Master of Seduction by Angela Knight


Master of Seduction by Angela Knight
Merlin’s Legacy 1
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (101 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

All her life, Rachel Kent has dreamed of becoming one of the immortal Magekind witches who protect humanity from itself. But first she must prove herself to the handsome vampire whose job is to decide whether she’ll become a danger to those she’s supposed to save.

Nathaniel Allard is a Court Seducer who has been sent to trigger Rachel’s witchy transformation by making love to her three times. The problem is, gaining such incredible powers may drive Rachel insane, forcing Nathaniel to kill her. Otherwise she may kill him – and anyone else who gets in her way.

Nate tells Rachel he’ll only agree to complete her transformation if she proves she can be trusted with the powers she’ll gain. But as he tests her – and makes love to her with every test she passes — mutual lust turns to love.

But is love enough to save Rachel’s sanity?

This novelette isn’t a love fest just for the main characters; it’s also about fans of Ms. Knight who have greatly missed visiting her famous Mageverse where the concept was original, sensual, fascinating and exciting. The Mageverse is back and Rachel and Nathan explore one of the roles of one of its residents. The title of this book isn’t just clever but exact. Anyone who has read the series from the beginning knows what is in store and it’s a hot one!

There is a nod to one of the earlier story arcs and I liked how Ms. Knight seamlessly wove it into the plot. Rachel has to go through a trial and she’s scared out of mind because she can so easily envision the worst. In the beginning I’m pretty sure Nathan felt the same way but as the story unfolds something happens to change his mind. I am not saying what but it’s exciting, gripping and I couldn’t put the book down.

Erotic romance readers are in for a treat as Ms. Knight knows her way around when it comes to writing sexy stuff. There’s a lot to enjoy throughout Master of Seduction so make sure something cold is by your side while reading.

Although the plot isn’t deep and there are no true villains to fight against, the dynamics between Rachel and Nathan are what hold this story together. I liked their bantering relationsip, their humor and their dialogue. It’s about life changes, the challenges to facing them head on and embracing the possibilities. Readers will have no problem in identifying the struggle Nathan faces – torn between what he knew his duty to be and what he was feeling. Can he trust it? Readers find out in a satisfying way.

I remember the richness and intricate plot development of the older Mageverse stories so this book is like dipping our toes back into Ms. Knight’s world. It’s a condensed taste of what made the others so sexy, seductive and fascinating. A taste is not enough and I hope to see more of what Ms. Knight does best – tells a story that flows, engages and titillates, with heroes and heroines who put the magic in romance.

Master of Seduction is a welcome little gem with a happy ever after as sexy, romantic and satisfying as one could wish. I might be biased because the Mageverse was one of my favorite series, so I had certain expectations. Well met, Ms. Knight.

Trouble Cove by Nancy Lindley-Gauthier


Trouble Cove by Nancy Lindley-Gauthier
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (194 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Far from the all the action of World War I, in a charming tourist’s spot on Cape Breton Island, Elizabeth Eames has stumbled into the most wonderful man in the world. She’s landed herself in a world where wealth reigns supreme; where any eligible bachelor would meet her mother’s aspirations. Of course, she’s dead set on the one she’s certain should not be mentioned in her letters home. Actually, there’s a lot she’s not mentioning. Something is not-quite-right at the grand resort Oceanside, but Elizabeth isn’t giving up her one great chance…

Will Elizabeth’s time in Cape Breton be the adventure of a lifetime, or a huge mistake?

Elizabeth’s job at the Oceanside resort isn’t exactly her dream job, but, as her mother hoped, it has placed her in the midst of some very wealthy and well-connected bachelors. However, as Summer gives way to Fall, Elizabeth becomes convinced that something sinister is going on at the resort. Many of the guests are lingering long after the resort should have closed. They all have their reasons, but Elizabeth is skeptical. Are some of the guests up to no good, or is Elizabeth simply imagining things?

Elizabeth is a delightful character who finds beauty and magic in the world around her. She has a vivid imagination, and I enjoyed watching her create wonderfully detailed stories for people and places she encounters. While her imaginings might not be entirely accurate, they are certainly entertaining. I hope she never loses her ability to perceive the world in such a creative way.

