Take A Chance, Cowboy by Lacey Wolfe

CHANGE
Take A Chance, Cowboy by Lacey Wolfe
Publisher: Beachwalk Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (88 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Can a city girl heal a cowboy’s broken heart?

Nathan Carver gave up on love long ago after a betrayal he wasn’t sure he could ever get over. When Angie Simms arrives in town to help his brother’s fiancée with their upcoming wedding, she stirs things in him that he hasn’t felt in a long time. Things he doesn’t want to feel. So he pushes her away.

Angie wants what she wants, and doesn’t always think before she speaks. When she lays eyes on sexy cowboy Nathan, she’s determined to find out what caused his brooding attitude. She can tell right away that he’s not someone to play with. He’s got a layer of hurt around his heart, which makes him that much more attractive.

The feisty woman is determined to make Nathan her conquest, but will he take a chance on Angie?

Nathan thought he’d never teach horse riding lessons again, bad memories crowding everything helpful out of his mind. Seriously nervous, his mood isn’t helped when he’s interrupted by Angie – the best friend of his brother’s fiancée. Here to help with all the wedding preparations, Nathan is attracted, but having been seriously burned in the past isn’t sure he wants that kind of heartache again. Angie is ready to make some life-altering decisions. Having been fired from her job and with her lease up, she decides to give Deer Creek—and Nathan in particular—a go until after the wedding. Then she can decide if she wants to give the man, and place, a chance to change her life.

I was initially dismayed by how rocky things began between Nathan and Angie. Angie clearly had the hots for Nathan, and told him so right up front. Nathan, however, has never done “casual” and had zero interest in having or being a fling. This added quite a bit of tension between them, and while I could understand, it lessened the impact for me of their chemistry. I really felt for Nathan – who had been treated horrendously by an ex-lover. He’s everything I love in a cowboy hero, strong, loyal and steadfast. Angie was a little harder to read. While she seemed outwardly like a typical happy, sexy city girl, there were hidden pockets in her past and with her family that we learn as the book moves on. I was also a little sad she felt at times she couldn’t be honest with Nathan. While it was always for an understandable reason, someone as hurt as Nathan had been previously deserved the truth and respect. This diminished my enjoyment of Angie. I loved the setting of the book though, that wonderful small town feel and with a strong cast of family on Nathan’s side there were plenty of funny antics and happy moments to offset the tension.

There is a strong cast of secondary characters whom I thoroughly enjoyed, and clear links to past (and hopefully future!) books. The sex was hot and steamy. Spicy enough I’d not share it with my mother, but not outrageous or envelope pushing. I’m intrigued enough by Nathan’s family and the cast of characters that I will look into other titles by this author. Overall I really enjoyed this book. A few bumps couldn’t diminish the love and chemistry between Nathan and Angie and I was thrilled with their happy ending.

Finding Passion by Pamela Tyner

PASSION
Finding Passion by Pamela Tyner
Publisher: Beachwalk Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (39 pgs)
Other: BDSM (mild), M/F
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

An unexpected weekend adventure leads to renewed passion, but will it be enough to save a troubled marriage?

Nathan Collins is stunned when he’s served with divorce papers…almost as stunned as he’d been three weeks prior when his wife had suddenly asked him to move out of the house. At the time, Susan had proposed a thirty-day separation followed by marriage counseling. Nathan intends to hold her to that agreement.

He moves from stunned to pissed when Susan attempts to use blackmail as a means to obtain his signature on the papers. Damned if he’ll be blackmailed into anything, especially when he’s innocent of the accusations. He’d never cheat on his wife.

When an unexpected storm and a flooded road strand them together for the weekend, neither suspects that it will lead to a discovery of secret desires and fantasy fulfillment. But will their renewed passion be enough to revive their fledgling marriage? Despite Nathan’s vehement denial, Susan has some pretty convincing evidence of his extramarital activities.

Susan and Nathan have been married for three years, but their relationship has deteriorated to the point where a few whispers of doubt and a set-up picture has Susan filing for divorce. It seems their marriage is irrevocably broken, but can a weekend spent flooded-in together at their beach house give them the time to force them to communicate their real desires to each other?

This is a sexy short story that I found equal parts hot and difficult. I struggled to understand how, if Susan really believed Nathan had cheated on her, she could let herself have such smoking hot make-up sex with him. It felt a little to me like the divorce papers were a catalyst for her, to make Nathan and her communicate their unhappiness in their relationship and start again. This felt to me rather like using a sledgehammer when merely opening her mouth and talking about their issues would have worked far better. While I’m positive such miscommunications occur all the time in real life, it wasn’t very sexy and left me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth – that our hero and heroine couldn’t even speak coherently to each other about their wants and desires and try to fix their own unhappiness.

