A MelanieM Review: Family Matters (Brandywine Investigations #4-5) by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

With his career firmly established and his reputation as a successful PI growing, Hades should have the perfect life with his human lover, his faithful ferryman, his dogs and the parts of his family still speaking to him. But murder and chaos are never far away for death lords as his nephew Dionysus and his oldest friend Charon are drawn into the maelstrom.

Includes: Books, Bulls, & Bacchanals: Brandywine Investigations #4 Midwinter Dancing: Brandywine Investigations #4.5 Pack Up the Moon: Brandywine Investigations #5

With Angel Martinez’s fertile imagination, she has created a universe in which Lord Hades gets a divorce, gets kicked out of the underworld and starts a detective agency.  Of course, there’s so much more to it than that.  It involves so many gods and goddesses hanging out in the “real world” as well as on the Olympic plain, all doing their thing.  It’s fun, it’s a madhouse of murder and mystery and the author often turns well-known mythology on it’s head time after time.  Yes, it’s also absolutely marvelous great times.

I’ve taken the two stories that make up Family Matters separately.  They both take place in the Brandywine Investigations universe and have some of the same characters, in that Dio and Leander, along with Hades and Ti makes appearances in Pack Up the Moon.

Books, Bulls, & Bacchanals: Brandywine Investigations #4: Rating: 5 stars

Everyone assumes life’s one big party for Dionysus, but even the god of wine and orgies has problems. His anger management issues are out of control, and his siblings suggest a visit to the Eternal Library to find a cure. The library of the gods is a strange and confounding place, though, one that Dionysus has avoided for centuries, and his certainty that the library hates him is confirmed when a killer strikes during his visit.

Life as the only librarian is blissfully peaceful for Leander, giving him the security and quiet he so desperately needs. Considered a monster as a child, Leander’s memories of his imprisonment in the Labyrinth left deeply carved emotional scars. But when a young woman is murdered in his library, he needs to emerge from his self-imposed seclusion to help find the killer who might still stalk the hallways.

Forced to keep company with Dionysus, Leander swings between whether the unpredictable and charming little god will keep him safe or drive him to distraction before the killer is found.

I absolutely loved this story.  Here again the author takes two well known mythological figures Dionysus and the Minotaur and puts her own spin on their characters, personalities, and back histories.   Personally, I like her take on them  better.  Dio as he’s called is a slightly damaged, loving chaos god whose brain was scrambled by what you might call an acid trip.  He wants to be loved and accepted for who he is.  Hard when part of that includes orgiastic events that he needs to feed his life force.  For too many lovers, that’s been  breaking point along with a certain impossible to contain destructive anger.  One that explodes when he finds his human assistant dead in the Underworld Library.

Leander, head librarian at The Eternal Library, is the Minotaur.  However, here, instead of a fierce monster, he was an abused teenager, unjustly imprisoned by his family and betrayed by Theseus.  He’s a figure of utter shyness, poignancy, with a good measure of PTSD thrown in.  All in a huge minotaur’s body.  All he wants is his books, his garden, and to be left alone with his red panda assistants (so  fantastically  adorable).   But one murder, several robberies, and that’s quite impossible.

The authors characterizations, wonderful plot, sweet romance, and all the suspense make this a 5 star romp that both endearing and edge of your seat exciting.  Loved it.

Pack Up the Moon: Brandywine Investigations #5 Rating 4.5 stars out of 5

Charon, Hades’ ferryman of the Dead across the River Styx, has watched Hades himself and several of Hades’ nephews all find love.  And quietly wished for love himself.  To pass in the normal world, he runs Stygian Funeral Home when he isn’t helping solve mysteries with Lord  Hades.  Then it happens, he has a run in with the raccoon demi god Azeban and his crow Kaukont and everything starts to go terribly wrong.  Or right after a very mixed up fashion even for a Chaos god.  With the world and all its souls hanging in the balance, can love and a ton of goddesses and Chaos gods save the day?

