A BJ Review: Heart (Spotless #4) by Bailey Bradford

Standard

Rating:  2.5 stars out of 5

Heart coverRolly has waited ten years to claim his mate. Now the wait is over, and he’s coming home. When he first met Erdwin, the boy was still a child. Rolly felt nothing but compassion for him back then, but Erdwin came of age five years ago, and Rolly’s stayed out of his life in order to give Erdwin time to experience life.

Erdwin never fit right in his skin. He didn’t like what he saw in the mirror. It didn’t match how he felt inside. As a shifter, he was stuck with the body he had. Surgery wasn’t an option for him. But Erdwin found a way to accept himself—by embracing the part of herself that felt like her true nature. She struggled with it, but with her family’s support, she became Edie, the young lady she was meant to be. She stopped worrying about her parts, and concentrated on her heart.

When Rolly, a powerful shaman, moves back home to the pack, Edie is transfixed. He makes her nervous—and arouses her. But what would a man like him think of a woman liker her? Edie’s about to find out, and she will have to be stronger than ever to help fight off a threat to her pack, to her mate, and to her family.

I chose this book because of the trans* element among shifters and the kinky tags, hoping that although it was part of a series that I would still be able to enjoy it as a standalone. I based this hope on the fact the main characters did not appear to be love interests in any of the prior books. However, I could tell very early on that my experience of the story would have been different had I read the other books. It was obvious that I’d missed a lot of the background story by skipping ahead. That that was my bad and has no doubt tainted my view of the story. Please understand that before reading my review.

This is my first story by the author, so I had no idea of what to expect. The first third of this book read slow and a bit tedious for me. Erdwin, now Edie, was prim and proper, hesitant and insecure, wanting acceptance but scared to show her true self to get it. Rolly was strong, self-sacrificing and noble. Neither were capturing my attention when apart, so it took me a while to get into the story. Once the two characters were finally united, both of them changed dramatically. Like almost a one-eighty.

Edie went from shy virgin to on fire aggressor within minutes, which was quite jarring. But I wrote it off as a shifter mates thing and read on. Then Rolly nearly right off mentions enjoying pain and the BDSM elements jumped in out of seemingly nowhere (may have been mentioned in another story, not sure?). The fisting scene also seemed to come out of nowhere and was unsettling to me. Because, well, the guy had been abstaining for fifteen years and this happened after he’d only with someone again just a few times. I had to remind myself again that they were shifters in order to accept that and move on.

The dynamic between the couple was not the usual and that part was refreshing. Rolly was older, larger, more experienced, a super powerful shaman and a wolf, yet he mostly a submissive bottom who enjoyed pain. Edie was smaller, MTF and she morphs from being very unsure of herself and just wanting to be accepted for who she is into a person secure with her physical equipment and willing and eager to take control. Once they’re together, it’s Rolly who often came across as insecure and in need of assurance from Edie. While I did find the dynamic of the relationship refreshing; the changes in did still came across as abrupt for me.

Besides the relationship, there is a more complex plot revolving around mysterious events that threaten the pack. As the story wore on, there were so many characters that I couldn’t always keep them straight, but again that was likely partly due to trying to read the story out of order.

I found the dialogue often felt stilted to me, or well, not natural sounding anyway. And the transitions from scene to scene didn’t always read smooth, in fact, sometimes they were quite abrupt. For example, most of the sex scenes are either interrupted or immediately followed by sudden crisis.

Overall, I recommend reading this book in order within the series rather than as a first book as I did. I firmly believe that had I done that, how I perceived the book would be somewhat different. So I can only rate based on what I read, but it will probably not be the same as the book experienced read in order.

The cover is quite lovely and drags my eyes to it. Definite eye candy. However, given that the trans* element among shifters is so unique and what drew me to the story, I think it could have been even better if it showed Erwdin/Edie.

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

Book Details:  

ebook, 154 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781784307257
edition languageEnglish

seriesSpotless #4

The Heat of Sexual Kink Has No Boundaries in the Exchange of Power Anthology

Standard

exchangeofpower1400

Exchange of Power Anthology
Author Names:

Bailey Bradford, Gacy Grant, Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae,
Cassandra McMurphy, S.E. O’Connor, Charles Payseur, CB Potts,
Torrance Sené, Dawn M. Sooy, T. Strange, Angelique Voisen

Release Date: September 16, 2015

Goodreads Link:
Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: BSClay

Banner300x250

Buy the book:   Torquere Press

Blurb

exchange: the act of giving or taking one thing in return for another; power: the ability or right to control people or things

In matters of the heart, what happens when there’s an exchange of power, even for just one night?

