Masters of Appearance by Montgomery Raye

Masters of Appearance by Montgomery Raye
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: 2 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Kingpin of Kansas City’s underworld, Eddie, has just gotten two bullets to the back of his head. As his estranged daughter begins to unravel what kind of man her father was, she finds more than just his empire was on the verge of crumbling.

Beneath the steel armor of a cocksure crime lord of passion and power that made women quiver and men quake in his stormy path, a kingpin’s myth dissolves in “Masters of Appearance”.

He’s got a history and he’s a pistol, but now that he’s dead, someone has to unravel his past.

I wanted a short story and this one fit the bill. It’s nice and short, so good for a lunch time read. The story clipped along all right and I read it in one sitting. The characters are different and have promise.

This book would be even better with one more once-over with an editor. There were words missing and I never really got a sense of the POV of the character. It felt more like stitched together bits of a story, rather than a gripping tale. I wanted to feel like I was in Eddie’s point of view, but it was more like watching from the outside. There is resolution of sorts in this story, but it’s not what I expected. That doesn’t make it bad, just different.

If you’re interested in a story that teeters between erotic and erotica and will singe the ereader during your lunch break, then this might be the book for you.

Paddles & Smooches: The Spanking Of Angora Wells by Montgomery Raye

Paddles & Smooches: The Spanking Of Angora Wells by Montgomery Raye
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Rating: Two stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When Angora Wells crossed paths with her father’s newest farmhand, Jake, things get out of hand, leaving this smart-ass young lady with a stinging surprise.

A stinging surprise is right.
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This is a short read and it packs the heat. It read quickly and was straightforward. Angora wants to be used. Get ready to grab the fan and a cold drink. This story is hot.

I do have a few quibbles. This story, while hot and short, could use a bit of a going over by an editor. There were missing words and the flow could be improved. It’s a hot story and enticing, but the cadence of the story needed just a little TLC. I also would’ve liked to have been in the head of the characters. It felt more like I was told the story rather than shown.

Now, this is a purely erotica style story. It’s meant to be decadent and hot and on that point, it hits the mark. There is spanking, back door play and dirty talk which will be great for erotica readers.

If you’re looking for something hot and short for an afternoon read, then this might be the one for you.

Master Fabrizzio’s Vault: Taking Eric by Catherine Dolore

Master Fabrizzio’s Vault: Taking Eric by Catherine Dolore
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ
Rating: 2 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Behind the marble walls and manicured gardens of the Calvianni estate existed dark corners of temptation, torture and triumph…

Whew doggie….this one is hot.
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I knew when I picked up this short story that it would scorch. It did. Eric thinks he’s going for business and he’s going to get so much more. He’s the type of guy who uses women and doesn’t think twice about it. It’s sort of nice to see him get the treatment he’s given in return, too.

This is a story of a man who gets it from three other men, so be warned. There is play in every orifice and even toys. It’s a complicated story. How will he respond when he’s treated in the same way he’s treated women before?

Granted, this is a hot story, but I have a few quibbles with it. This story could be great with a little more. I would’ve liked to have had a little more about Eric and his background. I know who he is, but I never really saw him. I don’t really know how he treated people in his past–it’s just hinted at. Adding those details would really round out the story well. Then there’s the editing. It could use a bit more going over from an editor as there are missing words and choppy sentences that messed with the flow of the story.

This is a hot story and it’s pure erotica. It’s also a bit of revenge fantasy in that some might want to see Eric get what he’s due. If you want a hot story that’s got lots of male-male action in a few pages, then this might be the one for you.

Numb by Montgomery Raye

Numb by Montgomery Raye
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Erotic Romance, Contemporary
Rating: Two Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Take a walk with Nora, whose hunger for love has taken the foreground in a most unusual way.

More control which Nora relinquishes, the sexual spotlight becomes hers and hers alone.

How does a wallflower become the life of the party?
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For one who is “Numb”, what others may see as being extreme, is just a walk in the park of what is average.

To cope, to succumb, to overcome, to numb. The road is yours.

There is freedom in choice.

This is a quick story and definitely hot. Nora knows what she wants – love – and she knows how she wants to get it. She’s determined to be the center of attention and this story delivers the heat. This short features multiple partners, lots of back door play, role play, pony play, degradation, and domination. Oh boy, is there domination. She gives up control, as the blurb suggests, and this is her journey.