Chary, that wonderful Chaos god who has appeared in all the stories, now gets his own romance.  Long overdue and I’m so happy with the results.  No less than the utter end of the Death Lords and the World could be at stake here.  And the resolution and unlikeliest of heroes is also a Raccoon.  Well, a raccoon god and a crow.  There’s  the Martinez humor, a great deal of pathos in two characters who never thought they’d find love and do with each other, near death experiences, and a wonderful drum dance of goddesses and this story came very close to perfection.    Perhaps I wanted a little more comeuppance for the evil deeds done but maybe that ‘s not possible when you are talking about gods.

If you love mythology, Angel Martinez and her wild takes on everything from murder mysteries to every known god pantheon there is, this is the universe and stories for you.  Grab them all up while you are at it.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art: Rebeckah Murray.  I like this cover.  Clearly different from the norm.  That Leander and Dio on the front.  I liked it.

Sales Links:  Mischief Corner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 502 pages
Published February 28th 2018 by Mischief Corner Books
ASINB079QZG71P
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Brandywine Investigations #4-5

Please note: Books, Bulls & Bacchanals has been re-edited with a few story adjustments for this edition.

A Lila Review: Undercover Star by Jackie Keswick

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

It sounds like the stupidest idea in the history of stupid ideas. Detective Inspector Josh Ingram wants to find a deadly medieval locket and through it, a murderer. So why does his boss decide to team him up with Matisse Vervein, a pop idol many consider just a pretty face… and expect the two of them to hunt down an art thief?

Marissa Godwin, Matisse’s no-nonsense manager, isn’t stupid. Neither is her brother-in-law, Detective Superintendent Tim Montgomery. Each is looking out for a lonely man on the verge of quitting what he does best, and both believe that their charges would make a great team.

The attraction sizzling between Josh and Matisse is hard to miss, but there’s plenty of resentment, too. Focused on pushing Josh and Matisse towards each other, Marissa and Tim haven’t imagined the kind of trouble a music star and a detective can find when they ditch their prejudices and accept that the attraction between them is mutual. Or how far each is prepared to go to prove it to the other.

Undercover Star is a mix of intrigue, adventure, and romance. It starts right into the action which can be confusing. It takes time to learn all the names and follow Matisse first meeting with Josh. His acceptance seems rushed and out of nowhere, but after that, the rest of the story takes a more linear form.

There’s a disconnection between catching the thief and the romance arc. One is the catalyst to the other, but the investigation becomes secondary, and almost pushed aside after the MCs’ relationship starts.

As always, the author did an excellent job setting the story in a realistic part of the world. And adding the right amount of politics and procedures for the investigation to feel realistic. I’m almost sure people who know the area easily recognized the towns and stops in the book.

Overall, it’s a nice story. The end was somehow abrupt and there’s no sense of ending. Not really a cliffhanger, but a HFN. Hopefully, there’s more to see in this world.

The cover by Emma Griffin has several important elements of the story, but it’s a bit cluttered.

Sale Links: Wintergreen | Amazon | NOOK

ebook, 130 pages
Published: November 22, 2017, by Wintergreen Publishing
ISBN: 2940154955376
Edition Language: English

A Lila Review : Of Hope and Anguish(Revolutionaries #2) by Silvia Violet

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

What they say this book’s all about?

Jack and Eli have been separated for months while Jack gathers intelligence in Philadelphia and Eli spies on British officers in New York. When Jack has to take on the role of spymaster and work behind-the-scenes, Eli offers to insinuate himself in Philadelphia’s loyalist circles, taking Jack’s place.

As Eli works to uncover traitorous negotiations between a high-ranking American officer and the British, he cozies up to British spymaster John Andre. Jack doesn’t like Eli putting himself at risk, nor does he like seeing him fawning over a beautiful, charming man.

As the chances of the American army surviving the winter decline, tensions mount between Jack and Eli, threatening to tear them apart. They will have to rely on their love and trust for one another to make it through these harrowing months.

Of Hope and Anguish brings the American Revolution to another level. It starts shortly after Revolutionary Temptation and it’s more interesting and intriguing than its predecessor. We get to experience more of everything, romance, action, spies, and much more.

The literary fiction element in this story is also present. I really appreciated the way the author added her characters to Revolutionary times. It’s definitely more engaging than what we learned in high school. All details are relevant and mixed with reality to create a well-crafted book.