Once I had checked my brain at the door and just rolled with it, though, the chemistry between Susan and Nathan really was smoking hot and their sex was graphic and fun. There were some critical scenes toward the end that I felt really should have been shown to us – rather than “told” and merely mentioned in passing. These missing scene/s (a big confrontation when Susan learned the truth) also dampened my enthusiasm for the story, but I realize it’s possible the author ran out of space with a word limit. Still, the sex scene was hot and I enjoyed how Susan finally let Nathan fulfill a few of her fantasies and they dabbled in a bit of (very, very mild) bondage. The story ends on a happy, positive note, and hopefully it’s the start of them communicating and really trusting each other into the future.

For readers who want a fun, sexy “getting back together” style story this might be one to try.

Child Of Tempest by Ciara Lake

CHILD
Child Of Tempest by Ciara Lake
The Forsaken Series Book 8
Publisher: Beachwalk Press, Inc
Genre: Paranormal
Length: Short Story (119 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Dragged through hell, can two immortal lovers accept their fates?

Several citizens of Coventon have experienced bizarre near-drowning incidents, their lungs filling with water despite the fact that they’re nowhere near water. These mysterious cases bewilder the medical community. When people begin to whisper about possible supernatural causes it makes Dr. Xandra Carrington even more concerned since her family are wiccans, and she doesn’t want to deal with the negative attention this will bring to them. So she’s more than a little put off when a hot-shot reporter shows up to investigate.

Jian Akvo is an award-winning journalist and author. When he arrives to investigate the strange incidents, he’s captivated by the beautiful, young doctor. However, Xandra is cautious of Jian. As soon as she met him, she knew he was immortal, and when she discovered he was a Krevellian water wizard, she knew she couldn’t trust him, because no one can trust a Krevellian.

Despite that, they end up joining forces in an effort to solve the mystery. Together they will face enemies and even visit the depths of hell. And during the journey Xandra finds herself drawn to Jian. Is it possible for the immortal daughter of a witch to find happiness with a water wizard? And will they find the answers they seek before it’s too late?

Two immortals, two different species from two different walks of life. Will they be able to make a life for themselves?

Xandra is a witch, a healer who works in a hospital to save lives. But one day, the unexpected happens. Throughout the town unexplainable drownings brings Jian AkJvo, an author and journalist, to hospitals asking questions. Their first meeting sparks something between them.

Xandra is a healing witch, while Jian is a Krevellian. The strange drownings opens up a secret that will change not only Xandra but all that is dear to her. Child of Tempest is packed to the brim with information. It took some time for me to take it all in and get my head wrapped around everything. Nonetheless, the plot is simple but with all the history attached, this book is part eye opening and part just really in depth. I did love reading the history and the plot came together to create a complex story.  Also, this erotic book is perfect for any reader who does not like extreme erotic content. The relationship between them is not only passionate but also has a lot of give and take.

The ending was a happy ending and a suspense for me, both of which I loved. Suspense because the overall conclusion of some of the plot apparently comes in the next book in the series. There were some things that was very difficult for me to understand and I think the reason for this is that this is the eighth book in the series. This isn’t necessarily a stand-alone book.

Readers who enjoy romance mixed with their science fiction and mystery should give this series a try. When the conclusion to this story comes, it’s going to be exciting!

Employee of the Month by Tracy Rogers

MONTH
Employee of the Month by Tracy Rogers
Publisher: Beachwalk Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (134 pgs)
Heat level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Willow

Some rules are made to be broken…

Rule number 1: No touching
Rule number 2: No kissing
Rule number 3: Never, ever, fall in love

Holly Wilder finds some of those rules pretty difficult to follow during her boss’s visits to present the Employee of the Month award. A relationship between them is prohibited, and even if it wasn’t, Holly has no intention of ever falling in love again. But that doesn’t stop her from craving Max’s touch.

Hotel owner Max Lazzari never expected to break his own rules, especially when they are so important to him. But sexy employee Holly is too hard to resist. Their no-strings, secret arrangement fits in perfectly with his no-commitment plan. A plan to ensure that no woman will ever again have the opportunity to hurt him.

Sizzling nights together mean Holly and Max start looking forward to the monthly visits more and more. Until they are both brought down to earth with a bump—a pregnancy one!

Will rule breaking lead to broken hearts?

This fast-paced romance had me wishing the novel never had ended.

