Out With A Bang by Sarah Marsh

BANG
Out With A Bang by Sarah Marsh
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/F/M, Ménage
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When Laura Harper walked into her interview for Dover and Harding Engineering, she never could have imagined how rewarding it could be to find a place for herself where her organizational skills were relied upon and needed so badly. Sure it didn’t hurt that the two men who had hired her were straight out of her wildest fantasies, but had she let her feelings go too far? Was it just wishful thinking that they might want her in return?

Greyson Harding and Barrett Dover knew the moment Laura walked into their office that they’d finally found the woman they wanted to share their lives with. So they began by hiring the sweet, shy woman and hoped they could convince her that their interest was more than a passing attraction. But after five years they’ve finally run out of time and if they aren’t careful, they could lose Laura for good.

Laura feels like a complete cliché. The single, secretly lusting woman, in love with her two spunky bosses. She’s made her decision though, to give notice and move on with her life. But will Grey and Barrett allow her to move on? Or will this be her chance to go out with a bang?

This is an interesting short story about how three people who work exceedingly well together come together in a ménage. I really liked how both Grey and Barrett were different men – Barrett the dominant, strong-alpha type of character and Grey the caring-but-disorganized style of guy. Each type of character are tried-and-true hero material and it was quite refreshing that the set-up wasn’t two alpha-males sharing a woman – or one alpha and one submissive. This difference made me feel as if the very-well-used plot (three people working well together moving that business relationship into the bedroom) was fresh and looked at from a different angle. And this freshness helped me enjoy the book immensely.

I felt the story lagged a bit at the start. I love short stories, but the pacing is critical to my mind. The action – and sexual chemistry – needs to move quickly so I don’t feel like there’s wasted time in the story. When you have a shorter length to work with, having a whole chapter of “set up” or background can sometimes have me feel as a reader as if that groundwork is wasted. I knew from the first couple of pages that Laura, Grey and Barrett worked really well as a team in their business. I wanted to read how they moved that professional relationship into a romantic one – and a whole lot of backstory didn’t serve that purpose to my mind. I found myself rushing, wanting to get to where Laura finally made a move and the threesome started to change the dynamics of their relationship.

The sex scene between the threesome was deliciously hot and explicit, well worth the wait to my mind. I loved how all the threads of the plot were woven seamlessly together, leaving me with a feeling of a solid story fully closed and a satisfying Happy Ever After ending. I definitely feel like the story ended on a high note and one that left a smile on my face.

Kellen’s Awakening by Angel Martinez & Bellora Quinn

AWAKENING
Kellen’s Awakening by Angel Martinez & Bellora Quinn
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (264 pgs)
Other: M/M, Multiple Partners, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

The staff at AURA has had a busy summer. Between chronic understaffing, dealing with warring goblin factions and an unusual number of hazardous Events, everyone is overworked. Sinistrus the incubus, newly hired as an AURA medic, actually enjoys his busy new life of responsible employee and faithful lover to his gorgeous police sergeant, Ness the centaur. Life would be perfect, except for a niggling suspicion about a colleague. Everyone else seems to disagree, but Sin’s certain something’s not right with that pixie.

Kellen, a pixie crossover, loves his job working in AURA medical, even if he is something of an outsider. His job and the friends he manages to make are happy spots in an otherwise dark and secretive life. As the rest of AURA tries to discover the root of the inexplicable rise in violence and large scale Events, Kellen fights to preserve his own life and what dignity he has left.

These two unlikely heroes must put their differences aside and navigate tragedy and ever-escalating disaster together in order to stop the sinister forces that hold Kellen in thrall.

With an unusual increase in events AURA finds itself even busier than ever. As more and more otherworldly beings arrive, the staff is more than a little overworked. When incubus Sin is forced to deal with the newly crossed-over pixie, Kellen, sparks fly – but not of the pleasant sort. Sin is a ball of sarcasm and Kellen’s an awkward pixie with a secret. When disaster strikes, will they be able to put their differences aside and work together or will they let everything fall apart around them?

