Siren’s Song by K. M. Tolan

Siren’s Song by K. M. Tolan
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (261 pgs)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

He was of two minds about everything, and one of them wasn’t human.

Humans called the crystalline creatures Sirens. They could kill with a scream. Decapitate with a single slash of their cutting fins. The aliens were the most vicious life form Earth ever encountered, and Scott had one trapped in his mind. Her name was Water, and her hatred for Scott’s species was only matched by her desire to be free of him. Scott couldn’t agree more, but neither of them understood the cost of letting her out. In order to save their sanity, Scott and Water have to save her people.

When all of your life you desire peace in your mind and the time comes that your desire is granted, you may soon wish that it wasn’t.

Scott Rellant is a normal human with an abnormal mind. An alien species that we are at war with resides in his brain and has remained there since shortly after his birth. Due to an act that saved his life, Scott was cursed with the alien named Water, who lives inside of his mind and can take over all functions of his being on occasion.

This was a phenomenal story in which two different species must work together to understand the other or risk losing everything in the mix. The author goes so much further than just addressing the opposite viewpoints of Scott and Water, he dives deep to look at the emotional impact of institutionalization for Scott due to Water’s presence, the disrupted family dynamic that Scott is forced into and the loss of family and even purpose for Water.

K. M. Tolan works through the separation of Scott and Water and presents both sides in such a remarkable way that the reader feels interwoven into the story. The feelings that Scott and Water feel, the internal and external struggles become so real to the reader that putting down the book is not an option. To right what was wronged so many years in the past, Scott and Water join forces to combat an evil that is ever present in our own world today.

Siren’s Song touches on so many relevant topics we face today both emotionally and morally; and the threads of the story are woven so strongly that that once you are done reading Siren’s Song, you just want to pick it up again and begin reading again! I must admit I have not read a book that resonated with me this well in a long time. I cannot wait to pick up another book by K.M. Tolan, but truth be told, the next book by him will have a high bar to aspire to!

Bedding The Babysitter by Sam Crescent

Bedding The Babysitter by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (49 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Elise has had a crush on Jon Ross for as long as she can remember. He’s a divorced father, and she loved babysitting for him. His twins were adorable, and she just couldn’t deny him. At twenty-one, and home from college, she is surprised to get the call asking for her to babysit his twins once again. She can’t say no, and she can’t wait to see him.

Jon has always liked Elise, but after her graduation, he couldn’t help but admit he had feelings for her that went beyond being appropriate. Seeing her again only heightens his need for her. He can no longer deny himself.

Can their love really survive? Is it a taste of the forbidden that is driving them? What will the rest of their families think when the truth comes out?

I enjoyed this short and steamy romance from Sam Crescent.

This short story was put together nicely. It’s very fast paced and the characters were easy to like. Elise and Jon were intended to be another taboo-ish couple. I felt they were sweet together though. Again, Elise was a fuller figured heroine and Jon was her sexy older crush. This is an often used plot device for Sam Crescent. It works very well for her because she somehow makes it different every time.

In this one, I just loved the characters and I felt that their feelings were genuine. They had bonded together as a family without even realizing it and it made me feel good for them as the author opened their eyes. Also, Sam Crescent wasn’t stingy with the smoking hot sexy times either.

In a nutshell, this was a sweet and sexy story. I enjoyed it immensely.

Three Modern Shorts: The Park Stories by K. Kris Loomis

Three Modern Shorts: The Park Stories by K. Kris Loomis
Publisher: Lililoom Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (22 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

What happens when a distraught teen and a whacky old woman meet in the park? How about a couple that weaves tales about spies and incurable diseases? Or when a father and daughter are presented with the opportunity to get to know one another better under unusual circumstances?
In these three modern short stories, author K. Kris Loomis offers us glimpses of universally shared moments in everyday relationships and life. They are humorous, thought provoking, and written to be read in one sitting.

Small dramas unfold at the park every single day.

In “Lovely Horns,” an old woman named Muriel struck up an unusual conversation with a troubled teenage girl, Lucy, who had a strange problem. Muriel thought she might have a solution for it. It took me a while to decide how I wanted to interpret the problem and the solution. There were several different ways to look at both of them, and that made for a fascinating reading experience. I especially liked how the final scene was written. Not only did it give me a nice sense of closure, it also fit Muriel’s offbeat personality beautifully.

