The Vessel by Nancy Fraser


The Vessel by Nancy Fraser
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (85 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Major Liam McGregor is a career soldier. Chosen by the leader of the United Republic to transport a government protectee to safety, Liam takes on a task that has cost his predecessors their very lives.

Alora of Delawon is an alien princess who holds the key to the survival of mankind. With the women of the United Republic left barren by previous chemical warfare, Alora’s ability to bear humanoid children makes her the government’s most valuable commodity.

Together, Liam and Alora make the trek from the government’s safe house back toward the current capitol, fighting off raiders, survivalists, and an unexpected attraction to one another.

Will their desires put them in danger? Or, will their being together become more important than the mission?

Sometimes danger is the best aphrodisiac.

The chemistry between Liam and Alora was sizzling hot. Watching them take plenty of time to get to know each other before anything sexual happened between them only made me more interested in following their journey. I actually read this whole story in one sitting because I was so eager to see what would happen between these characters next and if the spark between them would ignite into something that would last longer than one night.

There was one part of the plot that I would have liked to see more time spent on. Liam went from being a soldier who followed every order he was given in the beginning to someone who was much more willing to break the rules by the end. While it was interesting to see this transformation, I was a little confused by why he changed so much. It would have been nice for him to have a conversation with himself or someone else about why he was suddenly so willing to disobey direct orders.

The dialogue was witty and fabulous. There were many parts of human society that Alora didn’t understand, from how sex worked to what words people used to describe certain things. I giggled every single time she misunderstood something, and I laughed even harder when Liam would get embarrassed and finally sputter out the right answer for her.

The Vessel is a must-read for fans of erotica and science fiction alike. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

What She Needs by Melissa Kendall

needs
What She Needs by Melissa Kendall
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (48 Pages)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Sick of being the baby sister of Garth the pack alpha, Elizabeth decides to seek Madame Eve’s help to give her one night of pure pleasure.

Brute, Castle Wolves’ pack enforcer and best friend of Garth has kept his feelings for his sister a secret. But when he over hears Lizzie talking about signing up for 1Night Stand, he decides he’s not missing out on his chance at love.

Elizabeth Summers is sick of being the baby sister of Garth the pack alpha. Her brother with the help of his best friends has taken it upon himself to scare off every guy who has ever shown any interest in her. With a little nudge from her sister-in-law, she decides to seek Madame Eve’s help to give her one night of pure pleasure.

Ernest (Brute) Chalmers is Castle Wolves’ pack enforcer and best friend of Garth. Out of respect for his friend, he has kept his feelings for Garth’s sister a secret. But when he over hears Lizzie talking about signing up for a 1Night Stand, he decides if he doesn’t make his move, he might miss out on his chance at love.

I enjoyed this second short story in Melissa Kendall’s Castle Wolves series. It was a steamy fun paranormal romp that had plenty of feeling to go along with the sexy times.

The first book of this shifter series featured Garth the Alpha of the Castle Wolves pack, and we were also introduced to his best friend and right hand man, Brute. This is Brute’s story where he finally reveals his feelings for Garth’s little sister, Elizabeth. We find out why he waited so long to make his move on Lizzie and how hard it was to be the kind of mate she needed. There were a few climactic scenes where the conflict exploded but for the most part this story was dominated by some incredibly hot sex scenes.

I liked Brute and Elizabeth. They had great chemistry together and their sex scenes were incendiary. This story was also something different for me as the reader. I haven’t read many stories where the heroine is a Domme but I have to say that I found myself enjoying this one. I liked the BDSM aspect, especially. I liked how the author showed their vulnerable sides as well.

All in all, this short story was well written and I read it at a super fast pace. As with the first book, the author ended it a bit abruptly, so there was a spot of disappointment with that. I would have liked more resolution between Brute and Garth but that won’t keep me from reading the next book. I assume it will be Mason and look forward to his story.

No Such Thing As Can’t by Melissa Kendall

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No Such Thing As Can’t by Melissa Kendall
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (53 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

After a string of failed relationships, thirty-five-year-old Madeline Majors worries her life will never be complete. Her obsession with having a child and her inability to conceive—even though a multitude of doctors have said there is nothing medically wrong with her—drives her to Madame Evangeline as her last resort.

Garth Summers is a shape shifter with a problem. As Alpha of his pack, he must have an heir by the time he is fifty years of age or a new alpha is chosen from the eligible males in the pack. But as a wolf shifter, he can only conceive with his mate who he has yet to find. With only six weeks remaining, he turns to Madame Eve for help.

