Backseat in The Dark by Milton Dewar


Backseat in The Dark by Milton Dewar
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (25 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

An about-to-be ex-husband is forced to confront his own demons, and something far worse, on his way back home, on a lonely stretch of road.

Backseat in The Dark is aptly named for the eerie suspense that drives the story.

It is often difficult to write a short story that is not only complete, but has enough suspense to keep those pages turning; however, this author has done that. The main character, Ian, after receiving the surprising news that his wife wanted a divorce, got behind the wheel angry and upset. Right away, this signals that something could go wrong. His inner dialogue inspires sympathy from a reader, and one wonders what is going to happen—nothing typical it soon seems.

His drive down a dark road, while swimming in his impassioned thoughts, creates a spine-chilling atmosphere. Is something scary and unnatural going to happen? This mood is created almost poetically, the words flowing in a way to further evoke feelings of dread. The mundane details are not so under the pen of this author. Details create the world Ian lives in, building up the sense of alarm.

Things escalate. His car breaks down on this dark road. He remembers a scary legend about a witch who was burned in this area many years before. But then she appears, right before Ian!

His reaction and what happens next serves to further develop this character, his life, his regrets, and his wishes. But will he get the chance to see all these things resolved? Predicting will only take a reader so far. This ending sweeps one into a whirlwind of surprise.

The imagery and writing gives a reader an immediate sense of urgency, making this a page-turner. Occasionally, a detail or two caused confusion, but this could also be seen as inspiring deeper thought. For such a short story, it packed an emotional punch. Recommended for those who like suspense.

The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins by Aletta Thorne


The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins by Aletta Thorne
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Historical
Length: Full Length (151 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Halloween, 1982. MTV is new, poodle perms are the rage, and life just might be getting better for Alma Kobel. Her ugly divorce is final at last. Her new job as chef at Bright Day School’s gorgeous old estate is actually fun. But the place is haunted—and so is Alma’s apartment.

Bartholomew Addison Jenkins’ ghost has been invisibly watching Alma for months. When he materializes one night, Alma discovers Bart—as he likes to be called—has talents she couldn’t have imagined … and a horrifying past. Can you have a one-nighter with a ghost? And what happens if you decide one night is all you want—and end up ghosting him? Some spirits don’t like taking “no” for an answer.

First impressions definitely aren’t always accurate.

What a hilarious main character Alma was! She could find a funny spin to anything that happened to her, from surprise health inspections at work to her strange and complicated interactions with her ex-husband. Some of the things that happened to her would have seriously annoyed or even frightened a lot of people. I loved the fact that she was able to quickly shake so many of those memories off with her fabulous sense of humor.

The only criticism I have of this story has to do with how quickly the romantic relationship in it heated up. Both of the people involve in it were so cautious and meticulous in other areas of their lives that I never would have expected them to move as fast as they did. Yes, I definitely wanted to see them end up together, but it felt a little odd to me because it didn’t feel consistent with everything else I’d learned about them. With that being said, this is a minor complaint about something I enjoyed quite a lot.

The world building was really well done. I especially enjoyed figuring out what ghosts were and weren’t capable of in this universe. Since nobody was given any instructions after they died, Bartholomew had to learn what he could do and what the consequences of those actions would be on his own. Him slowly discovering his abilities and limitations as the plot moved forward made it difficult for me to stop reading. I always wanted to know more about what the afterlife was like for him.

The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins was as spooky as it was sexy. It should be read by fans of erotica and ghost stories alike.

Habitat for Human Remains by Scott A. Lerner


Habitat for Human Remains by Scott A. Lerner
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre:Contemporary, Horror, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (258 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

For the forces of evil, Sam Roberts is catnip. Even during periods of calm, Sam knows that evil is just biding its time before challenging him again. So when he is asked to defend a wealthy shut-in charged with murder, he is suspicious. Why is the largest and wealthiest law firm in town hiring an outside attorney who is a sole practitioner to represent Mr. Blake May? Sam’s client resides in the sublimely creepy Frost Home, a “haunted” mansion given a wide berth by the residents of Champaign, Illinois. The house has been engulfed in rumors of death, missing children, and mystery since before the Civil War. Blake May is accused of not only murdering his girlfriend but decimating the remains until they look like marinara. But the agoraphobic middle-aged man rarely, if ever, left his rooms. If he indeed killed Heather, why can’t the police find a murder weapon? Everyone seems to want Blake declared insane rather than acquitted. Sam and his buddy Bob Sizemore know that Heather’s grizzly fate can’t be blamed on something as mundane as murder. There is a force at work in the house, and it seems to emanate from the mirror hung in the room where the remains of the body were found. Can Sam and Bob end the Frost Home’s eerie legacy of evil?

