Intermission by Erika Almond

INTERMISSION
Intermission by Erika Almond
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (47 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Josie’s still rocked by her risqué matinee with hot movie star Miles but her no-account ex Riley is causing her grief. Once she squares him away, Josie arranges for a special midnight show with Miles before he leaves for Hollywood. But Miles isn’t ready to cut Josie out of his picture just yet. He enlists her to help him pick out his next script and the two act out a very sexy scene of their own. Josie might just be a good time in the intermission between movie projects for Miles but she wonders if she’d like to be the star of his show.

This spitfire just might have found her match.

This is my first book by Erika Almond and I’m glad I got the chance to read it. The story is short, but don’t let that be a deterrent. It’s hot and has interesting characters that stayed with me far after the last page.

I breezed through this story in one sitting. There weren’t any heavy plot points or times when I had to think. The story was very much the type to get lost in for an hour.

There were a few things I had an issue with. One was how the two main characters and one of the side characters all said the word, ‘shitfire’. While this might not bother some readers, having all of the characters say this particular phrase really stood out. Maybe it was vernacular normal for the setting of story, but when I noticed all three had said this it ripped me from the story. Another thing that took me out of the story was the use of the word honeypot. In erotic romance, this word wasn’t terribly romantic to me. Again, it might not bother some readers, so maybe it won’t deter you.

I do have to say the plot twist in the story had me wanting to finish. I needed to know who would end up together. The story trope, girl rejects best friend for a celebrity (or in this case, up-and-coming celebrity) isn’t new, but Almond writes it in a fresh way.

Pick up a copy of Intermission if you want a quick, hot read on a lazy afternoon.

September Erotic Book of the Month Poll

Twice the Growl by Milly Taiden

Sexy love couple
Twice the Growl by Milly Taiden
Paranormal Dating Agency 1
Publisher: Latin Goddess Press
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (110 pgs)
Other: M/F/M, Anal Play, Menage
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Waratah

Talia Barca needs a date. Badly. She uses the services of the Paranormal Dating Agency hoping for a decent guy to take to a family wedding. A wedding her ex-husband has wormed his way into as a guest.

Connor and Theron want Tally to complete their Alpha triad. She’s sexy, curvy and funny. But she’s human. And they’re not sure she’ll go for a relationship with two men at the same time.

As if deciding to give two men a shot wasn’t difficult enough, Tally will also need to deal with a threat from the pack. She’ll either prove she’s strong enough to be an Alpha mate or find herself at the mercy of a vicious opponent.

 

It’s sad when your own family is being disinterested and mean. The way Talia (Tally) thought life was supposed to be, isn’t, so she was going to make sure she doesn’t end up like her parents. Her luck in men and relationships pretty much sucks. So much so, she would be swearing off men entirely if she didn’t need a date.

I adored Aunt Gerri. She was full of sass and knowing, oh and Grandma Kate…absolutely amazing, loved her at first meeting. Those were the secondary characters, so it’s not surprising that I simply loved the lead characters.

A pair of shifters looking for their third, decide to go on a date with Tally and they completely set the world as she knows it on tilt. It’s amazing how one can be taken out of their norm, or what most see as normal. Theron and Connor complement each other and their third will be the balance. It was amazing how it all fit, the needs, the wants, the patience that both men showed Tally giving her time to either accept or move on.

All three eat, slept and breathed sex in the whole time they were in the “get to knowing stage”.  It was complete, hot and intense and worded perfectly. The descriptions were so “brings you into the room” vivid, it even make me squirm a bit but in the best possible way. Awesome job.

The only thing I can find wrong with this is that I have to wait for the second book, but thankfully not too long. Geek Bearing Gifts should be available soon.  Don’t worry, Twice the Growl is pretty much a stand-alone, but it was easy to guess that there is another character’s story coming. Ms. Taiden is a first time author for me and I loved her style and writing. I found this short story to be an almost perfect length to read, and kept me interested enough to read it in one sitting. I’d recommend this to anyone one that loves paranormal and shifters in particular. Enjoy

They Do edited by Elizabeth L. Brooks

DO
They Do edited by Elizabeth L. Brooks
F/F Anthology
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short Story (67 pages)
Other: F/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

They say a marriage takes work, but for these brides, getting to the altar may be the hardest part.

In “Frayed” by Alexandra Vaughn, Esther Goodwin’s first encounter with another girl ends almost as soon as it begins and it is several years before she allows herself to believe in love again. In “12,000 Hour Day” by Vrai Kaiser, Devon couldn’t be happier about the thought of being married to Sarah — it’s the planning she’s not sure she’ll survive! In “Her Dream Day”, by J. Chase, it’s the day before Alex and Sophia’s wedding, when the venue cancels, ruining their plans.

Weddings are public declarations of private commitments.There was a time when not every couple was able to take advantage of this in the United States, but times are slowly changing.

By far the best premise belonged to “Frayed.” It’s difficult to discuss it in detail without giving away spoilers, but I was engrossed in what it was like for Esther to live in a small, isolated town at a point when women like her weren’t accepted by society in the least. The writing was so crisp and clear that I wished this could have been a novella instead of a short story. At times it felt like I was stepping into someone else’s memories instead of reading a piece of fiction.

“Her Dream Day” caught my interest right away. Planning a wedding often involves a crisis or two. I was curious to see how Alex and Sophia would deal with what fate had in store for them. The hitch in their plans turned out to be something I found hard to believe. It isn’t something I’ve ever heard of happening before, and it seemed a little far-fetched for the subject matter of this collection.

At first I wondered what was going on with Devon and Sarah in “12,000 Hour Day.” There was so much conflict in their relationship in the beginning that I wondered how it could all be wrapped up in such a short amount of time. The author had a few tricks up her sleeve that I didn’t see coming, though, and I ended up quite satisfied with how everything was addressed.

I’d recommend They Do F/F Anthology to anyone in the market for erotica that is heavily character-driven.

Trading Tides by Laila Blake

Detail of female hands tied up
Trading Tides by Laila Blake
Publisher: A Hotter State
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (111 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Anal Play, Fetish, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

Love, they say, is magnified by absence.

After the dream-like quality of Iris’ visit at Paul’s sea-side home, she is back in the routine and drudgery of her city life. Struggling to put a label on what they have together, they phone and write letters, trying to sustain the flame, until they can make time to be in each other’s arms again. But once they are, how do you pull back into proportions a love so magnified it burns?

Paul and Iris have had one day to connect at Paul’s beachside home. Will their D/s relationship be able to survive Iris back in the city?

Iris is miserable. All she can do is think of Paul and their new found connection. They have their time over the internet. Sexting and phone calls are nice but it doesn’t let her touch her Paul. To feel the pleasure and the pain she has begun to think about nonstop. Her work begins to suffer and even though she in the midst of a promotion, she only wants to be with Paul.

One day was all it took at Paul’s home by the sea. During an interview, he began to push Iris to see and feel things she had never felt before. Every nuance was revealed, both physical and mental and as a reader, I fell head over heels with the story. This second installment was more of the same glowing style and amazing imagery. The hunger. The want. The need. Iris is about to go mad for the lack of Paul and just when she thinks she can’t handle any more the story shifts again. I was again amazed at the author’s voice and I’m pretty sure my eyeballs rolled to the back of my head at least once from sheer reader bliss.

Paul comes to her and soothes her savage beast, but in turn creates another. Where do you go when your basis for feeling is on one day? It is a tough question for a tough situation fraught with deep emotion. The long distance and deep emotional ties after embarking on a D/s relationship may be more than either of them can bear.

Or is it? You’ll have to read this wonderful book to find out. Part three is coming out in fall 2014 so don’t wait too long.

My Sugar Daddy by Trinity Blacio

DADDy
My Sugar Daddy by Trinity Blacio
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (94 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F/M, Ménage, Multiple Partners, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Struggling single mother Laura McGill figures she has nothing to lose and everything to gain when she impulsively signs up online to meet a sugar daddy. After losing her virginity to a two-timing married man, she’s out to find security for herself and her infant son Max—and hopefully a man she can love.

Brothers Daniel and Grant Wilmot are handsome and rich—and seeking a Rubenesque beauty whose lush curves will cushion their hard loving. Leaders of a security team comprising former Special Forces operatives and a dating website that serves as a cover for their military activities, Daniel and Grant—and another brother, Roman—are smitten by Laura’s generous proportions and sweet manner.

But before the relationship can get too far, a classified government project goes awry—and the Wilmot brothers are forced to pick up the pieces. But will Laura reject them when she learns the truth of the secret they carry?

Tired of having a non existent love life, Laura decides to take a chance on a dating website but the site she has chosen is much more than just a dating service. The men on this site are not only looking for big beautiful women but they are also using this site for so much more. Will Laura find love or will the men and their secret scare her away? How will her child factor into all of this? Can Laura and her men can find a way to save more than just their own lives?

I enjoyed meeting Laura and her men as well as the many secondary characters in this story. Yet while I did enjoy the characters I did not feel myself getting lost in their story. One thing seemed to lead to another stranger thing or action. Laura meets one man who introduces her to his brother and than later in the story another brother is introduced to her and she does not even bat an eye. It seems it is just a given fact that she belongs to him as well. I have no problem with how many men she has, just with the way it happens.

These men are very domineering and make no exceptions; they are alpha males to the max. I enjoy alpha males very much but at times these men seemed to go overboard. Yet they love with their whole heart and will never let anything hurt the ones that they love. Roman, Daniel and Grant are each great men on their own and together they are a force to be reckoned with. Seeing their love for Laura made for a nice read. I also enjoyed meeting many of the other men and the brothers family. I loved their mother, she is a great character. Some characters like Laura’s ex were really just filler for me. It seemed that they were there just to tie up lose ends. Laura and her friend are both strong women and can hold their own against such strong alpha men. I also enjoyed the fact that these women were not tiny and the so called perfect size and such that woman are portrayed as a lot in society and literature.

As the story progresses I found I started to think that Laura’s story just got stranger and stranger and wondered what would come next. This is a fast paced story and the twists and turns in it did pique my interest enough to wonder if it is a start to a series or connected to others from this author and will have me searching for more from this author in the future to see.

Driftwood Deeds by Laila Blake

Detail of female hands tied up with rope
Driftwood Deeds by Laila Blake
Publisher: A Hotter State
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (74 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Anal Play, Spanking
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

When journalist Iris Ellis visits a sleepy seaside town to interview recluse screenwriter Paul Archer, he offers her insights into never acted upon fantasies of dominance and submission. Too curious to deny herself a taste of them, Iris gives herself up to Paul’s gentle guidance, but when she realizes that a taste can never be enough, she must find the courage to ask for what she needs or risk losing it all.

Iris goes to the beach to interview Paul, a reclusive artist and the tides of her life are never the same again.

Working for a magazine, Iris interviews all types of personalities. When Paul Archer asks for her to come to the seaside to interview him she believes this to be just like any other business trip. Ask a few questions, write up a summary and go home. They walk along the beach and the experience sticks with her. His awkward smile and probing questions leave her both annoyed and somewhat breathless. When they get back to his home, the tables continue to be turned and Iris gets a life altering awakening.

Paul is a Dom and he sees something in the fragile Iris that he can’t help but want to explore. As he systematically breaks down her defenses and awakens her body’s reactions, the book travels down a path that for me was not unlike a religious experience. It sounds odd and is I suppose as the book even mentions the act of becoming submissive to another human being can sometimes be looked at that way. No–in this instance it was the author’s prose that did it for me. The intricate bits of reaction, emotion and sheer intimacy that frankly left me breathless and wanting more. I loved it. The pain, the pleasure. All of it.

One day was all it took for Iris and Paul to connect and then Iris has to go back to the city and resume her work. Can she leave without running back into Paul’s arms? You’ll have to read this novella to find out. If you love m/f erotica with a bent on spanking and edgy sex scenes you must try Laila Blake. She will romance your reader brain and leave you wanting so much more (and you can rest assured there is more. Two more books in the series).

Take a walk on the beach and discover adventure waiting amidst the sand and sea. Maybe, just maybe you’ll fall a little in love with Paul yourself.

Best Kept Secrets by Evangeline Anderson

SECRETS
Best Kept Secrets by Evangeline Anderson
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (90 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

Cassandra and Josh are xenobiologists. Traveling around the universe searching for new forms of life is exciting and Cass is never lonely because Josh is there. He is sweet, funny, kind and handsome…everything Cass has ever wanted in a man. But he’s also her stepbrother. There’s never been anything but normal affection between the two of them…until they encounter the truth plant of Svortza 6.

The truth plant is said to have strange properties—it forces all who come in contact with it to act on their deepest emotions. Cass is skeptical of the rumors until Josh is sprayed with the plant’s secretions and begins having fugue states where he is a mindless creature bent only on satisfying his sexual hunger.

Now, trapped on an alien world, Cassandra is learning a lesson in submission and forbidden lust. She knows she must keep Josh’s actions secret from him or he will hate himself forever. But some secrets are just too big to keep…

Often the most taboo desires are the hardest to ignore. Cass and Josh have been together for years. Her mother married his father and then almost immediately died in a horrible accident. Since Cass was only seventeen, her step-brother Josh made sure he took care of her. In the years that followed the two have mostly been alone flying through space and researching various plants. When Cass finally develops into a woman, her ill-fitting clothes start to cause problems for her step-brother. However, both Josh and Cass are determined that nothing come between their familial bond, not even their own desire for each other.

Best Kept Secret is a fun read but it’s total erotica. The plot revolves around Josh being infected by a plant toxin that brings out true feelings and thoughts. Thus he turns into the “beast” and basically ravages Cass when he gets horny. She puts up a few weak protests but justifies that she has to give in because it’s the best thing for her step-brother. I found this rationalization weak and ineffective. Josh basically rapes Cass but it’s okay because she secretly wants it. But when he’s himself, she has to hide what they’ve been doing and pretend nothing’s changed. It’s a plot device that is well used and most readers should have no problems with it, myself included. It just doesn’t make for a compelling and well-written story is all. The back and forth didn’t generate tension so much as a silly way of keeping the two from having sex immediately and the story ends.

I thought the sex scenes were pretty hot and that’s what saved the story for me. The end scene where Josh and Cass finally have sex was honestly kind of laughable. I rolled my eyes several times at the dialogue and pretense, which carried on through the entire act making it neither hot nor erotic. That said I didn’t mind the book so much once I just ignored the silly plot. The sex scenes were plentiful and entertaining and since clearly the book was more erotica than erotic romance, I was ok with that. It’s not a well-written book unfortunately but I had set my expectations low and wasn’t disappointed.

This is definitely not a book I’d read again but I have to say I didn’t mind reading it. The characters are flat as a board and not well developed in my opinion. I also didn’t think their relationship was all that taboo. They spent literally no time as brother and sister, there was no growing up feeling that way and they live alone on a spaceship with just the two of them. So I felt the attempt at tension in this area lacking. There really was nothing stopping the two of them from having a relationship at the very beginning. That said, I enjoyed the erotica and would recommend this only if the reader knows going in that it’s hot sex but not a great story.

Only You by Katrina Strauss

 

ONLY
Only You by Katrina Strauss
Blue Ruin #5
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (170 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal sex, BDSM
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

Derek and Blue are settling down after their first eventful year together. To Derek’s relief, Blue’s managed to avoid kidnappers, mobsters, and murderers, not to mention he’s stopped suggesting those hot but complicated threesomes. Their love is strong, the BDSM play kinkier than ever, but the couple is learning the normal, everyday world comes with trials of its own.

Derek faces the crunch as finances grow strained. Blue struggles to accept his best friend Jodi’s new relationship with a sexy but questionable boyfriend. And then there’s their parents. Between a visit from Derek’s estranged mother, and a looming scandal with Blue’s high profile father, simmering tensions threaten to erupt.

When Derek takes an out of town job, he faces temptation in the form of the attractive young man “who might have been.” Meanwhile, Blue is left home to weather the brewing storm alone, and when a lie comes to light, it may well be unforgivable. As the distance between Master and servant grows by more than just miles, can their hard-earned love endure?

Derek and Blue search for a happy ending now that they can be a “normal” couple. The past year has seen some real tests to their relationship from mob bosses to other men. Derek and Blue have weathered the challenges and only come out stronger. Now that more mundane issues are at the forefront, communication breaks down easily. Money and family problems are supposed to be easier and tamer issues for them to tackle but these normal situations are proving more difficult than either man anticipated. Both men need to lean on each other to make it through yet again.

Only You is the fifth and final book in the Blue Ruin series. Now there are no kidnappings, murder attempts, or other men for Blue to want and it’s finally just Derek and Blue in “ordinary” life. However, life with these two is anything but ordinary and easy. Since they are in a BDSM lifestyle, Derek still calls the shots but Blue is not above a little manipulation and power struggle to get what he wants. He’s still a little bit bratty and probably always will be but he’s finally maturing somewhat and understanding everything Derek has been through in the past year. I think the characters are definitely three dimensional with strengths and weaknesses to each. Blue is more of the driving factor in the book and it’s sometimes hard to watch him act so poorly, especially towards his best friend and her new boyfriend.

I liked that Blue seemed to learn some lessons in the book, some he richly needed, and it also made Derek seem more real and vulnerable. That he was subject to the same problems – money, health, family – that almost everyone is, to lesser degrees made him more real and less fantasy. Of course he gets really easy resolutions to his problems but it is fiction so that’s to be expected. I appreciated that the story presented the various problems in a way I could connect to and understand, even if the so-called “normal” problems were still far beyond what I would call normal.

For the last book in the series, it has a finality to the writing and situations. The epilogue shows all the characters a few years later, happy and settled, so there is no question of what happens in the future. It’s a nice ending and one that suits the main couple, especially after all they’ve been through. Fans of the series won’t want to miss this one.

Only You by Willa Okati

YOU
Only You by Willa Okati
Soulmarked #2
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (90 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal sex
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

Lovers and best friends, the unmarked Nick and Barrett risked everything to present themselves as a bonded pair. They thought they were safe, but things are changing…

Nick and Barrett aren’t soulmates. Lovers for years, they’ve rolled the dice and taken a gamble on presenting themselves as a bonded pair. They knew the risks, but think they’re safe. They’re well over the age when soulmarks usually appear, and none of their friends or family are any the wiser.

Until now. After exposure to the incendiary reunion between his friend Ivan and Ivan’s soulmate Robbie, Nick’s soulmark has begun to emerge.

And Barrett’s hasn’t.

Faced with a devil’s choice, Nick and Barrett are forced to confront the real possibility of being driven apart—unless they can fight the animal urge to find their mates. Do they have what it takes to stand in defiance of double jeopardy, all for the sake of love?

Sometimes destiny throws a curve ball to even the happiest of lovers. Nick and Barrett technically aren’t a bonded pair. They don’t sport the matching soulmarks of such a pair but they’re best friends and have been in love since they met. Since neither of them have a mark, the pair decide to be together anyway and just pretend to the rest of the world. In a world where the only allowed relationships are those with marks, Nick and Barrett live, love, and laugh as much as they can together, all the while praying nothing changes for them. Unfortunately fate stepped in and Nick develops a soulmark on his neck. When Barrett fails to show a similar mark immediately they are devastated knowing they should part, but neither one wants to give up on their relationship, regardless of the consequences.

Only You is book two in the Soulmarked series by Willa Okati. I didn’t realize this when I got the book but it was easy enough to understand what was going on. There were certain characters and situations that I was lost without the previous information but since the focus of the book is on Nick and Barrett I could get by decently. I do think readers should start with the first book in the series and then move to this one but this definitely wasn’t one where new readers would be totally lost start to finish. That said the characters are engaging and I liked their relationship. I get the feeling there is a lot of instant love in this world of soulmarked pairs so it was nice to see a couple that built their relationship in a familiar way. Now they were faced with keeping that relationship together against the odds.

I think the story threw a few too many unnecessary tangents in to make the narration gripping. There is the set up for the third book with Daniel and the continuation of the first book with brief appearances by that couple. None of these scenes really added to the story or the main couple at all. Additionally I got the feeling that sex kind of cured a lot of the problems between the men. As long as they were having sex, life was good. There was very little communication between Nick and Barrett about how to solve their problem, instead a lot of aborted talks, sex, and deep individual thinking. I could feel their strong connection and love so I liked the ending, which seems obvious but I thought the book would go a different direction.

Overall I enjoyed reading this despite the fact that I came into the series late. I think it’s an easy read and one that fans of the author will enjoy. The writing is very typical of everything I’ve read of this author so I also think it’s a good book for those new to the author to see if they like her style. It’s not one I’d read again but I liked the side character of Daniel enough that I may check out his book next in the series.