There were some parts of “Friday Afternoon” that I had trouble understanding. While I really enjoyed the funny tales Paul and Angie told each other about what they imagined the lives of the other people at the park had been like, I found it hard to relate to these characters themselves. The hints about what was actually going on between them were so subtle that I was never sure that I was accurately understanding the subtext in their conversation. It would have been helpful to have a little more information to work with in those scenes.

The complicated relationship between Jimmy and his adult daughter, Carley, in “The King Stomper” made me curious to know why things were a little strained between them and what would happen to them next. Watching them interact with each other answered enough of my questions to keep me satisfied, but their chat also made me think of more topics I wished they’d discuss. This story ended up being my favorite on in the book because of how good it was at exploring these characters’ personalities and challenging me to come up with my own theories about why they behaved the way they did.

I’d recommend Three Modern Shorts: The Park Stories to anyone who has ever wished they could peek into a stranger’s life for a moment.

Cream Puff by Demaree Iles

Cream Puff by Demaree Iles
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (179 pages)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

On the surface, Charlie LaRue is a nice guy with a pretty sweet life. He has a great home, a lasting marriage, and owns the best bakery in Ransom, Louisiana. But Charlie’s not happy. When you’ve been pushed around your whole life, you either learn to deal with it or you don’t; Charlie accepted that long ago as the cost of living. His acceptance, however, had a larger price than expected.

With his seventieth birthday fast approaching, a series of debilitating headaches have Charlie questioning his choices. He hardly sleeps anymore and hallucinates while struggling to make a wedding cake worthy of his daughter’s lavish third wedding. Meanwhile his golden anniversary looms, and his insatiable wife and daughter continue to make more demands than ever.

A shadowy secret even Charlie is unaware of, however, is about to be revealed. Once unleashed—for good or evil—there will be consequences.

Cream Puff as a murder weapon? Maybe – we’ll never know.

Charlie is an almost seventy year old overworked baker who makes the most delicious cakes and breads. This made me like him right from the start. Who wouldn’t like a man who can do such wonderful work? Unfortunately his family doesn’t appreciate him. His wife is vastly overweight and doesn’t go out, not even to the third marriage of their spoiled daughter, Ruby. Both women look at Charlie more as an open checkbook, than as someone to love. The only member of his family to love him had been his son Tommy, but this wonderful person was no longer of this world.

The story kept me reading. Charlie is a wonderful character and the story is shown from inside his head, his thoughts, his memories, his headaches, his feeling that he is going mad. Does he commit murder – and does he remember what he has done during his memory blackouts? I loved beginning, middle and ending of the book, although I won’t give a spoiler, it is well worth reading to the last page.

Well written with no problems of flow, grammar or spelling. Demaree Iles has written a comprehensive murder  mystery book which made me understand why murder might be – perhaps not a good idea – but acceptable in some cases.

From a Poison Pen by B.P. Smythe

From a Poison Pen by B.P. Smythe
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Historical
Length: Full Length (265 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

From the extraordinary mind of B.P.Smythe comes a collection of ten short stories.

What happens when a member of the Hitler youth ends up in a concentration camp?… How does a beach side cocktail get in the way the way of one woman’s scheming?… What leads a teenage girl to reign down fire and brimstone?… Can a killer find a victim’s diary that incriminates him?…

This collection of dark, humorous and macabre tales explores the disturbing side of human nature.

Imagine a world that always rights itself over time; where the craziest events occur but always even themselves out in the end.

From a Poison Pen is a book full of ten very different stories covering lives of very different individuals. The short stories cover everything from wartime to peacetime; severe insanity and unbalanced personality disorder to the unhappy marriage.

B.P. Smythe does an excellent job developing characters that resonate with the reader, yet are always just a touch outside of reality. While events might be plausible, the author finds an interesting way to place a humorous spin on the various situations. Utilizing dark humor and heaping amounts of irony, the author creates a fascinating dark world in which anything is possible.

One of my favorite stories was the very first, Constricted Love. The whole situation at one point was so far-fetched and then reined back in by the author that by the end of the story my head was spinning with the plausibility but still confused on what just happened.

The story, Girls of the BDM, was a story that dripped historical events and made the reader wonder throughout the whole story whether they were rooting for a character that was ultimately evil. Again, by the end of this story I was quite amazed at how the author had tied the loose ends up.

Some of the stories might be a little strong for some readers. The author descriptively explains the acts of torture and the homicide of some characters. Crime scenes descriptions as well as the thoughts and feelings that the characters’ experience right before death may be unsettling for some.

