Book Review: Fatal Shadows

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“One sunny morning Los Angeles bookseller and aspiring mystery author Adrien English opens his front door to murder. His old high school buddy (and employee) has been found stabbed to death in a back alley following a loud and very public argument with Adrien the previous evening.” (From Amazon.com)

I’ll pick up where the quoted Amazon synopsis leaves off. After finding his friend Robert Hersey dead, Adrien is questioned by police detectives Chan and Riordan. Adrien insists he has nothing to do with killing Robert despite the argument they had just hours before his death. The cops don’t seem to buy it but soon Adrien himself is being stalked by who he knows to be the killer.

Adrien is a mystery writer and book-keeper. Now he must become an amateur sleuth to figure out who has been murdering his old high school friends before Adrien is next on the list. I truly enjoyed this book and I was really hesitant to read it. Josh Lanyon was an author recommended to me in the same post as Abigail Roux (who I have raved about in previous entries) but after reading Roux I just didn’t think (and still don’t) that anything could compare.

Lanyon’s Adrien English series came off from the beginning as less a romance book and more a mystery. But I finally did pick the book up last night and enjoyed the heck out of it. Some reviewers have criticized Adrien’s inner monologue which did at times become monotonous but I enjoyed being in his head throughout most of the book.

The book is written in first person pov which I do enjoy reading so long as it is written well enough. Lanyon did a great job pulling me into the mindset of a middle-ish aged gay bookshop owner with a bad heart. I think the mystery was a touch weak but strong enough to keep my attention. The best parts of the book were when Detective Riordan and Adrien were speaking with each other, alone.

It’s obvious during the book that Adrien has a thing for Riordan and we slowly find out that Riordan just might return Adrien’s feelings. It was a very slow burn and I enjoyed that. The big turning point romance-wise in the book is Riordan calling Adrien ‘baby’ after the killer is finally dead. The slip up wasn’t mentioned at all in the remaining chapters but I saw it. Oh yes I did. And I’m genuinely looking forward to the next installment but hoping the slow burn becomes a slow sizzle. I need more sparks during book #2.

Final Review: 4 stars.

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Book Review: Sinners on Tour

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“When Brian Sinclair, lead songwriter and guitarist of the hottest metal band on the scene, loses his creative spark, it will take nights of downright sinful passion to release his pent-up genius.” (From Amazon.com)

I’m going to group the reviews for Olivia Cunning’s “Sinners on Tour” books all into one blog entry. Backstage Pass is the first in the series and stars songwriter/guitarist Brian Sinclair and psychologist/fan Myrna Evans. This (and the others in the series) book was full of sex. I don’t know if I read a chapter in the whole book where sex wasn’t had or at least mentioned/alluded to. The sex was hot but without a real plot it got boring fast. There wasn’t really any UST (unresolved sexual tension) because the two were at each other from the beginning of the book.

Eric was by far my favorite throughout all the books that I read. His book, Wicked Beat is slated for an August 6, 2013 release date. Eric likes to watch. He loves to watch. Sometimes he likes to join in. But mostly he loves to watch. There was something so incredibly sexy about him and his roles in these books. Even though I wasn’t ga-ga over the series like most seem to be, I will most certainly be checking his book out. I just think he was the one out of all of the guys to put off the most quiet & mysterious sexuality.

Hot Ticket was Jace’s story. Jace loves to be hit. He aches for pain. Normally I would gloss right ove12710035r this book because I like my men dominating not dominated. But after reading the other books in the series, I tried the sample of Jace’s book and liked what I read so I continued on. It was a little different. Aggie (the heroine) is a dominatrix who Jace hires to beat him. She refuses to draw blood even though he desperately wants that and Aggie feels something for Jace that she doesn’t feel with any other clients. I quite frankly didn’t care for this one simply because I really thought that Jace would take the reins and he didn’t really take them. More like Aggie gave them to him temporarily at times. It was good though not quite my cuppa.

