A Kiss In The Dark by Shelby Morgen


A Kiss In The Dark by Shelby Morgen
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (44 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal play, Spanking (very light)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Stranded. Nothing to warm her but the heat of his body. A stranger, holding her in the dark. She wanted things she had no right to even imagine. Ever since she’d taken The Purity Test on line the questions have been nagging her.
Have you ever had sex on the first date?

Had sex with someone whose name you did not know?

Had sex with someone whose face you never saw?

Had sex with someone where there was an age difference of more than 20 years?

No. Not her. She hadn’t done anything. Ever. Until the storm of the century dropped her in the arms of a stranger. Now she can’t get him out of her mind…

One dark and rainy night Jen had been completely daring. She’d thrown caution to the wind and allowed herself to be seduced by a complete stranger – no names, no exchange of details, no glimpses of his face and absolutely no regrets. Tom has been a widower for quite some time, so when Jen takes his hand in the dark he’s more than happy to follow her lead. Can they both find something they’re desperately looking for?

I found this to be a fun and romantic short story. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot-thread of the Purity Test running through the story and also enjoyed the slight differences to Tom’s character (being both an actor and quite a bit older than the standard hero I read about). I was a little disappointed in that I personally felt there were a few other plot aspects that were skimmed over a little bit – such as Tom getting back into his acting after a period of grieving for his dead wife. Admittedly this is a very short story and I can completely appreciate how the author probably didn’t have the time or word-count to go into depth on every little thing. I was actually exceptionally pleased with how Jen reacted to Tom’s career – but I couldn’t help but feel it was written as almost an afterthought, being just a few paragraphs right at the very end of the story.

I loved the characters in this story though. Both Jen and Tom felt realistic to me – with normal problems, worries and relatable lives. I found myself very quickly attached to them both and invested in their getting together and rooting for them to build a lasting relationship. As a happy, sexy and quick read this story really did cover almost everything I could want. The sex was hot and explicit without being over-the-top or unbelievable. I really enjoyed this and will happily look for more books by this author.

Peck Of Pickles by Lena Austin


Peck Of Pickles by Lena Austin
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (28 pgs)
Other: M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Linc Halberg needed to get his cucumbers preserved using the county extension office facilities. The agent Pol Backstrom and the new scientist Marc O’Neil have had their eye on Linc and his farm for some time. Suddenly, there’s more going on in the back room than making a peck of pickles, and Linc’s in a pickle of a different kind. Summer in their tiny town may never be the same.

In the tiny farming township of Epping, Linc has had a bumper crop of cucumbers this year – enough that he’s actually booked the County Extension office and hired the preservation room for a day. He needs to pickle a peck of his cucumbers and the small setup in his home just won’t cut it this time. Pol, the distractingly handsome county worker is being visited by a new Doctor doing research in the small town. Linc can tell Marc and Pol are cooking something up, but he’s not quite sure what it is.

I found this to be a really fun short story. I loved the old-school, country town feel of it and found it to be quite realistic. Linc is pretty cautious – knowing that in the small town being gay is not necessarily a good thing or welcome from the few other residents. His reticence in saying anything, even when Pol and Marc lay out quite a few clues was completely understandable to my mind. The three men, however, are smoking hot once they finally get all on the same page and I really loved watching them all come together.

For such a short story quite a large amount of the story is the lead-up to the romance and introduction to the characters. I actually didn’t mind this as it really helped set the scene for me and it gave me a really good feel for all three men before they jumped to the sexy action – but I could understand if some other readers might feel the sexy-action part of the story got a bit of a short shrift because of this lead-up. The plot itself was fairly brief, but I found it quite interesting and while short – intelligent and logical.

All in all, I felt this was a really great short story and one that was deeply satisfying to read.

Justice for Violet by Maia Dylan


Justice for Violet by Maia Dylan
Retribution, Book 1
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (113 Pages)
Other Content: M/F/M, M/F, Menage, Anal Play/Anal Sex
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

There’s a war being fought on the streets of Chicago between an organized crime syndicate and a feline shifter pride resolute to stop them. Mason and Jacob Williams are Leopard shifters in the Black Ridge pride, fighting to protect the city they call home and avenge the loss of two of their own.