The incubus, Sinistrus, has been one of my favorite characters since the beginning. I was elated to find he had such a large role in this third installment. He’s an aggravating mixture of sexy and sarcastic, always quick with a quip or a heated smile. But that’s just part of being an incubus, I suppose. His relationship with the centaur, Nestor, is an interesting one and although an unlikely pairing, they really do balance each other out.

Kellen, a pixie crossover, is the newest addition to the AURA cast. From the very beginning, you know that he’s holding something back, but whether it’s good or bad remains to be seen. As his story began to unfold, I found myself feeling more and more sympathy towards him. By the end, I just wanted to give him a big hug. I was happy to see that, although he’s a pixie, Kellen is a regular-sized being instead of a Tinkerbell sized dragonfly. It makes him more relatable in a sense to have him be the same height and build as an averaged-sized human male.

Kellen’s Awakening is an intense and action packed novel that starts with a jolt and continues on through to the end. There was a character death near the beginning that caught me by surprise and colors the tone of much of the novel, making this a sadder story that the two prior. However, it’s not a depressing story by any stretch because there is so much going on, there isn’t time to get caught up in the loss. It actually makes for a deeper, more emotional story in the end. Each installment brings a better story and more interesting and diverse characters. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next novel.

Laid by A.J Llewellyn

LAID
Laid by A.J Llewellyn
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (81 pgs)
Other: M/M, Multiple Partners, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Jack Cannon is an elite member of LAPD’s new Violent Crimes Unit. He’s tough, he’s smart…he’s also gay. Jack’s a guy who deals with pressure and stress by cruising. When he has a fling with a hot guy, one even hotter night in Los Angeles, it’s no casual coupling. This guy is great. Jack wouldn’t mind seeing him again except he’s discovered he’ll be seeing a lot of him. This is the guy he’s supposed to tail–Lucio Natale, the most violent mob boss ever to land in the city of angels.

Jack Cannon is a cop, still in the closet at work despite the fact his precinct is supposedly gay-friendly. After a massive bust – the biggest of his career – he is desperate to get laid. Then Cannon meets Lucky in the showers at his gym. The attraction is instantaneous and explodes between them. Are they both interested in more than getting laid?

I really enjoyed this story. I found the author wrote a good balance between seriously hot, descriptive M/M sex and an equally interesting, complex police-based plot. Personally, I found myself enjoying both aspects of the story just as much as each other. Lucky and Cannon were clearly instantly in lust with each other. Despite Cannon not really being out at work, he loves to fuck and has a very healthy sexual life. Readers should be aware that – at least initially – Cannon and Lucky are not monogamous. Cannon has a few no-strings hook ups. I adored how regardless of that, Cannon reluctantly admits to himself that he knows his attraction to Lucky goes more deeply than just getting laid in a mind-blowing manner. And Lucky might have wanted more from Cannon immediately, but his patience really appealed to me. Instead of trying to corner Cannon or manipulate him into a deeper connection, he was willing to tempt his lover instead. This really appealed to me and made for an excellent story. I was satisfied with the Happy For Now ending and a part of me hopes there might even be a sequel or more stories to come with these two interesting and complicated characters.

Similarly, the plot of the book was captivating and well-woven to my mind. I loved the intricacy – the double-plays and sneakiness of how nothing is ever as easy as it seems when it comes to police work. I really commend the author on an amazing job of balancing the intrigue and suspense of Cannon’s work with his anticipation and slow fall from lust into love with his romantic life. These two aspects of the book blend really well and made it a pleasure for me to read.

I found this to be a well-woven, interesting and complicated story with some really steamy sex. I loved both Cannon and Lucky’s characters and would eagerly read more of them both. Recommended.

Assassins Love People Too by S.C. Wynne

LOVE
Assassins Love People Too by S.C. Wynne
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (123 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Dillon Carter’s boyfriend, Marc Francis, is a paid assassin. That little fact makes having a normal relationship very complicated. Especially when there are people out there in the big bad spy world who hate Marc so much the last thing they want is him to end up happy.

