An Alisa Review: Oliris by S. Neff

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Senana Saz Rays has been sentenced to four years of slave labor on prison planet Indiku after assaulting his state appointed psychiatrist. Leaving his lover Rhyan behind on earth, Sena spends his time on the planet Indiku working with the coveted medicinal leeri flowers. Although a slave, he can’t help but find peace in the mundane life he’s lived on the alien planet and the wondrous sightings of the indigenous Zanzi that look so much like mythical earth dragons. Senana is just one year shy of going home and being with Rhyan again when all thoughts of freedom are swiped away as a massive Zanzi takes him from the leeri fields and back to the mountains it calls home.

 

La’el is a proud Zanzi. His only wish was to find a life mate and experience the bond his parents share. When he finally finds him in the leeri fields he doesn’t hesitate to take Sena— even their vast physical differences won’t dissuade the young Zanzi. La’el will do anything to prove to Sena that they are meant to be together, even if he’s unsure how to convince his human mate.

 

Both La’el and Sena are about to find out that there is more between them than either of them could ever imagine. Their bond affects more than just their fate, but also reveals a true evil buried in the heart of Indiku, and all the way back to Earth.

 

This story sucked me in at the very beginning and I loved learning about Indiku from Sena and La’el’s eyes.  However, there was no real indication of the love triangle that would come into play near the end of the book or the large cliffhanger the story ended on.  It wasn’t complete and there isn’t any other indication that there will be another book and if it will come when.  The writing in this story was very well written, it’s just path the story took that I have a problem with.

 

La’el is so happy to find his mate and doesn’t understand why Sena doesn’t feel the same way.  Sena feels a connection to La’el but still thinks about his lover from earth, Rhyan.  When they seek shelter it is Rhyan Sena turns to.

 

I liked the world building in Indiku near the beginning though I didn’t feel like I really learned much about their culture.  La’el wasn’t right just taking Sena the way he did but I could see he was young and very impulsive.  I felt sorry for La’el once they got to earth because now he has to compete with Sena’s previous lover while trying to navigate this new world that Sena has brought him to.  I can’t say I ever really liked Sena, he came off very brash and I never felt he redeemed himself.  Protecting La’el if about the only good thing I felt he did.  We didn’t see much of Rhyan but what I see I didn’t like and then the whole selling dragons thing that was apparently going on, I didn’t learn enough about it but obviously this goes into more problems that are beneath the surface.  I was so upset by the end of the book I’m not sure I will even read it if a follow-up book comes out.

 

The cover art by E Keith and S Neff is nice and I love the two visuals of La’el.

 

Sales Links: Painted Hearts Publishing | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 226 pages

Published: March 1, 2018 by Painted Hearts Publishing

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: The Cowboy’s Son by Patrick Mangan

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Rating:  2 stars out of 5

Justin Denton has his eighteen year-old life all figured out. He just graduated high school and is about to head away from the family ranch in the middle of nowhere to go to college in a bigger city.

But when his dad blows out his shoulder, the family hires a young college student to fill in as the hired man and help Justin get the ranch through the summer season. It doesn’t help that the new guy is nice. And cute.

Yep, Justin doesn’t have anything figured out. Accepting his own sexual identity, or his growing attraction to the new ranch hand, his relationship with his parents, his future goals and plans as he leaves his small town, and certainly not how his best friends will react when he finally comes out as gay.

It’s going to be a long summer.

Justin meets Ben when his dad hires him to help on their ranch while he is healing from surgery.  They butt heads initially but quickly learn to work together.  Near the end of the summer they begin to trust each other and don’t fear hiding their growing attraction as much.

So, I guess I didn’t expect the whole story to really be about Justin accepting his sexuality, I thought it would just be a portion.  Justin has been hiding his sexuality from all those around him for years and fears their reactions.  When he and Ben let the other know about their attraction Ben becomes his “gay yoda”.  I can’t say I enjoyed it, there attraction to each other is there but they keep each other at arm’s length and then end up going in different direction while friends.

I’m not a fan of the stereo type that gay guys can sleep with their friends and not have problems with developing feelings or jealousies and that is how this story portrays it to me.  All the talking and actions throughout the story seemed exaggerated (with way more exclamation points than necessary) and the jumping from one topic or person to the next didn’t help the flow of the story either.

