Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Alpha's Revenge

Author: Shane Keleher 
Publisher: Amber Allure
ISBN: 13: 978-1-61124-550-9
Genre: {M/M} Werewolves
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

Justin Crane is enjoying his rare night out on the town with his friends. Then, two events change Justin’s life evermore. First Justin meets the unforgettable Parker, followed by Justin and Parker being attacked in a dark alley by a werewolf.

The Alpha's Revenge is an action-packed suspenseful story, intermingled with a budding sexy romance. The setting is Toronto, Canada. The characters are fascinating.

Justin is beginning a career as a junior lawyer. He works long hours with very little time to socialize. Justin has high ethical standards; he analyzes situations before he acts. Justin is not easily influenced by someone else’s judgment but he will pay attention to reasonable demands. After being bitten by the crazed Alpha werewolf, all of Justin’s focus is on learning to control the animal urges.

Parker is a compassionate man who has done everything within his power to distance himself from his family. He moved to the city and is currently a civil engineering student. Nevertheless, Parker’s two uninvited older brothers have taken advantage of Parker’s apartment, using it as a city base for their werewolf hunting. Parker feels guilty regarding Justin’s circumstances. He tries to help Justin without involving his merciless brothers.

Shane Keleher has created an impressive as well as an enjoyable saga. Though their lives are in chaos, Justin and Parker still manage to explore the obvious attraction between them by engaging in some incredibly steamy intimacy scenes.

The Marshal’s Woman

Author:  Patricia Pellicane
Publisher:   Resplendence 
ISBN/BIN:  978-1-60735-707-0
Genre:  {M/F}, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Liz’s car breaks down, then she lands in the middle of a drug sting.  Greg saves her life and is immediately attracted to her.  Trying to start a relationship in the middle of finding drug dealers and protecting Liz keeps both off kilter.

The Marshal’s Woman was a fast read that throws readers right into the middle of a life and death struggle.  Besides being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Liz is mistaken for someone else.  Several ugly truths are also uncovered in the law enforcement arena.

Both Liz and Greg act on their attraction, but Liz wants to slow things down, even as Greg is ready to forge ahead to make things permanent.  The chemistry between the two was hot and most of this story revolves around Liz and Greg.  I wasn’t too happy with the way things unfolded so quickly.  Because of Greg’s job, how quickly their relationship developed almost seemed unrealistic, especially due to the circumstances.  Several other situations in the story are very realistic however.  

The author did some research regarding both the law enforcement side and the drug dealers to get those bits right.  Readers can expect lots of action in this story.

Nights of Electric Blue

Author: Amber Redd
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62798-551-2
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 3 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs reviewer: Dragon Minx

James Oberon and his construction crew’s latest remodeling job is in the town of Stone Trail. The trip up the mountain is difficult, starting with Reggie, the co-worker, who doesn’t know how to take no, for an answer. Then they arrive in town and strange things begin to happen—and the people are just—odd.

The conflict between James and Reggie gets worse with his interest in Aaron, the local Italian restaurateur. And what’s with the strange animals seen outside the motel and what’s causing damage to the various things? Then James learns the town’s long held secret—werewolves are real. The danger escalates further when he becomes the target of a rogue. Can he and Aaron survive? Can they make a life together?

Nights of Electric Blue is the new release in Amber Redd’s Stone Trail series. Please note it can be read as a standalone.

If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you know I’m a big fan of shifter books, but this one left me feeling a little confused and unbalanced. James seems like a nice guy—likable, professional and a good boss and friend. The man isn’t stupid but when all the weird stuff starts, it’s like he’s in a brain fog. Werewolves? Really? He doesn’t know what going on and he doesn’t get upset or run for the hills? Aaron has an interesting family history, but his wishy-washy attitude about providing information to James drove me nuts. These two guys make a nice couple but getting them together during this strange time isn’t easy. My niggle—they are at cross purposes for some of the time.

There are several good secondary characters. The friends James brought with him (not Reggie) are just an example. There is plenty of drama and suspense, periods of danger and bits of information about the werewolves that live around the town that I found interesting. The flow is pretty smooth, the details are vivid and I was happy with the ending. My other niggle. It’s the villain. He’s obvious from the beginning. Yes, there were some surprises with his details, but the identity—not so much.

