Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bear, Otter, and the Kid

Title: Bear, Otter, and the Kid
Author: TJ Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-61372-088-2
Genre: {M/M}, Contemporary
Rating:  Golden Blush Award
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph 

Bear is your typical teenager, biding his time till he can leave for college.  All that goes to the wayside when Bear’s mother decides to leave town and puts the seventeen year old Bear in charge of caring for his little brother.  Bear thought Otter would be there to help but when the two end up kissing, Otter is the next one to abandon the young man. 

If you only choose one M/M book to read this year, make it Bear, Otter, and the Kid.  This story is outstanding and will leave you either crying or laughing.  Right from the beginning, the characters pull you in.  The closeness between Bear and his friends Creed, Anna and Otter is amazing and that these three are willing to step in and help Bear in his time of need is something else.  While Bear struggles to care for his brother, Creed goes away to college, Anna continues to be Bear’s sometimes girlfriend and Otter has moved to California.   Although things may not be going the way Bear has always wanted them to, at least his life is okay, until Otter returns home. 

It’s from that point that the story really takes off.  With the story told from Bear’s point of view, there is occasionally a lot of back tracking as he brings the reader up to date.  For me, this is one of the things that made the story entertaining.  With Otter back in his life, Bear goes into a bit of a tail spin with only his nine year old brother to help him out.  That Bear is unable to figure out his feelings for Otter is understandable, as he was never given the chance to explore himself, instead he was forced to become an instant parent.   The age difference, as well as his fear of influencing Bear’s feelings, causes Otter to doubt himself.  After more than a little fighting between the two, the author brings them together nicely, but that does not mean their relationship will continue to go smoothly. 

The secondary characters help make this story and at times, the Kid really becomes a scene stealer.  Readers should be aware of the Otter! Otter! Otter! poem as it may stick in your head, popping out at the oddest times.  Bear is not the only one having to make adjustments in this story and the turmoil that the relationship between Bear and Otter causes is severe.  This story, however, was one of the best I have read in some time.  I hated to see it end but it ended in such a way that a follow up could be possible.  I hope the author is at home busily writing and that we will see a sequel soon.

Shifting Heat

Title: Shifting Heat
Author: Lynne Connolly
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Publisher URL: www.jasminejade.com
ISBN: 9781419934254
Genre: {M/F} Shape-Shifter Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

Once severely disabled with a form of muscular dystrophy, Andros has been converted into a powerful shape-shifting dragon. He’s still a geek, but he’s now healthy and works for the paranormal organization STORM. Andros meets a female dragon while flying over the city and follows her back to her hotel room. They shift and they end up spending the night together.  

Faye finds Andros fascinating and being in his arms is heaven. It’s just too bad he works for an enemy group. She can’t believe that she feels such an intense attraction to him, but can’t deny it either. Taking advantage of him…drugging him now isn’t so easy, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t do it. But things aren’t what they seem and some people lie and make it believable. Now they must work together to make things right. 

Shifting Heat is the sixth release in Lynne Connolly’s STORM series. To be honest, I don’t read the blurbs for these books, since I enjoy the premise of the series. I just read then as they’re released and this one is my favorite so far. And it doesn’t hurt that I love books about dragon shifters, either. Oh, and be aware that this one can be read as a standalone without a problem. 

I really enjoyed Andros. He’s a dragon shifter but he’s only been one for a year, so he still acts and thinks like a human. He’s actually a little uncomfortable with his new life. Creating a main character with such a recent conversion from a disease…a flaw wasn’t something I expected but it was a perfect choice for his personality. Then there’s Faye. At the beginning I wasn’t certain I’d like her, but Ms. Connolly quickly turned the situation around and made this almost villain into a heroine with a couple of creative plot twists. Good going Lynne! 

The romance between Andros and Faye is well done. They both have issues to deal with, which come out over the course of the story, giving depth to their personalities and backgrounds. Their emotions run high, the passion higher and the sex is sizzling hot.  

