Love and Deceit by Cheri Champagne


Love and Deceit by Cheri Champagne
Publisher: Pandamoon Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (273 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Lady Katherine Mason is the average gentlewoman. Or is she? Since early girlhood, Lady Katherine has enjoyed creating fine clothing for her family. But she has a secret. A secret that takes her away from her family, and into the home of the Marquess of Withington. The mysterious and angry man engages Lady Katherine’s curiosity… and desire. But as much as she would like to, she is unable to reveal her true identity, for fear of total ruination.

Barrick Gray, the Marquess of Withington, despises the world for its morbid curiosity. He has no intention in encouraging the ton’s interest in his war wounds, but at the plea of his aunt, he has decided to briefly satisfy her request. Once he has proven to his aunt why he should not remain in the public eye, he will return to seclusion at his estate in Scotland. One thing, however, has suddenly captured his attention. A very intriguing sprite has somehow entered his safe haven… and begun to wreak havoc on his life… and his passions.

Neither expects the hunger that ignites between them. Will it lead to true love? Or will it tear both of their worlds apart?

In my opinion it takes a talented author to write a successful book series in which a reader actually loves all the books in the set. I’m excited to tell you that Cheri Champagne is one of those talented and successful authors. I loved book three, Love and Deceit, as much if not more than the other two previous book in the series, The Mason Siblings. Each book is truly unique on its own and could be read as a standalone, however I do think a reader would enjoy book three more if they do read the two previously books in the series.

There is a suspense/mystery story arc threaded through out all three books. It’s briefly re-capped in each book so that I wasn’t feeling lost. I also think there’s a benefit to reading the two previous books in the series because there are brief appearances from the characters mentioned from the other books, it develops a “at home” feeling as you are reading it and provided a bit of familiarity or nostalgia which I found to be comforting. But again, each character is re-introduced in case you forgot who was who or didn’t read the previous books. I love the entire Mason family, including those who have married into it.

The hero in this story, Barrick, was a bit beastly with justifiable reasons. Yet, the heroine, Katherine, was the perfect lady to tame Barrick’s beastly nature for she’s not your typical lady. Together they make for an interesting, entertaining and sensual romance. It took Barrick a while to accept he was in love with Katherine which made the moment when he realized he was in love with Katherine all the more enjoyable.

Katherine’s secret is a big one and how she meets Barrick makes for a creative and interesting plot. The plot thickens as the story goes on. The story has a steady pace with several twists and turns to keep me guessing. I couldn’t put the book down.

There is a side character named Camilla, and without her the story would have been totally impossible. There would have been no big secret for Katherine or the opportunity to meet Barrick or the ability to persuade her brother for permission for her endeavors. This side character had a significant part in the book on three separate occasions. The last occasion left me feeling worried for Camila. I can’t give more detail then that but I was sincerely worried since Katherine was. Camilla was a dear friend to Katherine for countless years. I bring this up because as the story ended, (without an epilogue I might add, and those who follow my reviews know how much I love those epilogues), I finished the book with a heavy, happy sigh and a bit of a book glow looking forward to book four. When all of a sudden it hit me…what about Camilla? Because of that untied thread I have to give four stars. I like all my threads tied and a happily ever after in romance stories. I have on good authority that we will know about Camila in the future, however, that didn’t help my happily ever after book glow feeling, now.

Yet, in no way does that make me at all hesitant to recommend this book. I highly encourage readers to check out this book and the other two in this series. I honestly did love how Love and Deceit ended, with Lane, Katherine’s brother, saying to Barrick “ welcome to the family!” because that is how I feel. I feel personally connected to the Mason family and I genuinely can’t wait for book four to read Lady Emaline Mason’s story.

To Claim His Girl by Sam Crescent


To Claim His Girl by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (109 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Eli Waters has made his way back home from military school for one thing, and that is to claim Aria Dean. She’s one of his best friends, the girl who has been by his side through thick and thin.

A year without Eli was difficult for Aria. She missed his warmth, his smile, his playfulness. But though she’s loved him for a long time, it doesn’t matter. She knows she’s not his type. She’s not blonde, or thin, or beautiful. She is just plain Aria.

But now he’s back, and he’s different.

With help from their friends, Eli is determined to finally claim Aria. Laying his feelings on the table, he makes sure Aria knows the truth. He’s not going anywhere. He loves her, and from the moment they first met when they were three years old, they belonged together.

Can two young souls fight for their love, or will outside influences tear them apart?

What a wonderful sweet romance from Sam Crescent! I really enjoyed reading it from the very first page.

To Claim His Girl is a friendship to steamy love story. I loved the main characters , Eli and Aria. These two determined young people realized that they loved each other and then had to stand up to almost everyone just to be together. They had an incredibly close bond since pre-school, not just with each other, but also their four friends. I really liked that closeness which made the story more special. They had to withstand a lot of pressures from their family, school, and secrets.

Sam Crescent’s excellent writing made this book a fluid believable read. Eli and Aria had known each other for a long time. Yet, it wasn’t until Eli got into trouble and sent to military school that he realized that Aria was meant to be more than his friend. It made it more romantic that he worked so hard just to come back for her. There was a lot of drama, from the usual high school politics, to family secrets, and self esteem issues for Aria. Luckily, it didn’t drag out and the reader gets to really relish in the close bonds of friendship and young passions.It’s actually not all that steamy for a Sam Crescent book either. This one was more sweet than sizzling but just as entertaining to this happy reader.

I both enjoyed and recommend this book for everyone.

Dragon King’s Prize by Angelique Voisen


Dragon King’s Prize by Angelique Voisen
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Paranormal Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (73 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Leon is an anomaly, born to a family of hunters who believe all shifters need to die. When his family goes too far and uses a young dragon shifter as bait, Leon is forced to make the greatest mistake…or best decision of his life. Saved by an Alpha dragon, Leon wonders if Rashik is his captor or the one man he’s been searching for all his life.

Dragon King Rashik has been on the search for a stolen hatchling. He never expected to find a tasty and defiant human with steel in his spine. Humans hunt his kind for sport, yet Rashik can’t deny his attraction. Leon might be different but claiming the human could shift the balance in his clan.

Regardless of the consequences, Rashik is king for a reason. Once he sets his sights on Leon, Rashik will do anything to claim him.

All his life Leon just tried to survive. Living in the shadow of his father, the mighty paranormal hunter, was not always a good thing especially when he did not believe in his father’s ideals. Leon always believed that the shifters had just as much right to be in this world as the humans did. When Leon goes against his father and the other hunters by saving a baby dragon he finds himself under the protection of the dragon king. Just what will happen to Leon now that he is among the dragons. Is he safe or has he just traded one prison for another one?

Leon’s story grabs you right from the start. He leads a hard life living amongst the hunters and believing that the shifters have a right to live. Being beaten and ostracized, Leon takes one last chance to do one thing right in his life and that decision leads him to Rashik and his dragons. From the very beginning the two feel something going on between them and they must figure out just where they each stand. I enjoyed watching the two find their way to each other and their happy ever after. They live in a world that is divided yet the two men find a way to come together and fight for what is right. Not only do we get to see Rashik and Leon’s relationship build but we also get to see Leon grow and find himself as he fights to protect the baby dragon. There are those that are full of hate in every race and Leon finds that he must be on guard at all times. Love and trust are key to Leon and Rashik’s relationship and the two must realize when to let their guard down and let that love and trust in.

The author weaves and intriguing story full of adventure and emotions. I quickly found myself engrossed in their story and as with any good book it left me wanting to return and see more from this world and its characters.

Cowboys Don’t Come Out by Tara Lain


Cowboys Don’t Come Out by Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (200 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Rand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii, with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.

Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.

They say opposites attract and there aren’t two men more different than Rand and Kai. But when the two men finally meet and discover an undeniable attraction, will the two closeted cowboys find a way to overcome their fears and find happiness? Or will they allow their stubborn pride and obligations come between them? Hop a flight to Hawaii and come find out.

Rand is my kind of guy. Although he’s so far in the closet he might wind up in Narnia one day, he’s content with the life he’s living. He puts all his energy into running a little tourist ranch and raising horses. His loyalty to his crew and his love of his parents made me like him even more. He’s a good guy who only needs to meet the right guy and he’d finally have it all. Kai truly is that right guy.

Kai is an interesting guy who is hiding a secret. Unknown to anyone, he is sole provider to his much younger brother and sister. Working as a trail guide, he does everything he can to provide for the kids and keep their situation quiet. While this is admirable, it does cause Kai to act a little suspect at times. Until this book, I’d never heard of panilolos – Hawaiian cowboys. And then I met Kai and was entranced. There is so much history in Hawaii and I have only scratched the barest surface. It added an interesting dimension to his already complicated character.

Cowboys have long been a favorite subject of mine, seeing as I’ve spent most of my life in the southwest, so Cowboys Don’t Come Out was a natural choice for me. Although, at times, there was a bit of unnecessary melodrama due to a few side characters, the overall story was sweet with a few heartbreaking moments near the end. It was an excellent start to the series.

Just a Cowboy by Julia Talbot


Just a Cowboy by Julia Talbot
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (88 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Can an old-fashioned cowboy and a young man on the run from his dark past find a future together?

Herschel is a simple rancher who believes everybody deserves a second chance, which is why he tends to hire underdogs—like Dalton, a young cowboy who needs all the support and TLC Herschel can offer.

Dalton doesn’t think anyone can forgive him for what he did, but Herschel seems willing to try. In fact, he might be the best thing that has ever happened to Dalton. He might even be the one to help Dalton trust in the future again. Just when he’s about to tell Herschel everything, all hell breaks loose. Herschel must help Dalton break free from everything that’s haunting him, or they’ll both end up alone.

Everyone deserves a second chance… or do they? If you ask Dalton, you might be surprised by his answer. What Dalton doesn’t expect is to run into the one cowboy that can change it all for him if he’ll only put forth a little effort and communicate. Can two very stubborn cowboys from different worlds find a way to make it work? Time – and a little love – will tell.

I loved Herschel from the very beginning. He’s your typical cowboy who only wants a simple life doing what he loves. Herschel can waver between big brother and father figure to everyone he knows and it’s quite endearing to see how he is with other cowboys. Watching him move from boss to lover with Dalton was a real treat.

Dalton has a habit of acting like an irrational child. While he’s young, he’s been on his own for a bit and should have a better handle on his reactions. That said, he’s a sweet kid and an excellent match for Herschel as he brings a bit of levity to Hersch’s stubborn ways. The older cowboy does a lot to help Dalton overcome his fears and grow into the boots he’s wearing in return.

Once Dalton is forced to face his past, things get hairy, mostly because the entire situation is a little dramatic. Dalton’s pregnant sister, his parents, and half the town where Dalton grew up only add to the chaos. This is one of those times where being a bit stubborn is both good and bad. Good because it gives you the drive to do what needs to be done, but bad as well because it keeps you from admitting to being wrong. In the end, Just a Cowboy, was a sweet and enjoyable story full of hot cowboys and a lot of craziness.

Two Heads Are Deader Than One by Elena Hartwell


Two Heads Are Deader Than One by Elena Hartwell
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Private Investigator Eddie Shoes is enjoying a rare period of calm. She’s less lonely now that Chava, her card-counting mom from Vegas, is sharing her home. She also has a new companion, Franklin, a giant dog of curious ancestry.
Hoping for a lucrative new case, Eddie instead finds herself taking on a less promising client: her best friend from her childhood in Spokane. Dakota has turned up in Bellingham in jail, where she is being held on a weapons charge. Eddie reluctantly agrees not only to lend her friend money for bail but to also investigate who is stalking her. Soon after Dakota is freed, she disappears again, leaving Eddie to answer to the local cops, including her ex-boyfriend Chance Parker. Has Dakota been kidnapped? If not, why did she jump bail? What are Eddie’s business cards doing on the bodies of two murder victims?

The key to these mysteries lies in Dakota and Eddie’s shared history, which ended when Eddie left home after high school. As a person of interest in both murder cases, Eddie is forced to go in search of the truth, digging into the past and facing her own demons.

She wasn’t going to answer the phone but then she heard a voice from her past…

This is the second book in the Eddie Shoe mystery series. Book one was a good read and this one is also. The stories move quickly, there’s always danger, moments that make you laugh, and you worry about Eddie. She’s a good PI but she’s not real careful about her own safety. The author has her sticking her nose out a little further than necessary but it sure makes for a fun read.

The woman calling her was her best friend in high school. She’s in jail in her town and wants some help with bail money. Dakota manages to make her feel guilty so she goes down and gets her out. But then Dakota goes to ground and she can’t find her. She’s also not answering her cellphone. When she starts to check out her story, nothing she’s told her is true. Even worse, when she opens the door across the hall where it said they had tarot card readings but ran a prostitution ring, she finds a dead man.

The cops have a dead body and lots of blood in another part of the room. But the dead man didn’t bleed. Whose blood was it?

Eddie keeps digging. She even goes back to Spokane to search out old haunts where she and Dakota hung out. There are still secrets in Spokane and when she finds out the truth, she’ll be free from the guilt of an accident at the end of high school that took someone’s life.

It takes the whole story until the clues start going together. It’s a well thought out mystery, you meet more characters from Eddie’s life and her boyfriend is still around. Maybe in the next book they’ll get back together again. Watch for the third book. Eddie isn’t done snooping yet.

Summer Dreams by Delia Latham


Summer Dreams by Delia Latham
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (173 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

The Getaway Of A Lifetime…Kinda.

Summer Callihan isn’t in Cambria for the beach or the ocean or the pine-scented air around Paradise Pines Lodge. She’s there as a companion to her flighty cousin, Deah–with the understanding that they will have separate agendas the entire time. Summer just wants to be left alone to dream up the romance novels she writes under a pseudonym.

A Real-life Hero Who Rivals a Romance Novel…Really!

But never in Summer’s wildest writer’s imagination does she dream of being caught in an undertow and almost drowning, only to be rescued by a wealthy artist. And when Logan Bullard proves hard to shake, Summer fears for her heart–especially when Deah sets her sights on Logan.

A Cupid to pull it all together…?

But at Paradise Pines Lodge, what’s meant to be has a way of happening…at the best time and in the best way. Miss Angelina Love–who may or may not own the place–has an “in” with Heaven’s own “department of romance.” And she’s determined to see Summer and Logan together.

Logan, an artist, has been dreaming of an unknown woman who he longs to meet. In his dreams she dances before the ocean but is swept away by a huge wave. At this point he usually wakes up, but he’s aware this event will happen, he doesn’t know when, but it will happen.

Summer, an author, and her cousin Deah are on holiday at the Paradise Pines Lodge. Summer has a niche above the beach where she loves to write in peace. At the end of one session she decides to praise dance on the beach. This is when Logan’s dream comes true and he acts the hero and rescues her.

This book is inspirational in many ways more than religion. This story gave a feeling of warmth and love. The Lodge owner Miss Angie provided the right amount of stability in the background and Deah provided the conflict. This book was well written and a lovely read. The only problem I had was I felt at times the religious aspect was told not shown. Miss Angie’s Bible quotes were good and in context, Summer’s praise dance was visually wonderful, but when Logan and Summer talked to one another every other sentence seemed to have mention of God, which is not a natural way to speak in every day life. While religious talk is to be expected in an inspirational book, it seemed to be a little over the top.

This is an enjoyable read and provided the warmth, conflict and resolution to make it excellent.

Out of Bounds by Melissa Klein


Out of Bounds by Melissa Klein
Out of Uniform Series
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (225 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Avery Madigan lives by a strict code of conduct that’s helped her rise through the ranks of navy pilots. Rule number one—never mix business with pleasure.

Lt. Commander Connor St. James never met a regulation he didn’t want to break, especially if it involves making love to a certain auburn-haired woman who’s starred in his dreams since the Naval Academy.

When their worlds once again collide, the impact is nothing short of incendiary and the rule book is thrown overboard. Can a vacation hookup change the course of their lives, or will competition send their love up in flames?

Lt. Commander Avery “Mad Dog” Madigan, retired Navy and Lt. Commander Connor “Titan” St. James, retired Navy, have been competing with each other for twenty years along with fighting their dangerous attraction to each other. These two make the pages of this novel sizzle every time they get close to each. They send the reader’s heart rate sky high and pump adrenaline full speed ahead.

Now, both of them are struggling to make a success of their civilian jobs in the competitive aviation business. Each of them has family issues that threaten to devastate. Moreover, Avery fears Connor has dealt underhandedly with her—that he stepped out of bounds in order to win a contract she desperately needed to keep her job.

The foreshadowing is a steady undercurrent that flows along with the current happenings of the story. Some of it is foreboding enough to create anxiety and to bring about a thorough dislike for Avery’s ex-husband who has to be one of the most self-centered people around. The author does a super good job of showing the reader who he is, even though we don’t ever really meet him.

The back story is sifted in at just the right times to augment and add special significance to the Avery and Connor’s relationship, to family “almost” wrecks, and to tried-and-true friendships. Also a subtle humor lightens the situations from time to time.

Out of Bounds is a page-turning story that is well-written with characters that seem SO real.

GOOD READING!

Man Down by Tracy Tappan

Man Down by Tracy Tappan
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Full (371 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

After being shot down by the Taliban on a Special Operations mission, a Navy pilot and Navy SEAL rescue a beautiful humanitarian doctor. While the three of them evade capture in a race for their lives across northern Pakistan, the two former boyhood friends heal a 10-year breach, and the pilot and doctor find a way to let go of their painful pasts to find love.

Content guidelines: Contains profanity and adult situations. Sensitive readers might find a scene depicting the death of a pet upsetting.

Filled with action, lots of military jargon and enough romance to satisfy, Man Down kept me turning pages from the start.

First, I have to say how grateful I was for the easy to use glossary in the book. One click on an unfamiliar military term took me to the definition, and one more click took me right back to where I was in the story. Loved that feature!

While the book was presented to me as romantic suspense, I’d be more inclined to call it an action novel with romantic elements. Yes, our H/h met near the beginning of the book and there was clearly attraction between them, but not much more than that until nearly the end of the book. And, actually, I didn’t mind that at all. One complaint I often have with fast-paced “thriller” type stories is how the characters manage to take time to heat up the sheets while their lives are on the line. That didn’t happen here, and made things feel more realistic and authentic. When they did finally get physical, though… WHEW! The heat was on for sure!

I’m not typically a fan of stories told through flashbacks, though, and this book is packed with them. I understand what the author was trying to accomplish, and that the information needed to be shared with the reader; the flashbacks were a fantastic way to put the reader in the moment and let us feel what the characters were actually going through (and some of the things that happened were incredibly horrific–note the warning in the blurb), but even so, the time jumps were frequently frustrating for me. Other readers may not have the same trouble with them.

The characters were interesting and well-rounded. I got very invested in them and worried a lot during their trip out of danger. I really enjoyed Farrin and how open and honest and caring she was. It was a little surprising, given her background, and I was pleased to see she hadn’t been permanently scarred by her treatment as a child. I was utterly horrified by Jason’s upbringing, though, and I read one scene right before bed that I couldn’t get out of my mind for some time after.

All-in-all I was impressed by this author. I’ve never read anything by her (and as an aside, this is part of a series, but stands alone just fine) but I fully intend on reading the next book. I have got to know what happens to Shane!

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C1PHER by Monica E. Spence


C1PHER by Monica E. Spence
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (100 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Revolutionary War re-enactor Mary Banvard must travel to West Point during a thunder storm to authenticate papers concerning Benedict Arnold’s betrayal of West Point. Poor visibility causes a terrible car accident​, and she blacks out. When a masculine voice awakens her, she discovers everyone around her is wearing Colonial clothes. Odd. Who is this guy with the queue and the glasses who looks so worried?

Robert Townsend looks like a Quaker shopkeeper, but he is Culper, Jr., General George Washington’s most important spy. When Lady Mary Banvard, his fiancée, awakens following a carriage accident, she begins ranting about missing papers and traveling through Time.

Together Mary and Robert stumble upon a threat to their lives, their happiness, and the security of American generations to come.

Studying the past is one thing. Suddenly waking up in it is quite another.

The dialogue was fantastic. There were several times when I chuckled out loud at the things Mary said after she mysteriously found herself living back during the time of the Revolutionary War. She has a sharp wit, and it shone through the conversations she had with Robert and other characters during her adventures. The only thing better than this part of the plot was how funny it was to see how everyone responded to the things she said that made sense in our times but were unintelligible a few hundred years ago.

I would have liked to see more time spent developing the romance in this story. The characters involved in it were so different from each other that I needed more examples of what they shared in common. They were both fascinating people. I simply wasn’t totally sure that they would make a good couple because of how often their personalities and interests conflicted each other.

Mary was such an interesting woman. I loved her spunky attitude and how unflappable she was when she found herself in the middle of a crisis. She’s the kind of smart and steady person I’d want to have around if there were some kind of emergency. Her calm approach to even the strangest situations she found herself in made me adore her from the first scene to the last one.

C1PHER should be read by fans of light science fiction and historical romances alike. This is a nice blend of both of those genres!