Beautiful Mistake

Author:  Nancy Corrigan
Publisher:  Ellora’s Cave
Publisher URL:  www.jasminejade.com
ISBN/BIN:  9781419948015
Genre:  {M/F}, Paranormal, Shape-shifter, Series
Rating:  4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Lena is mistaken for a woman who was going to hand over her adopted sister as a mate for some desperate lions.  Devin accidentally gives her a mortal wound and ends up saving her life by partially mating her.  Will they overcome the misunderstandings to find happiness together?

Beautiful Mistake is the second book in the Royal Pride series.  We find out that there may be some in the Council that are helping the traffickers under the guise of selling shifter girls as mates.  Devin, his brothers and others are trying to find Megan’s sister, who just happens to be Lena’s adopted sister.

Lena has some issues about being wanted for herself and ends up having to face some hard truths about herself.  Devin finds that Lena soothes him and he goes about trying to convince Lena to finish mating him.  The obstacles the author throws in kept me guessing until the end, though I would never have guessed how she would resolve this issue.

Several secondary characters from the first book make an appearance, but new ones show up that help the suspense factor go up.  Several issues regarding the council are revealed that are going to cause problems in the future.  The author does a good job keeping the reader guessing about who might show up in the next book. 

Readers need to read this series in order to know what is going on.  I am looking forward to seeing where the author goes as the series unfolds.

Secure Target

Author: Rebecca Crowley
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-61921-923-6
Genre: {M/F} Contemporary Series
Rating: Recommended Read
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Bronnik Mason is a hostage rescue operative with the South African government.  He and his partner have been trailing a serial killer for a year, even getting stabbed in their last encounter. Bronnik’s determined there won’t be a fifth victim but doesn’t realize how Lacey Cross in Kansas will engage his emotions as never before and change his life.

Lacey is nothing like her troublemaking brothers. She’s stable, responsible, quiet and has a boring receptionist job. When Bronnik and his partner accompany a local policeman into the dental office where she works with the news that a serial killer is after her, Lacey thinks its nuts. But it’s true. Bronnik’s promise to keep her safe is difficult to accomplish with his emotions getting in the way and with a determined killer on their trail.

Secure Target is the first release in the new Elite Operators series by Rebecca Crowley.  It’s a well written and entertaining romance filled with breathtaking, action-packed moments that propel you from one page to the next. It’s attention grabbing. The author kept me on the edge of my seat with her suspense-filled plot and richly developed characters. I love the vivid descriptions of the various locales as the story moves from the near blizzard conditions of Kansas to the heat of Cape Town. All the details really give the story a great background, but it’s the intense growing relationship between Lacey and Bronnik as they try to stay ahead of the serial killer that makes the story come alive.

These two characters have a sizzling chemistry from the moment they meet and it’s a juggling act to keep their attraction from getting in the way of keeping Lacey safe. Ms. Crowley did a nice job tackling this issue and made the physical part of their relationship work without making Bronnik appear irresponsible. That’s where his partner is so crucial. He’s a great secondary character and friend, helping Bronnik keep his head on straight and fleshing out the law enforcement role. So, as you can see, I really enjoyed this one and didn’t have any major complaints at the end. 

There’s so much going for this story that I don’t know how Ms. Crowley’s going to equal or top the following books in this new series. Secure Target is going to be a tough act to follow and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Watch for it. 

Apple Wine

Title: Apple Wine
Author: West Thornhill
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Publisher URL: www.totallybound.com
ISBN: 9781781849644
Genre: {M/M/M/M/M/M} Fantasy Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

Xeno is now part of a loving relationship.  Except, instead of one special someone in his life, Xeno has five. Unfortunately, Xeno’s over protective family does not share in his happiness. It is time for long kept family secrets to be revealed.

West Thornhill’s Apple Wine is the second book in the Delectable Vines series.
The plot is a fantasy set in Virginia. The theme is groups of Fae clans hiding amongst the humans. Greed and power are the main elements featured.  Moving in with the five owners of Delectable Vines, Xeno is still not aware of his lovers’ true heritage or of his own heritage. The longstanding secrets were originated to provide protection plus balance for both the Fae as well as the humans. Xeno is destined to bond with the five Danaan guardians; he is the one to complete the Sextet along with strengthen them. 