There’s a better balance between romance and fiction in this second book. Perhaps because we now know the characters, settings, etc. and can dive into the overall content. We get to see Eli and Jack grow as a couple and we get to understand the decisions they take, not only for the country but for their new-found love. Also, Constance gets a bit of happiness in this story that added to the plot. Even the villains are an integral part.

Just like before, the pace in this book is fast, entertaining, and leaves the reader looking for more. The book does have a fulfilling ending but it leaves us with enough to look forward to the next book. One of those exceptions when the second book is better than the first one.

Just like the previous cover by Meredith Russell, this one fits the story and the characterization of Eli & Jack.

Sale Links: Smashwords | Amazon Payhip

ebook, 218 pages
Published: March 5, 2018, Silvia Violet Books
ISBN: 1984134361
Edition Language: English

Series: Revolutionaries

Book #1: Revolutionary Temptation

Book #2: Of Hope and Anguish

Series Review Tour for Infinity #1 and #2 by C J Lynne (excerpt and giveaway)

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SERIES REVIEW TOUR

Get to know the secretive men of Infinity nightclub as they find love in the most unexpected places.  True love has no beginning or ending…it simply is.

They are standalone stories, but characters from previous books make appearances in successive books.

Book Title: Worth the Risk, Infinity #1

Author: C.J. Lynne

Publisher:  Self-published

Cover Artist:  C. J. Lynne

Genre/s:  LGBTQ, Romance, Erotic

Length: 154,000 words/362 print pages

Blurb

Love doesn’t exist…

Or so Tyler Johnson thinks.  He’s never had much, if any, of it thrown his way.  A chance meeting with the enigmatic Jaxon Markham causes Ty to—if still not believe in love—at least know without a doubt that lust is alive and well.  Ty’s not looking for forever, but what’s the harm in spending a few days, and scorching nights, with Jax—as long as Jax plays by his rules and keeps things casual and uncomplicated?

Jax knows his luck has finally changed for the better when he lays eyes on Tyler.  The man is gorgeous, and stirs feelings in Jax he’d never thought he would experience. The more time Jax spends with Ty, the more certain he is that Ty’s his soulmate.  Now all that remains is convincing the stubborn Tyler of that elating fact. Jax is more than up for the task, because he’s nothing if not persistent—a fact the elusive Tyler is soon made aware of.

Jax quickly, and much too easily, demolishes all of Ty’s protective walls and Ty reluctantly begins to think that maybe, just maybe that intangible emotion called love is alive and well after all, and perhaps finally within his grasp.  However, when his ugly past returns to haunt him, making him doubt all the good he’s experienced with and because of Jax, Ty’s positive outlook crumbles, giving way to doubt, fear and despair making him wonder if he can truly be the man Jax needs and deserves—or will past and present demons destroy Ty’s one chance at true happiness?

Goodreads   

Excerpt  

“Since we’ve been dating for a week, and after last night—which was fucking fantastic by the way,” Jax began. “Can I—”

“I totally agree,” Ty interrupted around a kiss.

“Mmmm, good.”  Jax nibbled at his lower lip.   “In that case, I hope I’ve proven I‘m not a loon.”

“You wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t,” Ty assured him with a chuckle.

“Good to know.”  Jax fingered his hair before resting his arm along the back of the sofa. “Since you now trust me to know where you live, have invited me into your home, bed and…your body—for which I’m very grateful, I might add.”

“Yes?” Ty’s breath arrested at Jax’s statement and the downright decadent look in his eyes.

“I was thinking that maybe I can know your last name.”  Jax gave him a wink and begged, “Please?”

Ty’s chuckle quickly morphed into a full-blown laugh as he leaned into Jax’s side.  He laid his head on Jax’s shoulder and smiled up at him. He really liked this man.

“Well…since you now know my body intimately, I guess I can tell you my last name.”   Ty acquiesced and informed, “It’s Johnson.”

“It’s nice to meet you Tyler Johnson.”  Jax brushed strands of his hair off his forehead and reciprocated, “I’m Jaxon Markham.”

