Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shacked Up

Title: Shacked Up
Author: Hank Edwards
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher URL: www.loose-id.com
ISBN: 978-1-61118-844-8
Genre: {M/M} Suspense Sequel
Rating: 4 Nymphs  
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx   

FBI Special Agent Aaron Pearce is having doubts about asking Mark Beecher to move in with him. When Aaron was assigned to protect Mark, who was a key witness in a high profile case, the two men formed a bond. Now with Aaron’s work issues and Mark’s paranoia, the bond is in danger of breaking. 

Shacked Up is the sequel to Holed Up. In this installment, the focus is on the emotions of Aaron and Mark’s interaction with each other as roommates. The characters are believable with realistic inner-turmoil. Also included in the plot is an intriguing espionage in progress. Aaron lives to infuriate his boss and co-workers, which only serves to delay his return to doing field work. Aaron’s excellent work record is the only thing that keeps him from being fired. But Aaron hates being a desk jockey. Having a shielded personality also makes it difficult for Aaron to share living space with Mark. Aaron has never shared his apartment with anyone before and almost resents Mark’s things taking up even the smallest space in Aaron’s domain. Mark is aware of Aaron’s territorial personality, in fact Mark feels like an intruder living in Aaron’s apartment. Caught in the crosshairs of danger finally shocks Aaron and Mark out of their emotional limbo. 

Hank Edwards has created a superb heartwarming romantic suspense that I enjoyed immensely.

One Small Thing

Title: One Small Thing
Authors: Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-61372-496-5
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

Being a father wasn’t something Rue expected but he’d never planned on sleeping with a woman either. From the moment of Alice’s birth, Rue’s heart is stolen. Now a single father, he has to figure out how to juggle caring for a newborn while bartending to pay the bills and going to cosmetology school. Rue needs to find a babysitter and in desperation, turns to the next door neighbor he barely knows. 

Sci-fi novelist Erik Van Nuys isn’t good with people, has anxiety issues and rarely leaves his apartment. The idea of caring for Alice nearly gives him a panic attack, but his books aren’t selling well and he needs the cash. It’s not easy but he agrees to take over Alice’s care and slowly finds himself enthralled by both Alice and her father. Things are going good between them until Rue’s dream job offer comes through. Do they stay together or does Rue leave Erik behind when he moves to California, taking the family they’ve made together with him? 

One Small Thing is the newest release by writing duo Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea. I have to admit the cover caught my attention first—it’ a real eye catcher, and once I read the blurb; I had to give it a try. It’s a heartwarming, entertaining, contemporary romance of two lower middle class guys struggling to survive through hard financial times. The fact these guys are working class and have little money isn’t dealt with often, which makes me appreciate how well their problems are handled even more.  

Erik and Rue are sweet guys—and the authors have done a nice job developing their personalities. Then they skillfully weave in snippets of back-story so we can understand what makes them tick. Despite their vast differences, Rue and Erik complement each other nicely, even if it takes a while for them to realize how much they mean to each other. That’s what makes the story realistic—their feelings blossom over time with baby Alice the center of their growing family.  

There aren’t a lot of secondary characters in this book with the exception of Dusty. He’s Rue’s best friend. He’s scattered throughout the story and is an important supporting player. This guy deserves his own book and he’s going to get it. I found an excerpt from a WIP, One True Thing , if you want to take a look.

Maverick Danker

Title: Maverick Danker
Author: Joyee Flynn
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand
Publisher’s URL: http://www.sirenbookstrand.com
ISBN/BIN:  9781619268296
Genre: {M/M/M}, Paranormal, Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph 

Maverick Danker is sent to America to help some of the Fae relocate to Greece.  While the warrior is proud to be serving Caleb in such a manner, he is starting to wonder if he isn’t a little burned out.  Tyler Gilroy gladly took the punishment meant for others in order to spare them pain.  While he’d do it all over again to protect those he cares about, he is ashamed by some of the pleasure he received at the hands of his abusers.  Asterio knows the Fae have no other choice but to relocate, yet the warrior fears what this change will mean for him. 

