A Passionate Play by Jessica Lauryn


A Passionate Play by Jessica Lauryn
Publisher: Siren BookStrand
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (302 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

On the heels of a major performance, theater actress Alicia Coleman is attacked in an alleyway. She is struck over the head with a pistol and the blow causes her to lose her memory. Injured and afraid, Alicia struggles to remember the details of her life. The only person who appears to know who she is, is the man she fears may also be her attacker.

In the midst of several failed attempts to escape, Alicia comes to know the man whose home she awoke in and realizes that the two of them share a complicated past. Though Nick refuses to tell her much beyond her first name, a series of dreams, in which she and he are sharing a lot more than the second story of a secluded mansion, cause Alicia to suspect the most outrageous of possibilities—that the man holding her prisoner may actually be her lover. Surrounding threats, including that of a midnight intruder, cause Alicia to realize that proving her theory true (or not) may be her only chance of keeping her attacker from coming after her a second time.

As I was reading this story I was overcome with the sensation I was watching a Matlock or Perry Mason episode. I don’t know if you are familiar with either of those TV series but I used to watch them faithfully. Some episodes were better than others but I loved the “who done it?” and “why”. If you enjoyed either of those two TV shows like I did then readers will enjoy A Passionate Play!

This plot was full of mystery but I had to go back and re-read sometimes because I forgot or missed something and it wasn’t making sense. After a couple times of that I went and got a pen and paper to take notes making the pace slow when I came to those hiccups. Please note that it was worth the note taking and the hiccups didn’t take away from the story because, halfway through the book the pace dramatically picked up and stayed steady.

Do you ever watch a TV show and talk out loud to whoever is in the room and ask “Why did she open the door without looking?” Only to have whoever is in the room say “Because it’s a TV show and that’s how they wrote the script”. It happens to me all the time. I roll my eyes at the person in the room for stating the obvious and then I roll my eyes at the show yet I can’t take my eyes off the screen just in case I miss what happens next. Well, take that experience and apply it to this book.

This novel had me talking out loud and rolling my eyes yet I couldn’t put the book down! I felt like I was possessed by complete morbid curiosity. My husband was in the room and could hear me talking out loud “What? , What? , Who ?, Why?, What ?, Who? NO, NO, no”. He asked if it was a good book and I was conflicted with a “yes and no”.

Nick Lancaster is the hero. He loved Alicia, the heroine so much that he’d do anything to protect her on his own and in his own way. That was a talk out loud moment for me but that was what created the drama in the story. Alicia had amnesia until the end of the story so we only know the kind of person she was according to Nick. With the amnesia it was like we got to see the real Alicia since she wasn’t under life’s influence. Even without her memory she sensed Nick was the one for her. I could feel the chemistry and sensual tension between Nick and Alicia.

There is no doubt that Nick and Alicia never would have had a happily ever after romance if she didn’t lose her memory because of what Nick did. I for one still couldn’t forgive him for what he did but what I feel doesn’t matter. Alicia loved him enough to forgive him. Part of the mystery was solved to conclude a happy ever after between Nick and Alicia but there is a bigger thread that alludes to a book two. Therefore the story did end with a happy ever after but I didn’t experience a book glow nor would Nick be on my list of book boyfriends.

This was a good book if you enjoy suspense/mystery romance stories. I’m glad that I read it and didn’t find it to be a waste of my time. I do recommend that others read A Passionate Play. I really think this story would be a great novel for a book club to read and have discussions about. I’d love to hear what others thought about this book. Even though my feelings were very conflicted about the plot, there was something about it that was irresistible and that was what kept me flipping the pages.

Kiss Me, Cowboy by Carol Lynne


Kiss Me, Cowboy by Carol Lynne
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (59 pgs)
Other: M/M Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

It isn’t easy to cling to teenage promises when you become one of the forgotten.

For Eli Barron, Jesse Clooney has always been the one. From their first day of kindergarten through their high school graduation, the pair were inseparable.
So, when a situation arises that splits the two men apart, it’s up to Eli to keep the home fires burning as Jesse sets off to follow his dreams on the rodeo circuit.
But how long can a man continue to stoke the fire before the flames die out?

They say love is forever, but when you find your soulmate as a teen, it’s much harder to believe. Just ask Eli Barron who found the love of his life in kindergarten. When life happens and Eli is forced to say goodbye the only man he’s ever loved, will he be able to hold on? Or will he be forced to move on and give up on his dreams?