Ty’s grin slowly fell and he sat up, staring at Jax horrified.   Yep, horrified was the perfect word for how he felt.  His eyes grew wide with shock and his mouth fell open as he struggled not to pass out.  He shot off the sofa, quickly standing as if he’d been burned. Oh fuck, this is Jaxon Markham?  It can’t be.  

Wait a minute, Ty tried to calm himself.   Maybe he wasn’t the same Jaxon Markham Ty was thinking of.  But…hell, it wasn’t a common name; Jax had to be the Jaxon Markham Ty knew—well, knew of.  When that appalling possibility raced through his mind, he suddenly remembered where he’d seen Jax before—the jacket of his latest legal-thriller novel, which Ty had read twice, and owned along with the six others Jax had written.   Jax had sported a beard on the book jacket, and his hair had been longer, which is why he hadn’t immediately placed him.   

Jax was a famous writer, but that wasn’t the worst of it.  Jaxon Markham was also soon to be his… He closed his eyes and shook his head trying to ward off that unwelcomed thought.  Horrified eyes sprang open, and he stared speechlessly at an obviously baffled Jax.

Oh shit, I had sex with Jaxon Markham!  How fucked up is that?

Buy Links – Available on KU

Amazon US   

Amazon UK

Book Title: Finally Letting Go, Infinity #2

Author: C.J. Lynne

Publisher:  Self-published

Cover Artist:  C. J. Lynne

Genre/s:  LGBTQ, Romance, Erotic

Length:  133,000 words/320 print pages

Blurb

Take What You Want…

Brandon Rosen is a man who refuses to admit what he wants—namely, a life with another man.  Being gay just won’t do.  It will not go over well with his family, particularly his overbearing father.  Thus, for years Brandon has tried to tamp down his attraction to men, refusing to entertain even the possibility that his other half might be a…him.  That was the plan and it had worked wonderfully until he meets Simon Carter—an arrogant star swimmer and law school student who also happens to be the best friend of Brandon’s first and only miserably-failed attempt at dating a man.  

Simon is constantly in Brandon’s face taunting him to admit he’s gay.   The more confrontations he has with the stunningly handsome man, the harder it becomes for Brandon to deny the part of himself he thought he’d buried years ago—the one that craves the touch of another man, and now not just any man…but Simon—the one person who hates his guts.

Simon Carter is self-assured, knows who he is and what he wants out of life.  He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy who will do anything to protect his loved ones, so when his best friend’s asshole ex, Brandon Rosen, makes an unexpected reappearance in their lives, Simon is determined to keep Brandon from ruining his friend’s new relationship.  That will be easy to do—right? Simon thought so, but what he didn’t count on was an insane attraction to the deeply closeted man.

Simon soon finds out there’s just something about Brandon that reels him in, no matter how mightily he fights against it, making him question what kind of man he is to want anything to do with the person who once broke his best friend’s heart?  He doesn’t know, but one thing quickly becomes apparent—he craves Brandon Rosen, and despite his better judgment, he intends to have him…consequences be damned.

Goodreads 

Excerpt

Brandon watched mesmerized as Simon’s mocking lips slowly lowered toward his.  His parted in anticipation of touch and being devoured, but before his silent wish was granted, he found the strength to push out of Simon’s loose embrace and take a few steps to the side, ending all physical contact between them.  He needed to stop this. He couldn’t—wouldn’t—give into the insane desire coursing through him…not for a man, and certainly not for this man.

“You need to leave me alone,” Brandon firmly suggested, even though his heart was beating so loudly in his ears, it deafened him.

“Why?”

“Because, I’ve told you repeatedly that I’m not into men.”

Simon laughed heartily and gave him a chastising look before accusing, “I’ve never met someone more into men than you, Blondie.”   Then he smugly coaxed, “Why don’t you admit it? Things would be so much easier if you did.”

They’d become that much more complicated, Brandon silently admitted.  Having a relationship with a man would throw his world into complete and utter chaos—that was something he was determined to avoid at all costs.  With that in mind, he straightened his spine and hardened his expression, and tamped down his overwhelming want for the man staring at him like he was a meal he couldn’t wait to devour.  Oh hell, I need to get out of here…now!

“If we’re unfortunate enough to meet again, keep your damned hands to yourself,” Brandon ordered and without waiting for a response, he jerked open his car door and got inside, slamming it shut behind him.