Elizabeth’s heart is set on Daro from the moment she meets him. Unfortunately, he is neither wealthy nor well-connected. None of this matters to Elizabeth, and while she knows a future with Daro is unlikely, she endeavors to spend as much time with him as possible. I would have liked Elizabeth and Daro to have a stronger, more well-defined connection. It is abundantly clear how Elizabeth’s feels, but Daro’s feelings and intentions are a bit of a mystery until very close to the end of the story. However, I’m confident that they have the potential to be a great couple, and their happy ending is well deserved.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Trouble Cove. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a sweet, historical romance with just a hint of mystery and danger.

Rako’s Treasure by J.J. Lore


Rako’s Treasure by J.J. Lore
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (39 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Banished from his planet, Rako wanders the edges of known space looking for salvage, longing to find his mate. When he spots a weak signal from an ancient crash, he isn’t sure if the scavenge is worth the time and fuel. But in the smuggler’s hold on board, he finds a stasis pod with a beautiful woman inside and loses his heart.

Alyce was kidnapped by villains over a century ago, so when she’s awakened by a formidable male of a race she’s never seen before, it takes some adjustment.

Doing the right thing, Rako takes Alyce to an inhabited station, where she can begin to rebuild her interrupted life. But when descendants of the beings who originally captured her attack, Rako’s protective instincts emerge, along with the extreme body morphing of his kind. He wins the fight, but misplaces Alyce in the process. Will he be able to find her before he’s exiled back into the cold of space?

Anything can happen in the far reaches of space.

The author spent a lot of time describing small details and showing the audience exactly what was happening. I noticed this for the first time in the very first paragraph when Rako first stepped foot onto a desolate planet whose very air was toxic to him, and that attention to detail only grew stronger from there. This was something that I appreciated in both the erotic and non-erotic scenes because of how easy it made it for me to visualize everything that was going on.

I would have liked to see the characters have more time to get to know each other before they had sex. They jumped into bed together so quickly that they weren’t able to develop much chemistry at all together before taking their relationship to the next level. This made it difficult for me to root for them to end up together because they knew so little about each other.

Rako had a foot fetish that was talked about a few different times in this tale. While it wasn’t included in the actual sex scene, it was briefly brought up again in a sexual manner later on in the plot. It wasn’t something I was expecting to find when I first started reading, but I thought this was an interesting way to explore his sexuality and flesh out his personality nicely.

Rako’s Treasure was a quick read that I’d recommend to anyone who wants to jump straight into the action.

The Picture of Leon Brittan by Daniel Raven


The Picture of Leon Brittan by Daniel Raven
Publisher: Wormdoom Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (98 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

‘The story I’m about to tell is true in every detail and you must try to believe it, no matter how hard that may seem, because it proves that my impotence was never anything to do with me not loving you, or not thinking you were gorgeous, or being a closet bender. It was to do with primal forces of inhuman evil.’

That’s how I put it to my ex-girlfriend. I’m not quite sure how to put it to you – let’s face it, you’re capricious – but that doesn’t alter the fact that you MUST read this book. Not only does it relate the full story of how I met and fell in love with the most extraordinary woman who ever lived, it also offers a genuinely plausible explanation for all the wickedness in this world AND exposes a monumentally revolting cosmic conspiracy that implicates the whole human race, as well as several others you’ve never even heard of.

But I wouldn’t want to alienate you, so please try also to keep in mind that it’s basically just a lovely light romantic comedy for much of the time, with lots of droll observations about university life in the 1990s blah blah rites of passage blah blah end of innocence blah blah beautifully evoked. It only really starts to go all H.P. Lovecraft about halfway through, and even then you’ll need your sense of humour as much as your strong stomach (it IS strong, isn’t it? Oh do please say that it’s strong!). Moreover, I can promise – in fact positively guarantee – that you will never, ever be able to forget it.

Sometimes falling in love is the scariest thing that can happen to a person.

This story was full of creativity. I loved the fact that it was written as a letter to the main character’s ex-girlfriend. The horror elements took quite a while to show up, but they sure did scare me once they were introduced. I also enjoyed seeing how the author combined so many different genres together. Horror and romance aren’t genres I’d ever think to mix together, but Mr. Raven’s take on both of them was so unique that they flowed together quite nicely.

