Sunday, June 16, 2013

Four-Letter Words

Author: Gabrielle Evans
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand
Publisher URL: www.sirenbookstrand.com
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62740-023-7
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Zasha Gershwin doesn’t let his emotions control him. He controls his emotions. That means he cares for Thane but falling in love with his witch mate is just too frivolous for him to even consider. He understands the pull of the mate bond but love—it’s not something he plans for his life. Thane Braddock, on the other hand, remembers the love he shared with Zasha in another life time and wants it again—and he’s determined to get it back. The problems—making his stubborn mate remember their past without driving him crazy and making every mistake possible while doing it. The other—children are being kidnapped, evil is rising and the Braddock brothers are needed to stop it. Can Zasha and Thane rebuild their relationship in the middle of a crisis or will it crumble to dust?

Four-Letter Words is the latest release in Gabrielle Evans paranormal series, Haven.  Because of the interconnection of characters and the continuing plotline, I recommend the books be read in order.

There’s a lot happening in this book, so the pace is pretty fast all the way through. In fact, so much is occurring, it’s a wonder Zasha and Thane have time for each other. Between the kidnapped kids who need rescuing and the numerous characters required to help defeat the villains responsible, the distractions to their romance are numerous. More quality time before the rescue attempt becomes the prominent focus would have been nice. Even so, the story descriptions are good, there are a couple of scenes that made me chuckle and I enjoyed seeing the Braddock brothers all together. 

Now to Zasha and Thane. I really enjoyed Thane and I feel his personality is more developed than Zasha. I certainly like him more. He’s a warmer individual, while Zasha is just a tad too self-contained and aloof. That means there’s lots of angst as they try to work out their issues, but it also allows the opportunity to throw in a few twists and turns to grab your attention. It’s really a bit of an emotional rollercoaster with these two and what’s going on all around them. With the new characters added, I don’t have a clue who will be featured next but I look forward to the next release to see where the storyline goes next.

Roughed Up

Title: Roughed Up
Author: Hank Edwards
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher URL: www.loose-id.com
ISBN: 978-1-62300-283-1
Genre: {M/M} Suspense Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

Vacationing on the beaches of Barbados Island does not impede Mark Beecher’s curiosity. However, Mark’s curiosity is the source of his being kidnapped and his lover, FBI Special Agent Aaron Pearce rushing to Mark’s rescue, along with capturing a sex slavery ring.

Roughed Up is the third book in the Up to Trouble series. Mark and Pearce first met in Holed Up when Pearce is assigned to protect Mark Beecher, who was a witness to an attempted terrorist attack in Detroit. The time they spent together evolved into Mark and Pearce becoming lovers. Shacked Up features Mark who is a chef, moves into Pearce’s Washington, DC apartment, as well as getting a job catering prestigious parties. The catering company’s criminal activities lead to Mark’s unemployment and Pearce’s suspension. Pearce, who has never been in an actual relationship, is still learning to take into account Mark’s feelings before making judgmental statements. Mark worries Pearce will end their relationship. Drugged and held hostage for two days, Mark has more reasons than ever to be anxious about the endurance of their commitment. 

Hank Edwards’ Roughed Up features the dangers of traveling outside of the United States.  For example the laws of Barbados prohibit public displays of homosexuality. Slavery investigations are not fully enforced unless a possible worldwide embarrassment is likely to occur.  Roughed Up is an intriguing consciousness saga that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Until Forever Comes

Author: Cardeno C.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62380-666-8
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Ethan Abbatt is considered the weakest member of his pack because he can’t shift. His life is filled with pain and ridicule and he’s tired of it. His extreme answer—death by vampire—doesn’t go as expected. Instead he ends up wounded, almost drained of blood, but finds he’s attracted to the vampire leader, Miguel. When he wakes up the next morning with paws, Ethan knows his life has changed forever.

At more than four hundred years old, Miguel Rodriguez is a strong and powerful vampire and he lost his humanity centuries ago.  Until his chance meeting with Ethan and his insistence that they’re true mates, Miguel’s feelings have laid dormant but the young shifter is hard to resist.  Being together is out of the ordinary but for the two of them, it’s meant to be. The question is whether they can survive the problems trying to keep them apart.

Until Forever Comes is the second release in the Mates series by Cardeno C. and it’s actually a prequel to Wake Me Up Inside.  After meeting Ethan and Miguel in the first book I wanted to know more about them, so I was happy they were the focus of this new release.

It’s a fun and entertaining book with a steady pace, a surprising amount of tenderness, considering Miguel’s bad-ass attitude at the beginning, and some vivid world building. Both Miguel and Ethan have well developed personalities and they blend together nicely as a couple—and their chemistry—it’s sizzling. There are several seamlessly placed secondary characters but I enjoyed Ethan’s sweet sister, Crissy, the most. That’s not to say a number of those other characters don’t supply some needed action and danger—so watch out for troublemakers.

When I finished Ethan and Miguel’s story, I had to immediately re-read Wake Me Up Inside again. And I enjoyed it just as much the second time as I did the first. I hope you enjoy this paranormal romance as much as I did and I look forward to the next one. 