Just to fuck with him, Brandon was sure, Simon leaned down and rapped his knuckles on the dark tinted window.  He waited a few seconds thinking over the pros and cons of lowering it, but eventually despite his good sense, he did just that.  

“What?” he tightly asked the man staring down at him.

“What about my lips?” Simon flippantly asked in response to Brandon’s previous statement.

“Fuck off,” Brandon growled, raising his window again.  When there was another knock, he sighed loudly before rolling it down a bit, not bothering to hide his irritation as he gritted out, “Now what?”

Smiling eyes danced over his face, lingering on his lips before Simon said the last thing he expected, “Nice car.”

He frowned and uncertainly responded, “Thanks.”

Simon placed a hand on the hood of the car, leaned in closer and, in a bedroom voice if ever he’d heard one, suggested, “Maybe one day soon you’ll take me for a nice, long ride.

Buy Links – Available on KU

Amazon US  

Amazon UK

About the Author 

C.J. is first and foremost an avid reader of romance.  Nothing is better than watching two strong-willed people meet, connect and work through personal challenges while fighting to overcome internal and external obstacles to be together.  

C.J. is a southerner who believes that love is love, and if you’re ever lucky enough to find it, you should hold onto it with both hands and feet.  C.J. writes love stories filled with emotion and hopes you—the reader—will enjoy them as much as C.J. enjoys creating them.

C. J. writes M/M romances with heart and heat.  She believes that love is love and if you’re ever lucky enough to find it, you should hold onto it with both hands and feet.

Social Media Links

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Giveaway

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2 x $10 Amazon gift cards

1 autographed copy of Worth the Risk

1 autographed copy of Finally Letting Go

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Review Tour and Giveaway for Of Hope and Anguish (Revolutionaries #2) by Silvia Violet

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Length: 50,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Revolutionaries Series
 
Revolutionary Temptation (Book #1) Currently only 99c/99p – Universal Buy Links
 
Blurb
 

Jack and Eli have been separated for months while Jack gathers intelligence in Philadelphia and Eli spies on British officers in New York. When Jack has to take on the role of spymaster and work behind-the-scenes, Eli offers to insinuate himself in Philadelphia’s loyalist circles, taking Jack’s place.


As Eli works to uncover traitorous negotiations between a high-ranking American officer and the British, he cozies up to British spymaster John Andre. Jack doesn’t like Eli putting himself at risk, nor does he like seeing him fawning over a beautiful, charming man.


As the chances of the American army surviving the winter decline, tensions mount between Jack and Eli, threatening to tear them apart. They will have to rely on their love and trust for one another to make it through these harrowing months.

March 6 – V’s Reads
March 10 – Dog-Eared Daydreams
March 12 – Making It Happen

About the Author


Silvia Violet writes fun, sexy stories that will leave you smiling and satisfied. She has a thing for characters who are in need of comfort and enjoys helping them surrender to love even when they doubt it exists. Silvia’s stories include sizzling contemporaries, paranormals, and historicals. When she needs a break from listening to the voices in her head, she spends time baking, taking long walks, curling up with her favorite books, and spending time with her family.


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BLITZ for Teacher’s Pet Anthology by Multiple Authors (giveaway)

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Title:  Teacher’s Pet

Author: Kashmira Majumdar, S.A. James, Asta Idonea, Hudson Lin, Aila Alvina Boyd, Valentine Wheeler, Damian Serbu, Jack Harbon, Arden Powell

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 12

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Female/Female

Length: 88500

Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal. Sci-Fi/Fantasy, age gap, contemporary, Fantasy, paranormal, romance, teacher/student

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Nine Stories of Lessons Outside the Classroom

By Virtue Fall by Kashmira Majumdar – The rules have changed…and so have the consequences for breaking them.

Striking Gold by S.A. James – Sometimes when we think we have no choice, life brings something brighter.

Full Marks by Asta Idonea – When Jacob seeks out his favourite lecturer at a university reunion, will he get full marks?

Lessons for a Lifetime by Hudson Lin – A second language, a first chance at love.

