A MelanieM Review: The Firebird and Other Stories (Beings in Love #5) by R. Cooper


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Being(s) in Love Stories

The Firebird and Other Stories coverMagical creatures known as beings emerged from hiding amid the destruction of the First World War. Since then they’ve lived on the margins of the human world as misunderstood objects of fear and desire. Some are beautiful, others fearsome and powerful. Yet for all their magic and strength, they are as vulnerable as anyone when it comes to matters of the heart.

A firebird in 1930s Paris is drawn to a writer with a haunted past. Upon returning from fighting in the Pacific, a jaguar shifter finds a third-gender human on his doorstep. Early rock ‘n’ roll DJ Hyacinth the fairy shocks his listeners with his admiration for his quiet assistant. During the AIDS crisis, a gruff, leather-wearing troll dreams of a settled life with a mixed-species elf across the bar. An imp, who remembers only too well how cruel the world can be, tells himself he’s content to stay behind the scenes—if only his chaotic, impish magic would stop getting in the way. And a shy human tending his poisonous and carnivorous plants is convinced no one will ever want him, certainly not the handsome werewolf grieving for a lost mate. Human or being, all must overcome fear to reach for love.

I have loved R. Cooper’s imaginative series from the moment I found his story, A Boy and His Dragon, a couple that make an appearance here at the end.  From the magical beings Cooper brings forth looking for romance to the sly, rich, and subtle manner in which the tales are told, R. Cooper’s stories have enchanted me, delighted me and in the case of some of the tales told here, left me more than a little haunted.  Let’s look at them one by one.

The Firebird.  4.5 stars. 1934, Paris, France. Kazimir, a lone firebird, perhaps the last of his kind, sings on the famous stages along side Josephine Baker, in a tragic opera written for him.  He knows little of his kind, only what his previous deceased owners have told him. Now free he sings, then retires to his flat, always filled with people, magical beings, and flowing champagne.  Until a starving ex pat American editor/ writer invades the soiree, with a book he needs to publish and stories he refuses to write.  Rifkin is drawn like everyone to Kazimir.  But now for the first time, the attraction starts to be returned.  But the war is coming, sides are being chosen, and firebirds are immortal, aren’t they?

Such a perfect bittersweet story to set the collection with.  The Firebird will appear again, as well others in this story.  Kazimir has been used, those that want him, who seek to own him often find themselves lost.  What happens when love is finally part of the firebird’s existence?  Quite a story if not exactly a romance.  The threads laid down here appear throughout all the other tales.

The Warrior’s Sacrifice. 5 stars.  1947.  Los Cerros. Mexico? Or Mexico/California combination.   Teo has been taken, beaten, tied up and dumped at the doorstep of the tehuantl—the jaguar, left there as a sacrifice by the neighborhood gang, one of which Teo has just rejected.  Thugs really who never understood Teo, the way he dressed, or acted.  And now it had come to this.  Teo has had a crush on the jaguar for most of his life, even before the jaguar had been sent to fight in the Pacific.  War over, now the Jaguar was back, dangerous and often bloody.  And Teo had been offered as a sacrifice to the one he wanted more than anything. What would the jaguar do?

This is an amazing blend of mythology, culture, and romance. Teo is such a special character, that I hesitate to give him definition here. The jaguar too is a strong, engaging character, one that pulls you towards him because you need the answers to the questions he poses. Combine Teo with mythology come to life in the tehuantl, a warrior back from the Pacific in a vibrant little village, well, this story has so many layers and hidden “notes” that it is one you will want to revisit to again and again to see what you  missed the first time around.  I would change nothing in this story, not even the length.  Unforgettable.

Hyacinth on the Air Rating  3.5 stars.  1961.  Los Cerros Fairy Hyacinth and human Walter work on the air at  a radio station in Los Cerros. Hyacinth has been among the humans for 70 years and still has no regard for human censorship, especially on the air.  Something he can often get away with just a small fine as a fairy but poor Walter could lose his job over.  And Hyacinth does find Walter so very attractive, even if that’s something he’s also not supposed to notice.  Strange humans!   But once Hyacinth realizes Walter is noticing right back, all bets are off!  Its sexy, kinky and even sweet. Its  light-hearted and whimsical tone  sometimes worked against other elements of the story of gay rights to take away its power.

I liked the bending of history here. They are talking about “the war”, and other 60’s facts like Lee Dorsey music but  with all sorts of twists and turns.  I like it but when put along side some of these other stories it just pales by comparison.