Apple Wine is an absorbing saga I found enjoyable. I look forward to the implied wicked actions of the perpetrator to commence hopefully coming in the next installment.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Accepting the Alpha

Author: JJ Black
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Publisher URL: www.totallybound.com
ISBN: 978-1-78184-944-6
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Conflicts with his father caused Eli Steele to leave his pack, so he needs another. His best friend Jai invites him to Grand Rapids and makes arrangements for Eli to meet with Kellan Reeves, the Alpha. Eli has no idea how the meeting will change his life forever.

After giving up the idea of finding his true mate, Kellan’s gone from one bedmate to another. When Jai brings Eli before him seeking admittance into his pack, Kellan knows he’s finally found his destined mate. Life couldn’t be better—except for a few problems. His now former lover is furious, Eli says he isn’t gay, and his former pack is crazy and dangerous. While Eli deals with his feelings for Kellan, they must respond to a call for help from Eli’s brother Noah. It brings more danger and treachery into their midst than either imagined, forcing them to confront Eli’s past and the future of all shifters. Will they prevail?

Accepting the Alpha is the first release in the new paranormal series Great Lakes Wolves by JJ Black. This author is new to me—in fact, I think this may be a first publication for Ms. Black.

I’m a sucker for werewolf novels and the blurb for this new series certainly piqued my interest. The fact Eli wasn’t gay should have been a problem but the author dealt with it early on. Yes, his willingness to accept his new feelings for another man happens quickly (as is often the case) but after all, we’re dealing with an instinct-driven werewolf that operates differently, so it actually works for me.

One of the best things about his new relationships is that Eli’s stubborn and stands up to his new mate. He’s a beta and not a doormat and it’s a trait Kellan has trouble with. That’s just one example of these characters personality development. I do wish I could know more about Kellan’s history because I feel I know Eli better. But still the author makes them into a believable couple and manages to do it during a time filled with danger, anger and betrayal. Not the ideal circumstance for being a newly mated pair.

There are several questions left unanswered at the end of the story but I assume those dangling threads are part of the ongoing plot line. I certainly want to know more about Eli’s crazy father, who we haven’t met yet, but I wish his scheme was a little more unique. Jai and Dylan are great secondary characters and good friends to Kellan and Eli. Their story should be interesting. 

Retribution

Title: Retribution
Author: Mychael Black
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-61922-084-3
Genre: {M/M} Fantasy Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx

Release date 4-22-14

The love/hate attraction between General Kalen’s captain Jéan Bastien and Kalen’s half-brother Braen has come to a temporary truce, for the sake of the war. Braen has other worries that plague him, besides the thoughts of Jéan Bastien. The whole of Socendor is hanging in the balance, as well as Braen’s kingdom.

Retribution is the third book in the Secrets of Socendor series. This installment has a battle plot detailing the destruction war leaves behind. The characters are believable. Braen is a mixed breed loathed by the other residents of Socendor.  He is suffering from guilt, along with inner turmoil. Jéan is even more confused than Braen.  Jéan cannot understand his attraction to another man since he has never been the least bit interesting in men before. 

Mychael Black has created a fantastic action episode that I thoroughly enjoyed. The main focus of Retribution is stopping the enemy, though there are moments of intimacy between the lovers.   

The Satyr’s Song

Author: A.J. Marcus
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62798-040-1
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Concert flutist Adrian Mylonas lost his job with the Dallas Symphony after angering the conductor. Needing a job, he joins his friend at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival and ends up as a pipe-playing satyr. While playing his pipes, Adrian spies a hunky guy unloading a large elephant and for the first n ages, a spark of interest races thorough him.

Ed Costa notices the gorgeous satyr but taking care of his son Eddy, the elephants and other family responsibilities takes most of his time. That means Ed’s lonely. He needs a special man in his life. It can’t be just any man but someone Eddy and the elephants like. Adrian and his beautiful music is the perfect answer to fill the hole in his heart and his life. Can two men from such vastly different worlds make a life together?