Welcome to Ms Skinner’s Freshman Composition by Aila Alvina Boyd – After auditioning for a play, professor and student find themselves cast opposite each other as romantic leads.

Piece of Cake by Valentine Wheeler – All Richard wanted was a nice, quiet retirement. His kids aren’t going to let that happen.

Professor Ghost by Damian Serbu – An otherworldly mentor might be his way out.

Bare by Jack Harbon – When a passion for art turns into something more.

The Botanist’s Apprentice by Arden Powell – Don’t get too close to the flowers.

Excerpt

By Virtue Fall by Kashmira Majumdar
Jonah Shapiro is no model student, even by the lax standards of his preppy New England boarding school. His penchant for rule-breaking and leather makes him the bête noire of his teachers—except the earnest, tea-drinking, cardigan-wearing Mr. Donovan, who’s determined to not give up on Jonah. Life used to be simpler five years ago when Mr. Donovan was just Head Boy Nick and Jonah’s best friend. Easier, too, for Jonah to kiss him when it was dark and no one was watching. Now the rules of the game have changed, and so have the consequences for flouting them…

Striking Gold by S.A. James
The day Daniel met Silver shone brightly for a number of reasons. It was the last day of high school, but it was also the day he realized he could never leave home. Being the son of an alcoholic mom didn’t leave many choices for Daniel. He could only hope that life and love would treat him kindly.

Full Marks by Asta Idonea
Jacob Corby decides to attend his university reunion for one reason only: Professor Hobbs. Arthur Hobbs is surprised to see loner Jacob’s name on the attendance list, but it is enough to make him change his mind about going to the event. After all, he’s always harboured forbidden feelings for his favourite student.

Lessons for a Lifetime by Hudson Lin
When high school English teacher Patrick signs on to teach an adult ESL course on the weekends, he doesn’t know his life is about to change. Into the makeshift community center classroom walks Salim—tall, soulful, a refugee from Ethiopia with a heart for storytelling and a talent for music.

A midwinter offer to drive Salim home after class one week leads to the breakdown of the student-teacher boundary. As their relationship grows, the prospect of moving in together brings out both their insecurities about commitment and money. But working through differences makes them stronger and Patrick soon realizes that perhaps he had been the student all along.

Welcome to Ms Skinner’s Freshman Composition by Aila Alvina Boyd
After auditioning for a college production, a first year professor finds herself being cast as the romantic lead opposite her least favorite student. Just as it appears as though the production is going to be an utter failure, something clicks. From there on out, chemistry between the two of them no longer needs to be faked.

Piece of Cake by Valentine Wheeler
Richard’s daughters are worried about him, alone in his house after retirement, so they sign him up for a cooking class at the local community center. But what he ends up finding is more than just baked goods.

Professor Ghost by Damian Serbu
Antonio arrives on campus for his first day of college a little overwhelmed from the experience of moving from a rural area to the big city, not to mention that he firmly planted himself in the closet and intends to stay there. When a ghost appears before him on the first night, his terror gradually gives way to curiosity, as this hot specter promises to mentor him toward a better, and out, life at college.

Bare by Jack Harbon
Before his best friend went away for vacation, Levi Singh promised her that he would take life by the balls and live on the edge. So, when the nude model for his art class doesn’t show, Levi takes it upon himself to volunteer. To his surprise, no one seems to be staring too long at him. No one, that is, except for his professor.

When Noah Rose suggests working with him on an assignment after class, Levi suspects he might be looking for something else. Something Levi will happily give him.

The Botanist’s Apprentice by Arden Powell
Graduate student Eli Katz approaches the accomplished botanist, Robert Lord-Harding, to request access to his greenhouse of magical flora. Though Lord-Harding is reluctant to take on a new apprentice after the scandal of his last one, he is intrigued by Eli’s academic work, and agrees.

Eli is primarily interested in the violet man-eater, a carnivorous plant that preys on men by emitting a certain pheromone, luring them in close and then devouring them. Eli wants to return the man-eater to its classic status as a sexual performance enhancer, and spends his days studying the plant. But is it as safely secured in Lord-Harding’s greenhouse as they both believe, or will its pheromones wreak havoc with their new apprenticeship?

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