Warrior by Elsa Jade


Warrior by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #4

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (95 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

After the mating moon sets, the trouble is only beginning…

Thunder Cole may be the last of his kind. He’ll help his distant shapeshifter kindred with their werewolf hunter problem, but then he’s moving on — alone. Until he meets Elizabeth Rowan.

Bets became “Auntie Fate”, a fake psychic tarot reader, to support her orphaned niece, but she doesn’t believe in the woo-woo magical world. Until she meets Thunder Cole.

Both of them think their second chances are long gone. They couldn’t be more wrong. But a bitter enemy on a quest for vengeance against the wolves of Angels Rest may destroy everything they love.

A doubter will believe, a warrior will rise, and passion will rule the day.

Every now and again a book’s character surprises me. This is one of them. Most of the paranormal beings so far have been wolves but in Warrior there’s a new one in town and he’s a first. I’ve never read about his kind before in romance books and I am duly impressed.

Unfortunately for them but not for me, the external conflict continues from the Kingdom Guard. I didn’t expect the way in which it manifested and it was very suspenseful with lots of drama. I liked when the ‘troops’, the werewolves of Angels Rest, come together to try to rescue the heroine. Especially since the heroine is Elizabeth, the hippie, tarot-reading, sweet aunt of Darling from Rogue. She’s not a fighter but that doesn’t mean she’s not brave. She is.

Thunder is truly a yummy hero. It might have a lot to do with how Ms. Jade created his character. I enjoyed all the scenes with his motorcycle because of how they were written. I also felt for the guy because he is so alone. He has honor, loyalty and crazy skills but he’s a loner, a drifter that goes around helping people when they need it without belonging anywhere. I was so pleased that he found an anchor in the community of Angels Rest. That, of course, has a lot to do with the heroine.

Like the previous three in the series, when Thunder and Bets, as he likes to call her, get together physically, it’s detailed, sexy, steamy hot and well written. What I appreciate about the sexy scenes is that the story is not thin as an excuse for sex. Nope, it’s to showcase just how combustible the hero and heroine are together, and to show just how vested they both are to each other’s safety because they are falling in love. It’s a solid romance with a wonderful conflict and challenge to overcome. At one point the emotions inspired by the conflict was intense. I was glued to the pages.

Even though this is a novella, Ms. Jade continues the series with the skill of a master by delivering a full-bodied, thoroughly satisfying solid romance story that reads like a full-sized novel. There are gems of dialogue and descriptions sprinkled all through the tale and many are pure word magic.

At the end of the book there is a tidbit about the next book in the series and I simply have to have it. Why? Because it’s about one of the victims of the Kingdom Guard. What they did to him was heinous. So how and who can heal him is the a very effective hook. Consider the book bought.

Warrior is another winner and a must read. I am loving this series so hard it’s awesome. The quality of the writing remains solid, even in this fourth installment. So far this series has rocked my world and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Rogue by Elsa Jade


Rogue by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #3

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (84 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

The mating moon is full…

Rafael Villalobos is a werewolf without his wolf. The beast is rogue, gone hunting without him, making Rafe even more of a menace to his pack than the wolf hunters who hate them. He doesn’t know what the wolf wants…until it leads him straight to the sassy, luscious Darling Rowan.
Bitten by a rogue wolf that may or may not have been the sexiest Villalobos boy, Dare knows her quiet days as the county librarian are coming to an end. She’ll be coming too, if she can just get a certain stubborn man to admit that the simmering heat between them is more than the mating moon.

How can I be so lucky? Rogue is Bas’s brother’s story. Rafael, or Rafe as he’s commonly referred as, is the hero in this novella and I finally find out what was making him ornery in the previous book, Joker.

Can a heart break for a book hero? If so it would for Rafe. What happened to him as a child is so sad and tragic, but something worse is happening to him now and no one seems to know what to do or how to help him. He’s a hero in crisis and he’s close to accepting his dire fate. Thing is, after ‘meeting’ him in Hero & Rogue I know he’s not a bad guy. He’s loyal and the best brother and cousin Bas and Kane could have but they can’t stop what is happening. That was an effective hook that I could not resist, nor could I put the book down once I started reading.

Darling, or Dare as she likes to be called, is a secondary character from the beginning but this time she’s front and center as the heroine. This little librarian is about to have the adventure of a lifetime. She had hints that something was different about her best friend, and the man she secretly had the hots for, Rafe. The reality and facts were violently revealed, dumping Dare into a possible future like nothing she ever imagined. Will she embrace it? She’d better because if she doesn’t Rafe is lost – lost to everyone including himself. Yes, my emotions were definitely engaged with Dare and Rafe’s story. This was a one sitting read. Powerful and fascinating.

There’s a new villain in town and the scope of their revolting agenda become apparent in this tale. It’s effective and well written. Once again, Ms. Jade’s choice of vocabulary is succinct, evocative and created a sense of being there with Rafe and Dare fighting for their lives. There’s not a slow scene in the entire book. In fact everything single thing in this novella worked for me – including their romance.

Rogue is once again another gem in this series. I love the writing style, the voice and the personalities every character has – unique, special and memorable. It’s another must read, a keeper like the first two in the series and I’m loving every moment visiting Angels Rest. At this point I think reading in order is helpful because every book seems to start in the previous one, creating a continuity of community and an intense story arc from the external conflict. I am one very satisfied fan. I can’t wait to see who is next!

Joker by Elsa Jade


Joker by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #2

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (78 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A ‘Mating Season’ novella.

Leela Jones had a mission: kill a werewolf. Instead, she was captured by one. Now Bastian Villalobos, bad boy of the Mesa Diablo pack, has a werewolf hunter on his hands. Wolf shifters and hunters have always been mortal enemies. But under the hungry light of the mating moon, they might be lovers too.

I hoped that this next story in the series after Hero was going to be good and all my hopes were realized. This novella is just as powerful, well written and entertaining as the first book. Joker picks up where the first book left off – with the captured assassin. The suspense and drama is more prevalent in this one and I enjoyed every surprise, shock and revelation.

Once again, there is a strong hero, Bastien, and a heroine worthy of him, Leela. In this story the emotional factor is through the roof. I guess I refer to the brave stand towards the end that had unexpected consequences. My heart was in my throat. Everything that happened in the novella built up to that final climactic and intense chapter that had me biting a nail, or two.

Before the serious wrap up there was all the turmoil of a werewolf falling in love with the hunter that had set out to kill him and his kind. I enjoyed how Ms. Jade made it all work out. Once again there is the mysticism of Mesa Diablo that enhances the believability factor that love can happen that fast if it’s meant to be. The romance is strong and wonderful.

Ms. Jade continues to wow me with her choice of descriptives. They provide a flavor and presence unique to the main characters and their romance. I enjoyed their dialogue, their interaction between family members and townsfolk and their pack. It all worked for me.

Joker is a wonderful romance. This short story is rich in substance and brilliant in its ability to embrace all the aspects a reader seeks in a great romance story. Yes, the sexual build up between Bas and Leela was hot, their coming together was hotter, but what I found incredibly sexy was what the hero revealed to Leela. Joker is delightful and not to be missed.

Gangs of Galis by Nicholas Woode-Smith


Gangs of Galis by Nicholas Woode-Smith
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (23 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Galis City, crime-ridden capital of Zona Nox, was formed in the desperation of war. For mafia boss, Danny Marzio, this desperation is opportunity. Where the rest of the city sees grit and dirt, he sees glitz and red lights.

For Danny, crime is a business. Violence is just a part of the job. But when one of his men is assassinated, Danny realises that Galis cannot stay like this forever.

In the flames of a perpetual gang war and the shadows of conspiracy, Danny Marzio sees an opportunity. He doesn’t want to be an emperor, but to ensure the survival of his business – he is willing to do whatever is necessary.

Gangs of Galis is a thrilling crime sci-fi prequel to Fall of Zona Nox.

Sometimes law and order comes from the last place you’d expect it to.

The descriptions were vivid. I especially liked how Mr. Woode-Smith showed the audience what was going on in the very first scene when Danny discovered the body of one of his men, Michel. Despite the fact that the main character was looking at a bloody murder scene, there was something eye-catching about the way the author described Michel’s last pose. It was the perfect sendoff to a character who sounded like someone Danny had depended on for a long time.

The plot needed more development. I had so much trouble following the storyline the first time I read it that I had to read it again in order to understand what was going on. There wasn’t enough time spent explaining how everyone knew each other or why Danny was trying to unite all of the various gangs that ran Galis City. I felt like I got bits and pieces of the puzzle instead of the whole thing, and that made it hard to understand even though I was fascinated by the premise.

One of my favorite parts of this tale were the futuristic curse words the characters used. They were creative but also easy to figure out once I paid attention to how the characters used them. While they didn’t sound anything like modern curse words, they served the exact same functions in conversations. This made it easy to understand what the characters were talking about even without any kind of translation going on.

If you like gritty science fiction, give Gangs of Galis a try.

Hero by Elsa Jade


Hero by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #1

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (73 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A wandering werewolf returns to town during the mating season to become pack leader and reunites for one last fling with the high school crush he left behind, unaware of how short their time together might be…
________________________________

Maddie Joplin left the high desert town of Angels Rest with the searing memory of her one night in the arms of the local golden boy nipping at her heels. Now, years later, she’s back, haunted by a need she couldn’t outrun and determined to finally set herself free from wishes that can never come true.

In the army, Kane Villalobos traveled the world, seeking other shapeshifters who’d learned to live in harmony with human, only to find secrecy and death. He’s destined to become alpha of the Mesa Diablo pack, but he can’t forget the lush curves and quick mouth of the girl he had to leave behind. Seeing her again arouses his wolf in dangerous ways, and keeping her safe—from himself and the perils of the werewolf world—might mean letting her go forever.

I’ve discovered a new addiction. The way Ms. Jade presented this world was immediately engaging with the first chapter. It’s always daunting when any author has to present to a reader their world building without sounding like it’s telling and not showing. What Ms. Jade showed me is that her heroine is strong and a good match for an equally strong hero and I enjoyed the aspect of second chances. There’s a mysticism that is woven throughout in addition to the paranormal aspect that together created a heady mix of perfection. I liked learning about their customs, beliefs, history and the secrets they keep. I learned all of that as Maddie, the heroine, put all the clues together to discover the impossible.

Kane is hunky, hard-bodied, willing and able to protect those he loves and he’s all alpha. Maddie is a good match for him and I really enjoyed watching them peel away the past to uncover their potential future. They just have to survive being hunted. The external conflict worked very well too.

The heat of their attraction and passion, and the figurative fireworks that erupts when they are skin to skin is so sexy it’s swoon-worthy. The bedroom door is wide open for those few times they explore each other in great detail but the bulk of the novella is their growing relationship, the plot that provided some drama and suspense, and the wonderful cast of characters that populate the town of Angels Rest.

One thing that surprised me about Hero was that for a short novella, the impact it made on me was as effective as a full 150 page novel. Everything balanced, everything worked, I got all the character building I needed to feel connected, engaged and vested in their happiness and safety. I am impressed.

Here’s something else that I have to mention – Ms. Jades’ word choice in dialogue and/or descriptions. I am simply astonished and delighted with so many turns of phrases and how she ‘showed’ me certain things, whether it be a person or a place or an event, in such a way that I could get a clear picture in my head of what she was trying to convey. Some authors show with words, Ms. Jade paints. Her canvas is ablaze with imagery that jumps off of the pages in Hero.

I do love me some great secondary characters and this novella gave me more than I expected. In fact, I was so completely hooked on Kane’s cousins that even before I ended this first book in the series I went book shopping and automatically ordered the next two. I am convinced that if the others are as good as this first introduction to Ms. Jade’s writing, I am going to be in reader nirvana. I’m a very happy, excited and tickled-pink reader. If you have never read this book, you are missing out. Hero is a short book that reads like a full length adventure and I highly recommend it to fans of hot paranormal romantic suspense readers, or just regular fans of paranormal romances. Can you tell I’m enamored?

Graphite & Glitter by Shae Connor


Graphite & Glitter by Shae Connor
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (75 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy (F/F interaction)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

All that glitters might just be gold.

Adrienne Michaels’ best friend is getting married, and Adrienne’s not feeling it on the night of the bachelorette party. Then she meets Tessa Smith, bass player for an all-female glam rock tribute band. After a one-night stand worthy of the hottest rock star fantasies, Tessa surprises Adrienne by asking her on a real date, and Adrienne soon finds Tessa’s side gig pales in comparison to the down-to-earth music geek beneath the glitter. Tessa even helps Adrienne through a family loss, but when Tessa gets a sweet job offer in another city, Adrienne has to make a choice: let her go, follow her halfway across the country—or become part of the reason for her to stay.

It was only supposed to be a fling.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was the dialogue. Whether it was main characters or one of Adrienne’s friends talking, everyone was always on point when it was their turn to speak. There were a few times when I had to stop reading and let myself chuckle for a minute before diving back into the plot because of how humorous and realistic all of those conversations were.

I would have preferred to see a little more character development when it came to Tessa and Adrianne’s personalities. The plot showed how they behaved when they were at work, but I never quite got the same sense of their personalities when they were in less formal situations. As much as I liked them, I would have loved to know more about who they were when they let their hair down and completely relaxed. Those sides of their lives remained a mystery. I would have given this book a perfect score if I’d known the main characters just a little better.

Adrianne and Tessa were perfect for each other in every way. They were both so witty and flirtatious that I couldn’t wait to see what kind of playful comeback they’d come up with the next time they met. I also loved the fact that they had so much in common. This made it easy for me to understand why their relationship moved as quickly as it did. They agreed on so many different things that it simply wasn’t necessary to talk a lot of that stuff out. It was nice to have that foundation set so firmly while I waited to see if these characters would end up together for longer than one night.

Graphite & Glitter was a beautiful love story. If you’re in the mood for something funny, hot, and romantic, definitely give this tale a whirl.

You’ve Got Aliens by Fiona Roarke


You’ve Got Aliens by Fiona Roarke
Alienn, Arkansas – 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (136 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Orchid

Librarian and aspiring journalist Juliana Masters has a mystery to solve: Who am I? Armed with the truth about her past, she can leave her humdrum present behind and get on with her future. She just needs to complete one lucrative investigative writing assignment and she’ll be on her way. All she has to do is prove aliens live and work out of a secret facility based under the Big Bang Truck Stop. No problem. Getting her socks knocked off by the Fearless Leader isn’t part of the plan.

Diesel Grey worked for years to achieve his goal of heading up the family business in Alienn, Arkansas. Mission accomplished, but being Fearless Leader of a galactic way station comes with a lot more headaches than anticipated. It’s hard to consider the shockingly well-informed writer a headache, though, especially when she makes him ache in all the right places.

If he’s not careful, he’ll give her everything she needs to blow his family’s cover and expose to the human world that aliens do walk among them.

All he really wants to do is sweep her up in his arms and never let her go.

If only his trigger-happy brother would stop erasing her memories …

Juliana is an orphan who accepts an assignment to earn money to fund research into who she is, where she comes from and what happened to her parents.

Diesel runs the family business in Alienn, Arkansas. He is the Fearless Leader of the galactic way station – which means most of the inhabitants of Alienn are aliens from Alpha Prime.

When the two get together the spark of true love flashes between them, but how can Diesel marry an earthling when he is has all the responsibility of his fellow aliens and the way station for intergalactic travelers?

This book was a bit slow to start but then the fun began. The inner turmoil of both main characters came across beautifully, filling out the story to make it a “can’t put it down” read. Every problem that arose was met with an understandable solution and the mystery in the background made the story even more intriguing.

I originally started reading this book because I liked the title, and I have to admit I wasn’t disappointed by the development and ending. Solutions slotted into place, even if they weren’t what I – as the reader – originally thought the answers would be. Excellent writing style with a good, thrilling story.

Loving a Ghost by Marisa Chenery


Loving a Ghost by Marisa Chenery
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (25 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Jordana’s dream of meeting hunky romance cover model, Grady Timmins, comes to an abrupt end when he dies in a tragic car accident in her city. She’d known she would never meet him in real life, but that didn’t stop her from mourning him, anyway.

Her sorrow all-too-soon changes after Grady appears to her in ghost form, unable to leave her apartment. As love springs between them, Jordana will do anything in her power to keep him at her side.

Sometimes celebrity crushes can be more than just a fun fantasy about someone you’ll never meet.

Including so much backstory about Jordana’s life was a good decision. My first impression of her was that she was a sweet and lonely woman. It was nice to have that gut feeling about her confirmed because it made it easier to understand why she made certain decisions later on in the plot. Loneliness can drive people to make all kinds of choices that they might not otherwise be brave enough to try.

The one thing I never understood about this story was why Grady ended up being drawn into Jordana’s life after he died. They’d never even met while he was alive, so it didn’t make sense to me that he would haunt her home instead of the home of one of his friends or relatives. I otherwise enjoyed the plot quite a bit. This was a big sticking point for me, though, and it’s something that I wished would have been explained better by the author.

With that being said, the chemistry between Jordana and Grady was undeniable. They were both great conversationalists, and their banter made me eager to see what would happen once they figured out that ghosts can’t touch people or objects the same way a living person can. The anticipation of wanting to see them together but not being sure how it would be possible made it hard for me to stop reading. I simply had to know what would happen to them next.

I’d recommend Loving a Ghost to anyone who is in the mood for a sweet paranormal romance tale.

The Crow by Leslie W P Garland


The Crow by Leslie W P Garland
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Historical
Length: Short Story (71 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The Crow: A sad, poignant story of misunderstanding, bitterness and blame.
“Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.”

This story, which centres on our almost desperate desire to leave something to mark our lives upon this earth, is told as a history recounted by Dave, of the time when he, as a child, was taken by his mother to a hospice where he met a dying and embittered old Irish priest known as Mad Father Patrick, who told him about the school days and subsequent rise of a local councillor, Reginald Monday, and of his (Monday’s) involvement in the construction of a dam which flooded a valley. Father Patrick’s increasingly mad tale is told with a blend of biblical quotations, philosophical musings and wild fantasy, but how does it end and just why is he so bitter?

The difference between a hero and a villain isn’t always as clear cut as it might seem.

Small town politics can be extremely complicated. One of my favorite parts of this tale was how much effort the characters put into explaining why certain issues were so sensitive for the people who lived in the community where this all took place. It actually made me wonder for a moment if this was based on real events because of how true to life some of the scenes were. They genuinely felt like the kinds of grudges and quiet but stubborn conflicts that I’ve seen played out over many years in other rural places.

There were some pacing issues in the beginning. The narrator spent the first third of the story introducing everyone and explaining how they all knew each other. While I liked having so many details, it didn’t leave quite enough room for all of the exciting things that happened once Dave started to dig deeply into his conversation with Father Patrick. I would have liked to have more time to sort through the conflicting theories about Reginald’s life after they were revealed.

Once the introductions were finished and the pace picked up, though, I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. Reginald’s involvement with the dam lead to a tragedy that the community talked about for many years afterwards. I was haunted by the various theories about what happened that day and whether or not he should have been blamed for the outcome. While I can’t say much else about this part of the plot without giving away spoilers, it was thought-provoking and it did help to ease my earlier frustration with not knowing what was going on.

This is part of “The Red Grouse” series, but it can be read on its own or out of order.

The Crow should be read by anyone who is in the mood for a slow-burning book that pays off nicely in the end.

Operation: Seduce Me by Christina James


Operation: Seduce Me by Christina James
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (281 pgs)
Other: M/F, Toys, Spanking, Anal Sex, light bondage
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

It seemed like the perfect solution to get their meddling moms off their backs. Wounded Navy SEAL Chance Wallace offers to pose as a fake boyfriend for his sexy physical therapist Brandi Wheeler’s week-long family wedding event and to help her avoid her mother’s matchmaking attempts. As a bonus, it also keeps his mother from visiting to help him recover and instead spend time with the intriguing Brandi.

It was the perfect solution…until their passion heats up as they indulge erotic fantasies on a sun-drenched island for a week of pure ecstasy. There’s nothing pretend about Chance and Brandi’s feelings for each other. When this fake relationship unexpectedly turns into something real, does love stand a chance?

Faux boyfriend to real? Was it possible?

I love Christina James’s books. She writes in a way that draws me in from the get-go and keeps me wanting to know what will happen. There’s tenderness and heart along with the heat. This book is no different. Once I started, I had to know how everything turned out.

Chance is a mess at the beginning of the book. He’s been shot and is suffering. I love how Brandi helps him get out of himself. She’s a trip, too. She’s a commitment-phobe, but she knows what she wants. I love her sense of adventure, too. I could identify with Chance’s doubts when he compares his life to hers. That made me root for him and her to get this all worked out.

The premise, a fake dating situation, isn’t new, but Ms. James put a definite hot twist on it. These two people, different, but the same, were really meant for each other. They add a twist of bdsm to the mix, but it seemed very organic. I liked it.

If you want a hot read with a wounded hero, a heroine who isn’t quite sure of herself and a happy ending, then this is the book for you.