounters Rey and understands why the men hold him at such high esteem.

Rey recognizes why Mosquito was given the nickname right away. There’s a secret that he has brought back to his old home and he has no choice but to trust Mosquito to keep it. While holding confidences is fine with Mosquito; keeping Rey is definitely part of the bigger plan.

Treva Harte’s latest release King in Check adds a combination of setting, plot, and interesting characters to draw readers in and hold their attention. The story shows us the power of jealousy and love, adding twists to this story that you won’t see coming. And while Rey and Mosquito are both fascinating characters, I found myself drawn to a secondary character and wanting to know more about him. For those who enjoy M/M, there is a smoking hot scene, and those who enjoy M/F won’t be disappointed either. The story ends with just enough up in the air for me to believe there could be more to come. That could be greed talking and not the author’s intent, but one can hope.

Rock Bottom

Title: Rock Bottom
Author: Celia Kyle
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Publisher URL: liquidsilverbooks.com
ISBN: 978-1-59578-638-8
Genre: [M/M] Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Mystical Nymph

Love is a wonderful thing until it’s snatched away and then the pain of its loss gets in the way of life and responsibilities. In the days and weeks after the death of his partner, Peter, by a drunk driver, Jeremy turns to alcohol to numb the pain and guilt. He doesn’t want to think of what he’s lost and can never have again, and spirals deeper and deeper into a pit of depression and sorrow. Jeremy drinks constantly, has lost most of his friends and he’s hanging onto his executive position at a design firm by his fingernails. With the realization that he’s hit rock bottom, he knows change is his only option, if he wants to survive.

Rock Bottom by author Celia Kyle is an angst-filled short about a man whose life fell apart with the death of his lover, and he’s at the lowest point of his existence…rock bottom.

I’ve read a couple of other books by Ms. Kyle in the past, but they were shapeshifter in premise. This short is entirely different…it’s serious, sad, painful and depressing, as Jeremy tries to destroy his life with alcohol. It’s also heartbreaking and even humorous in a few places as he tries to turn his life around. This is a serious piece and not meant to be taken lightly, and it left me sad and even a bit weepy at what Jeremy was doing to himself and his life.

The story is also a bit jerky in flow at times, which gave me problems, and left me figuratively scratching my head. I think this is due to the span of time between chapters - often what seems like weeks - and it caused me to stop and do a little re-reading before I could go on. That being said, I appreciated the work, but I can’t really use the word enjoy…not with a piece with Rock Bottom’s content. At lease Jeremy gets his happily-ever-after in the end, even if it was a bit sappy.

Edge of Nowhere

Title: Edge of Nowhere
Author: Regina Carlysle
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Publisher URL: http://www.jasminejade.com/
ISBN: 9781419926662
Genre: {M, F} Paranormal
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Amethyst Nymph

Cactus Mackey is a two-hundred-year-old Lycan who knows exactly what he wants, and he wants Sara. He is immediately drawn to the traumatized beauty when he rescues her. Now all Cactus has to do is convince her to stay with him so he can protect her.

After being on the run for so long, Sara Farmer had forgotten what it was like to be cared for by someone. Cactus was making her want things that she felt she could never have. No matter how safe and happy she felt with him, Sara refused to bring danger to Cactus. Leaving him would be the hardest thing she had ever done, but could she stay?

Drama is in the air, but it doesn’t dampen the heat between Sara and Cactus one bit. In fact, I would say it intensifies their whirlwind romance in the most appealing way. Cactus is fearless when it comes to protecting his woman, and that is always a turn-on to read about. Sara and her sister Kate had such a hard time, even before they were kidnapped, that I felt so bad for them. The secrets that each sister lives with are a blessing and a curse combined. Regina Carlysle always creates her shifters with a little something extra for readers to enjoy, and these two strong sisters are no exception.

The fourth story of the High Plains Shifters series is the perfect set up for another hot Lycan story between Kate and Gabe. I was dying for their story even before I finished reading this scorching tale, Edge of Nowhere. Cactus is so appealing because he is all Alpha, yet he was weak for his woman at the right moments. Even before knowing what he was facing, Cactus accepted Sara with open arms to his bed and more importantly, his heart. Thank the Lord, Sara trusted her heart and gave their love a chance. There is no way you can read this riveting story and not be sucked into pages. This one will leave you longing from more.

Madcap Masquerade

Title: Madcap Masquerade
Author: Persephone Roth
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher URL: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/
ISBN: 978-1-61581-240-0
Genre: {M/M} Historical
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Scandalous Minx

Loel Woodbine, Duke of Marche, loves his great-aunt and knows his continued access to the family fortune is in her hands. Valeria Randwick understands the dire situation her family is in and would do anything to help, except to marry Marche. What Valeria lacks in fortune, she makes up for in the resourcefulness. The marriage will go as planned, and the bride will be just who Marche needs in his life.

