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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Review: Nicholas, The Lords of Satyr

Nicholas, The Lords of Satyr
by Elizabeth Amber

In the heart of Tuscany’s centuries-old wine country, three half-Satyr brothers receive a letter that sends them in search of three endangered half-Faerie brides. The daughters of a dying king, they present a unique opportunity for the wealthy, charismatic Lords of Satyr to beget heirs to inherit their Italian vineyard and ancient secrets.

For not just any woman will do as a Satyr wife. Each month at Moonful, the brothers change physically, becoming more powerfully potent. They’re driven by the darker side of their natures to indulge in a nightlong ritual in a sacred gathering place ringed with statues of Bacchus, nymphs, dryads, and fauns.

Eldest brother Nick considers it his duty to sire heirs. But he prefers to keep his conjugal visits to Jane, his new FaerieBlend wife, proper while engaging in more carnal activities with experienced courtesans.

Unaware that she’s half-Faerie, Jane is desperate to rid herself of the terrible abilities she acquired when she turned thirteen. Only then will she bear Nick’s children and find a true home with him. Until then, she must deceive him.

As the grapevines begin to bloom, an ancient cult hatches plans that could destroy Nick and Jane’s blossoming happiness.

When I accepted this book for review, I wasn’t really sure how it would turn out, but I was definitely intrigued by the plot premise. To my delight, Nicholas, The Lords of Satyr was an incredibly gripping novel that left me wanting more. How fortunate for me that I had the second book waiting when I finished!

In Nicholas we are introduced to the three Satyr brothers, keepers of the doorway between two worlds: Earthworld and Elseworld. Being part Human and part Satyr, they are not your ordinary men, they are so much more. Each month at Moonful, or the full moon, they become more Satyr than human and have an overwhelming need to mate. When they receive a letter from the King of Elseworld sending them on a “quest” to find the dying king’s half-human daughters and protect them, but only marriage will give them full protection from the factions warring for the kingdom, the brothers aren’t so sure they want to undertake this quest. But who are they to deny a king’s demand?

Nicholas is the first to set out to find his bride. Leaving his brothers to care for the vineyard and winery, he heads to Rome. In almost no time at all he finds his bride, Jane, and acquires her hand in marriage. Life isn’t always as simple as one would like it to be, though, and Nicholas finds that marriage to a woman who has no idea of her heritage is much more difficult than he would like. Jane, on the other hand has a rude awakening in the discovery that her husband does not plan to share all of himself with her. What follows is an in-depth tale that explores love in a different time and place.

Jane was an interesting woman. She was so very strong, and yet incredibly na├»ve and troubled. She had a secret she was keeping from her husband while wanting him to open up to her. Unaware that her physical attributes that frightened and even repulsed her about herself were quite normal considering her bloodline, she spends quite a bit of the book trying to find a way to “cure” herself. Not knowing that if she talked with her husband about it, instead of living in fear of his reaction to them, she might have found relief and understanding. I admired her tenacity, even while I wished that she would really “see” the truth to the people around her and in her life, both the good and the bad. When she finally comes to that much awaited realization, I wanted to cheer and then give her a hug! She was finally on the road to a better, happier life.

Nicholas was quite the hero. He was arrogant and domineering, being your typical example of what titled and privileged men were like in his time period (heck in this day and age as well!). They honestly believed that you should not bring the more heated sexual acts to your wife’s bedroom… silly men! When his sweet, innocent wife makes a bet with him, he is convinced that a few of his more interesting sexual requests will be the end of that foolishness. Imagine his surprise when she blossoms under his tutelage and he finds he wants no other in his bed. Nicholas and his strength actually made me sweat on more than one occasion. He even made me smile when he finally let go of some of his rigid control and let his playfulness out even when it was quite obvious he felt such behavior wasn’t at all prudent. I really enjoyed seeing him come out of his stuffy shell and join his wife in their marriage.

I was intrigued by the realistic descriptions of a time when it was accepted, if not openly encouraged, that a husband kept mistresses for his more “carnal” needs he dared not bring to his wife’s bedchamber. I was excited and pleased with how Ms. Amber worked her characters around this belief to a more pleasurable relationship between a husband and a wife.

Nicholas is an incredible example of the skillful blending of mythical beings, danger, suspense, romance, erotic couplings, and societal mores of a different time period. All these aspects are brought together to make a stunning tale of love. Elizabeth Amber astounded me with her incredible imagery and fast-paced dialogue that never left one stalled-out in the middle of a conversation. As I said before, Nicholas, The Lords of Satyr is a gripping, intensely sensual love story that will leave you wanting more!

