Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Rules to Live By – A BDSM Anthology by Heidi Belleau, Lisa Henry, Anah Crow, Dianne Fox, Anna Zabo, and Cari Z

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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Rules to Live By – A BDSM Anthology by Heidi Belleau, Lisa Henry,  Anah Crow, Dianne Fox,

Anna Zabo, Cari Z.

Four intimate tales of power exchange, discipline, risks taken, and pleasures earned.

Master Key by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox

Navin is surrounded by family in control of their company and feels he can’t live up to their expectations for him—until he starts dating Marquis, and Marq offers Navin the key to his cock cage. It’s because of Marq’s need to be reminded that Navin is important to him and that he needs to make an effort to always be on time for Navin, but it has an unexpected, empowering effect on Navin as it gives him courage to take control in other areas of his life, including his role in his family’s company. The idea seems to be working until one too many things go wrong in one day for Marquis to handle, and he allows himself to doubt his need to submit to Navin in this way. The two nearly don’t get their HEA, but thankfully the simple solution of communication works to get both men back on track. I enjoyed the development of the characters in this story and would like to see it expanded. There’s so much more to explore in their fledgling D/s relationship, and they are so interesting that they deserve their own book. 4 stars

House Rules by Cari Z.

Jonathan lives by the rules established by his lover, Alistair Fraser, an actor who seems to be in a bromance with his co-star in the film that was written by Jonathan himself. Deliberately breaking the rules when he becomes jealous after watching the men on the Academy Awards broadcast, he’s looking forward to a reward after the punishment he knows he deserves. He doesn’t get exactly what he wanted, but he does get the punishment from a master who very evidently loves him enough to do what’s best for him, not what he wants. This is a shorter story than the others in the anthology, but presents a nice glimpse of domestic discipline. 4 stars

The Harder They Fall by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau

A spoiled and neglected rich kid, Tad cashes his allowance in small bills to hire a prostitute at the fancy brothel he recently found, and he’s looking forward to another night of domination and dishing out humiliation on a whore. But instead of getting an old washed-up whore like he requests, he gets “Daddy”, a big, strong, gorgeous, older man with a major dominant streak. And Daddy doesn’t care what Tad wants, Daddy is going to give Tad what he deserves. This is a great story, perfect for those who like some Daddy in their Doms. I would definitely like to read more about these MCs. 5 stars

CTRL Me by Anna Zabo

After breaking up with his homophobic girlfriend when she finds out he is bisexual, Tom agrees to go out with his best friend Gabe on his usual Thursday date night. Little does Tom know that he’s actually accepted a date with a man who can push all of his submissive buttons. Both techies and co-workers, Tom had no idea that Gabe was bi as well. One glance at the length of soft blue rope in Gabe’s glove compartment leads Tom to hope for more than just sex, and it appears that Gabe is just the man to give it to him. This story was a wonderful tale of giving up control through rope bondage. Like some of the other stories, there’s plenty of room here to expand this story, although it felt more complete than many of the others in this book. 5 stars.

My overall rating of 4.5 stars was based on an average of the individual ratings. This would be a good place for someone new to BDSM to start reading. The very talented authors in this volume explore several different aspects of the BDSM lifestyle, enough to give a newcomer inspiration to continue to read more, or to decide that it is not an area they are interested in exploring further.

Cover Art is a photo by L.C. Chase which depicts several items often seen in BDSM scenes: leather cuffs, chains, collar and candle, all artfully displayed. It’s a nice representation for this anthology.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing   All Romance (ARe)    Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published February 16th 2015 by Riptide Publishing
(first published February 14th 2015)
original titleRules to Live By
ISBN139781626492516
edition languageEnglish

ScatteredThoughts Summary of Reviews for November 2013

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November banner

November really was such an extraordinary month for books.  It almost makes me giddy with joy. I can’t remember when I last had more 5 and 4 star  rated books as I have had this month.  And their genres and plots ran the spectrum, from contemporary fiction to what I might best describe as fantasy horror, making this truly a rainbow month of great books by outstanding authors.

There are quite a few books that are a part of a series and should best be read in order, while others are stand alone pieces of fiction, with one or two in between in that they are a part of a series but could be read by themselves. It’s all in the reviews which I have linked to each title.

The holidays are upon us and ebook gift cards are a wonderful way of sharing books with those we love.  Make a list, check it twice to make sure you have the titles listed below on yours:dried flowers for november
November 2013 Review Summary

*part of a series

5 Star Rating:

Corruption by Eden Winters*, contemporary
Encore by Shira Anthony*, contemporary
Lessons for Suspicious Minds by Charlie Cochrane*,historical
Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux*, contemporary
Sweet and Sour by Astrid Amara, contemporary
The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin*, horror, fantasy
Too Many Fairy Princes by Alex Beecroft, fantasy

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

After The Fall by L.A. Witt* (4 stars), contemporary
Bar None Anthology (4.5 stars) mix of contemporary, scifi
Close Quarter by Anna Zabo*(4.75 stars), supernatural
Family Texas by R.J. Scott*, (4.5 stars), contemporary
Good Boy by Anne Tenino*, (4.5 stars),contemporary
How I Met Your Father by LB Gregg (4.25 stars), contemporary
Illumination by Rowan Speedwell (4.5 stars), contemporary
Long the Mile by Ally Blue (4.25 stars), contemporary
The Retreat by BA Tortuga*, (4 stars), contemporary
The Stars that Tremble by Kate McMurray, (4 stars), contemporary

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Captive Magic by Angela Benedetti* (3.75 stars), paranormal
Hat Trick by Chelle Dugan (3 stars), contemporary
The Blight by Missouri Dalton (3.75 stars), fantasy

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:
N/A

Review: Close Quarter by Anna Zabo

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Close Quarter coverSculptor Rhys Matherton’s life is a disaster.  His beloved mother has died, leaving him her entire fortune and a shocking bit of information.  His father, the one who rejected him because of his homosexuality, isn’t his father after all.  So grieving, inundated with people asking for money and favors, Rhys flees the States and takes a cruise, hoping the isolation will give him time to recover and consider what he is going to do next.   But on board Rhys’ life changes forever when he spills a drink on a handsome stranger.  An apology turns into a night of hot sex and then something more.  This stranger makes Rhys feel alive.  It’s as if he has been waiting to this man to come into his life to complete him.