The Satyr’s Song is the second release in the Ren Faire Romances series by AJ Marcus. While reading them in order would familiarize you with the ‘faire’ world, it’s possible to enjoy this as a standalone.

The idea of the Renaissance Festival setting is what drew me to the series initially. It’s unique, creative, and full of colorful secondary characters and vivid descriptions that make the story come alive. This addition to the series is no different. The Satyr’s Song is a fun and entertaining read and mixing a concert flutist and elephant trainer is nothing short of brave and daring. I mean really. Can you think of two more different lifestyles? I admit it. I didn’t think the author could convincingly get these two together. But call me shocked. It happened. The author even wove in a cute five year-old and two great elephants—Mama Cara and her little baby Ciro. There are even lots of interesting facts about music and how to care for and live with elephants—and it all works.

I enjoyed Adrian and Ed. They’re great characters with nicely developed histories and personalities. I like them and how they interact with each other and Eddy and I appreciate that their relationship is allowed to develop at a believable pace. I also enjoyed getting to know the elephants as individuals during this time.

Getting these men together isn’t all smooth sailing, so expect a few surprises along the way. So, if you like reads that include adorable kids, some great animals and a heartwarming love story, then give The Satyr’s Song a try. 

Unexpected Find

Title:  Unexpected Find
Author:  Nancy Corrigan
Publisher:  Ellora’s Cave
Publisher URL:  www.jasminejade.com
ISBN/BIN:  9781419947933
Genre:  {M/F}, Paranormal, Series
Rating:  4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Jazz has been raising two feline shifter boys since her friend asked her to keep them safe after they were born.  Rafe is part of a pride that is hunting for shifter children that have been sold by traffickers.  They must learn to trust each other to keep the children safe within the pride.

Unexpected Find, the first book in the Royal Pride series, introduces shifters that are not the typical ones found in most stories.  One thing is that Royal shifters have three animal forms, in this case –tiger, lion, and jaguar, in one person.  They are also the only shifters that can make a human their mate.  The author has created an interesting shifter society that Jazz and some of her friends have become a part of.

Rafe takes a while to realize Jazz is his ‘one’, but the danger to her and the boys is very real.  The chemistry between the two is intense and some of the scenes are very hot.  They both have a few issues that need to be addressed before they can go forward.

I had to laugh at Rafe’s reaction to one of Jazz’s friends, but the scene with Josh and Devlin was funny, even as it served a purpose within the shifter world.  There were a few members of the Royal family helping out, but some inadvertently caused a few problems for Rafe and Jazz.  The author let readers know up front who the bad guy is, but the suspense woven through to the resolution of the story kept my interest. 

I am looking forward to reading more of the Royal Pride series as there are several issues that need to be resolved.  Based on this story, Unexpected Find, there will be several surprises in the future.

The Archer’s Arrow

Author: A.J. Marcus
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62798-438-6
Genre: {M/M} contemporary Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

During his teenage years Robin Lockwood was an Olympic archer but he gave it up when the pressure got too much. Now he uses his archery skills to run a booth at the Ren Faire, traveling from one festival to another. He likes his life but it changes the day an arrow from his booth almost hits John—another faire worker.

John Aquitaine and his friend Pete have a comedy show at the faire. He’s shocked when a customer at the nearby archery booth almost shoots him with an arrow. The archer apologizes and sparks fly between them, but a childhood trauma haunts John, forcing their relationship to go slowly.  John still has nightmares and when he sees a familiar face in the audience one day, the memories come back and he knows his abuser’s identity.  When John is kidnapped by Uncle Fred once again, can Robin and their friends rescue him in time?

The Archer’s Arrow is the latest release in the Ren Faire Romances series by A.J. Marcus. As the series progresses and more recurring characters are added, I have to recommend the books be read in order.