The cover art by E Keith is nice and gives nice setting for the story.

Sales Links: Painted Hearts Publishing | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 121 pages

Published: January 10, 2018 by Painted Hearts Publishing

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: Finding Persimmon by R.W. Clinger

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Rating:  2.5 stars out of 5

 

Tea company owner Tate Blackwood isn’t just in search of the perfect persimmon-flavored tea; he’s also looking for a good time. Many one-night stands are his thing. There’s no way he’ll have a boyfriend, or fall in love with another man.

 

Enter Paul Persimmon, the green-eyed owner of a little bookshop in downtown Channing, Pennsylvania. Tate thinks the man is honest, warm-hearted, and uninhibited. When Tate enters the bookshop, his life takes a quick turn. Although Persimmon insists on a date with Tate, Tate thinks another one-night stand will happen.

 

Is Tate too set in his ways to settle down with one man, though? Can he reach for love after finding Persimmon? Or is his relationship more about being best buds with Persimmon? Only time and persimmon tea will provide the answers to his steeping questions.

 

Hmm… I have given myself a few days to think about this story but it still doesn’t make much sense to me.  Tate only wants hook-ups and supposedly completely forgets any of them even exist or anything about them afterwards, except he even thinks about one and knows details about the person.  While Paul says he won’t push and tries to essentially keep his “honor” he does the opposite of what he says.

 

Tate suddenly wants to get to know Paul but continues to push him away.  I had trouble with both of the characters sudden switches in behavior and attitudes towards each other and their relationship, I felt like they were ping ponging all over the place.  This was alright for a quick read but it just did not get put together all that well.

 

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is gives a nice visual of Tate.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 65 pages

Published: September 30, 2017 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634864640

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review:Saved: An Omegaverse Story (Breaking Free #1) by A.M. Arthur

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

He didn’t want an alpha to save him, but fate had other ideas…

 

Braun Etting was raised to know his place as an omega by his alpha father’s cruel words and fast fists, and he expects nothing but violence from the alpha who may one day mate him. His older brother Kell mated a cruel alpha who abuses him daily, and Braun is terrified of that seemingly inevitable future. When Braun’s father dies in a car crash, leaving Braun an orphan, he’s sent to a halfway house for omegas. But on his fourth night there, he witnesses a horrifying crime that sends him fleeing to the streets alone—and edging into his first heat.

 

Tarek Bloom is settled in his workaholic, single lifestyle, even if it is somewhat embarrassing to be a twenty-eight year-old unmated alpha. He enjoys his job as a constable, helping people and solving problems, so he isn’t prepared for his life to flip upside-down when he walks into his beta friend Dex’s apartment to help with “a problem.”

 

The problem turns out to be an unmated, nearly in-heat omega orphan who Dex and his husband rescued off the street last night. The even bigger problem is that Tarek feels the mating bond for this terrified omega immediately—and he’s pretty sure the omega feels it, too. But Braun hates alphas as a general rule, and no way is he giving in to the bond. All mating leads to is violence and suffering, so no thank you. But Tarek’s gentle kindness slips under Braun’s emotional shields, and Braun begins to want. To dream. All Braun has ever known is violent alphas, but Tarek is determined to make Braun trust him—and to trust in the idea of their happily ever after.

 

NOTE: This is a non-shifter Omegaverse story with alpha/omega/beta dynamics, heats, knotting, and mpreg. In this world, omegas are second-class citizens with few civil rights and almost no protections under the law. Trigger warnings for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. 67,000 words.

 

This was an emotional story.  Braun has pretty much lived his life in fear of his first heat because that would mean he is then eligible for mating.  His father’s death is a relief but then it send him into an even worse situation to contend with.

 

Braun is scared of his future when he is rescued by Dex and Serge but they promise to help him find a solution that doesn’t involve going back to the group home.  He and Tarek both fight the mating bond initially but agree to take it slow and see if them having a relationship would be viable.  Tarek isn’t like any alpha Braun has ever met but they will really have to pull together to help Braun’s brother, Kell.

 

I could feel Braun’s unhappiness with the world he live in; he is thought of and treated as a second class citizen by many.  He wants to change things but doesn’t know how but get lucky with friends who will help him find some solutions.  Tarek has never really wanted an omega until he meets the feisty Braun.  It takes some trial and error but he soon learns the way to his omega’s heart, but his omega isn’t like most and throws a wrench into a lot of things.  I continued to hurt for Braun and Kell as life just kept beating them down but when a lawyer comes to help Kell the future will hopefully start to look up.  I can’t wait to read the next book in the series when it comes out and hope to see more of Braun and Tarek but I also want a happy ending for Kell.

