Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gage & Collin

Author: S.J. Frost
Publisher: MLR Press
Publisher URL: www.mlrbooks.com
ISBN: MLR-1-02014-0290
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

A storm is coming and although Deputy Collin Maddox is no longer in a relationship with horse farm owner Gage Chapman, Collin still cares deeply for Gage.

Gage & Collin is the first story in the MLR Press Storming Love: One Storm, Twelve Men series.  The setting is North Carolina. The theme is the emotional influence brought about by the deadly Hurricane Lauris. The characters are realistic.  

Gage is a down-to-earth openly gay professional champion rider who was fed up with the homophobic attitudes encountered during his career; so he retired from riding, bought a farm and moved his highly prized horses to North Carolina. After his failed relationship with Collin, Gage has concluded that the only continual partnership in his life is his horses.

Because of his future career goals, Collin hides his sexuality. The fact that he is in the closet causes Collin to feel guilty about his pretend casual friendship with Gage. The threat of possibly dying or losing Gage in the storm becomes a wake up call for Collin.  Collin must decide what is really important to him, as well as his future. 

S.J. Frost has created a fascinating saga. I especially enjoyed the myths about the painted horses.

Sunny’s Second Chance

Author:  Nola Cross
Publisher:  Beachwalk Press, Inc.
Publisher URL:  http://beachwalkpress.com
ISBN/BIN:  9781940744292
Genre:  {M/F} Contemporary, Interracial, Holiday
Rating:  4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amethyst Nymph

Sunny Williamson finds it hard not to compare herself to the woman who took her husband.  But, she can’t spend too much time on a pity party with her daughter Jasmine expecting Santa to bring her daddy home.  When Jasmine becomes inseparable from her new friend, Sunny has no choice but to spend time with the boy’s father.  After a while, Sunny can’t continue to use the kids as an excuse.  Spending time with Ben is something she’d come to enjoy.

Now that his son Spencer has a reason to laugh again, Ben Stillman feels like things might be alright.  He’s just barely been going through the motions since his wife’s death. Never in a million years did he expect to feel attraction to any woman right now.   But meeting Sunny has given Ben a new, unexpected outlook on life.  She fits into his life so comfortably that Ben can’t imagine the future without her. 

In the blink of an eye, Sunny and Ben bond and stop thinking of reasons not to be together.  Sunny feels desirable again while Ben starts to let go of some of the guilt he lives with.  The kids are happy and life can’t get any better.  Then their Hallmark holiday gets thrown off by Sunny’s ex-husband and Ben’s family.  Obligations almost ruin everything for Sunny and Ben but they refuse to let it. 

Sunny’s ex-husband really did a number on her self esteem, even before he left her for another woman.  Ben appreciated her in ways that she deserved and helped her get her groove back.  Like many mothers, Sunny was so focused on her daughter that she lost sight of her own needs.  And Ben was in the same boat with his son.  Death is different than divorce, so Ben doesn’t get the same kind of closure as Sunny.  He feels guilty about finding another woman in what he thinks is a short time after his wife’s death.  And just when he convinces himself it was okay to move on, Ben’s family puts doubt in his mind again.  I was happy that the story ended without a dramatic scene between them and Sunny because I was praying that wouldn’t happen.  Thumbs up to Nola Cross for concluding this story the way she did.  Relating to her characters is easy because their real life issues could easily be anyone’s issue.  Finding the romantic side of day to day life isn’t always easy, but the author did it.    Sunny’s Second Chance is a sweet, empowering story of hope and family and I enjoyed every page. 

A Tooth for a Fang

Author: Liv Olteano
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-63216-037-9
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

After ending a relationship with his abusive boss/boyfriend, Rick Barton takes his first vacation in years. It’s a decision that changes his life when he meets lycan Travis Chandler on the beach. Suddenly he’s in a world he didn’t know existed, and given little choice but to join a Paranormal Bureau of Investigation unit with Travis as his alpha partner.

