The Out of Towner by Lilith Duvalier

TWONER
The Out of Towner by Lilith Duvalier
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/M/M, M/M, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Carlos and Thomas need one night when they don’t talk about planning their wedding.

Carlos’ family keeps butting in, big chunks of Thomas’ family refuse to be involved, and the stress of planning this huge celebration for this many people—many of whom don’t speak the same language—is too much.

Carlos declares that they are going to spend one night together without wedding planning. To sweeten the pot, they play a little game by pretending to meet for the first time at an expensive restaurant downtown.

But at the restaurant, Thomas runs into Jimmy Colton, an old college crush who is in town for business. By the time Carlos arrives the game has changed, and the three of them are heading back to Jimmy’s hotel room to fulfill a long held fantasy.

Planning a wedding isn’t easy, just ask Carlos and Thomas. Between finding the right venue, getting the tuxes, and making both families happy, the stress is taking its toll on them both. When Carlos suggests they take a night off from wedding planning, Thomas eagerly agrees. After all, what can possibly happen when you’ve been together as long as they have?

Carlos and Thomas have been together for a long time and they are both obviously in love and completely devoted to one another. Their relationship is believable and realistic, even in today’s world. I loved that Carlos was so done with everything that he suggested a bit of role play for the two of them. It shows that he’s not just dedicated to his husband-to-be, but invested in the relationship and willing to try something new to keep it fresh and alive.

When the appearance of an old schoolmate throws a wrench into the works, they adapt. Although Carlos is more on board with inviting Jimmy into their evening, Thomas isn’t completely against it, either. That Carlos takes the time to find out exactly what Thomas wants, even if it means putting this fantasy off until another time, really made me like him even more than I already did.

The best thing about this short story is that it doesn’t focus on the sexual aspect as much as it does the relationship between the three men. Jimmy really opens up and tells the other two something very personal and hurtful, bringing them all closer emotionally than they could ever be physically. This is the kind of thing that I need in my stories, no matter what the genre. Sweet, sexy, and satisfying on so many levels, The Out of Towner is an enjoyable read that left me smiling. The very last scene in the book made me hopeful that there might someday be more to this story. If not? Well, then the reader can at least be happy with what could be.

Passionate Companions by Cat Blaine

PASSIONATE
Passionate Companions by Cat Blaine
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (34 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Sully Handover’s a pure-blooded vampire reluctantly groomed to be a courtesan to humans. He’s spent a lifetime believing humans are lesser beings, but when he’s chosen by the gorgeous and kind Master Adrian, he might have to rethink that theory. Especially since he can’t stop secretly lusting after his new master.

Imagine a world where vampires and humans have the oddest sort of agreement: the humans provide women for breeding and the vampires provide purebloods for pleasure. Enter Sully Handover, a pureblood vampire who has spent his time being trained as a courtesan. Angry and unwilling to become a slave to a lesser race, he isn’t exactly thrilled when he’s sent to auction earlier than planned. Will he be able to make peace with his new master or will it all end in disaster?

Sully put me off a bit at first. Understandably, he was arrogant and unhappy about having to serve humans when he’d much rather become the lover of fellow vampire, Luke. His outrageous behavior at the auction house and during the actual auction made me laugh out loud. Daring and mouthy, he’s more than a handful for any master. However, when he comes to realize that his new owner – Adrian – isn’t anything like he had expected, he mellows out a bit and becomes more likable.

Adrian I liked from the very beginning. Taking a risk on the mouthy, aggressive vampire took a lot of trust and maybe even touch of stupidity, but it certainly paid off for him. He comes off as honest and trustworthy from the start, exactly the kind of man Sully needs to guide him through this new world he’s in. He’s probably my favorite character in this short story, making me want to know more about him in the end.

Passionate Companions was a good read with an intriguing plot and engaging characters. I was impressed by the fact the author didn’t jump directly into the sexual intimacy and instead gave Sully and Adrian a chance to get to know each other a bit first. However, I do wish that we’d been given more backstory in regards to how the society they live in came to be the way it was. The situation they’re in is fascinating and I’d love to know more about how they’d gotten to where they were. Even though the ending seemed somewhat rushed, the overall story was interesting and kept me reading until the very end.