Obsessive enemies, ex-lovers and poisoned espresso do nothing to make Marc and Dillon’s trip to Italy relaxing. In fact, they’ll be lucky if they survive at all.

Dillon and Marc haven’t been together long, but Dillon certainly feels as if he’s learned a lot in the short time. Like Assassins aren’t just things that occur in the movies and a few short sentences can utterly turn his world upside down. When Marc calls and says Dillon is in danger, Dillon drops everything to run. Meeting Marc in Paris, Dillon discovers nowhere is safe while Julio is determined to kill them both. Can they find safety somewhere? And can Dillon convince Marc to trust him with his heart?

Disengage your brain, grab some cookies and a good drink and relax into this fun and action packed assassin story. I found this lovely story to be part James Bond, part Jason Bourne and part comedy. A few months ago Dillon was just your regular guy. Now he’s running away from deceptively normal looking people who are secretly assassins and trying to kill him and Marc – Dillon’s assassin lover. I realised in the first chapter this was one of those wonderful books where you need to throw logic out the window and leave your brain behind at the door – if my assassin-lover told me to drop everything and run and trust no one, I’d have not then gone and made friends with the little old lady sitting next to me on the train! But just like I don’t want a James Bond film for the intricate plot or deep intelligence, neither would I have found this book half as wonderful had it not been so lighthearted, fun and fast paced.

Despite the fact I realised a little too late this is the second book in a series, the author does an amazing job of catching the reader up on what’s been missed. Dillon and Marc might get together in the first book – but here in the second they’re really exploring their new relationship, bumps and all. Marc – being an assassin – has a few gaps when it comes to Relationships 101, and Dillon sometimes struggles to both understand what Marc means when he says, but also what he leaves unsaid. Marc is a clear “actions speak louder than words” guy, but that doesn’t mean Dillion doesn’t need to hear the words as well. It’s an interesting – and very common – relationship problem and was lovely and realistic to read.

Watching these two men come together, learn about each other and grow together is lovely. I also really enjoyed the plot of how to save themselves from Julio unwound. I felt the pace of the book moved well and I really enjoyed the balance between plot and steamy romance.

A sexy romp of a story, I really enjoyed this book. I’d happily look up any future books and definitely recommend it.

Confessions Of A Frisky Fashion Writer by The Vixen

FRISKY
Confessions Of A Frisky Fashion Writer by The Vixen
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (119 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A girls’ night out during New York Fashion Week takes an unexpected turn when a dashing gentleman enters the scene.

Every girl dreams of being in fashion, and Virginia George is no different. As the twenty-six-year-old professional works her way up through the ranks of the industry to become a fashion writer, she realizes there’s a lot more to this world than just beautiful clothes. When she’s not writing about glossy designer names, she is the voice behind the provocative sex blog, Sex with Cocktails, under the alias V.

During a chic Fashion Week party, she meets the dapper Jonathan Carter, the owner of a well-known menswear store and a fashion celebrity. Then, just when she thinks life can’t throw anything else her way, an interesting job opportunity comes up as a full-time staff writer at the prestigious Haute magazine.

As Virginia sees the possibility for a promising career in fashion, she also begins to consider the probability of interesting developments for her and the dashing Mr. Carter.

It’s Fashion Week and so Virginia has a full-on schedule full of runway shows, presentations and more media events than she could believe possible. After a year of being chaste, Virginia decides – with some strong insistence from her friends – to finally get out there in the world of men, dating and sex once more. Can this frisky fashion writer find herself again?

Like other “Confessions” style stories, this is told in the first person, written almost as if Virginia is cosied up next to you on the couch, glass of bubbly in one hand as she talks and shares her thoughts, feelings and secrets with you. I found this to be a lovely style to read, first-person narration doesn’t bother me, but I can easily understand how as a story-telling method can grate after a while. I found myself really wondering what some of the other characters were thinking and feeling. How they might be reacting to various things that happened to and around Virginia.

