Lucky’s Seven by Keely Jakes

SEVEN
Lucky’s Seven by Keely Jakes
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (70 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Team Paladin, 1

While recovering, Marine special unit Team Paladin wins a $565-million dollar lottery. The first thing they do is hire a personal assistant to deal with the insanity that much money will bring.

Desperate for a job, Lucky Duvall responds to an advertisement for a personal assistant. He is hoping that seven is his lucky number as this will be his seventh job interview for the week. The god of a man who interviews him makes him long for more than just a job with the team.

Lion shifter Shane Thomas has more on his hands than he can handle. He has a team of battle scarred interspecies shifters who have decided to move away from the civilized world. Then he meets Lucky, his mate. Will he be able to convince Lucky to take a chance on him and the team and their crazy dream of moving to Montana?

Shane Thomas and his Marine Force Recon buddies had all been chipping in to buy a bunch of lotto tickets each week. Shane was dubious at best with their chances, but didn’t see the harm in joining in. After they each complete their rehab the only shifter-Marine team has been promised their freedom, and winning the jackpot is the icing on the cake as far as Shane is concerned. The main problem is the team now needs an assistant to help with all the technical issues – booking hotel rooms, helping them manage their accounts and all the day-to-day stuff none of the shifters are able to do themselves while recuperating from their wounds. That’s when Shane met Lucky and his world turned upside down.

I found this to be an interesting story and a great set-up for the rest of the series. With a whole bunch of ex-Marine shifters (including a lion, a panther and a bear – oh my!) there are plenty of personalities in the mix and clearly the author plans to write further stories about the other team members. There’s a definite hook in the ending, designed to entice purchasing the next story and plenty of the main plot left hanging to tempt readers.

I liked Lucky – a slightly odd young man determined to walk his own path. I felt him easily relatable and enjoyed his quirks. Shane’s character was a little more difficult for me to get a handle on. While clearly the team leader, I never fully understood exactly why. As a lion shifter I could easily understand his enjoyment of the warmth and sunshine. I also understood his alpha tendencies, but his team mates were just as alpha-orientated and I began to wonder if it was his Marine rank that led him to be the leader and not his personal characteristics as such.

I enjoyed reading the story and getting to know both Shane and Lucky, but couldn’t help feel that much of the plot was bogged down in the “setting up” aspect of the story. Things like dodging the reporters and actually getting their lottery winnings, explaining about mates and shifters and so forth. A large chunk of the story felt very much to me as if it were laying the groundwork for all the following stories to come, and that was a shame because Lucky and Shane were both really interesting characters and a lot of fun together. I would have preferred had their relationship moved a little faster and be seen a bit more – to help make the details and slow-moving plot aspect seem like it dragged slightly less.

With fun characters and a fair bit of snarky humor this is a good story and well written. I enjoyed it and apart from a bit of lagging in places feel this is a great read. With six more characters to go there’s sure to be plenty more for readers to enjoy.

April Erotic Book of the Month Poll

Wolf’s Lady by Jessica Marting

LADY
Wolf’s Lady by Jessica Marting
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (109 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

The only mistake Lady Adelle Thornber ever made turned into a scandal that rocked London and saw her banished to Scotland, the reluctant bride of a reclusive baron. But Lord Henry MacAulay isn’t what she expected: he cares deeply for his barony and for her.

As the sole heir to the Roseheath title and werewolf alpha, Henry knew that he had to take a mate someday. He just didn’t expect to find her in a disgraced noble’s daughter forced into marriage with him. But as he falls more deeply in love with Adelle, he can’t bring himself to tell her what he really is. But when he can, it isn’t his werewolf nature that may tear them apart.

Her parents meant for the exile to be punishment. Instead, Adelle found a love she never expected as the Wolf’s Lady.

This is an interesting take on a historical even without the paranormal aspect. Henry isn’t a normal minor noble. He doesn’t just say he cares for his tenants, he works to give them a better life by teaching them skills. In a land where farming isn’t an option as the primary source of income, Henry creates inventions that are ahead of their time. In short, he’s a tinker…who also happens to be a werewolf. See? Clever!