A funny horror story? Well, it really is.

Good grief, this was a creepy-crawly story with a mystery and even a love story all mixed in together. I will tell you in advance that this is not usually a genre I would read but this was so funny I couldn’t stop. The dialog that was created between Sam, the lawyer and Bob, his friend, had me giggling out loud half the time. One funny character and one relatively serious one were great creations by Scott Lerner. Lerner also pokes a little bit of fun at his own profession here but the legal world is not the focus of his story.

This story is about an attorney being offered a big case by a big firm. He can’t let it pass because of… money, of course. Even while picking up the check he is wondering why the firm would farm it out to him. It has a huge scary haunted house in it that you can just picture. It’s about the lives of two guys still looking for love and yes, it has a little bit of horrid scary scenes. How Scott Lerner managed to put all of this together and have me reading every page, I can’t tell you. However, I can tell you that this is well-written and Sam and Bob become your friends. I have said many times that any author that can make characters your friends and/or your enemies is a talented writer. Once you are caught right up in a story with your buddies, you will never miss a word.

This one is Book 5 in his series titled “A Samuel Roberts Thriller”. Looks like Books 1 through 4 are rated really high too so they must be just as good or better. Let’s read them too and hope he’s writing Book 6.

City of Endless Night by Emma Holly


City of Endless Night by Emma Holly
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (184 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, M/M, F/M/M, Ménage, Masturbation, Anal Play, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

When your boyfriend is a real live angel other men can’t compete. Amateur magician Georgie swears this is true . . . until she and Connor leave everything they know to save the genie world. That’s where she discovers angels don’t have a monopoly on sex appeal. Sultan Iksander would rather lose his smoke than fall for Georgie, no matter how smart and brave she is. The human race are rivals to genie kind—and angels are just traitors! Rescuing his people is what’s important, not getting tangled up in love triangles. Only Connor believes in their chances for happiness. This angel knows love is worth fighting for, whatever form it takes.

Fans of erotic romance and of Emma Holly are in for a royal treat. This novel follows the adventures of His Majesty, Iksander, Sultan of the Djinn, Georgie and Connor. My wait is over. This is the story that ties up almost all of the threads created in the first book in the Tales of the Djinn series and I enjoyed every exciting moment.

There is so much to choose from that I’m not sure what to talk about first. There’s the stolen magic, the realization that something big and dangerous is threatening Luna’s people and it has Georgie in its sights, there is are explorations with gruesome discoveries and more than one courageous escape attempt that kept me on the edge of my seat. When Ms. Holly focuses on creating an environment of suspense, and drama with nail-biting heart thumping action, it’s practically impossible to put down.

When the two heroes and heroine finally come to the realization that they have sexual feelings for each other, and get past the tentative exploration that seduces them with all the possibilities of a ménage à trois, Ms. Holly lets her imagination fly. I like how Iksander, Connor and Georgie took turns being unsure, cautious yet excited to explore how each of them tastes, feels and what each of them enjoys. I liked seeing their reactions while experimenting with things they had never done before. No holds barred. Erotic romance readers will find what they look for within the pages of City of Endless Night.

A heads up about Connor’s role for readers who might not be comfortable with angels having carnal relations, Connor’s not shy. Ms. Holly mixed things up with classic beliefs and there were quite a few times I cringed but mostly I kind of forgot what Connor was because the story, action and plot twists were incredible page turners. By keeping in mind this is fiction and utilizing willing suspension of disbelief, I enjoyed a really awesome read. The imaginative idea of split energies, both good and evil, and how light defeats dark, is incredibly appealing.

The last ditch effort to escape and return home was quite the thrill ride. The author painted the scene in vivid detail – the tunnel with the scales was a cool concept. What they discover inside was a colossal surprise and pretty weird. But, hey, this is the world of the Djinn – anything is possible.

When I said earlier that almost all the threads are tied up, that’s because there is the matter of Phillip. He’s still out there, somewhere and I hope he’s okay. Only Ms. Holly knows for sure and I look forward to finding out that the reason he can’t be found because he’s in the middle of his own HEA. One can only hope.

