Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Spirit

Title: Spirit
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62798-681-6
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Jason Day is crazy about his nephew, Timmy. That’s the only reason he agrees to watch him during his sister’s four-week vacation. Jason just didn’t realize how it would take over his life and prevent him from getting any of his at-home video design work done. Timmy’s a hand-full and constantly moving. Help comes with the arrival of Sam, an unexpected visitor who Jason hasn’t seen since his sister’s wedding. An even bigger surprise is the man who lives in the basement—a ghost Jason didn’t know he had.

Spirit is the newest release by John Inman. It’s not only well written and plotted, but fun and entertaining with a smooth pace, vivid descriptions and great characters. I really enjoyed Timmy. At four, the kid’s a dynamo of energy and takes over every scene he’s in—but not in a bad way. The author’s done a wonderful job with his personality, allowing him to stay child-like without making the mistake of giving him adult mannerisms. His interaction with the adults and how he runs them ragged, made me chuckle.

Jason’s a great guy. He made me laugh with his stubborn refusal to believe in his ghost until he didn’t have any other choice. Sam has a great sense of humor and his bantering dialogue with Jason is just another reason for me to love this book. Not to mention these two have a sizzling chemistry—can you say hot? The ghost is a great addition and has a vivid personality all his own that comes out in pieces as the story progress and we learn his identity. The scenes where Jason and Sam are searching for the truth of what happened to him are some of my favorites and are particularly well written. 

There are a couple of niggles but they didn’t diminish my enjoyment. The identity of the ghost is obvious pretty early on. The same goes for the villains. They spend most of their time off-scene, but once they do make their presence known, it’s action and danger. So, as you can see, this paranormal romance is still a winner for me and I can easily say—read it.

The Wizard King

Title:  The Wizard King
Author:  Dana Marie Bell
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
Publisher URL:  www.samhainpublishing.com
ISBN/BIN:  978-1-61921-975-5
Genre:  {M/F}, Paranormal, Series
Rating:  4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Gareth refuses to go through the ritual, formally making him king, without his mate by his side.  He is aware that he caused a lot of the problems between him and Gen after the last battle.

The third book in the Heart’s Desire series, The Wizard King, picks up where Hecate’s Own ends.  The two remaining Beckett men are still battling their wolves and the need to find their mates.  In my opinion, The Wizard King is the best book of the series so far.

I had to laugh at the Wizard Court’s reaction to Gareth.  Mac was great, especially when he made no bones about helping Gareth rule, when the women on the Council decided that Gen would not make an acceptable Queen-Consort.  Gareth made no bones about the fact that Gen was there to stay, regardless what the rest of the wizards wanted.

The rest of Gen’s immediate family is up to their old tricks, trying to rule with an evil mage and destroy the Beckett’s besides.  The majority of characters from the previous books show up, along with a few new ones to help.  There are still two situations to be resolved, one with Gen’s family and one with the last Beckett man.

The chemistry between Gareth and Gen has grown and it is no surprise they burn up the pages once they get together.  Both have a few issues that need to be resolved, but things do work out.

The Wizard King is a fast paced book with lots of suspense.  I am looking forward to Daniel’s story as he is the last Beckett brother. 

Rules of the Chef

Author: Nicole Dennis
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Publisher URL: www.totallybound.com
ISBN/BIN: 978-0-85715-679-2
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Series
Rating: 3 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Chef Dakota Mitchell loves his restaurant, Southern Delights.  When his friend and business partner sells his hotel portion of their Bed and Breakfast—Southern Charm—Dakota’s saddled with a new partner he doesn’t want. 

The Ashford Hotels wants to start a collection of unique boutique hotels and plans to start with Southern Charm as their first acquisition. When Samuel Ashford arrives he’s ready to make huge changes to correct its rundown appearance, but didn’t count on the resistance of his new partner. He also doesn’t expect the sizzling attraction to a man he argues with constantly. Can Dakota and Sam come to an agreement and make a life together?

Rules of the Chef is the first book in the new series, Southern Charm by Nicole Dennis. I liked the premise for this new M/M series. I mean what could be better than two good looking guys at the beach and one of them is a great chef. Who doesn’t love a man who can cook?