The shifters are sent to look for a woman their Alpha believes can help them. Thinking she’s in danger, they rush in to rescue her only to discover that Violet Riccitelli is not a woman in need of any assistance. While she’s kicking the ass of three potential attackers, they recognize her as their mate, the one they must protect above all else.

Violet is known to the people of Chicago as someone they can rely on to help when things get bad. But Violet sees herself as a woman out for justice against the man who took everything from her twelve years ago.

Can Mason and Jacob convince their mate that a future with them is worth risking everything, or will Violet’s need to see justice served end their chance before it’s begun?

I was smiling by the end of the first chapter because of Violet.

Wow…. It has been a long time since I have read a novel where the female character was self sufficient in and out of violent situations. I will try not to go into much detail but the first chapter started with Violet beating the daylights of some gangsters and having fun doing it. 😀 I am all for female characters like this, but this was not the only reason for me falling in love with these characters. Mason and Jacob were understanding and patient with her. That, for me, was rare since in some of these shifter books, the passion and the chemistry outweighs everything else.

From the get go, I realized she is a tough woman with a past. She holds grudges easily and harbors a lot of guilt. I wasn’t sure if the bond between Mason, Violet & Jacob would be permanent. Will Violet trust her mates and let them in or push them aside?

Mason and Jacob highlight the importance of mates in various parts of the book quite often. So much so that I was kind of annoyed by the repetition. As the story progressed, I was able ot look beyond this quibble. I should mention there is a lot of violence in this book. Be prepared. For me, though, book was worth it. I could not put it down.

Free To Run by BA Tortuga


Free To Run by BA Tortuga
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (53 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When forest ranger Gil gets the call that a rabid wolf is roaming his territory, he figures it’s just another stray coyote. Instead, he finds Rafe, a skinny, worn wolf shifter who also happens to be Gil’s lost mate. Gil thought Rafe was dead, killed by hunters years ago, so finding Rafe alive, if not well, comes as quite a shock.

Rafe never thought he would escape the compound where the crazy bastards who were trying to reform shifters held him. With a little luck and a lot of help, he’s made his way back to Gil, who he never forgot, no matter what those men did to him. The problem is, he’s not sure Gil knows what to do with a beat up former lover.

Gil and Rafe have to work together to recapture what was lost, and maybe find something new.

Gil can hardly believe it when a “rabid wolf” was called in to him. He’d been expecting to find some poor coyote, lost and alone, not Rafe, his mate whom Gil had thought long-killed by a hunter. Clearly starved and half-dead, Gil has no idea what has happened to Rafe, but now he’s found his mate again, Gil is determined to make it right.

This is a very sweet, slightly sad story that I really enjoyed. Definitely full of hurt/comfort style of plotline I instantly fell in love with Rafe – almost broken but still strong and firm in his own way. My heart broke for how Rafe had needed to build certain aspects of himself up and hide others, but it was delightful to watch him and Gil reconnect and be able to enjoy their love once more.

This is the second story in this particular series that I’ve read and I’m deeply curious about one of the secondary characters, Abby, and the crazy cult that she is trying to rescue the captives from. It’s clear her story-arc is kind of the glue keeping all the other stories held together and I’m quite curious what happens next in the arc. I was very pleased, though, that Rafe and Gil’s storyline is complete and so there’s no real need to read the series in order – though I expect the small snippets of Abby and the weird cult torturing these poor wolves would make more sense when the books are read in sequence.

I enjoyed how Rafe and Gil’s storyline wasn’t simply recovering from his release – but also how some of the plot focused on their relationship and working out some of their problems. This made it feel far more realistic to me and not simply a “kidnap and release” story but one of their relationship as a whole. I found the sex both hot and also remarkably sweet – the love they shared was deep and strong and I really fell in love with these two characters.

A wonderful, romantic and sweet story that I greatly enjoyed.

Absinthe by BA Tortuga and Julia Talbot


Absinthe by BA Tortuga and Julia Talbot
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (45 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play, BDSM, Spanking
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Bartholome would give anything to get his young lover Rene to stop running away from him. Years ago, he made a stupid mistake, letting the rest of their wolf pack come between them, but he knows better now.

Rene’s not sure he can believe Barthe will ever want him. Add to their dilemma Barthe’s brother Bastien and a werewolf caught half shifted, and Barthe and Remy have a real mess on their hands. Can they come back together before they lose their love forever?