So, I guess what it boils down to is just enjoy the book. It’s a well written story that catches your attention in the beginning, with a pace that pretty much races to the end. It’s got betrayal, action, death, friendship, a little espionage and enough shape-shifting to satisfy any paranormal fan.

Winter’s Journey

Title: Winter’s Journey
Author: Kathryn Meyer Griffith
Publisher: Eternal Press
ISBN: 9781615724604
Genre: {M/F} Romantic Suspense, Murder-Mystery
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Rose Nymph 

After losing her trucker husband to the bitter Wyoming winter one year ago, the last place Loretta Brennan expected to be was in “Baby Blue”, her eighteen-wheeler, heading along those same icy roads. However, if she wants to keep a roof over her and her daughter’s head, Loretta needs to start taking action, now. 

She may have accepted the dangerous job for honorable reasons but Loretta soon realizes she has bitten off more than she can chew. There’s no way she’ll get her haul to the destination in time by herself. So when hitchhiker Sam Emerson offers to share the burden, Loretta is loath to turn him away. She knows the danger of picking up a stranger, but Sam’s sob story pulls at hear heartstrings. As the duo ride out the winter storm, Loretta leans more about the enigmatic Sam, but not all of it is good. She can’t fight the feelings that are growing for the man, but when they hear that truckers are being murdered nearby, Loretta starts putting two and two together, and coming up with five. With a coldblooded murderer on the loose, can Sam be honest enough about his past to save his and Loretta’s future? 

Despite Loretta and Sam’s actions making me want to bang their heads together most of the time, I just couldn’t put Winter’s Journey down. The author did an amazing job creating such an atmospheric setting that I shiver now just remembering the cold and icy conditions faced by the characters. There were shivers of a different kind as people Loretta and Sam met along their journey started turning up dead. The constant “friend or foe?” vibe coming from Sam kept me on edge and helped me ride the rollercoaster of emotions with Loretta as she tried to figure him out. The climax of the murder mystery was exciting and unpredictable. The romance between Loretta and Sam was slow building and let my imagination wander to all sorts of possibilities between them. If you are looking for an engaging story with twists and turns plus tender romance, I highly recommend Winter’s Journey.

Rainerio

Title: Rainerio
Author: Lynn Hagen
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand
ISBN: 1-61034-714-5
Genre: {M/M} Fantasy Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

To protect his life, Dillon is taken from the human realm to live in a world surrounded by demon warriors. It’s a big change but he’s okay with it and once he sets eyes on one particularly sexy warrior…Rainerio, Dillon knows exactly who he wants. The only problem is that his intended love target isn’t cooperating. At all. 

Rainerio finds the new human annoying, irritating, crude and loud. And the sexy man is driving him out of his mind. Despite wanting Dillon in his bed, he’s determined to resist, afraid that if he gets too close to the small human, Dillon could be used against the warriors. When Dillon is abducted and used to test a dangerous new drug, it’s up to Rainerio and his friends to rescue his newly discovered mate and keep him safe. 

Rainerio is the newest release in Lynn Hagen’s Demon Warriors series and it takes up soon after the last one, Snooke, left off.  I love Dillon and his persistence and how crazy it makes Rainerio…and not just crazy with lust…just downright crazy. Talk about a mismatched pair of mates that turn out to be perfect for each other. Ms. Hagen did a nice job developing the parts of the personalities that we got to see, but I for one would have liked to know more. I hope that at some point Rainerio’s parents get thrown into the plot line since there’s definitely a story there. 

The physical part of Dillon and Rainerio’s relationship doesn’t start immediately and Ms. Hagen does a good job expressing both men’s frustration during this period. But when they finally give in to the passion simmering between them…watch out…it’s blistering hot. The stolen crystal is still an integral part of the story and Ms. Hagen’s doing a good job keeping the interest in it going. What I really liked was that in addition to the established theft storyline, she’s added another, the deadly drug Liquid Wrath, which I’m assuming we’ll hear more about in the future. 

