Stacking the Deck by Selena Illyria
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (92 Pages)
Other: M/F, BDSM, Anal Play
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove
Bounty Hunter and Dragon Dean returns home hoping to spend some time with his office manager and new mate Carrie. What he gets is confusion. He’s confronted with communication and connection issues. He feels attacked and backed into a corner with no direction to go in. To find a place to start he turns to Sundae’s Adult Easter Baskets hoping that this will give him a handhold to grip as he tries to break through the walls both of them have erected due to their pasts.
Carrie has missed her mate but can’t take the lack of communication she feels when he’s on the job. For the longest time she’s been alone. Now that she has a mate she wants to feel that connection to another person. She doesn’t know why Dean holds himself back from her, both on the road and while at home. She needs him to be present and here, to open up to her. But if she pushes too hard she could lose him forever. Can Sundae’s keep it’s sexily ever after guarantee?
Stacking the Deck is one in a series of books by a variety of authors, all featuring sensual Easter baskets designed for pleasure and romance. This is Selena Illyria’s contribution to the series, and it is a look into a relationship that could easily fail, if both parties aren’t willing to share openly and truthfully.
Communication is essential in a relationship. Sharing his feelings is something that Dean is not comfortable with. As a dragon, and a bounty hunter of paranormal beings, he has never felt the need to share what’s on his mind. His past is filled with darkness and pain, and he can’t face it again. Carrie also has a painful secret buried away, and it is these secrets, both hers and Dean’s, that are weighing them down. But now he is in danger of losing his mate if he doesn’t find a way to open up and reach out to her. He’s is afraid it may already be too late, because he can feel Carrie pulling away from him. Carrie loves her mate Dean, but she wants him to communicate more. When Dean returns after a long mission, he can feel his mate pulling away, and doesn’t want to lose her. When he sees an advertisement on line for an adult Easter basket, he hopes it will help bridge the chasm developing between them. When the basket arrives, Dean and Carrie explore the various items and decide to try out the deck of sensual cards, to hopefully open the lines of communication and strengthen their bonds once again. As they follow the activities on the cards, will Carrie and Dean find a new sense of togetherness? Can Dean and Carrie learn that they both need to be more open and communicative for their love to flourish and grow, or is there no hope for these two mates?
The world building here is a treat, with attention to detail and some small and intriguing facets to it. The characters are well defined, and the focus is on just two people, Dean and Carrie. There are others in the background, but not really interacted with in any major way.
Carrie is a strong woman, but is wounded inside. She was abandoned as a baby, left for a human family, and ridiculed most of her life due to her fairy heritage. She never knew her birth parents, and this is behind her insecurity with Dean…if they left her, why wouldn’t he? I liked that she was willing to walk away from her mate Dean if he couldn’t open up and share with her, but I also liked that she knew she would have to tell him her past as well. She is a combination of sweet and sensual, and she was strong enough to face her fears with Dean.
Dean is strong, determined and rough, and he doesn’t understand why communication is important to his mate. He does know he can’t bear to lose her, so he is ready to try something new. I liked that he was open to trying, and the idea of the special Easter basket for Carrie was a good one. I liked that Dean was willing to make some changes on his side, rather than demand Carrie do it all. His ability to compromise, and even to relax and let Carrie take control was a giant step for these two.
Carrie and Dean had some rough patches to work through, and this story shows how important communication is to any relationship. Once these two got into the spirit of the Truth or Dare cards, there were many possible outcomes, and this book explores the many options open to Carrie and Dean to bridge the difficult times and make their lives what they wanted. This is for those who like romance, magic and lots of heat.