I found that the stories in the book, From a Poison Pen, were well researched, strongly written and a great experience! I am glad that I was able to experience the mind of B.P. Smythe first hand. I will definitely be looking for his other work in the future!

Fueled By Lust: Sotarios by Celeste Prater

Fueled By Lust: Sotarios by Celeste Prater
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (331 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Play
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Verbena

With an ex from hell haunting his dreams, Sotarios Numida can’t catch a break. Thinking a trip to Earth to seek offspring of the Unfortunate One Hundred might clear his head—he thought wrong. Instead, destiny leads him right to the one woman that forces him to face his past and a secret he’s horrified to admit.

Raine Holter is tough, focused, and dealing with a secret of her own. The last thing she expected to find during her usual daily grind was her soulmate. Especially one that can’t seem to make his mind up on whether to grip her close or shove her away. Undaunted, this little spitfire plans to thaw Sotarios’s frozen heart even if hers has to take a few beatings before he sees the truth.

Book 8 in the Fueled By Lust Series yanks you right back into the lives of the sinfully sexy Insedi. One fast paced, jaw dropping, breath stealing, hell of a ride.

Damaged beyond all repair….

If you were to ask the characters in Book 8 of Celeste Prater’s series, Fueled by Lust, how they would describe themselves, I would imagine the above would be Sotarios’ response of himself. His previous mate, Maratinia, had been crazy jealous, homicidal, and abusive. Though their relationship only lasted a few brief months, it felt like he’d endured an eternity of hell. Even beyond the grave, she continued to torture his mind, heart, and soul. Believing he’s damaged beyond all repair, the last thing Sotarios wants is to find another mate. Little does he know, Maratinia isn’t done torturing him just yet.

Raine, on the other hand, would probably describe herself as being up crap creek with a tiny paddle. While her circumstances weren’t due to an abusive ex, she’d unfortunately become the responsible party for her father’s poor choices. After a tragic accident claimed her parent’s lives, the weight of paying off her father’s debts fell on her shoulders. However, Raine wasn’t one to cry over spilled milk. She was resourceful and used skills her father had taught her to tackle this big load as gracefully as she could. While she also wasn’t particularly looking for a new beau, she wouldn’t deny wishing she could find someone and have the relationship her parents did. Despite his poor judgement on business matters, her father had been a good man.

When a chance meeting in the most unlikely places brings Sotarios and Raine together, Sotarios can’t deny the lure of her essence and the attraction of their energies. Telling himself he’s merely concerned for her well being, he elicits the help of one of his warrior brothers, Geleon, and proceeds to follow her after work. Just to make sure she’s okay, of course. After all, she’s an attractive woman who shouldn’t be out after dark on her own. Telling himself he’ll just make sure she makes it home safe and will then move on with his life, he suddenly finds himself getting far too involved when her trip home takes an unexpected detour.

Raine can scarcely catch her breath when Sotarios breezes through the doors to the shop, along with his equally eye-appealing sidekick. Knowing she’s in no position to start a relationship, she tells herself to enjoy the short few minutes of time with the big behemoth that she can, and then get back to reality. After all, what would a hunk like that see in someone like her? He probably had dozens of women throwing themselves at his feet. What she doesn’t expect is that his attention to detail and concern for her wellbeing would not only make her feel all warm and fuzzy, but would also spark a desire deep within to spend as much time with him as she could before he waltzed right back out of her life. She expected that would be the end result, once he learned about her other extracurricular activities.

As always, Ms. Prater has penned an enthralling book of love, desire, and determination, with no small measure of lust added in, for good measure. Oh yes, Ms. Prater does not disappoint in the lust department; there was plenty of that coming from not only the characters, but me as well. Who wouldn’t lust over one of her Insedi warriors? This golden Greek Adonis could surely melt the heart of any female. Yet, beneath that stunning exterior, you’d find the heart of a gentleman, the devotion of a saint, and a love to last forever. Yep, these guys are the perfect men, all rolled into a comely package.

Once I start one of Ms. Prater’s stories, I can hardly put it down. Her characters draw me in from page one and don’t let go until the end. Moreover, once the wonderful tale is over, I always find myself hoping for another. I did note a few editing errors, which really surprised me as I’m usually so engrossed I don’t see anything beyond the characters and the world unfolding around them. It was nothing to detract from the story, and if I weren’t so eager to keep reading, I may have made note to pass along to the author. As it was, they seemed trivial and unimportant in my quest to see what happened next.

