Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why I Love Waiters

Title: Why I Love Waiters
Author: T. A. Chase
Publisher: Amber Allure
ISBN: 978-1-61124-153-2
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx   

After visiting with his family in New York for a few days, Army Ranger Sergeant John Davidson returns to the military base in Georgia.  John’s personal mission is to discover if Heath Kane, the waiter at Corner Café John has been secretly lusting after for months, is gay and if the attraction is mutual.  Turns out the answers are yes to both of John’s questions.  

Why I Love Waiters is the second book in the Why I Love series.  The setting is ideal for the social issues highlighted in the plot; the southern small towns with a number of abusive homophobic people, as well as the military’s “Don’t Ask,  Don’t Tell” law. These events add drama to the otherwise humorous interaction between the characters.  Also blended into the well written storyline are the characters from the first book Why I Love Geeks.  I suggest reading the first book to fully appreciate Why I Love Waiters.  The main theme clearly illustrated is the importance of love, in addition to friends and family support.  John has a large family who accepts the honorable man that he is and welcomes Heath with open arms.  Heath has an outspoken grandmother who loves him unconditionally.  Secure in the knowledge that they truly love each other and are supported, John is able to make plans for a long term future with Heath.  

T. A. Chase’s creative writing style is communicative on numerous psychological levels, the closed minded attitudes of part of society, intellectual loveable characters that are particularly amusing, as well as being exceptionally sensual and the beautiful heartwarming happy ending. Why I Love Waiters is an absolutely marvelous saga that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Kaleidoscope

Title: Kaleidoscope
Author: A. J. Llewellyn
Publisher: Amber Allure
ISBN: 978-1-61124-159-4
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

When he married his husband Auguste, Teddy Bardin thought all his dreams had come true. Then on a rainy Paris afternoon, his world’s turned upside down with a single phone call when he learns his husband’s been in a car accident. To make matters worse, after racing madly to the hospital, he discovers Auguste’s most severe injury is a nearly severed penis…which he’d gotten from his lover.  

Learning the truth about his unfaithful husband and their marriage is devastating, forcing Teddy to make some difficult decisions about his future. He also has to deal with his unexpected attraction to the other man…his husband’s lover, Pierre.  

Kaleidoscope is the newest release by A.J. Llewellyn and while it’s not a typical romance, he’ done a good job taking a painfully odd situation and turning it into a satisfying emotional read.  In truth, while the story is well written, has a smooth flow and good character development, it’s still rather unconventional. 

Teddy’s a lovable guy, he’s just been unobservant about the activities of his husband. Mr. Llewellyn did a nice job with Teddy’s emotional upset, his horror at learning about Auguste’s severed penis, and the pain at discovering how he got it. I also liked the speed in which he had Teddy make a decision to move on with his life instead of vacillating back and forth about what to do. He confronted his husband about his unacceptable actions, expressed his outrage and took steps that would make him happy. It was a take charge kind of action Auguste didn’t expect. I thought those scenes were nicely done. 

Paris, the city of lights, is well described, giving the reader a good feeling for its sights and smells. I loved the details of Le Hospitel-Hotel Dieu, a centuries old structure housing a hospital that also functioned as a hotel. Having never visited Paris, I never imagined such a facility existed and the idea of one residing in such an old building fascinates me. It’s an example of a small fact I appreciate being included. 

Okay, I will admit knowing Teddy developed an attraction to Pierre initially was a little difficult to deal with. It was a part of the plot I knew to expect but when it did, still caught me off guard. Yet, the way the author went about it, didn’t make it appear tawdry or totally ridiculous, since a big portion of the later part of the book took place over weeks and not days. Teddy and Pierre met in the worst way possible way but when the opportunity for love appeared they weren’t afraid to step forward and grab it. Enjoy.