A Giant Among Men. Rating  4 stars out of 5.  1982.  Los Cerros.  Tank, a troll with his Viet Nam MIAs/POWs Never Forget and Love Is A Many-Gendered Thing pins on his lapel, is a lovely character. Tank is his own neighborhood watch, but Mami Wata’s a  neighborhood bar is a special place because of Simon.  Tank’s in love with Simon, the bartender.  Simon, best described as elf and ?.  Delightful Simon was a bit more of a question mark but intentionally so.  They made a great couple in the end and I would love to have seen this story expanded.

The story basics are recognizable but the manner in which R. Cooper has folded a AIDs like virus into this story, a similar fear environment infecting the country, it all feels so very relevant.   R. Cooper’s touches to indicate the 80’s vibe which includes mentions of the movies about a murderous fog were just terrific.

The Imp and Mr Sunshine.  Rating: 4 stars out of 5  2005.  Los Cerros.   Rennet (the child imp from The Firebird) is now grown and Los Cerros is a liberal city seeming to embrace its magical beings.  That includes trying to see imps as  something less demonical, and more as beings to be accepted, like fairies and elves.  What Rennet likes, or moreover loves is John Summers, the deputy mayor “The Incredible Unflappable Mr. Sunshine” who he sometimes does odd jobs for.  What follows is a tale of a closeted politician coming out of the closet in his love for an imp.  Its charming, Rennet is endearing and the reader will have no problem connecting with the romance and the characters.

The Wolf in the Garden. Rating 4.5 stars out of 5.  2014 Los Cerros.  Miki (who has a definite connection to the Firebird).  Miki is a gardener who the reader will adore.  Miki grows the plants needed for sale in Cassandra’s magic shop.  The gardens and greenhouses exist behind the shop and they are Miki’s domain, the plants are Miki’s companions and confidants.  The reason behind Miki’s shyness are easily guessed at,and  his gentleness and huge heart bring the reader easily over to his side.  Then Diego the werewolf arrives, mourning, dying of loss and a shocking thing occurs.

Again, what an amazing story.  It moves with an awareness of the fragility of life, how easily things change, along with the need to accept new paths when they open up before you.  For a story that contains so much pain, it is also full of hope and sweetness.  I loved it.  And would love to see more of this couple down the line.

  The Dragon’s Egg.  4.5 stars out of 5.  Present.  Bertie the Dragon and his Arthur are back from A Boy and His Dragon.  The egg appears after a night of passion.  More than that I will not say.  I fell back into their relationship easily, and loved seeing where the two had  progressed since last time I had seen them.

But for those unfamiliar with their story, this might be a little problematic.  A Boy and His Dragon built Bertie and Arthur’s relationship with great care, its foundation that of Arthur’s abandonment and ill treatment as well as Bertie’s love for his Boy.  Without that background, someone new to their history and story might flounder a bit, which would be a shame, because this is a darn good story.  Tender, emotionally revealing, and deep as R. Cooper’s stories tend to be.   That ending was priceless, and of course, it made me want more.

From a story full of fear and despair to one that ends on such promise and love, R. Cooper takes us on a incredible journey with The Firebird and Other Stories, its one you won’t want to miss.   Pick it  up and being your magical voyage today.  I highly recommend this collection and the other  Beings in Love stories.

Cover artist: Paul Richmond.  I love the cover,  Vibrant, unusual, but I wish the Firebird had more of the story elements.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages
Published September 18th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press

Fur, Fangs, and Felines is Back with M. A. Church’s Behind the Eight Ball (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)



Behind the Eight Ball (Fur, Fangs, and Felines #2) by M.A. Church
Release Date: October 30, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Buy the book: Dreamspinner eBookDreamspinner Paperback


Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing M.A. Church author of Behind the Eight Ball. Hi Michelle, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us your writing goals for this year.

Hmm. Since this year is about over, let’s start with 2016. I plan to have at least two books coming out from ARe.

The third book in the Fur, Fangs, and Felines series hopefully will be coming out in 2016. This book will be about Remi and his mate.

I also plan to continue The Harvest series books. These will be about the young, and the first book in the series will be about Szin.

I’m going to try my hand at a contemporary novella. Depending on how well that goes, I may do several contemporary short stories. I have a couple ideas on that too.

I’m also itching to write the complete story from a sci-fi flash I entered in the Queer sci-fi contest in 2015. It has to do with an enchanted mirror.