My surprises:

  1. Finding out from checking on the Demon Warriors Goodreads page that 20 titles had been added to the series listing.  
  2. That when I checked the coming soon and WIP pages on Ms. Hagen’s website there wasn’t anything listed for the series in the near future. That was very disappointing.

The Palisade

Title: The Palisade
Author: George Seaton
Publisher: MLR Press
Publisher URL: www.mlrbooks.com
ISBN: 978-1-60820-431-1
Genre: {M/M} 1980’s History
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx   

The coming of spring 1981 is celebrated with a dance performed by one of the residents of The Palisade, an apartment complex considered a safe haven in the Denver gay community, but is it truly safe or is it just an illusion?  

Narrated by the character indentified only as the Writer, The Palisade recounts the Writer’s coming of age history and meeting his partner David. It also provides brief background details regarding each of the apartment residents, some of whom freely indulged in unprotected sex, others who were content to share a quiet life with their four legged family members. The neighbors across the street presented a picture of underachievers who transformed their misery into hatred for anyone different.  The Aids panic brought a harsh new reality to the sexual freedom era, as well as the demand for more education. The plot also illustrates the dangers associated with the underlining bigotry embedded into officers of the law.   

George Seaton has a flair for writing imaginary stories that express the source of some views still current in the real world today.   The Palisade is not a romance, but rather an enjoyable informative examination of a place and time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

After the Sunset

Title: After the Sunset
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-61372-092-9
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Western Sequel
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

Rand Holloway and Stefan Joss have been together for two years and it’s taken all that time for Stef to make a kind of peace with the big changes in his life. That means giving up his city apartment and taking a job with the local community college, which thrills Rand since it shows his commitment to their relationship. Then one weekend when Rand goes off to his cousin’s, Stef learns that their ranch has to participate in an area rodeo or lose a piece of land. It’s a crazy idea and one that could get Stef killed. When Rand discovers what his lover’s done, he isn’t thrilled but it gives him a chance to show everyone that sometimes the best surprises are the least expected. 

After the Sunset is the sequel to last year’s Timing and it takes up approximately two years later. I really enjoyed Rand and Stef in their introduction, so I was thrilled to learn of the release of this fun and entertaining sequel…and hint…hint….I wouldn’t mind another in the future, Ms. Calmes, maybe with them trying for a baby. 

There’s just something about this well-developed and believable couple that pulls as the heartstrings. I especially enjoy Stef. He’s a likeable guy, who wants everyone to be happy but isn’t willing to back down from a fight, even if it means getting into trouble, which means there’s never a dull moment in their lives. Take the rodeo for example. It was a great twist in the plot and one that came out of left field.  

Despite the love and emotions between Rand and Stef being almost all consuming, there was a little niggle that bothered me. It was Rand’s almost demand that Stef stay at the house…to make them a home and to take care of the children that they didn’t even have yet. I just thought it was a little odd to include the idea at this point in the storyline. 

The thing that took me by surprise was how much of the book that Stef and Rand were apart. It left Stef to deal with both sides of Rand’s family alone. The conflict here is rich and deep, and it opens up all kinds of possibilities, not just stories with Rand and Stef, but even for spin-off’s with others. I’d love to see a book about Glenn sometime in the future. Read and enjoy, and keep your fingers crossed for another book in the future. I will.

Beneath the Neon Moon

Title: Beneath the Neon Moon
Author: Theda Black
Publisher: TKB Books
Publisher URL: www.smashwords.com
ISBN: 978-1-4524-5164-0
Genre: M/M Werewolves
Rating: 3 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx   

Zach awakens in a dark cellar chained at the leg to a stranger, who is bleeding from several injuries.  Zach soon discovers that Mal has been bitten and is undergoing some extreme changes. Nevertheless, Zach and Mal manage to find love, in the midst of chaos. 