I also felt – especially at the start of the story – Virginia was telling me a lot of stuff as a reader, as opposed to having the author show me through actions, discussions and other methods. In places it really felt to me like a massive info-dump. Normally this really annoys me and drags me out of the story. I found here though that to a point I could accept it – having Virginia “talk” to me as the reader in the first person meant I found I had a bit of patience for the info-dumping. I could well believe this might annoy some other readers though.

I really enjoyed Virginia’s friends. I found them to be strong characters, full of life and vibrant. I also really enjoyed Jonathan Carter, the handsome stranger to whom Virginia found herself pulled to. Virginia and Jonathan played a very interesting game of cat and mouse between them. I found the pace a little off-beat – it was far too slow to my mind for a modern erotic romance, but was clearly a steamy, sensual and interesting dance that played out between them. Readers looking for a quick, physical romance might find themselves disappointed.

Despite being frustrated, I could genuinely appreciate the slower burn the author worked between Virginia and Jonathan. They verbally parried and the chemistry between them really sizzled. There were a number of steamy kisses and oodles of chemistry. Oddly though, for an erotic romance, there wasn’t a single sex scene in the whole book, and when I’d finished this lack of erotic intimacy really surprised me. There was plenty of sexy talk, plenty of chemistry and kisses and angling toward the bedroom, but no actual culmination. Again, for an erotic romance this might frustrate some readers who find it all tease and no follow through. I loved the chemistry between Virginia and Jonathan. I enjoyed their interactions and sparring and am hoping there might be a sequel in the works continuing their romance and relationship.

I found this to be a different and interesting story. There are plenty of deep, complex and vibrant characters and enough alcohol and parties to satisfy any fashionista. A good story with sizzle and romance. Readers who enjoy the “confessions” style of stories – or who like Sex And The City will probably find this a good book to pick up.

False Start by Alison Hendricks

START
False Start by Alison Hendricks
Eastshore Tigers Book 2
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (203 pages)
Other: M/M, anal play/intercourse
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

The heat between them is impossible to ignore. But can they ever be anything but rivals?

Dante Mills has one more year to prove he can hack it in the NFL. If he can’t score attention from the scouts this season, he’ll never be able to give his hard-working mom the life she deserves. The last thing he needs is more competition, but that’s exactly what he gets when blond-haired, blue-eyed behemoth Mitchell Erickson walks into the locker room.

Mitchell Erickson has one year to prove he belongs on a football field. He’s spent his whole life struggling to find acceptance in his family, and now his father’s finally giving him the chance to follow his passion… for one season. If he doesn’t bring the Tigers to victory, it’s back to upholding the Erickson legacy in a suit and tie. But how can he possibly succeed when someone as talented as Dante stands between him and a starting position?

As if the tension between them wasn’t high enough, Mitch is insanely attracted to the very straight linebacker. As the season ramps up and both men fight for their place on the team, a heated locker room encounter leaves Dante questioning everything he thought he knew about himself.

When Dante and Mitch work together, they’re unstoppable. But can two men destined to be rivals ever be anything more?

Their chemistry on the field is a force to be reckoned with, what they have off the field is down right nuclear! It’ll take some eye-opening revelations to show these men that they work best as a team in all situations.

The whole “rich boy, poor boy…we come from different worlds” trope isn’t new but I really enjoyed the way Ms. Hendricks played it out in the second installment of the Eastshore Tigers series.

Dante and Mitch are alike and different in so many ways. The fact that Dante has to come to terms with his sexuality is the first major obstacle. Ms. Hendricks skillfully ties in the first book of the series with his discovery without making it necessary to have actually read Jason and Derek’s story.

It wasn’t hard to figure out early on that their backgrounds would also be a hurdle in their tumultuous relationship. Mitch was trying to step away from who his family wanted him to be but he was still influenced by the way he was raised. He makes more than one snap decision that, though they always came from his heart, results in escalating conflict with Dante. And Dante, for his part, has a bit of chip on his shoulder but I could actually understand his reasoning even if I really wanted him to not be so prideful. But that’s who he was, it was who he felt he had to be for his mom.