Persephone Roth’s Madcap Masquerade is a well-written historical romance. From the setting to the characters, each element is thought-out and masterfully intertwined into this tale. The story starts off at a fast pace and never slows down. Each new discovery built expertly on the plot and left me on the edge of my seat.

I loved Marche and Valentine, Valeria’s brother, equally. They bring different essentials to this story and are polar opposites as men. However, when someone they love is in danger, they are both a force to be reckoned with. Valentine’s transformation was a great touch in the story. I wasn’t sure of his family’s reaction because of the time period but didn’t feel it was a far stretch when you consider the magnitude of what was gained from the union.

The story was fascinating and a credit to Ms. Roth. Those who enjoy historical gay romance will be happy they read Madcap Masquerade.

Fire Song

Title: Fire Song
Author: Roberta Gellis
Publisher: Cerridwen Press
Publisher URL: http://www.jasminejade.com/
ISBN: 9781419921643
Genre: {M/F} Historical
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Goddess Minx

Fenice de Aix is a widow in a bad situation after her husband’s mother had her sent to a convent and she is being pressured into becoming a nun. Because of her not being noble born, she had a lot of difficulties growing up and she is still having a hard time getting past it. Her mother-in-law won't let Fenice forget she is base born and by taking Fenice's inheritance, believing she is more worthy of it, she rubs it in even more. She was willing to do whatever it takes to make her second marriage work.

Aubrey of Ilmer, a knight in his own right, is fighting guilt over his dead wife and avoiding the young child from that union. With the stigma of his father being a thief, liar and cheat, among other things, Aubrey has fought so hard not to become like him. The support he got from his mother and step-father should have been enough for him to accept his lot in life. His guilt and pride kept him from seeing how much he cared for Fenice and his treatment of her is not good, at times.

Fire Song is the third book in the Royal Dynasty series and just as well written as the first two. This story centers on Raymond de Aix’s oldest daughter out of wedlock and I wanted to smack her a few times with her insecurities of her birth. There is a lot of history given in the first two books, which helps to understand the workings of King Henry’s reign. Even in this story, there is a lot of plotting going on and Fenice was always finding ways to deflect unwanted attention.

After a while, I wanted to beat and strangle both Aubrey and Fenice because they struggled against each other. These two got off on the wrong foot and had too much baggage even before they had a chance. Also, being among royalty didn’t help them with the attention they garnered. Ms. Gellis made this story more believable for me with the jousting, kidnapping and attitudes of all the characters involved. I am not sure if this is the last book in the Royal Dynasty series, but I have really enjoyed reading every one.

Faerie Christmas

Title: Faerie Christmas
Author: Katica Locke
Publisher: Shadowfire Press
Publisher URL: http://www.shadowfirepress.com/
Genre: {M/M} Urban Fantasy Erotic
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Scandalous Minx

Seddryn sidhe Ezarali has but one wish - to have a Master. When it is finally granted, Ezarali gained nothing that he anticipated receiving. Rejected by one master then tortured by another, Ezarali believes he will never know kindness until he meets a lonely werecougar named Nathan.

Nathan misses his home and family but thanks to fate, he will never see them or Earth again. Receiving Ezarali turns out to be the best present Nathan could hope for this holiday season, the question is does Ezarali feel the same?

Katica Locke’s Faerie Christmas takes us into the lives of Ezarali and Nathan. Each man has his own plight to work through and will need a great deal of inner strength during their dilemmas. I was shocked at Ezarali’s ability to bounce back after his horrendous episodes, but I could only chalk it up to his training as a pleasure slave kicking into overdrive. The initial meeting of the two gave you a glance at Nathan’s role as a protector. I enjoyed reading Faerie Christmas and found the concept interesting.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Search For Soaring Hawk

Title: The Search For Soaring Hawk
Author: Terry O'Reilly
Publisher: Amber Allure
Publisher URL: http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/
ISBN: 13: 978-1-60272-609-3
Genre: {M/M/M} Ménage, The Old West
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx

Soaring Hawk is raised in the native customs of his Indian brave father and the teachings of his white captive mother. As a youth, he becomes curious about men loving men. Soaring Hawk had observed the exchanges between the braves and a “two spirits” man in the tribe. By the time he reached the age of manhood, Soaring Hawk knew he desired a monogamous relationship with a male partner. However, tribal tradition required that “two spirit” males must service all the braves during the times their wife is not available. Unable to make clear to the shaman that he was not a female on the inside and male on the outside, which is the tribe’s only categorization for men desiring men, Soaring Hawk abandons his native home and ventures into the world of the other side of his heritage as Samuel Hawkins.