Leaders from various paranormal groups are being killed gruesomely. They’re learned Rick’s a tracker…the only one they have…and they need to get into the field, so he and Travis become mates. Rick’s problems—no training, barely any adjustment period to his new life, and a mate that drives him nuts. Can they find the killer while learning what it means to be a couple, or are they doomed for failure both as mates and investigators?

I admit it. The rather mysterious cover and unusual title for A Tooth for a Fang first caught my attention since I was unfamiliar with Liv Olteano, the author. Dark and brooding covers aren’t usually ones I’m drawn too but this time it worked for me.  It didn’t give me any hint of the quality of the writing but it gave me hope that it would be as interesting, and I wasn’t disappointed. I found it to be both well written, entertaining, and the vivid world building is nicely thought-out and paced.

Rick’s world is turned upside-down when he meets Travis. He goes from being a human office worker to a lycan homicide detective within a manner of days. Talk about two dramatic changes.  There wasn’t much time allowed for Rick to acclimate to his new life but at least he’s given longer to get used to Travis, being his alpha and mate. I’m thrilled the author doesn’t use their mating to automatically fix their relationship and by the end of the book, they’re working to make their mating a success. I liked how it is handled. The murder investigation and secondary characters they meet are interesting and move the story along at a nice pace. I liked it and when I finished the last page, I knew I wanted to read more about their world.

As of this writing I checked the author’s blog and found that A Tooth for a Fang is listed as the first in the Leader Murders series, but not listed as such on the publishers site as of yet. Very pleased to hear. Happy reading. 

Buck Baxter, Love Detective

Author: Geoffrey Knight
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Publisher URL: www.wildecity.com
ISBN: 978-1-925180-39-8
Genre: {M/M} Crime Series
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx

Picture this, a coastal town where almost everything is prohibited, alcohol, drugs, sex in addition to human rights. The residents of Wilde City are divided into three social classes, the rich, the working poor and the criminals. Buck is among the poor while his future lover Holden is among the rich.

 Buck Baxter, Love Detective is the first book in The Buck Baxter Mysteries. The theme is an edgy suspense murder plot with a touch of intimacy. Also featured are the pious religious hypocrites. The characters are fascinating as well as attention-grabbing.

Buck’s motto of never make friends, never make enemies and never fall in love is a survival shield he constructed as a child. His shield served him well until he met Holden. At first sight; Buck’s shields began to crumble. Yet Buck is still haunted by his dark past, which restricts emotional involvements. Buck is hired to investigate a cheating spouse case. This is nothing unusual for Buck, or so he thought. Buck has two mysteries working at the same time, the cheating spouse as well as Holden secretly stalking Buck. As Buck digs deeper into the case, he encounters a few twists that lead him to the mob’s doorstep, not the best place to be if you value your life.

Holden is not what he appears to be, it is his methods that cause Buck to question Holden’s motives. Holden is a compassionate man with honorable intentions towards Buck. What’s more, Holden has a secret for Buck’s ears only.

Geoffrey Knight has created an outstanding riveting saga filled with intrigue, Tommy gun shoot outs, booze, prostitutes in addition to a dash of amusing dialog. I enjoyed Buck Baxter, Love Detective immensely. 

Rescued

Title: Rescued
Author: Felice Stevens
Publisher: Loose Id
Publishers URL: http://www.loose-id.com
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62300-468-2
Genre: {M/M}, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Ryder never figured things would go so bad after coming out to his family.  Now a year later, he still feels the effects of being abandoned, so he will do whatever it takes to spend time with his younger brother.  Jason’s relationship with his longtime girlfriend has been on the rocks for a while and no one’s more surprised than he is when he decides to break things off.  Neither of these men is looking for a relationship but when they meet, they can’t deny the attraction that exists between them.

Rescued is the first book by author Felice Stevens and it held my attention from the beginning.  Both the characters and the story are well developed and I found myself pulling for Ryder in both his relationship with Jason and in staying connected with his younger brother, Landon.  Having spent time in bad relationships, Ryder is leery of starting anything with Jason, the straight man he meets while out on a rescue call.  It is easy to understand Ryder’s hesitancy when it comes to Jason and I liked that these two finally come together and to hell with anyone else.  Of course, the fact that Jason is straight means that their coming together has some rocky moments. 

