Seven Times Unto Eternity by J.S. Frankel


Seven Times Unto Eternity by J.S. Frankel
Publisher: Extasy Books
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQ, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Being reincarnated over and over is one thing. Becoming the opposite sex is another. But saving the world is an entirely different story—and it’s also a lot stranger.

You get only one go-around in life, or so the experts say. Paige DeMaster, almost nineteen years of age, formerly Callisto Merriwether, formerly five other lives, has seven chances to right a major wrong. She has seven chances to save the world as well as save herself—and now she’s down to her last chance.

Saving the world is much more difficult than it looks!

I enjoyed the casual and friendly dialogue in this book. It sounded just like the sort of conversations one might accidentally overhear in public places or share with friends and family. This also made it easy to get to know the characters and figure out what their personalities were like as the way they spoke always felt natural to me. It’s certainly not easy to write these things out in such a realistic manner, so I must tip my cap to Mr. Frankel for pulling it off!

Some of my favorite scenes were the ones that explored Paige’s romantic relationship. They fit in so seamlessly to everything else that was going on in the storyline and showed me aspects of her personality that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise taken note of. I thought she and her partner were a lovely match and hoped for a happy ending for them as soon as they became an item.

The world building was strong and consistent from beginning to end. I especially liked the flashbacks to Paige’s previous lives that showed what she learned from them and how she adjusted every time she woke up again in a new era. Of course it would be disorienting at first to speak a new language, worship different gods, and eventually even figure out how the Internet works! Seeing how the main character interacted with the various people she met from one lifetime to the next as she tried again and again to save the world made me yearn for more.

Seven Times Unto Eternity was lovely.

Sex On The Beach? by Willa Okati


Sex On The Beach? by Willa Okati
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, LGBTQ
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Warren might be a vampire, sure, but he’s getting the knack of it. He’s cool — he can handle the wicked urge for hot blood right from a vein and has these bitchin’ fangs. He does miss the sunlight, though. No problem — he also has a lover, Dusty, the biggest-hearted, goofiest but also kinkiest vampire you’ll ever meet. When Warren gets the urge to get away, Dusty comes up with the perfect way to make unlife a beach.

Sort of.

Warren loved Dusty and since they were both Vampires they were guaranteed an eternity together to share their adventures. But when Dusty’s latest idea involves their spare room, a bunch of floodlights and an enormous amount of brown sugar even Warren isn’t sure there’s a way to come back from this.

I found this to be a highly amusing and rather sweet (sugary!) tale. While it’s clear Dusty’s heart is in the right place the more practical side to my brain was flummoxed at how virtually impossible it was going to prove to be for the two men to return their guest bedroom into any semblance of order. That said, it was a really sweet and highly fun idea that Dusty had and once the sex began I doubt Warren cared how impossible it would be to clean everything up.

Disconnect your brain, make yourself a frothy, beachy drink, and relax back to enjoy this short and funny ride. I found the two characters well matched and there were quite a few laugh aloud lines exchanged between them and their attraction burned off the pages.

Short and steamy – I found this to be a fun and enjoyable quick read.

Sweets by Sean Michael


Sweets by Sean Michael
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

Jake Dubois, a divorced dad, runs the I Eat Cake blog. Every week he tastes a bakery-made cake, reviews it and attempts to recreate it. He loves the work almost as much as he loves his six-year-old daughter.

Widower Ben Rummel’s twin girls are still toddlers and he’s grateful to his mother for helping out while he runs his business, the Banana Bear Bakery. He asks the I Eat Cake blog guy to review one of his creations, hoping to increase the visibility of his newly opened bakery.

Jake loves Ben’s cake, but he’s also quite taken with the man himself and the feeling is mutual. They arrange a playdate for their girls, which lets the two men spend more time with each other, too. One get-together leads to another and soon they’re hanging out on a regular basis.

If they’re going to take their relationship deeper, they’ll have to navigate a few bumps in the road, not least of which is Jake’s ex. But if they can, they just might be able to make a life for themselves as sweet as any of Ben’s creations.