And that’s what I have planned, LOL. Who knows what may pop up between now and then?


A cool morning, a yard full of birds, and a kitty on a mission. What more could a werecat want? Beta Heller Wirth has it all, except a mate—a shifter mate, that is. The last thing he wants is one of those dangerous humans who kill without remorse. Heller knows about that firsthand. So what does the goddess Bast do? She gives Heller exactly what he does not want—a human: business owner Lawson Dupre.

Lawson hasn’t a clue what just happened in his car detail shop. One minute a cute client is about to pass out, then he perks up and starts flirting. Next thing, he runs out the door like the hounds of hell are after him. Learning that Heller is a werecat doesn’t freak out Lawson. He happens to be one of those rare humans who knows paranormals exists. He even lives with one. Watch the fur fly as Heller and Lawson battle hurt feelings, misguided beliefs, and a power shift in Heller’s clowder.


Pages or Words: 76,000 words
Categories: Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance





The rustling of dead leaves caught my attention, and I froze with one paw still in the air. Not moving and barely daring to breathe, I waited. My whiskers twitched as a cool October breeze disturbed the scent of decaying leaves and rich soil. The foliage trembled again as something rooted around.

I slowly lowered my paw. The disturbance wasn’t very noticeable except to my predatory gaze. The movement continued. Gradually, bit by bit, I crept forward, making sure my long fur didn’t disturb the surrounding mounds of dying leaves. It was times like these I wished my coat were short like Dolf’s. One thing was for sure—whatever was below those leaves was going to be mine shortly. All I needed was to cover a little more distance and I’d be close enough.




Heart thumping, I watched as the movement continued. My muscles tightened and my bottom started wiggling. Unable to wait, I sprang forward, claws extended. Leaves flew into the air as I landed on my target. Bugs scattered. Eyes narrowed, I searched for…. There! There was the little bugger. I growled at the big black beetle and trapped it with my paw.

Seconds passed. The bug wiggled under my paw, tickling me. Hunched down, I carefully lifted my paw and peeked. Dammit, can’t see. Unable to get a good look, I lifted my paw a little higher… and there it went, scuttling across the ground. Gleefully I slammed a paw down, trying to trap it. Slap. Slap. Slap. Arrgh! What’s the deal? I keep missing.

Looked like I’d found myself in a game of whack-a-mole, except with a beetle. And off we went. The bug scurried away with me hot on its trail. Every time I thought I had a paw on it, I ended up missing. Stupid critter was fast. I bounded along behind as it raced across the ground. Then it suddenly cut back and ran straight under me.

Surprised, I leaped in the air, all four paws coming off the ground. Whoa! Zigged when I should have zagged. I landed and nonchalantly licked a paw. Hope no one saw that. I had to give the bug credit. That was a smart move. The shrill cry of a mockingbird caught my attention. I lifted my head, searching for the little tattletale.

Up in a tree it sat, its warning cries echoing around the yard. I eyed the tree. Hmm, I could climb it, but the stupid bird will probably just take off. Still, might be fun. Maybe after I finished playing with the bug… and damn. The bug.

My attention returned to where it had been, my tail slashing. Great. Lost it. Stupid bird. I sat up and threw a glare over my shoulder at the bird. Standing, I turned my back to the little menace, tail held high. That’s what I think of you, buddy. I prowled around for a while, sniffing, enjoying the coolness of the morning.

In the early morning sunlight, the dew on the grass sparkled like diamonds. Maybe it was pretty, but the stuff was also cold and wet against my paws. I was glad for my fur. As I wandered back toward the house, my stomach growled. I was hungry and… I sniffed. Oh, was that a blue jay I smelled? Oh, oh, a blue jay. Yum.

The human side of me groaned, but the kitty part wanted to jump with joy. The noisy little shits were actually quite intelligent. Catching one was always a feat. Quick as I could, I hid in the bright fall foliage by the back porch. I stayed very, very still so the stupid bird three feet from me didn’t fly off in a panic.

I licked my lips, my whiskers twitching as I watched the little rascal across from me raise its head. Shit, shit, shit. What caught its attention? Come on already. It’s all fine, nothing to worry about here. No cat hanging around. Just go back to pecking around on the ground. Everything’s good. See? I’m not moving, not even breathing.

Crouched low, I waited while my breakfast relaxed and returned to looking for acorns. Other birds came and went, but I refused to get distracted. I knew the one I wanted. Inch by agonizing inch, I crept closer to my prey. My mouth watered and my heart thumped.

