Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Waltz With a Lawman

Author: Brit Blaise
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
ISBN/BIN: 9781419946424
Genre: {M/M}, Western, Historical
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Lee’s grief for his father has taken him to places he never thought he would go.  When the results of his actions cause a young woman to be compromised, he does the only thing he can to set it right.  Now married Lee, his wife, and his in-laws head to Arizona to start over.  Only, along the way, Lee begins to realize that things are not always what they appear to be. 

Waltz With a Lawman is the newest story by author Brit Blaise.  This is a historical romance that pulled me in from the first page.  Right at the beginning you know everything is not what it seems, yet Lee is so overcome with grief that he is unable to see that for himself.  I liked that the young man had others looking out for him, even when he thought it was unnecessary.   Where Lee is young and innocent, Shad is hard and jaded.  The lawman is tough and you can’t help but like him. It’s hard to imagine him having a soft side, yet with Lee he does.  There is an instant connection between the two men yet, because of the time period in which they live, it is not as easy to form a relationship as it is today.  The author does a good job bringing these two men together, while at the same time keeping the story believable. The passion between them is intense and I loved that there was no denying they were starting a relationship and not just scratching an itch.

While the mystery is easy to follow, and even predictable at times, the book still held my interest.   I could not wait to see how the author solved each issue that popped up.  And as for the problem people, I could not wait to see them each get what they had coming.  While there are a couple of things I wish the author would have gone into more detail about, it did not keep me from enjoying this story. 

Waltz With a Lawman is a well written story that historical fans are sure to love.     

Wolfheart

Title: Wolfheart
Author: Dan Cash
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Publisher URL:
ISBN/BIN: 9781622321216
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 3 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

One night Dane’s out with his friend Nick and he’s attacked in an alley by a group of guys who turn into monsters.  He doesn’t know it but his best friend has been keeping a secret. Nick’s a werewolf and Dane’s just gotten sucked into a rivalry he didn’t know existed. Once they’re safe, Nick’s forced to confess the truth and he takes them to safety, pulling Dane further into the shifter world. It also brings Dane into contact with Nick’s pack leader and Alpha, Connor. 

When Connor scents Dane, his wolf demands his mate and fearing his loss, Connor kidnaps Dane. Being lovesick means making some bad decisions and it doesn’t take long to realize Dane is terrified. If Connor wants to win over Dane, he has to convince his mate he isn’t scary or dangerous to him, but a man looking for his other half.

Wolfheart is the first release in the new shifter series, Wolfpack, by Dan Cash. As many know, I’m a big fan of shifter romances and the blurb caught my attention. I had high hopes for it. I enjoyed the beginning. The opening scene with Dane in the club pulled me into the story. It’s full of descriptions and even has a nice amount of Dane’s personal history. The move into the confrontation alley scene is nicely done—it’s smooth and believable—even if Dane is shown to be gullible.  The imagery of Dane first seeing a werewolf transformation is handled well. You can almost see his eyes bulging with fear. The remainder of the scene—once Nick arrives is equally good. So, as you can see, I like this part.

My problem arises with what happens next. Connor’s the Alpha. He’s supposed to be responsible, have restraint and know how to handle different situations. The opening scene at the barn is fine but Connor and Dane’s initial contact turned me off. As Alpha, Connor is supposed to care for his mate, not scare him to death by kidnapping him and throwing him in a trunk. This section turned into one angst-filled interaction after another. Dane went from being kidnapped to thinking he might like Connor to having sex way too fast. There just wasn’t any plot here. Just Connor trying to seduce Dane and convince him to accept the mating, we didn’t get to learn much about Connor either. 

The pace picks up again in the last 1/3, showing Connor and Dane’s interaction with the rest of the pack, but it’s more of everyday life and getting to know each other than anything else. No outside conflict, but it’s what saved the story for me and kept me from giving it a lower rating. If the author releases another book in the series, I’ll consider giving it a try, just to see if the world building in Wolfheart led to a richer, deeper second book.

Moon Dances

Title: Moon Dances
Author: KC Kendricks
Publisher: Amber Allure
Publisher URL: www.amberquill.com
ISBN: 978-1-61124-580-6
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx

Lieutenant Fallon Roxbury is more than ready for a vacation after capturing a sinister murder suspect. The perfect place to vacation with his lover Sundown is Fallon’s former family home, Lake Luna. However, their vacation turns into another mystery, this time involving Fallon’s youth.