Would I recommend this to anyone who loves otherworldly romance? Absolutely, without hesitance. Every one of the Fueled by Lust editions has been wonderful and I will likely read them all again. Several times, in fact. I just wonder; were I ever to meet one of Ms. Prater’s warriors, would he smell smoke or something a whole lot sweeter emanating from me? And if I’ve created a question in your mind on whatever I could possibly mean by that, well then you’ll just have to read Fueled by Lust: Sotarios for yourself to find out. *wink*

Stranger In Black by Devon Rhodes

Stranger In Black by Devon Rhodes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (69 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/M, Multiple Partners, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Before Christian can end his relationship with a closeted cheater, he needs to see the evidence firsthand. He disguises himself and attends a masquerade ball escorted by a friend, in search of the Stranger in Black. When he finds him, he gets something entirely different—and much more erotic—than he expected.

Wearing a black-and-gold mask, Jarrod is on the hunt for Chris, the “other woman” his best friend’s fiancé is having an affair with. But a sexy vision in a white gown captures his attention and takes his breath away, which is strange, since he’s gay.

One by one, the pieces fall away, exposing their dual deception. After the masks—and the pants—are off, Christian and Jarrod must work together to support a friend… and maybe become something more than strangers.

Christian has been burned before by Carl and believes once again Carl is simply using him for sex – refusing to come out of the closet or acknowledge their relationship. Determined to discover why Carl will not commit, Christian dresses up as a woman and attends a snazzy masquerade ball, needing answers. Jarrod also has his own agenda at the ball and when Christian and Jarrod meet, the sparks really fly.

I’m always a sucker for a Masquerade ball story and I was pleased that this one delivered in spades. There’s a delightful “comedy of errors” style of mix up, and while the meat of the plot is quite sad I feel like the author did an amazing job keeping everything around it – including the characters – lighthearted enough that this didn’t feel to me like a depressed or sad story at all. Christian dressed up as a woman was a real hoot – I laughed in quite a few places with that part – and despite his dejection at Carl’s duplicity I was pleased Christian’s happier nature won out fairly promptly. Jarrod was far more of a mystery until well into the story and this helped add a bit of a tingle for me with the story. He really was a “Stranger In Black” and I enjoyed getting to know him along with Christian.

The sex was deliciously hot and I think most M/M readers should be pleased by the intimacy shared between Jared and Christian. There is a secondary plot revolving around a M/F relationship that isn’t given any erotic details but is more of a sub-plot within the main storyline. I really enjoyed the characters – even Carl – and have to commend the author on making them all really shine.

A steamy, fun story that I found easy and interesting to read.

In Irina’s Cards by Christine Hart

In Irina’s Cards by Christine Hart
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (209 PAGES)
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Rose

Irina Proffer leaves mundane small-town life behind when she experiences visions inspired by a strange deck of tarot cards. To get answers, she travels from her northern British Columbia home to the province’s coastal capital. She quickly discovers a world of fringe genetic science and supernatural mystery.

Working for Innoviro Industries, Irina is drawn in by a powerful first love and compelling, yet dangerous questions about the nature of the company’s business. Meeting other ‘variants’ brings Irina closer and closer to the dark truth about her origins. She finds herself at the heart of two overlapping love triangles as she scrambles to escape her employer’s grip. Before she leaves the city, Irina realizes she has merely scratched the surface of a frightening conspiracy on a global scale.

I thoroughly enjoyed In Irina’s Cards, the first book in the Variant Conspiracy series, in which we are introduced to Irina and find out, along with her, that her life may not be exactly as she thinks it is. She begins having strange visions after purchasing a deck of old Tarot cards and – out of character for her (she’s not exactly the adventuresome type)—packs up her backpack and sets off to discover the meaning of them.

The story is told from Irina’s POV so the reader can take the journey along with her and discover as well the mystery behind Innoviro. We bond with other variants on the journey and enjoy the feeling of being part of a larger group.

I really like the character of Irina—once she gets out and gets on her own (even if the way is paved for her by Innoviro) she really begins to come into her own. We get to see her grow up a bit.

The story is well-written (there was one minor issue at the beginning that took me out of the story a little where a key became a key card, but that was the only bobble I can remember). I was sucked into the story and stayed up way too late reading it because I had to know what happened next.

Because this is the first in the series, do not expect a clear cut ending—there is a bit of a cliffhanger that leads you into book two—which I will be starting this weekend! The third book in the series is being released soon and I want to make sure I’m caught up!