I enjoyed how the story began. Dakota’s passionate about his restaurant and obviously loves his friend and the bed and breakfast they own. His quirky relationship with the people who work at the B & B and their bantering dialogue made me smile. He seems like a likable guy but the moment Sam arrives, the problems begin. Dakota doesn’t want to make changes and he acts like an arrogant ass. From this point on his personality is definitely flawed and pretty unappealing during most of the remainder of the book. Sam’s supposed to be attracted to Dakota but his attitude is so terrible that I don’t know why he would be. At least they don’t jump into bed immediately.

What I liked: Getting to see Dakota and Sam shopping. I enjoyed the early morning fish market scene. It was funny and added a nice growth moment to their relationship. There are a few secondary characters that were nice additions—Mal and Elise in particular, and I’d like to know more about them. There are also a few townspeople that made appearances who I assume we’ll see again in the future.

Where I have issues: Aside from the landscaping at the Southern Charm I didn’t have a good feel for what else needed to be fixed. Dakota’s a businessman. He should have had a better handle on his kitchen. And Sam—the idea that he spent days sorting paperwork is crazy. Why didn’t he have help? And they kept talking about Chandler, the wonder accountant, but he never appeared. I guess we’ll see him in the next book. My biggest complaint is the abrupt ending after the last minute drama involving Sam. I find this kind of ploy to sell the next book, not only disappointing, but annoying. It left me feeling like the book had stopped at the mid-way point and I was missing the last half. Not a good emotion for a reader.

As, I previously said, I like the premise, so I hope the series get the glitches worked out because it has so much potential.

Farren's Wizard

Author: Amber Kell
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Publisher URL: www.totallybound.com
ISBN: 9781784300029
Genre: {M/M} Fantasy Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

Escape is futile, or so it seems, for Farren Azar. Although Farren’s new boyfriend Dan Stewartson is the only one Farren would ever regret leaving.

Farren's Wizard is the third book in the A Wizard's Touch series. Farren is desperate to get away from his cold, unfeeling power-hungry family. Farren is not only a fire mage, his grandfather is a full blooded djinn which means Farren has more magical powers than the other wizards at the college. This is a major problem for Farren since all djinns were declared outlaws long ago. Farren even tried to break up with his true love Dan before the family secrets were revealed.

Dan is the oldest of triplets; alone his magic was not very strong. However, joined with his brothers, the magic of three was exceptionally strong. Dan knew Farren was more than a fire mage but he was determined to keep the information secret. In Dan’s mind, Farren is his forever mate.  

Amber Kell has created an electrifying saga that I enjoyed immensely. I suggest reading this series in sequence, starting with Jaynell's Wolf.

The Bigger They Come

Author: Ari McKay
Publisher: Torquere Press
Publisher URL: www.torquerebooks.com
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-61040-675-8
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Cade “Hercules” Thornton spent years in the Marines before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, forced him out. Then he led a paramilitary organization before a leg injury ended that career. Now he owns Hercules Security, providing the best bodyguards money can buy. That’s how he finds himself with a new client, Kate Morgan, a wealthy businesswoman who wants her grandson protected from a stalker. The catch—she demands Cade do the job himself. The problem—Cade doesn’t do fieldwork anymore.

The other problem—Dr. Jude Morgan doesn’t think he needs someone watching his every move and thinks his grandmother is over-reacting. The sparks that fly between Jude and his new babysitter are explosive, surprising both men with their intensity. It’s soon apparent the danger from the stalker is real and getting worse. Can Cade keep Jude safe or will he die trying?

The Bigger They Come is the first release in Ari McKay’s new series, Herc’s Mercs.  I’m a sucker for a bodyguard book and this blurb appealed to me immediately and finding out Jude wasn’t a geeky guy who jumps at his own shadow is a plus. The bantering dialogue between these two is pretty amusing and their sexual chemistry is hot. The sparks fly in one direction or the other from the first second they meet and sometimes not in a good way. Cade wants to deck Jude! The author’s done a nice job with the personality development of both men and I like them both, even if Jude is prickly and touchy. The story is well written, flows smoothly and had enough twists to keep my attention and the pages turning. I can’t wait for the next one. 

As much as I enjoyed it, there are a few things that could have made it better—in my opinion. I would have loved to know more about Herc’s business and the men who work for him. Maybe that’ll happen in the next book because I don’t have a feel for the company and who might be in the next book. Once Thomas appeared on scene as a threat, I understood how dangerous he was but the references to him just fell a bit flat without knowing more about him. Jude’s grandmother—I liked her and how she wanted to protect him but his annoyance with her, in turn annoyed me. Their relationship didn’t need to be so adversarial to be convincing.