This story could be greater if there was just a bit more description and fleshing out in each section. Nora goes on an adventure and each lover is unique. I would’ve liked a bit more to each chunk. How’d she get involved with this person, how does she feel while being with the person and how does she feel after? Those details would certainly bolster the story. The other thing that was a bit more work with an editor. It’s jarring to read when words are omitted. It reads like an outline that way. While this might not take away enjoyment for all readers, it did for me.

That said, this story is hot and there is a little bit of everything for readers wanting a hot read. If you want to read about Nora’s journey in this short read, then this is the one for you. Check it out.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
Publisher: Park Row Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (368 pgs)
Rating: 2.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up….

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her.

Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…
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A fiercely poignant and inspirational story a lost girl searching for a place to call home. Ginny Moon will change everyone who spends time with her.

Ginny is unique. Very unique.

I picked this book up because my book club opted to read it. I have thoughts on this book and I’m not altogether sure how I feel about it.

Ginny is a hard character to love. I have to admit that. She’s autistic, which can be a tad hard to handle and she’s not entirely truthful about her motivations. Her being autistic wasn’t my big niggle with this book, but I’ll get to that.

I read this book over the course of two days and I have to admit it was hard to put down. There’s a reason Ginny wants to get back to her birth mother and it’s intriguing. I can see her mind working through the book and while sometimes I didn’t agree with her, I saw how she thought things through.

That said, the adults in her life (she’s 14) seemed to be clueless and more than a bit self-absorbed. Now before I go any further, I have to put in a warning. There is animal abuse and other violence mentioned. Ginny doesn’t understand why her electronic baby doll (thing Baby Think It Over doll) won’t stop crying and she punches it. This could easily be a trigger. Then there are Maine Coon cats mentioned. Her birth mother raised them. In a fit of anger, two end up dead (how is told in a rather grisly manner) and two others have Ginny’s mother’s drugs duct taped to them. This might also be a trigger to some readers. You’ve been warned.

But keep this in mind. Ginny sees things as very black and white. She doesn’t understand that hurting the plastic doll isn’t good. She’s also not understanding why answering challenges with violence isn’t good. But the adults around her could be a bit more involved. Her adoptive parents threaten to return her and sometimes seem to forget she’s there. For a little girl who keeps running away, it’s a lot to take in.

Still, it’s an engrossing read and might be something you’ll like. It didn’t hit with me when I read it, but that’s partly because I’m not wild about some of the triggers mentioned.

If you’re interested in reading about Ginny and her way of handling life, then this might be the book for you.

Vintage Dreams by Jannie Lund

Vintage Dreams by Jannie Lund
Publisher: Satin Romance, an imprint of Melange Books, LLC
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (166 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 2.5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

Scott Sullivan has been sent on a not all together pleasant trip down memory lane to secure a location for a client. Sure, it may take some charm and convincing to get the owners to sell, but he’s up for the task. And then he’s getting the hell out of dodge to escape the memories. In and out, quick and painless, that’s the plan. He just hadn’t counted on running into a fiery and stunning obstacle with gold flecks in her eyes.

Danielle Harris has worked hard to make her dream come true. With her best friend, she owns a boutique where she sells the vintage style dresses she designs. When a city lawyer comes along and tries to ruin everything, her Italian temper flares.
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With Scott trying to conduct a business deal and Danielle fighting for her dream, sparks fly. Not least sparks of attraction and perhaps love. It’s clear that one of them needs to give in, but the feelings of resistance are deep-rooted in them both.

One of the reasons I enjoy reading romance novels is to see how a relationship between two people will develop. Also, I like to read them to see how they will overcome their problems and fall in love. And, if the story is good, I fall in love with the characters and I live through their fears and insecurities and become very happy when they find their HEA. I really liked how this story started so I was looking forward to more conflict between Scott and Danielle before they fell in love.

Unfortunately, that was not the case with Vintage Dreams. This book had a very promising start, but not so satisfying a performance. Scott Sullivan is sent on a business trip to his childhood town to try to secure a location for a client but it’s occupied by the fierce heroine, Danielle Harris. Under no circumstances does she want to sell her property. Instead of buying the property, Scott finds himself liking Danielle and ends up in a situation where he needs to reexamine his life and make some decisions about his future.