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Sister Agatha: The World’s Oldest Serial Killer by Domhnall O’Donoghue

Sister Agatha: The World’s Oldest Serial Killer by Domhnall O’Donoghue
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (122 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Sister Agatha is a colossal 118 years of age, whose vim and vigour would put the most robust athletes to shame. During a routine check-up, however, her doctor claims she has just a week to live, news that proves to be quite inconvenient, seeing as the beloved sister has one ambition in life: to be the oldest person in the world. At last count, she was the fifth.

However, never one to admit defeat, Sister Agatha concocts a bold Plan B. Dusting off her passport, she decides to leave Irish shores for the first time in her very long life, and using the few days remaining, plans to travel across three continents and meet the only four people whose birthday cakes boast more candles than hers.

And then, one by one, she intends on killing them.

You’re never too old to get into some mischief.

Getting to know Sister Agatha was delightful. I admired her intelligence and resourcefulness, but what really made me like her was her uncanny ability to reveal something new about herself just when I thought I had her all figured out. There were so many cleverly-hidden parts of her personality to discover that I wished her tale would never end so that I could keep learning more and more about her.

This book had a slow beginning. It took me a long time to get into the storyline because of how little was happening to move the plot forward. A big part of the reason why it moved so slowly was because the narrator kept flashing back to things that happened when Sister Agatha was growing up. While I found those scenes interesting, having so many of them did make it hard for me to stay focused on the mystery itself due to how little time the characters spent on it in the first several chapters.

The dialogue in this story was lively. Some of my favorite scenes to read were the ones where two or more characters had in-depth conversations about what was happening around them. Every character had an unique voice and something important to share with the audience. Listening to them talk to each other gave me many opportunities to guess what was going on and what might happen next, so I enjoyed every minute of their discussions.

Sister Agatha: The World’s Oldest Serial Killer should be read by anyone who is on the lookout for something completely unexpected.

A Twist of Betrayal by Allie Harrison

A Twist of Betrayal by Allie Harrison
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (266 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Justine Franklin is taken hostage during a store robbery and little does she know the robbery is just a stage for something much bigger. She soon discovers her husband, the man who holds her heart, a respected officer of the law, is not the man she thought he was.

When Dan Franklin learns his wife has been kidnapped, he knows the past he’s kept hidden from everyone, even Justine, has come back to haunt him. While their memories give them strength, their deep love will soon be put to the greatest test.

Dan’s terrified he can’t save Justine or the child she carries. And though he is not afraid to do whatever it takes to get Justine back, can he do it and keep safe the secret he’s kept for the last decade? Or will his past destroy them both?

This book is an awesome adventure of suspense and as the title states its truly a twist of betrayal. Justine Franklin a Public Defender has been seemingly happily married to police officer Dan Franklin for six years. The majority of the time any bad deed done in our past will surely catch up with us. Dan is a man that can vouch for this. The book opens with the couple having a heated disagreement prompting Justine to leave the house in anger. Her decision to go to the grocery store is timed with the grocery store robbery. Unfortunately Justine is kidnapped. Will Dan be able to save his wife and still keep his unlawful past a secret?

From the very beginning this book had my attention. To discover early on that the kidnappers know Justine personally only made my suspense greater. The timely flash backs give a back story of Justine and Dan’s past and also adds dimension to the storyline. The author timed the flashbacks at the appropriate time and gave enough suspense to keep me entertained and still had my interest on how the story would unfold. True enough I had a feeling that Justine would be saved, but boy were there many twists that the author complied to make this a book that I enjoyed and would recommend to any reader that is looking for a good suspenseful read.

I enjoyed the writing style. How the novel flowed was perfect. The plot was told with true talent. This is a book that you can’t judge by the cover. The blurb is interesting enough but the cover lead me to think the context would be something totally different.

The bad guys were truly bad. They devised a plan and I guess with all bad intentions they thought they would actually get away with it. Dan is a man of determination. He is a strong officer with attractive features. A man that is adamant on upholding the law and has a deep concern about public safety. He was a favorable character to read about. He is a man with faults but inspire to do right. Justine is a professional woman and as with any relationship she balances work and marriage as best she can. With the turn of events of an unexpected pregnancy and the kidnapping Dan and Justine’s marriage is put to the test. This is a well written, well thought out story a reader of suspense and action wouldn’t want to miss out on.