Just The Way You Are by Angelique Voisen


Just The Way You Are by Angelique Voisen
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (64 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play, Spanking (light), Restraints (light)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Werewolf Abel King is an accountant by day, average, slightly overweight and has zero ambitions of climbing the pack ladder. All that changes when his boyfriend breaks up with him. Deciding to man up, Abel enlists in a gym membership only to end up saving an Omega who recently moved in town. When Abel’s wolf tells him Tommy is his mate, he doesn’t know how to react.

Tommy is tired of moving from place to place. He and his brother have been hoping to find a permanent home in a new pack, except trouble comes in form of two wolves who think he’s fresh meat. Abel comes to his rescue and his wolf tells him Abel’s the one, but will Abel accept a deficient Omega as his mate?

While most of the others in the pack saw Abel as mediocre, Abel hadn’t been too phased by that. Recently dumped though, Abel can’t help but wonder where the hell his life is going. Tommy and his brother are looking to join the local pack, but as a barren Omega Tommy knew he didn’t have any real value to offer the pack, so he isn’t hoping for much. When Abel rescues Tommy from unwanted advances, the two men realize they can both offer each other things they need. Can they work things out?

I found this to be an interesting story. I enjoyed some of the paranormal world-building – as the first in a new series I was glad the author peppered through the story bits and pieces of the werewolf lore and rules which are often difficult to catch in later stories. I also really enjoyed how Abel and Tommy didn’t just glance at each other and fall instantly into bed. Both slightly prickly and with their own problems, the two men spent a bit of time warming up to each other and I loved coming along for that ride.

The sex in this story is hot and intense. There is a very little bit of kinky play (a very light spanking scene and an almost lighter restraints scene). Unless a reader really doesn’t like even the tiniest hint of spice in their sex scenes I feel these scenes won’t be too hard or go too far for pretty much anyone. The elements are very very light (almost too light in my personal opinion) and a part of me wonders if the scenes might have been stronger or hotter without the small hints of kink in them. The emotional intensity between Abel and Tommy was fiercely strong – as was Abel’s dominating wolf – and lightening the tone with a “play” at the kinkier side to their sex actually lessened that intensity in my eyes. I’d have preferred no kink and have that heat and strength of emotional and paranormal intensity kept ratcheted up high. This is just my opinion though and other readers might thoroughly enjoy the naughty edge the spanking gives to the sex.

I found some of the pack politics and scheming quite interesting. I was pleased we were introduced to a number of secondary characters within the pack and saw a few of the different layers. There is clearly – again to my opinion – a number of problems within the pack and I hope to read more about these in the future installments.

With an interesting new paranormal world, strong and interesting characters and a lot of steamy hot sex I feel this is a great start to a new series. I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for future stories.

Scarred Mate by Maggie Mundy


Scarred Mate by Maggie Mundy
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (44 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Fern

A drug lord wants Rosie dead. Making friends with a werewolf may be the only way to stay alive…

Rosie had everything. A job as a cop, a lover, and a great future. That was six months ago. Now she has a scarred face, no job, and has lived through betrayal. Her only choice is to head for the hills when a drug lord comes after her. If not, others could get hurt.

Connor doesn’t fit in with his wolf pack and his scars mean he has never found a mate. Rosie could be that mate or she could be the death of him.

Six months ago Rosie had been enjoying her life – a good job as a cop, a lover and a bright-looking future. Now, about to leave her apartment and go into hiding, the only good thing in Rosie’s life was the orgasms she had while she slept and dreamed of her imaginary lover, a stud who was scarred same as her. When Rosie escapes to a small log-cabin in the middle of nowhere, she never expected to meet six-foot tall handsome stud Connor, who has scars – and secrets – of his own.

I found this to be an interesting and slightly different take on the usual “man meets woman in a cabin in the middle of the woods” style of story. I admit I was expecting quite the cliché and was delightfully surprised. Rosie might have her own baggage and problems, but is determined (and not in a pig-headed manner either) to rely on herself to fix them. Connor carries his scars (internal and external) but doesn’t wallow in pity or act over-aggressive to compensate for them. Indeed, considering their genuine problems, I was impressed with how well-adjusted both Rosie and Connor were. It helped me really relax and enjoy their story and quite early on I was thoroughly invested in them both together as a couple and individually as characters too. That made reading this story both a delight and a pleasure.