I really liked both Dante and Mitch. I like them separately and very much enjoyed seeing them work through their issues so they could be together. I haven’t read the first book in this series but I didn’t have to to understand that they were especially fortunate to have the backing of their teammates when they went public with their relationship. The scene in the gym between Dante, Anderson and Trent was perfect. No doubt these guys were going to have plenty of opposition to their relationship so seeing the support of their team mates was good.

False Start is a very appropriate title for Dante and Mitch’s story. As with a false start in football, there were penalties (repercussions) for when one or the other made a decision based on an assumption. But a brief set back didn’t have to mean the game in regards to their future together. There are lots of other analogies with football terms that I could use here but the bottom line is they didn’t give up, even when that would have been easy, even when stepping back was hard but necessary.

This story flows very well. Each chapter is headed with either Mitch or Dante’s name telling the reader who’s POV they’ll be seeing the story from at that point. First person POV isn’t my favorite but the chapter headings helped and the story itself was so captivating I wanted to see how they would work it all out.

This novel would be considered and “interracial romance” but the color of Dante’s skin is never made into plot point. The story has a comfortably realistic feel to it, except for the part about a small university team beating Alabama, which is pure fantasy, but I still very much enjoyed the story as a whole. I’d like to go back and read book one to see how this team first came together for Jason and Derek and I’ll be watching for the next installments as well. Easy recommend!

Phonebook by Amy Lane

PHONEBOOK
Phonebook by Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (30 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play, Toys
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Stuck away from home on business, all Ryan can do is talk with his lover Scott on the phone. But the conservative Ryan finds no comfort in phone sex–he’s far too embarrassed. Fortunately, his playful lover has not only planned ahead, but he can think on his back as well. It turns out that the heart really is where good sex starts!

Ryan used to love business trips, seeing them as an adventure on the boss’ dime. Now, however, he hates them, as it takes him away from Scott, his lover. To make matters worse, it’s his birthday and Ryan feels seriously homesick. A naughty phone call home, however, might be just the present he needs.

I really enjoyed this short story. Ryan and Scott are just gorgeous characters and clearly deeply in love. I really liked how the author made them both more than just cardboard cut-outs. The plot is fairly simple, but I could happily overlook that because I was engrossed in the characters. And it was a delightful pleasure to read the phone sex scene. I don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice to say I’ve never read a scene quite like it – and I found it to be both creative, amusing and sexy all at the same time. A real pleasure to read it and one I plan to read again.

The chapters alternate between Ryan and Scott’s point of view. I was quite pleased by this as it helped me feel more connected to both the men, seeing things through their perspective. I also felt as if there was a good emotional connection between the two men – one that is often really lacking in super short stories. So the author is to be commended in my mind for managing to create such a strong bond between them in a short time.

There is no actual penetrative sex in the book – but I found the sex scene to be funny, hot and delicious all the same. This would be a great quick read for when you’ve not got much time but want something spicy and fun to pass the time. A great story.

Shadow of a Honeybun by Sam Cheever

SHADOW
Shadow of a Honeybun by Sam Cheever
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (71 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Humorous, sexy interracial romance and suspense!

Dolfe Honeybun is a bad boy. Skimming the dark edges of society in his job as a private detective, he’s seen way too much of the dark side of human behavior and become cynical. So when he catches the pretty black woman with mischievous, golden brown eyes sitting in the middle of his crime scene, he’s just not happy to see her, despite a delicious tightening low in his gut when he gets too close.

Blaise Runa likes to push the envelope. But her party girl ways are destined to come back to bite her. Blaise doesn’t take anything seriously. Unfortunately for her, serious, in a truly yummy form, is about to settle around her like a dark fog. And he’s already not amused by her antics.

Short, hot and full of action!

I’m a sucker for the works of Sam Cheever, I won’t lie. I love the way the author spins a quick, action-packed tale. Shadow of a Honeybun hit the spot. The writing was tight and lively. The story flowed well and I was hooked right away.