There’s a lot about this series that I like—the setting and the vivid descriptions of the faire, the colorful secondary characters and the unique plot lines. I’m having more trouble with the couple in this one-John and Robin. It’s not that I don’t like them or can’t even see them as a couple. It’s how they became a ‘couple’ so quickly, considering the trauma John underwent as a child. This guy should have had counseling—he still needs counseling—and it’s never mentioned—a big niggle for me. And while I feel I know John and his background well, I’m struggling with Robin’s on more than a superficial level. Don’t get me wrong, Robin’s written as a kind, thoughtful and caring guy and he’s wonderful to John. I just think, to be realistic, their relationship needed more time. 

Now to other things. It was great seeing characters from the previous two books. They grounded the piece, added depth, friendship and a sense of community and family. External conflict abounds in this story, so look for some twists concerning John’s family.  Then there’s the villain of our story. It’s obvious from the blurb that it’s Uncle Fred, so it’s not a spoiler to say that he’s written well as a man filled with evil—his character is well done—even if he does deserve a knife through the heart. So, despite my niggles, it’s a worthwhile read—a case of good triumphing over evil. I can’t wait to see who will be featured next and will be watching for the next one.

Catting Around

Author: Charlie Richards
Publisher: eXtasy Books
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-77111-793-7
Genre: {M/M}, Paranormal, Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

For someone so young, Chip has had a rough time.  Adopted as a child, Chip thought he finally had a family of his own, yet when he unexpectedly shifts, his human parents freak and Chip finds himself on his own once again.  To make things even worse, while living in his shifter form, Chip is captured by the scientists who have been using shifters for experiments.  Thankfully Kontra and his men step in and save him, and many others, leaving Chip once again hoping for a normal life.

Catting Around is the sixteenth book in Ms. Richards’ Kontra’s Menagerie series.  This story centers on a recent rescue from one of the previous books.  Chip had a hard time before being captured; now he has even more to overcome.  Having never been taught the ways of shifters, Chip is clueless and I like that the author did not downplay this problem, especially once Chip meets his mate. 

Grimes is a lion shifter and a member of the Perrin’s pride.  He has wanted a mate and has just about reached the decision to leave the pride in order to find him.  I liked the way the author introduces the two men.  Chip has no idea what is about to happen and he reacts accordingly.  In turn, the patience and understanding Grimes has with Chip makes him the perfect mate for the younger man. 

With this series, I am always curious which mated pair will end up staying put, and which will end up going on the road with Kontra.  There have been a couple of times where the decision was different from what I thought would be made.  In Catting Around, that was not the case.  Due to some of Chip’s issues, there was only one choice and I am glad that it played out the way it did. 

Catting Around was a fast-paced read that is a wonderful addition to an ongoing series.  While it is possible to read some of the stories in this series on their own, I would not recommend it, as some themes occasionally carry over from one book to the other. 

Edge of Ecstasy

Title:  Edge of Ecstasy
Author:  Elizabeth Lapthorne
Publisher:  Ellora’s Cave
Publisher URL:  www.jasminejade.com
ISBN/BIN:  9781419945700
Genre:  {M/F}, Paranormal, Series
Rating:  4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

There was something strange about Melissa’s friend’s death.  After checking with other friends, she pairs with Daniel to find the killer.  What they find could cost them their lives.

The seventh book in the Urban Seductions series, Edge of Ecstasy, was a little bit different than the previous books in this series as it delved more into the actions of the Tribunal and Assassins.  Both Melissa and Daniel are Assassins that have strict codes of honor and are working together to find the killer, since it is pretty obvious it has to be someone within their world and not a human.

There are layers, such as Assassins, Sharp-shooters, Enforcers, Special Ops, Trackers and Retrievers, with guidelines set by the Tribunal within the world of witches and wizards. The author goes into some detail about the rules for Assassins, as both Daniel and Melissa take steps as lovers then as partners.  

I loved the way the two of them teased each other, as they realized they were meant to be together, as they merged when they made love.  Figuring out how to be partners as Assassins was their biggest problem. The chemistry is obviously hot between them. 

Lots of characters from some of the previous books show up, along with some new ones. I felt bad for Hayden and I would like to see how he manages to cope with what happened.  I had to laugh at Will because he just has that bulldog attitude when it comes to those he likes and works with, and we see more of that in this story.

The way the storylines continue in several books, this series needs to be read in order.  Each story adds to the reader’s knowledge about the relationships of the witches, wizards and humans.