Jake, a divorced dad of a six-year-old girl, runs a video blog called I Eat Cake. When he gets a cold-call email from a local bakery requesting he sample some of their wares and potentially feature them in his blog his curiosity is aroused. Ben, a widower of three-year-old twin girls, is making his business work but knows he could do with a small boost to his PR and increase the visibility of his bakery. The two men are both taken with each other at their first meeting – professionally and personally – can they find some common ground and make something meaningful together?

I’ve been quite a fan of Sean Michael’s for quite some time and found this to be an enjoyable and emotional read from him. While it’s the second book in a series there isn’t any cross over from the first book so readers should absolutely feel comfortable picking this up as a standalone novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the slightly slower pace to the romance – the two men connected well as friends to begin with, then supported each other with the hard work of being a single parent, then slowly as their relationship bloomed it became more sensual and intimate. Readers who prefer the faster pace of insta-love might find this story a little slow but personally I really enjoyed the deeper emotional connection between the two men, particularly considering they had three young children to consider between them.

I also liked how while there was some conflict in the book it didn’t appear over the top to my mind. I sometimes find with slower paced M/M erotic romance stories like this having a crazy ex or a bigoted family member or something along those lines can be overblown and feel almost a caricature simply to add conflict. I was really impressed how the author added tension and conflict in the book with Jake’s ex but it was realistic, not overblown and – more importantly to my mind – maturely and calmly handled to a satisfying conclusion. I found this deeply refreshing and I found it equally satisfying that some legitimate concerns and questions could be handled without drama or creating conflict merely for the sake of having it. I loved this so much.

I also really enjoyed the characters themselves – while there wasn’t a huge supportive cast of secondary characters, I didn’t feel the book lacked anything for them not being present. Ben and Jake were solidly in the center stage as was their three daughters. There was plenty of variety there and I thought they kept the pace and plot of the story moving along at a good clip. I found their characters realistic, enjoyable and I found myself quite invested in Jake and Ben’s new relationship and their happiness as they blended their two families and sorted out a new life together.

Readers looking for an interesting, refreshingly different take on the M/M family romance story should find this a lovely read. With a slower romantic plot but still plenty of sizzle in the bedroom I feel this should appeal to many readers. Recommended.

Fated Love by Sean Michael


Fated Love by Sean Michael
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

Love doesn’t always get a second chance.

Ten years ago, Sunny Morgen waved goodbye to his boyfriend Jack at the airport, never expecting to see him again. Since then, he’s focused on learning a trade and raising his daughter as best he can. He never would have guessed that fate would bring Jack back into his life.

Jack Johnston hated leaving Sunny for a job on the west coast, but he couldn’t afford to turn it down. Ten years later finds him back in Ottawa, retired, with a three-year-old daughter in tow, and a new lease on life. The last thing he expects when he opens the door to meet his potential new baby-sitter and her father is Sunny.

Now that fate has brought them back together again, will Jack and Sunny reclaim the love they gave up?

Ten years ago, Sunny said farewell to his boyfriend Jack at the airport. While sad, neither man ever expected to see the other again and they’ve both focused on their lives, careers, and later each raising their own daughter. Only now Jack finds himself back in Ottawa and utterly shocked when he opens the door expecting to find a potential babysitter only to find himself once again in Sunny’s orbit. Now that fate has brought the two men back together can they make it work?

This is a fun and short story that would be great as a quick and sexy read. With the two characters knowing each other well – albeit from a decade ago – there wasn’t the usual feel of insta-love that can sometimes ring untrue. Jack and Sunny had left each other on good terms, their lives just moving in different directions, and so the fact they reconnected so quickly and became intimate almost immediately didn’t strike me as unrealistic.

I must admit I would have preferred a little more length to this story – seeing how Jack and Sunny managed to work together and build their relationship, but this is still a lovely snippet showing the two men getting back together and it leaves off on a very positive and hopeful note with the two men clearly interested in rebuilding the relationship they had each let go of.