Eli is quite a catch. Although he’s loved Jesse since they were kids, he’s still able to allow his boyfriend the freedom to ride the circuit and try to make a living away from his abusive father. He’s so confident in Jesse’s love that no matter how difficult things get, he keeps hold of his faith and continues on. Jesse has no idea how lucky he is.

Jesse Clooney needs to get the heck out of town. Having spent his life under the scrutiny of everyone in their small town, as soon as graduation hits, he feels the need to flee. It’s not a choice he wants to make, but it’s one he feels like he has to make in order to break free of the stigma of being ‘that abused child’. Since the entire story is told through Eli’s point of view, it’s hard to know what’s really going on in Jesse’s head, although I want to believe that he thinks he’s doing the right thing, even if he really pushes Eli’s love to the limit.

Kiss Me, Cowboy is a short and intense story spanning many years. You really get to know Eli, his life, and his heartache over Jesse. That was the only thing that really bothered me about this story. Eli suffered so much waiting for Jesse to return and dealing with the disappointment as the narrative wore on. You want things to work out for him, but sometimes you also wish he said ‘enough’ and moved on to someone else. In the end, I’m happy that they managed to work it out and get their happily ever after. Jesse should be thankful, too, after the emotional roller coaster Eli took us on. All in all, a very emotional and passionate story.

Dragon King’s Prize by Angelique Voisen


Dragon King’s Prize by Angelique Voisen
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Paranormal Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (73 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Leon is an anomaly, born to a family of hunters who believe all shifters need to die. When his family goes too far and uses a young dragon shifter as bait, Leon is forced to make the greatest mistake…or best decision of his life. Saved by an Alpha dragon, Leon wonders if Rashik is his captor or the one man he’s been searching for all his life.

Dragon King Rashik has been on the search for a stolen hatchling. He never expected to find a tasty and defiant human with steel in his spine. Humans hunt his kind for sport, yet Rashik can’t deny his attraction. Leon might be different but claiming the human could shift the balance in his clan.

Regardless of the consequences, Rashik is king for a reason. Once he sets his sights on Leon, Rashik will do anything to claim him.

All his life Leon just tried to survive. Living in the shadow of his father, the mighty paranormal hunter, was not always a good thing especially when he did not believe in his father’s ideals. Leon always believed that the shifters had just as much right to be in this world as the humans did. When Leon goes against his father and the other hunters by saving a baby dragon he finds himself under the protection of the dragon king. Just what will happen to Leon now that he is among the dragons. Is he safe or has he just traded one prison for another one?

Leon’s story grabs you right from the start. He leads a hard life living amongst the hunters and believing that the shifters have a right to live. Being beaten and ostracized, Leon takes one last chance to do one thing right in his life and that decision leads him to Rashik and his dragons. From the very beginning the two feel something going on between them and they must figure out just where they each stand. I enjoyed watching the two find their way to each other and their happy ever after. They live in a world that is divided yet the two men find a way to come together and fight for what is right. Not only do we get to see Rashik and Leon’s relationship build but we also get to see Leon grow and find himself as he fights to protect the baby dragon. There are those that are full of hate in every race and Leon finds that he must be on guard at all times. Love and trust are key to Leon and Rashik’s relationship and the two must realize when to let their guard down and let that love and trust in.

The author weaves and intriguing story full of adventure and emotions. I quickly found myself engrossed in their story and as with any good book it left me wanting to return and see more from this world and its characters.

A Match Made in Texas by Margaret Brownley


A Match Made in Texas by Margaret Brownley
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (369 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Welcome to Two-Time Texas:
Where tempers burn hot
Love runs deep
And a single woman can change the course of history:
There’s a new sheriff in town.

Amanda Lockwood gets more than she bargained for when she’s elected Two-Time Texas’s first female sheriff. Anxious to prove herself, she sets out to stop crime in its tracks—taking down wanted man Rick Barrett in the process. But there’s something special about the charming outlaw. Common sense says he must be guilty…but her heart keeps telling her otherwise.

So what’s a sheriff to do? Gather an all-female posse and ride to save the day.

Things sure don’t look good for Rick. If he doesn’t convince the pretty sheriff to let him go, he’ll soon be pushing up daisies. But his plan to woo her to his side backfires when he’s the one who falls head over heels. Now he must choose between freedom or saving the woman he loves…and the clock is ticking.

Who knew A Match Made in Texas could be such sweet, clean, madcap fun?