Double Time was by far my favorite of the three that I read. Big Surprise that it was m/m/f. I can’t help it. Two guys getting it on is fucking hot as hell. There. I said it. Now wdouble-time-pic-for-reviewhat? Huh?? I would gladly sit on the couch and watch drool over two sexy guys loving each other. But enough about my fantasies – back to the book. Trey is the rhythm guitarist in the band and also bisexual but he gives his lifestyle up when he meets Reagan Elliot, a female rock sensation. Try as he might though, Trey cannot deny his attraction to men. Especially with Reagan’s sexy as sin bi bodyguard walking around. Reagan soon agrees to solve Trey’s problem: let Trey and Ethan sleep together. But Reagan finds them being together too hot to just stand by and watch…she joins in and soon the triad is falling in love with each other. I think this was one of the few well done m/m/f books I’ve read. The lead up felt right, I fell in love with each character separately before Cunning brought them all together and the sex was hot hot hot.

Overall?

Backstage Pass gets a 3 star rating.
Hot Ticket gets a 2.5 star rating.
Double Time gets a 4 star rating.

I’ll let you know how Eric’s book turns out come August. 😉

Book Review: Faith and Fidelity

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“New York City vice detective Evan Cerelli has lost his wife, the only person he’s ever loved and slept with. He’s trying to get on with his life, build a life for his children. Former homicide detective Matt Haight is a ladies’ man, all sex/no commitment. He’s depressed, having a midlife crisis, and not sure where his life is headed. The two find friendship in the bottom of a shared bottle. When the friendship turns to love, it shakes two straight men to the core and flips their lives inside out. Kids, families, careers that are not gay-friendly–can all the love in the world overcome the obstacles of faith and fidelity?” (From Amazon.com)

No need for a recap on this one. Bottom line is that I thought this was a solid book. The romance absolutely paled in comparison, however, to Abigail Roux’s Cut and Run series. Unfortunately for many, many, m/m romance authors out there I will always compare/contrast them to Roux’s series.

Tere Michaels does a fine job of introducing us to her characters. I really enjoyed Evan’s children, I thought they were fabulous and lent a “breath of fresh air” feeling to the book. I thought the book in and of itself was a bit too angsty for my liking. Evan is a widower trying to care for his children, Matt seems sad throughout the book and it was just too heavy for me. Some people love an angsty book but not I. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t slit your wrists angst but just a little too much. Just a little.

I also think I was extremely spoilt by amazing earth shattering sex scenes in Roux’s series and the sex/romance in Faith and Fidelity was just not very sexy. I kept holding my breath the entire time waiting for them to stop the foreplay and actually have sex but (spoiler alert!!) I was left disappointed throughout the whole book.

As I said though the book was solid. The kids were fun and I liked seeing them interact with Matt. I think this is a great book for readers who aren’t familiar with the m/m genre since it’s so light on the sexy stuff. And that’s not to say it isn’t chock full of steamy kissing, stroking, fondling, etc. It is. But for anyone looking for these guys to score a home run…it’s not happening in this book.

There are two more books to the series which I may read at some point but for now it’s just this one.

Final Review: A solid 3 stars for this one. Don’t let my review scare you away, this book was good it just didn’t live up to my specific expectations.

Book Review: Dominion

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“A paranormally-gifted female hunter is seduced by beautiful eight-hundred year old identical twin vampire brothers.” (From Amazon.com)

Eve Hayden is a pre-med student searching for her mother’s killer. She knows that her mother was murdered by a vampire while researching them. While digging thru her mother’s belongings she finds a manuscript but it’s in ancient French and she must have it translated. She meets with a professor at a university to find out more. But now all is as it seems and she discovers that she is speaking with one of the stars of the manuscript: Michel de Cernay, a vampire dead and born again in the year 1224.

Eve is sucked into a world she know little about – quickly finding out that she is a vampire hunter (an Adept) with special paranormal gifts meant to help aid her in the destruction of vampires. She meets Julien de Cernay, Michel’s twin brother and internal conflict ensues with Eve torn between her desire for Michel and following her mother’s lost cause.

What I Thought:

I did enjoy this book – but there were some key elements that I really didn’t like as well. I’m not sure if I’ll continue on with the series only because (and this may have nothing to do with the book itself but one can never be too sure) the book did seem to drag on in parts and I found myself getting bored rather quickly during some chapters. It didn’t flow from scene to scene (for me) as flawlessly as I would have liked it to.