For a quick, sexy and enjoyable read this is a good story and one I will likely reread.

Hero In Waiting by Andrew Grey


Hero In Waiting by Andrew Grey
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

Wells Barnaby is in danger and he doesn’t even know it. After leaving the Marines, he came to live with his sister and is helping to care for his niece. When a threat from his past rears up, it puts them all in danger… and brings the one who got away back into his life.

Miller Washington served with Wells, and the two men shared an attraction that neither of them acknowledged. When Miller learns that an old enemy is on the loose and that he may come after Wells, he makes a beeline to help. But he doesn’t expect repressed desire to blaze back to life.

Between renewed attraction and an enemy who will stop at nothing to get even, Wells and Miller must navigate the heat of passion too strong for either of them to contain while not letting their guard down, in order to protect Wells’s family and their second chance.

Wells and Miller served together for many years together in the Marines. Now they’re both out and have gone their separate ways – Wells eventually back to his sister to help take care of his five-year-old niece, Giselle, and after travelling around aimlessly Miller ended up working in security. When an old enemy negotiates for his release, Miller tracks Wells down to warn him – they’re both on the same hit list now and Wells family in particular are in great danger. Can these two men finally find their way to acting on their mutual attraction?

I’m always a sucker for the returned veteran style of story and this book ticked every box for me. The chemistry between Wells and Miller sizzles right from the first page and I was really pleased that they didn’t just fall into insta-lust or jump right into bed there and then. There was plenty of friendship and trust between them from their years serving together and Miller in particular didn’t want to change that. I could also appreciate that while Wells clearly was attracted to and wanted more with Miller, with a killer lunatic hunting them down Wells’ focus was very much on his sister and niece’s protection.

I thought the author did a really good job to balance the steamy romance between the men and the main plotline. Both had a strong focus in the book, but I was pleased in particular the the plot didn’t feel shoved in there or just tacked on to make the book appear more rounded. A good amount of time and effort had gone into writing these sections of the book and that showed. This helped me really feel invested in the story as a whole and not just the sexy scenes between the two men. I cared about their relationship as a whole and the mini-family they were growing and building between them. The action and conflict with their mutual enemy added a good amount of tension and helped the story not feel too soppy or rose-tinted.

With interesting and realistic characters that I felt quite invested in and a solid plot that I felt was very well handled this was a good book. I am eagerly waiting for the next to come along.

The Succubus’s Prize by Katee Robert


The Succubus’s Prize by Katee Robert
Publisher: Trinkets and Tales LLC
Genre: Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Dicentra

Belladonna was born wrong. At least that’s what her parents, religious community, and even her beloved sister believe. Walking away from the church hasn’t helped her come to terms with her purpose in life, and when her sister is diagnosed with cancer, Belladonna has nowhere to turn…until a demon offers her a deal.

After agreeing, nothing is like she expects. There’s no fiery hell to speak of. Her soul seems to still be her own. All she’s required to do is serve. When she’s auctioned off to Rusalka, a powerful and ruthless succubus, her confusion only grows. Rusalka surprises her at every turn, even refusing to allow Belladonna to bear a child that would benefit the entirety of their territory.

Rusalka has sacrificed everything for their people. There are no lengths they won’t go to as leader…but they see something of themself in Belladonna, a familiarity that tempts beyond anything they could have dreamed. They want to keep her.

But if Belladonna can’t release her shame and step into a future where she’s living for herself instead of in service to others… Things may be over even before they begin.

I will basically read any romance books that Katee Robert writes with a fantasy element at this point, so it was a no-brainer that I picked up The Succubus’s Prize (fourth book in the A Deal with a Demon series) as soon as it was released through Kindle Unlimited. While the book maintains the author’s trademark spice and romance, she also does a great job bringing deep emotional scenes into such a short story.