There were some pacing problems due to how many extra details the main character included about what his life was like in the 1990s. As curious as I was to find out what was so frightening about falling in love with a college classmate, my interest did waver as the plot stretched out. It was sometimes hard to stay as interested in the conclusion as I would have liked to due to how long it took to get any kind of hint about what was going on.

Despite never learning the main character’s name, I felt like I got to know him very well. I was pleased with how much the author was able to show the audience about this character’s personality. He was a smart and gentle soul who never would have guessed what he was going to discover when he went off to college. While I don’t know of any sequels about him that are on their way, I’d sure like to know more about him if Mr. Raven ever decides to expand this universe.

The Picture of Leon Brittan made me shudder. I’d recommend it to anyone who would like to read something truly horrifying.

Possession: The Rise of Edward Starke by E.H. James


Possession: The Rise of Edward Starke by E.H. James
The Demon Series Part 4
Publisher: Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (69 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Thirteen years after the party at Starke house, Jesse Miller is now in New York, interviewing for a job.

Only this isn’t just any job interview. This interview is with Cole Pearson. The man everyone wants to work for. The man, who, in five short years, has taken the business world by storm and amassed not only billions, but the attention of everyone, who wants to be someone. Fumbling his way through a disastrous interview, Jesse believes the day can’t get any worse. That is, until Cole Pearson turns to Jesse, and he sees not Cole Pearson, but Edward Starke. Aware Starke has possessed Cole Pearson, Jesse gathers a menagerie of men to take him down.

Can a ghost, a reporter, an ex-priest, and a childhood friend come together to end Starke once and for all, or will the possession of Cole Pearson only be the beginning?

How do you fight someone who has already died?

The world building in this universe was well done. I especially liked the way the author tied the most frightening scenes in the previous instalments into what happened this time around. They were only more chilling now that I had even more information about what Edward Starke was truly capable of. This definitely isn’t something that should be read late at night. The places these characters live and the creatures they meet are far too creepy for that.

There were pacing issues. So much time was spent in the first several scenes setting up the conflict and explaining what had happened to these characters in previous instalments that the ending felt rushed to me. There simply wasn’t enough time in the last couple of scenes to cover everything that had been foreshadowed earlier on.

Jesse has changed a lot since I first met him in Beyond The Red Door. He was always a likeable guy, but I found myself feeling drawn even closer to him now that he was an adult and had a stronger sense of just how dangerous it is to mess around with demons. His cautious approach to such things made me respect him, and his determination to make things right is going to keep my attention focused on this universe until I know how everything ends.

This is the fourth story in this series. It can be read on its own or out of order.

Possession: The Rise of Edward Starke should be read by anyone who is in the mood to get scared.

The Nanny by Sam Crescent


The Nanny by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (49 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Leo Cole has a problem, a beautiful, charming, sexy as hell, curvy problem, and all he can think about is fucking her—but she is his kid’s nanny.

For Cassie Owens, Leo changed all of the rules. He wanted her near him, to keep her safe, and to make sure no one else could steal her away. His daughter loves Cassie, and so does he. Now, he’s going to own every single part of her.

He knows she wants him, and he’s not willing to take no for an answer. After waiting six months to have her, Leo is not backing down. Cassie is his. She belongs to him. It’s about time this woman learns exactly what she signed up for.

He doesn’t want a nanny. He wants a wife!

I really enjoyed this sweet and sizzling sexy short story from Sam Crescent.

The Nanny is a brief but very well written and meaningful novella. It’s a stand alone that features the older man/younger woman scenario that works so fabulously for Sam Crescent. Leo was a single dad who had been lusting after his daughter’s nanny for quite a while. It was about more than the smoking hot sex though. Leo already knew that Cassie was the perfect woman for him. He wanted to have a family with her, and Cassie shared the same dreams. The plot had low drama and loads of scorching hot sex scenes. It was a lovely story that flew by at a super fast pace.

Sam Crescent never lets me down. I read this one in one afternoon and enjoyed every minute of it.

Blackwolf’s Redemption by Sandra Marton


Blackwolf’s Redemption by Sandra Marton
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (184 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Jesse Blackwolf–uncompromising, determined and an undeniable success. He has no desire to deal with the outspoken bundle of femininity he’s found trespassing on his land!When Sienna Cummings awakes to find herself pressed against a muscled chest, she’s shocked and stunned! Where is she? Who is this man who holds her so possessively with passion glinting in his eyes? It’s more than confusion that makes Sienna’s heart beat faster–she suspects his untamed wildness hides something that maybe only she can set free….