Both veteran and new authors make up the eleven stories about the power shift between Doms/subs, vampires/werewolves, teacher/apprentice, Alpha/beta, Necromancer/zombie, superhero/arch nemesis, and incubus/medium.

Pages or Words: 63,000 words
Categories: BDSM, Contemporary, Fantasy, Lesbian Romance, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance

Excerpt

From How the Mighty Have Fallen by Bailey Bradford

Hadrian sat up straight and stuck his nose in the air. “And, just for your information, I have not been–“

“Liar, liar, leather chaps on fire,” Larry sang. “Shut up already, you vestal virgin, and go get fucked and whipped. At least one of us should be having fun tonight. Since I can’t find anyone who wants to do only one of those things with me, I’m giving up. Plus, Thomas’ ex is busy trying to fuck everything that crosses his path. I’m guessing he thinks he has something to prove.”

Hadrian bristled a little when Larry called Master Thomas just by his given name instead of using the honorific, but he got it. Master Thomas wasn’t Larry’s master, nor was he Hadrian’s. However, Hadrian always thought of him as Master Thomas, perhaps because he did harbor a secret desire to serve the man. Although, maybe it wasn’t such a secret, since Larry had picked up on it.

“I guess he does have something to prove,” Hadrian murmured since Larry seemed to be waiting for some kind of agreement from him.

“But is it to himself, or to Thomas, hm?” Larry asked. “You gotta wonder what went down between those two, though… I heard stuff about Kelly. The guy’s an asshole and a half.”

Hadrian arched a brow at Larry. “And what, exactly, is a half an asshole?”

“A fuckin’ mess who likes to screw with people’s heads, that’s what,” Larry drawled. “Now grow a pair and go make that dom feel better.”

Hadrian wanted to smack Larry, but the smug smartass would just enjoy it if he did.

Larry narrowed his eyes at Hadrian. “Or, you know, I suppose I could go see if he wants to do a scene together.”

Hadrian was irritated despite his desire to remain unaffected by Larry’s attempt — damn it, a successful one! — to goad him into action.

Because suddenly, Hadrian’s body was determined to circumvent any argument his brain might have made. He was standing up and flipping Larry off before Larry could do more than cackle.

“You’re an ass,” Hadrian muttered.

Larry gave him two thumbs up. “You love me.”

Hadrian didn’t dignify that statement with a response. Besides, Larry was right and he knew it.

“Go get ’em, stud,” Larry urged, not nearly as quietly as Hadrian wished he had. Of course he was loud enough that Master Thomas glanced their way.

Authors Information

Where to find the authors:
Blog: http://glbtromance.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TorquerePressLLC
Twitter: https://twitter.com/torquere
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/torquerepress
Website: http://www.torquerebooks.com

RC


Tour Dates & Stops: September 15, 2015
Parker Williams, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Havan Fellows, Jessie G. Books, BFD Book Blog, SA McAuley, Inked Rainbow Reads, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Happily Ever Chapter, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, It’s Raining Men, Michael Mandrake, The Hat Party, Charley Descoteaux, Divine Magazine, Three Books Over the Rainbow, MM Good Book Reviews, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Molly Lolly

 

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Exchange of Power’ from Torquere Press.  Must be 18 years of age or older.  Link and prize provided by the publisher and Pride Promotions.
Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Focusing In On: Bailey Bradford, Unexpected Places , & the new TB What’s His Passion? Imprint

Standard

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

magnifying glass and focusWHP_Bailey Bradford_Book Tour_final

 Bailey Bradford has stopped by ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords today to talk about her latest release, Unexpected Places, for Totally Bound’s new imprint What’s His  Passion?   Welcome, Bailey!

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

Totally Bound has a brand new Imprint out, What’s his Passion? and I am thrilled to be a part of it! My contribution is Unexpected Places, a story featuring Carter Hausemann, a man who is passionate about hiking.

WHP_Bailey Bradford_Social Media_final♥ Contest: To celebrate the launch of What’s his Passion? Totally Bound Publishing is giving away a bundle of prizes. Enter here for your chance to win. The competition will run from the 23rd June – 6th August celebrating the launch of this new imprint, What’s his Passion? with winners being announced at the Totally Bound facebook release party on 6th August.  Here is the link again.