I liked Adelle’s character, too. She could have been totally appalled by the conditions of the manor, the lack of parties and entertainment, and the constant cold and snow but, she’s comes off less materialistic and smarter than the normal debutante. Maybe it’s the fact that she isn’t just out of the school room but I liked that she was more mature. I don’t think, actually I’m sure, Henry wouldn’t have fallen in love so quickly with someone who was constantly complaining and having temper tantrums.

Then there’s the whole “by the way, I’m a wolf once a month” aspect. I liked the wolf history the author threw in at different times and wondered how Adelle was going to take the news. It doesn’t come out until later in the book so, after getting to know Adelle, I felt that she was going to take it much better than Henry imagined.

As if the whole big wolf reveal wasn’t enough tension for the story, there’s this duke, Wexfield, he’s a weasel of an antagonist. I kept picturing the Duke Wesselton from Frozen. Everyone in that movie kept referring to him as Weaselton and it fit. Our story’s duke could have been named Weaselton. I just knew he was going to get what was coming to him.

There’s a little bit of repetition in the story regarding Henry’s reason for agreeing to marry Adelle and her dowry. It made me pause to figure out if I had imagined reading something already or if it was simply being repeated, I quickly decided on repeat and moved on. It doesn’t ruin the story, just pulled me out for a bit. Besides some minor editing issues, the only other issue was that, beyond the paranormal aspect, there’s still some “suspend disbelief” pieces to this story. For one, while the story isn’t marketed as steampunk, the Duke manages to have a repeating handgun that I don’t think was present during the time period. Maybe steampunk is implied since Henry is a tinker and the Duke also has a dirigible.

Adelle and Henry make a sweet couple. I loved that he couldn’t stay away from her and that she wasn’t afraid to push him a little, especially in regards to their mutual attraction.

Readers who enjoy a good historical with a paranormal twist should give this one a try. The characters are interesting and the story is clever. A short read and worth the time.

Carnal Sacrifice by Angelika Helsing

CARNAL
Carnal Sacrifice by Angelika Helsing
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Historical
Length: Short Story (126 Pages)
Other: M/M/M/F, Multiple Partners, Menage
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

To lift a curse, she must survive an orgy of pleasure.

Delaney Jones dedicates her life to the Peace Corps—up at dawn, work past dusk. On a mountain overlooking the Sacred Valley in Peru, she’s thousands of miles away from the real reason she fled her home. Her stepbrother, rock god Jaden Seavers.

But half a world isn’t far enough to outrun the strange, erotic visions of him that disturb her dreams. When she unexpectedly encounters Jaden on a desolate Peruvian road, their mutual hunger is stronger than ever.

In the uncontrollable rush of desire, Jaden can no longer hide the truth. He is a vampire—and he’s not alone. Many of his kind have come to Peru to take part in a ritual that will make them mortal.

All they need is a vessel strong enough to withstand the power of five vampires gone wild with an unholy craving. And when the eruption of lust is over, survive to fill the emptiness of the one man who loves her more than life itself…

Delaney has always had something for her stepbrother. She felt that there was no way it could work between her and Jaden. To move on with her life and away from what couldn’t have, she joined the Peace Corps and moved to the opposite side of the earth. But did it work?

No, it did not. Her dreams were filled with him.

Carnal Sacrifice is an erotic story that revolves around an ancient ritual, a sacrifice.

The story, plot was not what I thought it would be. On the surface, this story was all about sex and pleasure. I was pleasantly surprised to see that that she did have chemistry with all of the other men. But there is a love story in this. In spite of what she agrees to do and with whom, it seemed that not only her heart but also her body seemed to prefer Jaden over everyone else. I think the love story just enhanced and made this one better.

An action packed erotic story with a climactic ending. This book is about how far someone would go for love. What they are willing to go through, to be with their one and only.