Almost by Sean Michael

ALMOST
Almost by Sean Michael
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Contemporary
Length : Short Story (47 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Hammer let Lane drive him away, but now he’s determined to make Lane the one who almost got away.

Lane lost his legs while saving his unit overseas. It’s been two years and he’s doing his best to come to terms with things, including the fact that he dumped his lover to free the man up from being stuck with a gimp for the rest of his life. Luckily, Lane inherited his Gramps’ cottage—it just needs some renovations to make it wheelchair friendly. He’s determined to make the best of what he’s got.

Hammer was one of the men Lane saved…and his lover while they were in the Army together. He let Lane drive him away back when the man first got hurt, but now he’s hunting Lane, determined to make Lane the one who almost got away. Will Lane be able to see past his injuries far enough to realise Hammer’s in it for the long haul?

Lane’s Gramps left him the lake house he grew up in, and after losing his legs he needs the tranquility to get himself back on track. When Hammer shows up unexpectedly on his doorstep Lane’s blown away, partly from the memories of their previous time together, and also from how deliciously sexy the man still is. Hammer offers to stay and help Lane renovate the lake house, and that’s an offer Lane can’t make himself refuse.

Strap yourself in for one hell of an emotional ride. Both Hammer and Lane are manly, macho, stubborn as hell men, neither willing to give an inch. This creates some fireworks and intense, sexy scenes. Lane is determined to come to grips with his disability by himself and refuses to lean on Hammer or anyone else. A few years ago Lane had dumped Hammer, insisting he didn’t want or need the man sexually or otherwise. But Hammer, after recovering from Lane dumping his ass, is refusing to go anywhere and make Lane see reason. What follows is, in my opinion, one of the hottest short stories about two broken alpha men that I’ve ever read. Full of chemistry and sizzling heat, this is a short but wonderful ride, full of emotion and venerability.

While this isn’t the first book I’ve read by Sean Michael, I’m quickly becoming addicted to his style of writing and ingenious imagination. I find his stories realistic, manly without being over the top and full of emotion which the romance reader in me craves. This is a satisfying read and I’m certain I’ll be back for more. Recommended.

Gaywyck: A Novel by Vincent Virga

WYCK
Gaywyck: A Novel by Vincent Virga
Publisher: Alyson Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (356 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Gaywyck, the first gay gothic romance, treads firmly in beloved territory, both honoring it and reinventing it. Classic in style, Vincent Virga creates a world as authentic as anything penned by DuMaurier, retaining the creaking ancestral mansion and mysterious and brooding master of the manor, while replacing the traditional damsel in distress with the young and handsome Robert Whyte.

When Robert Whyte’s mother goes mad, suffering from severe depression, he and his father are at a loss. Having spent his life as a sickly, reclusive individual, Robert finds himself needing work. Unwilling to follow the path that his father had envisioned for him, Robert instead goes in a different direction, one of which will change the entire direction of his life.

Robert Whyte arrives at Gaywyck an innocent, sheltered young man. He soon discovers that no matter how well-read you are, there are some things a book can never prepare you for. Love is one of them. Although a bit naïve, he’s curious and intelligent, and eager to make friends and live a life outside of his father’s home. By the end of the novel, he’s not even close to the man he was when it began, giving him more character growth than any character I’ve ever read.

Donough Gaylord, on the other hand, has seen more in his young life than most see by the end of theirs. At first, his penchant for keeping his distance from everyone but his closest companions seems simple. He’s lost loved ones and fears being hurt again, right? But the more you read, the more you find out just how disturbing and upsetting his childhood was. The further you delve into Donough’s past, the more twisted the story becomes. Where Robert is pure and innocent, Donough is blackened, which is probably why they work so well together in the end. They find a balance between the two extremes.

As much as I enjoy Gothic novels, I’ve not read many Gothic romances. Gaywyck has changed that and for the better. Gorgeously written, the storyline twists and turns and surprises you at the end of every hallway. Some things were obvious, at least to me, while others took me wholly by surprise. When everything comes together in the end, I stared rather wide-eyed at my Kindle, trying to take it all in. Sad and sweet and endearingly romantic, Gaywyck will forever stay with me.

Farmer Wants a Wife by Shelley Munro

WIFE
Farmer Wants a Wife by Shelley Munro
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (165 pgs)
Other: M/F, Masturbation
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

The rules of the game are simple: the man pursues until the woman catches.