 

 

What Inspires You?

by Bailey Bradford

In Unexpected Places, the first book out in Totally Bound’s What’s His Passion? imprint, Carter is inspired by the great outdoors in general, and hiking in particular. He feels it brings him closer to his true self, and frees him in a way he can’t explain.

I understand that, which is why I chose hiking to be Carter’s passion. When I was asked to take a part in this imprint, I was on a hiking trip in New Mexico with my husband. There are some gorgeous casitas we stay at when we go to New Mexico, and it was there that I got the email about What’s His Passion?

I dove in immediately, thrilled to be a part of it. Writing is a passion of mine, reading is, too. I have several passions, among them spending as much time with my family as possible, and experiencing Nature’s beauty every chance I get.

So passion is something I understand in not only the sexual context, but in living my life. There are many things I am very passionate besides the ones mentioned. All inspire me and make me strive to embrace more, learn more, live more.

Exploring other people’s passions, whether fictional or real people, has helped broaden my own life experiences. I hope this new imprint with Totally Bound will help bring some new passion into your life. I know it has to mine.

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

unexpectedplaces_800Blurb for Unexpected Places:
Love finds you in the most unexpected places.

Carter Hausemann loves his adventures in the great outdoors. He never feels as free and happy as he does when he’s hiking up a mountain or over a desert trail. After a childhood spent locked indoors, he craves the sunlight on his face and the blanket of moonlight.

Unfortunately, he has to work, so his hiking trips aren’t as frequent as he would like.

He has a new adventure planned, but little does he know, his real adventure will start at a worn-down looking club in Odessa, Texas. Carter’s dreams of finding his perfect men will become more than fantasy, starting with one sexy leather-clad man, Eddie Canales. What starts out as a night of debauchery turns into so much more.

Like the sound of Unexpected Places? Read more here.

 

 

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍
About Bailey
A few things about me…

I am a married to a lovely man who supports everything I do and encourages me to be myself. I am also a mom who spends most of the day writing, either on stories for books or at the blog. I love to write as much as I love to read. I am generally quiet and laid back, choosing to let things slide off me rather than stick to me and be irritating.

And it’s really hard trying to think of descriptives for myself, so I’ll just let y’all e-mail me or comment at the blog if there’s something specific you’d like to know, and spare you from reading a boring bio.

To contact/follow Bailey Bradford, you can use the following links:

Totally Bound Tour Banner

 

Scattered Thoughts Summary of Reviews for October 2013

Standard

Oct-BW Header

October 2013 Summary of Book Reviews

It was a terrific month for books.  Sarah Black came out with her sequel to The General and the Horse-Lord titled The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari.  In my opinion it is the best book she has written to date, wide in scope with subtly nuanced characters that stay with you long after you have finished the story.  Also the Pulp Friction group of authors, (Lee Brazil, Havan Fellows, Laura Harner and T.A. Webb) start to bring their interconnected series to a close with 4 outstanding stories to equal the memorable characters to be found within. S.A. McAuley also brought us the second novel in The Borders War series, Dominant Predator.  I love those men, and need more of their history and complicated relationship.  Sue Brown gave us The Isle of Wishes, second in the Isle of Wight series, plus Ariel Tachna’s Lang Downs series (one of my favorite) expanded to five with Conquer The Flames, a “must read” book for all.

Well, I will let this list speak for itself.  So many great books here that there is sure to be something for everyone.  Grab up your notepad, IPad or paper, and write down the titles for those stories you might have missed.  I have linked my reviews to each book.  Happy readings!

Lady Reading Book in Chair 50 style    


5 Star Rating:

Conquer The Flames (Lang Downs #4) by Ariel Tachna, contemporary
Chance In Hell (Chances Are #5) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Darkest Knight (City Knight #5) by T.A. Webb
Dominant Predator (The Borders War #2) by S.A. McAuley
Duplicity (Triple Threat #5) by Laura Harner
Knights Out (City Knight #4) by T.A. Webb
The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari by Sarah Black (contemporary, military)
Wicked Truths (Wicked’s Way #5) by Havan Fellows, contemporary
Wild Onions by Sarah Black (supernatural)