City of Endless Night is simply amazing. The HEA and wrap up was everything I could wish. All my favorite people were gathered together to celebrate and it made me feel good that Cade, Arcadius and Elyse are still living their happy ever after too. I guess a reader could read this book out of sequence but understanding how everyone came to be split in the first place would be much clearer if they started with The Guardian.Tales of the Djinn is a great series and if erotic readers haven’t discovered it yet, they’re missing out.

Bromantically Yours by K.C. Wells


Bromantically Yours by K.C. Wells
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (97 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A friends-to-lovers novella that came from Out of the Shadows, because Nate and Dylan needed a story….

Nate and Dylan have been pals for a long time. So what if their friends think they’ve got a little bromance going? Doesn’t mean there’s anything more to it than that, right? And even if there is, Nate and Dylan are totally oblivious….

Until the night they share a drunken kiss—and everything changes.

Dylan and Nate have been friends for years and have quite the bromance going on. Two of their friends have started dating and one night both Dylan and Nate admit to each other they’re curious what the two men see in each other. A little bit of experimentation blows both Dylan and Nate’s minds and now they can’t think of anything except each other.

I found this to be a deliciously hot but still sweet friends-to-lovers style of story. I found both guys’ character to be pretty realistic and Dylan’s confusion in the beginning of their changing relationship struck me as particularly understandable. I should point out I hadn’t read the previous story (where Dylan and Nate’s friends Josh and Christian become an item) and while it was clear to me there was a previous story to this I had no problems catching up or knowing what was going on. Christian and Josh are an important part of this book but the focus is fully and completely on Dylan and Nate and the shift in their relationship.

Readers looking for an intricate plot or some heavy conflict might not get what they want in this story – but I personally loved how light and happy the book was. Dylan and Nate were both excellent friends, and there are some strong secondary characters with their other supportive friendship group there to give counsel and refuge when needed. I enjoyed watching Dylan and Nate both try to work their way carefully from friends to lovers without losing anything from their relationship and trying to both meet each other’s expectations and needs. I enjoyed the pacing – finding it smooth and sensible. All up this was just a lovely, happy and interesting read that left me feeling good, satisfied and pleased.

A strongly written, character based book that is happy and left me with a whole bunch of warm and fuzzy feelings. This would be a good story to start readers not used to M/M romances or to more traditional romance readers who don’t want much kink or envelope pushing in their stories. A hot and sexy read but with loads of romance and emotional connection I thought this was a delight to read.

Grinders Corner by Ferris Craig and Charlene Keel


Grinders Corner by Ferris Craig and Charlene Keel
Publisher: Red Sky Presents
Genre: Historical (Vintage)
Length: Full (368 pgs)
Heat level: Sensual
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

Grinders Corner explores the world of taxi dance halls in the 1960s in all its raw hilarity. Saucy, sassy and sexy, but not the least bit erotic, it follows the adventures of three young women trying to survive in the glitter palaces of Los Angeles.

Like lambs led to the slaughter, Uptown, a newly divorced English major with panic anxiety disorder and no job skills, Voluptua, an out of work actress, and Mouse, a former child star trying to make a comeback all struggle to make enough tickets to pay the bills. Things get complicated when Uptown falls in love with a customer who happens to be a priest.

In Grinders Corner it was a simpler time, long before gentlemen’s clubs and pole dancers, and it happened in a place where shy, lonely men could talk to women, even dance with them, with no fear of rejection—for about fifteen cents a minute.

This book is a hoot! This is not the standard rom/com… it’s a book where misfits come together and make for themselves a new reality!

I had no idea that “taxi dancers” still existed into the 60s. I thought it was exclusive to the 20s and 30s. It was interesting to get a glimpse of a different time and a different way of living.

The story is told from the point of view of Uptown; however, it is based on true events in the life of author Ferris H. Craig (Mouse, in the book).

The characters are wonderfully drawn and some of the experiences described in the book were truly “laugh out loud”-able. Uptown starts the job as a naïve woman but under the tutelage of her new friends, Mouse and Voluptua, soon gets an education like she never experienced before.

Kudos to the authors for such a fun, entertaining work!

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Sanctity of Life by Jennifer E. Whalen


Sanctity of Life by Jennifer E. Whalen
An Enemy Loved Novel

Publisher: Lilac Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full Length (156 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Deep in the Black Forest of Germany, dark experiments have been taking place since WWII. Now the secrets are in danger of being exposed. Who will live? Who will die? Can it be contained?