Mending the Bear by Vanessa Devereaux

MENDING
Mending the Bear by Vanessa Devereaux
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (121 pgs)
Other: M/F, Masturbation, Spanking
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Ian Mallory thought he’d found his mate when he was young, but now she’s betrayed him in the worst possible way. There’s only one thing for a bear to do and that’s get on his motorcycle and go on the rampage.

Eve Barclay’s the new vet in town. She loves her new home of Kalispell. Well, that is until a crazy guy wearing a biker jacket with a bear emblem goes flying by sending mud all over her new hairdo. If that’s not bad enough, she slips in the supermarket where he’s thrown salmon all over the floor.

Ian’s punishment…look after the lady vet. His reward… being seen with a new woman who might just make his mate jealous.

Eve’s reward…having a sexy guy watching out for her. Eve’s punishment…having a sexy guy around and vowing never to fall for one ever again.

Mending the Bear has a good story and does not need to be read in order of the series as it’s a solid standalone tale. It might be the 13th in the series but since I forgot the finer details of stories I’d read in the past, I’m perfectly comfortable recommending this little gem to newbie paranormal romance readers of the Kalispell Shifters series.

It starts off with Ian being wronged. And wow, does he ever have a temper. The good thing is that he does not take it out on people, at least, not directly. He splashes through puddles and throws some fish around so it’s not too terrible. But a reader definitely gets the impression that the hero is hurting and he’s not able to think beyond his immediate pain. What I liked was that all his friends and family rallied around him and tried to cheer him up. Ian does have to make restitution and I felt the council was more than fair. In fact their edict introduced him to Eve and that was the best part.

Eve was there in Kalispell to turn over a new leaf in her life. She knows what she wants and won’t settle for less. What she didn’t expect was to meet Ian and her reaction to him. She’s not quite sure what to do because the hero instills in her feelings she never even had for her first husband. Eve had her moments of doubt but she gamely decides that she isn’t going to fear going after what she wants, and she wants Ian. And the fun begins.

The author dabbles in some foreshadowing that had me expecting something dramatic or sinister to happen, but never did. Ms. Devereaux reiterated that eerie factor with Charlie so I expect it to pop up in a future story. At least in Mending the Bear a reader only has to deal with the internal conflict between Eve and Ian. It’s solid enough that no external conflict is required.

I did notice a bunch of editing issues, one of which is a point of view error when it was supposed to be Ian speaking but was identified as Eve. Another thing that made me raise an eyebrow was Eve’s reaction to when she finally sees Ian’s furry side. It was too rushed and a bit unrealistic for me considering what lead up to it. Sure, what came after would thrill erotic romance readers but I prefer a bit more substance and emotion to what should have been an earth shattering moment but instead was glossed over.

As for the elements that erotic romance fans like to see, Ms. Devereaux does not disappoint. The bedroom door is completely wide open so fans should like what they read.

Mending the Bear is an easy read with a likeable hero and heroine. It has its shining moments and has engaging dialogue to keep a reader interested. It’s a decent story with a satisfactory HEA. The hook at the end means more fun is in store for fans of the Kalispell Shifters. I hope Cade’s story is as entertaining as this one was.

X Factor by Sean Michael

XFACTOR
X Factor by Sean Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (166 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Game designer Henry Delloit loves his life, his mountain community, his isolated dream home, and the snow. He also loves that the X-treme Games blow into the area for a month every year, bringing with them hundreds of athletes.

Ecco Rasmussen loves boarding. He knows he’ll never make it to the big time, but as long as he can get on his board and go, he doesn’t care. If only his manager, Blake Dobbs, would cut Ecco a break. The man’s possessive and mean, and believes he owns Ecco.

When Henry and Ecco meet at the Branchberry Games, it’s lust at first sight. An injury on Ecco’s qualifying run offers an opportunity to spend quality time together at Henry’s home, away from the crowds and out from under Blake’s thumb.

At this rate, lust might turn into love, but not if they can’t keep their romance hidden from Blake.