Written in the style of a one scene play, Beneath the Neon Moon is dramatic.  I was given the same impression as if I had walk into the middle of a movie. Missing all the key details of plot building, the story starts in the cellar and ends in limbo.  Character background is expressed in snippets of each man’s childhood memory with not enough details to add any dimension to the characters.  The suspense scenario is interesting. However, I felt I was cheated out of a complete story.     

Ash Swan

Title: Ash Swan
Authors: Amber Kell and Stephani Hecht
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-60735-370-6
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

Prince Landon Cob is spending some time on Earth, learning about technology and what he can take back home with him. It’s almost time to return to his kingdom of Aria and assume the throne when he sees a man who’s been feeding waterfowl fall into the nearby park lake. The young bike courier has green streaked hair and a pierced nose and Landon finds himself enthralled by the gentle man. He takes Brian back to his apartment to wash off the mud, which starts them on a path that will change both their lives.  It’s a tale of two men from vastly different backgrounds…one the Swan Prince from a land of magic and an ordinary poor human. 

Ash Swan is the first release in the new Cob Brothers series by Amber Kell & Stephani Hecht.  It’s a lighthearted, fun and entertaining M/M romance loosely combining the fairytales of the Six Swans and Cinderella (‘fella in this case). This story has a little bit of everything—two good looking and likable guys in love, magic, curses, an evil sister and her sorcerer and two vastly different families. 

In this first installment of the series, the story moves back and forth from the Earthly world in which Brian and Landon currently live to that of the Kingdom of Aria where the sister, sorcerer and Landon’s youngest brother, Dack resides. I enjoyed the different story locales the authors used. They skillfully juggled hopping from one to the other, avoiding what could have been confusing, instead allowing their differences to give the story interest and flair. And more importantly it’s here that we get to meet the dastardly, bloodthirsty villains in the piece. 

I love Petra, the over-the-top fairy godmother. She’s definitely a unique individual and the creation of her personality was very nicely done. I look forward to seeing more of her, Landon and Brian in the next release.

Storming His Heart

Title: Storming His Heart
Author: Marie Harte
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-60928-487-9
Genre: {MF} Suspense
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Goddess Minx 

Storm Buchanan has a special talent for mind control and it comes in handy while working as an investigator for her uncle’s private agency.   She is able to persuade most people to do what she wants them to do.  Because Storm can force her will on any date and then she gets bored, knowing he is not functioning on his own.  That is, until she comes across Rafe Savage, who works for a competing agency….Westlake Enterprises.    

Rafael Savage, a former police officer, has worked as an agent for Westlake Enterprises for a few years.  He has become very comfortable with his co-workers, whose talents are mind control, foretelling the future and they show respect for his gifts.  When he runs across Storm, looking for the same stolen items, he surprises her, restrains her and she tries to uses her powers of persuasion on him.   Rafe tells her to stop trying to change his flow of thinking.  Little do they know how much they both will be affected in the near future by having to work together to stop the villain. 

I was a little thrown by the title Storming His Heart because of this story being suspense but after getting through a few chapters, I begin to understand the title better.  This is the second book in the Westlake Enterprises series, continuing from the first book with some of the main and secondary characters  The simple fact that the two companies doesn’t work well together and spy on each other bodes problems which may be detrimental to both.   

Again, Ms. Harte spins a very creative tale of murder, suspense and a villain who is determined to have his way, regardless of the damage done.  Our villain is a former employee of Westlake Enterprises and very gifted, with a lot of knowledge of his former co-workers.    

Rafe and Storm both have very strong personalities and show a vulnerable side as well.  These two characters had a positive connection that didn’t show until later in the book and was a real help when trouble arose for them.  I am not sure who I admired most since they both knew what they wanted and went after it until they achieved their goal.   