I was hoping that the story would focus much more on the development of the relationship between Scott and Danielle, but it was pretty much an instant love story. Right after their first date they were together and from that point on the focus was not so much on romance as on the resolving of past issues.

I have very mixed feelings about the characters. Scott is such a nice guy. He had a very tough childhood and he is carrying his father’s sins but he is willing to help and has a good heart. Danielle is also nice, but I did not like her temper. She is a bit over the top temperamental and often I did not understand her reactions. I wish there had been more emotional depth between the two.

All in all, Vintage dreams is an okay read. Readers who are looking for a subtle romance novel featuring a lot of nice vintage dresses and “love-at-first-sight” will not be disappointed.

Dark Hunger by Demetrius Sherman

Dark Hunger by Demetrius Sherman
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (121 pgs)
Rating: 2.5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Peter Sunday searches for missing people and the trail leads to corpses. Unknown to the private investigator is that he’s on the deadliest journey of his life. A heart-pounding journey where he must face those that bullets cannot stop.

When people start disappearing and the local police cannot locate them, it is time to call Peter Sunday for help.
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Dark Hunger follows Peter Sunday through strange disappearances and strange murders. While the initial plot seems interesting and the characters have some depth; the story is riddled with clichés and lots of heavy narration.

Dark Hunger is a story about a private investigator with a long history of police procedure, yet with the setting in contemporary America with cell phones and internet-it was almost midway through the story before the main character began an internet search on the business in question. Interaction between Peter and interviewees provided some frustration in that the dialogue seemed stilted and forced, some interactions, such as those between Peter and the manager of the News Station were quick snippets that information was withheld and then later flatly revealed with little to no specific dialogue. Grammar issues plagued the story and the flow of the story was also often caught on some of the more severe grammatical issues.

While the dialogue seemed forced, it did not factor very much in the overall story. Most of the story was straight narration, and although this was the case, there was a strong lack of actual description. I found that I was unable to immerse myself in the story no matter how hard I tried. Obvious elements were evident but the characters seemed extremely oblivious, so much that to the point I became frustrated reading the next line.

Overall, I feel the plot could formulate a great story if allowed to unfold correctly. Peter Sunday is seen as a deep character with a lot of flowing backstory while his partner, Tony, seems almost lost. Secondary characters also are poorly developed, again leading Peter to take main stage and focus but detracting from the depth of the story that truly could be.

Although I feel that there are many incomplete elements and many things that can be improved upon, I believe that the foundational plot and resonance of Peter Sunday could have a great focus for future stories. Some strong editing, focused description and dialogue points would make Dark Hunger an insatiable read that I would not want to miss!

Casual Car Cravings by Storm Stone

Casual Car Cravings by Storm Stone
Publisher: Deep Desires Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (46 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 2.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Englishwoman Jemma James is regretting that her hot fling with Las Vegas bad boy Damon McDermott is about to a halt as a brief business trip approaches. With one day left, Jemma cannot resist her craving to experience Damon’s untamed passions again.

Jemma is blown away by this man; his sensuality and stamina know no bounds. He takes delight in pleasuring her and driving her wild. But even after their passions are spent, their night together is spent bonding, with touches of light humor. She even discovers Damon’s playful side.

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But it’s not how long she can keep the secret that troubles her. As she lies in Damon’s arms, her real predicament is how much longer can she keep her secret before it ruins her ability to enjoy even the welcome escape of his embrace?

A hot story for a lazy afternoon.

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started this book. I read the blurb, but I didn’t realize it was part of a serial. Had I known there were more books before and after, I might have looked at the book with a different understanding. Still, there is enough heat in this book to sizzle the reader screen.

Jemma and Damon have chemistry. Once they’re together, they ignite. When they’re apart, all they can think about is each other. I liked the idea of these two people on a collision course with each other. There was the makings of a great short story.