Nothing but Smoke

Author: Daisy Harris
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN/BIN: 9781619221727
Genre: {M/M}, Contemporary, Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph
Publication Date:  June 11, 2014

Michael has watched as each of his friends found someone special to settle down with.  While Michael usually has no problem finding someone to get off with, he is beginning to wonder if there isn’t more out there for him, as well.  He doesn’t expect a park hookup, especially one deep in the closet, to be the one to snag him though. 

Nothing but Smoke is the third story in the Fire and Rain series.  Like the other stories, this book also has a firefighter for a main character, in this case Nicky.  Nicky has a lot on his plate and the last thing he can handle is being gay.  With a macho job and a sick, religious mother, Nicky hides who he is from others.  This lends an air of innocence to the brawny firefighter, which is different from what we have come to expect.  It was really easy to be drawn to Nicky.  I wondered how things would play out for him and hoped that things with his mother would end peacefully. 

Michael was the character that took a little getting used to.  He comes across as very brash, yet it is easy to see he uses that as a cover.  I was surprised to see the author throw two characters like this together yet, at the same time, realized it made sense as Nicky would need someone like Michael to help him face the changes coming into his life.  

The author brings the previous characters in to help Michael and Nicky, which gives the readers a chance to catch up with them.  While at times the book can be a little heavy, there are some lighter moments.  Readers will find that Nothing but Smoke is another well done story by this author, and a perfect addition to the series.

Chasing the Dragon

Author: Ash Penn
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Publisher URL: www.totallybound.com
ISBN: 9781784300036
Genre: M/M Contemporary Twincest
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

Twins Aiden and Kai had not spoken or seen each other for ten years. The goal of their trial parting was to sever their compulsive craving for intimacy whenever they were together. However, meeting again on their thirty-second birthday only confirmed that Aiden and Kai can never break the unusual attachment they share.   

Chasing the Dragon is a bittersweet short story. The characters are creditable. Kai is gay as well as flamboyant; he is constantly changing his hair color to stand out as an individual rather than a twin. Nevertheless, Kai’s personality is more of a façade to hide his pain of rejection. Kai is also the instigator of chaos with anyone who loves him.

Aiden has a caregiver’s personality, he caters to the wishes of others first. Kai is the only man Aiden has ever been intimate with or even desired. I got the impression that Aiden is either bisexual or in deep denial regarding his sexuality.

Ash Penn has created a touching attention grabbing saga that I found mostly enjoyable. I was saddened by the thought of Aiden and Kai having to settle for living life devoid of a true brotherly relationship.     

Reader Advisory: This book contains a twincest / incest storyline.

Riding & Regrets

Author: Bailey Bradford
Publisher: Totally Bound
ISBN/BIN: 9780857156884
Genre: {M/M}, Western, Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Jody just wants to fit in somewhere.  He had hoped it would be at the Mossy Glenn Ranch but he’s not so sure now.  When he is suddenly made aware that he is the father of a two-year-old daughter, he is surprised by the way everyone on the ranch pulls together to help.  To make things even more overwhelming, Jody meets Noel while signing his little one up for day care. 

Riding & Regrets is the newest addition to the Mossy Glenn Ranch series.  Readers are sure to enjoy this new story, but should know that it does bring up topics that may be difficult for some to handle.  Noel is escaping an abusive relationship and hopes running to his aunt’s will be a new start.  Noel is out and proud and I wondered how he would fit in in the small community of Ashville, Montana.  I was a little surprised that the author did not bring this issue up at least once.

Jody is one of the ranch hands on the Mossy Glenn.  He’s young and has been on his own for many years, which explains his, at times, immature attitude and actions.  The author did a great job showcasing the confusion and fear a twenty year old young man would feel when he suddenly finds himself a parent.  I really felt for the young man, especially given the fact that Jody has no clear memory of the night Prissy was conceived. 

There is an instant connection between Jody and Noel and I like the way they complimented each other.  I also like the way the author allowed these two to grow, moving in to a physical relationship at a pace that is comfortable for them.  I wish the author would have spent a little more time on Jody’s past, as it is clear that not everything is what it appears.

This story is also full of wonderful secondary characters.  Many of the guys we have met before and I love the way they go out of their way to help Jody and Prissy. 