This is the first time travel that goes back in time but during a time when I was still a kid. I don’t know if my heart can take the realization that I could conceivably be considered an historical figure, you know, like an antique? When this book was written, it was a contemporary, so it seems I discovered this little gem a few years too late. So, I’m not sure how this book classifies as a genre but there is a mystical element that sends the heroine back in time and I enjoyed it.

The hero is a combination of an ancient warrior and a present day type of warrior – and his reaction to Sienna is very much like the time travels that take place in much earlier societies, when men rule and women obeyed. Jesse is a guy who is straddling the period of time when men’s John Wayne/ Rhett Butler personas were not frowned upon, yet at the same time accepting, slowly, that women can be as confident, accomplished and knowledgeable as a man and acknowledged as such. It was very interesting to see Sienna butt heads with other women in the story that perpetuated the ‘traditional’ view of women. To Jesse, the challenge that Sienna presented was refreshing, stimulating and I believe that her perspective on her own view of history helped her deal with Jesse as she found him – tormented, resigned and a lot resentful. I would say that it’s Jesse’s character that grows, changes, heals and takes an interest in life again. I loved the way the author described the hero – sexy, very alpha and … sexy. Can you tell I really liked the hero?

As this is a romance, of course the goal is to get them together, and they do, delightfully so, however, at times it was a bit too fast. I think it’s because Jesse is an old fashioned take charge kind of guy. He wants to kiss the heroine? He kisses her. He wants to drag her out of a building? Sienna gives him a piece of her mind but it makes no difference. The visuals in that chapter reminded me SO much of those scenes with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man., that all I could do was grin. For a reader who likes men who act like men, with honor, strength, respect and a lusty, strong libido with sexy muscles to back it up, then Blackwolf’s Redemption is titillating and fun.

I liked the ending especially since the author included Jesse’s buddy. That point was a major plus. I enjoyed the technique Ms. Marton used to facilitate the happy ever after and I thought the hero very clever to grab the mail before he makes his fateful decision. Overall, Blackwolf’s Redemption is the perfect read for a quick romantic escape and I’m glad I read it.

Florida Gothic by Mitzi Szereto


Florida Gothic by Mitzi Szereto
Publisher: Strange Brew Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (74 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Stuck in a twilight world between life and death…

A hit-and-run driver leaves Ernesto Martinez to die by a Miami canal. Then an alligator comes along to finish the job.

Being dead gives Ernesto plenty of time to think. He thinks about his wife, taken from him too soon by illness. He thinks about his daughter, the victim of a drunk driver. He thinks about his death as he watches his body slowly decompose.

Most of all, he thinks about injustice.

The meth head ex-con living in the Everglades. The judge enjoying retirement on the Gulf Coast. The son of a Colombian drug kingpin partying in South Beach. These men care nothing for the pain they’ve caused. But they’ll soon know what it is to feel pain.

Set against the sweltering bug-infested backdrop of South Florida, Florida Gothic weaves a darkly unnerving and visceral tale of sex, drugs, crime and vengeance.

Justice can be delayed, but eventually it will be satisfied.

This was one of the goriest tales I’ve read in a long time. Ernesto’s death was a gruesome one, and that was only the beginning of blood and gore that showed up everywhere he went as he figured out how to spend his time now that he was no longer living. With that being said, all of these scenes had an important purpose and I’m glad they were described with such grisly detail. These horror elements were a huge part of what made this book as interesting as it was.

There were too many narrators in this story. I found it confusing to switch among all of them so often, especially since their connections to Ernesto weren’t always made clear to the audience right away. I would have preferred to get to know one or two of them well instead of learning a little bit about so many different characters.

Ernesto was a complicated guy. My feelings about him wavered a lot depending on where I was in the plot and what kind of trouble he was currently getting into. Sometimes I liked him, and at other times my opinion of him was nuanced and hard to fit into something as simple as approving or disapproving of him. He wasn’t the kind of character who was at all easy to pigeonhole, and that made me curious to learn more about him. Once I finished the final scene, though, I was glad that he was written in such a complex way and that the author trusted me to come up with my own opinions about him.

Florida Gothic should be read by anyone who has ever had a revenge fantasy.