 

The cover art by Sloan J Designs is very nice and eye catching.

 

Sales Link: Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 316 pages

Published: September 12, 2017 by Briggs-King Books

ISBN13: 9781999706722

Edition Language: English

Series: Breaking Free #1

An Alisa Review: Talk Bunny To Me (Hoppity Shifter #2) by A.R. Barley

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

When werewolf hunter meets bunny shifter, romance is the last thing either one of them expects to find… but

 

Benjamin Holland is a werewolf hunter–and a pretty successful one. He’s hunting a rogue wolf in Minnesota when he trips over a bunny shifter and takes the twitchy nosed little dude back to Illinois. It’s strictly catch and release. He needs to get laid, but after getting his heart crushed by his best friend Peter he’s not looking for a forever mate.

 

Mating is the last thing on Justin’s mind. He’s just escaped an arranged marriage to his warren’s next Rex. He wants to make up for lost time and build a life for himself in Chicago, but the more time these two spend exploring the city together the better they get along. When Justin’s ex-fiance tracks him down to the city, they’re going to have to decide if forever might just start with one magical night.

 

This was a great follow up to Chasing His Cottontail.  Benjamin has been dealing with the rejection of his best friend but can’t help but want to protect another bunny shifter when he rescues him.  Justin is running away from the man he has been promised to and the violence he has been living in.

 

Justin will do anything he can to prove to Benjamin that he is a worthy mate while at the same time Benjamin loves to take care of Justin.  I loved Benjamin realizing that is he had ended up with Peter it would not have been right so there was no reason for him to be upset.  They definitely look forward to their future together and making a family.  We get to see glimpses of Peter and Luke too which was nice.  I couldn’t help but think that Justin would want to see his family but maybe after being promised to an abusive jerk he doesn’t feel the need.

 

The cover is wonderful and gives a great visual for Benjamin and Justin’s bunny.

 

Sales Links: MLR Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 100 pages

Published: July 13, 2017 by MLR Press

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: Rescued by Dakota Storm

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Dean Montgomery loves his ranch and his family, but something is missing. When he sets out on a road trip to purchase land to expand his ranch, he finds himself stranded in a snowstorm.

 

When the sexy and gruff Colt James, a tracker and rescue worker, rescues Dean, both of their lives are turned upside down. Attraction sizzles, and hearts race. But then trouble brews, and Dean is needed back home. Can these two make their new relationship work?

 

This was an interesting and sweet story.  Dean is rescued by Colt when he is stranded during a snowstorm and Colt brings him home to wait it out.  Their attraction and the intense situation help them get to know each other quickly.

 

Most of this story is told from Dean’s point of view which makes it easy to understand his thoughts and doubts he can easily read between the lines when it come to Colt and get past his gruff exterior.  Colt’s nephew Coop understands their relationship and quickly knows the new family dynamic he thinks they should have and he is a wonderful and helpful kid.  Dean supports Colt when he has to put himself in danger to rescue Colts friends and, after a little pushing, Colt knows he wants to help Dean when his brother is in trouble.  I really liked the loving relationship these two build and how much they understand the others quirks.

 

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is nice and works well for this story.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 132 pages

Published: June 17, 2017 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634864039

Edition Language: English

 

An Alisa Review: Smitten by R.W. Clinger

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Rating:  2 stars out of 5

 

Feeling somewhat blue about his singlehood and dull life as a finance advisor, Jesse Fitzpatrick is about to find his world turned upside down.

 

Jesse’s best friend, Carr de Vantino, is coming home from the jungles of Ecuador. He’ll only be home for four days, and it’s a very rare occasion, since Carr has been traveling the world for the last twenty years for Armistice Coalition; a group similar to the Peace Corps. Excited about Carr’s visit, Jesse has to face the bittersweet reality of life — he’s always been smitten with Carr, although Carr only treats him as a friend. It’s obvious he lacks any romance or desire for Jesse.