Sometimes science causes more problems than it solves.

The dialogue was well done. This was a fast-paced story, so there wasn’t a lot of room for lengthy descriptions or discussions. I liked the fact that the characters’ conversations were kept as short as possible. That was exactly how I’d expect members of the military and government to behave when they were trying to contain a threat to the security of their nation.

There were so many characters in this story that I found it really difficult to remember who was who. I kept mixing everyone up, and it only became tougher to remember who everyone was once the pacing picked up and the characters began to find themselves in dangerous situations.

One of the things I always like discovering is a character who makes intelligent decisions regardless of what’s happening around him. There were several characters in this book who had good heads on their shoulders. No matter how other people reacted around them, they always paid close attention to their surroundings and thought logically about what they should do next. I appreciated that.

The time jumps were confusing to me. Some of the scenes were set in 1945 while others happened in 1918. Since I was struggling so much to remember who all of the characters were, it was strange to suddenly meet new people or to see someone in a different part of his or her life than they’d been a few scenes earlier.

My favorite sections of this story were the ones that explained what was going on with the dark experiments in full detail. I’m a big fan of science fiction about medical advancements that don’t turn out the way their creators intended them to. The author did a good job at explaining why these attempts were having such poor results and hinting at what would happen if the scientists continue to push the boundaries of what the human body is capable of.

Sanctity of Life should be read by anyone who loves the idea of science experiments gone terribly wrong.

Biscuits and Slashed Browns by Maddie Day


Biscuits and Slashed Browns by Maddie Day
Publisher: Kensington Publishers
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full length (292 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

For country-store owner Robbie Jordan, the National Maple Syrup Festival is a sweet escape from late-winter in South Lick, Indiana—until murder saps the life out of the celebration . . .

As Robbie arranges a breakfast-themed cook-off at Pans ‘N Pancakes, visitors pour into Brown County for the annual maple extravaganza. Unfortunately, that includes Professor Connolly, a know-it-all academic from Boston who makes enemies everywhere he goes—and this time, bad manners prove deadly. Soon after clashing with several scientists at a maple tree panel, the professor is found dead outside a sugar shack, stabbed to death by a local restaurateur’s knife. When an innocent woman gets dragged into the investigation and a biologist mysteriously disappears, Robbie drops her winning maple biscuits to search for answers. But can she help police crack the case before another victim is caught in a sticky situation with a killer?

“I’m so hungry I could eat the north end of a south-bound mule.”

What a fun book full of colloquialisms like the one above. I can guarantee they are straight from Indiana because I grew up there myself. This was not taxing, just a truly enjoyable cozy. This series is set in Indiana, a great part of it in beautiful Brown County. A gorgeous place known for its charm, beautiful hills, Fall color, and artists on every corner. The tourism is very high and this makes the setting of a chef and restaurant owner fit into the story perfectly. Being familiar with Indiana does make this series fun to read but I think it would be enjoyable whether it was set on Cape Cod or in South Carolina. It’s just a really nice read.

Part of my reason for sounding so pleased with the book is that it is really well-written. It has a good plot; one that keeps you guessing. But it is her characters that make the book. Each one is not only well developed but is also an important part of the story. With all of their intertwining daily activity she creates a community we can see and one many of us can identify with.

This is Book #4 is this series called “Country Store Mystery” and Maddie has number 5 coming out at the end of July in 2018. While Book #4 could easily be read out of order, what I’d do is start on Book 1 now and get them all read up before Book 5 is out.

The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries


The Pleasures of Passion: The Sinful Suitors Series by Sabrina Jeffries
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (387 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

When Niall Lindsey, the Earl of Margrave, is forced to flee after killing a man in a duel, he expects his secret love, Brilliana Trevor, to go with him, or at the very least wait for him. To his shock, she does neither and sends him off with no promise for the future. Seven years and one pardon later, Niall returns to England disillusioned and cynical. And being blackmailed by the government into working with his former love to help catch a counterfeiter connected to her father doesn’t improve his mood any. But as his role as Brilliana’s fake fiancé brings his long-buried feelings to the surface once again, he wonders who is more dangerous—the counterfeiter or the woman rapidly stealing his heart.

Forced to marry another man after Niall was exiled, the now widowed Brilliana wants nothing to do with the reckless rogue who she believes abandoned her to a dreary, loveless life. So having to rely on him to save her father is the last thing she wants, much less trusts him with….But as their scheme strips away the lies and secrets of their shared past, can she let go of the old hurt and put her pride aside? Or will the pleasures of their renewed passion finally enable them both to rediscover love?