Riding & Regrets is a well written story that fans of this series are sure to enjoy.  I really liked the characters in this book, especially the way they pulled me into their story.  While each book can stand on its own, the reader would get a richer understanding by reading all the books in the series.

Strategic Surrender

Author:  Elizabeth Lapthorne
Publisher:  Ellora’s Cave
Publisher URL:  www.jasminejade.com
ISBN/BIN:  9781419949005
Genre:  {M/F}, Paranormal, Series
Rating:  4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Kiera is called in along with her partner and a Special Operations man, Hayden, to decide what to do with a grimoire.  The result of their solution is a contract on their heads.

Strategic Surrender is the eighth book in the Urban Seductions series.  Readers need to read the last book, Edge of Ecstasy, before reading Strategic Surrender as what happened in that story has some bearing regarding what happens now.

Kiera is breaking her own rule after she meets Hayden.  Both Hayden and Kiera have some explosive chemistry together.  While Kiera doesn’t think Hayden needs to be concerned for her safety, things change once it is learned there is a contract on them.  There are some interesting times both in and out of bed as their relationship grows.

More information is given about the Tribunal governing wizards and witches.  Several questions come up about security when circumstances push everyone into hiding.  How did someone find out what happened before the Tribunal was even notified? Why would someone want what little knowledge was gleaned before the grimoire was destroyed? And who is trustworthy? 

Toward the end of the story, several things regarding answers to these questions were left hanging.  I hope the author will resolve these issues in future stories.  More information about the roles of several secondary characters could be expanded, including what Daniel and Melissa do after they are contacted by Hayden.

All the stories in this series are interconnected, though some stories are resolved, but have that little twist that runs into the next one.  Strategic Surrender has a major twist that will prove very interesting in future stories.

Rogue of the Borders

Author:  Cynthia Breeding
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-61922-125-3
Genre:  {M/F} Regency
Rating:  4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amethyst Nymph

Abigail Townsend is sick of stuffy balls and isn’t sure she can go through one more Season.  She’s nothing like the other debutantes.  She’s a strong-willed intellect who knows what she wants.  Abigail is dying to experience the kind of adventure and travel she constantly reads about.  When Abigail sees an opportunity to make her dreams come true, she doesn’t hesitate.  And the fact that it involves the man of her fantasies is icing on the cake. 

Shane Macleod has no intention of pursuing any woman right now.  Life at sea is no kind of life for a family.  Plus, Shane has a secret that he can’t share with anyone.  Even though he’s drawn to Abigail, Shane isn’t happy when he’s forced to do the right thing and marry her.  Shane vows not to lay a hand on her, but Abigail has other ideas.  The more he tries to push her away, the more Abigail sneaks into Shane’s heart.

Abigail and Shane are both blind to the danger surrounding them by someone from their past.  Actions speak louder than words and actions definitely cause a misunderstanding between the couple.  The interference of family works for the couple and against them at the same time, but the biggest obstacle is Shane himself.  He puts up a good fight by trying to be noble but he is no match for Abigail.  She was determined to have her husband fall in love with her and she wasn’t taking any excuses from Shane.  I was actually jaw-dropping shocked at some of the moments when Shane decided to give Abigail the cold shoulder.  In his mind he thought it was for the best I know, but I couldn’t believe his willpower was that strong.  I was also amazed by Abigail’s boldness at times.  It took a lot of nerve for her to dress like a male and sneak onto Shane’s ship.  She was so sure of her ability to fool him that Abigail didn’t think through certain aspects of her deception.  That made for some very intense moments where I feared for her safety and Shane’s sanity.  Although, I admit I was expecting a much bigger reveal. 

Rogue of the Borders is the third book of the Rogue series.  Cynthia Breeding has once again given readers another hot Highlander to fall in lust with.  I think Shane has it all, brains and brawn.  And the fact that he appreciates more in a woman than just beauty makes Shane even more of a catch.  I know that all of the Macleod men have met their perfect matches, but I feel that Abigail truly is Shane’s equal in every way that counts.  In this particular time, intelligence isn’t a quality that men want in a woman.  They want the opposite.  Shane is man enough not to be threatened by Abigail and recognize the prize he has in her.  Over thinking the situation nearly cost Shane the woman I feel was created just for him.  If you enjoyed the first two installments in this series, you have to read Shane and Abigail’s story.  Readers will be excited to hear about characters they bonded with in the previous stories and see everything come full circle.