We have our heroine, Holly Wilder, a well respected hotel receptionist and a model employee that is alway the talk at the employee of the month award meetings. And our hero, Max Lazzari, the owner of the hotel chain that has a very strict hand-off policy that he put in place. This rule is a little hard for them to follow when they literally can not keep they hands off each other ever time Max comes to the hotel. This results in a few bumps along the road that leave both Holly and Max absentmindedly bending the rule of their ‘no strings attached’ fun.

Ms. Rogers really drew me into the emotional ride that Holly and Max seem to be on. The authors writing really put me in the heart of each scene. Being able to read and understand the true feelings and thoughts of both Max and Holly certainly made me feel like I was right along side them for the ride.

The story flow was brilliant and the character development was fantastic, I could really feel the chemistry between Holly and Max. Through the whole book I was walking the line between wanting to know what happens next and wanting to savour this wonderful story.

I highly recommend this novel to all those who love romance novels.

Caution: Filling is Hot by Tara Mills

HOT
Caution: Filling is Hot by Tara Mills
Publisher: Beachwalk Press, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (197 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Hawthorn

Some men should come with a warning.

Here’s a recipe to share with friends. Take one prickly demonstration cook, handle carefully. Add one lonely widower, slightly beaten. Mix gently. Fold in two six-year-olds, one at a time to temper the batter and avoid scrambling. Then finally, add the mother with an agenda—but just a dash, because she’s spicy. Whip into stiff peaks then spread over an ungreased sheet for best results. Method of cooking can vary, however—Caution: Filling is Hot.

Piper Frost is taking a break from men when contractor Chad Thomas crashes her cooking class and turns on the charm. His persistence annoys her but she’s already melting, even without his sneaky mother and conspiring twins in the mix. But just when things are really starting to sizzle, disaster strikes. Can Piper save her recipe for happily ever after or is it already ruined? Grab your oven mitts and find out.

Just as Piper, at long last, realizes Chad has gotten under her skin, I’m betting you will realize at the end of the novel that you’ve become very fond of Piper and Chad.

I took me a while to get into the story. The first few pages weren’t too promising. I felt Chad’s advances were too ‘stalkerish’, and at the same time Piper’s rejections were too cold and aggressive. However, once Piper relented and decided hanging out with his family was not such a terrible thing after all, their dynamics shifted and their chemistry felt more apparent. Their characters became more pronounced and their motives clearer and more reasonable once their backgrounds were explained.

I was charmed by Chad’s family, both his twins and his mother. They were all a nice comic relief without being stock figures. Apart from that, they also managed to show deeper nuances of Piper’s character through their interactions with her; this was especially true of the children. Piper’s best friend Joy was also indispensable for the story, functioning almost like a catalyst with her constant jibes at Piper, and then ultimately making Piper realize she’s no better than Mick whom she’s blamed for a lot of problems in her life.

The pace of the story was just right, aided by the fact that Chad’s and Piper’s dates were never dull, instead they always involved some unusual activity and fun company. It was thrilling to watch them fighting their emotions, especially when Piper’s resistance and Chad’s misinterpretation of a situation led to a critical point in the story that was fraught with angst. It took Piper a long time to recognize her feelings, but her development seemed believable.

Caution: Filling is Hot is both a story of love at first sight and a story about stubborn denial. It’s a story about passion and devotion. It’s also a story about healing and overcoming tragic loss and grief.

Find Me by Ella Jade

FIND
Find Me by Ella Jade
Publisher: Beachwalk Press Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (153 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

A love that transcends time…

As her 25th birthday approaches, Riley Sparrow begins to dream of a handsome, intriguing stranger. Each night the dreams get more intense and the stranger starts leaving her clues to his whereabouts. The dreams always end in a whisper…

Find Me.

Riley has denied her birthright her entire life. She descends from a strong line of witches and warlocks, but she’s refused her powers up until now. With the help of her estranged grandfather she learns that her mystery man is from the past and his life is in danger. Will her grandfather help her travel back to 1963 to save the man she believes she’s meant to be with? A man she knows nothing about but feels a strong connection to.

If she finds him, can she save him from the evil that haunts them both? By securing his past, she knows there can never be a future for them in her time.

Riley Sparrow, a 25 year old single journalist, has had sleepless nights due to visits from a handsome sexy blond who visits her in her dreams asking her to find him. Riley is at a loss until she ask the stranger how and what does she need to do to find him? He replies “Tucker”.

Tucker is Riley’s estranged grandfather who she hasn’t seen in ten years because of an argument between her grandfather and father. Riley comes from a bloodline of warlocks and witches, but her father has never been willing to accept that. With the help of her grandfather’s transporting spell, Riley is able to go back in time; 1963 to be exact. Dean Archer is Riley’s grandfather’s college roommate, and also the man that has been appearing in her dreams. The transporting spell is a success and Riley is able to go back and forth between past and present zones.

