Breakfast At Midnight by Kim Dias


Breakfast At Midnight by Kim Dias
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (66 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Hope can be found in unexpected places.

Lonely, still struggling with his divorce, and suffering from writer’s block, successful thriller author Fred spends much more time in an all-night Denny’s than is healthy for any man. It’s the last place he thought he’d meet someone like Callum, who has literally run away from the internationally famous boy band Leos.

Despite their age difference, the two become friends, and their long nights of soul-searching might help them find the courage to face their problems: Fred’s deteriorating relationship with his daughter and Callum’s career issues. It’s easy for their lives to tangle together, and each might provide the other the means to move beyond the past—even if it’s not a journey they can take together.

After a bad break-up, Fred found he preferred to go to Denny’s at two in the morning instead of simply lying in bed, unable to sleep. Callum was far too young and for Fred, he knew that, but when the two men began talking Fred just couldn’t help himself – the attraction instant and fierce.

I enjoyed this short story. A number of the twists in the plot took me by surprise and overall I found the entire story refreshingly different. Both Fred and Callum were interesting and vibrant characters. I really liked them both and found myself invested in them pretty much immediately. Despite the plot actually being quite serious and deep – I still managed to laugh in quite a few places and found lightness and happiness in amongst all the depth. I really feel the author has done an amazing job of balancing interesting and complex characters with a strong plot and enough romance and lightness to keep me as a reader smiling and happily turning the pages.

The sex – which actually happens further along in the book than one would expect at first guess – was more smoldering than erotic. Personally, I was so deeply invested in Callum and Fred’s character and the plot that was slowly unwinding that I didn’t mind the sex wasn’t overly descriptive. The romance and relationship being built between Callum and Fred took centre stage and while the sex was there – the emotion and connection between the men was far more important. I loved how they both progressed and finished the story impressed and with a deep, happy sigh. Readers wanting graphic, hot and heavy sex might find this aspect of the story slightly disappointing, but personally I just couldn’t fault it.

With vibrant characters, a delightful plot and quite a few surprises I greatly enjoyed this story and can strongly recommend it. I will absolutely be checking out more of this author’s work in the future.

The Time by Peri Elizabeth Scott


The Time by Peri Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (75 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

In a post apocalyptic world, a woman struggles to survive until reunited with her son, only to bring grave danger to the small band of people he leads. Choosing to sacrifice herself to protect the clan, Ann Murdoch discovers how resourceful she can be in the face of torture and death.

She knew revenge was a luxury even as she yearned for it, her daughter horribly murdered. And Ann has killed a boy, albeit in self defense, and obviously someone connected to him didn’t view luxury in the same way. And that someone is well past the yearning stage…

How long would you survive in a society that no longer had a government and was quickly running out of food?

Malnutrition makes everything in life more difficult, from defending one’s home to finding the energy to keep walking in order to find a safe place to sleep at night. Some of my favorite sections of this tale were the ones that described how the main character and her companions survived in a world where most people were running out of food and where strangers would kill anyone for a few supplies. Yes, they were dark scenes at times, but the characters were so determined to survive that I couldn’t wait to see what they’d eat next and how they’d avoid starvation over the winter.

This tale would have benefitted from more editing. There were a few sentences that didn’t make sense to me because they were either missing words or contained words that didn’t fit into the their tone. Many other sentences had comma or other punctuation errors that made them hard to follow at times. While I deeply enjoyed the plot itself, needing to decipher what the narrator was trying to say so often was frustrating for me as a reader.

It was easy to keep track of all of the characters even though there were far more of them than I’d normaly expect to meet in a short story. Everyone the author wrote about had something unique about them that instantly let me know who she was talking about. This was a good decision, especially later on in the storyline when many of them were involved in the same scenes and there were a lot of different things happening at once.

If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, give The Time a try.

His Curvy Woman by Sam Crescent


His Curvy Woman by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (51 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Ace Heart has always been the bad boy. Women have fallen at his feet, begging for him, but he has only ever wanted one girl. Throughout high school, he watched her from afar but never got close. His time to claim her as his own passed, and she moved away. Three years ago, though, she came back, and she’s now working for him. He can’t hold back any longer. It’s been too long, and he intends to claim this curvy woman for himself.

All of her life Trixie Dean has done what her parents wanted. She was the model student, the perfect daughter. But when her parents tried to get her to marry their “perfect guy”, everything fell apart. Trixie wanted to do something for herself. She started with getting a tattoo, and one thing led to another, until finally, she got the job working for Ace Heart.