 

Carr’s visit becomes interesting, though, when he slips into bed with Jesse. As secrets of Carr’s life unfold, Jesse starts to hope the traveling man has grown smitten for him. Do they have a chance at becoming a romantic couple? Or will Carr take the next flight back to the jungle?

 

This was a nice idea for a story but the execution didn’t work for me and I was just left scratching my head trying to understand the characters.  Jesse’s best friend is coming to visit for a few days before he is back off to the jungle, at least that is what he thinks.  For the last 20 years they have just spent a few days together here or there with Jesse traveling to Carr or Carr coming back to their hometown.

 

So, Jesse talks about Carr fondly, as you would think of a friend and then suddenly he decides he’s smitten but then, oh wait, he is in love.  He spends so much time trying to guess Carr’s intentions based on his actions and suddenly when Carr makes a move Jesse says that he has always known Carr’s feeling and he was just waiting for him to act.  Huh?  Jesse’s thoughts and actions never really added up to me and I had trouble with the “secrets” that Carr apparently kept from Jesse throughout their entire friendship.

 

The cover art by Written Ink Designs gives a nice visual of Carr, the world traveler.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 49 pages

Published: April 22, 2017 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634863292

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: Hybrid (A Darker Hollow #1) by Shannon West & T.S. McKinney

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Jax’s little brother Mason is all grown up and finds himself longing for a life of adventure. He finds it in a way he never planned late one night while walking home to the lodge beneath a full moon, when he is attacked, bitten and left for dead by a huge black werewolf. As he’s dying and all hope is fading, he is discovered on the trail and believes he’s being saved. Instead, he’s bitten a second time, and this time by a vampire.

 

Mason finds himself in the middle of an ancient war between the vampires and the Dire werewolves, and during a raid, he’s captured by the wolf who first bit him, a strong alpha named Finn. Finn is powerfully attracted to him, but Mason is changing, becoming something not quite wolf and not quite vampire—a new creature with powers of his own.

 

A hybrid is an interesting idea, made me think of Underworld, but I had some issues with how the characters acted throughout the story.  Mason has been feeling like something big was going to happen but he never expected it to be for him become something that has never existed before.  Valeran and Finn have been trying to destroy each other for as long as they can remember.

 

Valeran saves Mason after Finn’s attack and takes him as a lover and teaching him to hate werewolves.  When they finally go after Finn’s pack Mason is captured and Finn takes him as a mate and causes Mason to second guess his feelings for Valeran.  It takes a lot for Mason to start using his brain to examine his thoughts and actions.

 

We get to see all the characters’ points of view which should help to understand them better but most of the time I couldn’t help but think why is he doing that?  I didn’t like that Valeran and Finn tried to use Mason against each other for most of the book and Mason doesn’t even realize it until close to the end.  His seemingly acceptance that the essentially is suffering from Stockholm Syndrom but is determined to make everything work with both lovers is a bit wacky to me.  It takes until the very end of the story for Valeran and Finn to kind of accept their attraction to each other.  I am hoping that the series will continue with these three actually having a relationship and getting Finn’s pack back.

 

The cover art by E Keith is nice and gives good visuals of the Mason.

 

Sales Links: Painted Hearts Publishing | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages

Published: March 29, 2017 by Painted Hearts Publishing

Edition Language: English

Series: A Darker Hollow #1

An Alisa Release Day Review: Breaking the Ice by Tali Spencer

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

For Matt Wasko, February in Wisconsin is the best time of the year, and ice fishing on Lake Winnebago is his idea of heaven. With shanty villages cropping up, barbeques on the ice, monster sturgeon to spear, and plenty of booze to keep everybody warm, things couldn’t be better—until a surprise storm hits and an uninvited guest shows up at his frozen doorstep.

 

Matt’s not happy to see John Lutz, a coworker who cracks lame gay jokes at Matt’s expense. But John’s flimsy new ice shelter got blown across the lake, and it wouldn’t be right to leave even a jerk outside to freeze. Would it?

 

In the close quarters of Matt’s fabulous ice shanty, between stripping off wet clothes, misadventures with bait, and a fighting trophy-sized walleye, the two men discover creative ways to keep the cold at bay. And when John confesses his long-running attraction, Matt must decide if he can believe in John’s change of heart—and crack the ice for a chance at finding love.

 

This was an interesting story.  Matt has been looking forward to his vacation during sturgeon season and is highly disappointed when his coworker, John, shows up on the lake.  When he gives John shelter he gets the opportunity to see a different side of the man than the one he has been working with for months.