Can a one-night stand bring two people the one thing they most desperately want, or will the reality of what they are send them both running?

I enjoyed this short shifter romance. The story had some great aspects like true mates, insta-chemistry, wolf pack suspense and hot sex. It kept me interested from beginning to end.

It was need and desperation that drew Garth and Madeline together. Garth stood to lose his position as Castle Pack Alpha unless he had an heir on the way by his fiftieth birthday. Madeline wanted her own child more than anything but her biological clock was already ticking. So they decided to take a chance on Madame Eve and met up for a one night stand hoping they would get lucky.

This was an entertaining and fast paced book. The plot was intriguing with a couple of suspenseful scenes and a unique spin to added to the story. I would have liked more about the mythology of the Castle shifters and at least a mention about what happened to Garth’s evil nemesis. I was left feeling a bit disappointed about that, but it won’t keep me from reading the next book. I’m already looking forward to What She Needs, book two in the Castle Wolves series.

Her Sister’s Wedding by Jane Ainslie

SISTER
Her Sister’s Wedding by Jane Ainslie
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (153 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

She’s hungrily pursuing a dream…

Food journalist Mandy Evans is headed for Paris to fulfill her life-long dream of studying art, but not before she has to be a bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding.

He’s nursing a burning ambition…

After setting up his latest restaurant, renowned American chef Jake Pearson has a big project booked in Miami, but not before he’s best man at his friend’s wedding.

Is there a wrong time to meet the right person?

Partnered at the wedding, Jake falls for Mandy’s sassy, natural style, and she can’t get enough of his passion for food—and for her. But when it’s a case of finding love at the wrong time, can they find room on their plates for each other?

Ms. Ainslie’s Her Sister’s Wedding is a zippy contemporary romance with a great lead character, Mandy Evans. Mandy does not impress as an exceptionally nice person, yet… her circumstances are intriguing. We quickly discover that she considers herself a journalist though she seems more of a restaurant critic. She dresses well but is underprepared–not impressive.

Still, she has friends. She can rely on her pal Dario, who teases but will help her out. Conversations are quick, witty and believable; typical party fair. Mandy seems a bit like a fish out of water, yet it’s fun to follow her around this restaurant’s big opening party. She becomes a bit more human, especially after we learn she’s agreed to be a last-minute bridesmaid for her sister, and suddenly the whole dynamic changes.

Mandy, we soon discover, is more than the glamor gal we see on the outside, and chef Jake Pearson gains a little inkling of the same thing. Their meeting includes a funny little twist (no spoilers here…but it IS a case of serendipity) but this matters little: by this point, we readers are truly hooked. Mandy may be able to carry off the black dress and stilettos, but she’s also got good intentions, and dreams for the future–dreams that include Paris. A certain coincidence might help out the ‘love story’ but at the same time…those very dreams threaten the whole thing.

Her Sister’s Wedding is a great story, a look at a certain sophisticated lifestyle, and the discovery of some very ‘real’ and engaging main characters. The story line is quick and unpredictable and in many ways just plain fun. The use of incredibly long run-on sentences may be a stylistic choice but are occasionally mind-boggling enough to test your attention span- my one complaint. 4 stars, for a good overall read.

Kotori’s Sacrifice by Dakota Trace

SACRIFICE
Kotori’s Sacrifice by Dakota Trace
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (67 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

A Dominant who just couldn’t let go…

As an experienced Dom, Seba Havas, specializes in helping traumatized submissives find the release they need. He knows when a firm hand is needed or a gentle touch will work better, but nothing in his nearly fifteen years in the scene prepares him for Akira. Like a whirlwind, she turns his orderly life upside down with her refusal to submit. Still reeling from his failure with her six months later, he turns to 1Night Stand. Madame Eve’s suggestion? A trip to the Carnivore Club, the brand new BDSM themed Las Vegas Strip resort on a date to an elegant masquerade ball with a beautiful submissive.

A submissive who’s willing to sacrifice it all…

As the oldest daughter of the Ito clan, Akira has been responsible and self-controlled her entire life, up to the point it has caused her to lose the dominant she loves. Now she has one chance left to prove to Seba she can be what he needs. In true Vegas fashion, and with a little help from Madame Eve, she’s going to gamble it all on one night of dominance and submission. But will it be enough?

Trust is a gift both given and received…

Akira Ito is a sub who is devastated when her Master, Seba uncollars her. She tries with all of her might to be the trusting sub he needs her to be but again and again she fails. When an opportunity arrives for her to try out the new Carnivore Resort for a prearranged date she jumps at it, hoping to use it to cure whatever roadblock is holding her back. Dressed as a manga character, she knows who she will be meeting for her one night stand. Under the pink hair and glam glasses anything is possible.

Seba Havas is bitter about the breakup between himself and Akari. He wanted her to trust him–to give all of herself and not hold back. But she didn’t and she by omission, lied to him about how she felt. That, to him, was unacceptable. When a friend suggests the new Club Carnivore and the mysterious Madame Eve’s one night stand service, he grabs at the chance. Maybe he can forget this sub who has left rivets in his heart. Only, when he arrives, he finds his date so much more alluring than he ever thought possible. Is there more going on behind the glasses of his hot sub for the evening? You’ll have to read this one to find out.

The 1 Night Stand series is one of my favorites from Decadent and this story by Dakota Trace takes us into a new branch. The Carnivore Club is a new destination for BDSM lovers and I could hardly wait to try out its secret rooms and play stations. Described to such an extent that I felt I was there, the story unfolded with the perfect amount of tension, sexiness and raw awesomeness that I couldn’t read it fast enough.

Short and sweet, this nugget takes you into BDSM situations and the vulnerability both a sub and her Master has when one or the other fails to trust. That is the foundation of any relationship, but more so in a BDSM scenario. Can Seba and Akira find their common ground? Can she get past whatever is holding her back? Pick up a copy of this tasty morsel today and I bet you fall in love just like I did.

Sexy and sleek, this series is a scorcher….

Redeeming Raygan by Megan Slayer

RAYGAN
Redeeming Raygan by Megan Slayer
Zero, Ohio Book 5
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (121 pgs)
Other: M/M, Masturbation, Anal Play
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Two rough endings can equal one hot beginning.

Raygan Mason is done with love. After plenty of failed relationships, he wants no part of the emotion. He’s broken inside and believes he’s not worthy of redemption…until he meets a man named after a car. Then his structured, but closed off world gets turned upside down.

Jamie “Jeep” Grusin isn’t big on love, either. Fresh out of a marriage filled with cheating and lies, he’s not looking for another partner. The writer wants a fresh start and is told Zero will cure what ails him. He’s not convinced…until he ends up at Eight Ball bar.

Can two men who think they are totally wrong for each other find out that redemption and a new start is so right?

Time for Healing!

Raygan and Jamie (or Jeep) both has failed relationships however, Raygan’s past contains so much more and that comes through clear as day from the start. Raygan and Jamie (Jeep) work well together as a couple. They do have chemistry but I do think the amount of passion that comes across is sometimes overshadowed by the information dump. In addition to that I do feel that the writing could have been much smoother. The background info that was given was a bit distracting since it came in clumps.

There are also some contrasts in the character and the writing that kept me from clearly understanding the character. In one scene Jamie knows what he wants and who he wants but then a couple pages later the complete opposite is being said. However, this could be testament to the kind of person Jamie has become due to his ghosts but I couldn’t be sure. Both Jamie and Raygan have been hurt in the past. They both have ghosts that they need to slay and they do.

I did enjoy the plot and the ending is surprisingly different but well laid out.

This is the first book I have read in this series and it could be read as a standalone. Readers who enjoy some steamy M/M should give this one a try and maybe find a whole series to jump into.

Wolf’s Return by Rebecca Royce

WOLF
Wolf’s Return by Rebecca Royce
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (67 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

A hidden wolf pack. Lies. Intrigue. And reluctant heroes. Get to know the Black Hills…

Drew Tao left the Black Hills in disgrace, banished by his father. He has spent the last ten years a lone wolf, living on his own. Called back home, he finally gets the chance to set things right. If such a thing is possible….

Betty Holden has hated her mate every day for the last ten years for abandoning her and their pack. She’s been running things in Los Lobos, and she has no intention of letting Drew Tao slip back into her life like nothing has changed-even if she has never been able to resist him.

Can there be forgiveness? And can he protect her when another enemy arrives?

This book was a good beginning to a new paranormal series. It features an intriguing premise surrounding the troubled Black Hills Wolf Pack. Rebecca Royce gets the series off to a fine start with the first book.

The author did a great job on this short story about a prodigal son who returns home to reclaim his place in the wolf pack that is in trouble. Here was where things got emotional for me. I liked both of the main characters but I felt pretty bad for Drew who had to make some tough calls. He got things done and then had to earn back his mate’s trust. It wasn’t an easy thing to do.

The writing is really good so I was able to connect with the characters. It was a fast paced story that I enjoyed reading. I look forward to reading more of this series in the future.

Marine Under The Mistletoe by Heather Long

MARINE
Marine Under The Mistletoe by Heather Long
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (86 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

He used to believe in magic…

Kaiden Nelson looked like every other Marine, only most of his guys didn’t grow up in a family of nudists, celebrating the wheel of the year and the lunar cycles. His buddies wouldn’t name him a witch, either. But after more than a decade at war, Kaiden isn’t sure he can—or even wants to lay claim to that calling anymore. He’s got too much blood on his hands and he’s tired…tired of war, tired of fighting, some days…he’s tired of living. When he’s sent on leave for the holidays, he’s unsure if he can ever really go home again.

She’s a candle in the night…

Rowan Harper lives in two worlds, the mundane where she handles tech issues for a major corporation and the pagan where she celebrates the sabbats and esbats with her coven. Like so many in the region, she keeps her beliefs private. It makes life more bearable from others who would judge, and she likes nothing better than the great sabbat retreats the coven takes to the sprawling lake house. It’s a time where she sheds the shackles of everyday life and embraces the divine.

The wheel turns…

When Kaiden turns up at the coven Yule, his Circle of family and friends are eager to welcome him, but he feels unworthy of the open warmth and shies away to the darkness, but Rowan refuses to leave him in the shadows. Can the inexorable pull of one woman help him face down his demons as they hold vigil against the longest night of the year?

It’s been years since Kaiden Nelson has made it home from a tour. Spending Christmas with his parents shouldn’t be difficult after everything he’s gone through as a Marine. Returning home with mixed feelings, he bumps into Rowan Harper, a delicious woman who joined their Circle a few years after he was deployed. With his mother playing matchmaker and his brain finding it difficult to return to civilian life, Kaiden has more than enough on his plate without the fierce attraction he instantly feels for Rowan. Kind and patient, she’s everything he could imagine, but despite the festive season, there are some things he just can’t let go of so easily.

I found this to be a romantic but realistic story. I really enjoyed how the author portrayed Kaiden. Equal parts grouchy and sensitive, it’s easy to see how his duty and job have twisted his emotions up inside. Rowan is definitely his equal. She comes across as patient and sweet, but knows when to tease him or make him laugh. She also is sympathetic enough and understands — as much as a civilian can, at least — that life isn’t simple for Kaiden. I really liked how her thoughtfulness explained to me as a reader exactly what Kaiden seemed to be going through, physically back home but still mentally and emotionally caught back in the war. It’s a description that made me understand in a few simple sentences exactly what was going on and made the story much richer to me for it.

The author has done an excellent job of writing the slow burning chemistry between Rowan and Kaiden. I liked how neither jumped immediately on the other – even though Kaiden’s mother had been slowly sowing the seeds of setting them up for years. I felt like the slow progress Kaiden and Rowan made really helped show how compatible they were, and how well they could fit together, despite Kaiden being unsure and Rowan not wanting to have her life meddled with. I enjoyed the romance blossom between them, and although I was eager to get to them really physically showing their affection, I couldn’t fault the pace, as it was so clearly what Kaiden especially needed.

While I found the pagan religious aspects to the story well written and not “in your face”, readers should be aware there is a very strong thread of plot through the entire story based around the Yule rituals, the Circle and even mention of the Skyclad parts of this religion. Personally, I found they deepened the story and were well-connected to Kaiden, his parents and the role paganism has in his and Rowan’s life. I didn’t feel as if it was pushed down my throat, but readers who might find the strong themes of paganism offensive may way to consider it before reading the book.

I found this to be a wonderfully emotional, romantic story with a smoking hot sex scene. I loved the strong, complex and deeply layered characters of both Kaiden and Rowan, and found Kaiden’s parents to be great secondary characters. With a blissfully happy ending I feel this should have something to satisfy everyone. A great story I thoroughly enjoyed.

The Christmas Top by Christi Snow

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The Christmas Top by Christi Snow
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (28 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

All he wants for Christmas…

It’s time for Mark Cummins to come out of the closet. He’s ready, but he’s never been topped. Asking Madame Eve for the one-night stand of his fantasies, he hopes she can grant his Christmas wish.

He’s a less-than-merry gentleman…

Jason Wieland’s life partner died in a horrific hate crime two years before and he hasn’t taken a lover since. He knows it’s time, and he reaches out to the 1Night Stand dating service to find the right man to light up his holiday. But when masculine, sexy, and extremely straight Mark shows up, he doesn’t know what to do.

Is this 1Night Stand a cruel joke or has Madame Eve truly worked Christmas magic?

Jason is having second thoughts. He’s let his good friend, Molly, convince him that a night in a lavish Vegas hotel – and a one night stand – is a good idea. It’s been two years since his partner was killed, and Jason hasn’t been with anyone since then. Mark is ready to finally live out his fantasy. Having only recently come out to a small number of people, Mark is still incredibly nervous about his sexual orientation. But both Mark and Jason are in for a few surprises, and a very Merry Christmas.

There was a small twist at the start that took me totally by surprise. It was an excellent way to add tension to this short story without detracting either from the sexy romance of it or feel too clichéd. I thought it really helped to add an edge between Jason and Mark too. Despite Jason’s (well founded) reservations, the two men quickly end up in bed and I found the sex between them scorching hot. The sex scene is erotic and of a good length, especially considering how short the story is. But I would have loved more of it. A follow-up sex scene, or even the hinted at BDSM scene – something after the emotional resolution would have rounded this story out perfectly to my mind.

I really enjoyed how the author gave a good amount of plot for this short story. This wasn’t all about the sex, but also about a real hurt in Jason’s past, and a big decision for Mark’s present and future. There wasn’t just a few throwaway lines here, but what I thought was a good, solid amount of plot. The characters were also real and complicated. Die-hard romantics should be warned there is a Happy For Now ending – but personally I feel there is definitely a positive spin to the conclusion and only the most hard-core Happily Ever After readers could find fault with it.

Overall I really enjoyed the short story. While a bit more sex would have been icing on the cake, this was a good, strong story and I’ll happily read more of Ms Snow’s work. Recommended.

Stroke Of Midnight by Kelli Scott

MIDNGIHT
Stroke Of Midnight by Kelli Scott
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (54 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Play
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Marley Arbuckle is looking for a little payback, closure, and a boost to her confidence after being cheated on by her fiancé—not necessarily in that order. Choosing a 1Night Stand date in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve to exact her revenge, she’s planned the affair down to her perfectly styled hair and every last manicured fingernail and pedicured toenail. But what she didn’t count on was meeting Ian O’Keefe.

Ian has his own dark reasons for contacting Madame Evangeline for a no-strings-attached night of desire with a beautiful stranger. He’s got something to prove to himself and a long road to recovery after losing his wife. His redemption may begin with Marley, but can she teach him to love again?

Marley Arbuckle is on a mission. Instead of being a new bride for the New Year – to the man she’d dated since college, no less – she was going to a New Year’s party all alone and woefeully jilted. A day at the spa, primping and being glamourized to the point she hardly knew herself, Marley is determined to enjoy the party and her one night stand. This will get her back on track, she’s certain. Besides, what happens in Vegas, stayed in Vegas. Ian O’Keefe is also trying to mend his broken heart. With strict instructions to “Wow” Marley he’s both nervous and expectant of a wonderful evening.

I really enjoyed the characterization of both Marley and Ian. The author did an awesome job of making them both realistic, vulnerable and interesting all at once. There’s a nice amount of “getting to know you” before Marley and Ian jump into bed. While I was eager for the one night stand to begin, it was well worth the waiting, and felt a lot more intimate to me knowing more about each of the characters and how they came to use the services of Madame Eve. The sex is hotly written and while I felt it shorter than I would have hoped for, it certainly packed a punch.

Readers will likely enjoy how even when the sex is over, both Marley and Ian stick together. This is no wham-bam-thank you-ma’am one night stand, but grows quickly into something far more fulfilling. I feel the author has done an amazing job with the chemistry between Marley and Ian. Their connection is believable, even for two recently seriously hurt people. I enjoyed the mixture of them convincing themselves one minute that this was only a one night stand, then the next instant asking cat or dog preferences. The chemistry and connection felt real to me – and that glosses over any realism concerns I entertained of the emotional danger of trying to turn a one night, no strings fling into something more. The romantic in me closed my eyes to reality and enjoyed being swept away by the story.

A great novel with strong characterization I really enjoyed this story. It has a Happy For Now ending with a strong romantic link and the promise for more. I found it had a good mixture of hot sex and time for the characters to get to know each other. This is a good read I can strongly recommend for most romance readers.