Maverick Danker is the latest addition to the Beyond the Marius Brothers series.  This story was so full of angst, yet so easy to get into, that I had a hard time putting it down.  Each of the men is wonderfully written and I loved how the author had each of them tell their side of the story.  Even with the book being written in first person by each man’s point of view, it flows smoothly.  Maverick, Tyler and Asterio are in desperate need of love and while that should mean their relationship will run smoothly, it doesn’t, as each man, especially Tyler, has some issues to overcome.   

The author threw in more than a few obstacles for the men to deal with and more than once, I wondered how things would be cleared up.  I like the addition of the Fae into this storyline.  Watching them learn things for the first time, that we take for granted, will make you laugh.   

While the books in this series could be considered stand-alone, the interaction between the various characters in the Beyond the Marius Brothers series as well as the Marius Brothers and The O’Hagan Way makes it wise to check out all the books.

Leather Jackets

Title: Leather Jackets
Author: KC Kendricks
Publisher: Amber Allure
ISBN: 978-1-61124-283-6
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx   

Fifteen years ago, college student Jude Thatcher and budding rock star Wynn DeRocher had a two month fling that ended badly. Now Wynn is back with an offer Jude can’t refuse. 

Leather Jackets is enjoyable as far as the emotional value is concerned but I was not impressed with the indistinct character background. Jude is an unemployed lab tech, supported by his dwindling severance pay. There is no mention of Jude having any goals or plans for his future. Jude has the appearance of being a shallow man living in limbo. Meeting Wynn again after all those years was by accident for Jude who had no prior knowledge of Wynn being in town. Wynn is a successful man who has paid a penalty for the fame he has achieved.   The story illustrates more of redemption from guilty feelings rather than a rebirth of loss love.  

KC Kendricks has created an interesting saga with a few heartwarming moments. However, the superficial depth of the characters was somewhat disappointing for me.  

Frog

Title: Frog
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 9781613724699
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary
Rating: Golden Blush
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

Nothing in Weber Yates’ life is going as he’d planned.  His dream of being a champion bull rider never panned out and the one guy’s he’s involved with is totally out of his league…way out. He’s tired and beat up from his last rodeo and on the way to Alaska for a ranch job when he stops in San Francisco to see his lover, Cyrus, one last time. 

Cyrus Benning is wealthy, gorgeous and a successful neurosurgeon. He can have any guy he wants and the only man he’s interested in is Weber. After having harsh words months before, Cyrus wasn’t certain he’d ever see his cowboy again. Now that Weber’s back, all he wants is to prove they’re perfect as a couple and can have a great life together. Can Cyrus convince Weber that staying gives him everything he wants and needs? Can Weber come to understand that he’s the most important thing in Cyrus’s life? 

Frog is the newest release by Mary Calmes and it’s going right into my keeper pile. I don’t often gush about a book but I totally loved, from the first paragraph to the last word, this heart-warming character-driven romance. It’s funny, special and a real treat because it’s not just a romance but a story of redemption, recovery and moving on.  

I say that in all seriousness. Ms. Calmes successfully wove in all the components of Cyrus and Weber’s relationship…the good and the bad…then added a ready-made family in Cyrus’s sister and her boys. It’s often difficult for an author to juggle so many secondary characters into the internal plot but she did it with flair and realism. I love the kids and how Weber helps them after their father takes off. But then Weber’s a pretty classy guy for a beat-up homeless cowboy…loving, protective, polite and caring. Cyrus loves him unconditionally, which might be a little simplistic in today’s world but that’s all right. He knows who he wants and needs and that’s Weber, nothing else matters. 

The story is well-plotted, Cyrus and Weber have nicely developed personalities, the descriptions are vivid and there’s some great bantering conversation. Oh and I can’t forget to mention the passion and strong emotional bond between Cyrus and Weber. It’s a romance I intend to enjoy again in the future and I recommend that you give it a try. I think you’ll enjoy it. I know I did.

Rave

Title: Rave
Author: Lynn Hagen
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand
Publisher’s URL: http://www.sirenbookstrand.com
ISBN/BIN:  9781619267459
Genre: {M/M/M}, Paranormal, Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph 

Logan’s used to a very normal life so when someone blows up his truck, he has no idea what to think.  When Rave and later Tony show up, Logan has even more to wonder about, especially when he finds out there’s more to them than meets the eye. 