The Search For Soaring Hawk is a splendid and intuitive story of Native American culture. For two years, Sam travels from place to place, working and meeting other men who are attracted to males. All of his lovers profess to love Sam, although the meaning is different from Sam’s definition of the word; none have the soul connection Sam seeks. Learning the ways in the white world convinces Sam to follow his Indian heart and to discard the cloak the Sam Hawkins name symbolizes. This saga has an intricate and well written plot that is well-paced. The setting is descriptive, particularly the Native American rituals, as well as the wagon train heading west, illustrating some of the dangers during the trek. The characters are developed. Sam demonstrates courageousness, respect for his elders and compassion for life including all animals, in addition to an unassuming nature which attracts others to him. The secondary characters are interesting, even the wolf dog has wonderful qualities. The intimate scenes are very sensual. Terry O'Reilly has created an excellent happy-ever-after story that I enjoyed immensely.

Colliding in Free Fall

Title: Colliding in Free Fall
Author: Vivien Dean
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Publisher URL: liquidsilverbooks.com
ISBN: 978-1-59578-637-1
Genre: [M/M] Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Mystical Nymph

Jay McGhee loves his job as a firefighter in his hometown of Roseville, Indiana but at forty-three, he isn’t certain how much longer his aging body can put up with the abuse of fighting fires. That becomes even clearer after he’s injured while on the job and he’s forced on medical leave for a few days. And it doesn’t help when his doctor keeps suggesting he take a desk job and let the younger men do the manual work. As a gay man living in a small rural community, he’s sacrificed his personal happiness to keep his sexual preference hidden, and he’s determined to hold onto the job he loves as long as possible.

Everything changes when twenty-seven year-old Frank Kaplan, the grandson of a local woman, moves into town. For the first time in his adult life, Jay’s willing to take a chance at a little personal happiness, even though the long-haired, tattooed object of his desire couldn’t be more different from his usual type of man. Yet he’s still not willing to act on his attraction; instead, he strikes up a friendship with Frank…a man who might not even be gay. Despite his fear of discovery and ridicule, Jay can’t stay away from Frank because the younger man fills an empty void in his life that Jay didn’t even know he had. Can these two men find happiness or will Frank drift away, leaving Jay alone and unhappy again?

Colliding in Free Fall is, at heart, the story of a closeted gay man’s life in crisis, and I mean both personally and professionally. Jay’s been hiding his sexual preference his entire life and he’s tired of his friends suggesting he find a nice girl and settle down, when a woman is the last thing he wants. He tried being married once years before, and couldn’t live the lie, so they divorced. Yet, he can’t deny that he’s tired of being alone; that he wants a partner and lover he doesn’t have to hide.

On the professional side, at age forty-three Jay’s facing what every person does…he doesn’t heal as fast, move as quick and he’s having trouble competing with the youth and stamina of his firefighting co-workers. This is where the story is pertinent, no matter what the sexuality of the character. As painful and annoying as it is to admit, as we age our bodies change and betray us. In truth, this is Jay’s most painful and difficult-to-handle problem, and where Ms. Dean hooked me. These portions of the story were handled very well, allowing me to feel Jay’s pain, denial and uncertainty with his life and future.

Frank, I’m still not certain of…whether I like him or not. He and Jay spent the first portion of the story as ‘friends’, where neither knew the sexual/emotional desires of the other. Then when they became lovers, I still felt he kept Jay at arm’s length, emotionally speaking, and I spent most of the story not knowing what motivated him. It wasn’t until near the end that I came to understand him better, and while I empathized with his past, I didn’t like that Jay was the only one compromising and giving up what mattered to him. I guess ultimately, Frank left me feeling cold…that he was being selfish and unbending…that Frank took too much from Jay and didn’t give enough back. I know that in reality this happens a great deal and despite the story being technically well-written; in the end, it left me feeling unsatisfied.

Kid Christmas Rides Again

Title: Kid Christmas Rides Again
Author: Eric Arvin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher URL: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/
ISBN: 978-1-61581-295-0
Genre: {M/M} Fantasy
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Scandalous Minx

What happens when the Santa we know kicks the bucket from one too many chocolate chip cookies and not enough cardiovascular activities? Why, they replace him with a hot stud, Kid Christmas. There’s nothing like a muscle bound man to fill out that suit and make the threads bust, thanks to a bulging physique. However, if Kid wants to keep Christmas safe, he’s going to have to battle an evil enemy out to destroy the name Claus.

Eric Arvin is a creative author and the illustrations that are included in this work are something to behold. I will never view Santa through the same eyes. The humor and magnitude of sexual encounters makes Kid Christmas Rides Again a fast-paced story with the ability to hold your attention. I never could imagine this role being held by a handsome gay character, but that has now ended. Mr. Arvin’s characters are fun and memorable. For those who ready for a change, this story is definitely for you.