If you’ve been following the series, you’ll know that bargainer demon Azazel brought five human women to the demon realm to be auctioned off to each territory’s leader in the hopes of brokering peace throughout the realm. A disclaimer for those who might not have followed the series: all of the humans made their deals of sound mind, got things out of the deal, and have protections in place such that they cannot be harmed by the respective territory leader. Some of the choices were random, however things worked a little differently for Rusalka, leader of the succubi and incubi as Azazel basically said you need to pick this specific human (Belladonna). Belladonna has been traumatized in the past, and Azazel felt that the succubi powers of sensing emotions would be the best fit to help her (compared to those of the gargoyles, kraken, or dragons). Despite that advantage, the two of them have a lot to work through before they can make true headway in the relationship (and hopefully have a child to strengthen the territory in the future).

Prior to the release of the book, the author made it clear on social media that the book deals with a lot of religious trauma. Belladonna was raised to believe she was bad because she was queer, and that she was only of value if she was of use to others. Even the deal Belladonna made that brought her to the demon realm was a sacrifice in service of someone else. Rusalka and the others in the Insomnior Court worked hard to gently get Belladonna to be more comfortable in expressing what she wants and coming out of the indoctrination her family overwhelmed her with. They also gave her the space to make sure what she was saying was what she wanted, even if they were unsure about it themselves. There were definitely some uncomfortable moments, but as a reader it was a great experience to get to see Belladonna’s journey of healing and growth. Things do feel like they end a bit abruptly given the length of the book, but I loved the epilogue and I hope we get to see more of these characters in the future.

If you’re looking for a quick monster romance book you can finish in an afternoon, this would be a great choice for you. However, if you’re looking for a longer romance tale, complete with extensive worldbuilding and more in-depth character development you might be better served looking at another title on the author’s backlist instead. We got more glimpses of Azazel and their relationship with Eve, so I’m super excited for when the final installment in the series The Demon’s Queen will come out in 2025.

Midnight Ruin by Katee Robert


Midnight Ruin by Katee Robert
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Dicentra

Eurydice Dimitriou has always been the innocent sister, but she’s finally ready to step out of the long shadow cast by her powerful family…and the ex who shattered her heart. Perhaps rough hands on soft skin are exactly what she needs to forget her heartbreak once and for all?

Charon Ariti has been Hades’s right-hand man for years. He’s given everything to the lower city, but now he’s ready to take something for himself. He’s only too happy to give Eurydice a special kind of education…but is her heart really free enough to be claimed?

Orpheus Makos will do whatever it takes to make things right. Once the golden boy of the upper city, he’s now a shadow of his former self. He’ll do anything to get Eurydice back…even if it means she’s not coming into his arms alone. Three hearts. Three futures. Countless ways to get it wrong.

But with enemies slipping through Olympus’s faltering barrier to lay siege on the lower city, a trio of broken hearts will be the least of these would-be lovers’ worries…

Katee Robert’s next book in the Dark Olympus series, Midnight Ruin, was just as good as the previous installments. Focusing on Charon, Eurydice, and Orpheus in another very loose reimagining of the original Greek myths, the book takes place in the lower city (a.k.a. Hades’ domain) with the violence in Olympus coming to a fever pitch.

If you’ve been following along with the series, you’ll know that there are major forces at work trying to destabilize the city (and likely prepare it to be invaded). There is a major reveal in this book regarding who those forces are led by, and they make a major move to challenge the power players in the city (a.k.a. the Thirteen). I’m super excited to see where that goes, and how the eventual climax of the conflict plays out. The worldbuilding of each book in the series has been building off of each other; while the plots of each book are constructed such that one could theoretically read them out of order, I do recommend reading in order for the best experience (especially with the events that have been building since the third book in the series).