Henry loves his remote home in the mountains, but he also loves the snow and watching various snow-sports. He’s excited when the X-treme Games come to town and is settling in for a day of people-watching. Henry loves watching the stunts and is eager for the sports to begin. There, he meets Ecco and is unable to tear himself way from the athletic man. The two instantly hit it off. But Henry soon discovers that Ecco is in some real trouble, and Henry is determined to help him out of it no matter the cost.

This is a sexy and fun short read. I loved the enthusiasm and chemistry between Henry and Ecco. Henry struck me as a sweet guy and Ecco a rambunctious, eager athlete. The situation Ecco had found himself in broke my heart and made me deeply sympathise with him. Despite the deep emotions and a few descriptive scenes, I found Mr. Michael handled the issue of the physical abuse very carefully and never in a positive light. Some readers mightn’t be comfortable with it but I really felt it was treated with respect and shouldn’t upset too many people.

I really loved the chemistry and blossoming romance between Ecco and Henry. Equal parts awkward, fun and gentle watching these two come together and build both a strong friendship and loving relationship was just beautiful. I loved how they didn’t jump instantly into bed, there was plenty of build up and by the time they finally really consummated their relationship I was thrilled for them both.

I finished this story feeling warm, happy and really positive – and that’s the best compliment I could ever give any writer. I felt attached and deeply invested in both Ecco and Henry and seeing them find their happiness together was a pleasure. I’ll happily be reading this book again many times in the future.

A fun story that has a strong and emotional plot, I can easily recommend this for other readers.

The Enforcer by Kele Moon

ENFORCER
The Enforcer by Kele Moon
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (530 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

They are the lost boys.

Sons of mafia mistresses expected to keep their fathers’ sins in the shadows. The lucky ones are forgotten.

Unfortunately for Valentino “Tino” Moretti, his brother Nova was too smart to be forgotten, and too valuable to risk when he resists a life of crime. So they punished Tino instead. Forced into the cruel world of the Sicilian Mafia at twelve, Tino was broken before he was old enough to know the man he was supposed to be. Now he’s what the mafia made him.

The enforcer.

A trained killer forbidden to love, but he did anyway. He’s loved Brianna all along.

Raw and beautiful, their romance was all consuming and far too dangerous. They were ripped apart a long time ago. It’s not until the borgata puts out a hit on her that Brianna falls back into Tino’s arms, churning up their dark past and unraveling all the Moretti brothers’ closely guarded secrets.

This isn’t the end of the story. It’s only the beginning, and it is brutal.

There’s a reason enforcers are considered too deadly to love.

The Enforcer was yet another outstanding entry in Kele Moon’s Untamed Hearts series. The best part is that this amazing story is just the beginning of Tino and Brianna’s tumultuous journey. I spent most of the story being devestated by the ugliness that happened to Tino. The raw emotion of this book made it impossible to put down and had me already craving the next book.

This book took the readers back to a heartwrenching beginning for Nova and Tino Moretti. The perfectly layered story made it easy to understand the hardened but damaged Moretti brothers that we’ve come to know throughout this series. It’s hard for me to decribe how much this book has touched me but I can say that I cried my way through a box of tissues at one point. It broke my heart at some of the horrible things that happened to Tino. The author had hinted at them. I had my suspicions and still this book took me by surprise. Tino’s journey was clearly too complicated for only one book. So Tino gets two books as the author weaves a gritty and complex odyssey for him. The Enforcer is a spellbinding story of tragedy, betrayal, hardships, loyalty and love.

As usual, Kele Moon did a fabulous job on this book. It is an amazingly beautiful and emotional journey that will haunt this reader for quite a while. At least until the second part of Tino and Brianna’s story is released and I can truly enjoy their happy ever after ending.