Love and Friendship, Book 3

Think finding the perfect lover is difficult? Ask Susan Webb—she knows it is. Lonely, tired of dull routine and dud men who only think with their lower brains, she takes a calculated risk to shake up her lackluster life.

Now she’s set to take part in a reality dating show. Her objective: to find a good, honest man who’s up for enjoying lots of sexy fun on the road to love. Failure is not an option.

One look at his older brother’s Farmer Wants a Wife candidate, and Tyler Penrith is intrigued. Prim and proper on the surface, she has a secret smile in her eyes and an exotic dancer sway to her step. And calamity follows her around like a tame dragon.

Susan might be in his brother’s age group, but Tyler’s not about to let Nolan waltz off with the first woman to snare his attention in ages.

As the show’s ratings go through the roof, Susan finds herself falling for the wrong man—and her simple plan for happiness on the brink of falling apart.

Ms. Munro did the unexpected. I assumed I knew who the story was going to be about but I was wrong. I’m still amazed at the book’s turn but it’s perfect in so many ways.

The premise uses a popular television format to showcase the development of the plot conflict. Reality T.V. shows seem to be all the rage these days and it comes as no surprise that they’d be used to introduce men and women to each other. But what if the person introduced isn’t the one getting the girl or guy but someone in the background? How would that come about? And how would that affect the show?

Good questions, all. I was perfectly ready to accept Nolan as the hero of the story. He seemed ideal – a smug man who enjoyed naughty teasing but who needed to be taken down a peg. That’s my initial impression. What I got was a whole other man with a lot of unexpected baggage that was none of his doing. His problem was that he didn’t fight it hard enough. But, after a certain revelation, he stepped up to the plate in one arena, and in another I believe the author set the hook for her next book. And if so, I’ll read it, if only to see a certain someone get the stick out of her bum. Man, what a witch!

The bridge between the two men is Susan, the heroine. She is looking for love in the right wrong place. Or is it the wrong right place? Honest, that makes a lot more sense after reading the book. Susan is a pleasant surprise. She stands up for herself, even when it hurts. And yes, there is a good solid internal conflict to deal with and it works.

The second man is Tyler. My first impression of him was a scrawny shadow of Nolan. I was happily wrong on that count too. He turns out to be a man who knows his own mind, has learned from his mistakes and is willing to do the right thing for the love of his life even though it causes him pain. His strength of character is impressive. For readers who enjoy the steamier side of romance with the bedroom door flung open wide and the roof ripped off so you get a full view, Farmer Wants a Wife provides further proof that Tyler knows how to make a woman moan, sigh and blast off to the stars, even over the phone.

The scene with Mr. Blue caused quite a bit of mirth. I never knew about the history so Susan’s dialogue at that juncture was delightfully full of spit and vinegar. I enjoyed it when she removed her inner filter and let things fly.

External conflict, being videotaped notwithstanding, comes from another female. She was such a prune and I don’t care how a child came to be in this world, no one should take it out on an innocent kid. So as far as I’m concerned, she’s the villain of the piece.

The relationship between Tyler and Susan was pleasant to watch grow as they navigate falling in love while trying to avoid being caught on camera. The resolving of a few road blocks to complete the happy ever after came across as too perfect, too easy and too fairy tale ending-ish. Even saying that doesn’t detract from the beauty and fun that is at the heart of this novel; it’s still a fun book.

Farmer Wants a Wife is an entertaining, sexy romance and an easy read. This might be the third book in the series but it’s a solid standalone. I say this with assurance because I have not read books one and two. There is no shortage of fun, great dialogue and interesting encounters in this tale. If a reader is tired of books with heavy and dark drama, this novel is a real pick-me-up and is totally delightful. Ms. Munro always delivers great romance.

Eden’s Present by Adam Carpenter

PRESENT
Eden’s Present by Adam Carpenter
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (172 pages)
Other: M/M, Multiple Partners, Anal Play, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Chad Singleton discovered a shocking truth at the conclusion of Eden’s Past, and now the revelation threatens to undo everything he’s achieved since he returned to his hometown of Eden. His job with rival relatives at Harte Industries, his relationship with his feisty grandmother, and most of all, his steamy, no-holds-barred love affair with the local chief of police, burly Brett Ellers.