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Reviewed by: Viscaria

Friday, March 21, 2008

Review: Double Dragon (Dragon's Heir book 6)

Double Dragon
by Sierra Dafoe

Cal is everything Kevan wants – or at least everything he thinks he wants. But as the crown prince of the dragon kingdom, Kevan is expected to marry and carry on the royal line. When Kevan brings the handsome young human back to Djarera, Melgara, the queen, orders him to keep Cal a secret – after all, what sane dragon would be willing to share her husband’s affection with a human male?

In love with Kevan since she was nine years old, Melina Westron is determined to win the prince’s trust – especially when she discovers the secret he’s hiding is a man every bit as delicious as Kevan himself! Even better, she’s delighted to find that the way to a dragon’s heart… is through his lover.

WOW! I don’t know what else to say, but “WOW”! I simply couldn’t put this one down! It was a fabulous read, and Ms. Dafoe’s imagery is so very vivid that I felt as if I stood in the incredible world she had created. What an amazing example of world building… one of the best that I’ve had the privilege to read.

We meet Melina in her most desperate hour. She is being forced to watch the love of her life choose another as his wife. Or so she thinks. On the eve of Kevan’s twenty-first birthday, he is to choose a bride to take her place at his side as heir to the kingdom. Melina is positive that he won’t pick her when there are so many much more stunning women to choose from. Aching in her heart she waits for him to pick someone else. Only it doesn’t happen… the prince has skipped out on his own celebration. Melina strikes me as a bit… lovesick and desperate. But who can blame her really, she’s been in love with Kevan ever since she was nine years old and he comforted her at her father’s graveside. When she makes the decision to corner him in his chambers she has no idea that decision will change her life forever.

Kevan has been confused all his life until he meets Cal. Cal is the love of his life, there’s only one problem… well two problems… one: Cal is human, and two: Cal is a man! Those things don’t matter to Kevan, he is determined to have his love by his side despite his mother’s wishes. He’s very much in love with Cal and defiant of how his mother wishes him to handle the situation. It was the eternal dichotomy of duty versus love. I felt his anguish as he came to the realization that he cannot bring his world to the brink of war by denying his position as heir to the throne. Little did he realize that the one who seems to have thrown his world into turmoil will be the one to find the solution.

Cal was such a fun character! I adored him and so hoped he could find the happiness he seemed to deserve. Cal is canny, smart and incredibly passionate about whomever he loves. I fell in love with him immediately. He tends to think outside the box and quickly found a solution to his and Kevan’s problems. I can’t really tell you the solution, as it give the story away, but let me just say that it doesn’t disappoint! Both Cal and Kevan are intense and passionate, their emotions jump from the page and pull you into their story, until you are completely invested in their HEA!

I loved this book! But, a word of warning… don’t be like me and start with this one first and then realize you missed out on something! Start at the beginning, this series is so worth it! Don’t worry, I begged and pleaded and got my hands on the first five books in this series. That’s right, FIVE books before this one! I’m so excited to read the beginning of this series and I’ll be bringing you those reviews as well! In the meantime, Sierra Dafoe is a voice to be reckoned with and I definitely recommend that you snatch up any of her books that you can! This one is a solid 5 cherries!

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Review by Viscaria

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Review: Dark Whispers

Dark Whispers
by Barbara Sheridan & Anne Cain

Mired in centuries-old customs and rigid traditions carried over from their mortal lives, the chaing-shih elders of New York’s Chinatown don’t quite know how to deal with the upstart Russian vampire, Mistress Viktoria. With their existence in danger, the Elders call upon an ancient blood tie and summon the aid of their kinsman, Liu Sakurai.

Though he appears to the world as a sensual young man in his mid-twenties, Sakurai is one of the oldest and most powerful chaing-shih to walk the Earth. He sees humans as not much more than weak playthings and food, and no one is more surprised than Sakurai himself when NYPD Detective Daisuke Matsui manages to capture his attention. Dai is a strong one, full of an inner fire and unusual sexual appetites that Sakurai cannot resist.