I loved Michel’s character. He is a very old vampire who when human was a priest and eight hundred years later still struggles with his decisions/thoughts/emotions as a vampire. I enjoyed the conflict and thought the characterization was very well done. I regret not being able to see more Julien in the book though. The synopsis markets this book as more or less a love triangle but trust me, there’s nothing confusing about who Eve is with (in book one, at least.) We didn’t even get a good taste as to who Julien is versus Michel.

Which brings me to another dislike which is that the theme of Dominance and submission was the last thing I expected to see in this book. It markets as an epic and grand adventure – not erotica. Don’t get me wrong; I love alpha heroes (in fact, I can say I usually will not enjoy a book without an alpha hero) and I also love D/s but this was really heavily “leaned on” in the sex scenes and seemed forced at times. Of course I still enjoyed the scenes but I think they would have been better and more believable if Michel didn’t have to spell out every time that he needed to dominate her, needed her to submit, etc. etc.

At the end of the day this was a solid, strong book. And I appreciated the price. SE Lund seems to make this one free on Amazon every now and then and it it’s successors are all only $3.99 I believe.

Bottom line? Great start to a series with two lead characters who have steamy chemistry together but not as action packed as I’d have liked to see.

Final Review: 3/5.

PS: It is written in present tense first person. “He stares at me with wild abandon and I am walking to him.” Don’t let this alone turn you away, it was something I struggled with for only the first few chapters.

Book Review: All Jacked Up

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“Pulling off the ultimate con–if they can keep from pulling off their clothes.” (From Amazon.com)

In the 8th book in Lorelei James’ Rough Riders series, we are along for the ride with Jack Donohue and Keely McKay. Keely and Jack have never liked each other. And when I say they have never liked each other, it’s an understatement! They have never been friendly and neither has any desire to know the other anytime soon.

However, fate has other plans and Keely and Jack get thrown together. Keely needs Jack to approve the restoration of an old building that Keely plans to use as her new physical therapy location. Jack needs Keely in order to secure the biggest project of his life. And so a deal is struck – Keely and Jack will fake an engagement in order to get what they both want….but when all is said and done they find what they really want is each other.

What I Thought:

I’ve been reading Lorelei James’ Rough Riders series out of order for the past few days. I’m not finding it hard to follow each book as they all are pretty much self-contained with the exception of the secondary character’s lives (these secondary characters either have already had their own book or will in the future.) Which brings me to the first thing I love about this series. There are so many different characters, so many great personalities, so many cowboys!

Hello, who doesn’t want to read about a sexy cowboy? But I digress because Jack Donohue is a sexy suit wearing business man. Keely is a wild child cowgirl and I loved seeing them go to the rodeo together. The sex scenes were smoking hot and out of the three books in the series that I’ve read so far this one was my favorite. The sexual tension was thick, the story line was great (I’m a right sucker for fake engagement stories,) and the book held my attention throughout.

“Jack braced himself for a new ‘friendly’ warning from another male member of the knife-happy, psycho McKay clan.”

Another tidbit I really loved was the character chemistry between Jack and all of Keely’s brothers: Cord, Colby, Colt, Cam, and Carter McKay. Some really funny moments between them.

If you’re looking for a smokin’ hot erotic romance with an actual fun storyline and drool-worthy cowboys, looks no further!

Final Review: 4/5.

Book Reviews: Kidnapped for Christmas/Yuletide Greetings

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“Plus-sized and practical Jillian Marks is the responsible one in her family. She got all the common sense and her little sister Sabrina got all the skinny genes. When Sabrina plans a custom kinky kidnapping as a Christmas present to herself, Jillian tries to talk her out of it but her ditzy sister won’t listen. Muscular and intense Kyle Stephens is a Dom who is looking for a permanent sub- a curvy woman who can submit in the bedroom but still think for herself. He takes Sabrina’s file but mistakenly ‘naps the wrong sister, grabbing Jillian instead of Sabrina…” (From Amazon.com)

I really don’t have to sum this one up since the amazon blurb pretty much took care of it for me. This is your basic “mistaken identity” kidnapping with a little holiday twist to it. Jillian is level-headed and her sister is most definitely not. Sis plans a little kinknapping but napper Kyle snatches up the wrong sister. Now Jillian is bound and gagged in his dungeon and she’s too turned on to tell Kyle the truth.