But it’s the sexy stranger in Eden, William Kelton, who will most affect Chad, the two of them bound by intrigue, betrayal and a mutual attraction. As the mystery deepens surrounding his father’s death, Chad buries his wounded heart in Kelt’s welcoming arms. But the surprises have only just begun, the biggest of which will forever change his life.

In Eden, even the wealthy—especially the wealthy—have secrets.

As the mystery surrounding his father’s death only deepens, Chad finds himself without an anchor. Trying to focus on his work at Harte Industries, he throws himself into it and into a relationship with William Kelton, a stranger passing through town with a mission of his own. Will Chad be able to discover what happened to his dad? And will he ever be able to grasp his heart’s desire?

Chad is a little all over the place in this second installment in the Eden series, but with good cause. Everything he thought he knew is being thrown into chaos. More secrets are revealed and even more are hinted at, giving him much to speculate on. More of his true self shows and he continues to grow and become more of a real person than he was at the start of the first book.

William Kelton, better known as Kelt, takes front stage in this novel, edging the attractive police chief off to the side. Passing through town in an effort to find out how his ex-lover, Ken, died. I like Kelt, his dedication to his ex-lover, although they’d been apart for quite some time, is sweet. Also, I think there’s more to him than we know so far and I wonder if he’ll make an appearance in the next installment.

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, Eden’s Present ends on one heck of a cliffhanger, stopping right after a major revelation. I was rather stunned by this revelation, thinking it would be one thing when it wound up being something else completely. Needless to say, I’m anxiously awaiting the next novel in this series! The author has a real talent for building suspense right up to the very last word. The Eden series only gets better and more tangled as we move forward. I wonder what the author has in store for us next? Hopefully some answers to the questions that have been brewing since book one!

Eden’s Past by Adam Carpenter

PAST
Eden’s Past by Adam Carpenter
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (128 pgs)
Other: M/M, Multiple Partners, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Chad Singleton, twenty-nine and model gorgeous, works as a high-priced escort for wealthy men. When he gets a call telling him his father has died, Chad is torn about returning to his small hometown of Eden, Pennsylvania. After all, it was his homophobic father who banished Chad years ago. When he returns, he is thrown into the mystery surrounding how his father died. Fortunately the sexy chief of police, Brett Ellers, has caught Chad’s eye.

As Chad and Brett submit to their heated attraction, forces from Eden’s underbelly threaten to undo their secret affair. In Eden, everyone has an agenda, their motives as dark as the night. Intrigue, murder, passionate love affairs, they all dominate the landscape in this picturesque world of horse farms and crumbling, once majestic estates.

In Eden, even the wealthy—especially the wealthy—play dirty.

Chad Singleton hasn’t been home to Eden in what seems like forever. However, when the news of his father’s death reaches him, he knows he has no choice but to return despite all that had come before. Reluctantly, he backs out of a trip to the Far East with one of his clients and heads home, only to discover there’s a lot more going on than anyone knew.

Chad is a very conflicted character. After having been banished from Eden by his homophobic father, he moved on to New York and found work as an escort. Although he enjoys the traveling – and the companionship – there’s something missing from his life. Something he doesn’t even realize is missing until he meets the sexy chief of police, Brett Ellers. Chad’s character really starts to come to life after his first interaction with Brett and I really enjoyed watching him evolve.

Brett Ellers, Eden’s chief of police, is in high demand. Lusted after by nearly every woman in town, he’s holding a secret very few know. In a town as small as Eden, knowing that he was gay might simply end his career, no questions asked, so he stays in the closet. While not an uncommon practice, it makes his relationship with Chad a bit more difficult in the beginning. Sadly, he also seems to be holding another secret back, on that very well might have to do with the death of Chad’s father, although we don’t know much about any of that by the end of this novella. Despite his fears and sometimes odd behavior, I really do like Brett. I think he and Chad are good for each other and can help one another deal with their pasts and make a life together.

Eden’s Past is an exciting, steamy story full of gorgeous men, sexy situations and enough intrigue to keep you turning the pages. Fair warning, however, the story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, leaving you asking questions you can’t answer until the sequel. That in itself is enough to get me to pick up the next in the series, just so I can find out what happens next. I cannot wait until I know exactly what really happened to Silas Singleton!