She’s a young, independent woman. She’s fighting for women’s right to vote and has been in jail a few times. She’s not interested in marrying. She’s also her parent’s despair…

She’s traveling back home on the stage and the driver is running the team like a demon. She cusses him out, he throws her and her baggage off the stage and leaves her in the middle of nowhere. This is not a good start at getting back home. When a cowboy pulls up in his wagon and offers her a ride, she’s not sure she trusts him. However, there’s no other way to town because she can’t pull her hope chest all that way. She says yes.

This was a very cute story with danger, robberies, a house burning down and a sudden interest on Amanda’s part with this particular cowboy. She decides to forget him but she can’t. It gets even worse when she says she’ll run for Sheriff to further support women’s rights. The men protest but they can’t stop her. It’s even worse when she gets the most votes.

The story moves well, the snappy conversation between Amanda and Rick will make you laugh, and her deputy is a joke but she does her best. Rick even tells the men that she hit what she was aiming at chest level. He didn’t mention it was her hope chest.

When Rick gets thrown in jail for murder, it really makes her worry. How can she prove he didn’t do it without witnesses? Luckily she has a woman posse (which all the men are mad about) who can help her. There’s no way not to enjoy a book where the Sheriff can’t shoot straight, her deputy wants to shoot everyone, and her posse runs around in carriages. Enough silly stuff happens to make it a fun read and it ends well. This was a very enjoyable read.

Cowboys Don’t Come Out by Tara Lain


Cowboys Don’t Come Out by Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (200 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Rand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii, with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.

Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.

They say opposites attract and there aren’t two men more different than Rand and Kai. But when the two men finally meet and discover an undeniable attraction, will the two closeted cowboys find a way to overcome their fears and find happiness? Or will they allow their stubborn pride and obligations come between them? Hop a flight to Hawaii and come find out.

Rand is my kind of guy. Although he’s so far in the closet he might wind up in Narnia one day, he’s content with the life he’s living. He puts all his energy into running a little tourist ranch and raising horses. His loyalty to his crew and his love of his parents made me like him even more. He’s a good guy who only needs to meet the right guy and he’d finally have it all. Kai truly is that right guy.

Kai is an interesting guy who is hiding a secret. Unknown to anyone, he is sole provider to his much younger brother and sister. Working as a trail guide, he does everything he can to provide for the kids and keep their situation quiet. While this is admirable, it does cause Kai to act a little suspect at times. Until this book, I’d never heard of panilolos – Hawaiian cowboys. And then I met Kai and was entranced. There is so much history in Hawaii and I have only scratched the barest surface. It added an interesting dimension to his already complicated character.

Cowboys have long been a favorite subject of mine, seeing as I’ve spent most of my life in the southwest, so Cowboys Don’t Come Out was a natural choice for me. Although, at times, there was a bit of unnecessary melodrama due to a few side characters, the overall story was sweet with a few heartbreaking moments near the end. It was an excellent start to the series.

Highland Hellion by Mary Wine


Highland Hellion by Mary Wine
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (314 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

KATHERINE CAREW

Illegitimate daughter of an English earl… Abducted to Scotland at age 14… No family, no reputation… No rules

ROLFE MCTAVISH

Heir to an honorable Highland laird… Can’t believe how well tomboy Kate can fight… About to learn how much of a woman she really is

Scotland is seething with plots, the vengeful Gordons are spoiling for a fight, and the neighboring clans are at each other’s throats. All it takes is a passionate hellion with a penchant for reckless adventure to ignite the Highlands once more.

Mary Wine’s tales always transport me to the far-away and long-ago Highlands where danger and feuding are forever present. Highland Hellion is one of her best. I highly recommend it.

Bastard born to an English noble, Katherine Carew, at age fourteen, was sent to Scotland to be used by the Earl of Morton in his efforts to keep England from invading Scotland and to bring peace to Scotland’s “forever-feuding” Highlanders—Highlanders who hated English blood. She becomes the Highland Hellion.

Marcus MacPherson, ordered to marry Katherine, pulls a fast one on the Earl of Morton. Marcus marries Helen, the woman he loves, and spirits Katherine away to the far north where he trains her along with the young men of the MacPherson clan. However, at age twenty, she is told she cannot go on raids with the young men. She must now start dressing like a woman and doing things women do, things for which she has no training.

She rebels and sneaks out at night on her horse. The raiding neighboring clans capture her and use her to their own advantage or, at least try to. Her hard-won courage is her sole possession. She calls up every ounce of that courage to survive in a world where she is hated just because of her blood.

Rolfe McTavish takes Katherine from the cruel Gordon clan. Rather than take her home to the MacPherson clan, he takes her to his clan’s stronghold to teach her a lesson.