Rave is the ninth book in the Zeus’s Pack series.  It tells the story of Rave and Tony, both characters we met in previous stories.  It also introduces their third mate, Logan.  All three characters are strongly written and pull you right into their story.  I liked that the author did not have them fall into a tight relationship right away; in fact, there is quite a lot of tension between the three and not all of it is good.  When they finally do come together, they really burn up the pages. 

There is a fair amount of twists and turns within this story, as well.  First, there is the mystery surrounding Logan.  The author does a wonderful job bringing the confusion Logan feels, due to the fact that someone is trying to kill him, as well as the strange feelings and abilities he is developing, across realistically.  At times, I was just as worried about the young man as the rest of Zeus’s pack was.   

There is also the issue of jealousy and self-loathing that Tony feels at times.  Without giving anything away, the readers will have an easy time understanding why Tony has the issues he does.  I liked that it was Logan who helps the agent start to understand that he can still take what he needs. 

Lastly, there is the issue of the ‘flying men’ and what they mean to Pride Pack Valley.  The author has several series that have cross over story lines.  While it is not necessary to read the other series’, it does keep you from being slightly confused.  As I am not reading The Exiled series, I did not know the story behind the ‘flying men’, yet the author fills the unknowing readers in very well.   

Between the main characters, the returning secondary characters and the multiple twists in the story, Rave is sure to entertain and is a great addition to the Zeus’s Pack series.

The Helpful Swan

Title: The Helpful Swan
Authors: Amber Kell and Stephani Hecht
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-60735-506-9
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

When Prince Kedrik Cobb sees a gorgeous man through a shoe store window he’s out on a date with another man. A couple of days later, unable to stop thinking about the sexy leather clad stranger, he heads back to the store in hopes of finding him. 

Cadell Shumaker has known Kedrik was his mate for years and even followed him from Aria to watch over him. He’s been waiting patiently from afar until Kedrik matured before claiming him. When the spell cast by Kedrik’s evil sister takes effect they’re on the run, just barely able to stay ahead of the Hunters determined to end Kedrick’s life.  Can these new mates find a way to safety in Aria? Will they be able to find Kedrick’s brothers in time? 

The Helpful Swan is the latest release in the Cob Brothers series. Due to the recurring characters and ongoing story line the books should be read in order. 

This is my favorite book in the series. There’s just something about Kedrick and Cadell that really clicked for me. The story length is short at only 27K but even so, their personalities are still pretty well-developed and the authors even managed to weave in interesting pieces of background information. The beginning scenes are filled with sexual tension, bantering conversation and even some sizzling time between the sheets. It’s not until later that the danger kicks in and they’re on the run for their lives.  It’s here where you get all the additional secondary characters that help round out the plot. 

My niggles. Some of the scenes are very short and the constant changes got distracting. Secondly…there are too many additional viewpoints. Lastly…the cliffhanger-type ending. Not only was Cade and Kedrick left up in the air, but Prince Eaton had been brought into the plot and he was really left hanging. Still, I enjoyed the storyline progression and look forward to the next book.

Riding with Heaven

Title: Riding with Heaven
Author: L. C. Chase
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher URL: www.loose-id.com
ISBN: 978-1-61118-866-0
Genre: {M/M} Suspense
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx  

Evan McGrath did not expect to get so lucky when his quest for a rideshare was answered by the handsome stranger, Lucas Briscoe. However, halfway to South Carolina, Evan was starting to feel like his luck had just run out.   

L. C. Chase's Riding with Heaven is a riveting stranger-danger tale with very convincing characters. The plot builds from nail biting anxiety to full blown terror. There is an immediate attraction between Evan and Lucas. Also, there is a resistance to act on their attraction. As the story unfolds, each man’s logic against having sex becomes evident. Evan is a graduate student, as well as a talented artist, who has the tendency to be oblivious to his surroundings when he is drawing. His future is in limbo only because his South Carolina home induces morbid nightmares of a past Evan would rather not think about. Lucas is an enigma; he reveals little and misses nothing. Lucas has sexy bad boy charisma, along with a quicksilver mood swing that goes from flirty good humor to cold-blooded dangerous in the blink of an eye. The mounting Domino Slasher clues, in addition to Lucas’ strange behavior,r has Evan convinced he is about to die at the hands of a serial killer.  