Truth Or Dare? by Elizabeth Morgan

DARE
Truth Or Dare? by Elizabeth Morgan
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (39 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Do you dare tell the truth?

A tequila fuelled game of Truth or Dare is not Dani’s idea of fun, but when Cameron, the jerk who rejected her a year ago is the one provoking her into playing, how can she say no? Not that he’s giving her the option in the first place.

Bravado compels her forward, but when the dares get physical and their friends leave them alone, Cameron’s questions turn to her feelings for him, and unfortunately, lying is not part of the game.

Will a dare give Dani the courage she needs to tell Cameron the truth?

Dani has just moved into a new place and, despite her best intentions, is thrown a housewarming party. Her friends invited every one of her neighbors, but it’s Cameron who lingers long after they’ve all gone back home. With a tempting bottle of tequila, a devilish smile and a naughty suggestion for a quick game of truth or dare, Dani finds herself figuratively backed into a corner. When the dares become raunchy Dani realizes there’s a few truths she’s been hiding from herself.

While I enjoyed reading this fun short story I was a little disappointed with the predictability of the storyline. The author does an awesome job introducing the four main characters, and gives particularly vivid descriptions of Dani and Cameron, but I found it hard to get overly involved as the story didn’t have a new twist or edge to it. Truth and Dare is a common enough plot and the addition of Tequila helps make the entertainment more adult, but no more exotic.

I was pleased with the culmination between Dani and Cameron’s. The sex was scorching hot and quite erotic, but I couldn’t help but feel some of the chemistry between them – that “zap” of electricity – felt lacking to me. I was in no doubt that Dani and Cameron lusted after each other, but Dani spent so much time expressing her insecurities – and Cameron had to repeat multiple times the seriousness of his affection for her that both seemed forced, or false. They spent so long discussing it and not enough time showing it – with tender touches or other actions outside their sexual acts.

Because of this, something about their connection didn’t strike me as a long-term thing, that undefinable “something” was missing between them for me. While the story is written as a happily ever after, personally I see it more as a happy for now. Dani and Cameron want each other, and have been denying that for so long their encounter felt to me like it was bound to happen sooner or later. But with that tingle missing I can’t help but wonder if the luster of their newfound relationship might fizzle in the longer term.

Despite all this, readers looking for a short story, full of sexy dares and interesting characters should enjoy this for a quick read. If there was a follow up book – perhaps when Dani and Cameron are better settled and maybe revisit the game with a twist – my curiosity, the authors interesting style and my hope for their ending to truly be a good one could easily sway me to try them out again. This is a fun, erotic tale that can happily fill an evening and give satisfaction.

The Alpha’s Toy by Sam Crescent

TOY
The Alpha’s Toy by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (112 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Play, Forced Seduction, Fetish, Toys, Fisting, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Verbena

To spare an innocent she has to become his plaything.

When Zeke attacks her pack, Mary, a half-breed wolf, wants to save a young wolf, but to do so, she has to accept his bargain. She must be his toy until the next full moon. Mary despises the alpha she must now give her body to, but she can’t deny the response he inspires within her.

Exploring the deceased pack’s lair Zeke stumbles onto something that could destroy all breeds of wolf. The leaders of Mary’s pack had been experimenting on wolves. The reasons why are still unknown, but Zeke will do everything in his power to find out the truth, especially when he discovers Mary was one of their experiments.

Even before the end of the month Mary becomes all he can think about, and he’s determined to keep his toy safe. Then a twist of fate lets him know she’s more than a toy. Mary is his mate. Can he overcome her fear of him and convince her to stay when her month is up?

How did she go from witnessing the slaughter of her pack, to warming the bed of their killer all in one night? Mary is mortified as she watches a neighboring pack murder her own. While she was never really very close to any of them—most wouldn’t acknowledge or even talk to her—she didn’t understand what was going on. Since when did packs attack and exterminate each other? What had her pack done to deserve this?

There were a lot of things Mary didn’t understand about shifter dynamics and politics. She hadn’t been born into this life, she’d been forced into it. The victim of a “bite and run”, the only knowledge she had about wolf shifters and her new abilities she’d learned from her pack alpha and his queen. Now they were dead. It frightened her to see so much hatred and bloodshed, but when the invading group grabs a young member of her pack, the only shifter friend she really has, Mary is compelled to intercede. Expecting her life to be forfeit in order to save the young girl’s, she’s thoroughly confused when the overbearing alpha demands her submission to any and all of his sexual whims for the next 30 days. A deal is a deal and Mary is prepared to pay in full if it will save her friend, she just didn’t expect to enjoy it so much.