In the mysterious and arrogant vampire, Dai finds the type of person he’s been longing for his entire life – someone with a strength of will and determination that matches his own, and a skill to dominate him in ways that make him burn. While trying to unwind the ties his half-brother has to Chinatown’s underworld, Dai is confronted by creatures and events he thought only existed in the legends and stories told by old men. His life is on the line, along with everything he holds dear, but Sakurai dark whispers promise a passion Dai is powerless to resist.

SPECIAL CONTENT ALERT: Male/Male, Non-consent/reluctance, graphic violence.

Grab onto your seats and hang on for a dark, fast ride that doesn’t leave you wanting! This is an extraordinary offering from the dynamic duo of Barbara Sheridan and Anne Cain. If you haven’t read their work before, and I admit this is my first, then you are really missing out! As of right now, I’m desperately trying to get my hands on the previous books in this series (have I mentioned how much I love my “job”?), apparently there are quite a few! Despite the fact that this is the latest installment in the Dragon’s Disciple series, Dark Whispers is an amazing stand-alone novel that tests your boundaries.

Fair warning, this is not an “easy” book to read. There are a few scenes that may hit your ICK trigger, most notably an interesting sampling of bodily fluids. That's all I'll tell you, but they helped me to understand certain desires and motivations of the main characters. Sheridan and Cain delve into extremely dark desires and a complicated, shadowy world, but they do it with such skill you can’t help but be swept along in the sensual tide. They keep you guessing as to who’s truly good and who’s irredeemably evil, and the twists and turns along the way make for an intense tale of suspense.

When first I met Sakurai… I didn’t like him! I thought he was hot, but I didn’t like him. I thought he was fascinating, but I didn’t like him. I kept wondering how in the world he was going to be Dai’s love interest. I mean, as a vampire he didn’t even think humans were much more than pets, or cattle, how could he come to love one? How in the world can he redeem himself? Here is where the amazing talent of Ms. Sheridan and Ms. Cain come into play. As Sakurai spends more time in Dai’s presence, he slowly starts to come around, and his “humanity” begins to assert itself. The fact that he is vastly disgusted with himself and the feelings he has for Dai is actually quite humorous. His internal dialogue is not only self-deprecating, it surprised a snicker from me on more than one occasion. When his long forgotten honor begins to make demands of his conscience, Sakurai is helpless to fight against their ever increasing demands. I found myself fascinated by him and his internal struggle and even rooting for him to find his own Happy-Ever-After.

Dai was interesting, and complex. His past hurts and misdeeds give him a depth that made me want to hug him, and love him, and stroke him... *sigh*... sorry, got lost for a minute there. He had such dark, repressed desires that he wasn’t sure how to deal with them, so he doesn’t. When all else fails… deny the feelings even exist! It seemed to have worked just fine, at least as far as he’s concerned, until a dark stranger invades every aspect of his life… even his dreams. As if his life wasn’t complicated enough with his job hitting the skids and his half-brother’s questionable associates in Chinatown, now he has disturbing feelings for a shadowy and complicated man. His wry and caustic sense of humor was the perfect compliment for Sakurai’s own disconcerting humor and made it so I found him incredibly appealing, and so, apparently, did Sakurai. As Dai unravels the mystery behind the strange and violent happenings in Chinatown, he is forced to come to terms with his own sexuality and his much deeper feelings for Sakurai.

This book was a journey of redemption and discovery for two men who were more than ready for love to find them… whether they wanted to admit it or not! I can’t really say that I “enjoyed” this book… I was compelled to read it, it captured me, I couldn’t put it down, I loved it, I want more! If you love male/male books, and like to walk on the dark side than this is a must for you! I look forward to future offerings from Ms. Sheridan and Ms. Cain, and can’t wait to get my hands on their previous books! Definitely worthy of 5 cherries!

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Review by Viscaria

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Review: Playing to Win

Playing to Win
By Shelley Munro

Professional rugby player Lane Gerrard is used to women throwing themselves at him, but a scurrilous tabloid article naming him as father of a child sends his temper soaring. The woman he confronts doesn't fit the blackmailer profile. Kate Alexander is attractive with an enchanting innocence, enticing. A total stranger. Her feistiness draws his unwilling admiration, but the child…he is the image of Lane.

Kate can't deny her son's similarity to the sexy man at her door but no way will she hand him over without a fight. Kate doesn't possess money but she can shower her son with love. With public speculation rife, Kate reluctantly works with Lane to discover the truth. They grow closer as distrust slowly turns to mutual fascination, but the tabloid articles bring out a stalker. Mild pranks escalate into danger, and suddenly Lane realizes Kate is a woman he could love. With Kate and her son, he could have a family. Now, with his heart on the line, this is one game he's playing to win.