I loved how despite being determined to solve her own problems, Rosie was mature and sensible enough to know when to ask for help. I loved how Connor knew that despite them being mates that imprinting himself on Rosie before they got to know each other wouldn’t go down well – and I was even more impressed how while he acknowledged these things his wolf-self couldn’t help but imprint on her anyway. I found it just so refreshing that Connor and Rosie both were just so sensible and realistic – it let me enjoy the plot and paranormal world the author had built without wanting to roll my eyes or disconnect my brain and “just roll with it”. My only real complaint was I noticed quite a few typo’s throughout the story and felt the editing could have been a bit tighter (“bate” instead of “bait”, “branched” instead of “branch”, “t-towel” instead of “tea-towel” and few more on top of that).

Readers looking for an interesting and somewhat different style of werewolf romance will likely be pleased with this short story. The sex is steamy, the characters complex and fresh and the pacing goes along at a good clip. I found this to be a fun and well-written tale.

Wolf Hunger by Paige Tyler


Wolf Hunger by Paige Tyler
SWAT BOOK 7
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (211 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Wolf shifter and SWAT Officer Max Lowry falls hard for she-wolf Lana Mason, but things spiral out of control when wolf hunters track her down, and Max realizes Lana has no idea who–or what–she really is.

The One! Everyone has a soul mate. This group of werewolf SWAT officers each have one, but they have to find them first.

Wolf Hunger is a love at first sight type of romance with a mix of action as well as some suspense. I am not normally a fan of love at first sight romances since they tend to move too fast and the essence of the romance disappears. I can not say that about this book. The romance lacked a little for me, but the attraction and chemistry between Max and Lana was off the charts and made the story better. It took some time for me to get into the book, but when it did I could not stop until the end.

The idea of everyone having their one mate and the importance of that one got a tad repetitive. At times, this repetition put me off the story. I have read one of the books in the series some time ago and one thing that I found is that the series revolves around a bigger arcing plot. That said, this story can be read as a stand alone. The book is action packed!

At first I struggled some with the romance between Max and Lana. But with every page and chapter I read, more of the plot and the pasts of the main characters were revealed. Seeing the layers unfold made the story a lot more interesting.  Their relationship may have been instantaneous, but it was fully developed half way through the book and that made the ending satisfying.

The climax was off the charts. I would read this book for the action if for nothing else. The climax was emotional, packed to the brim, and it flowed. I will read the next book because I want to know what happens next.

If you love your action with a hint of romance, then this is a great book to try.

The Supers by Sean Michael


The Supers by Sean Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (235 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Hunting ghosts and finding more than they bargained for.

Blaine Franks is a member of the paranormal research group the Supernatural Explorers. When the group loses their techie to a cross-country move, newly graduated Flynn Huntington gets the job. Flynn fits in with the guys right off the bat, but when it comes to him and Blaine, it’s more than just getting along.

Things heat up between Blaine and Flynn as they explore their first haunted building, an abandoned hospital, together. Their relationship isn’t all that progresses, though, and soon it seems that an odd bite on Blaine’s neck has become much more.

Hitchhiking ghosts, a tragic love story forgotten by time, and the mystery of room 204 round out a romance where the things that go bump in the night are real.

Blaine loved his work with the Supers and while excited for their next job, he hoped that the new technician would work out. Flynn, much to Blaine’s surprise and pleasure, was not just a believer in the paranormal, but also had his own very personal reasons to want to prove that ghosts exist. Blaine is excited to welcome Flynn to their crew and when the chemistry between them goes off the scale their working relationship quickly becomes far more intimate than either man expected.