Zeke was all set to totally obliterate the pack that had been involved in some downright evil activity. They didn’t deserve to live and call themselves wolves. What he didn’t expect was for one of the members to offer her life in exchange for another. He wasn’t a bad man, really, and he didn’t enjoy killing. But the pack leaders and all of its members had been involved in some shady behavior, and he suspected were responsible for the disappearances of many wolf shifters, including his own sister. You see, wolves had a certain scent about them when they were corrupt, and this pack reeked, every single member except the young girl and her voluptuous savior. As he eyed the full-figured woman who pleaded for him to spare the child, he realized that whatever evil her pack was involved in, she wasn’t a part of it. While he didn’t intend to kill anyone innocent of the pack’s crimes, he certainly wasn’t going to tell Mary that. She’d offered him whatever he wanted to spare the young girl, and what he wanted was her…on her back, on her knees, in any and every position he could come up with for the next thirty days. At the time, it seemed like a good idea. What he hadn’t anticipated is how his wolf would respond to hers, or how hers would respond to his. Suddenly, thirty days didn’t seem long enough. Less than a week into their arrangement, he realizes that a lifetime wouldn’t even be enough.

At first I really didn’t know what to think about Zeke. He seemed like a terrible person to go through and slaughter an entire pack. But as the story progressed, I realized that he wasn’t the bad guy, he was just dealing out justice as it needed to be dealt. Sometimes that’s what makes the difference between a bad alpha and a great one. Leadership comes with a price and a lot of responsibility; Zeke doesn’t take this role lightly.

Poor Mary is a victim from the get go. After being bitten by a wolf, she’s left to fend for herself and learn what it means to be a shifter. At the time, she thought her pack leaders were showing her kindness by taking her in—even if no one really seemed to like her—but as Zeke begins uncovering the truth behind her pack’s disturbing activities, she realizes that the last eighteen-months had been a lie. Horrific memories secreted by her wolf and a drug-induced amnesia had kept her ignorant to what was really going on. Now, with Zeke’s help, she’ll discover the real reasons for her pack leaders’ superficial kindness as well as how to embrace her inner wolf.

While I really enjoyed The Alpha’s Toy by Sam Crescent, there were some things about the dialog that annoyed me. In particular, it felt like the author repeated the same thing to get a point across when it wasn’t necessary. For instance, when the hero tells his friend to take Mary to the kitchen for food in one sentence, he doesn’t need to say make sure she gets some food in the next. He’s already made the point that he wants her to eat. Some things just felt redundant or unnecessarily wordy. Even though this did bug me a bit, it did not deter me from reading or liking the story. I just think it’s something that could be cleaned up a bit to make it an even better story. The plot, the characters, and the sex—which there was quite a bit of, by the way—were all very good. The author does well with moving things along and tying up loose ends. Overall, I think it’s worth the read and the little things that needled me may not bother others.

This may be a forced arrangement, but Mary doesn’t seem too upset about her lot once Zeke makes good on his promise to be buried balls deep inside her. I can’t say that I blame her. A big strapping alpha male wants to make you his own personal sex toy and introduce you to things you’re body’s been craving for months without relent…doesn’t sound too bad to me either. It’s kind of comical to see the emotional and behavioral changes in Zeke when he begins to recognize Mary as more than just a toy. She may not realize it, but she has his heart in one hand, and his ball bearings in the other.

The Alpha’s Toy by Sam Crescent offers super-hot wolves with all their snarling, domineering maleness; full-figured gals that are anything but helpless or without a bite of their own, and plenty of toe-curling sex that got my heart racing. It a good story that proved well worth my time to read.

Captured in Croatia by Christine Edwards

CORATIA
Captured in Croatia by Christine Edwards
Publisher: Fanny Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (179 pgs)
Other: M/F, Forced Seduction, Spanking
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Verbena

Corporate spy Carew Sloan is sent to Zagreb, Croatia, to retrieve information for a private intelligence agency. Carew’s beauty and talent for computer decryption make her the natural choice for this sensitive mission. After charming her mark, Vasilije Juric, in one of Zagreb’s swanky dance clubs, Carew finds herself in Juric’s bedroom. It will take only a moment to gather the information she was sent for and make her escape. Or so she thinks.