Paid Leave

Title: Paid Leave
Author: Haley B. James
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62380-479-4
Genre: {M/M}, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Benji is a member of the Albuquerque Police Department.  When he took the job, he did so knowing that he would have to stay deep in the closet.  When Benji is involved in a shooting, he is forced on leave and starts going stir crazy.  What he does not expect is to find someone like Neal, who is so comfortable in his own skin that Benji can’t help but be drawn to the other man.

Paid Leave by author Haley B. James is an interesting story centered on a young in-the-closet police officer.  I could not help thinking of the TNT show Southland while I was reading this story, and, in some ways Benji reminded me of John Cooper, one of the show’s cops.  While Benji is not as jaded as his television counterpart, his struggle to stay in the closet had a familiar ring to it.  Benji’s fears of being outed are understandable, given the way some in the police force continue to feel about homosexuality.  Given his fears, I could not believe that he started a relationship, regardless of the fact that it is only based on lust, with a reporter.  Every time Charles showed up at Benji’s place, I wanted to smack him and was so glad when Benji finally came to his senses.

Neal, on the other hand, is the perfect man for Benji.  He’s the owner of a small coffee shop and comfortable with who he is.  When the men are together, the chemistry between them really shines.  The author does a great job showing how these two feel about each other.  I loved the way in which Neal slowly brings Benji out into the world.  The fact that Benji is still in the closet puts a strain on the men’s relationship, but Benji is also feeling stress from his job.

Between the bad press the Police Dept. is currently facing, his involvement in an on-the-job shooting and his co-workers finding out he is gay, Benji has a lot on his plate.  The way in which the author chooses to settle each of these conflicts and the way in which they affect both Neal and Benji, come across realistically. 

Paid Leave is a well written story that slowly brings the readers into Benji’s life and allows them to see how meeting the right person helps him become a stronger person.  The personal and professional conflicts the men face help strengthen their relationship.  This is a story that will find its way to many keeper piles.  Fans of the M/M genre should really give it a try. 

Intimate Knowledge

Author:  Elizabeth Lapthorne
Publisher:  Total-E-Bound
Publisher URL:  www.total-e-bound.com
ISBN/BIN:  978-1-78184-268-3
Genre:  {M/F}, Mystery, Series
Rating:  4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

When she returns from a camping trip and getting accosted in her apartment, Jennifer calls on Saul to help her.  Saul has always loved Jennifer, but never acted on the fact since he never wanted his life at The Agency to touch her. That changes with one phone call.

The fifth installment of The Agency series starts a new mystery for the various agents.  Intimate Knowledge introduces the mystery, but mostly revolves around Jennifer’s and Saul’s relationship and the new facts that they learn about each other.   

I had to laugh as I read this book, as it seemed like the head of one section had to ask questions to find out why agents were tripping over each other without warning.  It reminded me of some of the recent news stories about various agencies not sharing information with each other.  I’m sure there will be some ramifications from this in the future.

The relationship between Jennifer and Saul is intense and also stems from the very long friendship they have.  Both have been unwilling to be the first to cross the boundary into a romantic relationship until Jennifer is threatened.  The chemistry between them is very intense and they have a hard time staying focused on staying out of harm’s way.

More information regarding some items will be forthcoming in future installments in this series, and I am looking forward to reading the next book.  To get the most out of this series, readers should read all of them in order.

Revenge

Title: Revenge
Author: Bailey Bradford
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing
Publisher URL: www.total-e-bound.com
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-78184-342-0
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

The shifter world is dangerous, which Ryder Johansen finds out when he’s kidnapped and turned against his will. It’s a situation that gives him the chance to makes changes in his life and become a man worthy of being trusted. And considering his past—that’s a big change.

Maarten Visser doesn’t know what to do with himself. When his brother returned and resumed his position as Alpha, he didn’t have anything to do. Maarten’s hoping that getting away from his pack and going on a diplomatic mission to the Alpha Anax of North America will help him move on with his life.

What neither man expects is for Marcus and Nathan’s pack to be under attack. The culprit is unknown but deadly. The reason is unknown but the collateral damage to the pack is widespread.  What is certain is that Marcus is the target and if everyone doesn’t work together, they could all end up dead.

Revenge is the newest release in Bailey Bradford’s Southwestern Shifters series. I recommend the books be read in order so you’ll understand the ongoing plotline and relationships.

I wondered how the author planned to get the series back to America and having Maarten go on a diplomatic mission for his brother is the perfect answer. He’s an interesting guy but I wish his personality was better developed.  I feel like I have a better feel for Ryder and what makes him tick. I like these two guys and on the surface, they make an odd pairing but as far as mates go, it still works—it’s the two halves make a whole. It’s unfortunate their relationship is short-changed. By this I mean the overbalance of the plot. Nathan, Marcus and the attack on the pack really overshadow them. I’m hoping we’ll see a book more focused on Ryder and Maarten in the future and a more developed relationship at that time. 

Marcus and Nathan are desperate to determine who’s attacking their pack, so they have a very strong role in the book. It also means the plot’s filled with danger, pain and fighting as they and everyone else try to survive. Ryder and Maarten get pulled back into the midst of what’s going on so watch for what happens (spoiler alert). It also means there are plenty of emotions, so be ready for the grief and angst of some of these scenes. Overall there’s a satisfying ending and I look forward to the next book.