Moon Dances is the fourth book in the Sundown series. This is an intriguing romantic mystery series. The characters are creditable. Fallon is a Special Police Consultant, working cold cases along with his partner Juny. Also key in solving the murder cases is Fallon’s alien lover Sundown, who has the ability to shape shift.

In this episode, Fallon learns more about the alien clan Chal. Particularly how they procreate as well as the unique talents the Chal have. Sundown is a rare breed amongst the Chal, so it is the duty of the other members to protect Sundown. As Sundown’s chosen one, it is Fallon’s duty to not only protect Sundown but to keep the Chal a secret from the rest of the world. Fallon and Sundown are well matched with similar personalities. Because of the bond they share, Fallon and Sundown also work well together solving crimes.

KC Kendricks’ Moon Dances is a fascinating as well as a very enjoyable installment to the series, which is best read in sequence. I will not divulge Fallon’s discoveries; I will leave that for the readers. However, besides the revealed secrecies, there are delightful intimacy scenes and moments of humor integrated into the storyline.

Kit’s Return

Author: Stephani Hecht
Publisher: eXtasy Books
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-77111-901-6
Genre: {M/M}, Paranormal, Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Kit is responsible for the lives of a small group of lost shifters who have all been kicked out of their families.  With things getting desperate, the young feline shifter jumps at the possibility of help from the Coalition.  With all the changes going on around him, he only hopes Bowie will still be around.

Kit’s Return is the newest release in the The Lost Shifters series.  This newest book brings a small group of shifters into the fold, leaving the door open for many new books to follow this one.  The head of this small group is Kit, a tiger shifter, who is trying to hold his “pack” together, a concept that almost takes the series back to its beginnings.  However, the author still keeps this story fresh and fans of the series will not want to miss it. 

One of the ways the author gives this particular book a fresh spin is in the pairing.  Neither Kit nor Bowie is much of an alpha character, which is unusual for this genre.  I liked this switch up and could really see the young men being mates.  The chemistry between them is strong, so they do heat up the pages, but it was the way Bowie cared for Kit that I enjoyed the most.

The story has some wonderful new characters, as well as a few returning favorites.  The returning characters help move the story along as they assist the new couple.  Of course not everything is sunny and when the spiders and scorpions show up, prepare to be grossed out. 

Kit’s Return is sure to find its way onto many favorite bookshelves and, while it can be read as a stand-alone, I would recommend picking up the back stories as well.

Moon Shine

Title: Moon Shine
Author: Vivian Arend
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-61922-249-6
Genre: {M/F} Paranormal Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx
Release Date 05-27-2014

Evan Stone’s the Alpha of the Takhini Wolves and he thinks life is pretty good until the day his apartment electricity shuts off and the pack hotel loses power. Then when he tries to figure out what’s going on, the sprinklers go off, the police burst in and he gets arrested.

Vengeance is a dish best served cold and Amy Ryba’s been planning her revenge against Evan for months. Making him pay for his sins is all she thinks about and has planned for every contingency except learning her enemy is also her destined mate.

The mate bond pulls Evan and Amy together and throws their packs into turmoil as they try to work through their differences. Evan has to deal with the aftermath of Amy’s destructive actions and she needs to forget the past. The only other option—mate rejection.

Moon Shine is the latest release in Vivian Arend’s Takhini Wolves series. I suggest these books be read in order.

I’ve been looking forward to Evan’s book—have been since he was introduced. The author has a solid writing style and an ability to create interesting characters. I enjoyed learning details of Evan’s past and there is a nice growth of his personality. The imagery is vivid, it’s fast-paced, has lots of action and plenty of surprises to keep the pages turning.  Getting to see Shaun and some of the other individuals met previously is also a plus and some of the dialogue is amusing. So, as you see there’s a lot about the story I liked.

There are a couple of niggles to explain why I didn’t rate the review higher. 1. Amy, the female lead. How do I put this? I don’t like her. At all. She’s devious and underhanded. Yes, she makes some progress by the end, but for me, it’s too late. Reasons aside, Amy’s too vengeful. 2. Evan’s quick acceptance of Amy because of the mate bond. She tried to destroy him—his pack. Truthfully, I can’t tell you how much these two issues annoyed and disappointed me.

Even so, I’ll be looking for the next book in the series because I enjoyed the first three so much. 

Educating the Platypus

Author: Charlie Richards
Publisher: eXtasy Books
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-77111-900-9
Genre: {M/M}, Paranormal, Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

The only ones who know Kai is a shifter is his group of college friends.  While on vacation, the last thing he expects is to end up in a hunter’s trap that then leads to meeting his mate.  Dorian is shocked to have finally met his mate, but he is surprised to learn the younger man knows nothing of shifters, including what it means to be a mate. 