Unprofessional by Allyson Young

UNPROFESSIONAL
Unprofessional by Allyson Young
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Hannah Evans is personal assistant to the very professional Benjamin Willis, and he keeps her firmly in that role. Her boss is a great man, and if he rewards himself with a large number of blondes, well, even great men can be misguided. Hannah couldn’t ask for anything more in her job—except she’s fallen for her boss. And now Mr. Willis seems to be seeking more than mere pleasure. What if he finds a woman with beauty and brains?

Unable to bear the idea, Hannah submits her resignation. Faced with losing her, Benjamin’s entire being reacts in shock, dismay and outrage, causing him to examine how he actually views Hannah. She has had months to come to terms with her strong emotions while he has had mere hours. But Benjamin is a quick study and discovers his true feelings for the woman who has been right under his nose.

Hannah has made the decision. She’s going to quit, sick of silently, surreptitiously mooning over her boss, Benjamin Willis. Having finally come to terms with the fact that nothing will ever happen between them – he’s shown zero interest in her and each of his here-today-gone-tomorrow arm candy ladies were practically her physical opposite – Hannah has decided it’s finally time to move on. While Hannah and Benjamin had both always been painstakingly professional, Hannah’s two week notice was all the incentive Benjamin needed. He decided it was long past time they both acted in an entirely unprofessional manner.

This is a steamy short story, perfect for “on the go” as described on the cover. I’m always a sucker for “secretary falls in love with her boss” stories, and this one was fun to read. I would have liked it better had the beginning moved a bit faster. The entire first chapter could have been tightened – Hannah rehashed their entire history and how she came to have the job. While this set-up to the story and background is, of course, important, I felt it could have easily been half the length, if not shorter. The scenario was in no way unique or difficult to grasp – where I often find more details groundwork needs to be laid – and for the last few pages of the chapter I was skimming to get ahead and start the drama and action of the plot. This was a bit disappointing to me and I really feel either tighter editing – or perhaps just peppering all the self-reflection and explaining it in later dialogue would have been far easier and kept the pace of the plot moving better.

That said, once Benjamin reads her resignation and the two weeks until her resignation occurs, the pace moves far better to my mind. The sex scene was hot but I found it still strongly emotional. While there’s nothing unique to the general plot, I did enjoy both Hannah and Benjamin’s characters and his realizing Hannah was more than just his PA was fun and lovely to read.

I’d be interested to look into other stories by this author. The characters were interesting and the short length of the story makes it perfect for when you want a quick, steamy read but don’t have too much time to devote to it. A good read for the train or for a short lunch break.

The Florist by Serena Yates

FLORIST
The Florist by Serena Yates
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (121 pages)
Other: M/M, anal intercourse
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

When freelance florist Dylan White gets a call that a good friend has died and left him a flower shop, Dylan isn’t sure he wants the commitment. Still, he travels to Florida to speak with the law firm, where he meets defense attorney Sean Mellick in the corridor. Sean makes a point of “running into” Dylan again, and Dylan eventually agrees to a date.

While romance blooms between the two men, their careers aren’t going as smoothly. Dylan faces employee resistance and sabotage, then inexplicable expenses leave him on the verge of bankruptcy. An offer to sell that sounds too good to be true makes him suspicious and he asks Sean for help. Though they’ve had very little time together, Dylan and Sean need each other to work through the issues and plant the seeds for the future they both want.

A commitment-phobe floral designer inherits a business and gains the attention of someone who gives him all the reason he needs to finally put down his own roots. Poetic irony? Just a little.

It seemed like the buildup was almost too slow but I think the author was trying to create the relationship, in the readers mind, with Dylan’s friend, Mike, who had passed away since that was his reason for being in Florida in the first place. Also, his introspection about losing his friend seemed to be a turning point in his previous ability for a long term commitment. I say all of that to encourage readers to stick with the slower moments because they have merit to the story.

Sean and Dylan’s first date was so sweet. I liked the realism in their conversation and expectations. They’re a really sweet couple. I was cheering for their HEA a little more with every date. And on the flipside of the slower opening of this story, once Sean and Dylan decide to give in to their insta-lust, the action never stopped.