Ace wants to claim Trixie for his own, and Trixie wants to belong to him in every single way that counts. Can she fight off the demons of her past, or will she be forever lonely? Can Ace prove to her that his curvy woman is worth fighting for?

Ace might be covered in ink and own a tattoo parlour, but there was more to him than a first glance might convey. Trixie had known Ace in high school – but her life had been pretty planned out for her. It wasn’t till it had come crumbling down that Trixie had really understood what was important, and she’d returned to Ace. When Trixie and Ace finally confess their feelings to each other will it be the end? Or a new beginning?

I found this to be a sexy and fun short story. Trixie is the fairly common good-girl-trying-to-turn bad type of character. It’s no surprise, therefore that she’s decided to finally act upon her very long-time crush on bad-boy-with-heart-of-gold Ace. While I feel this story flirted a little too closely with the traditional stereotypes, the author did a good job of injecting plenty of life into Trixie and Ace’s characters. While at another author’s hands this probably would have come across as “just another…” type of sexy short story, I actually found myself really caring about Ace – and to a lesser extent Trixie. Admittedly while describing the story in generalities it seems very similar to a bunch of other stories, I enjoyed the voice of the characters and found myself wanting to know how everything turned out.

In no way did this plot – or even the hot sex scenes – read as unique or ground-breaking, but despite this I did enjoy the freshness of the author’s tone and the quick pace helped me keep turning the pages, interested in where Trixie and Ace would lead next. Readers looking for a fresh new take on this style of story might be disappointed, but for a quick, sexy and fun read this story ticked a number of the boxes for me and I truly did enjoy it. With a lovely happy ending and plenty of smoking hot sex this is a fun short story.

The Tell All by Libby Howard


The Tell All by Libby Howard
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (137 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Life at sixty isn’t quite what Kay Carrera expected. She’s working as a skip-tracer for a PI who is desperate to land his own reality TV show. She has a new roommate who arrived with more than the usual amount of baggage. And her attempts at knitting are less than stellar – way less than stellar. Worse, the cataract surgery that restored her sight has also delivered an unexpected and disturbing side-effect. Kay sees ghosts. And when the dead turn to her for help, she just can’t say no.

It’s hard to have a peaceful life when the dead keep trying to get your attention.

Kay was a well-developed and quite likeable main character. Her intelligence was what caught my eye first. She wasn’t the kind of person who would ever make a big fuss over something like this, but I enjoyed seeing her quietly figure out how to get through sticky situations and solve mysteries that didn’t give her a lot of clues to work with at first. Her flaws were written nicely as well. They showed me sides of her personality that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Noticing them only made me like her more than I already did because of how much they humanized a woman who was so sweet, gentle, and interested in making her home an oasis for everyone who lived there.

The pacing issues were what prompted me to choose the rating I did. As much as I enjoyed getting to know the characters, it took a while for the plot to pick up speed and even more time for Kay to realize that the shadowy figures her optometrist thought were a side effect of cataract surgery were actually real spirits. It would have been nice to have more time to explore what was happening and to have more clues about the case earlier on.

Once the mystery was revealed, though, I dove straight into it. There was far more going on than Kay originally thought, so I was curious to see how she’d react to all of the new information she found as she probed more deeply into the case. It didn’t take long for her to follow the clues she was given. I was intrigued by how persistent she was and how she reacted to certain surprising plot twists.

The Tell All was a cozy story that I’d recommend to anyone who is in the mood for a fairly quick read.

Lily’s Loner by T. Lee Garland


Lily’s Loner by T. Lee Garland
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (41 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Lily is on her first assignment as a reporter. She’s also a cougar shifter. Her job is to infiltrate a cult run by a mad man. When she witnesses the murder of two followers she runs for her life to her older brother. Ben is a special-ops soldier, who is determined to protect his sister, but his wife is expecting their first child and he fears he can’t give Lily the security she needs. So he drives her to his former CO and asks Max to protect his sister.

Max is a cougar and a loner and he likes it that way. He lives on top of a mountain in a cabin away from those who would be horrified by his scars. He takes one look at Lily and knows she is meant to be his mate. But first he has to protect her from those who want her as their own.

After exposing murder in a crazy cult, Lily is being chased and desperately needs protection and sanctuary. With no one else to turn to, Lily places her trust in her brother, Ben. But Ben and his wife, Amber, are expecting their first child any day now – so Ben reluctantly takes Lily to his old CO – Max. Max was scarred in an explosion that killed two of his unit buddies in Afghanistan. He isn’t sure he’s up for anything really – but he can’t say no to Ben, and his attraction to Lily is both fierce and overwhelming. Can they find what they need in each other?