The characters are interesting and while this is a short read, there’s enough to give a taste of what will happen next without being overburdened. I loved it. I also loved the descriptions of the characters. I could see Blaise and Dolfe very well. Where can I find a Honeybun for my own? Yum! Oh, and you’ll understand the meaning of the word stay, but with a hero like Dolfe…reasoning would be pretty difficult. Grin.

If you want a book that’s a great segue into the Honeybun series and you want a hot hero, then this book is for you.

June Erotic Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Craving Justice by Fiona Archer

JUSTICE
Craving Justice by Fiona Archer
Sons of Sydney Book 1
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (276 pages)
Other: M/F, BDSM, Spanking
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

A man branded by his past

Seth Justice is tall, daring and dangerous. The former street kid from Sydney owns a thriving technology company in Seattle. But he has bigger goals―or should that be ghosts?―that drive him harder. On the verge of selling his business for a fortune, he’s celebrating when Harper Fox, daughter of the buyer, tumbles into his arms. The curvy café owner enchants him with her sassy personality. Soon they move from easy banter to a night of passion that reveals a sweet vulnerability in the soft-hearted woman.

A woman determined to control her future

After a lifetime of her domineering father’s scorn and rejection, Harper dances to her own beat. She has her café and surrounds herself with a chosen family of her eccentric staff and close friends. While she’s mostly content… her heart aches for more. But Harper has been burned before and doesn’t trust easily. That is, until a man with a panty-melting Aussie accent and a commanding stare entices her to take a chance—on him. When Seth takes charge in the bedroom and ties her control in knots, he awakens a need in Harper that leaves her hungry for more.

A new beginning worth fighting for

When an unseen enemy attacks the new life Seth and his brothers have built, the ensuing disaster tests not only his developing relationship with Harper, but also threatens to sever the last remaining bonds with his brothers. As Seth struggles to protect everything and everyone he loves, he has to determine if Harper is his enemy’s target—or accomplice.

FIND THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Devoted Alpha by DC Juris

ALPHA
Devoted Alpha by DC Juris
Publisher: Torquere Press LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (47 pgs)
Other: M/M, Fetish (Breastfeeding, Daddy Play)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Sokel and Sebastian from “Broken Alpha” are back. Sokel has long known his Human mate has harbored certain hidden fantasies and desires, but he’s not the kind of Alpha to demand anything of his omega. One night, a whispered word slips past Sebastian’s lips — daddy. Ever the devoted Alpha, Sokel sets out to help his mate understand that these cravings don’t make him a deviant. But when Sokel visits a fellow healer in an attempt to please his mate, has he gone too far? And will their best friends and housemates, Korden and Rennett, be able to accept this new twist to their lifestyle?

As a couple Sokel and Sebastian could not be more devoted to each other. Yet Sebastian hides a secret, a kink that he thinks will make others see him as dirty and no longer wish to be friends with him. What if it costs him Sokel’s love? Sometimes secrets cannot stay hidden especially from your Alpha mate. When Sokel figures out what may be the cause of Sebastian’s worries he decides to tackle them head on and give his mate what he truly wants and needs. Could he have gone to far? What will Sebastian’s reaction be? He loves him no matter what but is he pushing to hard? Should he just let it remain a fantasy?

This is a beautiful story that shows just how far someone will go for the person that they love. Sokel goes to lengths to fulfill Sebastian’s needs. Even going as far as figuring out how to breastfeed the man. As Sokel goes about finding a way to give Sebastian his needs we see the deep love and the connection that the two men have. The two begin to be connected even more as they indulge themselves. Sebastian learns that trusting and loving his Alpha is the right thing to do. Sokel goes above and beyond to help the man that he loves.

This new part of their adventure moves at a good pace and had me more than intrigued and cheering for the love that is between them. Readers are treated to a wonderful story that centers around Sebastian’s Daddy kink which does involve male breast feeding but gives you so much more. You never doubt the love and devotion from this couple and I am glad to see the bond and love grow deeper as the men explore.