This is a really interesting story – a bit of a departure from the usual Sean Michael books I’ve read previously. Strongly paranormal, I believe this story is written in a contemporary setting (small mentions of breast cancer, a bar and grill, EMF readings and modern technology) but other readers could very easily view this as more of a steampunk-ish setting. I strongly felt while reading it that apart from small mentions here and there of contemporary items it really could fit easily into a readers’ imagination of a variety of time-periods. Possibly helping with this flexible setting was the main characters could have easily fitting into both the historical or contemporary settings. In my opinion I feel like this was written specifically to be left open to the interpretation of the reader. I could easily believe a wide range of readers will not only enjoy this story – but could certainly take different things away from it, and that’s quite a gift Mr. Michael has conveyed.

I was really impressed with the characters. The team of Supers were all different, multi-layered characters each with their own quirks and back-story. The fact they were all good friends and worked well together as a team really helped me thoroughly enjoy the story and get quite attached to them all. I also loved the plot – complex and deep it wasn’t just some hastily scrabbled-together thing to string lines between the sex scenes. I felt the plot wound throughout the entire story, in parts the plot was even more important than the sex and growing relationship between Flynn and Blaine – which was a real pleasure to read and try to guess what had happened and where the plot would lead next.

I feel this story was really excellent – interesting and vibrant characters, a complex plot that was well thought out and that lasts properly through the story, love, romance and hot sex scenes. I have no hesitation in strongly recommending this story to pretty much all readers – a strong mystery, ghost hunters, hot M/M sex and a lightly steam-punk kind of feel to the setting I feel this is sure to appeal to a broad range of people.

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.

Evil Speaks Softly by Maureen L. Bonatch


Evil Speaks Softly by Maureen L. Bonatch
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (315 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

They were never supposed to meet.

Fame came easy for Liv by following in the footsteps of the female writers in her family. The cycle repeated for decades…until Liv changed the story. Her villain doesn’t like the revision—and he isn’t a fictional character. In his story, the bad guy always wins.

They were never supposed to find love.

Liv never questioned her demanding nocturnal muse, or the strange incidents in her old, family home until she met Gage. His job was to watch her from afar, not reveal the truth about the curse and the stories of the dead.

They’ve broken all the rules.

Together they unravel secrets as they strive to stop the cycle. Liv’s ability to find love, and protect her loved ones, hangs on the fickle whims of the dead—and they’ve got nothing to lose.

Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you or the people you love.

Liv’s relationship with her grandmother was one of my favorite parts of this tale. They shared so many of the same quirks that I would have immediately known they were related even if the main character hadn’t been so clear about it. What made this even better was that Liv would probably never admit to being so much like her grandma! The conversations between them in the beginning were thought provoking as well. There was something about her grandmother’s serious approach to life that I found irresistible, especially when Liv unconsciously acted the same way.

The pacing was uneven. While it began strongly, there were several times in the plot when the characters either had far too much going on in their lives or weren’t experiencing very much conflict at all. I enjoyed the more exciting scenes quite a bit, but it was a struggle for me to keep reading when Liv and Gage entered the quiet parts of the storyline.

Horror, fantasy, and romance aren’t genres I see mixed together very often, but I really liked how Ms. Bonatch handled all three of them. The horror scenes were genuinely frightening, especially once the characters began to dig more deeply into the curse on Liv’s family and who might be trying to harm her. What made these scenes even better was how seamlessly they were woven into the budding romance between Liv and Gage and all of the strange things that happen in a universe where spirits are everywhere. It was an unique experience to move so quickly between passion, wonder, and fear. These emotions ended up complementing each other nicely, and I was pleased with how much effort the author put into making sure she struck an even balance between all of them.

I had trouble keeping track of all of the characters. There were so many folks running around that I often mixed up the ones that didn’t spend a lot of time interacting with Liv. While I understand why all of them were included, it would have been helpful to have a list of characters and their occupations to refer to so I could refresh my memory and avoid having to search for their names so often when I forgot how they were connected to the main characters.

The dialogue was well written. There were a few times when various characters said something that made me chuckle. That wasn’t something I was expecting to happen, so I was pretty pleased by those moments. I also appreciated the fact that Liv and the people around her got straight to the point when they had something on their mind. That kind of straightforward dialogue was perfect for the tone of this story overall.

Evil Speaks Softly should be read by anyone who is looking for some horror in the romance and fantasy genres.

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.