Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ironhearted

Title: Ironhearted
Author:  Cate Ashwood
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62798-290-0
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Haydn Prescott likes being alone. At least that’s what he tells himself each time one of his friends falls in love. He says a one night hook-up with a hot new guy without any complications the next morning is perfect for him. Then he meets Trevor Ryan, who rocks Haydn’s world with a connection he’s never felt before.

As expected, the next morning Trevor’s gone and Haydn doesn’t expect to see him again. Months later Haydn gets a big surprise when he finds Trevor standing in his bakery in Hope Cove. The shock is the little girl and attractive woman standing with him making Haydn furious—until he learns the truth. As their relationship deepens, Haydn’s confused and uncertain at what to do. Does he give in to his feelings for Trevor or stick with his plan—be alone forever?

Ironhearted is the latest release in Cate Ashwood’s Hope Cove series. The characters are linked, so the three books should be read in order. I’ve heard it’s only a trilogy but I’m uncertain if this is accurate.

I’ve enjoyed Haydn from the beginning. He’s sassy and fun and I’m so glad he got his story before this series came to an end. What I thought was so different about Haydn in this book was seeing the changes in him—how getting into a relationship with Trevor not only scared him but made him grow. Some readers might complain that he wasn’t as flamboyant as in previous books and I agree, but I always felt that some of it was like a shield he used to keep people from getting too close. With Trevor he didn’t need that. I might be reading more into what the author intended with his personality growth but I thought it was a pretty creative way to handle it if I’m right.

Trevor’s a pretty interesting guy with a nicely constructed background. He’s the ideal counterpart to Haydn. Adding in an adorable, scene-stealing child made him perfect for the skittish baker. There’s not much in the way of angst outside their relationship—just Haydn trying to freak out and then attempting to figure out what he wants out of life. It’s really realistic—I mean Haydn’s fear and Trevor’s understanding—both are nicely done. The story has nice descriptions, a good flow and I enjoyed the returning characters. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sinful Resurrection

Title:   Sinful Resurrection
Author:  Kennedy Layne
Publisher:  Kennedy Layne Publications (Barnes & Noble)
Publisher URL:  www.kennedylayne.com
ISBN/BIN:  2940148851233
Genre:  {M/F}, BDSM, Series
Rating:  5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Jax helped the love of his life fake her death but suddenly she is in CSAs offices needing help to stay alive.  Emily used those two years to gather evidence so she could return to Jax and have a normal life.

Sinful Resurrection, the second book in the Crest Security Agency series, brings an NSA agent back from the dead.  I thought this story was timely considering the headlines and discussions in the news regarding the NSA. The author did some research regarding the United Nations and the NSA, along with several points regarding both and this book involves the United Nations itself.  The author did a great job keeping my interest in this intriguing story.

There were several people involved with both bodies that I just wanted to slap.  Ryland was a great character and it looks like he is going to make an appearance in at least one book in the future.

Jax had a lot of trust issues when it came to Emily.  Because of her job, she had lied to him, but also ended up falling in love with Jax.  This was a major issue they had to work out.  Jax also had issues with Emily not being forthcoming about her real job, but he finally makes peace with it.  Once they worked through their issues, the chemistry between them went through the roof.  The scenes Jax came up with are hot.  There were quite a few references to ‘safe, sane and consensual’ regarding BDSM.

The rest of the team from CSA made their appearances as things progressed.  I loved the fact that Connor turned the tables on Jax regarding his relationship with Emily.  There are a few issues that are sure to appear in future books regarding individual characters of the team at CSA. 

This series should be read in order.  I know I will be reading this book again.

The Pack or the Panther

Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62798-437-9
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Paranormal Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

As the eldest son of the pack alpha, Cole Harker is considered the heir. He’s big and powerful, but doesn’t like being the center of attention. He’s also gay, something his parents want to forget so they can make a marital alliance with Analiese, the daughter of another important pack alpha. Except neither Cole nor Analiese want to marry each other.

Cole meets Analiese’s half-panther brother, Paris, and the two men are immediately attracted, but before their wedding takes place Analiese runs off with her human boyfriend. Nothing’s going as planned, and then Paris is kidnapped by the very gangster the two packs were trying to make an alliance against. Cole is furious and determined to get his panther back, and he’s willing to go to war to do it.

The Pack or the Panther is the first release in the new M/M paranormal series, Tales of the Harker Pack by Tara Lain. It’s a fun and entertaining read that kept me turning pages until the end and it’s a good foundation for further books.

