Falling Star Valentine by E. D. Parr


Falling Star Valentine by E. D. Parr
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Fashion photographer Dale Walker takes a train to his hometown, relocating there after nursing a broken heart for six months in another city. His train makes an unscheduled stop to take on a mysterious passenger.

For a long time, Valentine Steel has hoped to meet a man who will love him. When he sees Dale on the train, he’s overjoyed to find a vacant seat beside him.

Dale’s immediate attraction to Valentine has him on edge. He doesn’t want another broken heart, and yet Valentine is so magnetic that Dale’s frozen heart begins to thaw.

Valentine sets out to charm and capture Dale in his sparkling aura. He can’t let the chance to have Dale’s love slip away.

After a nasty break up, Dale is alone for Valentine’s day and has had enough. Determined to quit his moping and refusing to spend the lover’s holiday pining for his ex, Dale decides to leave the city. On the train, he meets a handsome stranger, Valentine Steel. Can these two men be exactly what the other needs?

This is an interesting short story to my mind. I was a little confused until right at the end about the mystery surrounding Valentine – his back-story is where the paranormal element comes into the plotline. Despite the fact most of the plot remains mysterious until the end of the story, I found it refreshingly unique – Valentine’s character and his “quest”. My confusion didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the story, though I would have liked to have understood the subtleties a little earlier on so I could enjoy the growing relationship between Dale and Valentine.

I felt the characters were well written. Dale is a fairly typical man and hero, unlucky in love and wanting to find his soul mate. Valentine, despite some of the mystery surrounding him was also interesting and I enjoyed reading about him trying to woo Dale and fall in love with each other. While there is plenty of steamy sex I didn’t find any aspect of the M/M relationship too envelope pushing. Readers who like a bit of spice with their romance should find this a fun and sexy read.

With a different plotline and two very interesting characters I found this to be a great read. While I would have liked the paranormal aspect of the plot to be a little less mysterious this is a fun and deliciously short read that has plenty of spice and romance.

Mating Heat by Jenika Snow


Mating Heat by Jenika Snow
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (46 pgs)
Other: M/F/M, Menage, Spanking, Anal Play
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Every shifter female goes through their mating heat, a time when they are most fertile, irresistible to the opposite sex, and unable to control their desires. It is a twenty-four hour period of intense need, and uncontrollable sexual appetites.

And I was that wolf-shifting female that just came into her mating heat.

But the two males I wanted to help ease me from this arousal-induced delirium, had never given me a second glance. Chase and Xavier, bear shifters, and leaders of our community’s security detail, are powerful and influential, and the ones I want…servicing me.

When they offer to help me out in the way I desperately need, I don’t know if it’s because I’m irresistible during this time, or because they want me for the female I am…the one that’s been in love with them since before I knew what the emotion was.

When Ophelia wakes up in her mating heat, she knows she’s in for a very rough twenty-four hours. Although having non-stop, unprotected sex with any male shifter would satisfy the lust overwhelming her, Ophelia only wants two men – Xavier and Chase. While Xavier, Chase and Ophelia had known each other for years, Ophelia is a wolf and both Xavier and Chase were were-bears. Can the three of them make it through Ophelia’s mating heat with their friendship – and maybe a new relationship – intact?

This is a super short but very sexy read. Although the two men are bear-shifters and Ophelia a werewolf, they all live together in a multi-shifter community that’s quite open and accepting. Obviously, the main thrust of the plot surrounds Ophelia going through her first mating heat – a twenty four hour period where she’s completely irresistible to all shifter men and where her heat can only be eased by the seed of her lover(s). Although I didn’t personally find the plot-device of her heat itself very sexy (it felt a little too close to metaphysically forcing the sex into the plot and onto practically any shifter male) the characters of Ophelia, Chase and Xavier were interesting and well written, and as they became intimate their chemistry and connection helped make the situation feel a lot sexier to me.

Some of the conversation felt a little stilted to me, I think because of the shifter-style of speech. Like how the guys sometimes called Ophelia “female” (for example: “Come here, female”), this didn’t feel or read as sexy to me. While I can understand the different pattern of speech could very well just be their style when in lust – it felt a little dispassionate to me; as if it didn’t matter that it was Ophelia herself the boys were having sex with, but any “female” in heat would have been just as good. It also read a little weird to me just how much Xavier and Chase did together at the same time, in multiple places they’d speak in unison, or do the exact same thing simultaneously. It made me feel a little like they were the one person in two bodies and that there was a special link or bond between them (and if this was so – why wasn’t this story written as a M/M instead?). While none of these issues individually detracted from the story, all rolled together it meant that there were a number of times while I read that I had to pause, either to remind myself that the different speech could be seen as shifter-ish or just take a breath to get back into the story. These things made the read a bit jolting to my experience and I usually prefer simply inhaling a wonderful shifter story, not being taken out of the moment by small twinges like this.

I really enjoyed the ménage relationship that built between Ophelia, Xavier and Chase. After “the talk” and they were all on the same page the love and lust binding the three of them together was lovely to read about and it was a pleasure to see their relationship bloom and grow. A steamy double penetration sex scene just rounded the story out wonderfully.

A hot and sexy ménage story that was good fun to read.

I Wish For Your Kiss by Cynthia Moore


I Wish For Your Kiss by Cynthia Moore
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Holiday
Length: Short Story (69 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Justin Wexley, Marquess of Rockton has decided he doesn’t want to be married. He has come to this conclusion after many uncomfortable experiences with young women who were thrust upon him by their domineering mothers as possible candidates for the position of his future wife and Marchioness. He is tired of discussing the weather with these silly, nitwitted girls. He is perfectly happy taking care of his large estate with the knowledge that one day his cousin, a smart and diligent young man, will one day inherit his title and property.

Miss Catherine Simms arrives at her friend’s home in the country to celebrate Christmas with her and her family. She discovers that the Marquess of Rockton has also been included in the invitation. Catherine has heard the rumors about Lord Rockton’s aversion to marriage. She finds him to be intelligent as well as handsome and greatly enjoys the time spent with him. Regrettably, they part under less than ideal circumstances on Christmas day.

Fate works its magic and the two of them meet again two years later. Can Justin and Catherine forget about their less than ideal experiences from the past and begin to make lovely, happy moments together in the present?

Justin Wexley – the Marquess of Rockton – was spending the Christmas holidays with his friend from Eton – Edward Teague, the Earl of Norton. Justin was surprised at how another guest – Miss Catherine Simms, a childhood friend of the Earl’s wife – somehow managed to flummox him. Finding the vibrant and engaging young woman constantly on his mind, Justin is uncertain if his previously held notions on remaining unmarried might have been a little precipitous. Can Justin and Catherine both get their fondest wish for Christmas?

This is a very different and oddly interesting Regency romance story. Far from the usual tales of ballrooms and dalliances, discreet affairs or sneaking around the corridors at a house party, I really enjoyed how both Justin and Catherine came to Edward and Mary’s home to celebrate Christmas quietly with their respective friends. Also refreshingly I loved how neither Edward nor Mary tried to set up Catherine and Justin. In many respects I found this a really different, fresh perspective on a Regency story.

I enjoyed how Catherine was quite knowledgeable on many topics – architecture and farming, as well as general court and ton style gossip – but didn’t appear overly bookish or like a know-it-all. I have to admit that although the author gave an exceptional explanation as to why Catherine was so knowledgeable about farming practices, it still felt a little unrealistic to me. Women – even avid readers who were single children and close to their parents – were kept strictly kept away from the “men’s business” of things like agriculture and farming. Also, far more selfishly, while it was lovely to see Catherine talk so knowingly on such a variety of subjects, the number of pages talking about farming and such did grow old for me quite quickly. I enjoyed seeing Catherine charm Justin in such a novel way, and it absolutely proved how strong their connection was and gave a really good basis for them emotional connection and a strong basis for their chemistry, but it struck me as just a little far-fetched.

I greatly enjoyed all four main characters. I liked how there were layers to them and how all the usual traps of a Regency Romance weren’t really present here. I felt this was a fresh take on a Regency Christmas story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I also enjoyed how the conflict, while not completely original, nevertheless didn’t feel stilted to me and wasn’t the dreaded “we had a miscommunication and parted angry” style of play that’s massively overused to my mind. Perfectly sweet, there are a few chaste kisses, but I found all other romance is kept inside the interactions between the characters and in the chemistry that builds slowly but wonderfully between Catherine and Justin.

A sweet and wonderful Regency Christmas short story, I found this a lovely tale with great characters and tons of plot. A brilliant story.

Talk Of The Town by Caitlin Ricci


Talk Of The Town by Caitlin Ricci
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (35 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

After ending an abusive relationship, Julian comes back home to live with his parents and his son in a small town. Life is simple, and he’s happy about that. When he delivers groceries to Garrett he finds a grumpy blind man who just wants to be left alone, but they form a fast friendship with the promise of more.

After finally leaving his abusive ex-husband, Julien is moving himself and his four year old son, Joey, for the last time. They’re settling in Colorado and Julien is determined for them both to finally set some roots down. Can this be the fresh start both Julien and Joey really need?

This is a lovely, sweet romance about starting again and the struggles of returning home when life hasn’t turned out the way you expected. I was a little disappointed that a whole lot of the romance plot was wound up just in the last couple of pages. After such a lovely, slow, long lead up to Julien and Garrett getting together it really felt as if the relationship, unburdening themselves of their past and everything happened far too quickly – all in a rush in a couple of pages.

Readers looking for an erotic story might find this lacking in that department. There is only one intimate scene and considering the current market for erotic romance it’s very chaste (a few kisses and a little oral sex). Indeed, most of the actual sex happens completely off screen and aside from that one very brief scene this could certainly be a sweet/traditional style of M/M romance (ie not erotic or explicit at all). While I was quite happy with this – sometimes it’s glorious to read a slower paced, sensual, character-driven romance story – readers looking for an erotic story might be quite disappointed.

Most of the story though was delightful. I found it to be really rich with the characters, complicated and interesting people I enjoyed getting to know. I loved the small town feel of the story and how Julien was determined to do his best by his son but also get their new life off on the right foot. Even though the story was short I didn’t feel as if anything (except the ending) was skimped over or rushed. The slow, easy pace felt perfect to me for a small-town, character-driven story.

Full of interesting and well-written characters, with a great plot and plenty of romantic build-up, I really enjoyed this short story.

Rael by Colleen S. Myers


Rael by Colleen S. Myers
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (22 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Sixteen-year-old Rael, the Avaresh Prince survives the E’mani attack, but his sister is taken. Rael will do anything to get her back. Will he get to her in time or will he fail, just as his father predicts?

Rael’s people, the Avaresh, are generally peaceful. But their government knows to plan for all eventualities. So when they come under attack, Rael knows his duties – to protect the children. Can Rael do rise to the challenge when disaster strikes?

This is an interesting, very short story. There are a number of new words and a whole new universe all introduced in this snippet of a story. I found it a little overwhelming – a lot of information and explanation in a very short space. Although there is definitely action – the scene opens with an attack, which I feel was a great way to draw in the reader – I really feel that the shortness of the story just didn’t allow the author to really expand and show the reader the richness and depth of this new world. After reading through the story twice I had a much deeper appreciation for the author’s imagination and her way of managing to infuse action, treachery and a sort of hero’s awakening into such a quick story.

Readers should be aware that I feel this is a pure Sci-Fi style of story. There is no romance — not even a heroine really — just Rael as the main male protagonist. There also to my mind is not a happy ending. Bittersweet and heroic, yes, but not a happy ending in the traditional sense at all. While I feel this will appeal to readers who like quirky stories or darker endings – readers used to everything turning out well (either Happy Ever After or even Happy For Now) might not find this ending satisfying.

I greatly enjoyed Rael’s character – at seventeen he was almost a fully grown male and his love for his little sister was deep and really struck me as true. I did appreciate how the author crammed a whole lot of action, intrigue and danger into such a short story, but this really felt like an extract of a longer-length story. I was left not really knowing clearly what happened next, or how the events in this story unfolded right after where the ending left off. Add onto that the bittersweet, not-happy resolution and I felt a little down when I’d finished reading this story and normally that’s not how I like to finish on a book I read.

The characters, action and plot were excellent. I enjoyed the Sci-Fi aspect of this new world and I’d certainly be willing to give this author another chance. I’d pick up another of her stories again.

Just Friends by Stacy Gold


Just Friends by Stacy Gold
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (58 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Taya Monroe is trying to pick up the pieces of her failed writing career and broken life after walking out on her cheating fiancé. The last thing she needs is a serious relationship. The last thing she wants is a fling. Then she runs into an old friend and ski partner—the one man she always wanted who never wanted her.

Ski Patroller Jordan Wiley is a single dad with zero time or energy for dating. When he reconnects with Taya, his attraction to her is even stronger than before she left him behind for a career in the city. But with a young son to think about, he’s determined to ignore his feelings. Again.

After a magical day on the slopes, a snow storm traps them in an avalanche of chemistry neither can deny. Will their friendship survive the weight of their passion or will they surface as more than friends?

Taya bumps into her old friend, Jordan, on the ski slopes. Years ago, after a tequila-fueled kiss, they’d both decided it was better to stay friends, though neither of them really believed that in their heart. Can this be the second chance they both hoped for?

I’m always a sucker for friends-turned-to-lovers styles of story and this one was a good example of it. I felt Taya and Jordan had a good, easy friendship even though they hadn’t seen each other in years and I liked the spark of their chemistry right from the start. It also helped make their interest in each other seem more genuine and believable.

Readers who enjoy a slow-build up to their romance should find this story very satisfying. I enjoyed how neither Taya nor Jordan just jumped immediately into bed after meeting up again. They’d each grown in the eight years they hadn’t seen each other and I loved watching them learn about each other again – the good and the bad. They’d both suffered disappointments, both experienced life, and while still themselves were each different to the kids they’d been when they’d last been close. I really relished learning about their characters and seeing them interact outside the bedroom before they got sexy with each other.

With a lovely Happy For Now style of ending I felt this romance story ticks a lot of the right boxes. I could definitely see the potential for a sequel/future story and while readers who prefer their endings to be Happy Ever After, I feel this is a more modern – and realistic – ending for where Taya and Jordan are in their lives right now. With strong characters and a lot of sizzling chemistry, this is a good read that I enjoyed.

Couples Therapy by Ryver James


Couples Therapy by Ryver James
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (78 pgs)
Other: M/F, Voyeurism
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Pleasure Isles is a dream come true for good-girl Keily Samuels, and she desperately needs an influx of cash to keep the B&B afloat. But reservations are slim, and the odds of getting a bank loan are even slimmer. When a drool-worthy, wealthy entrepreneur offers her enough money to keep her dream alive in exchange for weekend of sexual submission, she’s between a rock and a really hard place.

Landon Marx has wanted Keily since the first time he saw her at a hotel in Dallas. Having tracked her to Pleasures Isles, he’s reserved the entire B&B for a relaxing weekend of seduction, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get the elusive beauty right where he wants her.

But Pleasure Isles isn’t a normal B&B. There’s more cooking behind the scenes than bacon and eggs, and checkout time is about more than settling the bill.

Kiely is trying to keep her B&B “Pleasure Isles” afloat. Landon Marks has hired all four guest bedrooms for the weekend and is determined to make Kiely his. When he offers her an astounding amount of money for the pleasure of her company for the weekend, she’s too tempted to refuse. Can they each get what they really want from the time they spend together?

This is a spicy romance that reminded me a little of the older-style romances I read in my youth. The slightly reluctant heroine, the over-the-top bargain made by the hero and a shared weekend of spicy passion. While clearly a modern story I found it had many of the hallmarks of a vintage spicy romance novel. I feel Landon offering a huge amount of money to Kiely for a weekend of her time might be somewhat polarising for readers – while clearly tempting to Kiely who desperately needs the money to keep her business afloat, the deal left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as it felt a little out-dated as a plot device. Having said that, there is an interesting twist at the end of the story – one that wasn’t surprising but did fit in well with the storyline to my mind. This twist turned much of the story on its head and readers who finish the entire story may find at the end that their initial thoughts have changed, which was extremely interesting for me as a reader.

There were a few small plot holes in the first half of the story, but again I found everything made sense right at the end. This story was slightly different from many others in that instead of having small things explained through the story the reader needs to get literally to the last chapter or so before everything all clicks together.

I also found a few editorial errors also jarred me from the story (a repeated sentence at the bottom of page 5, speech brackets when there was no dialogue etc) but overall the slow pace of the author’s writing was good and I found it easy to follow along with the story. Readers looking for a story about a handsome, rich man going after the woman he can’t get out of his head should be satisfied with this spicy story. Kiely might see this as a sexy fling and a cure to her money woes, but Landon – egotistical as he might be – clearly desires and yearns for Kiely.

While I took a while to warm up to the story and the characters, in the end this really was a good, solid story. It’s a rare type of book that I will probably enjoy reading more the second time around – now I know the twists I will be better able to appreciate the curves the story throws. An interesting and slightly different story, this was a good read.

Three New Wishes by Sean Michael


Three New Wishes by Sean Michael
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (217 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Toys, Fisting, Spanking
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Come to Rainbow Island, where all your sexual fantasies will come true.

James, Guard and Damien continue to grant the sexual fantasies of their clients, but so far have been unable to make Rainbow Island work for their own relationship. Damien misses being home more often with his lovers, though, and Guard has been working on breaking down James’ defences. As the men move from one week to three week stays for their guests, can they finally make their own fantasies come true, too?

As always, three different fantasies are granted through Rainbow Island.

Tim is rich and bored now that he’s sold all his companies. A sometimes sub for the occasional evening, he’s searching for something more. He’s seen ‘lifestyle’ subs who indulge 24/7 and he’s curious to see if it really works. Full time Dom Rainier is brought in to give Tim the experience he’s been looking for. But Rainier has a secret – he’s been watching Tim in the club for years, just waiting for Tim to get serious before making his move. Can these two men find what they need in each other?

Mike has been hired to be a submissive for three weeks. He doesn’t know that much about the lifestyle, but has been assured that he won’t be damaged and that he can stop the proceedings at any time. He figures he can handle it, besides, the payday is too good to give up and will keep him off the street and fed for a long time. Dom Brendan is handsome and confident and the things he shows Mike have Mike more than a little turned on; in fact, they speak to something deep inside him. Could he have found something more than just another job in Brendan?

Angus and Robbie are a committed Dom/sub pair who want to spice things up a little and see if Puppy Play is for them. They’re excited and nervous to learn this new aspect from Sam, the puppy master that Rainbow Island has brought in to show them the ropes. They discover there’s more to puppy play than they’d imagined and not all of it is for them. Can they separate what they need from what they want and come out stronger than ever in the end?

Don’t miss out on these three new fantasies come true.

James, Guard and Damien are a trio who run Rainbow Island and help fulfill their clients’ deepest fantasies. Timothy was utterly bored. He had dabbled in being a submissive and after a very long time was ready to at least try out entering the lifestyle fulltime. Master Rain had been watching Tim, wanting far more than Tim’s usual “single scene and move on” style. So when Rain finds that Tim is willing to have the fantasy of something more lasting, Rain can hardly believe his luck. Mike was dirt poor, so when he was offered the opportunity of three weeks “working” on a private island and to be paid for it, he had no qualms about accepting the job. Mike had zero experience as a sub – barely even knowing what BDSM even really meant – but for three weeks on a sandy beach plus a generous wage, he was willing to take some risks. Brendan’s fantasy is to play with someone completely new to the lifestyle – no artifice, no mind-games, no preconceived notions. Can Brendan entice Mike into the lifestyle? Angus and Robbie had been together for a decade and were blissfully happy. They’ve decided to try out the fantasy of puppy play in the safety of the island. Can they both find satisfaction from this?

While this is the third book in the Rainbow Island series almost all the book is focused on the three different fantasies being fulfilled. In that sense this story is very nearly a stand-alone book and can be read without any prior knowledge of anything. Only the very first few pages – and last few – give some much awaited (by me, at least!) closure for James, Guard and Damien’s ménage. I found it utterly wonderful to finally see the three men work things out. For these few pages readers who haven’t read the previous two books will still be able to understand what is happening – but these scenes will certainly mean a whole lot more to those who have been following the relationship between James, Guard and Damien. I must strongly emphasize though, that this trio – and the story arc over the three Rainbow Island books – is a handful of pages. The vast majority of this story are three stand-alone fantasy-fulfillment stories and can certainly be read without prior knowledge – so I feel readers absolutely shouldn’t be put off by the fact this is “book 3”.

I really loved how while Tim deep down was a submissive, he was a strong willed and deeply intelligent man. At a few points initially Tim didn’t even seem completely certain he was a “real” sub as many of his instincts were to analyse everything, to be in control and to be very intellectual in his approach to things. I felt that Rain was the perfect match for him – willing to be tender and slow – but hot and firm where needed. I felt Tim and Rain were both well matched and not the traditional stereotypes of a Dom and sub pairing. I thought this story was fresh and interesting and a lovely look on how diverse people in the lifestyle can be.

I loved the slow build-up of chemistry between Mike and Brendan. I enjoyed how Mike really only had a lay-person sort of understanding about the BDSM lifestyle, but he wasn’t body-shy or virginal in his reactions to sex. It actually read to me like a refreshing change – Mike was open minded about new experiences and Brendan was happy and eager to teach him new things. Mike and Brendan exploring each other – and learning together sexually – was quite delightful to read.

Angus and Robbie were a wonderful and committed BDSM-lifestyle couple. I’ve not read much about puppy play really, so I was extremely pleased that the scene was moved through slowly. Since Angus and Robbie are new and learning the ropes this made it much easier for me – a novice – to follow along and understand both what puppy play is and how it’s conducted. While I feel certain this type of fantasy and role-play won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I strongly feel that it was written in a consensual, loving and kind manner. So I think most readers who are either curious – or simply have an open mind – shouldn’t find anything offensive or too strange in here.

There were a few typo’s through the story (a “Rand” instead of a “Rain” and “warm” instead of “warn” etc) and while I did find that a little jarring it wasn’t bad – or frequent – enough to actually drag me out of the story.

Overall this was an excellent read, with three short stories and a lovely bit of closure for Guard, James and Damien. A lovely book and one I will happily reread again in the future.

Bringing Nicky Home by Sean Michael


Bringing Nicky Home by Sean Michael
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (190 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Can the magic Whip and Nicky found at the Gay Riders’ Carnivale continue when they return to their regular lives?

With the Gay Riders’ Carnivale over, Whip brings Nicky home with him to his converted warehouse condo in Ottawa with the hopes that what they started at the Carnivale will grow into something they can both live with forever.

All is going well, the two of them learning more about each other and playing hard between Whip’s returning to work as an EMT and Nicky finding a job at a coffee shop.

When Nicky’s former master, the abusive Dirk, steps back into Nicky’s life, it threatens their very lives.

Can Whip and Nicky survive both real life and Dirk?

Whip and Nicky had met at the Gay Riders Carnival. Now Whip is bringing Nicky home with him, but all too soon Nicky’s past finds them and catches up to Nicky. Can the two men hold onto their newly formed relationship together?

While this story follows on immediately from the end of “The Biker’s Pup” I was really pleased that both Whip and Nicky were introduced properly. This book can easily be picked up and read first – or as a stand alone story. Even though Nicky and Whip are together from the start of the book I really loved how deeply the author delved into their characters. After a few chapters I really felt like I knew each man – and not just about their sexuality. These were deep, layered characters with interesting backgrounds and a love for each other that really just shone through everything.

Although most of the story is filled with happiness and the “getting back to normal routine” sort of detail, there is conflict in the form of Nicky’s ex-lover returning. I was actually quite pleased this was a smaller aspect of the story and towards the end of the book. Watching Nicky settle happily into a new life with Whip and watching their fresh relationship blossom as the two men learned about each other and meshed their lives together was a far happier – and more interesting to my mind – read than the conflict of Nicky’s ex turning back up. I have to admit though – that each aspect of the story really added together and the end product is a story that I feel will appeal to a wide range of people.

A loving, happy and interesting tale of two men starting a life together, I found this to be a great read and one I can happily recommend.

Ribbons And Bows by Marteeka Karland


Ribbons And Bows by Marteeka Karland
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (52 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Samson Redding has everything he could want — everything money can buy. But for all that, he’s alone. He’s been pursuing the lovely Jerrica in an online relationship, and he’s ready to take it to the next level, but she’s not ready.

Samson’s thought of the perfect way to change her mind. He convinces Jerrica to meet in person — at a BDSM club he knows she’ll love, once she wraps her mind around it.

It may take more than ribbons and bows to tie his woman to his side, but Samson’s up for the challenge. The rest? That’s up to Jerrica.

Samson somehow let his sister talk him into dressing up as Santa Clause for poverty-stricken children. What his sister didn’t know was her attempt – yet again – to set him up fell directly into his plans for Jerrica. Samson and Jerrica had been emailing online for a while now and Samson is more than ready to take steps to the next level. Will Jerrica be on board with that?

This is a fun, Christmassy short story. I found Samson a bit arrogant to start with – having done extensive background research on Jerrica before they’d really met and just assuming he knew what was best for her. It also rubbed me a bit wrong how Samson needed to control pretty much every aspect of the day and evening when he and Jerrica met. From manipulating the situation with his sister “meeting” Jerrica all the way through to the “coincidence” of their date at the BDSM club Samson was literally in control of pretty much every aspect. I found it a little creepy and hugely control-freakish, not really sexy or masterful as I expect it was meant to come across. Aside from this and a few other – far smaller – niggles I really enjoyed how much lead-up there was to both Jerrica’s and Samson’s characters. It was a pleasure to read a very short story where the hero and heroine didn’t just meet, fall in insta-lust and hop right into bed. Readers who enjoy a much slower pace to their steamy stories should find this one suits them well.

While there was a bit of kink shown in the BDSM club, I found it interesting that it was other people (strangers) participating and neither Samson nor Jerrica indulged. I was of two minds about the lack of strong kink in the sex with Samson and Jerrica. On the one hand Jerrica was a complete BDSM novice and had only hinted at her curiosity and interest to Samson – so a part of me understood why they only dipped their toes into the kinkier side of sex. On the other hand I feel the storyline (and the erotic-ness of the sex) could have been really strengthened by some stronger elementrs. For a BDSM story I really felt Samson and Jerrica only dabbled in the shallows of their kink – it would have been a real pleasure, and made the sexy side of the story stronger to my mind, had Samson led Jerrica deeper into the world of BDSM sexually. I feel this was a huge missed opportunity by the author and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed neither of them really went there. Jerrica and Samson weren’t straight vanilla, but considering how far – and explicit – erotic stories have come in recent years I couldn’t help but feel readers looking for a kinky, strongly sexual story might be disappointed with this.

I thought the premise of the story was excellent and I really enjoyed the author’s story-telling voice. I’d happily read more by this author and would even enjoy reading a sequel or story that explored what happened next between Jerrica and Samson. A fun short story.