What I Thought:

Generally it doesn’t bother me when erotica isn’t realistic because erotica is all about fantasy. However I just didn’t really care for Jillian that much and there was absolutely zero storyline. Without storyline (for me, at least) it doesn’t matter how drool-worthy the hero is or how hot the sex is, it’s just not as much fun to read the book. I also had two pet peeves with this one. Number one, he called her “sweetheart” and “baby” throughout the entire book. From the very beginning and I started getting a little queasy after the first three dozen times. Secondly, (and this is just more of a preference) I don’t like the whole “Master” thing. For some reason it doesn’t pack as big of a punch as Sir does for me. Master sounds fake, forced, and unrealistic to me. And I know that’s being pretty picky of a D/s story but hey, I’m allowed. Bottom line, this one was a bit boring for me to be honest.

Final Review: 2/5.

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“Zach Colvin never believed in Santa Claus, so filling in as Santa at the mall for one of his friends is not making his holiday bright. He’s supposed to be on vacation, not working. When his brother promises to send him a package full of holiday cheer, her never expected it to be a near-naked woman.” (From Amazon.com)

Here’s another short D/s holiday themed novella I read this week. In short, woman meets man online, woman goes to meet man and have steamy one night stand. Woman was tricked, shows up on principal of local high school’s doorstep dressed in basically nothing. Principal happens to be horny and dominant. Good luck for woman who is horny and submissive. Sexcapades ensue. I liked this one much more than above. It was more believable for me, more fun, and much hotter. The whole draw of D/s is the delicious sexual tension and mystery that comes with it and Brynn Paulin was able to deliver. I still had to deal with the whole Master thing in this one but it was more bearable to me. The language was crass and Zach Colvin was hot. The holiday theme was strong and there is even creative use of a candy cane. You can’t go wrong!

Final Review: 3/5.

Book Review: Sweet Inspiration

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“What if the legend of Santa Claus is in fact, true? What if Santa has five big strapping sons who help him run his empire? Five single, sexy sons looking for romance…” (From Amazon.com)

Nicholas Klaus is a pastry chef, baker, and he just happens to be Santa Claus’ son. One of five, actually. Nicholas is in New York to taste what has been hailed “the best sugar cookie around” at a quaint little bakery called Sweet Inspiration. The owner? Lucy Brewster. Lucy loves baking for her customers and running her shop…she especially loves seeing Nicholas, who has been stopping in the past couple of weeks. After a tragic accident leaves Lucy on the brink of death, Nicholas makes a snap decision to save her life and Lucy awakes at none other than the North Pole.

What I Thought:

I really truly enjoyed this book. I think Penny Watson did a great job of combining the old school charm of Santa Claus with all new and unique ideas. I immediately loved both Nicholas and Lucy, although their rush to bed and consequently them falling in love was a little unrealistic for me. But hey, so is waking up one day in a little town full of elves!

I also greatly appreciated Watson’s sense for detail. It wasn’t too much, didn’t bore me to death, but was still able to paint a great picture in my head.

“In a room the size of a football field was a model village, complete with cars and trains, houses and bridges, schoolyards and churches, lakes and mountains. And everything was made of gingerbread. Thick layers of creamy icing topped the cottages, sparkling sugar glistened from the frozen ponds, and lights twinkled from inside the buildings. The trains clacked along the tracks, and church bells began to ring.”

Nicholas, his brothers, and even Santa himself also have tattoos. Yup, tattoos! And Santa himself doesn’t look like you might imagine. He’s buff, handsome, and in great shape.

“Trophies, Nike posters and a vast array of fitness equipment cluttered Santa’s study.”

I really liked the fact that so much about the North Pole and the characters there were different from what I would imagine them to be. At the same time, sometimes it got to be a little much and I did find myself yearning for a more “traditional” scene. The book also dragged a lot for me in the middle and I had a little trouble finishing it up. It was a bit predictable but all in all, it was a great full-length holiday read.

Final Review: 3/5.