Bartholome knew that Rene was his mate, but Rene was so young. When Barthe said some careless words it was years before he ever saw Rene again. Lesson learned, Barthe knows he’ll not make the same mistake again.

I found this to be an interesting and fast-paced short story. I love how Barthe and Rene’s romance and hunt was first and foremost, with an interesting plot-twist coming in half way through. I thought this balanced the need for plot and romance really well and kept me interested throughout the story.

Both Barthe and Rene were interesting characters to my mind. While I would have liked to know more about things from Rene’s perspective – particularly his history – there was no question in my mind that they loved each other and were both hungry to become proper mates and stop circling each other. I enjoyed the two strong secondary characters and am hopeful there might be a following story after this one. I’d gladly pick that one up – which is always a very positive endorsement of any book, wanting to read more.

A sexy and interesting short story with great characters and a good, solid plot. I really enjoyed this story and will eagerly be keeping an eye out for the next one.

The Birthday Present by Sean Kerr


The Birthday Present by Sean Kerr
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (26 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Ronald feels old, washed up. As a middle aged gay man on the scene, he cannot help but wonder if his time is over. His frustrations are further exacerbated when he finds himself the victim of a group of thugs who seem to find it funny to torment him in his own home.

Ronald is planning a party, a summer celebration of his middle age, but as he begins the preparations in his hot kitchen, a Policeman turns up to question Ronald about the attacks. Over the course of the interview, Ronald comes to understand that perhaps age is just a number after all.

Ronni is baking to try and forget everything. In his mid-forties and very single, he’s reached the end of his rope when the local idiot teenagers wouldn’t quit with the homophobic abuse at his doorstep, forcing Ronni to call the local police. When Andy turns up – all six feet plus, sculpted delicious muscle of him – Ronni’s birthday will certainly be special this year.

This is a smoking hot, lovely short story. I really enjoyed both Ronni and Andy’s characters and the chemistry between them came across to me as deliciously intense. I was a very little bit disappointed in how slow the story was to start. Considering the very short word-length I usually like my short stories to jump right into the action and zoom along from there – I’m quite happy to read slower-paced stories but there needs to be the gradual build up and enough room left over to make the romance feel satisfactory to me. But this story while scorching hot and erotically written once it got moving felt comparatively quite slow for the first few pages. I understand what the author meant to do – convey a good basis for the reader to know about Ronni’s problems and situation before the steamy action began between him and Andy. I just couldn’t help but feel it was pages of missed action – both emotional and character growth between Ronni and Andy, and also I feel it would have been better spent towards the end, deepening the romance between the two men.

Once the action began, however, this story really hit all the marks for me. Steamy sex, bucket loads of chemistry and a lovely “happy for now” ending this was a glorious quick read. I actually also enjoyed the first-person narrative. These are often hit or miss with me so I was thrilled when the author’s voice really resonated with me and I found myself completely caught up in Ronni’s tale and his expressions (very British which was a thrill for me!) and the whole story just flew by in a delightful, happy breeze for me. I know this is an author I will eagerly be searching out more of as the story was a real pleasure to read.

A quick, steamy read I found this M/M to be a wonderful, naughty way to while away a bit of time. Really lovely.

Three Uncaged by Sean Michael


Three Uncaged by Sean Michael
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (45 pages)
Other: M/M, M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Stripe, Xeno and Shen are three cat shifters who have spent most of their lives in cages at a zoo. They’re used to hiding their human selves, being abused and feeling hungry. When they are rescued and brought to the Old Tavern, along with the rest of the shifters at the zoo, the three are put in rooms together.

Unsure if they have just traded one cage for another, the three count on each other for comfort and protection. When they find they can share more than just comfort with each other, they very quickly become a collective. Now if only they knew if they were really safe, maybe they could start a new life together.

Stripe, Xeno and Shen had been caged together at the zoo. After their release they’d bunkered down together, though none of them knew exactly where they were hiding – or if it was safe for them yet. Stripe is determined to discover a safe place for the three of them, no matter the cost.

