Oops by Anne Kane

Oops by Anne Kane
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (37 pgs)
Other: M/F, Forced Seduction
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Stephanie, Jackie and Caroline. The three women have been friends for years, and they’ve built themselves a nice bed and breakfast /ranch operation. But with less than a fortnight to Christmas, a ruthless banker has swindled them out of their beloved home. What will they do?

Well, kidnapping him and holding him hostage until he decides to do the right thing sounds like a good plan. Unfortunately, it all goes hilariously wrong when they discover they’ve kidnapped the wrong man. Bondage, obedience classes and more are needed to make sure there’s a Merry Christmas this year!

Caroline, Steph and Jackie had been swindled out of their ranch. Determined to get their property back they hatch the crazy plan to kidnap the jerk who stole it from them and force him to give it back. Only instead of Mr James Smithers, they end up kidnapping Mr Jebediah Smithers. And all too soon Jackie finds their crazy plan starting to unravel. How can they get their ranch and livelihoods back?

This short story starts off in a lighthearted, fun manner that really had me giggling. I had a bit of a wobble reading it near the middle – when the three ladies still didn’t truly believe they’d kidnapped the wrong man and tied him to the bed and Jackie starts touching him intimately. While the author wrote the story clearly showing they’d all end up on the same page and even hinted that Jebediah could escape his restraints should he choose to – it all just shaded just a little too close to a “forced seduction” type of scene for me to actually enjoy it. Readers who dislike kidnap/forced intimacy stories or find them to be a trigger should steer clear of this story. That said, even though Jackie didn’t seem to believe they’d made a mistake she and Jebediah sure managed to get hot and heavy pretty quickly – and both appeared to have a glorious time doing so.

Both Caroline and Steph watched the sexiness between Jackie and Jebediah, though neither of the other women joined in or even seemed to participate apart from watching. So personally I wouldn’t consider this a menage or group sex thing as such – but other readers might feel differently. The sex was hotly written and especially as the sex scene progressed it was clear both Jackie and Jebediah got more and more invested in each other as they became more intimate.

While the author made it clear to the readers that they shouldn’t feel even a speck of sympathy for James Smithers, I also couldn’t help but feel bad at the depths the women sank to in the effort of getting their ranch back. While I genuinely understood how desperate they were, I still felt their actions reflected a bit poorly on them and the strength of their characters. Obviously this short story was all meant in good fun, but I could understand if some readers are a lot more invested in the relationship flourishing between Jackie and Jebediah and a little less taken by the plot and lengths the three friends go to, to get their ranch back in their hands.

A very different and interesting type of Christmas short story, this is certainly a new plot twist that I’ve never read before. Fresh and unique, it certainly made me think and start a few discuss with other reading friends.

Gift Of A Lifetime by Ana Raine

Gift Of A Lifetime by Ana Raine
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday (Christmas)
Length: Short Story (35 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/M, Anal Play, Toys
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Ryo’s job at the Crooked Paintbrush is a way to make some money doing what he loves while meeting new people. But when Logan walks into Ryo’s painting class, he realizes there are some things that can only be described as fate.

More than just a handsome face, Logan proves to be exactly the kind of Master Ryo has been waiting for. The kind of man who will test his limits while providing some much needed love and safety.

Ryo hosts painting classes for singles looking for like-minded people. Even though he’s looking for a Master of his own, he generally enjoys the classes and watching other people find happiness. Logan was the most handsome man Ryo had ever met, and when Logan asks him out for dinner, Ryo feels like all his Christmas’ have come at once. Can Logan be everything he needs?

I enjoyed this hot and sexy short story. I found Ryo and Logan to be super hot together, and both liking exactly the same thing – kinky sex. I didn’t mind that Ryo and Logan got quite intimate fairly quickly after meeting – in such a short story they needed to move fast – but I really enjoyed how the author let them actually talk and get to know each other a little bit first. I was a little uncertain why neither Ryo nor Logan had met someone into kink earlier – the author made it seem like they both wanted something very deep and dark and unheard of with other men, and I just didn’t find that too believable. While they certainly both enjoyed BDSM and playing with toys, I didn’t find their kink outrageous or particularly dark. So I never really bought into the fact neither man had met someone previously who could give them what they wanted. This small bit of unrealistic plotting didn’t lesson my enjoyment of the story, however.

I enjoyed both men’s characters – Ryo was an eager and curious submissive, Logan a strong and caring Dominant. While I liked how compatible the two men were, I did find it a little unusual toward the end, reading some of the play-talk between Ryo and Logan. Personally, I prefer it when a Master builds his pet up and strengthens them. While I liked Logan’s tenderness and attachment to Ryo, Ryo seemed to need someone to use him and take over completely, and while it was very well written and is sure to appeal to many readers, I discovered it just isn’t really my thing. The care and love between the two men though is a wonderful thing to watch as is their hot, spicy sex.

For slightly kinky, very short Christmas story this was a good read and one I enjoyed.

Regifted by BJ McCall

Regifted by BJ McCall
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (42 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Fern has no idea the Christmas gift given to her on Christmas Eve is a regift. The perfume smells divine and unbeknownst to Fern it has an added benefit. The scent is packed with pheromones that attract werewolves.

Pace is spending the holiday weekend in the city, a lonely Christmas away from his pack. A major power outage plunges the city into darkness. Pace has a choice: spend Christmas alone or invite his new neighbor with the alluring scent for a candlelight drink…

Fern is the new girl at her work and so she’s left to close the office on Christmas Eve and then reopen it the following Monday. After Fern gives out small goodies to all her co-workers, her boss, Alison is the only one to reciprocate. Fern is thrilled, until she finds the bottle of perfume is a regift. What neither Alison nor Fern know is that the scent is actually a Mating Scent. When Fern bumps into a homesick werewolf, her Christmas plans are suddenly going to be a whole lot more intimate than she expected.

I found this to be a sweet and steamy Christmas short story. I loved how Fern and Pace got to know each other a little – chatting about their homes and upbringing, connecting emotionally – before jumping into bed with each other. I also loved the twist on the regifted pheromone perfume bottle capturing Pace’s attention and drawing him to Fern. It all just fit together so well and really appealed to me as a reader. I loved this story.

I was thrilled when – after having sex – the relationship continued to build between Fern and Pace. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them spend Christmas together, explore the city and really get to know each other. It made the romance feel so much stronger between them and also made the entire situation a lot more believable. I found the whole story realistic and fun, sexy and hot. I will happily read more stories both by this author and set in this paranormal world.

I found this to be an excellent short story, with interesting and fun characters and a solid, realistic plot. A great Christmas tale and one I will happily reread many times to come.

Alex’s Law by Jayce Ellis

Alex’s Law by Jayce Ellis
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense, Holiday
Length: Short Story (59 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Masturbation
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Alex Corrigan is in love with his boss, Judge Lawson Daniels, and thinks those feelings are returned. That assumption is sorely tested two days before the court holiday party they’re organizing together, when the venue calls and cancels, followed by a snafu with the caterer. Alex could handle that, but after an intimate dinner followed by a decidedly unromantic e-mail, he’s left wondering about the future of his employment as well as his relationship with the debonair older man.

Law can’t wait to see his clerk again. But Alex is cold and distant in the light of day, and Law doesn’t understand. The party looms in the background, but Law’s excitement is turning to dread. On top of that, someone is sabotaging them, trying to get Alex fired and drive Law off the bench. If there’s any chance for a happy holiday for Alex and Law, they’ll have to find out who.

A workplace romance? Who says it can’t happen…

I haven’t read anything by Jayce Ellis, but I’m glad I remedied that. This book rocked. I loved the characters and the build-up. The author knew how to make the characters dance around each other and seem realistic. I read the author’s bio and see she’s a lawyer. This was why the courtroom portions of the book were so detailed and interesting. I felt like I was right there with Alex and Law.

These two characters were so funny in the way they couldn’t quite figure out how to say what they wanted. I rooted for them all the way. Ms. Ellis wrote with a good knowledge of law, which helped make the story better and deeper. I could feel the passion between the characters and wanted to see them find their happy ending.

If you want a book with a touch of suspense, a little mystery and lots of heat, then this might be the book for you.

Christmas With His Best Friend by Doris O’Connor

Christmas With His Best Friend by Doris O’Connor
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (52 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Anal Play, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

They’ve been friends for twenty years until … this Christmas.

How do you tell a sweet, naïve, and clearly vanilla girl that you like to tie women up and torture them for mutual enjoyment in your spare time? Josh Mackenzie has no idea, but when his best friend Emma walks in on him pleasuring himself, everything changes.

For Emma, coming face to face with her secret longings is mind-blowing. It’s one thing to fantasize about your best friend, but dare she take that leap into the unknown? Will it not ruin their friendship, and is—what would undoubtedly be awesome—sex worth risking that?

While Josh shares her fears, she is all he’s ever wanted in a woman, and he’s determined to show her that they can have it all. This woman is his to mark, cherish, and love forever, and he’ll prove it to her, one spank at a time.

Emma can’t help having erotic dreams about her best friend, Josh. She knows it’s futile, but she desperately wants to know what he gets up to when he stays out till 4am in the morning. One morning, Emma catches Josh masturbating and she just has to watch, enthralled. Now Josh knows that Emma is as attracted to him as he is to her, all bets are off.

This is a super hot, sexy “friends become lovers” style of story. Even though the sex starts quickly I enjoyed how the author showed that Emma and Josh had been friends forever and already had a good basis for their relationship to deepen and become far more intimate. I found it interesting and a little disappointing that while Josh definitely acted outwardly like a dominant, he had a lot of internal self-doubt. I could certainly appreciate his worrying that by changing his friendship with Emma to a sexual relationship might change things between them, it just felt odd to me how he could act all kinky and dominating eternally, but have serious self-doubts internally. The two sides of his personality just didn’t gel very well with me and I frequently found myself worrying if one or the other side of him was an act and not very real. This distracted me a fair bit from the fun and sexiness of the story and left me feeling a bit disappointed.

I liked the build-up between Emma and Josh. I felt the author did a good job with their chemistry, I could clearly believe and feel the sexual tension between them both, having been friends for so long and lusted after each other. While I felt the believability of the kink to be a little rocky, I did think it added quite a bit of zing between Emma and Josh’s sex and added intensity to the new aspects of their relationship. While there is definitely some kink I didn’t feel any of it was written in an offensive manner, nor was it too envelope-pushing in my opinion. And despite some initial nerves on both Josh and Emma’s behalf, everything was completely consensual and written in a sexy manner.

A fun, slightly kinky short story. I found this to be a good, quick read and enjoyed it.

The Christmas Letter by April Zyon

The Christmas Letter by April Zyon
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/F, BDSM, Spanking, Anal Play
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Will a Christmas letter be enough to restore his faith in love?

Dante had been serving his country faithfully as one of the elite SEALs when he got word of his baby sister’s death. To say he had been devastated would have been an understatement. He was taken out of commission, away from the only job he ever knew, to take care of the niece he only saw when he was on leave. He toyed with the idea of allowing them to put her with a foster family—for about two minutes.

Noelle Henry spat out form letters for children who wrote to Santa Claus each holiday season. When she read a letter written in crayon from a six-year-old named Molly Davidson she knew that she couldn’t simply send the child the standard letter, especially since she had known the child’s late mother. Instead, Noelle wrote a personalized letter for the little girl, something that would likely get her fired. She never anticipated what would develop between her and Molly’s new guardian, Dante Davidson.

Noelle loved her job reading letters children had sent to Santa and sending back customized letters to the kids. When she gets a letter from Molly – a little girl whom Noelle knows – her heart breaks. Molly’s parents had died and now her Uncle Dante took care of her. Noelle knew Dante was way out of her league, but that didn’t stop her from lusting over him. Determined to make this Christmas special for Molly and Dante, Noelle decides to play Secret Santa.

Check your brain at the door, settle down with a lovely spiked drink and enjoy this fun Christmas story. In some respects this reminded me of a very spicy, slightly naughty Harlequin Christmas book. A dedicated SEAL who comes home to look after his orphaned niece and bumps into the girl-next-door who he’s been crushing on. This story is slightly clichéd, but I still really enjoyed it, even if the storyline is a little tried-and-true. I chuckled a fair bit at how Noelle was trying to be secretive and devious – giving Molly the Christmas present she dearly wanted – and while Noelle managed it, she also got to snag the man she’d been crushing on since school.

Understandably, most of the plot revolves around Dante learning to take care of Molly and the start of Dante and Noelle’s relationship. While part of me wished the plot had been a little more fresh – or that the conflict and “twist” near the end had been at least a little believable – this had the definite feel of a comfort read to me. I was also a little disappointed that the editing wasn’t tighter. I found there were quite a few repeated words/echoes throughout the story and this jarred me out of enjoying the story a number of times. Having said that – I really enjoyed both Dante and Noelle’s characters and I liked their friendly, flirty banter. I really enjoyed how they didn’t just jump straight into bed, but talked and got to know each other a bit first.

Readers looking for a fun, “solider becomes an instant dad” type Christmas stories should give this a try. There is some mildly kinky sex – though it’s all kept fairly light – and plenty of chemistry between Noelle and Dante which should keep erotic readers satisfied and entertained. I enjoyed Molly, the little girl really adding to the story and not just being a part of the plot and left overlooked. Overall I found this to be a fun, sexy story and an enjoyable read. So leave reality and logic behind, have a drink and relax with this quick, spicy short story.

Tokyo Love by Diana Jean

Tokyo Love by Diana Jean
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full Length (169 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual, F/F Interaction
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

When Kathleen Schmitt is promoted to project lead at Mashida INTL for the Personal Love Companion (PLC), a life-sized, hyper-realistic dating doll, she must relocate to Tokyo. Trying not to get lost in translation is quite the culture shock for this born-and-bred Midwesterner.

She’s surprised when her boss asks her to beta test the new dolls—an assignment that requires having her brain scanned so the company can fashion a personalized doll based on her innermost desires. But most surprising of all: her test PLC turns out to be a woman—one who looks and acts remarkably like her neighbor and coworker, Yuriko Vellucci.

American-born Yuriko is a former transplant herself and is sympathetic to the difficulties of adjustment—to a point. Kathleen is about the most pathetic foreigner this engineer’s ever met. She clearly needs Yuriko’s help and expertise if this transition—and the PLC project—is to be a success.

With Yuriko to show her the way, Kathleen will learn to socialize at an izakaya, find the best onsen in Nikko, party at a matsuri, buy doujinshii in Akihabara, and fall in love with a country so very different from her own.

But can she also learn how to confess her love for the person who showed it to her?

In the not so distant future, will robots make the perfect companion-both in conversation and in love?

Tokyo Love is a deep story the looks into the depth of society and human nature and takes into account that modern technology can find a replacement for almost anything. In fact the main character, Kathleen Schmitt, is the head of a project designed to produce Personal Love Companions (PLC)-essentially robots that can tend to our every need that look, act and learn just like humans. With a rushed timeline and her job on the line, Kathleen is tasked with testing the very first PLC released. The companion, built after a specialized cortex scan is supposed to be everything that Kathleen finds attractive in the human species.

The twist, the PLC looks and acts just like Kathleen’s neighbor! But it doesn’t end there, her neighbor happens to be female causing a mess of emotions and confusion for Kathleen. Kathleen is convinced there must be a glitch in the cortex scan and the gender was wrong with the PLC. Since only a handful of people know about the PLC test, when issues with the PLC arise, from technical complications to severe errors in data processing there are only a few individuals that Kathleen can call on for help-with one of them being her neighbor.

This is a great story that takes into consideration the direction of technology, cultural traditions and human nature. The author, Diana, does a fantastic job at creating real emotions and stirring up conflict. The actions and conversations of the PLC named Ai, and Yuriko, the neighbor are humorous and the constant struggle with Kathleen’s identity and perception of self add to the plot and depth of the story.

The plot is smooth and works in the concerns and stress of work, life-balance, and even how a simple cold can throw everything into a tailspin. Diana does a great job at making the world of the characters-a world in a not too distant future-feel like it is happening right now. The overall questioning of human nature and the capacity to love are the pivotal questions that the author works to answer.

I highly recommend this book if you want to add some technology to your romance reading!

Naomi’s Sexy Thanksgiving by Ruby Stallion

Naomi’s Sexy Thanksgiving by Ruby Stallion
Publisher: Passion Patch Books
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (20 pages)
Other: M/F, Multiple Partners, Masturbation
Rating: 2 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When a small town girl goes to the big city to focus on her career, she quickly realizes the differences between the people and her small town and the people in the big city. Especially the men!

All Naomi wanted was a Thanksgiving romance. What starts off as a woman settling for someone because she didn’t want to be alone during the holiday winds up being a sexy story of an erotic love triangle between her former love in her small home town and her new big city lover. Self-pleasure, good looking people, holiday spirit and the erotic fantasy mind of Ruby Stallion makes this a good erotic story.

She’s going to make this Thanksgiving one for the record books.

I hadn’t read a book by Ruby Stallion before this one, but I’ve remedied that. This book is definitely original.

Naomi wants a lover who loves her. Seems simple, but in the big city, she seems to find a lot of thorns among the roses. The premise of the story is plausible and interesting.

But I had a few quibbles. First, the tense of the book switched a few times which ripped me out of plot. I had to reread more than a few times. Then there was the way Naomi conducted herself. I’m no prude, but she seemed to waiver a lot. With a bit more editing, this could be a great little story. I realize this is part of a series and is probably best read in order. I say that because the ending seemed a tad too abrupt. Just… done. While this might not deter some readers, especially if it’s known going in that it’s part of series, it was a stumbling block for me.

That said, I did root for Corey. He seemed like he head his head screwed on straight and his heart in the right place. I don’t know what’s next for him, but I hope he gets his own book.

If you want an erotic short story that packs a holiday punch, then this might be the read for you.

The Twelfth Day by Alicia Dean

The Twelfth Day by Alicia Dean
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (98 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

As a teen, party girl, Sabrina Spencer was the lone survivor of a serial killer’s attack on her family. Her testimony put the killer behind bars, and she spent the following decade carving out a new life and trying to forget. But someone hasn’t forgotten. Two weeks before Christmas, she begins receiving bizarre messages with demented references to the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Handyman Josh Cravens is remodeling the lake house she rents each year to escape the painful reminders Christmas brings. While his dimples and blue eyes are hard to resist, he’s the exact kind of player she’s been avoiding since she outgrew her wild days. But the isolated cabin and threatening messages boost her paranoia to fever pitch.

As Christmas draws closer, she’s torn between finding comfort in Josh’s arms, and fear that he might be behind the twisted countdown to the twelfth day.

Sabrina hates Christmas time and anything else to do with the holiday season. To escape the horrifying memories, she decides to go away to the lake house and try to find some peace. But who is sending her the creepy texts? And are the two contractors working on her friend’s lake house – Josh and Dustin – really as nice as they seem?

I found this to be an interesting mystery/suspense story. I enjoyed the Christmas premise – and thoroughly enjoyed a Christmas story where the heroine pretty much hates Christmas – I found it quite refreshingly different. I also enjoyed how there were a few sub-plots mingled in with the main plot of the killer who murdered Sabrina’s family and held her captive a number of years ago.

I thought the cold and isolated lake was an excellent backdrop for the murder-mystery and with a strong set of secondary characters my interest was captured quickly. The sub-plots with such a cast of good characters kept me turning the pages eagerly, deeply invested in what would happen next. I was exceedingly pleased when a number of my guesses about the various plots turned out to be incorrect (nothing I love more than a mystery that keeps me wondering!) but I did manage to predict a few of the more clichéd aspects of the plot. Still, I found overall the mystery was refreshingly different and kept me on my toes, so I really enjoyed that.

There is plenty of – very antagonistic to my mind – chemistry between Josh and Sabrina. Usually it annoys me when the hero and heroine spend most of the story at each other’s throats and then magically decide they actually really like each other toward the end of the story. In some respects this really frustrated me. While there certainly was chemistry both Josh and Sabrina really did seem to strongly dislike each other so that made their eventual romance seem fairly unrealistic to me. Thankfully I found this story so heavily invested in the suspense/mystery aspect of the plot I could just ignore the small romantic sub-plot and I don’t believe this lessened my enjoyment of the story at all. I feel this is a really wonderful mystery/suspense story, I just personally found the romantic aspect of it lacking.

With plenty of interesting and strong secondary character’s and a few really intriguing sub-plots as well as an excellently written main murder plot I found there was a lot to enjoy about this story. I very quickly found myself invested in both the mystery and a number of the characters and would happily read more mysteries by this author. A good, suspenseful read.

His Holiday Miracle by Candace Sams

His Holiday Miracle by Candace Sams
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Holiday, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (70 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Rorn T’Kar, Commander of Earth ship Verdon, returns home after battling Earth’s enemies for five long years. His one regret is that the woman he still loves, and who broke their engagement, was killed in battle.

Lyra Dench broke her engagement to the handsome Rorn so she could join the Infiltration Corps. Due to the secrecy of her mission she couldn’t tell Rorn why she left him almost at the altar.

Five years later Rorn finds himself home again on Armistice Day. The allies have won, but he’s lost his heart. For him, homecoming is a bittersweet experience until the love of his life suddenly arrives back home, on his front lawn. Rorn makes a vow. Whatever it takes, he’s not letting her walk away again. He’s got the second chance he’d hoped for; he’s got his holiday miracle.

Rorn has finally completed his tour of duty and has helped win the war and bring by peace. If only he could find peace for himself…

Imagine losing the one you love. First she blows him off in a public place and throws his ring back at him. Then she disappears. And then she dies. All he can do is go home, be with his family in their new home on a new planet and try to find an interesting and challenging job. He wants no women in his life. He’s done with that.

Wars are always bad things and even in the future with more planets settled and more aliens around, war is still bad. The warriors carry baggage in the form of memories of men lost and battles both won and lost. After all, the planet that Rorn’s parents lived on was destroyed and they just barely got away.

Both Rorn and Lyra saw and did things they don’t want to talk about or just plain can’t talk about. When you go undercover, you protect yourself by keeping secrets. Happily that is all behind them now.

Ms. Sams writes a tale that flows well, it’s short and sweet and it’s touching. It skims the war, talks about his family and his shock at finding Lyra alive. It’s an entertaining read (do you want to survive by eating lizards?) and it’s also sweet. The ending made me happy. It’s a good thing they talk to each other. This was a feel good story and I liked it.