I am happy to say that this book is just as intriguing as the first one, and I am looking forward to reading the next story.  Read and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Away Team

Title: Away Team
Author: Mark Alders
Publisher: extasy Books
ISBN: 978-1-55487-953-3
Genre: {M/M} Science Fiction Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

Fresh out of the Academy, Ely Nguyen is excited to head out on his first starship assignment on the Mandrake. He loves his work as an engineer but his off-work hours are lonely and he’d like a boyfriend to spend time with…but who? A chance meeting in a corridor brings geeky scientist Emerson Sonfield to Ely’s attention and they agree to go for a drink.  Will this accidental meeting lead to something special or will Ely’s thoughtless remarks ruin it before it’s had an opportunity to even start? And what about the aliens dragging their ship across the galaxy against their will…are they hostile or just seeking to talk? 

Away Team is the first release in Mark Alders’ new series Starship Cadet Missions and the first book by this author for me. In many respects, it’s a typical journey into space story where the crew has to battle against a race of unknown aliens who they’ve come into contact with. In this case, in addition to the adventure of trying to save the galaxy from destruction, there’s also lots of bantering conversation, good friendships and sizzling hot sex as Ely and Emerson’s relationship grows deeper. Mr. Alders also did a good job with his world building; making Ely and Emerson starship world come alive. There are several good twists and turns that make the story a page turner as the guys and their cadet friend’s deal with the aliens who’ve captured them. 

Where I had problems:

  1. There are some editing issues that I found bothersome. That includes repetition of phrasing, cheesiness and odd choices of words.
  2. Over the top sweetness that at times made my teeth hurt.
  3. Then the one that really bothered me. Acting and going on long mental rambles during inappropriate times when their lives were in danger. 
That being said, I still enjoyed the book and liked the inventive ending where Emerson, Ely and their two friends saved the day…and everyone else. Mr. Alders did a nice job with the details, making the scenes realistic. I look forward to the next release, First Contact.

Letting Off Steam

Title: Letting Off Steam
Author: Isabelle Drake
Publisher: Ellor’s Cave Publishing
ISBN: 9781419935206
Genre: {M/F} Contemporary
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Rose Nymph 

Carly Jameson could admit that maybe she was holding back on life a little, but when her own daughter starts sending her not-so-subtle hints that she needs to get out more, Carly decides enough is enough. 

When Harrison Denton turns up on her doorstep, Carly knows she isn’t going to get a better opportunity than this to let her hair down, but for some reason she just can’t let go. The sexy stranger is pushing all the right buttons but Carly soon realizes Harrison knows more than he should about the struggles she has endured. Does Harrison have what it takes to earn Carly’s trust and allow her to start living again? 

Letting Off Steam has interesting characters with history and a plot situation that pulls at the heartstrings. You can’t help but feel for Carly after what has happened to her. People who should have supported her turned against her, resulting in Carly being labeled something she was not. That was a long time ago though and there is a hint of frustration at the part of her that is unwilling to stop giving these people power over her. Harrison is mysterious but the author lets the reader know that he is the key to freeing Carly from her pain, so I was willing them to take a chance on each other. With some very steamy chemistry, I was not disappointed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Secretary for Two

Title:  Secretary for Two
Author:  Sindra van Yssel
Publisher:  Loose Id
Publisher URL:  www.loose-id.com
ISBN:  978-1-61118-430-3
Genre:  {M/F/M}, BDSM
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph 

Identical twins changing places for business reasons,and an Executive Assistant that hasn’t been clued in.  Nicole has been in love with her boss since she started working for Austin, but also falls in love with his twin, Tony. 

Secretary for Two involves assassins, patents, two companies, differences of opinion about profits and a very submissive executive assistant/secretary.  Nicole is extremely sharp and when Austin and Tony change places, she decides to see where it leads, at least for one night. 