Forgotten Memories

Title: Forgotten Memories
Author: Theresa Stillwagon
Publisher: Beachwalk Press
ISBN: 9781937325053
Genre: {M/F} Contemporary, Paranormal
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Rose Nymph 

Jen Ferguson has always felt a special connection to the paranormal, but her psychic abilities have caused her nothing but heartache. Mistreated by most of her family, Jen seeks solace in the ghosts of Winter Creek. Only her Grandfather, who shares Jen’s connection, trusts in her judgment. He’s proud of how successful she has been as a History professor and Jen knows just how much it means to him that she’s working with the historical foundation to restore Winter Creek to its former glory. That is why she has made a promise that nothing and no one is going to get in the way of her work until the end of the semester. However when Adam Craine enters the picture, Jen isn’t so sure she can keep her promise anymore. 

Adam first meets Jen through his inquiries to the foundation about moving his cattle through their old town. He believes a good old fashioned cattle run would work in everybody’s favor. What Adam didn’t count on was his immediate attraction to the sexy professor. He can’t explain why he is drawn to her, as he certainly isn’t looking for a relationship. He’s been burnt before and the scars are far from healed. Still, there’s something about Jen that calls to him. Will Adam and Jen be able to stop themselves from making the same old mistakes? Not if the ghosts of Winter Creek have anything to say about it… 

Forgotten Memories is the first book in a new series, Winter Creek, Montana. The story combines contemporary, paranormal and even hints of historical western genres very well, thanks to the setting of Winter Creek. I enjoyed the idea of the town’s past running in parallel with its present. The characterizations were good, as there was enough information for me to make up my mind about which characters would be worth forming an attachment to and who I needed to be wary of. Yet there was still enough mystery surrounding certain people to pique my interest in future books in the series. 

I was absolutely hooked by the plot and enjoyed trying to solve the puzzles surrounding characters’ pasts and how they link together. The style of writing however, caused me some problems. Focus seemed to jump from one issue to another far too quickly and I struggled to keep up. Similarly, characters seemed to experience a range of emotions in rapid succession, making for a somewhat frustrating read at times. This was such a shame because honestly, everything was present – good characters, a great plot that satisfied and the promise of more to come. I just know that if the writing could settle down somewhat for the next installment, this series will make for a very enjoyable read.

Spells and Bananas

Title: Spells and Bananas
Author: Joyee Flynn
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand
Publisher URL: www.sirenbookstrand.com
ISBN: 1-61034-734-X
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

After drinking the Elders’ spiked champagne, spider monkey shifter, Kirby Saxon is rescued from an aggressive woman by a kind, hunky man who makes him go all tingly. They don’t have much time and decide to mate now and to get acquainted later, which sounds okay while standing in the chaos of council hall. What Kirby doesn’t know is that male witches can get pregnant…very easily. 

Amery Goddard is a powerful witch over two thousand years old. He works as the Chief Nursing Officer in a hospital in Colorado Springs and is thrilled when Kirby agrees to move across country to live with him. Life is good and Amery is happier than he’s ever been but suddenly his world is disrupted when he’s falsely accused by his employers. He’s devastated by the betrayal but thankful for Kirby’s support. Can they weather the storm caused by Amery’s past or will it destroy their chance at a happy future? 

Spells and Bananas is release nine in the Midnight Matings series. This one by Ms. Flynn is much more fun and lighthearted than the last. Don’t get me wrong. Amery and Kirby have some unhappy, tense moments to work through, but overall the story filled me with smiles and chuckles. I mean Kirby’s a spider monkey shifter…how can that not be humorous?  

Pairing him with a hunky witch filled with insecurities and self-esteem issues was totally unexpected, as was the whole male pregnancy plotline. I would have liked to see more time spent on the reactions and feelings of both Kirby and Amery during the pregnancy, but the plot time devoted to the delivery toward the end was handled nicely. Amery’s betrayal and who was behind it came as a surprise but the whole subplot surrounding it made appearances through the remainder of the story helping to move it along. I do wish Amery didn’t act so much like a girl some of the time. It was a little off-putting considering his size and knowing his witch power.

Even so, I liked this one and was able to zip through it pretty quickly. The story flowed well, had nice character development and enough twists and turns to keep my interest.