This is a lovely, somehow soft-hearted story. I really loved the care and protective instincts Xeno and Shen brought out in Stripe. Despite the fact Stripe was clearly the dominant between the three of them he was patient, gentle and really careful with the other two men. This lent the whole short story an air of comfort and softness to me, which I really loved. I think Stripe wanting to find a safe haven for the three of them, coupled with his protective urges really left me thinking it was more about the safety and emotions growing between the threesome and not just the sex, even though the sex was hot and enticing.

There is a clear hook for a following story of the threesome toward the end, while this short story does end on a good note and the threesome settled between Stripe, Xeno and Shen it’s clear there’s another story of the next stage for the three shifters that will follow on from this. While certainly not a cliff-hanger ending, it did feel to me strongly as if their story was unfinished and this normally bugs me a little. There was, however, enough of a happy and settled feel to the threesome that it didn’t leave me feeling frustrated at the end, just expectant for the next installment.

I found the sex to be deliciously hot and caring, it’s clear the three shifters are healing emotional wounds and building themselves up as well as sharing the physical intimacy between them. This came across to me as a gentle, loving and soft style of romance.

A hot and sexy read, I really enjoyed this paranormal, threesome shifters romance.

Prick of the Thistle by Qeturah Edeli


Prick of the Thistle by Qeturah Edeli
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (281 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lilac

Despite Lord Duncan Friseal’s surly disposition, William finds the heir to the wealthy highland thanedom of Faoltaigh irresistible. After Lord Friseal saves William from a fate worse than death, William grows obsessed with his penetrating fuck-or-kill gaze and aches to discover what lies beneath his great kilt. Lord Friseal appears ignorant of William’s affections, but no matter; William has dealt with his fair share of capricious men and it will be only a matter of time before Lord Friseal succumbs and gives him what he craves.

Lord Friseal realizes too late how dangerously attracted to William he is. He cannot resist the temptation of a man who knows exactly what he wants and where he wants it. Constrained by his station, clan, and religion, Lord Friseal must decide if his passion for a sensuous but traumatized Englishman is worth risking his family’s future and the fate of his immortal soul. Circumstances continue to thwart his swelling sentimentality as William proves to be emotionally distant for all his sexual appetite, and Lord Friseal’s intrusive houseguest, Moira MacKenzie, draws ever closer to the truth.

A Scottish lord saves an Englishman from the wolves out on the moors, brings him back to his castle, and tries to figure out the mystery and allure of him.

From the beginning, I was struck by the beauty of the writing. The author has clearly researched the style, culture, and language of the era and the country. Her descriptions are beautiful and the scenery is vividly brought to life. The writing style is very evocative, and the barren nature and lavish mansion became familiar ground as the story progressed.

The main characters—Duncan, the Scottish thane, and William, the lost thespian—are a curious pairing. They seem to have nothing in common. Apart from the apparent physical femininity and startling beauty of William, I wasn’t sure I understood the attraction Duncan felt for him.

Duncan came off as a more appealing character. He’s kind and strong, smart and capable, and his awakening feelings for a man for the first time were depicted extremely well. I liked him a lot. Even though toward the end he turns into something of a sissy when it comes to his shy daughter and his horrible would-be bride.

William, in comparison, seemed less attractive. His propensity to think of nothing but sex made him somewhat uncouth and surly. His past does explain some of that…

However, and I can’t stress this enough, despite the length of this book, you will NOT be getting a whole story. This ends so abruptly, in the middle of a scene, everything up in the air, that I was incensed. It immediately made me lower the rating. One would think three hundred pages is enough to write a clear and satisfying ending. Alas, that is not the case.

As a result, we learn next to nothing about William. His mystery is by the end of the book… still a mystery. None of my questions about him were answered. That is rather annoying, wouldn’t you say?

What makes this oversight more vexing is that this is a good book, a very well written historical gay romance. We get a lot of sexually tense scenes between Duncan and William—though not a lot of actual sex. The setting and the people feel real and relatable. The plot moves at a swift pace, even if the first chapter is ripe with exposition. And yet, personally I didn’t want to miss a single word.

So overall, I do recommend this to everyone who loves historical gay romances, with a caveat. Thus far the series, Heartwood, has only two books out. Not having read the second, I don’t know if the story reaches a worthwhile conclusion in that one. Here, it does not. If you take that into consideration, though, this is a book I liked and you might like as well. I’m pretty sure I will be checking out the sequel.