I really loved the growth and dynamics between our three main characters. Eurydice, unlike Helen/Ares, has been underestimated and babied her entire life. After Orpheus initially broke her heart with his actions, Charon was the one to help her put the pieces back together. However, neither Eurydice nor Orpheus were ready to give the other up as there were a lot of unresolved feelings there. It ends up becoming a polyamorous triangle where both men are in love with her (and eventually grow to love each other). As a reader, it was really enjoyable to see. And of course, as a reminder for those who may not have read a Katee Robert book before, I do want to warn you that the spiciness rating is very high and there are multiple explicit and intimate lovemaking scenes scattered throughout the book.

Overall, this was another excellent read that’s left me excited for more. After how this book ended, I can’t wait to read Ariadne and the Minotaur’s story in Dark Restraint when it comes out later this year. Audiobook narrators Alex Moorcock and Zara Hampton-Brown did an excellent job once again bringing multiple perspectives to life with the performances. If you love polyamorous love triangles (like the previous one in the series in Wicked Beauty) or any romance influenced by Greek mythology, you’ll enjoy this book.

CONTENT WARNINGS: Violence, Murder, Blood, Guns, Pregnancy (not the heroine/main character), Abortion (not the heroine/main character)

Because of You by Fiona Brands


Because of You by Fiona Brands
Publisher: FriesenPress
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, LGBTQ, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Liv and her best friends Travis and April have just started their last year of high school and things have gotten complicated—Liv has feelings for Travis, April is getting into trouble already, and Travis has a new girlfriend. But then Liv’s mom reveals a long-buried secret about Liv’s father, who took his own life when Liv was only two, and her life is turned totally upside down.

Reminded of unresolved trauma, Liv’s mom starts drinking heavily and Liv is haunted by the thought that her parents could have had good lives if they had never met. When Liv visits the antique shop of Travis’s grandpa, she discovers a grandfather clock they suspect can transport people back in time. As Liv’s life becomes increasingly chaotic, she’s forced to decide: will she travel back in time to stop her parents’ complicated relationship, or will she endure an uncertain future?

Whether platonic or romantic, love makes everything in life better.

I adored the close-knit friendships between Liv, Travis, and April. All three of them were kind and generous people who looked out for each other. Their banter made me smile, and I enjoyed seeing how they navigated their final year of school together as all three tried to figure out what the future might hold for them.

The pacing felt slow at times to me, especially in the first half of this novel. Based on the reference to time travel in the blurb, I was surprised to see so many chapters go by without a single mention of anything related to speculative fiction at all even though I later came to understand why the author made this choice. Some of the subplots also soaked up a lot of time in the beginning for reasons that I did not understand until much later or, in some cases, at all. The writing itself was nice, I simply felt that it could have been tightened up in the beginning so the characters could move on to the main conflict faster.

Most of the science fiction I read is harder and more definitive than this, so it was refreshing to see how lightly it was sprinkled into this tale. There were hints of it sprinkled here and there, but the majority of the scenes only contained moments that could happen in real life. This could be a good introduction to science fiction for readers who don’t generally read it because of that.

Because of You was heartwarming.

Fillion by Sean Michael


Fillion by Sean Michael
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Holiday
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Could the gift of a massage be exactly what Fillion needs to make this holiday his merriest ever?

Fillion Berry is a profitable bookshop owner, but his personal life is less successful. His Daddy left him on New Year’s last year and he’s been floundering. When his friend Chrissy discovers how bad things are getting, he enlists the help of his Daddy, Jerusalem, and together they cook up a plan to bring some holiday joy into Fillion’s life.

Spa owner Rome Aparny holds an auction every year to raise money for charity. When the highest bidder of a full-body massage gifts the item to Fillion with the note “for a lonely boy in need’, Rome thinks he knows exactly what that means and he arrives at Fillion’s store with his massage table, his oils, and the willingness to get to know Fillion better.

Could a little holiday magic turn Christian and Jerusalem’s matchmaking into a success? Find out in this Daddy Boys story.

