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.

Bear Hugs by SA Welsh

BEAR
Bear Hugs by SA Welsh
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (93 pgs)
Other: M/M, M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Cage has finally had enough of Rob’s hot and cold routine. The flirting one minute and avoiding him the next is getting old, so he drives up to Rob’s cabin to demand answers. Except the ones he finds aren’t the ones he expected, and he isn’t sure what to do with them. That’s when things get hairy…literally.

Rob is a shifter. He and Cage are from two different worlds, and he doesn’t stand a chance at being more than friends with the cute human. Unfortunately his bear won’t take no for an answer and keeps insisting Cage is theirs. He escapes to his cabin hideaway to think—when Cage shows up, hammering on his door, Rob can’t resist any longer.

When Rob is caught unawares by a hunter, things almost end before they really begin, but a wolf jumps into the fray, and the tenuous relationship between Cage and Rob gets pushed to the breaking point. Noah is a wolf shifter hunting his sister’s killer, but on the trail he unexpectedly scents his mates. The only problem is they are already a couple and might not have room for one lonely wolf.

This may be a quick story but it is full of emotions and will pull on your heart strings at times. This story gives us three men and three different lives that all become intertwined. Can a friendship turn into something more? When you add in a total stranger to the mix just what will happen? Cage is a human and is quickly thrust into the world of shifters. When he finds out the secret Rob has been keeping will he take it all in or will he run? Can their friendship withstand it all or are they doomed from the start? Will the two men accept a stranger who claims to be theirs?

I was totally lost in this story from the start. Each of the men in this story endeared themselves to this reader almost immediately. I could not help but feel each ones plight and emotions. Cage knows nothing of the world Rob lives in but is more than happy to trust Rob and accept what comes their way and Noah is what comes their way. I loved the way these three interacted and easily cared for each other. Their connection may happen quickly but it runs deep. I loved seeing the way they each cared for each other and wanted to fix things for the others. Their bond is strong and as hot as they get in or out of the bedroom the love that they have shines through in everything that they do. They each have their crosses to bear but Noah seemed to need the most reassurance and made the strongest impression on me. I just wanted to hold him and make everything alright.

This book moves at a quick pace and keeps you interested all the way to the end and more. I was quickly pulled in and did not want to leave. I hope that this is not the last time this author brings readers to this world.

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For a Dragon’s Treasure by Charlie Richards

DRAGONS
For a Dragon’s Treasure by Charlie Richards
Publisher: Extasy Books
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (105 pages)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Lisianthus

Two men. One wants to earn the treasure. The other wants to prove what treasure really is.

Thom McDoffrey is shocked when he’s waylaid outside camp by Kaiser, the strange warrior he’d fought a few nights before. He listens as Kaiser speaks of treasure and adventure and freedom. Being the youngest son of a known thief, Thom has worked diligently to live honorably, choosing the hard life of a mercenary in Chieftain Goth’s employ. This, however, is an opportunity too good to pass up. Especially when Kaiser promises that the treasure would be freely given, because the owner needs a boon. Giving in to temptation, Thom agrees. Upon arriving in Karstelle Valley, Thom discovers that he is the boon…Kaiser completing the favor of bringing a human to a dragon. Feeling betrayed, Thom flees. When the dragon tracks him down, will Thom give in to curiosity, see why the dragon wants him, or keep running?

Tricked into being the treasure delivered to a dragon, Thom is both curious and a bit afraid of the dragon and his big teeth. I really liked Thom, he’s made more out of his life than the cards dealt him as the son of a thief. This is a shorter tale, and part of an already established, but other than mentioning past characters it was easy to follow what was going on.

The dragon, Glarzy, was an interesting character. He obviously was attracted to Thom and was willing and ready to worship him.

Unfortunately Thom is a bit overwhelmed and has never been with a man, though he has been attracted to them before. It’s an interesting idea, and I think it works because Thom does mentally acknowledge his attraction to men before he meets Glarzy, so it’s not just Glarzy although he is the one that Thom acts with.

I really enjoyed the idea of dragons living in the highlands, so I got my kilt wearing hero with the added benefit of the paranormal dragon hero. I easily fell into the story, and it was a great little fix of good storytelling and I definitely recommend it for a fast read that left me satisfied.

Betrayed by Dragons by Caitlin Ricci

DRAGONS
Betrayed by Dragons by Caitlin Ricci
For Love of Dragons 2
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (121 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

What price would you pay to save the life of someone you loved?

High in the mountains, Isabelle Falcone is able to watch her brother’s health slowly improve each day. But she can never forget the price she will have to pay for his life. Now she’s found love with a man that is much more than he appears and a simple bargain is turning into something far more complicated. She’s strong enough to pay the devil his price, she’s proven that already. But will the broken pieces of her soul be enough to walk away with when he’s done with her?

Isabelle’s need to protect her brother no matter the cost to herself is remarkable and demonstrates a selflessness that is heroic. Yet, some may say it is completely naive since she puts her brother and her life in danger by entering the den of the dragons, but with no other choice she must do what is necessary at all costs.

I found following the story a bit challenging at times including the very beginning because I did not have the pleasure of reading the first installment of this series. It was clear that this story picked up where the first ended, which left me a bit disoriented. I would definitely recommend reading the first story first. When I started to read further I was able to place some pieces which helped me to catch up and enjoy this story.

Faolan is a complete conundrum to me, and I liked it. Maybe it is because I did not read the first story, but I have a feeling his character is so complex even if I had read it I would still not understand him on some levels. Since he is a dragon shifter this added to the excitement of his character. It is clear that he is waging an internal battle within himself as to what his father expects, his people, himself, as well as Isabella whom he has grown to care for. I really enjoy these multiple layers of his character and look forward to learning more.

While I enjoyed the relationship development with Faolan and Isabella there are some aspects I still found puzzling at times. It seems to me that many things remain unresolved and almost impossible to resolve, especially the differences in their lives since dragon shifters are raised and live so differently compared to humans. Even in the end I had to question if these two would ever truly have a happy ever after, but I certainly want to continue to read the series to find out.

The dynamic plotlines within this story really sold it for me. Isabella and Faolan have a many challenges they must face both together as well as separately. Both have pressure from their families, each other, as well as still trying to figure out their own way through life. It made me truly root for them both as individuals as well as a couple. When I finished reading the story I immediately wanted to get to the next to find out if they can truly work past everything and achieve the happy ending they so deserve.

Bride of Death By Viola Grace

DETH
Bride of Death By Viola Grace
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (56 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Prepared to die for her people, she is ready for a fight, but what she gets is an imprisonment that evolves into something unexpected.

Saloa is in charge of the last group of guards for her people. They were unable to join the exodus that took their people away from their home, but they are prepared to die for their home.

General Hinlior was ready to fight an entire city but only sixteen armoured warriors were waiting for him. He disabled them and the medic’s scan showed the surprising discovery of a Life Bringer in the mix. One breedable female is found, and it is reason for excitement among their people.

If only he had known that Saloa was a hand-to-hand combat specialist, he might just have thought twice before separating her from the other prisoners.

The Prothean’s have fled their world after a message arrives to warn them they are trespassing and the Death Bringers will be coming to Laksiira to cleanse the surface of their presence. In an attempt to stop the Death Bringers from following the colonists, Saloa Winger and fifteen colony guards are all that is left to fight the enemy. A hopeless task.

General Hinlior, leader of the Death Bringers, is surprised there are only sixteen defendants of the planet. He knocks the guards unconscious and imprisons them on his ship. Another surprise awaits him when he finds one of the guards is a female, what Hinlior’s people call a Life Bringer. Saloa is treated with respect and discovers only certain males are considered suitable for breeding purposes, due to the fact there are not enough females and Hinlior’s people are a dying breed.

Both main characters are feisty and Saloa has a mind of her own when told of the laws of the Anvin. She is inwardly amused as the Anvin are obviously not conversant with the breeding requirements of her own people.

This story made very enjoyable reading. Individual in style, the plot leads the reader to a well thought out conflict Saloa and Hinlior add a touch of amusement to the tale. A good meeting of two races at odds with each other, and the discovery they can help one another if they wish, but each race must make the other believe they are in earnest when offers of friendship are made.

Ms Grace has a way with short Sci-Fi Fairy Tales and I’d be happy to read more of her work.

Delta Blues by Ellen Cross

BLUES
Delta Blues by Ellen Cross
Publisher: Extasy Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (101 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lisianthus

In a World where the Alpha are the law, Beta the order, and Omega the knowledge…the Delta have become the oppressed.

The night of Samhain is fast approaching, and for that one night a year, Gray and the last remaining Dire Wolves—amongst others—are entrusted with the protection of the veil between worlds, while it’s at its thinnest. Add in the threat of a new drug on the market, and they’ll have to work twice as hard to keep everyone safe. The last thing he needs is a sexy little Delta to save.

As a lowly Delta, Red Wolf shifter Ryan has never known peace. Cast away and unwanted, he is quickly taken captive and trained as a dancer at The Howling, a strip club in the worst part of Praeter. Hungry, abused, and kept in a drug-induced fog, his life is nothing. He is nothing but the orders and twisted demands of his captor. All that changes when he catches the scent of a wolf in the crowd.

Long ebony hair, eyes that can’t decide if they’re green or blue as they follow him on stage. Unable to stop himself, Ryan does the one thing guaranteed to earn him punishment. He touches the other wolf. Peace. For those few brief moments, the hunger, the pain, the torment…all gone. The price to feel that respite again, though, could very well be his life.

A fascinating and new spin on the paranormal romance, Delta Blues was the one of the best shifter books I’ve read in awhile. Ryan has lived a life of abuse and captivity but just one moment with Gray and he’s willing to suffer any amount of punishment for just one more moment of peace with him.

Gray, is an Alpha wolf and a Dire wolf to boot, which means when he shifts he’s huge, and very much in charge. He saves Ryan and their mating and love story may be fast forwarded but I felt every moment with them. I really hope to read more in this world. This book does a great job setting up the rules of the world and introducing characters who might want to take that world down and reshape it into a better world.

Ryan is a Delta and definitely not the type of character who would normally be in charge in situations but the way Ryan charges in to save the man he loves. I really loved that amount of moxie, It really made Ryan someone I could easily root for.

Overall, this is a great new world and series that I hope to spend more time in. I highly recommend it for fans of unique and fun MM paranormal romance.

Fool’s Paradise by David Russell

PARADISE
Fool’s Paradise by David Russell
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Recent Historical
Length: Short Story (39 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

In the heyday of the Hippie Counterculture, Jim, a disaffected postgraduate, goes on a rural retreat in quest of his identity. He finds a cool alternative abode, which initiates in a bizarre relationship with the housemother, Celia, who turns out to be an undercover police officer, but also with dubious connections. Things develop, including a delicious one—off with Celia, and Jim is drawn towards the edges of nefarious activity. He ends up waiting for his Barrister, convinced he will clear him.

Jim Herrington has found himself wandering and hitchhiking across America, trying to find his place in the world after some difficulties in his Academic workplace. Staying at a cross between a commune and youth hostel, he struggles to fit into the alternative, volatile situation he finds himself in. Ceila, the “house mother” is a strange, mysterious woman prone to sudden changes of heart, yet Jim finds himself unaccountably attracted to her.

This is a slightly strange book, unlike most anything else I’ve read. Told in the first person in some ways it’s difficult to understand what’s going on, as we can only see things from Jim’s perspective and experience. Also, while much is alluded to throughout the story, I didn’t feel as if some things were very clearly explained, things like why – exactly – Jim found himself at this hostel, what he was running from and whether he was complicit in much of the drug trafficking and such. In some ways this felt to me like one of those “confessions of” stories, and while I did enjoy it, I spent most of the time mystified as to where the story was going, what was fully happening with the plot, and what the thrust of the plot really was. Despite this I wanted to understand, the author’s writing was quick, precise and interesting and so I continued to read in the hopes of illumination. While even upon completion I still didn’t get most of it, I didn’t feel as if I had wasted my time either, reading something completely alternative and refreshingly different.

There’s no traditional romance or erotica in this short story, the sex is held pretty much behind closed doors (there’s no graphic content to it, merely a build up to it and then declaration of the act having been performed) and while it’s clear the main relationship is between Jim and Celia, I didn’t personally find any romance between them. For an erotic short story this surprised me, but seemed to resonate with the first person, slightly disjointed, mysterious tone and presentation of the whole tale. I feel that readers who are looking for something completely outside the box and different might truly enjoy this, but readers wanting just a quick, sexy read mightn’t find what they’re looking for here.

A really different read, but still enjoyable.

The New Wolf by RJ Scott

WOLF
The New Wolf by RJ Scott
Publisher: Extasy Books
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (101 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Lisianthus

A dangerous lone wolf is intent on destroying the beginnings of a pack and when Connor is attacked and near death, there is only one thing that can save him. A wolf shifter’s bite.

After a hate crime leaves one of them near dead, Veterinarian, Josh Nolan and Cop, Connor Vincent are starting a new life in Black Creek, a remote town on the edge of the Adirondack State Park, Vermont.

Josh is taking over his grandfather’s practice and Connor settles into working in the sheriff’s office covering the area.

When Connor pieces together a whole list of unsolved crimes going back fifty years he puts his life, and that of his partners, in danger.

A dangerous lone wolf is intent on destroying the beginnings of a pack and when Connor is attacked and near death there is only one thing that can save him. A wolf shifter’s bite.

The New Wolf starts with an established relationship between Connor and Josh, which was a unique way to start a story. I’ll admit I was a bit confused at first and was worried that I had missed a previous book, but from there the story picked up and started dropping some pretty big hints on what’s really happening in Black Creek.

There were some aspects on how things were handled that I found a bit confusing, but I loved Josh and Connor. It was obvious that no matter what, it was Josh and Connor against the world. I will give Ms. Scott some major points for not making everyone just magically on board with all the changes happening.

It’s a quick read that had some technical issues, but the underlying story was well done. I do recommend it for the story and a chance to experience Josh and Connor.

For Art’s Sake by Kai Lu

ART
For Art’s Sake by Kai Lu
Publisher: eXtasy books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (42 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Play, Toys
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Clover

You can’t help with whom you fall in love; the heart’s not that easy.

Beautiful, 22 year old Amelia Fontaine tries to balance college, modeling, work at a dead-end job, and her dreams in Hollywood, but can’t seem to meet every demand, especially when the weight of her lovelife is thrown onto the scale. Will a seemingly too-good-to-be-true job advertisement —pinned to a coffee shop bulletin board—help her begin to make demands of her own?

When an artist’s model gets to touch the artist himself, things get very colorful!

Amelia responds to an advert requesting an artist’s model. She’s curious, intrigued and so she calls the number and arranges to meet the mysterious artist and, if they both find the other agreeable, proceed to work together.

When Amelia meets Daniel she is immediately drawn to his exotic looks and flamboyant personality. She suspects he’s a guy who know what he wants and gets it. Daniel on the other hand is surprised by Amelia’s lack of exoticness, but that doesn’t seem to stop him being keen to get to know her better – much better. Up-close-and-personal better!

For Art’s Sake isn’t a complex plot. It’s boy meets girl and they have wild sex. But Ms Ku does have a nice voice and her style of writing is easy to read. The story certainly bumps along at a great pace and before long you just know you’re going to get some serious heat burning from your page.

I liked Amelia and was keen to see her get her hands on Daniel, though to be fair his hands were pretty nifty too, bringing her many delighted moments. I enjoyed seeing them go wild for each other and getting to know every detail as they did so.

So why the 3 ½ stars instead of 4? Well, that’s for one line that pushed my ability to suspend disbelief. Things get seriously hot, as a reader I’m panting and whizzing through the pages and then this… ‘the handle of the brush was nearly a foot long and Daniel mercilessly slid it in further and further until the bristles themselves scarcely remained outside of her body’. That line is used during anal play and phew, maybe I’m a prude but a foot long brush up my butt… That just ain’t sexy. Perhaps some people love it, crave it, but not me. I always think it’s a good rule of thumb not to give exact measurements of cocks or sex toys in stories, that way the reader can choose their own size, in their head, everyone is different after all.

But I did enjoy the story and this shouldn’t put potential readers off if erotica is your thing, and I would read more by this author.