Opportunity Knocks by Julia Talbot


Opportunity Knocks by Julia Talbot
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (36 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play, Spanking
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Jordie owes all of his success in the music business to a deal he made years ago. Now the time has come to pay part of his debt, and the beautiful male demon who shows up at his door seems just the guy to collect. Mal is not just your average debt collector, though. He has secrets of his own, which he’ll be happy to share, if only rock star Jordie can believe in him.

Jordie had been a good songwriter, even before he’d made a pact with a demon, but there were tons of bills he needed to pay and songwriting was what truly made him happy. So he’d made a deal – all it cost him was periodically allowing a demon into his life to wring the sex magic from Jordie’s body. On holiday in Belize, Jordie answers a knock at his door, only to discover it’s that time again, and this time the demon on his stoop is especially delicious.

I found this to be a delightful and fun short story. I found it really refreshing that Jordie didn’t have a problem with the demon-deal he’d made – while Jordie is a fairly regular guy, he wasn’t swamped with guilt or anything over the pact he had made. I thought this was a surprising way to look on a deal with the devil, but more importantly I felt it freed up the story to really show-case the relationship between Jodie and Mal, which of course was the main part of what I wanted to read. So I was exceedingly happy about this.

My only minor complaint would be that I found the whole demon/muse/debt paying aspect of the story a little confusing. While I almost never like info-dumping, I found in this short story because we only see snippets of how the demon-realm works and how Mal and Jordie paid off their debts, I found I struggled to piece together how, exactly, it all worked. I can hardly believe it, but a small amount of info-dumping – with everything all in the one place and explained a little more clearly – would have actually been quite welcome to me, as it would have made it easier for me to understand how that side of this process worked. That said, this was a very small amount of the story and while the demon-deal is (in my opinion) the crux of the plot, I was very happy to instead focus on Jordie and Mal and their relationship instead.

While this was a short story I loved both Jordie and Mal’s characters and found myself almost immediately drawn to them both and their circumstances. I loved the heat of the sex and chemistry between them and overall found this to be a very enjoyable, interesting and spicy read.

By Design by BA Tortuga


By Design by BA Tortuga
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (118 pgs)
Other: Menage, M/M, M/M/M, Anal Play, Spanking
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When Robin heads to North Carolina with his boss to help design and build a new conference center, he has a bunch of surprises in store for him. The building site is in the middle of nowhere, his boss is being weirder than usual, and he meets not one, but two of the hottest men he’s ever seen in his life. If he can just get his boss Terry to leave him alone with them, Robin knows Casey and Travis could rock his world.

Casey and Travis might play, but they’ve never thought of mating with a third man. Their immediate need for Robin is something they don’t question, though. What they do want to know is how Robin can possibly be unaware he’s a cat shifter. Can they help Robin find the other half of himself and convince him he’s what’s missing in their relationship at the same time?

Robin and Terry business partners, working together on the road. Robin is really unsure when Terry suggests they go to the Cat House to grab a burger and try to unwind after a particularly stressful week. Robin had no clue that the Cat House was a gay bar – not the sort of clientele they usually entertained. All too soon he’s seduced away by two devastatingly sexy men – Casey and Travis – and Robin’s world is turned upside down.

I found this to be a fun and lighthearted, sexy romp of a story. I loved how Casey and Travis knew exactly what they wanted – Robin – and just went for it with him. I was intrigued that Robin really didn’t know he was a cat-shifter and enjoyed how the author slowly let that part of the plot unfurl as Casey and Travis pounced on Robin and that couple became a threesome.

I loved the strength of the connection between Casey and Travis. A committed, long-term pair I really believed in their relationship and love – the emotional connection between them was deep. Sometimes adding a third person into an already-established couple can be tricky or appear unrealistic, but the author did an excellent job writing this and I totally believed that Robin easily and seamlessly joined in as a third with this pair. I loved reading about their growing relationship and was pleased that this was the main focus of the plot for most of the story. I’d be interested and curious to read a sequel about Terry – I feel certain there is far more to that man than is readable on the surface. The sex was hot and just a little bit kinky – a bit of spanking and talk about bondage-play – just enough to add a bit of spice to the threesome sex, not enough for me to think it would turn off readers who aren’t into reading about harder-core erotic sex.

Fun and sexy, this was a great read and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I will be totally keeping an eye out for any further stories in this series.