Dylan’s first meeting with the manager of his new store was firey! The tension level of the story goes up several degrees in just a few moments since I knew, from the blurb, that trouble was on it’s way to Dylan’s doorstep. I immediately started watching Flint for signs that he would be the instigator. It was obvious that Flint felt that he had some vested interest, a lot really, in the business. Or maybe he was just worried about his position and thought intimidation would guarantee his job. Considering the fact that Dylan was now dating a lawyer, I couldn’t wait to see how this would all play out.

Speaking of Sean’s profession, I didn’t expect that thread of the plot. I like that the author didn’t leave all the drama and tension on one side of this story. Two main characters, each with their issues and yet, they had common ground. It all played out in a neat little package that worked.

Readers who like a little intrigue and drama with their romance should give The Florist a read. What I thought would be a simple little love story turned into a much more exciting adventure.

Inked Promise by Tierney O’Malley

INKED
Inked Promise by Tierney O’Malley
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Genre : Contemporary
Length: Full Length (234 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

In bed or out of bed, it’s worth breaking all the rules for her.

For many years, the pain of shattered dreams has haunted Gypsy Grey. Now, she hopes to spend a week at her friends’ house on Shaw Island to attend the yearly fair with her daughter, Nika. But her plan changes when she learns that her ex-lover, Nolan Keats, and his friends will be sharing the house with them. However, Gypsy begins to enjoy Nolan’s company, which again turns into fierce possessiveness and a fiery touch. When Nolan proposes that they not talk about the past or future and only live for the present, Gypsy also decides to hide the truth from him. He’s no longer single. Telling him about Nika doesn’t matter anymore. Once their temporary affair is over, she’s unsure if she’ll be able to survive living with another shattered dream.

Years of running from his hurtful past finally catches up to Nolan—unexpectedly. He’s supposed to celebrate his last remaining bachelor days with the Blue-Eyed Four, but upon seeing the beautiful, spirited woman he once promised to love eternally, he begins to burn for her again. This time hotter and deeper than the last. Worse, he realizes that he’s never really stopped loving her. Like fever flowing in his blood, he must possess her. She’s now a mother to a blue-eyed daughter he wishes belonged to him.

On beautiful Shaw Island, Nolan and Gypsy boldly ignore their present situation for a blazing, forbidden passion. More than anything, he wants her back in his life. But for that to happen it will hurt another.

Inked Promise was a book that easily captured my attention.

I’m a sucker for the secret love child trope so I was intrigued by the plot of this book. It started out great. Nolan and Gypsy fell in love when they were both real young but they made some impossible choices. Nolan walked away from their relationship and unbeknownst to him left Gypsy pregnant with his child. It was four years before they met up again. By that time Nolan was engaged to marry someone else, and Gypsy couldn’t see the point in informing him that her daughter belonged to him. It was at this point that I started having some mixed feelings about the plot. She bald faced lied to Nolan and said that he wasn’t little Nika’s father, even after he asked her three times already. Still, I could overlook that because of the extenuating circumstances. Gypsy was a fiercely protective mother who was afraid that her little girl would be hurt by some of the other people in Nolan’s life.

There were some aspects of this story that tugged at the heart. Yet there were a few elements that had me shaking my head in disbelief. I’ll just say it there was some cheating that made me uncomfortable, and it made no difference to me that Nolan’s fiance happened to be a Cruella DeVille like character, cheating is still taboo in my book. Otherwise I would have reveled in the hot sex scenes between Nolan and Gypsy. On the other hand I loved the adorable kids and the over the top reactions in this story. I always go for the books that have light humor and this one did not disappoint in that area.

Technically, this book had a interesting plot with plenty of emotional conflict and a fast paced story. It had a fantastic hook of the main characters being star crossed lovers and wondering which choice to make …. something real or superficial perfection. The story was loaded with dramatic angst and interesting characters. I’m not sure but I might read the other books in the series. So I say that for readers who can look past the cheating aspect then this is a great story.