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.

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.

Give Me More by Jenika Snow


Give Me More by Jenika Snow
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Short Story (87 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

After running from an abusive relationship, Zoey tries to regain control of her life in a new town. She begins to find reasons to move forward, but Zoey can’t ignore her arousal for a dark and mysterious man—one that is clearly dangerous.

The moment Sergei sees Zoey, he wants her. She’s vulnerable and timid, but she has a strength behind her eyes. Zoey’s a fighter, a warrior, and he wants her for more than just a night in his bed. But how will she react when she finds out he’s part of the Bratva—the Russian Mafia?

Zoey knows who and what Sergei is, and even though she should be terrified, she can’t help but be drawn to him. It isn’t until her past comes back to haunt her that she truly sees the type of man Sergei is, and the lengths he’ll go to protect her.

Surprisingly good, decidedly dark, refreshingly romantic.

The Russian mafia and violence go hand in hand. However, this book is not just about violence. There’s plenty, even gratuitously graphic, but that’s not the only story here.

Sergei is part of the Bratva. Mafia is a mild word for him. Violence isn’t just a part of him, it’s his life.

But this is a love story like no other. The chemistry between Zoey and Sergei is off the charts.

The writer has the perfect balance between these two aspects of the story. Romance offset the violence and vice versa. That said, this book does not have the lovey dovey kind of romance. It’s a darker romance.

Short read but well worth the time. I had no choice but to pulled into this story. I was a willing prisoner to witness Zoey and Sergei’s story. I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to warn Zoey that this was likely a very bad mistake but I couldn’t, obviously, but at the same time, I had to see how the author played out their story. How could there be a happily ever after? It seemed impossible.

Something else I liked about this is that it has a little bit of a mystery/suspense aspect. It kept me one my toes. An easy recommend. A wonderful read.

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.

The Kaiser Account by Louise Blaydon


The Kaiser Account by Louise Blaydon
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Recent Historical (1960s)
Length: Short Story (28 pgs)
Other: M/M, Masturbation
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The life of an ad man in 1960s New York is all about risk-taking, but not until Evan Jones meets the man from Kaiser, Mark O’Brien, does he fully understand what that means…

It’s 1965. Evan Jones is an account manager for a major advertising company in New York City, engaged to the boss’s daughter in a halfhearted sort of way, gradually making his way up into the highest ranks of the company, and into the boss’s favor. The Kaiser Motors account is one they’ve been angling at for years, and Evan has absolutely no intention of letting it slip through his fingers.

But the man from Kaiser, Mark O’Brien, is not what Evan is used to dealing with and, moreover, is someone who hits him right where it hurts—in the long-repressed part of him that prefers men and is ashamed to admit it. When it comes to O’Brien, ‘going to any length’ has a whole new meaning, because O’Brien wants Evan—and worse still, Evan wants him back. O’Brien, in the space of a night, shows him something more than the staid life is possible. Can Evan take the risk and close the deal?

A closeted man and one he can’t quite figure out. Things can only get better, right?

Things certainly get better. I loved this book. I did. I liked the build-up between Evan and Mark. It was like watching a dance. The tension ratcheted up with each page. Ms Blaydon wrote well and I wanted to know what would happen next. I raced through this story.

Evan is very closeted and thinks he wants one thing, but when Mark shows up…he’s confused. I liked that things weren’t so perfectly mapped out. I had an idea the two would get together, but the how was intriguing. I’m glad I got to read the book.

My one quibble really isn’t much. I wish the book were longer. I liked the play between Mark and Evan and wanted to see where things would go. They’re great characters and I hope the author continues their story. I’ll happily read it.

If you want a book with heat and intrigue, but will work when you don’t have a lot of time to read, then you’ll want to pick up this book.

No Impact by Maia Dylan

No Impact by Maia Dylan
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (115 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

No impact on the target is the call that a sniper has missed, that their position is now compromised, and the firestorm it can bring could ultimately cost them their lives.

Riley Marksmen has wanted Marcel Cross from the moment they first met. He just had to convince Marcel that he wanted Riley just as bad. When his first attempt with Marcel results in no impact, he is convinced that a future with Marcel is worth the risk of trying again.

Marcel knows there is something between him and Riley. He just has to find the courage to take the gamble in the first place. When secrets are discovered, and a threat is revealed, it jeopardizes what they’ve only just started to build.

Can they find a way to the future they’ve targeted, or will their risk leave No Impact?

Marcel had been a Marine sniper and a man with no family, no partner and only a small number of friends. After mustering out though, he meets Riley, who runs a crew of construction workers. The two men are immediately drawn to one another. But can they manage to find some common ground?

I really enjoyed this story. Equal parts Army/Marine story and M/M romance I felt this book really checked quite a few boxes for me. I found the pacing really good, it moved along at a good clip – neither too fast nor too slow. And the chemistry between Marcel and Riley steamed practically off the pages – I was hooked right from the first few paragraphs.

Both Riley and Marcel are strong men – emotionally and physically, I enjoyed reading about how they each gave no quarter, sharing their bodies and hearts with strength and vigor. Reading about these two alpha men, and watching them not only fall in love with each other but also open themselves, share their vulnerabilities and hearts was really special. I totally commend the author on managing to balance the two characters so well, allowing them each to be strong and fierce, without being over-bearing or too dominating for each other. This was an excellent part of the book and something I genuinely loved to read.

Readers will also likely be pleased that there is a strong cast of secondary characters. I feel this will certainly leave options open for the author to write many more books. While this book is part of a series it’s the first I’ve read and I didn’t feel at all lost during it – it genuinely stands fine alone and can be read with no prior knowledge. I enjoyed reading the other characters almost as much as I liked Riley and Marcel, and would absolutely happily pick up any other books in this series by the author.

A sexy, fun and wonderful read full of interesting plot, strong men and great characters.

Losing It In The Closet by Michelle Graham


Losing It In The Closet by Michelle Graham
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (35 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Zach Hughes isn’t homosexual. He’s got a string of sexual conquests to prove it. The problem is he’s still attracted to men. He finally decides that the only way to get it out of his system is by having sex with a man, just once, and then he can move on. He turns to online hook-up site Losing It to find him a discreet gentleman to help him out.

A teacher at a Catholic school, Colin Montgomery has to be careful to hide his sexual orientation. Random meet-ups far from home are the only way he gets a date. And of course a relationship is out of the question.

From the moment Colin and Zach meet, sparks fly, and the two find they can’t get enough of each other, agreeing to meet again and again. But when they’re spotted out together by one of Colin’s students, their lives are turned upside down, and they’re forced to decide what’s most important—their love or public perception?

Zach was pretty certain that he wasn’t gay. He was sincerely hoping that if he finally caved – gave in to the homosexual urges he couldn’t get out of his head, that he could do the deed and then move on, live a normal, straight life. So he applies to “Losing It”, a matching system designed to hook you up with a no-strings partner and give you a special encounter. Colin is no novice to sex, but with a Catholic family and a job as a school teacher he’s in the closet. Deep in the closet. Can Zach and Colin risk it all and Lose It together?

I found this to be a fun and lighthearted, sexy short story. I thoroughly enjoyed both Zach and Colin’s characters, finding them interesting and quite different from the normal “boy meets boy” style gay characters. I honestly can’t recall the last time I read an erotic M/M romance where both main characters were in the closet, so that alone made this a very interesting read to me. Additionally, Zach wasn’t even certain that he was gay, genuinely enjoying being sexually with women (though nothing active in the story). Zach seemed to clearly think at least initially that he was mostly straight and he was merely curious about men, not actually bisexual.

I was a little disappointed at how unrealistic some of the ending was, I felt the solution to Colin’s troubles was a little too easy in wrapping things up. The chemistry between Colin and Zach, though, was great and I loved the pace of their relationship and the slow, steady manner they both fell in love and committed properly to each other.

Readers looking for a slightly different style of M/M romance, with lots of sex and good, strong chemistry should enjoy this short story.

Don’t Shoot…I’m a Werebear by Angelique Voisen


Don’t Shoot…I’m a Werebear by Angelique Voisen
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Can a lonely city bear nurse his broken heart?

Bear shifter Barry Smithson is going native. Rejected by his boss and crush of five years, Barry’s going back to his hometown. Believing he’ll win over the love of his life with his animal’s ferocious nature, Barry decides to spend some time in the woods.

But Barry is not an outdoorsy kind of bear. He’s obsessive compulsive and terrified of open spaces. Tired and lost, Barry catches wind of a delectable scent, leading him to a human fishing for salmon. Hunger of the carnal kind hits him bone-deep. Once Barry gets a taste, he’ll want more.

Can Barry convince the human not to shoot him?

Barry wasn’t good at making – or keeping – friends. As a werebear he finds himself moody and grumpy far too often. Even though Barry has had a crush on his boss for five years, he’s not quite managed to make his attraction known, and then it’s too late. Deciding to go home to try and ground himself, Barry goes for a walk in the woods and meets Zack, and both their worlds are turned upside down.

Major kudos to the author for this title. I have to admit the title is the main reason I picked up this short story and I’m so glad that I did! While I felt the start of the story moved a little slowly, once Zack and Barry finally meet up everything moves along at a lovely pace. I enjoyed getting to know Barry properly first, learning about how he’s struggled with his werebear and life in general. I love that Barry had flaws, wasn’t some perfect, alpha hero – it made him feel more real to me and indeed I enjoyed Barry far more for his imperfections. It took a bit longer to really get to know Zack – but I loved his character as much as Barry’s by the end.

The plot of this story is mostly Barry coming to the realisation that he needs to stop running from his life, and then Barry and Zack coming together and I really enjoyed this. Both Barry and Zack are interesting and complicated characters, and I didn’t find the story at all lacking for only having a few other strong secondary characters. Some readers mightn’t like how there’s no sex to speak of until the second half of the book but personally I actually preferred to really get to know Barry and his situation first. And when Barry and Zack finally come together I found it well worth the wait.

I really enjoyed this story and found the sex hot and intimate, I loved the characters and generally found this to be an excellent short story and well worth the read. Recommended.

The Pirate’s Revenge by Sarita Leone


The Pirate’s Revenge by Sarita Leone
The Lobster Cover Series
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (118 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Still grieving the loss of her father, Mary Sweet finds solace strolling the seashore at Quinn Beach. There she meets a handsome stranger who seems to share her sadness. He is utterly alone in the world, and praying to assuage his grief with this change of scenery.

Revenge is a strong motivator, especially for a man who’s been mistreated his whole life. The promise of pirate’s gold colors Henry Titchell’s view–yet not so much that he can’t see the beauty in Miss Mary Sweet. But while Henry is a stranger to Lobster Cove, he has not “stumbled” upon the place as he would have Mary believe. Instead he seeks retribution rather than rest

When Mary realizes the newcomer is not who he seems, will her heart be willing to forgive his sins?

Henry has a choice to make.

Tales of pirate treasure draw Henry to the picturesque coastal town of Lobster Cove. In the beginning, the source of Henry’s sorrow isn’t clear, but it quickly becomes apparent that he has never known a kind or gentle word. When the truth of his upbringing is finally revealed, it is heartbreaking. After Henry’s tormenters meet a fiery fate, he is finally free to make his own way in the world, and Henry decides to seek out a fortune. However, the people of Lobster Cove aren’t what he expected, and Henry certainly never anticipated meeting Mary. Will he pursue the gold or Mary’s heart? I eagerly anticipated learning the answer.

The romance between Henry and Mary is sweet. They are both wounded and seek to find peace on the beach. Instead, they find each other. I enjoyed watching Mary and Henry get to know each other. Their talks on the beach are lovely, and it is clear they will make a great couple. The only obstacle to their happy ending is Henry’s inner turmoil and his belief that he is unworthy of love and kindness. Mary is smart, and she can tell he’s hiding something. Mary has never given Henry a reason to doubt her sincerity. As I read, I wondered if he’d ever find the courage to tell her the truth.

Lobster Cove is the perfect place for Henry to heal his battered soul. The people there are generally kind. There are a few suspicious folks, but nothing serious enough to put Henry in any real danger. As Henry began to realize he could build a life in Lobster Cove, I liked watching Henry’s eyes open to a new life filled with possibility.

Reading The Pirate’s Revenge was very enjoyable. I liked Henry and Mary very much and had fun following their budding romance. Fans of sweet historical romance should give this book a try.