Crimes of Passion

Title: Crimes of Passion
Author: Michael Gouda
Publisher: MLR Press
Publisher URL: www.mlrbooks.com
ISBN: 978-1-60820-398-7
Genre: {M/M} Mystery
Rating: 3 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx   

British, gay Private Investigator Timothy Sinclair’s life is one adventure after another. One of the benefits of his work is meeting and falling in love with Paul Massingham.  The downfall to Tim’s job is his inability to just say no to the sexual favors offered by his clients.  

Crimes of Passion is a collection of short stories that chronicles mostly crime cases in the gay community.  The book is listed as A Timothy Silvain PI Novel; however in the reviewer’s copy, the main character’s name is Timothy Sinclair plus the story is narrated from Tim Sinclair’s point of view.  The setting is London, England which influences the character’s dialog.  The description of objects, along with the interaction between characters, is somewhat confusing for anyone not familiar with British slang.  The plot illustrates Tim’s numerous flaws; he is more of a curious social butterfly, relying on gossip to solve his cases.  Tim’s investigations are more of an excuse to engage in casual sex, as well as to reveal damaging information to the culprits, exhibiting his total lack of professional skills.  

I did not find any real passion in Michael Gouda’s Crimes of Passion.  However, the plot is a mildly amusing saga interwoven with some interesting dilemmas.   

Moonlight Becomes You

Title: Moonlight Becomes You
Author: M.J. O'Shea & Piper Vaughn
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher URL: www.loose-id.com
ISBN: 978-1-61118-544-7
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary
Rating: Golden Blush
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

Starting out in the music business, Shane Ventura made the biggest mistake of his life. He allowed the other band members and his record company to force his best friend, Jesse Seider, out of the band. It didn’t matter that Jesse had a gorgeous voice; all they cared about was how his looks didn’t fit with the label. Shane loved him then and he still loves Jesse now and nothing in his wild rocker lifestyle has ever filled the void. 

Eleven years have passed and Shane’s approaching his thirty-second birthday. He’s alone and miserable and even the prospect of touring with Moonlight, Britain’s hottest band, doesn’t lift his spirits. That changes on meeting the band’s leader singer, Kayden Berlin, who sets his libido on overdrive. But something isn’t right. Despite the spark between them, Kayden’s running hot and cold and Shane doesn’t understand why. Then one night of passion leads to a painful revelation he never expected, showing him that sometimes with love, second chances do happen but it can also bring pain. 

Moonlight Becomes You is the first release in the new series, Lucky Moon, by M.J. O'Shea & Piper Vaughn, both new authors for me. I really liked this story from the beginning, despite it starting off a little slow with Shane agonizing over his life and remembering what had been. Even so, the way it began made sense with the authors giving the readers a good idea of who Shane was as a teenager, long before he became famous.  

Shane’s character has great depth. He’s also filled with simmering depression and angst over bad decisions he’s made in the past. Seeing Shane’s unhappiness is heartbreaking and his self-absorbed brother couldn’t ever be bothered to notice…the jerk. Then there’s Kayden. Most of the story the authors have him effectively yanking Shane’s chain…sending him mixed messages of hating his guts or maybe liking him just a little. You have to feel sorry for Shane and I think O’Shea and Vaughn did a great job of keeping him on the ragged edge…of never knowing where Kayden stood. It was cruel but an effective storytelling tool and they utilized it well. 