I mean really, how could I not like Cole. He’s a big strong alpha who gets sweaty and nervous when he has to speak in front of a crowd, but when someone he loves gets threatened—watch out. Paris’ personality is equally well developed—he’s just not as easy to like and it took me a while to warm up to him. They do work well as a couple.

There’s lots of good descriptions and dialogue—some of it pretty amusing, realistic danger, irritating parents, sizzling attraction and smooth plot flow. Yes, I wasn’t certain about Paris at first but as I learned more about him, his actions made sense. Ms. Lain managed to surprise me several times, and I found the cat vs. wolf (dog) of their relationship funny.

I checked Ms. Lain’s website and discovered the sequel, Wolf in Gucci Loafers, is supposed to be released in April. Look for it—I will be.

Saved by Venom

Title:  Saved by Venom
Author:  Lolita Lopez
Publisher:  Ellora’s Cave
Publisher URL:  www.jasminejade.com
ISBN/BIN:   9781419948046
Genre:  {M/F}, BDSM, Sci-Fi, Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Dizzy is under the impression her father is selling her to a loan shark, so she trades her lottery number so she can be grabbed.  Venom gets caught in a trap while running and realizes he is going to lose the chance to have a mate.  Dizzy goes to help him, knowing he will probably claim her. 

The third installment in the Grabbed series, Saved by Venom, shows the war intensifying, but also brings a twist in Dizzy’s life that throws even the Harcos a surprise. Because of it, Venom’s mating and its validity is constantly up in the air.  More about the Harcos culture is learned, especially about how women are thought of.

Most of the secondary characters from the previous books are here, but there are a few additions along with the surprises.  Everybody is taken by surprise by who Dizzy’s father really is.  Fences have been mended a little between friends, but the sense of treachery is magnified again.

I loved Dizzy and what she overcame and how she stood up for herself despite her circumstances.  I loved that she defended Venom and refused to allow any doubt about her commitment to him by anyone.  The two had some great chemistry between them. 

When Saved by Venom ends, there are two potential scenarios between some of the warriors to be explored in future books.  I’m hoping I guessed right about the pairings, but the author has continually surprised me.  This series needs to be read in order.

Perfect Catch

Author: Sierra Dean
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-61922-062-1
Genre: {M/F} Contemporary Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx
Release Date: 03-11-2014

Alice Darling loves baseball so much that she’s become a minor league umpire. She knows what it’s like to get involved with a handsome, fast-talking ballplayer because, as a nineteen year-old, that’s exactly what happened. It can’t occur again. Now she has a nine year-old daughter and a brother to take care of and can’t afford to let her emotions put her job at risk. No more baseball players. Ever.  

When Alex arrives in Florida for the pre-season, the San Francisco Felons player doesn’t expect anything special. He meets Alice when she stops to help him with a flat tire, and he’s smitten. Learning of her refusal to get involved with ballplayers doesn’t matter—his pursuit of her is on. Getting involved puts them both in jeopardy. When they’re seen kissing, Alice gets fired and when he leaves for the regular season, being apart wrecks Alex’s concentration. Can they find a way to make their relationship work?

Perfect Catch is the second release in Sierra Dean’s Boys of Summer series. While reading them in order would be nice, it can easily be a standalone.

Strangely enough I’m not a baseball fan but one of my guilty reading pleasures is baseball romances and this new, fun and entertaining book hit the spot for me. Really, that’s true for both releases in this well written series, because I enjoyed them both. The plot of Perfect Catch is well thought-out, has a smooth flow without any of those annoying lags in the middle and the personalities of Alice and Alex are nicely developed. I appreciate the explanation of Alice’s dating reluctance and all the emotions and professional ramifications that go with it. Very nicely done. Then there’s Alex. I like him and his perseverance in the face of Alice’s attitude and occasional anger.  And I can’t forget the secondary characters. There’s Alice’s cute daughter (can you say scene stealer) and troubled brother, and even her jerk ex to round out the plot and add interest and depth. 

I have no idea who’ll be the focus of the next one, but I can’t wait.

Cliff

Title: Cliff
Author: Bailey Bradford
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Publisher URL: www.totallybound.com
ISBN: 9781781849279
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

Beat up and shot, Cliff’s ability to heal had been thwarted by a nasty infection. But the weird dreams and a voice in his head announced that help was coming, giving Cliff the strength to hang on. The mind-speak voice belonged to a shaman, who just happens to be Cliff’s mate.