Riding with Heaven is an outstanding and extremely enjoyable thriller. With each damming clue, the tale seems to get darker. But just when I thought Evan was doomed, the very clever L. C. Chase blends in a smoking hot intimacy scene that left me breathless.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Market Day

Title: Market Day
Author: Sean Michael
Publisher: Torquere Books
Publisher URL: www.torquerebooks.com
ISBN/BIN: none listed
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary BDSM Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

Marcus and Jim are out for their regular trip to the local open-air market. They’re covered in sunscreen, have got their list and are ready to have some fun. When Jim wants a highly caffeinated drink, it takes some playful negotiation to get what they each want when they get home. But like always, the coffee destroys Jim’s mood and it’s up to Marcus to save the day and turn his irritable lover into a satisfied sub. 

Market Day is the newest release in the Hammer world. It can be read as a stand-alone but a better understanding of their relationship can be had by reading Bent. 

I’ve enjoyed reading about Marcus and Jim since they were first introduced. They’re a great couple and this short is one of my favorites of their stories. It’s nice to see that the originally uptight Jim is settled—he’s happy and able to joke around. The bantering conversation during their coffee negotiations is lighthearted and fun; especially knowing it’s going to lead to some mutually satisfying time in their playroom once they get home.  

Their love has only grown stronger and when Jim needs a firm hand, Marcus is there to give it to him. Emotions are high and the passion sizzles between these two lovers, so watch out for some hot loving in a BDSM playroom scene. If you’re a fan of this series, this couple or books in this genre, give Market Day a try.

Ensnared

Title: Ensnared
Author: Dawn H. Hawkes
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Publisher URL: spsilverpublishing.com/
ISBN/BIN: 9781614955412
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal, Alternate Worlds
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx   

There is something about Evan that Gar finds very intriguing. However, on Gar’s home world the small shy human Evan would never fit in or would he? 

Ensnared is an exciting tale of an interspecies relationship. Gar is a warrior sent to Earth to slay the demons who feed on humans. From the moment Gar first saw Evan, Gar had an infatuation with him. Nevertheless, Gar refused to use Evan for sex, as he suspected others had done. Invading Evan’s dreams would be less harmful emotionally. This did not prove to be the case for either man. Gar and Evan developed a love bond in the dreams, which manifested into their conscious existence when Evan became the target of the demons. The characters are well-matched; Evan could hold his own in a single attack but desperately needed help with a group of demons. Gar has the skill, strength and the desire to be Evan’s protector.     

Dawn H. Hawkes has created a thrilling and enjoyable saga filled with plenty of danger, action as well as sensual lovemaking.

Dirk’s Love

Title: Dirk’s Love
Author: Marisa Chenery
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-59578-916-7
Genre: {M/F} Contemporary Paranormal Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx 

The idea of creating an online dating service to pair werewolf males with compatible human females has been Dirk’s driving force for months. It’s ready to go on-line, so he hires Ryann, a mortal female computer tech to assist him. They’ve gotten along well in phone and computer emails but when they meet for the first time in person, Dirk’s certain she the one he’s been waiting for—his mate. 

Ryann’s life revolves around raising her son and avoiding her arrogant ex-husband as much as possible and when she meets Dirk, her long dormant sexual cravings come back to life. She can hardly believe he can be interested in a woman with a child but is thrilled when he and he son take an instant liking to each other.  Can it be that the sudden sizzling attraction she feels means he’s the man she been waiting for her whole life? What will she do about her still possessive ex-husband since he hates the idea?  

Dirk’s Love is the latest release in Marisa Chenery’s Roxie’s Protectors series. Due to the character relationships and underlying storyline, I recommend the books be read in order. 

I’ve read all the books in the series and I liked Ms. Cheney’s idea of Dirk setting up the dating service. It really showed the pack coming into the computer age and is the first sign that I can remember of one of the guys starting a business.  It’s a wonderful, if unexpected twist that Dirk found his mate doing it and there’ even a cute child involved, which is even better. The unfortunate thing is that the story is too short to develop a believable relationship between Dirk and the two new people in his life. We also have a stereotypical arrogant ex-husband to deal with and when problems arise with him, they’re resolved too quickly. Something a little different would have been nice. There’s so much potential in this premise that’s just not realized. And then there’s Miles. He used to be a bad guy but he’s been on hold for the last several books. Look for Miles' Redemption coming next.