Overall I liked the characters, with the exception of Shane’s brother Nick. They all were crafted vastly different personalities…arrogant, friendly, helpful, calm and even boisterous…all of which added levels of intensity to the plot line. The story is told from Shane’s point of view and jumps periodically from the present to the past, giving the reader snippets of information about Shane and Jesse’s relationship and what it meant to him. There’s plenty of angst, well written dialogue, good story flow and an intriguing, cast of characters. The authors have taken all these pieces, juggled them together and come out with a cohesive whole I can’t recommend enough. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

A Deadly Kind of Love

Title:  A Deadly Kind of Love
Author: Victor J. Banis
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-61581-916-4
Genre: {M/M}, Mystery, Series
Rating:  4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph 

Stanley’s and Tom’s friend, Chris, has decided to take a vacation and, thanks to Stanley’s wide variety of friends, Chris finds himself staying at one of the best gay resorts in Palm Springs.  After a busy night at the clubs, Chris finds himself back at the resort alone, or so he thinks.  After finding a dead body in his bed, Chris calls the only two people he knows that can help, Stanley and Tom.

A Deadly Kind of Love is the newest release in Victor J. Banis’  series, Deadly Mystery.  Readers should know that, while each story could be considered a stand-alone, in order to get the full impact of the men’s relationship it would be wise to read the books in order.  Also A Deadly Kind of Love is the first book to be published by Dreamspinner Press and you will need to check out MLR Press for the previous stories. 

In my opinion, Mr. Banis is one of the few authors who can successfully write a romantic mystery with little romance going on between the characters.  Stanley and Tom are, by now, an established couple, although with all they have been through, I was surprised by Stanley’s comment that they had only been together for a year and a half.  The differences between them is what makes them such an intriguing couple and it is easy to see the love that exists between them.  It is that strong connection between the two that makes Tom’s actions at the end of the story believable.

Romance aside, A Deadly Kind of Love is truly a mystery and one that left me wondering who the bad guy was till just about the end.  Several of the secondary characters clearly could have been behind the murders the two detectives find themselves involved in, but the final reveal and the reasons behind the crimes were surprising.  I especially liked the way the author cleared up the connection between two of the secondary characters, as I did not see that one coming.  Although the ending left me thinking “wait there’s got to be more,” it was the perfect wrap up for the story.  I hope the author has many more adventures lined up for these two as I can’t wait to see what these two find themselves involved in next.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Undeniable

Title:  Undeniable
Author:  Delilah Devlin
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
Publisher URL:  www.samhainpublishing.com
ISBN: 978-1-60928-488-6
Genre:  {M/F}, Paranormal, Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph 

Kate's father died protecting the ranch, Sanctuary, she grew up on. Sanctuary has become a refuge for survivors to come to. Kate has been talking with Ty on the ham radio but knows she can't protect the people at the ranch much longer. Ty and his men are all former military and he offers to escort Kate and the survivors to the base they have commandeered.

Undeniable is an interesting story that takes place after an apocalyptic event that brings out the paranormal species that had always lived as an underground society.  The author created a realistic world where people are in a constant battle to survive.  I can just picture that happening in today’s world, with all the hatred the world over.   

Kate and Ty have an instant attraction and great chemistry.  The circumstances when Kate finds out that Ty is a vampire, not a werewolf, are realistic.  The doubts and acceptance that Kate finally has about Ty are some we all face.  I am looking forward to learning more about the society Ms. Devlin has created in the Dark Frontier series. 

Star-Crossed Mates

Title: Star-Crossed Mates
Author: Scarlet Hyacinth
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand
ISBN: 1-61034-654-8
Genre: {M/M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

Klaus is a man who takes his responsibilities to Wolfram seriously and consequently has refused to claim his mate. For ten years Clay waited, hoping Klaus would finally complete their bond, but once again he’s rejected and with his heart breaking, leaves, realizing he can’t compete with the Magistrate. He doesn’t expect to find his other mate, Ross, when he returns to the family compound. 

Ross has been a pawn of the powerful feral, Joseph, for years and when he’s sent to spy on the spirit wolves doesn’t expect to find his mate, or to get aid in escaping, but Clay believes in him. They’re on the run from just about everyone, and Ross has been infected with the feral virus and is getting sick. If Klaus doesn’t find him in time,his sanity will be destroyed.  