Unfortunately for Carew, Juric has a keen-eyed bodyguard, Zoran, who pegged her instantly as trouble. After a high speed chase, he retrieves Carew from her wrecked car. Rather than turn the stunning spy over to his merciless boss, Zoran takes matters into his own hands and keeps the girl … as his captive. Zoran’s keen intelligence, striking features, and powerful physique prove hard to resist, and soon their mutual hostility takes a backseat to the torrent of lust neither can deny.

Will Carew follow her heart, even it means losing her livelihood? What other dangers await them both beyond Zoran’s lair?

This sneaky cat burglar is about to meet her match in wit, skill, and determination. Zoran is like a bulldog with a bone. He smells something funny going on and he’s not about to get duped by the far-too-attractive female his boss has his eyes on.

A gun for hire, Zoran has done some things he’s not overly proud of. But one thing he does pride himself on is ferretting out the truth. He’s never shot anyone who didn’t deserve it and he’s not about to start now. When his suspicions prove right and he discovers that the resourceful woman has not only gotten the drop on his Casanova boss, but has also made off with some documentation from Juric’s files, he’s determined to apprehend the sly girl and find out what’s going on. While his boss expects him to “eliminate” the problem, Zoran can’t bring himself to kill her. Something about her sparks more than just his curiosity about what she’s after. And truth be told, he really doesn’t like Juric anyway.

Carew senses she may be in over her head when she meets Zoran’s assessing gaze. His presence makes her uneasy and she has a feeling he’s going to make her job difficult. Nothing seems to get past his scrutiny. Everything about him screams virility and were circumstances different, she might even be tempted to explore her attraction a little further. But as it was, she had a job to do and Zoran was not in her plans. Juric was suspected of stealing her client’s design and it was her job to find the proof. All she needed to do was get inside his multimillion-dollar mansion, put him out of commission, and hack into his computer. It sounded easy enough for someone with Carew’s expertise. Any other time, it would have been. Unfortunately, she’d never encountered a body guard like Zoran before and he had no intention of making anything easy.

Ms. Christine Edwards has penned a deliciously dangerous and tantalizing tale of burglary gone horribly wrong. While Zoran could certainly have handled things differently when he caught Carew—most body guards in his position probably would have—the way he responded is what set him apart and made me take a harder look at his underlying character. While he first comes across as a typical thug working for a rich man used to getting his way and cutting down anyone in his path, there’s a lot more to Zoran that meets the eye. I didn’t necessarily agree with all his methods of extracting the information he wanted from Carew, but he lacked any real maliciousness behind his actions. I think he was at a loss as to how to deal with her. She was completely unlike any of his other adversaries, and deep down, he really didn’t want to hurt her. As the days pass, it becomes obvious that Zoran is keeping Carew alive for more reasons than just to get information out of her.

The story is told in first person and switches between Carew and Zoran’s point of view. At first, it was a bit awkward as I haven’t read too many books in first person, but as the story progressed I found myself getting into the characters’ heads a little easier. It actually ended up being a nice change. Overall, I really enjoyed Captured in Croatia. I guess I’ve always had a propensity for tales about capture and forced seduction. Call me deviant, but I like the old bodice-rippers. Captured in Croatia, to me, was a bit like a modern-day bodice ripper. While Carew isn’t the typical weak female—she’s skilled in martial arts and can certainly take care of herself—Zoran pretty much renders her helpless, leaving her almost defenseless against his intentions. Most women in her situation would probably have resorted to tears and begging, but Carew is very strong-willed and it takes a lot for her to finally give in. I think this only sparks Zoran’s interest even more. He’s not used to being defied and Carew’s insistence on disobedience really gets to him.

In this test of wills, who will break first? Captured in Croatia offers an exciting read filled with the thrill of being captured, the eroticism of bondage, and the titillation of forced seduction. I’m not talking rape. Zoran doesn’t do anything to Carew that she doesn’t want, no matter how much she’d like to deny it. I thoroughly enjoyed the story from start to finish. It had a nice hook at the beginning and a completely satisfying end. It was well worth my time.