This book is also a journey of the young woman, who is very comfortable trying to please her boss and hoping for more.  This could very well happen in today’s world, but because of sexual harassment laws, would have to be navigated very carefully,   The author handled the situation very well, getting you emotionally involved with all three.  The heat factor between the three is hot. 

The ending was a little surprising as I did not quite see that particular scenario coming. I will be reading this one again.

What Matters Most

Title: What Matters Most
Author: Bailey Bradford
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Publisher URL: www.total-e-bound.com
ISBN: 978-0-85715-628-0
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

Josh is fond of hot pink penguins and Nick, a guy he isn’t sure he should trust and who he left writhing on the floor when they last met. Nick’s an angry man, who’s been denied knowing his half-siblings by his father, and isn’t even certain he wants the ranch left to him in his father’s will. He’s upset, confused and unsettled, but the one thing he does know is that he’s crazy about a pink scrub-wearing nurse who makes his blood boil. 

What Nick doesn’t understand is why Josh appeals to him? He never expected him to be anything other than a means to get closer to his siblings, but the younger man has gotten under his skin. Being with Josh isn’t up to him, and there’s lot of stuff getting in their way, but first Nick has to decide what he wants most out of life...what will make him happy? 

What Matters Most is the latest release in Bailey Bradford’s Love in Xxchange series.  While it’s possible to read it as a standalone, since so many of the characters from previous releases return, I recommend they be read in order. The characters keep getting deeper and richer with each passing book…and you’re going to love Josh. I know I do. 

I thought Bend was my favorite book in the series…I was wrong. What Matters Most is. It all starts with Josh, who was introduced in the previous book. He was a great secondary character before, but getting to know more about him here and watching him grown and mature during the trials and tribulations of his uncertain relationship with Nick is nice. Ms. Bradford also skillfully wove in his family, Annabelle and other characters introduced previously, showing the depth and changes of their relationships. Good job, Ms. Bradford.

Admittedly, there is a lot of angst in this story. I mean lots. Josh has his own problems with his brother Evan and Justin and Nick is dealing with emotions left over from his father, mother and his confused feelings for Josh. Ms. Bradford uses all her many talents to juggle all these threads to come out at the end with a believable, heartwarming story that unfolds at a realistic pace. At the beginning of the story, Nick wasn’t even certain he was gay but she brought him together with Josh in a manner that explained Nick’s feelings and did it in a way that worked. I, for one, hope to see more of Josh and Nick in the future and I look forward to the next book, Ex's and O's.

The Hunter’s Captive

Title:  The Hunter’s Captive
Author:  Vonna Harper
Publisher:  Loose Id
Publisher URL:  www.loose-id.com
ISBN:  978-1-61118-562-1
Genre:  {M/F}, {F/F},  BDSM, Early North American Historical
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph 

Migis is a taken, in lieu of more food, by Songaa.  Songaa takes her in part because he saw her with an eagle, which is his spirit animal, and wants to use her to get closer to the eagle spirit.

The Hunter’s Captive was wonderfully written but some of the scenes and situations are disturbing.  I understand why, though, in the context of the time period.  Both clans are suffering, due to drought conditions.  Migis’ clan is a peaceful one that survives by trade and gathering food.  Songaa’s clan is more a warrior/hunter clan.  Songaa’s clan has what are known as lust-slaves and they are trained by bondage.   

Songaa decides Migis will help him with the eagle spirit.  Both question the ways of their clans as they learn more about each other.  Be aware that the scenes between Songaa and Migis are heart-poundingly hot.  The author did a good job creating this particular world, which could very well be some of the various tribes in America and their way of life.  Part of Migis’ training is done by one particular lust-slave, who is also jealous of Migis. 

I enjoyed the way the author finally resolved a lot of issues between Migis and Songaa because it changed both clans and the way they survive.  I think this should be on every BDSM lover’s bookshelf, and this is one story I will be reading again.  

Publisher's Note: dubious consent.