 

So….basically John has been acting like an idiot trying to blend in and hiding himself.  We see how much his actions have been hurting Matt and his presence at Matt’s refuge puts an immediate damper on things.  John has really been hurting himself too but once he has a chance to admit his feelings to Matt he doesn’t want to hide anymore.  These two jump pretty quickly into their relationship and it’s a little hard to believe that Matt is able to let go of John’s past actions, but they seem to build a pretty solid relationship.  The community of people who gather to spear sturgeons and everything along with it are quite interesting.

 

Cover art by Anne Cain is a great background for this story.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 86 pages

Published: April 19, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 9781635334142

Edition Language: English

Series: A States of Love Story

An Alisa Review: Beneath the Layers Anthology by NineStar Press

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Eight stories of men who like a little satin and lace.

 

A Linebacker in Lace by Caitlin Ricci

This ex-linebacker is impossible for his friend to resist.

 

Satin Secrets by CL Mustafic

Sometimes secrets are better when they’re shared.

 

Backwards and in High Heels by Elizabeth Coldwell

Tonight he has the chance to live out his dream.

 

Angels in Delaware by Sita Bethel

When one finds two partners, it helps to dress for the occasion.

 

All That Entails by E.M. Hamill

A gender-fluid prince with a penchant for gowns finds his unlikely match in an arranged marriage.

 

After the Dance by Sydney Blackburn

Sometimes happily ever after requires a pretty frock.

 

A Secret Shared by C.A. Blocke

One sweet secret shared—and a spicy one returned.

 

Ruffle My Feathers by Asta Idonea

Sometimes love can be found behind a feather boa.

 

This is a wonderful collection of stories; especially of you love men in lace like I do.  All of these stories are quite different with only the lace as something in common, but I think it makes it even better because you get to see such different relationships.  Some are comfortable in their own skin while some others just need love and support to know that what they want is okay.  Most of the stories are told through one character’s point of view and the author’s do a wonderful job of showing the other characters emotions and feelings.

 

In A Linebacker in Lace Brent has a chance meeting with Arliss and discovers his secret isn’t as bad as he thinks.  Arliss loves a man in lace and Brent is learning it isn’t shameful for him to wear it.  Arliss’ assertiveness is a great contrast to Brent’s shyness.  Gavin and Lex role play in Satin Secrets but Gavin has a surprise for Lex.  Lex’s reaction is so much better and hotter than Gavin could hope for.  Lex wants Gavin to feel comfortable to share his secrets and fantasies.

 

Billie wants to go farther than just wearing his panties in Backwards and in High Heels and surprises his lover, Oliver, with a date after his time away.  After the nervousness fades Billie is so grateful of the work he put in for them to dance together for the first time.  Oliver is a nice steady shoulder for Billie’s nervousness and worries.  In Angels in Delaware Beau is surprised by his reaction and willingness to get to know Angel and Delaware.  They come to his rescue when he needs it and work towards a relationship together.  The only thing is I couldn’t help but feel that Beau was the odd man out even when things seemed to go smoothly and he is included.

 

In All That Entails Darian is heartbroken knowing he will have to give up his gowns and comfort in marriage.  Henry will not change who he is for anyone and takes the first step towards compromise.  I loved seeing them open their eyes to the possibility of more between them.  Frank works hard to keep his real desires hidden in After the Dance.  His and Charles friendship is the only bright spot in this day until he finds out that Charles must marry and is already in love.  Seeing them work out their future despite expectations from those around them.

 

In A Secret Shared Tommy must share a secret after Michael shows him his extra nerdy side.  Despite his fear and unwillingness to come out Tommy shares his deepest desires with Michael and is greatly rewarded.  The two do well to work their relationship around their outside lives.  Barrett has kept his Friday night plans secret in Ruffle My Feathers until his boss is suddenly at his show one weekend.  Both determined to keep everything normal try to ignore their connection from that weekend.  Watching them discover that sometimes hiding your true self from those around you isn’t always the best choice was nice.

 

Cover art by Natasha Snow is wonderfully understated but is perfect for this book.

 

Sales Links: NineStar Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 165 pages

Published: April 17, 2017 by NineStar Press

ISBN: 9781945952913

Edition Language: English