Family plays an important part in this story as both men have to deal with how coming out affects the relationships they have with their family members.  I had a hard time understanding the ugliness that Ryder has to face and was not surprised by the little twist that was revealed towards the end of the story.  As for Jason, I was surprised by his brother’s, Liam, reaction, and loved the way his mother and younger brother put Liam in his place.  

Rescued is an entertaining story that is sure to bring this new author many fans.  Between Ryder and Jason, the various secondary characters most readers will love, and the dogs, Rescued has something for everyone.  I am interested to see what this new author has planned next.

Reality Bites

Title:  Reality Bites
Author:  Gail Koger
Publisher:  Loose Id, LLC
Publisher URL:  www.loose-id.com
ISBN/BIN:  978-1-6300-511-5
Genre:   {M/F}, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Series
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Bree has managed to elude the Coletti Warlords for a while and is the second in command for the Earth First resistance.  Jaylan arrives at her office, looking for the other women of the Jones family and ends up pursuing Bree as his mate.

The fourth book of the Coletti Warlords series, Reality Bites, brings the problems that the traitor created to the forefront of the war.  More information about the Coletti Warlords and what their idea of a perfect mate is, especially warlords fortunate to win a Jones woman is also revealed.  Not only are they very psychic, the women are warriors in their own right which causes all sorts of humorous situations as they learn to live together. 

In this case Bree is actually a half-breed, as her birth father was a Coletti Warlord and this causes some other issues as well.  Bree learns that there are a few additional legal issues that have to be observed because of her father, especially once Bree and Jaylan get together.  They work very well together and their chemistry is intense. 

There were a few new secondary characters introduced, but lots of old friends showed up as well.  Zarek really helps out, but be prepared for a very big twist at the end of the book which I did not see coming at all.  As a result, there should be a very interesting story in the next book in this series.  Ms. Koger has created an interesting world and I am looking forward to more.  This series is one to be read again.

Wolf on the Run

Author: N.J. Walters
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-61922-285-4
Genre: {M/F} Paranormal Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx
Release Date: 10-28-2014

A childhood illness destroyed Cherise Michaels’ ability to shift. Their pack considers her an abomination and to stay alive, she and mother have been running for years. When they’re found in St. Louis, her mother is murdered and a dream sends Cherise to a town she didn’t know existed—Salvation, North Carolina. She’s barely arrived when the pursuing killers find Cherise.

Cole Blanchard is patrolling Salvation Pack land when he discovers wolves threatening a woman. He’s furious—and certain the terrified young woman is his mate. When the trespassing wolves won’t leave willingly, Cole’s is forced to kill them. Then he must convince his newly found mate to trust him. Can she learn love, desire and a sense of family? Can Cole convince Cherise she can find peace in his arms? 

Wolf on the Run is the newest release in the series, Salvation Pack, by NJ Walters. With an ongoing plotline and recurring characters, I recommend the books be read in order.

You don’t often come across a story where a werewolf can’t shift, so this unusual trait is an interesting one for Cherise to have. It certainly allows the author to turn the normal solidarity of her birth pack on its ear when they decide she’s an abomination. It’s also the one fact that controlled Cherise’s life, and is a focus throughout Wolf on the Run. 

Now to the rest. Over all, the story is well written and plotted, and has good imagery. All the previous characters are integrated nicely, as the pack members are close friends.  The personalities/histories of Cole and Cherise are pretty well developed, but I had a better sense of Cherise’s history, which is pretty depressing. Unfortunately her pained, glum emotions throughout most of the book got a little old. It also caused the middle of the book to slow. (Truthfully, I had trouble developing a connection to her.) I was pleased when the pace picked up near the end, due to the action filled scene of an expected confrontation between Cole and Cherise’s old pack. I look forward to seeing what happens in the next release, as from the epilogue, it looks like the old pack that Cole and friends grew up in and left are about to case trouble again.