I enjoyed the author’s idea and plot of time traveling. The visits to Riley’s dreams, the teasing for brief visits and tempting kisses exciting Riley to find this mystery man. However, Riley’s visits are often and lengthy; making for slow moments within the novel. Riley seems to forget about her present life and only wants to spend time with Dean in the past. Their relationship grows and they become fond of each other, but neither seems to try to prevent such an awkward relationship or they didn’t seem to put forth much effort to see what help Dean needed. I was basically wondering okay when will the pieces to the puzzle going to start fitting? While I enjoyed seeing the relationship between Riley and Dean grow, the sensible side of me kept wondering how this relationship could work. How will the author pull this off? Will Riley alter Dean’s original history? I was curious so I kept reading. Turns out I was very impressed that the author not only wrapped the story up but also included a villain to add some flare to the storyline. With determination, some spells and sacrifices the author did a wonderful job bringing this novel to a happy ending.

Find Me is a fascinating time travel romance that I would recommend to those looking for something a bit different. The author has a flair that shows her talent to create a fascinating and believable story. The novel is cleverly planned and well written, with a resolution that is completely unexpected. This is an author I will be sure to follow.

Taming the Hunted by Larisa Anderson

TAMING
Taming the Hunted by Larisa Anderson
Publisher: Beachwalk Press, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (57 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Sex
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Hunting just got hotter.

Marian is a hunter of night creatures. She stalks and stakes vampires, isn’t afraid of the odd silver bullet if a werewolf turns rogue, and is perfectly content with her complete lack of social life.

When a staking goes wrong, a handsome, mesmerizing man comes to Marian’s rescue. But Gabriel isn’t what he seems to be. After Marian loses consciousness she awakes to find herself in a house filled with werewolves.

If she can survive the night she might discover that sometimes opposites attract in the best ways. Now if she could just silence that irritating little voice in the back of her mind that keeps reminding her that hunters are supposed to kill creatures of the night, not date them.

If in need of a quick and sexy paranormal read, Taming the Hunted has just the right balance of seduction, bite and entertainment to make the time fly.

This short story compresses all the kinds of elements that make a story enjoyable. Marian is a take charge kind of heroine who hunts monsters for a living. It’s a hard life and she doesn’t scare easily. She is comfortable with knives and doesn’t take chances. Lest a reader thinks she is invincible, she has this little quirk that not only gets her into trouble but it allows her to be rescued by the hero. I found it amusing that for all her expertise, she’s brought down by a simple and very common human phobia. I liked that touch.

Gabriel was the hero and he’s depicted as quite the yummy specimen. He’s obviously the guy in charge and it seems he was drawn to the heroine from the get go. The only way I could discern all that is because it’s what Marian’s character conveyed. Taming the Hunted is told in third person point of view but it’s solidly only from Marian’s side of things. Never once did the author head hop and I appreciated that. The heroine is in a pickle, she’s faced with unusual circumstances with different rules to learn and follow. That sense of otherness came across more effectively because I only saw things from her POV. That made the story more interesting.

Another thing I enjoyed was the buildup of sexual tension. When the heroine and hero consummate their intense passion it’s along the lines of what erotic romance readers look for. It’s enough to feel the steam but not enough to seem gratuitous and overdone. There’s a hint of BDSM but it’s more a flavor than a deed.

Nole and Kennard are two secondary characters that seem important but are pretty much one dimensional. Same with the villain; as short lived as he was, I didn’t get a strong sense of drama or suspense. For me, it only illustrated how different Marian’s life is going to be, not that there was a true threat to end it. It did serve the function of advancing the plot though.

Taming the Hunted is an interesting spin on the hunter/werewolf combo relationship. I had fun reading this novelette and liked Marian’s personality. She’s the star in this little caper and if the epilogue is any indication, it sounds like readers are going to hear more about Marian’s life, her profession and how it affects her new role. I look forward to seeing what the next step will be for Gabriel and her. One thing is for sure, it won’t be boring and I’m definitely interested in seeing more. I liked this book.

Never Say Never by Aimée Duffy

NEVER
Never Say Never by Aimée Duffy
Publisher: Beachwalk Press, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (138 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Quince

When pretend turns to desire, heartbreak is unavoidable.

Sander Chase needs a date for his ex-fiancée’s engagement party, but he doesn’t have time for a woman in his life. Between working on the TV show Do You Have What It Takes? and his band reforming, he’s too busy for a relationship. What he needs is a pretend girlfriend. He thinks he may have found the perfect woman for the job, and the bribe he offers means she’s sure to accept.