The chatter of the birds around me was easy and relaxed, no distress calls sounding. That’s right. Just keep on eating. Soon I’m going to be eating you. My body tensed, back legs ready to spring me into action….

And the phone in the house rang.




Meet the Author

M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s exploring the latest M/M novel to hit the market, watching her beloved Steelers, or sitting glued to HGTV. That’s if she’s not on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two children.

She was a finalist in the Rainbow awards for 2013 and is a member of Romance Writers of America, Rainbow Romance Writers, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.


Where to find the author:


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Want Some Spooktacular Stories? Check Out Haunted Hotties In Time for All Hallows Eve! (Excerpt and giveway)



Author Names: Kiernan Kelly, Laney Cairo, Alex Cohen, Katey Hawthorne,
Jamie Jennings, Aaron Michaels, Jacey Mills, L.J. Hamlin, Shira Glassman,
Sheri Velarde, Kassandra Lea, Mychael Black

Book Name: Haunted Hotties Volume 1
Release Date: October 14, 2015

Goodreads Link:
Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: BSClay

Buy the book:  Torquere Books




This Halloween collection has a little something for everybody. With demons, ghosts, psychics, reapers, shifters, and witches… a rainbow of paranormal/supernatural is included.

In Nine-Tenths of the Law by Kiernan Kelly, Oliver discovers he has a haunted sex toy. In Bear Hugs by Laney Cairo, Martin’s boyfriend might be bear shifter and apparently that’s news to him. In Houdini’s Masquerade by Alex Cohen, when Lila meets a succubus, everything changes. In Præsidium by Katey Hawthorne, Thackeray needs helps from a witch who won’t help him until he explains his demon. In Black Cat by Jamie Jennings, when a cat shifter can see ghosts, Micah’s simple life suddenly isn’t. In Haunted Honeymoon by Aaron Michaels, Dylan and Jake seem to be sharing their non-honeymoon with a couple of ghosts.

In And the Tarot Cards Said by Jacey Mills, an insistent ghost shouldn’t be too much to handle for psychic Vassily and his Tarot-reading assistant Ben. In Spirit Wolf by L.J. Hamlin, when Dawson rescues an injured wolf shifter, it’s not just his book that gets worked on while getting back to nature. In Wet Nails by Shira Glassman, it’s not every day a glamorous ’50s actress comes out of a TV but lonely grad student Adina isn’t complaining. In Possessed by Love by Sheri Velarde, a storm trapping them together gives Andrew and Damian the chance they’ve been waiting for. In The Last Night by Kassandra Lea, Eric gets one night a year and he always picks one particular Halloween. In Molly by Mychael Black, Detectives Cameron and Chase discover the murderer plaguing their city is more sinister than they could have known and not entirely human.


Pages or Words: 71,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Horror, Lesbian Romance, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Anthology

Excerpt: From Nine-Tenths of the Law by Kiernan Kelly

Let me set the scene for you. There I was, on my bed, naked, my asshole greased, and the butt plug inserted in it as far as possible, angled to hit my prostate, the vibrating option turned on. I was fisting my cock, rock hard and slick with lube, edging so close to orgasm my balls felt ready to pop.

“Fuck, it’s dark in here.”

I believe I may have completely levitated off the mattress. I know my hard-on wilted like an ice sculpture in a microwave. Scanning the bedroom, I looked for an intruder, but could see no one.

“Tight, too. I always did love a tight, hot ass.”

The speaker was British; the voice, deep and sexy, and coming from right behind me. I spun around in a circle a few times, trying to catch the person I assumed could only be a machete-wielding-chainsaw-brandishing-serial killer that happened to have a silky, dark chocolate voice, but I couldn’t see anyone. As far as I could discover, I was alone, which of course meant I’d imagined the voice.

“What are you doing, Olivier? Stop it at once. You’re making me dizzy.”

Olivier? No one had called me that in years, not since… Hearing the old nickname was shocking enough to leach the fear out of me for a minute. It took me another full sixty seconds to realize the deliciously decadent voice was not only real, but also somewhat familiar, and more importantly, coming from my ass.

That’s when I finally fainted.



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In our Science Fiction Corner: Author Interview with Chris T. Kat of Battle Stations (Alliances #2) (excerpt and giveaway)



Battle Stations  (Alliances #2) by Chris T. Kat
Release Date: October 12, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

Buy the book: Dreamspinner e-book & paperback |Amazon | All Romance Ebooks | 

Google Play | Kobo 

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Chris T. Kat author of Battle Stations (Alliances, Book 2). Hi Chris, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

• What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?