Educating the Platypus is Ms. Richards newest addition to the Kontra’s Menagerie series.  This story starts with everyone still in Kansas when Dorian, a new addition to Kontra’s pack, comes across his mate.  I like that the author has paired this serious shifter with Kai, who is so innocent in the ways of shifters that it helps Dorian to lighten up some.  There is a strong attraction between the two men and I love the way Kai reacts after the two have been separated for a short period of time.  

Educating the Platypus is a fast-paced read.  There are a variety of secondary characters, some old and some new that help move the story along.  The story does have a bit of unfinished feel to it, but the way it ends definitely leaves the series open to several more stories.  Fans of this series will want to make sure to pick up this book.

Finding Peace

Author: T. A. Chase
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-61124-575-2
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Series
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Chad Mitchell’s life is out of control. Suffering from PTSD from his deployment in Afghanistan and his long-term use of alcohol, he can barely function. He’s been working at Cookie’s Diner but even that job has become more than he can cope with.

After recovering from his war injuries and beating his own addiction, Sergeant Zane Smithson is checking up on the men he served with in Afghanistan. When he gets to the diner, he discovers Chad has gone missing and sets out to find him. He’s been attracted to the younger man since they served together and now that they have a chance at being a couple, he’s determined to do whatever is necessary to help him overcome the demons destroying Chad’s life.

Finding Peace is the second release in Nowhere Diner series by TA Chase. This story takes up shortly after the first book ends, so I recommend they be read in order.

Finally. It’s been nearly five years. I was beginning to despair Chad’s story would ever be told, so I was pleased to learn that Finding Peace was being published.  After being introduced to this wounded man in the previous release I was curious as to his story—what, in his past, had formed him into the present man. The personal history the author created is painful but rich in details and is believable, whether it’s events from his childhood or military service. I got caught up in his story and what dealing with it—or maybe I should say not dealing with it—had done to him and his life. Nearly destroyed it.

I enjoyed Zane just as much and appreciated that his past is just as varied—and injured as Chad’s. He’d just chosen to deal with it differently. That’s what’s so compelling about this tale. It shows how people deal with pain and tragedy differently and it sets them on paths of healing or destruction.

We’re told Zane and Chad had a previous attraction. And when they actually begin a true relationship, while it’s rather quick given Chad’s situation, the author makes it work. And they do make a good couple. What my big issue is Chad’s recovery. It’s quick. Too quick considering how many years he was plagued with inner turmoil and pain. From my viewpoint, I’m disappointed with a mention of the small amount of follow-up therapy. It doesn’t seem realistic for the situation. Still, I found the rest of the story enjoyable, with a smooth pace and good integration of previous characters. In fact, it looks like Quinn and Wes might be featured next. I’ll be watching and waiting to see if I’m right.

Dance For Me

Title: Dance For Me
Author: Allison Cassatta and Remmy Duchene
Publisher: ManLoveRomance Press
Publishers URL: http://www.mlrbooks.com
ISBN/BIN: MLR-1-02014-0227
Genre: {M/M}, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Augusto has a dream, one that he does not ever see coming true.  However, after much pushing from family and friends, the young man auditions for entry to Juilliard.  Shocked when he is accepted, the self-trained hip hop dancer wonders what he will do next.  Alex is the school’s “golden boy” and acts accordingly.  When he watches the kid from the ghetto audition for a spot in the freshman class, he can’t help being a little shit about it.  Forced together, these two soon find out that neither is what they seem. 

Dance For Me is the newest book by authors Allison Cassatta and Remmy Duchene.  I have to say that this book seemed to start a little slow for me and I worried about whether or not I had made a mistake in picking this book.  Yet, as I got further into the book, the two men really started to pull me in.  Although Alex comes across as a bit of an ass in the beginning, once you get to know him, it is easy to see his actions are a type of protective cover.  As for Augusto, he is the type you really pull for and hope all his dreams come true.  It’s hard to see these two as a couple and, at times, I wondered what the authors were thinking pairing them together.  These two really play off each other wonderfully and in no time, you will find yourself wanting things to go well for them. 

Augusto and Alex come from totally different backgrounds, however, and those differences mean that things do not always go smoothly.  There is enough conflict to keep the readers wondering how things will turn out.  Each of the young men also has some rough history to overcome, although neither sees that at the time.

There is an interesting variety of secondary characters, each of whom lends an important layer to this story.  While I may have worried in the beginning, by the time I finished Dance For Me, I was glad that I had given the story a chance.