This story had me wide-eyed the entire time I was reading. I knew that Ms. Munro could write romance with zing but this is the first book I've read of hers where the focus was on suspense and drama. It was an incredible experience and I'm still pumped from reading it.

The story follows Kate, an aromatherapist who is raising her sister's son. She's doing alright for herself, considering the hell she's pulled herself out of. Kate is plucky, strong, loving and I liked her character.

The initial part of the plot centers around the allegations that Kate is actually the birth mother of Jamie, her son. Lane, a hunky and wealthy rugby player, is the dad. A dad that had abandoned his child as soon as he supposedly found out Kate was pregnant ten years before and the newspapers are at their muckraking finest in exploiting the story.

The emotional conflicts between Lane and Kate and then Lane and Jamie, his son--or is he?--were well done and logical. Once I understood where Kate was coming from, so much made sense and I was invested in the hope of Kate getting her HEA.

Lane is the perfect gentleman and Kate is having a really hard time believing it. Due to her bad experience in the past, she digs her heels in many times throughout the story. And each time made perfect sense for her to do so. The result is heightened sensual tension that is as suspenseful as the external conflict.

The external conflict comes in the form of some pranks against Kate which quickly morph into scary and unnerving incidents. I'm glad she didn't play the hero, nor did Lane. The police were involved in a realistic manner which was a breath of fresh air. A lot of stories lately have the hero or heroine acting like hotshots while downplaying the role of regular law enforcement. I found Ms. Munro's handling of Kate's crisis very well written as well as the climax of the ultimate criminal act. That scene defined the word 'suspense'.

Another thing I enjoyed were the well written love scenes between Lane and Kate. They were romantic and tender yet intensely sensual and hot - scenes Ms. Munro is a master at. I could understand Kate's holding back from the pull of attraction because of the ghosts from her past. Lane's persistent pursuit was interspersed with gentle humor, patience--even though it killed him--and sexual prowess. Yet through it all, I got to see their relationship grow and love blossom even during a most stressful situation. The timing of everything was spot on.

I also noticed a wonderful aspect during the story. No matter how crazy the situation got, Kate never forgot about Ratty the rat. As filled with suspense and mayhem as this story gets, Ms. Munro never forgot the littlest critter. Believe me, I wondered. So every time I saw him being cared for in the story, I mentally high-fived the author. It's all in the details and she didn't miss a trick.

I highly recommend Playing to Win for both the intense suspense and drama, the well developed characters,the hot loving and an HEA that will satisfy any romance reader. It has it all.

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Reviewed by Xeranth

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Review: Master Game

Master Game
by Cassandra Kane

When Cally Thaykes is pitted against the mysterious Kye Jaks in the Shri-La combat championship finals, she's only intent on winning the game. But the blue-skinned Kye is on a mission and during the combat transports Cally to Aylora, an all-male mining planet on the edge of the galaxy. She’s to provide an heir to Prince Hermes, ruler of Aylora, and will be the prize in a planet-wide contest to find the next male consort to the Prince.

Cally wastes no time in escaping, with Kye and Orantes, captain of the Prince’s bodyguards, in hot pursuit. Trapped together by a sudden storm, Cally, Kye and Orantes find their volatile feelings turning to lust, and form a bond in ways they never before experienced.

When the tyrannical Prince finds them, jealousy forces him to pursue a savage revenge. But will the trio be able to overcome their punishment or be separated forever?

Callie is in the finals of the Shri-La Combat competition when she is kidnapped by Kye, her opponent, and taken to his all-male planet, Aylora. Doesn't sound like such a bad deal (wink, wink), but her sole purpose for being there is to produce an heir for the not-so-nice prince Hermes, which isn't so good. Callie doesn't take this lying down and escapes. Kye and Orantes, a young soldier who is already in love with Kye, set out to re-capture her, but all become trapped in a cave after they find her. This is where the fun begins.

This adventure has some dramatic twists and turns that propel the story to a wholly satisfying conclusion, but the most moving element for me is the development of the relationships between the three protagonists, Callie, Kye and Orantes. The love scenes are exquisitely written. Although explicit, the intimacy is tender and alluring, and you experience the genuine love and warmth that each feels equally for the other two.