This is a fast-paced short story that had a good plot and some complex, interesting characters. It took me a little while to get used to the head-jumping – the chapters are split up a few times to swap between Max and Lily’s perspectives. As both characters talked in the first-person I felt this made the jumps from one perspective to the other a little harder to navigate and made it feel a bit choppy to me – swapping around back and forth. While I found this wasn’t to my personal tastes as a good method of story-telling, I did get a little more used to it by the end of the story, and I have to admit I did enjoy understanding exactly where Max and Lily were both coming from.

I also wasn’t too sure about the speed with which Max and Lily consummated their attraction. Both characters have a lot of baggage – Max from the war and his scars, Lily from events that happened while she was infiltrating the cult. On the one hand, as an erotic romance I fully understand the author needed to add the sexy action and couldn’t leave it till a last-minute after-thought. But considering the weight both characters carried – particularly Lily in a sexual sense after her near-miss in the cult – I couldn’t help but feel it rather unrealistic that they both shed all inhibitions and baggage and happily jumped into bed together extremely quickly. I fully believed the attraction and the chemistry between Lily and Max – I thought that was written fantastically, and I can understand that an erotic romance needs erotic love scenes, but I couldn’t help but feel like the speed of the sex scenes were just too much, too soon, considering all the other elements swirling around.

I really enjoyed the plot. I found it multi-layered and the small twist about half way through was unexpected for me and I felt it was a great extra layer. I didn’t really understand why Lily kept it a secret – the hurried explanation Lily gave Max didn’t seem very logical or convincing to me, but honestly by that stage of the story I had pretty much disconnected my brain and I was just rolling with it all – enjoying the hell out of the ride.

For a fast-paced, sexy short story with plenty of plot and an interesting new shifter world I found this to be a lot of fun. I’d recommend this story as the sort to be a guilty indulgence on a quiet night. Throw logic and sense out of the window, sit back with a glass of wine and some nibbles and just enjoy the sexy fun.

Fat Mate by Sam Crescent


Fat Mate by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (113 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

All Zadie Cox has ever wanted was to find a mate, fall in love, and have lots of kids. The problem is … no one wants her. The pack doesn’t care for a woman with curves, and no man wants “a fat mate”, which is what they’ve called her.

Dante Locker hates pack politics. When he’s invited on a month long visit to a neighboring pack, he knows there’s a catch. The alpha has a daughter—but there’s no way Dante’s mating with her. Then the moment he enters the town square, the redhead with the killer curves grabs his attention. He wants her, and Dante’s a rich alpha, a businessman, and he always gets what he wants.

No man has ever wanted Zadie, but there’s something about this new alpha. The way he walks, talks … and his devotion calls not only to her wolf, but to her. Can Zadie leave the pack that she has called home? Will she fall in love with Dante? Or is this just a month-long fling?

Zadie was the fat girl, the fat wolf, and while she was lonely her life didn’t suck. Dante knew he was an unusual pack Alpha. A businessman at heart he had no time for spoiled, cruel women who only wanted the prestige of his title and money. When Dante meets Zadie, he can see exactly the sort of mate he wants – kind and gentle, wonderful with children she had plenty of love and loyalty to offer her man. But Zadie’s pack Alpha wants Dante for his own daughter. Will this destroy the only hope Zadie’s ever found for a family of her own?

I enjoyed the slow pace of this sizzling romance. While the attraction between Dante and Zadie was pretty instant, they didn’t simply jump straight into bed. I enjoyed how Zadie and Dante got to know each other a bit first – particularly since Zadie really struck me as a gentle, sweet character. Had they simply torn their clothes off and gone right into it that wouldn’t have worked properly with the other characteristics I saw in Zadie. But I could totally enjoy that Dante was all Alpha – and while patient and kind with Zadie, he wasn’t the stort of guy to roll over and let something he wanted so badly slip out of his grasp.

There were a wealth of secondary characters that I greatly enjoyed – a part of me kind of hopes Zadie’s brother Luke and Dante’s sister Bethany might get their own story some time in the future. I felt the secondary characters really helped round out this story and make it seem deeper than had it just been Dante and Zadie simply coming together. I also enjoyed a lot of the world-building. There was lots of information about the pack and how the world worked and – much like the strong cast of characters – helped the story feel well-rounded and more plot-centric than many other paranormal romances I’ve read recently.

