Lera’s Sorrow – Darkliete, Book One by Gail Gernat


Lera’s Sorrow – Darkliete, Book One by Gail Gernat
Publisher: Andrea James Publishing
Genre: Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (58 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Lera and her cousin have completed their long childhood and their training as healers. Sent to their grandparents back in Madean, they must negotiate the strange new world, attain their werwinstans. Fate intervenes in the shape of handsome young Ian, very human and very poisonous to the elven. Trying out her independence for the first time in her life, what will Lera decide? Where will she discover her loyalty to lay, with love or with duty?

Elves, I love elves! This is a story with a difference as Lera has come to her grandparents to be officially accepted as a healer. During the celebrations she bonds with.a human prince and this causes untold problems which is not helped by the lies of a pooka.

For such a short book, this story is full of emotion and intrigue, plus there’s an evil queen and a handsome prince. What more could a reader want when opening a fantasy book? Lera’s healing helps her through bad times but also puts her in danger which adds a bit of spice to the story.

Well written, easy to read and gives satisfaction. Recommended.

The Soldier’s Final Mission by Laura M. Baird


The Soldier’s Final Mission by Laura M. Baird
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short length (43 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When Special Forces Soldier, Bob meets Becca at his cousin’s weekend party, they share one night of explosive passion. But when Bob’s called away on mission after mission, he wants Becca to have a life instead of waiting on him, and tells her to move on. Shocked and hurt, she does, moving to San Diego to eventually marry and have a son, only to divorce shortly after.

Six years later, when a mission incident nearly ends Bob’s life, he reflects on what could have been, never having forgotten the woman who loved him. Bob realizes he’ll do whatever it takes to have Becca back in his life—if she can see past his scars.

Bob had met Becca, his cousin’s room-mate, years ago, before he’d been deployed and shared one special night together. Out of the country far more than in, Bob and Becca had drifted apart until an accident ended Bob’s military career. Broken, but home, Bob was determined to try and turn the chemistry between them into something more than just the one night they’d shared.

This is an interesting short story that I enjoyed reading. Bob was a dedicated solider and most of the story was from his perspective so I liked getting a good understanding of his character and understanding why he acted the way he did. I found the back-and-forth mental time jumps a little choppy, often not following clearly whether Bob was recalling the past – ie how he met Becca – or whether it was present day. Quite a few times I had to back-track and pick up the thread again and sort out whether Bob was reminiscing or whether the story was in the current time. This made the story feel a bit jolted to me, personally, though I admit I enjoyed learning about Bob and Becca’s past. Their history made their relationship more complicated and interesting, but a part of me just wished the author had started with their meeting then jumped forward (only the once) in time while Bob was deployed. I feel this could have easily made the whole story feel smoother to me and helped me not get lost in the timeline.

Once the past and present merged, however, I really enjoyed watching Bob and Becca get to know each other properly. They’d both gone on living their lives, Bob in the military and Becca on the West Coast, far from Bob’s family and her old life. They each have a child and I found it both romantic and satisfying to read them both coming together to form a loving family unit.

There’s only a couple of sex scenes, though I was pleased to find them both descriptive and explicitly written. Readers wanting a hot-and-heavy, highly sexual story might find the erotic side of this story a little lacking, but I personally was pleased that the character development and plot aspects of the story were more heavily portrayed than the sex itself. This made the story feel more complex and emotional to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought this was a good read and an author I will happily read again in the future.

Crystal Coast Christmas by Sierra Brave


Crystal Coast Christmas by Sierra Brave
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday (Christmas)
Length: Short length (72 pages)
Other: M/F, Anal Play, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

After escaping a bad relationship and moving into her aunt’s guest quarters, marine biologist Jessica Butler has sworn off love and relationships. Still, she can’t resist a night of no-strings passion with hunky soldier, Captain Chase Culpepper. Their evening sizzles, leaving Jessica satisfied but wary. Her ex did a great job of destroying her self-confidence, leaving Jessica reluctant to take the plunge into romance again. While Chase is asleep, Jessica runs.

Chase can’t believe he’s found his sexual equal in Jessica. When he wakes up alone the next morning, he’s determined to make Jessica his, in spite of her reluctance to put her heart on the line.

Jessica’s sworn off men for good, but the faster she runs, the more Chase finds to love about her. What will it take for him to win her trust and her love?

Jessica is not in the Christmas spirit. Alone after her now-ex cheated with a woman Jessica considered a friend, she just can’t find it in herself to get into the holidays this year. Chase loved Crystal Coast and was enjoying his usual morning jog when he literally bumped into Jessica. They got off on the wrong foot but Chase is pleased when he has the chance later to make it up to her.

This is a light and fun Christmassy story. Jessica has been pretty badly burned by her ex and carries that baggage around for a fair bit of the start of this story. I felt this made the book drag a little and personally would have preferred if she’d had a bit more time (off-screen) to come to terms with the betrayal. While this did admittedly add a good dose of conflict into the story, I just didn’t like how Jessica wasn’t really open to Chase emotionally in the beginning, and how she kept on expecting him to turn into a jerk.

Despite this – Jessica was more than happy to jump into bed with him, which I found weird since she clearly didn’t trust him and I wasn’t even convinced at their first intimacy that she even liked him. It felt a bit too much to me like rebound sex. Jessica was thrilled that Chase paid her attention and was flirting with her, and since he was handsome she decided to have sex with him and didn’t expect it to go anywhere. While it struck me as realistic, it certainly wasn’t romantic and I felt pretty bad that Jessica had been so messed up emotionally by her ex. Considering Jessica’s poor opinion of most men and her running away before Chase woke up the next morning a small part of me was hoping Chase would go off and find some other girl who could love and appreciate him.

While I never really warmed to Jessica’s character after such a difficult beginning, I was extremely relieved how as the story progresses Jessica manages to stop acting silly enough for me to want her out of the story. When her ex keeps on trying to drag her down Chase works overtime to build up her self-confidence and finally Jessica realizes that not every man in the universe is a jerk like her ex and so she starts to become more emotionally and romantically available for Chase. I found the jump from here into sex-hungry kinky woman a bit of a stretch, but have to admit I did love the steaminess of the sex scenes between Jessica and Chase and certainly felt that their emotional and romantic connection improved a huge amount. There’s some very light spanking and a few toys, a little bit of anal play and the last quarter of the book just flew for me in a very happy manner. I do feel it was worth sticking through to reach this far happier space.

This is an emotional story with a fair bit of baggage, about Jessica finding her way again after being seriously burned. While the heroine annoyed me a fair bit I found the ending of the story to be rewarding. With a smoking hot hero who is perfection in almost every way this was a decent read with some steamy sex scenes that helped me keep turning the pages.

Once Upon A Wolf by Rhys Ford


Once Upon A Wolf by Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short length (96 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Wayward Wolves: Book One

Gibson Keller’s days are fairly routine: wake up early, get some work done, drink lots of coffee, and take care of Ellis, his older brother, stuck in wolf form after coming home from the war. It’s a simple life made up of long runs on two legs—or four—and quiet evenings…. Until Ellis chases a handsome man off a cliff and into the frozen waters beside their cabin, changing Gibson’s life forever.

For Zach Thomas, buying an old B&B is a new start. Leaving behind his city life, he longs to find peace and quiet, and hiking the trails behind his property seems safe enough—right up to the moment an enormous black wolf chases him into a lake, nearly drowning him. Discovering werewolves are real astounds him, but not as much as the man who rescues him from the icy water, then walks into Zach’s heart as if he owns it.

Loving a werewolf—loving Gibson with all his secrets—has its challenges, but Zach believes their love is worth fighting for, especially since his heart knows the big bad wolf is really a prince in disguise.

Zach had left the city and his previous life behind him. What he hadn’t expected in the country was to be chased by a wolf into the lake. Gibson’s life pretty much consisted of taking care of his brother, Ellis, who had remained locked in his wolf-form for years. Gibson rescued Zach from the lake, but all three men’s lives were changed that fateful day. Can Zach accept Gibson and what his life entails?

I really enjoyed this story. I found it to be an emotional and (in a bizarre kind of way) romantic book. The attraction between Zach and Gibson was intense and almost instant, but I loved watching the two men circle around each other first before both giving in to the desire they each felt. Ellis broke my heart and personally I feel the author actually made Ellis the best character of all – tortured, painfully hurting and my heart just bled for him. Predominantly in wolf-form the author did a fantastic job to my mind in making Ellis both a sympathetic character and extremely interesting pretty much without Ellis himself saying a single word. I was desperate enough to learn if there was a sequel to this story – featuring Ellis’ story – that I actually looked it up online and checked out the author’s webpage (something that I almost never do…). This book is too new a release for there to be any word (that I could find, at least) on Ellis’ story – but I would purchase it in a heartbeat, which clearly indicates just how much I loved this story and just how invested I became in Ellis, Gibson and Zach.

Readers wanting a deeply emotional story with complicated, multi-layered characters should find this as enjoyable as I did. While the plot is fairly straight forward – the men being snowed in together and then a small-town mentality about “big dogs” being aggressive killers etc – it’s the characters and their own situations which really make this story shine. I personally liked the balance of plot and romance – character-driven stories with loads of chemistry and romance are just delightful. While a part of me felt like Gibson and Zach waited just a little too long to consummate their relationship the author did an excellent job of explaining why and the logic was very sound, I was just impatient for it by the time they finally indulged in some sex.

Hotly written and thoroughly romantic I absolutely loved this story. Complex and interesting characters kept me eagerly turning the pages and I sincerely hope there are more books coming down the line. This is a brilliant author and I fully plan to check out more of her books. Highly recommended.

Not That Innocent by Angel Ray


Not That Innocent by Angel Ray
Publisher: Books To Go Now
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (39 pages)
Other: M/F, Anal Play, Rimming
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Leonardo Morgan—Leo to his friends—was known for two things: running a Website geared towards younger single men and being a notorious womanizer. Leo had affairs with many of his female assistants and he made no apologies for it. That is, until he hired his newest assistant Sara Griffith. Sara was an “innocent” farm girl trying to make it in the big city. Or so Leo thought. An unexpected night of passion between them made him rethink his first impression of Sara and that she might not have been as “innocent” as he initially thought.

Their relationship blossoms both in and out of the bedroom. Eventually Leo realizes that his feelings for Sara go beyond merely sexual and that he has genuine feelings for her. He wonders—he hopes—she shares the same feelings for him. Can Sara tame this notorious and shameless womanizer?

Leo ran his own website and didn’t mind sleeping occasionally with her personal assistants. But these assistants were usually very young, self-absorbed and fairly useless. Interviewing for yet another new assistant, Leo had to admit there were a number with better qualifications than Sara, but with her big blue eyes, innocent air and gorgeous body Leo gave in to his baser impulses and hired Sara anyway. Leo can’t help but fantasize about the sexy woman and working so closely together he wants to be a lot more than boss and employee.

This is a super-hot short story along the fairly well-known lines of a “boss-falls-for-secretary” style. I was interested to note that it’s told from Leo’s perspective in the first person which I found to be somewhat unusual for women’s romance, but an interestingly different take on other similar stories that I’ve read before. I was a little disappointed how almost the first third of the book was pretty firmly based on Leo alone – except for the brief interview there was no interaction with Sara. While I understand the need to solidify Leo and his character to the reader it felt a little like wasted space in the short length of story. I found myself impatient to see Leo and Sara interact together and while Leo’s fantasies and masturbation scene certainly ramped up the spice factor of the story I’d have far preferred to have those pages show me Leo and Sara getting to know each other better instead.

I certainly found things progressed between Leo and Sara very quickly after that – and much like the title of the story indicates, Sara is nowhere near as innocent or shy as she first makes out to be. While I didn’t find the relationship building between Leo and Sara very romantic at all, the author did a very good job with the erotic element of Sara and Leo’s relationship and they both enjoyed a number of active and explicit scenes throughout the rest of the story.

While there is a solidly “Happy For Now” style of ending I feel this story would fare better with erotica readers and not readers who like a more emotional connection between their hero and heroine. I didn’t mind the lack of overt romance between Leo and Sara, but could understand why their very sexual and not so emotional relationship might not sit as well with more traditional romance readers. Deliciously explicit and very detailed this story won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but is a fun and quick read that is spicy enough to hit the spot when a fast and short story is needed.

Trouble Tied Up by Maxine Marsh


Trouble Tied Up by Maxine Marsh
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (78 pages)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Toys, Spanking
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

One night, in a small town in Texas, Clayton and DJ meet and have a one-night stand. He’s a serious dominant at heart who’s lost his perfect submissive and DJ is responsive to his ways but is trying to stay out of trouble after getting paroled from prison.

In the end they believe what’s done is done—they go their separate ways. The next day it turns out that DJ is starting a new job at a horse rehabilitation ranch—and Clayton’s her boss.

Clayton liked his work and his routine and was perfectly happy with nothing and no one upsetting either of them. One night he notices a stranger at the local bar and after he gives DJ a lift to the local motel he can’t resist when she invites him inside. He knows she might be trouble – but for once he’s willing to risk his routine and carefully ordered life. The next morning Clayton discovers DJ is actually his newly hired ranch-hand and Clayton knew they were both in for far more trouble than he’d initially realized.

This is a steamy-hot story with a deliciously spicy hint of kink to it. There’s quite an age-gap between Clayton and DJ, but neither of them find that a problem, particularly considering they have sex within minutes of meeting each other. I liked how there was a number of layers to DJ in particular and while there was some plot to the story, to me it was clearly all about the kinky sex and growing relationship between Clayton and DJ. Much of the first half of the story is based on DJ and Clayton solidifying their relationship – so I feel that readers looking for a well-fleshed out plot might find this aspect of the story a little disappointing until close to the end of the story.

While the heat and growing intimacy between Clayton and DJ can’t be denied, I’m not entirely sure this story will appeal to everyone. Clayton has a talent for treating, taming and corralling wild and damaged horses and he views his sexual appetites into BDSM in a very similar manner. It felt like – in Claytons mind at least – taming and “breaking” a filly was truly on par with enticing DJ as his new lover and introducing her to the aspects of BDSM that he craved. The similarities between Clayton treating the abused horses and his wooing and taming of DJ walked a very fine to my mind and I felt very slightly uncomfortable sometimes while reading this story. I generally think of myself as being fairly broad minded when reading so I’m not sure if this just didn’t fully appeal to me personally or if perhaps the comparisons might not hit the right note with other readers either. I ended up deciding it was one of those polarizing things – I think some readers will be like me and find it didn’t hit the mark, but others will absolutely love this and be deeply affected – so it will certainly be a matter of taste, I think.

A spicy and definitely unique BDSM read this was a good book with strong and complicated characters. Clayton and DJs antics won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but the heat and chemistry between them was undeniable to me and although uncomfortable in places I enjoyed this different and interesting read.

Saved By Her Vampires by Doris O’Connor


Saved By Her Vampires by Doris O’Connor
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short story (39 pages)
Other: M/F/M, Ménage, Anal Play
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Everyone knows that happily ever afters only happen in fairy tales. Real life is cruel and painful. Bianca may fantasize about the two hunks in the shadows, but that doesn’t mean they’ll ever notice her. Men as sinfully sexy as the two brothers won’t want a crippled redhead like her.

The New Year has always been a painful reminder for Bianca. She helps out at the annual orphanage’s fancy dress fundraiser to help chase away her demons—until it’s time to leave.

When Sister Maria insists that Bernhard and Archie escort Bianca home, the events that follow change her life forever. The hottest sex she’s ever had cannot account for the changes Bianca sees in the mirror. Vampires aren’t real, right?

Bianca knows full well that Happily Ever After is a myth. She knew there was no handsome knight out there ready to treat her like a princess and sweep her off her feet. Men didn’t even really look at her – not once they saw the brace on her leg. It was a pity, since she had the most delicious fantasies about her co-workers, Bernhard and his brother Archie. When they escort her home through the fog on New Year’s Eve, however, they each make clear to her that they are more than interested in her – body and soul.

This is one of those short stories where you want to get a hot drink, disengage your brain, open a box of chocolates and just dive right in. Steamily hot and with two handsome, sinfully sexy vampire brothers this is the best kind of decadent paranormal fiction. I found that what might be lacking in plot and complexity is more than made up for with interesting characters and plenty of scorching threesome sex. I mean really, what more do you need other than two handsome vampires in a delicious ménage?

I could understand the promptness of Bianca, Bernhard and Archie jumping into bed – with such a short page count there really wasn’t much time to waste – and I fully understand this won’t be every reader’s cup of tea. But as a fast read with plenty of biting, intense sex it definitely lived up to my expectations. I was a little disappointed Bianca thought their entire first encounter was just a dream – but it did delay the usual freak-out over “oh my goodness vampires are real”, which normally impedes the erotic shenanigans. With this mixed blessing I was pleased that we got such a hot, erotic scene in the body of the book, but a bit dejected that it took Bianca believing it wasn’t real to get there.

I found this to be an steamy and quick read, full of delicious ménage sex and perfect for a cold and quiet evening. Disengage your brain, sit back and just enjoy the fun and fast ride for exactly what it is – a great, sexy vampire threesome story.

Backseat in The Dark by Milton Dewar


Backseat in The Dark by Milton Dewar
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (25 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

An about-to-be ex-husband is forced to confront his own demons, and something far worse, on his way back home, on a lonely stretch of road.

Backseat in The Dark is aptly named for the eerie suspense that drives the story.

It is often difficult to write a short story that is not only complete, but has enough suspense to keep those pages turning; however, this author has done that. The main character, Ian, after receiving the surprising news that his wife wanted a divorce, got behind the wheel angry and upset. Right away, this signals that something could go wrong. His inner dialogue inspires sympathy from a reader, and one wonders what is going to happen—nothing typical it soon seems.

His drive down a dark road, while swimming in his impassioned thoughts, creates a spine-chilling atmosphere. Is something scary and unnatural going to happen? This mood is created almost poetically, the words flowing in a way to further evoke feelings of dread. The mundane details are not so under the pen of this author. Details create the world Ian lives in, building up the sense of alarm.

Things escalate. His car breaks down on this dark road. He remembers a scary legend about a witch who was burned in this area many years before. But then she appears, right before Ian!

His reaction and what happens next serves to further develop this character, his life, his regrets, and his wishes. But will he get the chance to see all these things resolved? Predicting will only take a reader so far. This ending sweeps one into a whirlwind of surprise.

The imagery and writing gives a reader an immediate sense of urgency, making this a page-turner. Occasionally, a detail or two caused confusion, but this could also be seen as inspiring deeper thought. For such a short story, it packed an emotional punch. Recommended for those who like suspense.

Bought Bride by Sam Crescent


Bought Bride by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (57 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Rafe Shawl needs a wife. In order to inherit his father’s company, he has to be married, and the moment he bumps into Ellis Johnson, spilling coffee down her, he knows she’s the perfect woman for the job.

Covered in coffee, Ellis knows there’s no way she’s going to get the job that she’d been about to be interviewed for—but the guy who’d just done the damage is offering to pay her a million dollars just to have coffee with him. She can’t refuse, especially when she realizes his offer is legit—one coffee and then becoming his wife.

Ellis sees no other alternative, so she agrees to be his wife, and help him win back his father’s company. Five years, that’s all she has to do. Five years, pretending to be in love with him.

But five years will never be enough when she’s really fallen in love with him.

But what will happen when she finds out that he lied to her? Not only does she have to give him five years, but he also needs an heir…

This almost Cinderella story caught my attention right away. This is the ninth book in the amazing Curvy Women series from Sam Crescent.

Rafe and Ellis were incredibly rich and vibrant characters. Their paths crossed through a chance meeting, and it was like fate throwing them together. I thought that was so romantic. It was true that their relationship started out as a business arrangement, but the author made it clear that Rafe wasn’t just using Ellis to fulfill his father’s last wishes. He hoped that their mutual attraction would lead to a real relationship. That was exactly what happened in this sweet slow burning romance. There was a bit of drama with Rafe’s mother and a big secret that Rafe withheld from Ellis.

I always enjoy this author’s books. I especially enjoyed this one. The story was short but very well written with engaging characters and a story that was captivating. I am looking forward to the next book in the Curvy Women series soon.

Welcome Home, Soldier by Deanna Wadsworth


Welcome Home, Soldier by Deanna Wadsworth
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday (Christmas)
Length: Short story (76 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Clay and Daniel fell in love as enlisted men during Desert Shield, but Don’t Ask Don’t Tell meant they had to keep it secret. After Clay’s convoy was ambushed, PTSD changed him, and their relationship ended in a horrible fight on Christmas Eve.

Twenty-five years later, they’ve reconnected on Facebook, and Clay finds out Daniel will be alone on Christmas Eve. Impulsively, he sets out for Daniel’s hometown of Gilead, Ohio—where Daniel is now the mayor—to surprise him with a visit. But a blizzard strikes and Clay wrecks his car. All hope of seeing Daniel is lost—until a mysterious old man named Nick offers Clay a ride.

The weight of past wounds and the scars of war might make their reunion awkward, but Clay is willing to take the risk to win back his lost love. Despite a lifetime of disappointing holidays, Clay hopes that this soldier is finally coming home for Christmas.

Clay had survived active duty as a soldier and cancer, he sure as hell wasn’t going to let being stuck in a snow-storm end his life, particularly not before he could reconnect with Daniel. When his car breaks down Clay is grateful to be rescued and taken the last few miles to Daniel’s cabin – even if it does mean they’re stuck and snowed in together over the Christmas holiday. It’s been a long time since the two men broke up, can they reconnect and have the Christmas miracle they both secretly yearn for?

I found this to be a heartwarming story. Even though the storyline isn’t particularly unique (two men snowed in and repairing their long-damaged relationship) I still found it to be emotional and well written. I liked both Clay and Daniel’s characters and a few chapters in was solidly invested in them patching their relationship up and getting back together after a very long (twenty plus years) time apart.

The emotional connection between Clay and Daniel read to me as deep, intense and quite realistic. And considering the bulk of the storyline is based around this connection – both in the past and how it still abides in the present – I was pleased that it felt strong and real to me.

I felt the pacing of the story was a little tricky. Clay and Daniel’s past relationship still cast quite a long shadow, with plenty of unresolved feelings, hurt and conversations that need to be completed. This baggage could have weighted down the entire story, and while I didn’t feel it was a negative aspect of the story, a part of me really wishes that Clay and Daniel had resolved their past quicker than what occurred. I understood why the author took their time with all this past conflict, and I would have hated had Clay and Daniel simply taken one look at each other and instantly forgiven one another. But I was ready for the two men to move forward and try to rebuild their life and look to the future together quite a bit before it actually happened. When they did start looking forward it was lovely, like everything finally clicked into place and I found it a true pleasure to read.

A deeply emotional and character-driven story there was lots to enjoy about this book. Clay and Daniel are both complicated, multi-layered characters with a sizzling attraction and plenty of history and conflict. This is a good book to dive into and I enjoyed it, finally finishing the book with a warm, fuzzy feeling and a happy smile.