But there were some quibbles. The story straddled the line between hot and erotic. Some phrases used made me think it was a hot read, but then other things like the mention of anal sex were added which nudged it toward the erotic side of the spectrum. For readers who want heat, then this might be a tad too hot. If you’re looking for down and dirty erotic, then this might be a tad tame. Another quibble was the writing. While it flowed, there were more than a few typos. I was ripped out of the story trying to figure out what the author meant. This might not be a problem for some readers, but was for me. With a little more polishing, this book could shine. Also, this book is part of a serial. I have nothing against serials, but had I known going in, I might have tried to start with book 1, rather than book 3. I got confused on the storyline and felt more than once that I’d missed something. If you’re considering this book, don’t hesitate to pick it up, but go for book 1 first.

If you want a hot read that’s enough for a lunchtime read, then this might be the book for you. It’s hot, short and the characters sizzle.

Hot For Heather by Caitlyn Lynch

Hot For Heather by Caitlyn Lynch
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (27 pages)
Other: M/F, Anal Play
Rating: 2 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Heather is a quiet classical pianist lacking in a social (or sex) life. One day, she’s utterly shocked to find out that the hot delivery guy she accidentally flashed in the hallway is actually her brand new neighbour, Mike, a soldier recently back from deployment. And Mike’s very interested in getting to know the gorgeous girl next door who makes such beautiful music. He’s especially interested in getting know her on top of that piano. And on the piano stool. And anywhere else in her apartment she’s willing to let him…

Holy piano benches, Batman!
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This story sizzled. I won’t lie. There were parts of this short story that had me squirming in my seat. The piano… I’ll never look at a baby grand ever again the same way.

There wasn’t much meat to this short story. The author got right to the point right away. I had to keep reading because I had to know how it would end. Of course it didn’t take long, but still. I had to know.

The premise of the story was hot. Sexy military man and the geeky pianist. Good combination. But there were a few quibbles. While this was erotica, some of the terminology ripped me right out of the story. I wanted to buy in, but I couldn’t… not throughout the book. I had a hard time picturing the hero and heroine together because of the nearly foot difference in their height. I had to reread to figure out some of the choreography. One example: the pianist considers herself short, but not small and wonders how the hero can pick her up, yet he tosses her around. I had a hard time picturing what was going on. The other big quibble was how fast the two characters got together. Some readers might not have a problem with the briskness with which they climbed onto the piano. Others might.

That said, the short story has lots of promise. With a little more editing for content and maybe lengthening the story out a bit more, it could really shine.

If you want an erotic short story that will singe your screen, then this might be the book for you.

Whips by Jules Dixon

Whips by Jules Dixon
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (56 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Reviewed by Mistletoe

Dune Wexley’s unrelenting efforts to take down a local crook ended his law enforcement career and his father’s life. Dune’s lived in seclusion ever since. A Sunday drive to check on his mysteriously disappearing herd of cattle ends with a guest in his house, one who makes him reconsider isolating his shielded heart. But can this stranger be trusted?
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Mason LaFleur answered an ad in the paper that held the promise of becoming a real cowboy on an authentic ranch, but that never happened. Instead Mason was forced to run away from a cruel man, but a miscalculation finds him bouncing off the hood of a truck and into the arms of a genuine cowboy.

When Mason is kidnapped, Dune must decide if getting revenge for his father’s death is more important than saving the man who’s offered up his heart and life to heal the broken cowboy.

When Dune decided to go out for a drive he never expected a man to run out in front of his truck. Mason is running for his life and would rather die than go back to the hell he was trapped in. After answering an ad in the paper his life sure has changed and when a chance came to escape, Mason grabbed it. He will do what he can to live and get away from the evil man that tricked him into this torture. Little does Mason know but the very man that he asks for help from is more than ready to take on Silas. The evil that Silas has done goes way beyond what he has done to Mason and Dune will see it end now. Will the two fight the attraction that is growing between them? Will it hamper or help the two take down Silas?

This story has a great premise. It has a good plot but the story reads more like an outline and did not have much character development, making it a dry read. In the beginning, Dune comes off as arrogant and mean but we start to see another side of him; it was only a start. I would have enjoyed seeing more of the softer side of him. Mason is a scared young man. The two are good for each other and make a nice couple. As the two begin to figure out just where their feelings will take them Dune begins to set things into motion against Silas. It was nice to see the true hero that Dune is.

Mason and Dune’s story moves rather quickly and there are not a lot of details. It would have been nice to add some more substance to the story. It has an interesting plot and good characters that could have been developed into something more. Despite all that, I still found nuggets to enjoy and I liked Dune and Mason.