With interesting and vibrant characters, a good amount of plot and some exceptional world building, I really enjoyed this story on numerous levels. I found the sex romantic but still smoking hot and overall can heartily recommend this story. I’d happily pick up more books in this series.

Killer At Christmas by Kera Faire


Killer At Christmas by Kera Faire
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (51 pgs)
Other: M/F, BDSM, Spanking
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A killer and a hooker? An unlikely mix, especially at Christmas.

Rio Buchanan, a government operative, and member of the Dispatchers specializes in seduction. He just never thought his target would be his ex-wife. Andie might be a hooker now, but there’s no way she’s a traitor. There’s only one way to get to the truth—kidnap her to keep her safe.

Andie doesn’t know what to think when Rio disrupts her life again, let alone when she wakes up in a prison cell shackled to him, and not in a fun, kinky way. The secrets of his job already ended their marriage. Will they now end her life too?

Imprisoned on the Death Isle, they have to work together to catch a traitor, and discover if they can forge a new life together.

After breaking his ankle and going through seemingly endless physio to get himself back in form, Rio is eager to get back to work – even if he’s not keen on needing to seduce answers out of a string of women. When he learns his next target will be his not-hardly-forgotten ex-wife, Andie, he has mixed feelings. Unable to forget her or turn his back when she needs him, Rio is going through with job – whether it’s assigned to him or not.

This is a fast paced short story. I struggled a bit to follow it in places and I think that was because this is the fourth book in a series and there isn’t a whole lot of back-story to orient a reader picking up this one first. I found a number of the secondary characters weren’t very well introduced and there was a fair amount of shadowy secrecy around the group Rio worked with and what, exactly, their job entailed. This really lessened my enjoyment of the story (and reiterated to myself, personally, that it’s never a good idea to pick up a book mid way through a series – I hate feeling lost and like I’m missing a bunch of the backstory!) and had me feeling all through it as if I was waiting for a bit of catch-up information to help it all make a bit more sense to me.

I did, however, really enjoy Rio’s character. Equal parts strong-willed bad boy and still-in-love, vulnerable ex-husband, I feel Rio is a hero (or possibly, anti-hero) that will appeal to a wide range of readers. Andie, too, was an interesting character that I found myself sympathizing with. Somehow she managed to be both sweet but also seriously raunchy and kinky – and I have to give kudos to the author for writing Andie in such a way that I found her believable despite the seeming paradoxical nature of her character.

The sex was deliciously hot with a bit of a kinky bite to it. I feel readers used to elements of BDSM in their erotica won’t find anything too drastic or envelope pushing her, but readers used to only a small amount of sizzle in their romances might want to be aware there’s a fair bit of kink to this short story.

An interesting read I thoroughly enjoyed the sex and the characters, but would strongly recommend readers pick up at least some of the earlier books before cracking this one open.

The Blue Guitar by Arnold Greenberg


The Blue Guitar by Arnold Greenberg
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (43 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Orrin is powerfully drawn to a blue guitar he sees in a music store when he is twelve and is taught to play and compose haunting music by a master teacher. While working as a janitor, he is attracted to Emily, a para-legal secretary. He knows if she could only hear his music she’d know he is more than a janitor.

When he plays Rhapsody, the song he composed for Emily, she is overwhelmed and falls in love with him. Orrin now has the love of his life until she is hit by a drunk driver. While in a coma, Orrin knows his music will bring her back but is forced to stop playing by the hospital and he loses her. His music grows sad until he realizes he must play beautiful music to have a love like Emily come to his life.

Music lifts people up when they’re discouraged and comforts them when they’re sad. There’s a song out there for nearly every occasion you could imagine. Whether or not a song can make two people fall in love, though, still remains to be seen.

Orrin was such a well-developed character. His kind and gentle personality was impossible for me to resist, especially once the difficult pieces of his backstory were revealed. The fact that he was so painfully shy only made me like him even more than I already did. It made perfect sense given what he’d been through. I had a great deal of sympathy for him and couldn’t wait to see if he’d muster up the courage to pursue all of his dreams.

While I could easily imagine what it would be like to have a conversation with Orrin, I couldn’t say the same thing about Emily. She was described as beautiful, but I was never able to come up with a clear picture of what her personality was like. The fact that Orrin was so enamoured with her made me really curious to know what it was he loved about her so much. Had more time been spent showing me who she was, I would have easily given this book a much higher rating as I otherwise enjoyed it quite a bit.