Moving Mountains

Author: TN Tarrant
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 9781627988469
Genre: {M/M}, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Nathan has always known he was gay but when his best friend needs him to marry her, he has no problem saying yes.  They have everything planned out, or so they thought.  When his wife falls into a coma after giving birth, Nathan realizes just how unprepared they really were.  Eight years later, Nathan’s life changes again and we has no idea what to expect now.

Moving Mountains is the latest book by author TN Tarrant.  Just let me say that I am a huge fan of this author and have yet to find a book of hers I did not like.  That being said, this probably my favorite book to date.  Nathan’s story really grabbed me and I could not wait to see how things would work out.  It really broke my heart when he lost his little boy and I was not surprised when it was revealed that the judge and Nathan’s in-laws knew each other.   I was glad that things regarding Christopher worked out, although it is not easy and there are some surprising moments.

With Nathan still married, I wondered how the author would bring Raven into Nathan and his son’s life without upsetting readers.  I think the author handled this delicate situation wonderfully.  The attraction between the two men is strong and their passion intense.  Readers will find themselves rooting for these two to find their happily ever after.

There are a couple of OMG! moments in this story, one I am sure will really surprise the readers.  Fans of this author are sure to love Moving Mountains, and for those who have not yet tried any books by this author, this one is a good place to start.

Visions of Paradise

Author:  Tianna Xander
Publisher:  eXtasy Books
Publisher URL:  www.extasybooks.com
ISBN/BIN:  978-1-4874-0026-2
Genre: {M/F/M}, Paranormal, Series
Rating:  4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Milla is running from a carnival owner and finds a home in Paradise. Jonas and Mel aren’t exactly friends even though they are bonded by blood ties.  Both are surprised when they help Milla and discover they are bondmates as well. 

Visions of Paradise is the latest in Tianna Xander’s Paradise series and does not disappoint.  I actually enjoyed this story a lot.  There was a twist that will be sure to show up in future stories.  Milla is a tarot reader and can read people when she touches them, which she tries to avoid.  She is running from the carnival she used to work because of the owner.

The chemistry between Jonas, Milla, and Mel is intense.  Milla is an older woman that thinks both men are too young for her.  She doesn’t want to choose between them, once she finds out they are actually much older than she is. Once she is in Paradise, she discovers that ménage relationships are the norm. 

There are quite a few secondary characters that are new and some will show up again, I’m sure.  There are revelations about some of the residents in Paradise that surprised me. I could understand Milla’s dislike of Perry when I read his description as he is nothing but a bully that takes advantage of people.  It was no surprise the men in Paradise were willing to protect some of the other carnival workers. 

I am looking forward to more stories in this series as you can almost anticipate new triads with some of the women mentioned.  Most stories in this series can be read alone, but I recommend all be read in order to get the most out of the Paradise series.

Elijah’s Ghost

Author: Amber Kell
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Publisher URL: www.totallybound.com
ISBN: 9781784302009
Genre: {M/M} Fantasy Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

Wizard classes were proving to be a challenge for Elijah Trenton; however with the help of some friendly ghosts and his new wizard boyfriend Devin Stewartson, Eli discovered how potent his magic could be.

Elijah’s Ghost is the fourth book in the A Wizard's Touch series. As the younger son of a powerful wizard, Eli was tolerated by his family, but never received any love or interest from his father or older brother. Eli’s powers, which proved to be a rare form of magic, did not manifest until he went to wizard school. When Eli’s magic is revealed, everyone is in awe, including his pretentious father.

Devin, on the other hand, is fascinated by Eli’s shy appealing personality. Devin is one of the wizard triplets who are friends with the powerful wizard Jaynell Marley of Jaynell's Wolf. Although Devin is attracted to Eli, he is not sure if he wants a long term relationship with Eli. Devin’s attitude changes once he realizes there is an undeniable bond between them.

Amber Kell has created another exciting installment in this series. I thoroughly enjoyed Elijah’s Ghost. 

Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence