Falling for Santa Claus by CJ Anthony


Falling for Santa Claus by CJ Anthony
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When Jack Frost’s aunt dies and leaves him her house in the tiny town of Great Falls, Jack seizes the opportunity to escape the rat race of Chicago for the quaint village he loved as a child. On his first night he’s welcomed by a baseball bat and a trespassing warning from Nick St. James—longtime Great Falls resident and infamous curmudgeon.

Jack wants to give Nick the benefit of the doubt—he can’t deny his attraction to the big man—but after several run-ins with Nick’s grumpiness and closed-off heart, he’s ready to give up. Only after discovering the secret Nick’s been covering up for years does he vow to break through Nick’s walls to find the loving man hiding behind them.

Satisfying for a chilly afternoon.

I’m all for a sweet story with a happy ending. Falling for Santa Claus delivers.

The writing was spot-on and snagged me from the beginning. I liked the characters and wanted to know what would happen to them. It was cute and sweet seeing these two characters come together. The town biddies are a treat, too. They help make the story memorable. Who doesn’t know a few individuals where are a tad too pushy and nosy? That relatable quality of the characters was great.

If I have one quibble, it’s the way Jack conducted himself. He tended to be hot and cold toward Nick. I understood exactly why he’d pull back, but the push-pull (while believable) was a tiny bit irksome. I wanted him to just decide what he wanted already.

Still, it’s a sweet story and a good holiday tale. The final result is satisfying and worth it. If you want a short read for over the lunch hour on a cold afternoon, then this is the book for you.

Teddy’s Bear by Keely Jakes


Teddy’s Bear by Keely Jakes
Team Paladin Book 4
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (52 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Teddy’s in shock after being kidnapped. Even more so when the shifter side that’s been dormant his entire life comes to life. At least his attraction to Dallas now makes perfect sense.

Dallas knows immediately that Teddy is his mate, but he doesn’t push himself on the other man. Being a soldier who barely finished high school, he doesn’t think he’s much of a catch, but he’s the only one who can teach Teddy how to deal with his shifter side. A side Teddy never knew he had. But Teddy’s also determined to return to his life in Chicago.

Can Teddy get a handle on being a shifter? Will Dallas and his bear be able to live in Chicago? Will Teddy change his mind about returning to Paladin?

Teddy has been kidnapped by the sadistic killer, Doctor Pain, and Dallas is determined to rescue him as quickly as possible. Dallas and Teddy’s half brother – Roane – are in hot pursuit, though Dallas is terrified they’ll be too late to save his mate. Teddy has quite a secret, one he’s kept all his life. The mountain lion hidden deep inside him – content for all these years to stay quiet and still – suddenly roars forward when Teddy’s life is in critical danger. And Teddy must face the consequences of his life altering forever.

I was pleased – though a little surprised – that the plotline of Doctor Pain (carried over from the previous Team Paladin book, “Jack and the Ginger with a Twist”) was dealt with quite promptly at the very beginning of this story. I felt really divided over this. On the one hand I completely understood it being dealt with immediately, as it was a thread left hanging in the previous book. But on the other hand, having it finished so quickly and early left me feeling a little like it was skimmed over. I felt like such a large plotline as the whole Doctor Pain thing settled so easily and quickly felt a little unsatisfying.

I was very pleased though that there was plenty of other new plot brought in. I thought watching Teddy learn about his mountain lion shifter – and learning pretty much from scratch how to control and use it – was extremely interesting. This clearly showed a lot of the world-building which I felt was somewhat lacking in previous books in the series, and it helped to give me as a reader a really clear idea of how this particular paranormal world worked. I also loved seeing Dallas and Teddy build on their relationship and find their groove on together. It was also refreshing to get out of Butte and the countryside for a little bit – when Teddy wanted to go home to Chicago and have Dallas help him get his life back in order.

While I feel this book probably could be just picked up and read without the previous installments, I really do feel as it’s the fourth book in the series that a lot of other stuff has happened. Particularly the Doctor Pain thing might not make a lot of sense (and seem completely superfluous) without having read the previous book. That said, while I genuinely don’t think a reader picking this book up cold will find the same enjoyment out of it, it certainly can be read and understood fairly well.

There is an epilogue that clearly leads into the next book – a fiendishly clever marketing plot, especially when it shows you exactly who the next book will be written about and setting up a hook to drag the readers in. I enjoyed this story and was pleased to see Teddy and Dallas get their happy ending. I’ll be eagerly waiting for the next book in this series.

Something Sweet by Sam Crescent


Something Sweet by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (51 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Camden has sworn off women. After having his heart broken, and his dreams crushed, he’d rather focus on his work, and not women. However, his closest friends won’t let him hide. They have a woman for him, and they intend to set him up.

Alyssa doesn’t need men. She has her friends, and her cooking, and her work. Children, men, and a future are just dreams she no longer believes she will ever need.

The moment they meet, sparks fly. Neither of them had anticipated finding love but now their future looked possible together.

Romance is in the air, and even as their friends worry about how fast they are moving, there is no way they’re going to stop. Will Alyssa say yes to his proposal? What will Camden think when he discovers she is pregnant.

Camden had been seriously burned by his ex-lover. For most of the last year a bunch of his good friends had all tried – with no success – to set him up with their friend, Alyssa. Finally Camden concedes defeat and decides to come along to dinner with Alyssa and two of their friends. Alyssa had also had her heart broken – left by her previous boyfriend broke and abandoned in a foreign country – and had zero interest in starting a new relationship. When Camden and Alyssa finally meet though, sparks fly and they both wonder if maybe they gave up on love a little too soon.

I really enjoyed this short story. I was a little skeptical to start with – both Camden and Alyssa had experienced really horrid previous relationships, and both were absolutely determined not to repeat their mistakes or be pressured into dating anyone when they were perfectly satisfied being single and alone. It struck me as odd, therefore, when they both so easily accepted their friends setting them up together. I wasn’t sure how the author could write that massive change and make it believable. I can’t even honestly put my finger on exactly how the author made it work, but it really, truly did – at least for me. I believed Camden and Alyssa’s chemistry and interest in each other – it was certainly cautious at first and they both expressed nerves and doubt. Neither jumped right in, or even acted like they were struck by lightning and just made an immediate about-face on all their long-held beliefs. But through some clever talking and being honest with each other, they both did decide to give the other a chance and they started dating. I found it believable and I could understand their interest and this really helped sell the book to me.

I found it refreshing that Alyssa was a curvy, rounded heroine. While it was completely understandable that she felt a bit shy and wasn’t confidant in her body-image, a part of me wished Alyssa could have owned her curves and been really proud of her body. I can’t criticize the author though, because Alyssa was a soft, sweet character and so it made a lot of sense for her to be shy and have those personal issues. I do hope, though, that in future books if we see snapshots of Alyssa and Camden her confidence will grow, because Camden certainly loved every inch of those curves and found her totally sexy. Hopefully some of his confidence and love will help bolster Alyssa’s self-esteem and self-image.

A fun and sexy short story, I enjoyed this book and particularly liked the realistic and interesting characters of both Alyssa and Camden. There’s a strong cast of secondary characters in their mutual friends and I’d happily read more stories both in this series and in general by this author.

March Erotic Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Christmas Party by Shelby Morgen


Christmas Party by Shelby Morgen
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (37 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Play
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Cherie, office IT tech and unmitigated girl-gamer-geek, protects her privacy by telling the office matchmakers she has a boyfriend stationed overseas. Tech Sergeant Zakarias, the unit IT guy, tells the guys on base he’s got a girlfriend waiting back home. Both lies are designed to keep the two of them safely insulated from well meaning friends — and heartbreak.

When the two IT people voted least likely to ever get a date collide at Cherie’s office Christmas party, they decide it’s easier to ride the holidays out together than try to escape their own lies. They’ve got a lot in common, but is the chemistry they share enough to make up for all the reasons they’ve been determined to stay single?

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Call of a Succubus by April Garrus


Call of a Succubus by April Garrus
Publisher: eXcessica
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (19 pages)
Other: F/F, Toys
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A woman has needs, but they can be hard to fill in the depths of space. Tiris Longsword, one of the greatest bounty hunters in the galaxy, is alone and unsatisfied. Too busy for men, and too frustrated for toys, she is desperate. When Oriel appears, she promises Tiris something more…something unearthly.

Tiris is conflicted. Who is Oriel? Where did she come from? Should she give in? Can she hold out? Will her life ever be the same?

Spaceships can be lonely, dull places. How will Tiris find a way to pass the time?

Tiris was such a great character. I loved how tough, calm, and assertive she was when she was on the job. She’s definitely someone I would want around in an emergency. There are very few things in life that she’d find overwhelming or confusing. What made her even more appealing to me was how she reacted when she finally stumbled across something that defied all of her expectations or logical explanations about what was happening.

There were a few big plot holes that were never explained. A character briefly appeared in the first scene only to never be heard from again. Based on how he was introduced, this wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It would have been nice to have more information for why he was included in the storyline for such a brief period of time. The other part of the plot that I found confusing had to do with where, exactly, Oriel came from and how she found Tiris. I kept expecting Oriel to go into more detail about it and was surprised when she didn’t.

The dialogue was funny and realistic. I especially liked seeing how Tiris reacted when she realized that there was a stranger on her ship. She was just as flabbergasted and alarmed by her new visitor as I expected her to be, and I giggled throughout that entire exchange. It couldn’t have been a better conversation or one that was more appropriate for their personalities.

One of the main characters in this story is a woman who is also a hermaphrodite. It wasn’t something I was at all aware would be part of the storyline when I started reading it, but I found it interesting.

Call of a Succubus was a wild ride. Give it a shot if you’re in the mood for something short and hot.

Bouncer Bear by Julia Talbot


Bouncer Bear by Julia Talbot
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (49 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Werebear Trey feels totally out of place when he hires on at Hot Tin Roof as a bouncer. There are all these beautiful men who dance at the club, like Sammy, and like Sammy’s bartender boyfriend, Jordan. Then there’s the fact that most guys look at a big, burly guy like Trey and think he’s a top, when Trey is anything but.

Sammy meets Trey and he knows the big guy is just the subby bottom he and his werecat shifter lover need. Jordan is such an effortless top, and he makes Sammy feel like a rock star, but they could both open their hearts to take Trey in. Can they convince this homeless bear he has a place with them?

Trey’s car is broken down and he needs money. So what’s a bear-shifter to do, but get a job at the local club as a bouncer. Sammy’s a dancer and Jordan the barman – and while each appeals to Trey in a different way, the two men are together – and a pair that Trey just can’t resist. When the three of them decide to play, can Trey manage to keep his heart intact?

I found this to be a deliciously hot ménage romance. Sammy and Jordan are delicious together and totally committed, but now and then they like to invite a third person to play with them. Both men are instantly attracted to Trey. They can tell pretty quickly that the large bear is a magnificent sub and hits the right hot-buttons for both Sammy and Jordan. I especially loved how Trey didn’t just instantly fall all over himself to hook up with Sammy and Jordan. Neither did he play hard to get or act coy. Trey has been hurt in the past and is cautious, albeit needy, in his private life. I adored how the three men needed to work to get together and how in the process this let them get to know each other better and forge an emotional connection before they burned the sheets together.

Emotional, romantic and scorching hot, I genuinely have no criticism for anything in this story. I adored Trey – and loved Sammy and Jordan. The Hot Tin Roof club was fun and very well written and the few secondary characters easily hooked me into hoping there were plenty more stories coming in this series. This totally stands alone perfectly and I especially loved the balance of emotional and romantic connections mingled in with the hot sex. Sammy’s dance moves and fiery personality especially made me smile and laugh, he’s a firecracker of a character and I would dearly love to see more stories revolving around this threesome.

This short story was truly amazing and I have added the series onto my (very short) auto-read list. A brilliant story and one I will eagerly reread many times to come.

Ashamed by Sam Crescent


Ashamed by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (144 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Luiz has a secret. Seven years ago he got a girl pregnant, and they had a beautiful baby girl together. But his father sent men to kill Luiz’s only tie to anything outside The Family. Too late to save his baby’s mother, Luiz got there just in time to save his daughter, Christie, and her fifteen year old aunt, Raine. Putting Raine and Christie in the protection of a guy he trusted, Luiz knew he had to keep them safe. No one else knows they exist.

Raine has put her life on hold to help protect her niece. In seven years, she hasn’t gotten close to anyone, but with Christie growing older, Raine needs more.

Luiz never expected to be jealous, but he doesn’t want Raine giving any guy the time of day. He wants her for himself, and that is the way it’s going to stay.

When his girls are attacked, Luiz knows it’s time to let his secret out. Will his friends accept his family? Luiz can’t let Raine go. He loves her. Seven years he’s been running and hiding, and the time to stop is now.

But there is still the attack on his girls to deal with, ordered by a mysterious figure from the past. Does he even have time for love? Nothing is ever simple in the mafia, or in The Family.

Sam Crescent returns to The Family with a gut-wrenching third book. This story captured my attention from the first page.

I squeezed out a few tears reading this one. I liked the turmoil and much darker edge that the author gave to an emotional story though. I tend to love the usual Sam Crescent characters but found myself having mixed feelings about Luiz. He made a bad decision by continuing to lead a double life for too long. I loved Raine ! She didn’t fit the usual model for this author. She stood up for her self. That’s the great thing about Sam Crescent’s books. They make an impression on the reader. The feelings might be love or hate, but I always remember them, and that’s not something that can be said about every book that I read.

This book was a well written, fast paced, and had lots of emotions. It’s also very hot, but not as kinky as I’ve come to expect from this author. Another great aspect is the lead into the next book with Jake and Emily. I’m eager for their book just from what I’ve read at the end of this one. So all in all, I was happy with this book and can’t wait for the next one.

Visions of Sugarplum by Sara Jay


Visions of Sugarplum by Sara Jay
Yule Tied
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Holiday, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (35 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Ice fairy Sugarplum has wanted Santa’s only Cyclops in employ, Heath, for years. She knows he returns her interest, but why won’t he give in to his feelings for her? With a little nudge from her best friend, Ice Queen Erika, she is bound and determined to get what she wants this Christmas.

Heath has secrets that he knows would damage his chances with the curvaceous fairy. He would much rather protect both their hearts than risk something that could hurt them both forever. Will he take a chance once Sugarplum brings him a pretty Christmas present that he can’t resist?

How do you tell the difference between a crush and something that’s much deeper than that?

This story was quite the tease. Every time I thought that Sugarplum and Heath might finally do something about their feelings about each other, something got in their way. The more they were delayed, though, the more impatient I became to see them finally fall into each other’s arms and beds. The sexual tension between them was exquisite. As much as I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next, I really liked living in the moment as they swerved past one interruption after the next.

There was a little too much time spent on the subplots. As fascinated as I was by the politics of living and working at the North Pole, I would have preferred to spend some of those scenes focused on what was happening with the main characters. With this being said, it’s a minor criticism of a book that I otherwise really enjoyed reading.

Sugarplum was exactly what I’d think a fairy would be like. She was cheerful, sweet, kind, and also fiercely persistent when she set her mind to accomplishing something. There was also a slightly mischievous side to her personality that didn’t show itself right away. I liked her as soon as I met her and sure hoped that she’d find her happy ending.

Visions of Sugarplum made me smile. If you’re in the mood for a saucy Christmas tale, I’d strongly recommend jumping into this one.

Ready for Love by Jules Dixon


Ready for Love by Jules Dixon
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (52 pages)
Other: F/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Advertising account executive Jace Zelensky has a lover that won’t ever have a heart beat.

Personal trainer and former soldier Kai Thomas worries that when it comes to love her heart may have been permanently broken at a young age.

When Jace’s blind commitment to her job interferes with Kai’s attempts to make a true connection and leaves Kai searching for her neurotic dog, Waffles, can Jace come to the rescue? Will a night with a no-strings-attached promise be the release they both need to satisfy their curiosity, or will those few minutes lead to something they’re willing to risk their hearts for?

One night of pleasure is all either one of them is looking for. What a night it will be!

I appreciated having the chance to jump between Kai and Jace’s minds as I read this tale. They both had incredibly unique voices, so it was always easy to remember exactly who was narrating a specific scene. I also liked being able to see both characters through each other’s eyes. How someone sees themselves isn’t always how other people see them. That happened to be even more true than normal for both of these ladies, so it was nice to see the differences between their perspectives.

There were a few too many characters in this story. I especially had trouble keeping track of all of Jace and Kai’s friends. Some of them were friends with only one of the main characters while others were close to both. It was hard to remember how everyone knew each other, though, because of how many different names were being mentioned.

The chemistry between Kai and Jace was perfect. Their personalities played off of each other beautifully, especially when they were flirting. They had a lot in common, and both of them had similar communication styles as well. All of these things made me hope they’d end up together even though they said they were only looking for a casual fling.

Ready for Love was a short, sexy tale that should be read by anyone who is in the market for a seriously hot romance.

The Perfect Christmas by Gayle Cranfield


The Perfect Christmas by Gayle Cranfield
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (30 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Gabrielle Sullivan is in a panic to finish her shopping on Christmas Eve when she literally bumps into an old friend from university, Justin Law. She’s knocked to the ground, bruising her ankle. The two friends decide to catch up on the ten years since graduation over coffee.

Too naive to admit they had a strong attraction in the past, they spend the night together awakening a spark neither realized was dormant.

Will they walk away from each other in the morning, or will they have The Perfect Christmas?

After working some nightmarish hours Gabrielle finds herself doing her family’s Christmas shopping at the very last minute on Christmas Eve. Rushing to catch her train home, Gaby bumps literally into an old friend from university – Justin. Having missed her train, Gabrielle agrees to have coffee with Justin and the two begin to reconnect. Can this be the perfect Christmas for them both?

This is a lovely, but super short, story. The plotline is quite predictable, but I found that I didn’t mind too much as both Justin and Gabrielle’s characters were quite interesting. Add Gabrielle’s slightly crazy sister and all the hustle and bustle of Christmas madness and I generally found this to be a fun, lighthearted Christmas story.

There were only two short sex scenes – but I found them very sexy and steamily written. I couldn’t help but feel that with a little more ruthless editing there could have been more room left for a deeper exploration – emotionally or sexually – between Justin and Gabrielle. There was quite a bit of story spent with Gabrielle analyzing her current client and work situation, as well as her sleazy ex-boss and details around that. Had any of that linked in to the bigger story between Gabrielle and Justin I could understand the time and words spent on it, but I didn’t feel like that really lead anywhere. I feel this could easily have been cut down to a few sentences of explanation and left quite a bit of room for the relationship between Gaby and Justin to have been given more details. I didn’t feel Gaby and Justin were short-changed, but I would have far preferred to read more on the two of them together – rather than a lot of details about Gaby’s work and ex boss when it didn’t seem to really lead anywhere much.

That said, I loved the happy ending, I greatly enjoyed the characters in this story and overall this felt to me like a good, enjoyable Christmas short story. Fast moving and sweetly sexy, this has great characters and is a story that I feel should leave readers feeling all warm and fuzzy.