Star-Crossed Mates is the final release in Scarlet Hyacinth’s Spirit Wolves series and it’s a case of leaving the best for last. The author did a great job with the characters. Who wouldn’t feel sorry for Clay being rejected by his mate? His unhappiness with Klaus, which started in book 4, only gets more intense here, as we learn what’s been going on between them. The same with Ross, who previously seemed like a bad guy. Then there’s Klaus who I had trouble liking initially because of his indifference to the pain he was causing his mate. There’s dedication to your job…but come on…can you say overboard?  

All three of these men have great depth and have also suffered in some way. Because there’s so much going on I was afraid some of the plot threads would be left dangling but Ms. Hyacinth deftly wove all the pieces together into a satisfying whole. She also gave us several twists and turns that added some great interest to the story…and then there’s the dramatic ending…I really didn’t see that one coming. It’s a creative way to fix an earlier problem and brought in a mystical character only referenced before. 

The plot flow is good; the storyline believable within the well-crafted spirit wolf world and the simmering tension between Clay, Ross and Klaus is nicely done. When they finally get to confirm their mating bond, it’s tender but also passionate. I really liked this one and when I checked Ms. Hyacinth’s website to make certain it was the last release, I was sad to see it was indeed the finale, but all isn’t lost. She does make note that at some point a spin-off series is planned, making me one happy reader. Enjoy.

Manacled

Title:  Manacled
Author: A.J. Llewellyn
Publisher: eXtasy Books
ISBN: 978-1-55487-925-0
Genre: {M/M}, Mystery, Series
Rating:  4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph 

Mingo and Francois are ready to walk down the aisle any day now.  Rushing to get all the last minute details taken care of, the last thing these two lovers expected was for someone from Mingo’s past to walk through the door. 

I love the Mingo McCloud series by Mr. Llewellyn and not just because of the hot sex, either.  The characters are wonderfully written, drawing the reader easily into their story and leaving them wanting more, once the books come to an end.  The secondary characters are just as engaging and at times I really feel for the two leads, Mingo and Francois, as it is not unusual for their friends and family to cause a bit of mischief in their desire to help the men out with whatever case they may be working on.   

As with each story in this series, the two men find themselves trying to help an innocent individual out by solving a crime.  In Manacled, that innocent individual is Mingo, which leads to a few hilarious moments, especially in the beginning.  The fact that Mingo’s misfortune happens so close to his upcoming wedding causes more than a few problems, as you can imagine.  I was surprised by the outcome, especially the reason behind the scam and the individuals involved.  I can’t wait to see how the men’s wedding goes, as I am sure it will be far from normal.

Commando Cowboys Capture Their Mate

Title:  Commando Cowboys Capture Their Mate
Author:  Paige Cameron
Publisher:  Siren-Bookstrand
ISBN:1-61034-705-6
Genre:  {M/F/M}, Cowboy, Series
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph 

Sara is the victim of identity theft.  Because of the theft, she is kidnapped by a community of warriors.  Mitch and Daren have a reaction that leaves no doubt Sara is theirs.  Convincing her stay is the problem. 

The first book in the Wyoming Warriors series sets the groundwork for a society that tries to be as self-sufficient as possible.  Commando Cowboys Capture Their Mate has a lot of suspense and intrigue as this community tries to find traitors in their midst.  I loved the little bit of background that let you know exactly how these men and women came to be with their special abilities. I liked the way the author gave you a hint that there is more to this society, which will slowly be revealed as the series unfolds. 

The author showcases the problems that Sara faces when she is asked to stay with Mitch and Daren.  Anyone who has a relationship with someone from a different culture and tries to adjust to fit in was handled very realistically.   

The secondary characters are very realistic in their reactions in various situations, from Sara's girlfriends to men Sara meets, especially when Sara tells her friends she is getting married. One situation with a main character that was undercover as part of his job, showed how a partner could become jealous and start having doubts about a relationship. 

The chemistry between Mitch, Sara, and Daren is scorching hot so keep ice handy.  The resolution of the community marriage and the public relationship was interesting.  I for one will be reading this one again. I do suggest that if you start reading this series, you read them in order to get the full impact of this community.