Here we have the beginning of a turbulent love story that sends the heart racing. Love versus duty becomes a major issue as Rolfe’s crippled father, the Laird of McTavish, against his son’s wishes, plans to use her to gain title and position for himself.

How Mary Wine works things around so all the clans that had tried to use Katherine end up in Edinburgh area wanting to save her makes spellbinding reading.

Lastly, Adwin, Rolfe’s mentor since he was a child, sees Rolfe scolding and almost crushing Katherine for doing a super courageous thing to save Rolfe. Adwin tells Rolfe in no uncertain terms: “Do not let her affection be strangled by your pride.”

How a happy-ever-after comes out of all this is amazing.

SUPER GOOD READING!

Just a Cowboy by Julia Talbot


Just a Cowboy by Julia Talbot
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (88 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Can an old-fashioned cowboy and a young man on the run from his dark past find a future together?

Herschel is a simple rancher who believes everybody deserves a second chance, which is why he tends to hire underdogs—like Dalton, a young cowboy who needs all the support and TLC Herschel can offer.

Dalton doesn’t think anyone can forgive him for what he did, but Herschel seems willing to try. In fact, he might be the best thing that has ever happened to Dalton. He might even be the one to help Dalton trust in the future again. Just when he’s about to tell Herschel everything, all hell breaks loose. Herschel must help Dalton break free from everything that’s haunting him, or they’ll both end up alone.

Everyone deserves a second chance… or do they? If you ask Dalton, you might be surprised by his answer. What Dalton doesn’t expect is to run into the one cowboy that can change it all for him if he’ll only put forth a little effort and communicate. Can two very stubborn cowboys from different worlds find a way to make it work? Time – and a little love – will tell.

I loved Herschel from the very beginning. He’s your typical cowboy who only wants a simple life doing what he loves. Herschel can waver between big brother and father figure to everyone he knows and it’s quite endearing to see how he is with other cowboys. Watching him move from boss to lover with Dalton was a real treat.

Dalton has a habit of acting like an irrational child. While he’s young, he’s been on his own for a bit and should have a better handle on his reactions. That said, he’s a sweet kid and an excellent match for Herschel as he brings a bit of levity to Hersch’s stubborn ways. The older cowboy does a lot to help Dalton overcome his fears and grow into the boots he’s wearing in return.

Once Dalton is forced to face his past, things get hairy, mostly because the entire situation is a little dramatic. Dalton’s pregnant sister, his parents, and half the town where Dalton grew up only add to the chaos. This is one of those times where being a bit stubborn is both good and bad. Good because it gives you the drive to do what needs to be done, but bad as well because it keeps you from admitting to being wrong. In the end, Just a Cowboy, was a sweet and enjoyable story full of hot cowboys and a lot of craziness.

Two Heads Are Deader Than One by Elena Hartwell


Two Heads Are Deader Than One by Elena Hartwell
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Private Investigator Eddie Shoes is enjoying a rare period of calm. She’s less lonely now that Chava, her card-counting mom from Vegas, is sharing her home. She also has a new companion, Franklin, a giant dog of curious ancestry.
Hoping for a lucrative new case, Eddie instead finds herself taking on a less promising client: her best friend from her childhood in Spokane. Dakota has turned up in Bellingham in jail, where she is being held on a weapons charge. Eddie reluctantly agrees not only to lend her friend money for bail but to also investigate who is stalking her. Soon after Dakota is freed, she disappears again, leaving Eddie to answer to the local cops, including her ex-boyfriend Chance Parker. Has Dakota been kidnapped? If not, why did she jump bail? What are Eddie’s business cards doing on the bodies of two murder victims?

The key to these mysteries lies in Dakota and Eddie’s shared history, which ended when Eddie left home after high school. As a person of interest in both murder cases, Eddie is forced to go in search of the truth, digging into the past and facing her own demons.

She wasn’t going to answer the phone but then she heard a voice from her past…

This is the second book in the Eddie Shoe mystery series. Book one was a good read and this one is also. The stories move quickly, there’s always danger, moments that make you laugh, and you worry about Eddie. She’s a good PI but she’s not real careful about her own safety. The author has her sticking her nose out a little further than necessary but it sure makes for a fun read.

The woman calling her was her best friend in high school. She’s in jail in her town and wants some help with bail money. Dakota manages to make her feel guilty so she goes down and gets her out. But then Dakota goes to ground and she can’t find her. She’s also not answering her cellphone. When she starts to check out her story, nothing she’s told her is true. Even worse, when she opens the door across the hall where it said they had tarot card readings but ran a prostitution ring, she finds a dead man.