I liked how the fantasy elements of Orrin’s adventures were gently folded into the edges of the storyline. The romance was definitely the main focus of the plot, and there were a few times in the beginning when I honestly wasn’t sure how literally I should be reading certain scenes. That ambiguity worked nicely with all of the uncertainty in the rest of the main character’s life as well. This is the sort of tale I’d mention to fans of the romance genre who have not read any fantasy before and are not sure what they think of trying something new. It was a wonderful introduction to stories that can’t easily be boxed into any one genre.

The Blue Guitar was a whimsical romance that I’d recommend to anyone who is in the mood for something magical.

Never Rub A Werewolf The Wrong Way by M. Levesque


Never Rub A Werewolf The Wrong Way by M. Levesque
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (78 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Jasmine Reach was barely making it, running a spa out of her home in the tiny town of True Massachusetts—until her amazing talent is discovered. Having been raised as a human, only to find out that she has a special healing touch, Jasmine now adjusts to offering massage therapy to paranormal beings suffering from extreme emotional trauma.

Things were just starting to make sense to her in this new world when a gorgeous exiled Alpha werewolf shows up, and suddenly Jasmine’s massages are feeling a lot less professional than before, but no less satisfying.

Jasmine had set up her Healing Touch Spar and Massage Parlour well out in the country. Despite a number of the locals being skeptical about Reiki and Alternative medicines, the small town was home to Jasmine and she was determined to try and make her business work. And then Jasmine met Lilith, the vampire, and everything in her world changed.

This is an interesting and quite unique sort of story. There was quite the paranormal world going on in it and I was impressed how the author managed to introduce the different aspects to the world without getting too bogged down with a large info-dump. There’s a whole host of various paranormal critters lodged into this story (Succubus/Incubus, vampires, demons, witches, warlocks, werewolves and the like) but I found everything quite well explained and somewhat brief – considering the short length of the story.

Unsurprisingly given the title, the hero is a dethroned alpha werewolf, Christian. After having lost absolutely everything in his life – his job, his family, his pack, his position – Christian is understandably deeply pissed and completely off-kilter. Jasmine is certain she can help him – but only if she can manage to stop drooling. I found myself instantly drawn into both these characters and loved the way they meshed together. While the story is told in Jasmine’s first person perspective, I still managed to get a very good idea of Christian’s character and didn’t feel this lessened my enjoyment of the story at all. While there is plenty of touching and a delicious romance between Christian and Jasmine, there is not a lot of steamy sex. Personally, I enjoyed that there was a really solid, thorough plot – but readers looking for a strongly erotic, intensely graphic story might find this doesn’t quite meet their expectations.

I really enjoyed this story. With memorable characters, plenty of plot and a strongly-written paranormal world filled with all manner of creatures this story kept me interested and eagerly turning the pages. While it might be a little light on the erotic sex scenes for some readers, I found there to be an abundance of chemistry between the hero and heroine and more than a few laughs at the strong cast of secondary characters and antics that everyone gets up to.

A fun, lively and unique read I can happily recommend this to a wide range of readers.

Mugs and Monasteries by Cait O’Sullivan


Mugs and Monasteries by Cait O’Sullivan
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (73 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

When Orchid hunter Evie Bourke stumbles across a near deserted monastery deep in the Burren, she doesn’t realize that she’s the first person alive to see it. All she knows is that her life suddenly takes a strange turn and nothing will ever be the same.

Aiden Dunne’s family has been connected to Munster Abbey for generations, he is determined to find it and to find out what happened to his ancestral relative, the former Prior. What happened all those years ago and why does Aiden seem so familiar to Evie when they’ve never met?

Together they must face the Wanderer and dispatch him back to the darkness where he belongs before he destroys everything they hold dear. Can they trust each other before time runs out?

Evie Bourke is caught in a torrential rainstorm and takes shelter in a small house. There is a sense of evil in the place and Evie wakes in her own bed the next morning but can’t remember what happened the day before.

Aiden Dunne has spent years searching for the remains of a monastery where his ancestor was the abbot. As Evie’s memory slowly returns they join together to search for the reason for her memory loss and Aiden’s lost monastery.

Although short this is a cozy story. The link between the two main characters is not readily apparent and is only revealed gradually as the story progresses. The scenes of the past are very nicely handled and made me want to carry on reading to see the result of their endeavors. Nice book, well worth the read.