Cliff is book twelve in the Leopard's Spots series. Cliff has been the mystery man throughout the series. A dangerous, snarky, unique shifter with shaman powers, though Cliff’s powers are not as strong as his mate’s. Cliff is on a mission guided by the fates to destroy those who would expose the shifters’ existence to humans, as well as rescue the victims of this fanatical in vitro scheme.

Cliff’s mate is a powerful wolf shifter shaman from Texas, well known for his healing powers. His personality is the opposite of Cliff’s snarly attitude. The shaman has the ability to calm anyone in his presence, especially Cliff. On the other hand, like Cliff, the shaman has no problem destroying evil doers.

Bailey Bradford has created an outstanding addition to this series. Cliff features plenty of intense action, revelations, humorous dialog as well as a few scorching intimacy scenes. Cliff and his mate are a dynamic team that inspires a reader to cheer out loud. I enjoyed Cliff immensely. 

Advisory: This series is best read in sequence.

Caught by Menace

Author:  Lolita Lopez
Publisher:  Ellora’s Cave
Publisher URL:  www.jasminejade.com
ISBN/BIN:  9781419944383
Genre:  {M/F}, BDSM, Sci-Fi, Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Naya gets herself into the Grab to help her friend make it to the safe zone. Naya tackles Menace to keep him from her and Menace collars her as his prize because he will not go empty-handed.  Naya’s past is going to cause problems for Menace, but could also kill her.

Caught by Menace, the second story in the Grabbed series, is a very intense and emotional story that puts two people in the middle of a war. Naya has always been betrayed by those she loves and expects Menace to do the same, once he knows all about her past.  Before she has time to explain everything to him, she is arrested by Terror.

Loyalties and friendship are tested in this story, due to Naya’s past, that causes division among friends.  Though I really liked Terror in Grabbed by Vicious, I really hate him in this story.  Although I understand why he does what he does, he takes a risk with Naya that results in tragedy, but Menace’s friends do their best to support him.

The chemistry and relationship between Naya and Menace is great and the sex between them will burn the pages up.  There are quite a few misconceptions on Naya’s part about Harcos men and Menace is appalled by the way Naya grew up, however, they learn to trust each other as they learn about each other’s culture.

This series needs to be read in order, as more about the Harcos culture and war is revealed in each story.  Readers learn more about the various personalities of the men in Caught by Menace and I am looking forward to reading about each man finding his mate. 

The Guy from Glamour

Author: Skylar M. Cates
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62798-365-5
Genre: {M/M}, Contemporary, Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Dean’s childhood was as far from normal as you could get.  The only bright spot in his life is his sister but when the chance to leave Arizona came, he jumped on it.  Now a member of the elite Night Stalkers, Dean is used to being on his own, relying on his fellow Night Stalkers to watch his back and if he’s lucky, he can find a few minutes peace with another likeminded man every now and then.  To say Dean is shocked when his sister dies and he has to care for his young niece is an understatement, but with the help of Tony, Dean soon learns there’s more to life than the military.

The Guy from Glamour is the newest story by author Skylar M. Cates, and is the first book in the A Work in the Guy series.  I have not read any books by this author and was curious to see what I would find.  I found the story and the characters to be strongly written.  Right away I was pulled in by Dean.  Having known many military men, I found Dean, and the way he carries himself, to be very believable.  It was also easy to understand his confusion regarding the care of his niece.  Then there is Tony.  Tony is an Arizona boy who loves his small town.  He also has bad taste in men, so when his current boyfriend cheats on him, he has no problem running home to re-start his life.  The fact that he grew up in Glamour makes it easy for him to do his job as the guidance counselor at the junior high school without worry. 

There is an attraction between these two men, but the fact that Dean is deep in the closet, and Tony is unable to figure out whether the other man is gay or not, means the road to a relationship is rocky.  Then there is the fact that Dean, while secure in his role as a Night Stalker, is struggling in his role as an uncle, and later, boyfriend. 

The Guy from Glamour, while slightly angst driven also has its lighter moments thanks to the many secondary characters.  Mostly peppered with Tony’s relatives, the secondary characters lend Dean and Tony a hand more than once and not always when asked either.  The closeness of the family cannot be denied though and they all make the story believable.  

The Guy from Glamour was a great read and I cannot wait to see what else the author plans on bringing out in this series.