True love can withstand exile by choice, heartache born of misunderstandings, deception from necessity and a daring scheme meant draw out the bad guys as it draws two hearts back together forever.

Sound epic enough? This is classic Sabrina Jeffries and why this author draws me back time and again. Having said that, I’ve missed this delightful new series, The Sinful Suitors. With one book, she has me hooked and searching out the beginnings and anxiously waiting for the next installment.

Bree and Niall might be considered star crossed in the beginning but in truth, they wouldn’t have been ready to start a life together even had circumstances been different. The ups and downs, regrets and moments of joy in Bree’s life taught her to guard her heart. I loved that Niall was persistent to remind her that theirs was a soul deep connection that could heal her heart.

One of the reasons that I love a good Regency romance is all the social conventions of the time period, the absurd rules and class warfare. I know not the normal reasons but a good romance author knows how to work through or, when necessary, work around those issues and give the hero and his lady an opportunity to earn the love of lifetime. Ms. Jeffries does that very thing with Bree and Niall’s story.

Bree has learned that if she’s going to have a life for herself and her son, she’ll have to take control of their destiny and not depend of hapless, faithless men who constantly fail to see a woman’s strengths beyond her looks. She’s sometimes a little too stubborn but I was happy to see that Niall was patient and perceptive. He didn’t just tell her he thought she was smart and capable he demonstrated that he believed it, too. Smart man.

Readers who loved The School For Heiresses, The Duke’s Men, The Hellions of Hallstead Hall and all of Sabrina Jeffries other fantastic series will be thrilled to drawn into a new “family”. That’s one of the hallmarks of her series books. She creates families that aren’t always blood related but they have even deeper connections that matter and last long after the final page.

This is another fine example of the cleverness that is Sabrina Jeffries. Perfect read for any time of the year.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz


Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full length (225 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe from New York Times bestselling author, Melissa de la Cruz, is a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones―one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32-years-old and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

It’s time for Darcy to grow up, heal and find love. What’s it going to take? Quite a lot actually: a family emergency, familial expectations, a best friend’s advice, jumping to conclusions and clearing the air of what was really happening during those moments in high school when Luke seemed like such a beast to her – that’s quite the list, isn’t it?

Darcy is a self-made woman. She’s strong, ambitious and assertive and knows how to enjoy the benefits of all her hard work. She works harder than anyone around her because she doesn’t have much of a life. Why that is, is slowly revealed in the course of the heroine’s visit back home. Facing her feelings about her hometown and all the memories attached to the place ends in a present reality that is nothing like she expects. She has her highs and lows, her surprises and thrills, her mistakes and her confusing triumph. The whole novel is told through her point of view. I only got to know what was really going on in Luke’s mind when she finally gave him a chance to reveal it all. It was a huge ‘Ah-ha! moment’ for both reader and Darcy.

I didn’t get a feel for Luke, the person, in this novel. I think that’s why the rating was just shy of perfect. As a story about Darcy finding happiness and love, it’s perfect. The fact that she finds it with Luke, the boy from high school, now a hunky grown-up man, whom she thought despised her, was engaging, entertaining and yet, didn’t have quite the impact I’d expect for a hero. There’s no doubt in my mind that Luke was a responsible adult with a deep capacity for commitment; look at his family. Among the things I liked about Luke was his vulnerability. He’s a character with enough emotional depth that it was easy to see why he is confused about how to go about reaching his end goal – Darcy. I’d say they’re perfect for each other because she has the same problem! It was kind of cute. What he comes up with is a diabolical little plot made possible by being in cahoots with others that love Darcy as much as he does. It is truly romantic and adorable. A little over the top, but then again, once you get to know Darcy, it’s actually perfect.

If a reader is looking for fast paced thrills and chills, this isn’t the novel. This story is more for those who enjoy romances of the heart, of second chances, of finding out that the best thing in your life is right in front of you, and that feel good moment when a wonderful epilogue wraps up the story in a nice romantic book buzz of happiness.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe has a beautiful, poignant moment that takes place during Christmas. It brought a tear to my eye because it proved without a doubt that Darcy was truly loved. That moment when she believed, truly believed, was the most powerful of all. This is a heart-warmer – a book that makes me feel emotions down to my toes. Pemberley, Ohio is a special place to be indeed.