Fillion owns a successful and prosperous bookshop, but his private life is quite the mess. After his Daddy and long-term partner left him on New Years the previous year, Fillion has struggled to recover from the loss. Fillion’s good friend, Christian, is blissfully happy with his own Daddy and relationship and when Fillion confides that he’s seriously unhappy and lonely, Christian is determined he and his Daddy should help. They purchase a private massage as a Christmas present for Fillion and quietly let the masseuse – Rome – know that he’s a boy looking for a Daddy, something that piques Rome’s interest immediately. Can this be a Christmas neither man will forget?

I found this to be a lovely and sweet short story. It’s part of a much larger series by multiple authors called “A Daddy for Christmas” but I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and I haven’t read any of the others in the series. I found it still stood by itself very well. I really felt a connection to Fillion’s character. Owning a prosperous bookshop means for the most part he’s really got his head screwed on straight and I really liked that. I also was pleased that Rome had noticed Fillion at previous gatherings, but just assumed he was in a relationship with someone. That previous connection helped the situation feel a little less like insta-love and while in a story this short they obviously moved very quickly I did find it still worked well for me.

Readers should be aware that this short story doesn’t have a complicated plot or a long, slow drop into the relationship. The two men recognize what they want from each other and while they do ease into the intimacy it’s exceedingly fast and there isn’t a whole lot of other plot revolving around them. For such a short story I can understand and even enjoy this – but I can certainly understand some readers might want a bit more complexity and plot to their stories.

Fun and sexy, this would be a good introduction to some readers on the Daddy/boy lifestyle and also a good quick taste for this particular author and their style/tone of writing.

If We Were Stars by Eule Grey


If We Were Stars by Eule Grey
Publisher: NineStar Press
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, LGBTQ, Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The final countdown begins in three hours.

Blimey. The last thing Kurt wants is to wear a space helmet, and, no, they didn’t plan on saving the world either—Not before their eighteenth birthday anyway. Who’d have thought friending a lonely alien would lead to the Cape Canaveral launch pad.

Best friends since they were ten years old, Kurt O’Hara and Beast Harris tackle the typical teenage challenges together: pronouns, AWOL bodies, not to mention snogging. A long-distance relationship with an alien named Iuvenis is the least of their troubles.

Kurt loves programming, people-pleasing, and yellow dresses. Most of all, Kurt loves Beast.

Beast adores elephants, protest marches, and Kurt. Rules?—Nah. Humanity’s way down on Beast’s list of to-dos.

Beast and Kurt, Kurt and Beast. The end. Exactly how their love turns into a scene from Red Dwarf is anyone’s guess. Spaceships? NASA at the doorstep? No biggie. As long as they’re together, Kurt and Beast can survive anything.

Except, apparently, lift-off. Because nobody considered sensory issues, did they? Nope. NASA never made adjustments for neurodivergent astronauts. Unbelievable.

Will science be enough to blast Kurt and Beast—unlikely superheroes—into space to save the planet? Or will it take something much more extraordinary?

Neurodivergence is a gift.

Some of the most memorable scenes were the ones that explored how autism affected Kurt and Beast’s lives in both positive and negative ways. It was interesting to read along as Kurt described their childhoods and how they struck a balance between finding ways to fit in when necessary while also remaining true to themselves. This is something everyone needs to learn how to do, of course, but it can be more challenging for people who stick out from the crowd and don’t always have an intuitive understanding of which rules to follow and which ones can be broken.

I struggled with the transition to a new narrator at the end of this book. Kurt was someone I enjoyed getting to know better, and their replacement didn’t have much time to become well-rounded due to how quickly they were introduced before the storyline began to wrap up. It was also disappointing to lose touch with Kurt just as they were about to meet the aliens and arguably have the biggest adventure of their lives, especially since earlier scenes had hinted that something tragic was about to occur.

The romantic subplot was nicely written. It fit into the themes of this tale seamlessly and made me hope that both of the characters involved in it would live happily ever after as they truly seemed like a great match for one another. This was a good example of how to include romance in a science fiction adventure in ways that enhanced both the science fiction and the adventurous elements of the plot.

If We Were Stars was a creative take on what it might be like to meet aliens.