Silas Quint has boarded this ocean liner for a mission, to hunt down and destroy the Soulless, vampires traveling the Atlantic to feed on the souls of the passengers.  Silas doesn’t need any distractions but he feels a connection to Rhys that won’t be denied.  After a night of incredible sex, Silas explains he’s a forest fae, something Rhys has a hard time believing until Silas proves it.  But Rhys too has a surprise for Silas and for himself as well.  One that will have impact on Silas’ mission and change both of their lives forever, if only they can survive this voyages and the vampires hunting them both.

Close Quarter is the first book by Anna Zabo and what a book it is!  I couldn’t put this one down from the moment I started reading it, I was totally absorbed by Zabo’s story. Her characters, her plot and her world building, all  marvelous.   Every aspect of this story captured and held my attention from beginning to end,, and left me wanting so much more.

So many elements are in play here.  First there is her world building.  It’s terrific while still leaving plenty of room for enlargement and minutiae in the future books to come.  We get just enough to make sense of the plot and events unfolding in the story which manages to combine the fae, angels, and vampires into one cohesive plot.  I loved how Anna Zabo used familiar aspects of fae mythology, like the summer and winter courts, but then added her own layers to it.  She did the same with the vampire lore as well.

Zabo’s vampires are not the benign creatures of other authors.  Instead these vampires harken back to old Slovakian folklore , the Upyr. These are terrifying creatures, ripping hunks of flesh from their victims even as they devour their souls, truly dark beings.  Allied against the dark are the Messengers and their servant, Silas Quint.  That is a story I won’t spoil for you here but it is large in scope, equal to the aspect of evil Zabo has created for Close Quarter.

Silas and Rhys are a wonderful combination, equal parts magic, snark, and yes, love.  Although the entire book takes place within a few days, the bond created between Silas and Rhys is absolutely believable as are their feelings towards each other.  That I could buy into this  case of instant love floored me and is due directly to the vivid descriptions by Zabo of their interactions and the fast paced events that happen aboard the ship.  Silas and Rhys both question their reactions to each other and the emotional connection that snaps into place almost immediately.  Again, the explanations are startling, even to the characters themselves and I loved the mythology the author has created to explain this connection and Rhys’ past.  It works, its captivating, and it leaves you needing more of that background information.

In fact, Anna Zabo tosses in so many wonderful elements into the mixture that some are almost overlooked as the characters scrambles to stay alive and together.  I say almost because as you read you will find yourself going back, returning to prior passages to look for additional clues or pertinent facts that you might have missed when certain elements are revealed in the story.  One of those ‘how did I not see that coming” sort of moments.   Because once one of these little revelations occur, then you will immediately want more information and it won’t be forthcoming, at least not in this book.

I contacted the author about any future stories in this universe and was delighted to hear that Zabo has two more books with Rhys and Silas sketched out, as well as one with Vasil Kutsera, an important secondary character here.  This is a universe that cries our for its stories to be heard and Silas and Rhys make a wonderful start.   I loved Close Quarter and think you will too.  Consider this book highly recommended.

Cover art by April Martinez features some gorgeous models and that ship is a lovely addition.

Book Details:

ebook, 218 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Loose Id, LLC

Looking Ahead To Those In Need and This Week’s Reviews and Contests

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Hard to believe that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away.  For those of us who celebrate this holiday, it is frequently a time of loads of great food, family, and togetherness.

Especially, the loads of food.

So what better time to think of others in need than now.  Where ever you may live, I am sure there is a food bank in need of supplies or families going hungry.  Maybe  they need coats or a wood burning stove or backpacks for school age kids.  Whatever and where ever the need, I am sure there is a worthy organization helping to stem the flow of hunger, of clothing, of shelter for those in that need it so.

Next week, my post will highlight those organizations and the manner in which we all can help.  If you know of an organization you would like to see posted here, please send it to me at Melaniem54@msn.com and I will see it included on next week’s post.  I am also going to maintain a separate page so people can look up organizations year around.  I have my favorites to donate to.  I am sure you do as well.  Let’s pass them on and see if we can all pass it forward.

Now on to this week’s reviews.  It is a special week here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words because Shira Anthony is premiering her Blue Notes novel, Encore, here on Monday, November 11.  To celebrate Encore’s release, there will be an incredible giveway that includes a Kindle, jewelry, and of course, books.  Don’t miss out, check in with us on Monday and Tuesday for more details.

Monday, Nov. 11:               Guest Post and Contest for the release of Encore (Blue Notes #5) by Shira Anthony

Tuesday, Nov. 12:              Review of Encore by Shira Anthony

Wednesday, Nov.13:         Close Quarter by Anna Zabo

Thursday,  Nov. 14:           The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin

Friday, Nov. 15:                   The Retreat (a Roughstock story) by BA Tortuga

Saturday, Nov. 16:             Captive Magic (Sentinels #3) by Angela Benedetti

So grab up a pen or two, make note of the schedule (and the contest).  The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin is another book of 2013 that is not to be missed as is Encore by Shira Anthony.   There is fantasy, m/m cowboy stories, and contemporary stories of love and perseverance.   See you all here on Monday.