The Prize by Ashe Barker

The Prize by Ashe Barker
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (50 pages)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, Menage, Double Penetration, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism, Anal Sex, BDSM
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A night to remember…

When she shows up at the prestigious Vivant Club to claim her raffle prize of one month’s free membership, Jessie Barnett doesn’t know what to expect. She’s trembling as she enters, but her inner submissive is dancing for joy, and nothing is going to stop her from claiming what she has won.

Jessie is no stranger to the BDSM scene, but this is a new club, a new city, she knows no one and has no idea what to expect. That’s all right, though, as it turns out the two powerful Doms who are hers for the evening have no doubt at all what they require from her—complete surrender, on her knees.

Jessie is happy to comply. This is what she came here in search of. But will one evening’s pleasure, however intense, however delightfully tinged with exquisite pain, be enough? Once she has submitted to them totally, will Mark and Greg see their business with her as having been concluded? Or is there more to be won, a greater prize, hovering just beyond her reach?

She’s in for the night of her life…if she can handle it all.

I like the work of Ashe Barker. I know there will be a hot time and everyone will come away satisfied. This is certainly the case in The Prize. Jessie knows what she’s going to the club for–because she’s won a month membership. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance for a free month at an exclusive BDSM club? Certainly not her. Then there’s the doms, Mark and Greg. Wowie!! Talk about hot guys. And they know their stuff. No slouches with these doms. The sex scenes were hot and scored the pages of my kindle.

I did have a couple of quibbles, though. I hate to admit it felt like I’d been plunked in to the middle of a longer story. Don’t get me wrong. I liked what I read, but I wanted to know more about Jessie before the story and maybe some after. I didn’t want the story to end. But as it was, I felt like I got one snippet of time for these three characters. Just, boom…together and playing. I know the doms read up on Jessie, but I had problems with her just walking in and submitting to them. This made her night better, don’t get me wrong, but it seemed too quick. I don’t know. It made me a tad uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean it will for everyone. I did enjoy how they pushed her and freed her. That was sexy and caring, the way they did it.

If you want a novella that pushes the boundaries, that will scorch the screen and will leave you breathless for more, then this might be the book for you. Grab a copy today.

Myth City by Anya Howard

Myth City: A Modern Retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Anya Howard
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (92 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A modern Dystopian retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Romance author Anya Howard.

After a nuclear battle, globalism has claimed power over every aspect of human life. A select group of survivors have been given refuge in the technological haven called the City. Here, every aspect of daily life is dictated by the laws of the governing Elders. One brave woman dares to risk the severest repercussions when an attractive stranger arrives from a place the Elders claim cannot possibly exist. When this man’s skills with a musical pipe are sought by the Elders, the dismal world they govern will be changed forever by the simple breaking of their word.

There’s more to life than following the rules.

The world building was handled well. I really enjoyed learning about the different roles that people could have in the City. It was such a strict society that I couldn’t stop wondering how folks managed to live in that kind of environment for a whole lifetime. The more I learned about it, the more curious I became about how it might change after Graham, the attractive stranger, came to visit. The odd way the City was set up became even more clear when I compared it to how Graham liked to live.

This story would have benefited from another round of editing. I noticed multiple typos in it, especially when it came to run-on sentences and the misuse of punctuation marks. There were also some sentences that didn’t make sense because they were either missing important words or had extra words added to them in ways that weren’t grammatically correct.

The chemistry between Apple and Graham was wonderful. I liked the fact that their relationship was given so much time to develop before anything sexual happened between them. It made a lot of sense due to the rigid culture Apple grew up in. By the time they decided to finally touch, I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next or if they’d end up together for good.

Myth City: A Modern Retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin should be read by anyone who enjoys modern twists on classic fairy tales.

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.

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.

BEARly Resisting by Jenika Snow

BEARly Resisting by Jenika Snow
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (48 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Killian knew his mate was out there. Being celibate in hopes he’ll find his female hasn’t been a hardship, but he’s growing impatient.

And then he sees her. She’s human, gorgeous, and will be his. He doesn’t even know her name, but her smell is sugary and tells his possessive inner bear she’s supposed to be his in all ways.

Alice planned a weekend of relaxation, but instead, she found herself mated to a bear shifter. Alice doesn’t fight the attraction she has for Killian, not when she wants to be between the sheets with him in the worst possible way. Alice is single one day and mated to a growly bear shifter the next, but can it last forever?

I enjoyed this sizzling hot paranormal romance.

The steamy plot easily captured my interest. It had a strong heroine, a sexy alpha male, and crazy hot sex. Alice wasn’t looking for excitement but she sure didn’t run away from it either. I liked that about her. She had a naughty fantasy about having wild sex with a shifter. She was drawn to the right place at the right time and met Killian. He was a sexy bear shifter looking for his mate.These two had a wild night of hot shifter loving, scratching, biting and mating. Yes, they were true mates. This short story was a quick read. For the most part the only drama was Alice understanding that Killian meant business when he said he was keeping her as his mate.

This was a short book that seemed to fly by at a super fast pace. I liked the characters and the story. So looking forward to more books from Jenika Snow.

Shockwave by Sierra Cartwright

Shockwave by Sierra Cartwright
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (188 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Anal play, Anal Sex, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Bittersweet

There can only be one victor…

He vows to personally deal with her…

When Master Nathaniel Stratton catches Alani Dane, a professional submissive, yawning during a scene with one of his club’s most prestigious members, he vows to personally deal with her.

In order to claim her…

Nathaniel works to shatter the emotional barriers she’s erected to keep her heart safe and takes the biggest gamble of his life to claim her for his own.

But she’s no man’s submissive…

He alternately thrills and terrifies Alani. Even though she craves the intense release that subspace brings, at heart, she’s no man’s submissive. In this intense battle of wills, dominance and submission, love and commitment, he’s determined to tear down the walls around her heart.

Sierra Carwright is a one-click author for me, and Shockwave, doesn’t disappoint. The story sizzles with passion and heat from the beginning, and even after finishing the novel I’m still daydreaming about the characters’ relationship.

From page one, I was drawn into the world of Alani, a professional submissive who appears to be a little bored with what she does. Furthermore, though she’s a proclaimed masochist she is not by any means a submissive, at least, according to her.

I really liked Alani. Although she was a bit mouthy at times, I enjoyed the way she interacted with Master Nathaniel. The fact that she felt that she wasn’t a perfect submissive, that she didn’t even recognize herself as one, made her feel real. I enjoyed reading her development, not only as a submissive to Master Nathaniel, but as a fierce woman who realizes independence doesn’t necessarily mean going at it alone.

As for Master Nathaniel. Swoon. Could he be any more perfect? I think I fell for his kind of dominance from page one. He was extremely demanding at times, but when he showed his tender side, my own heart pitter-pattered. He gave Alani as much as he took.

As always, Ms. Carwright does a superb job at writing the sex and the BDSM elements within the story. Hot is an understatement regarding Shockwave. Fair warning, I have to admit, that with Alani being a masochist there were a few scenes that made me wince in sympathy (those clamps with weights, and that really big anal plug…). But the care Master Nathaniel showed for her made it worthwhile.

The book is long, but very fast paced and I read it in two days. I’m looking forward to read possible future novels involving Master Braxton and AJ.

All in all, Shockwave was an exquisite, highly recommendable read.

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.

Her Dangerous Mistake by Erin M. Leaf

Her Dangerous Mistake by Erin M. Leaf
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (138 pgs)
Other: M/F, Masturbation
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Moira is on the run—her apartment has been trashed, her bank account hacked, and someone is stalking her. Only one man is dangerous enough to keep her safe … that is, if she can convince him to help her. Neil Deven used to be her father’s best friend until betrayal turned him violent. Neil disappeared, and finding him might be the biggest mistake of her life, but Moira won’t survive alone.

Neil remembers Moira as a sweet little girl caught in the middle of her father’s criminal life. The gorgeous woman who shows up at his door is anything but a child, but he’s already got problems. Dragon shifters are a dying race with no way to change form, yet Neil’s powers keep growing. And Moira stirs long lost instincts—he can’t deny her need. He must protect the woman who will be his mate, or die trying.

It’s hard to find a good dragon romance that doesn’t fall into a cliché but I’m sure glad I took a chance on Her Dangerous Mistake. I really liked the little bit of world building Ms. Leaf tucked into a contemporary timeline. In the course of the novelette I discovered where the dragons came from, what they used to be capable of and what had been lost. As with any hierarchy, there’s politics, dirty dealings, power plays and twisted agendas. All of those played well with the plot conflict.

The book opens with the heroine running for her life. She’s heading for someone who she instinctually believes will save her, someone from her past. The initial hook is solid and gripping. The author doesn’t waste any time in getting the hero and heroine together and then having them continue to run from the bad guys. Except for a few spots, the book keeps up the fast pace because the bad guys never stop hunting for Moira. Neil does his darndest to protect her but he messes up here and there leading to more trials and tribulations to overcome.

At one point I was rather miffed with Moira, until I saw what she wrote on the note. Her noble intentions propelled the conflict onto a new path that provided some unique revelations that shocked both the protagonists and antagonists alike whereas it thoroughly delighted me. Ha! That’d show that arrogant Council member – or so I thought. Imagine my surprise at what he actually had the audacity to say and do. He really didn’t know Neil too well and that blindness and refusal to relinquish his imagined hold on him came at a very interesting cost. Neil is his own man/dragon and no one, man or woman is going to harm what is his. Oh yes, I really liked how the hero was written – strong, loyal, fierce, passionate and honorable, and with those cool glowing eyes. I’d love to see that for real.

Moira has not had an easy life. Her father was a first class immoral criminal who made her growing up miserable. The poor heroine has a hard time trusting people and when she tries, sometimes it bites her in the you-know-where. A few things I liked about her were her determination, her intelligence and how she reacted to Neil. She was a good match for him. Even when she had no idea who or why someone wanted to kill her, she never broke.

There are quite a few steamy explicit, door-wide-open-let’s-get-on-the-bed-too kinds of detailed scenes that should appeal to erotic romance readers. What makes Her Dangerous Mistake so appealing is the plot conflict and the romance. The suspense, action and drama are so solid that the sex is just a spicy sweet topping that enhances the mix. The two of them are hot stuff, literally and figuratively.

As far as the happy ever after, there’s a wonderfully detailed epilogue that tied up their romance with complete happiness. Their future is going to be filled with a lot of challenges – the writing assured me of that – but together Neil and Moira have a bright future and the ending was as romantic and life affirming as I could wish.

Her Dangerous Mistake was a fantastic dragon shifter romance with a lot of action, spice and loving to make a reader happy and satisfied. I’m so very glad I read this story.

One Night in Minneapolis by Margie Church

One Night in Minneapolis by Margie Church
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (42 pgs)
Other: M/F, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Marine Major Skylar Landis doesn’t resemble the demure Catholic high school girl Vince Andersen once knew. They’d dated briefly until she’d patch things up with his nemesis, Ethan Standfeld. After school, she joined the Marines and they’d lost touch.

Their ten year class year reunion in Minneapolis brings Skylar face-to-face with Vince, awakening her memories of the past. She asks him to plan a hot, no-strings-attached hook-up to sustain her sexual fantasies while her intelligence unit is deployed to the Middle East. As their adventure unfolds, and he gives her exactly what she needs, Skylar wonders whether she can forget the man who put her desires first and asked for nothing in return.

This is an erotic little nugget that presents to a reader the start of something wonderful. Its basis is two people coming together for a high school reunion and getting the chance to do something they’d never really had a chance to do when they were in school – not only be with each other but to explore all that that might entail. At this stage in their lives, it’s not for dating as immature kids but coming together as adults with adult needs, expectations and fantasies.

Although the very beginning starts of slow with more telling than showing, it’s not long before the author finds her stride and the interest, spice and character dynamics take hold to provide a very entertaining read.

For fans of erotic romance, all their hot buttons should be satisfied because Ms. Church knows how to blast open the bedroom door so wide that all the sexy and passionate details are there for readers to enjoy. The word ‘shy’ isn’t in Vince or Skylar’s vocabulary.

What I enjoyed was seeing hints and references that this 24 hour marathon of uninhibited sex isn’t as shallow as the beginning led me to believe. The two have a history and it provides a good base to start with. I liked how Vince treated Skylar – his sense of humor, his willingness to try whatever she wanted and his caring for her. Yes, he has a hard time keeping his emotional distance as the hours go on, because that’s what the heroine wanted, but his slipping up here and there is what makes this little story work. I saw that Skylar wasn’t immune no matter how much she wanted to be. Through the course of all their sheet gymnastics, the interaction at the reunion and the visit to Vince’s home, Skylar is faced with the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Vince is worth taking a chance on. I got the impression that a little seed of wonder and hope might have been planted. It’s how the author chose to wrap up One Night in Minneapolis that made reading this short story worth it. The ending left me feeling happy, optimistic and assured that a romance is born. Because of that, this is an easy recommend of One Night in Minneapolis to other erotic romance readers.