The cops have a dead body and lots of blood in another part of the room. But the dead man didn’t bleed. Whose blood was it?

Eddie keeps digging. She even goes back to Spokane to search out old haunts where she and Dakota hung out. There are still secrets in Spokane and when she finds out the truth, she’ll be free from the guilt of an accident at the end of high school that took someone’s life.

It takes the whole story until the clues start going together. It’s a well thought out mystery, you meet more characters from Eddie’s life and her boyfriend is still around. Maybe in the next book they’ll get back together again. Watch for the third book. Eddie isn’t done snooping yet.

Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns by Tara Lain


Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns by Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (226 pgs)
Other: M/M, Multiple Partners, Anal Play, Voyeurism
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Cowboy Danny Boone—a name he made up one drunken night and has regretted ever since—harbors a big past and yearns for a small future. A short, bright career as a champion bull rider almost ended in his death when his homophobic father discovered Danny was gay. Now Danny longs for a plot of land he can build a ranch house on and enough money to make up for some of the education he missed.

Danny also hides a preference for beautiful femmes who like to top—a combo rarer than a unicorn. Then onto the guest ranch where Danny works drives San Francisco decorator Laurie Belmont, a young man so gorgeous he makes horses gasp, and so ballsy he almost kills Danny’s attacker.

Laurie’s trying to find his way out from under the thumb of a domineering mother, helpless father, and rich, privileged boyfriend.

But no matter the attraction, their lives are worlds apart, and cowboys don’t ride unicorns.

Everyone has their own preferences and discerning tastes, but sometimes what you want and what you can actually get are on opposite ends of the spectrum. This is Danny Boone’s quandary – does he settle for what he can get his hands on or does he keep searching for that elusive man that will trip his trigger indefinitely? Should a cowboy search for his unicorn or stick with his ever-ready pony?

Danny Boone! I was so happy when I realized this was his book. I loved the relationship he and Rand had in the first installment and seeing him more fully fleshed out made me happy. He’s a great guy – solid, hardworking, reliable – and the best hand Rand has around. But he’s also lonely and looking for something more which made me sad to read. It was good going into the story knowing he was finally going to find his happiness.

Laurie Belmont. I wanted to like Laurie so much, especially once you learn about how his family and his boyfriend treat him. You don’t find many unrepentantly authentic characters these days and I was happy to see Laurie so at ease with the man that he was. However, since he’s very femme, at times, his actions and reactions went over the top. So much so that, at several points, he felt more like a caricature or stereotype rather than an actual character. The moments when he and Danny are alone, Laurie is most like himself and he’s really fun and lovable at those times.

Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns brings two very unlikely characters together under even more unlikely circumstances. Generally, those ‘deep, dark secrets’ don’t work for me, but Danny’s secret is of the kind that makes sense to hide in an effort to move past it. For the most part, he has done exactly that. The author does throw you a twist by switching up the sexual preferences of Danny and Laurie, giving you a less stereotypical romance between the two men. Even with all the drama, meddling parents, and other craziness, I enjoyed seeing Kai, Rand, and the kids again as well as watching Danny find his happiness.

BEARly Resisting by Jenika Snow


BEARly Resisting by Jenika Snow
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (48 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Killian knew his mate was out there. Being celibate in hopes he’ll find his female hasn’t been a hardship, but he’s growing impatient.

And then he sees her. She’s human, gorgeous, and will be his. He doesn’t even know her name, but her smell is sugary and tells his possessive inner bear she’s supposed to be his in all ways.

Alice planned a weekend of relaxation, but instead, she found herself mated to a bear shifter. Alice doesn’t fight the attraction she has for Killian, not when she wants to be between the sheets with him in the worst possible way. Alice is single one day and mated to a growly bear shifter the next, but can it last forever?

I enjoyed this sizzling hot paranormal romance.

The steamy plot easily captured my interest. It had a strong heroine, a sexy alpha male, and crazy hot sex. Alice wasn’t looking for excitement but she sure didn’t run away from it either. I liked that about her. She had a naughty fantasy about having wild sex with a shifter. She was drawn to the right place at the right time and met Killian. He was a sexy bear shifter looking for his mate.These two had a wild night of hot shifter loving, scratching, biting and mating. Yes, they were true mates. This short story was a quick read. For the most part the only drama was Alice understanding that Killian meant business when he said he was keeping her as his mate.

This was a short book that seemed to fly by at a super fast pace. I liked the characters and the story. So looking forward to more books from Jenika Snow.