Aaron’s Wait by Dorien Grey


Aaron’s Wait by Dorien Grey
An Elliot Smith Mystery, #2
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (165 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Elliott Smith’s latest restoration project is a beautiful old six-unit apartment building.

Unfortunately for Elliott, he discovers that Aaron Stiles, one of the tenants, has been dead for four years and doesn’t know it. His partner, Bill Somers, left for work one morning and never returned. Devastated to think that Bill might have left him. Aaron suffered a heart attack and died.

But he is still waiting for Bill to come home, and unless Elliott can convince him otherwise, he’s not going anywhere until that happens-or until Elliott can figure out which of the people most interested in seeing Bill dead killed him.

Even death couldn’t end Bill and Aaron’s love for each other. Now Elliot is the only person who can help them figure out why Bill died in the first place.

Elliott was a smart and interesting main character. It was fascinating to see how he had changed since I first met him, especially when it came to his theories about why he keeps running into ghosts. The more time I spend with him in this series, the more I like him. He had his share of flaws like everyone does, but his core personality was unmistakably kind and good. I can’t wait to see what happens to him next.

With that being said, the mystery was incredibly easy to solve this time around. I figured it out very early on in the storyline because of how many clues the author shared with the audience about what was going on. While I enjoyed the plot itself, it would have been nice to need to put more effort into finding out what really happened to Bill. It was a little disappointing to have my first guess about his fate be the correct one.

One of my favorite parts of this tale was seeing how Elliott’s friendship developed with John, the ghost he first met in “His Name Is John.” These characters couldn’t be more different in so many different ways, and yet they’ve learned to rely on each other for all kinds of help now that Elliott has grown accustomed to John occasionally entering his mind for a conversation. It has been a lot of fun to see these two become buddies.

This is the second book in a series, but it can be read on its own or out of order.

I’d recommend Aaron’s Wait to anyone who likes a little paranormal activity in their mysteries.

Some Sugar by Sam Crescent


Some Sugar by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (44 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Faith Bryant has two problems. One, she can’t stand her neighbor, and two, she can’t stop thinking about him. Hunter Graham is sexy, sinful, and totally off-limits. For a year, he’s played the main role in all of her fantasies. Only now, she doesn’t want him there. After seeing a few women—and a couple of men—leave his apartment crying, she knows he’s a bad guy.

Then he even wants to borrow some of her sugar. How dare he?

All he wanted was a cup of sugar!

Hunter is a life coach. He breaks all the rules to help his clients any way that he can. When it comes to his beautiful, curvy neighbor, he’s played the gentleman, even though he wants to do nothing more than fuck her.

Now he thinks she’s a bitch, and she thinks he’s a womanizer. When the truth is revealed, who will cave first? Can two people overcome their first impressions to find passion beneath, and maybe even love?

Faith’s apartment was on the same floor as Hunter’s. Even though the man was seriously handsome, she was sick and tired of seeing women coming in and out of his place at all times, some of them even sniffling or crying. He was a pig, clearly. Hunter had been interested in Faith for far too long. Finally deciding to bite the bullet, he pops over to ask for some sugar, only to seriously screw up the whole situation. Can they find their way together?

This is a fast-paced story that I really enjoyed. I was particularly pleased that Hunter called Faith out on her being so judgmental. Instead of asking what was happening – or even checking if the crying women (and men) were okay or needed help – she just assumed Hunter was a jerk and monster and stewed in her own resentment of him. I was glad when Hunter and Faith hashed out those assumptions and cleared the air. They were also both clearly attracted to each other, so their confrontation helped them both look at things from the others perspectives. For such a short story, I was pleased that there was a decent amount of plot and growth before they both jumped into the bedroom.

When Hunter and Faith finally did make it to the bedroom there is some super steamy sex. Dirty talk and two grown adults not afraid to ask for exactly what they want – Faith and Hunter really scorch up the pages. Some readers mightn’t like the insta-love style of progress of Faith and Hunter’s relationship, but considering the short length of the story I didn’t mind it too much. I loved the classic “happy ever after” style of ending and found the story overall well rounded and lots of sexy fun.

For a short, really fast read that has plenty of steamy sex and a good moral about not making snap judgments on your neighbors, this is a good short story that ticked a lot of boxes for me.