After losing her job in the film industry, breaking up with her movie star boyfriend, and finding out her mum has dementia, Chloe Butler returned to the UK determined to put her life back together. The last thing she needs is to parade around London on the arm of a celebrity, and after the heartbreak caused by her ex, she swore she’d never again date a star. But when Sander offers her a chance at her dream job, it’s not something she can turn down.

As Chloe gets to know Sander she learns he’s nothing like her scumbag ex. But she struggles to fight her attraction to him, knowing their relationship is only for show and their separation date is closing in fast.

Ignoring the insane chemistry between them should be easy for Sander, especially since he carries a secret that means there can be no future for them, but the more time he spends with Chloe, the harder it is to keep his hands to himself.

Never Say Never is modern fairy tale. On one side there is a hero, Sander Chase, a very popular singer who does not know what love is. The other side has Chloe Butler, a make-up artist turned waitress, whose heart has been broken in a really nasty way. They are both unprepared for a relationship, and the chances that they end up together in real life are slim, but as I said this is a contemporary fairy tale.

Never Say Never is a very sensual and emotionally packed story. The attraction between the hero and heroine is palpable. The relationship’s progress is slowly buildt up, until it reaches its HEA, which I liked a lot. What is more important it that this novel is so well written. Characters are three dimensional and lovable. I felt Sander and Chloe’s pain and happiness, and that meant a lot for me, making this story a satisfying emotional read.

Just be aware that I found some of Sander’s actions and reactions confusing to me here and there throughout the story but don’t give up, a plausible reason was provided at the end and then all became clear.

Unfortunately, I have two issues witht this story that made me rate it with 4 stars. First is predictability – I knew that at some point, one character will turn up in the story and that this character will be crucial for Sander and Chloe’s conflict resolution. The problem with predictability is that this particular situation was used and recycled in so many stories that it has became a cliché, and the story did not gain much from it. The second is the overuse of the f-word in the story. I am not a prude, but when the swearing is used in a way that does not fit the story, it really starts to bother me. In many cases Aimée Duffy could have used some other words and phrases instead, with the same end result i.e. the emotional state of the character or his/her reaction to some situation will evoked to the reader.

I liked Never Say Never foremost because the author succeeded in writing a great emotional story about two broken people who find their way to happiness. Therefore I recommend it to all of you who like HEA endings and emotional reads.

Business and Pleasure by Emily Wood

BUSINESS
Business and Pleasure by Emily Wood
Publisher: Beachwalk Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (62 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Clover

Can mixing business and pleasure ever result in a happy ending?

When sexy, rich Lawrence Russo asks Mia to come and work for him in Italy for two weeks, she jumps at the chance. After all, it beats pole dancing, and the salary he offers her is practically obscene.

A relationship quickly begins to develop between the two, but Mia can’t help but wonder if Lawrence’s feelings for her are genuine or if he feels he’s just paying for a service.

Even if their relationship is strong enough to survive her insecurities, what will happen when somebody from her past shows up and threatens to reveal her deepest, darkest secret?

It’s hard to believe that some chances in life really are as great as they seem.

Mia is working as a pole dancer in a club. She’s got a great talent for working the floor as well as the pole, schmoozing with customers, diffusing situations and generally looking great. So when wealthy and handsome Lawrence Russo offers her a two week contract working for him at his fabulous villa in Italy, what’s holding her back?

Nothing.  He’s gorgeous and she’s got the serious hots for him; what’s more, it seems the feelings are mutual. Surrounded by sunshine and luxury, things quickly develop between them, but when an old ‘acquaintance’ of Mia’s shows up, with mean words in his mouth and bad intentions in other parts of his anatomy, how will their fledgling relationship cope?

This is the first book I have read by Ms Wood and I enjoyed the seamless flow of the story and the likeable characters. The plot moved swiftly so I was kept involved in the unfolding events. Lawrence is lovely and I can see why Mia is so taken with him, he’s not just nice with her, but with secondary characters too which showed a nice roundness to his personality.

I felt like I’d had a trip to Italy at the end of Business and Pleasure. The environment the characters were in was well described, the setting luxurious and sunny.

The sex scenes were well written, enough choreography of what was going on – what limb or other part of the anatomy was where – but were equally engaged with the emotions. There was one point Mia’s insecurity over Lawrence’s feeling for her started to bug me, but no sooner as they did she seemed to snap herself out of it and believe in him and herself again.

A nice entertaining story that left me with a warm feeling inside. I’ll definitely read more by this author.