I thoroughly enjoyed "Master Game" and will add Cassandra Kane to my "must read" author list.



Review by Camomile

Monday, March 17, 2008

Review: At the Dungeon Master's Hand

At the Dungeon Master's Hand
by Jennifer Cole

Level headed workaholic Natalie Buchanan needs to let loose. She has been working 24/7 on a career altering project with the prestigious magazine where she is employed. Without having had a minute to herself, she is determined to enjoy her first weekend off in six weeks.

Natalie is appalled to see that her two best friends have dragged her to Le club d'Esclavage -- The Club of Slavery -- for their fun-filled evening of ‘stress relief’. Deserted in record time once the trio enters the BDSM club, she seizes the opportunity to escape.

Before she can locate the exit, Natalie finds herself the desired interest of a leather hooded, bare chested man watching her from the bar.

The masked stranger stalks toward her purposefully grabbing her from behind, his deep, sultry voice vibrates through her body as he whispers, “You ... are mine.”

Oh what’s a girl to do?

This story is short and sizzling, with well developed characters and a titillating glimpse into the BDSM lifestyle.

Natalie is incredibly real. She's tired; she's been working herself to death to get a promotion, but — under protest — she agrees to go out with her life-long best friends, even though she'd rather curl up with a good romance. Her fatigue is realistically conveyed as is her loyalty and love for her friends, even though she recognizes them to be trouble magnets. This night is no exception as she finds herself in a slave club and, not surprisingly, ditched by her friends as they seek their own sexy fun.

Mystified, Natalie somehow finds herself with a totally ripped masked man, engaging in sexual activities she tells herself she doesn't want to do, but is puzzled when she keeps submitting herself to him. Her hesitancy and confusion — and capitulation to his demands — magnifies the intensity of the passion between them and had me fanning myself as I turned the pages.

There are secrets that are revealed at the end that further enhance the identities of both Natalie and the masked man. They both are able to seize the opportunity to fulfill forbidden fantasies in more ways than one, bringing their journey to a most satisfying conclusion. I really enjoyed this story and I hope you'll give it a try.



Review by Camomile

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Review: Children of the Dust 3: Rebellion

Children of the Dust 3: Rebellion
by Eve Vaughn

Secrets...

Holly’s discovered one that could cost her her life. The Cyrellians are siphoning off all Earth’s natural resources, preparing to leave humanity to die in the dust. Before she can share what she knows, the Cyrellians see that Holly is locked away, safely out of sight. After all, who would believe the tales of a crazy woman?

One man would. Chase, the Freedom Fighter she's tried so hard to forget. Haunted by dreams of one sweet moment with a voluptuous redhead, Chase vows to risk life and limb to free Holly and keep her where she belongs -- in his arms. Though their attraction burns red hot for each other, Holly isn't so sure she can trust the hunky blond Freedom Fighter. Chase, however, is determined to make her his at all costs.

I love capable, tenacious women in romance and Holly is all that and more. She is a strong woman that will take whatever risk necessary to do the right thing and doesn't shrink from responsibility; instead, she dives in. She's also not a perfect female specimen — she's carrying a few extra pounds — so she has an everyday-women quality that made her even more appealing to me as this regular girl tries to accomplish extraordinary things.

Chase and Holly are in a couple of dicey situations in which the suspense is gripping and kept my eyes glued to the words. I found Chase's tough exterior and quiet determination to win Holly over stirring. Chase is a hunky dish and knows how use his assets to please a woman, and the steam of their lovemaking leaps off the page. It's understandable with the stress of their situation — and Holly's insecurities — that she is reluctant to label their passion as anything but casual sex. But Chase is patient and uncompromising in his resolve to claim her. He seeks love and has no compulsion to deny it — even embraces it — which classifies him as a keeper in my book.

The protagonist is rather broad in the form of an entire race of aliens out to pilfer Earth which works well based on the theme of the story. There is, however, a cookie-cutter evil doctor, complete with a long, scary syringe. I half expected him to blare out a "Moo-ah-ah-ah!" at some point as he approached her with the needle. His character was necessary but I found him a bit abrupt. Rather than disconnecting me from the story, though, I was somewhat amused by him.

"Rebellion" is the third in a series, but there is enough background provided that it is able to stand alone, although Bella and Sydney's storylines are touched on in this book and will most likely intrigue you. I highly recommend this installment of the series, where the action keeps the tension high and your eyes on the page.

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Reviewed by Camomille