A couple of years ago I’d have said it’s the editing process, but that has changed. I’ve got an awesome beta reader (Julie Lynn Hayes) and my senior editor, Erika Orrick, is awesome as well. My least favorite part is probably the promotion. I know it’s necessary, and I really don’t mind talking to readers, but I’m not keen on tooting my own horn and hoping someone will buy my books.
• As an author, is there one subject you would never write about? What would it be?

I’m fairly open and I wouldn’t say there’s one subject I’ll never write about. However I don’t think I’ll write a book that includes rape or child molestation. These things disturb me as a reader, and since I don’t like to read about it, why should I write about it?
• When did you first realize you wanted to write?

That was when I couldn’t find a certain type of story when I still read fan fiction. Since no one was going to write what I wanted to read, I decided to give writing my own story a try. I haven’t stopped since then.
• How long did it take to write your book?

I wrote Breeding Stations and Battle Stations back to back. Both books took about five months together. Usually it takes me three to four months to write one novel, but these two books flowed and made it very, very easy for me.
• For Fun: Where is one place you’d like to visit you haven’t been before?

I’d like to visit Italy, specifically Rome, one day. There’s so much history in that city, and I’d love to explore the old buildings and sink my teeth into the rich history.

Thanks, Chris.  Now on to more about the second book in the Alliance series, Battle Stations.




The fight to eradicate the Tash’Ba breeding stations continues, with spunky Commander Berit Turner and his Nadisc mate, Tom, in the thick of things. Sometimes it seems as though they’ll never locate and destroy them all. And there’s always the fear that the Tash’Ba have something else, something worse—if that’s even possible—lurking ahead.

As if things aren’t bad enough, Berit’s less than stellar past is threatening to bite him in the ass, and they’ve received alarming new information. The Tash’Ba Queen needs to use Earth as a place to hatch the egg of her successor. And if what she says is true, the new Queen will be even more voracious and cruel than her predecessor.

Berit, along with his team—Tom, Carson, Niyara, and Fleur—must do everything in their power to stop her. If they fail, Earth will be lost forever.


Pages or Words:
Categories: M/M Romance, Science Fiction



Veering to the left, I allowed myself a quick glance over my shoulder. Not that I saw any chance of the elgoth having lost interest in me, because those fucking beasts never lost interest once they’d set their sights on prey, but sometimes a new prey might attract them more, which I’d have welcomed right then.

My lungs burned and my leg muscles smarted like hell from running like a rabbit through thick brushes and overgrown ferns. I even zigzagged around. Too bad I couldn’t find a rabbit’s hole to hide in.

I had no idea where Tom, Carson, and the rest of the team were, either.

We’d been separated before—it happened when gigantic Tash’Ba war beasts decided we looked good enough to eat—but I’ve never liked it. No, scratch that. Every time it happened, it put the fear of God in me. A gust of warm breath, mingled with some spittle, sprayed my neck. I squeaked and swerved to the right, vaulting over a stunted tree trunk. Seconds later, wood splinters sped past my head, and I lost my footing on the vibrating ground.

I sprawled facedown in the mud, panic sending bolts of confusing messages through my body. Maybe… maybe if I kept completely still, the elgoth wouldn’t touch me? The first time I’d made the acquaintance of one of these towering forty-foot-tall creatures, Tom had instructed me not to move, because they wouldn’t be able to locate us.

It had worked on Ligador and a couple of other breeding stations, but last time a team member tried this approach, the elgoth had roared and ripped him apart. All Tash’Ba war beasts seemed to be altering their tactics, making them even more unpredictable than before.

The mud around me sloshed, almost causing me to inhale some of it. I suppressed the urge to cough and kept my mouth shut as tight as I’d ever done, even though a whimper threatened to spill over my lips any second.

Another gust of foul breath struck my neck. My hair stood on end, my muscles locked in some kind of rigid stupor. That was it. I’d end my life as a morsel for an elgoth.

A blast echoed from the south, and the beast’s breath vanished from my neck. Gunfire followed the blast, and voices filtered through my terrified haze. They’d run right into the elgoth if I didn’t warn them. But… if I moved, or raised my voice, the elgoth would bite my head off. Literally.


About The Author


Meet Chris T. Kat:

Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, where she shares a house with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there’s any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks or does cross stitch.

Where to find Chris T. Kat:


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