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Enigma by Lloyd A. Meeker (4.25)(contemporary, paranormal)
Goblins, Book 1 by Melanie Tushmore (4.5 )(fantasy)
Home Team by Jameson Dash (4)(contemporary)
Isle of Wishes (Isle of Wight #2) by Sue Brown (contemporary)
Knightmare (City Knight #2) by T.A. Webb (4.75)(contemporary)
Northern Star by Ethan Day (4.25)(contemporary)
Playing Ball Anthology (4.75)(contemporary, historical)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3) by T.A. Webb (4.75)(contemporary)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Burning Now by A.R. Moler (3)(fantasy, supernatural)
Fool For Love by Cassandra Gold (3)(contemporary)
Strange Angels by Andrea Speed (3.75)(supernatural)
The Night Visitor by Ewan Creed (3 stars)(contemporary, supernatural)
Wireless by L.A. Witt (3.5)(science fiction)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

Justice (Leopard Spots #10) by Bailey Bradford (2)(shifters, supernatural)
The Unwanted, the Complete Collection by Westbrooke Jameson (2.5)(science fiction)

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:

None this month

Other Blogs:
Author Spotlight: Havan Fellows on Wicked’s Way Series and Pulp Friction
Author Spotlight: Lee Brazil on Chances Are Series and Pulp Friction
Author Spotlight: T.A. Webb on City Knight Series and Pulp Friction
Author Spotlight: Laura Harner on Triple Threat series and Pulp Friction
Author Spotlight: Sarah Black on Wild Onions
Author Spotlight: Sarah Black on Writing Old Men and the second General release

Review: Justice (Leopard’s Spots #10) by Bailey Bradford

Standard

Rating: 2. stars out of 5

Justice Leopard Spots 10 coverAfter being rescued by his twin brother Preston and his brother’s mate, Nischal, Paul Hardy is suffering horribly from the aftermath of his capture and two years being tortured and sexually abused as a shifter’s “pet”.  Prior to his experience at the hands of a human trafficking ring, Paul had no idea that shifters even existed, now he can’t get their existence or his trauma out of his mind.  And with his brother mated to a  shifter, Paul can’t even escape from the day to day contact he dreads. Paul, Preston, Nischal and his brother Sabin are all headed to Colorado and the snow leopard family compound hoping to find sanctuary and therapy for Paul.

Snow leopard shifter Justice Chalmers and his sister Vivian are traveling to Grandma Marybeth’s place in Colorado.  Justice was working at his dream job of being a police officer in Phoenix, Arizona when the call went out from his family about a human with a connection to them needing help immediately.  That call irequired Viv with her new therapy license to travel to Colorado and she doesn’t drive.  So Justice is currently on leave to drive his sister to their family compound.  Justice knows that there is more to the story than they have been told and his experiences as a Marine and cop, tell him to be on his guard.

A chance meeting between Paul and Justice on the road to Colorado changes the lives of both men permanently as Paul turns out to be Justice’s mate.  But their future together is cloudy.  Paul is severely damaged from his years of abuse and his abusers want their pet back.  Can Justice and Paul fight their way to happiness or will Paul’s past bring them both down?

Well, here we are at book ten in the Leopard’s Spots series and I am just as conflicted about this series as I was at book one, perhaps even more so.  To reach the tenth book in a series is sort of a benchmark for an author, an occasion to bring various plot strands together and move the entire series forward with new vigor, purpose and cohesion.  And I wish I could report that sort of growth happened here with Justice but it didn’t. There are so many missed opportunities here, so much jumbled nonsense, and quite frankly irresponsible writing that it is hard to know where to start.

Just the title alone starts the book off in a misleading fashion.  The book is called Justice but it really should be called Paul as it revolves around Paul Hardy, twin brother to Preston Hardy, Nischal’s mate  in book nine.  Justice almost serves as a secondary character here and the book suffers from that element.

Then the trajectory of the book really goes askew with the character of Paul and the author’s treatment of his traumatized state.  Back history for a moment.  Paul was captured two years ago (Nischal, Leopard’s Spots #9) by human slave traders and sold to a pack of wolf shifters keeping humans as pets.  For two unrelenting years, Paul was tortured,in every way possible from being sexually abused included gang rapes, being raped by the shifters in wolf form. Paul was tortured mentally, emotionally, and physically until he was broken so throughly that he could not even look his brother in the eyes or raise his head when rescued.  The author supplies us with all these facts and much more, although thankfully no explicit scenes of torture.  No, the reader gets flashbacks, nightmares, and stories about his numerous scars to help cobble together a picture of his time with his torturers.  Bradford wants us to believe in Paul’s traumatized state and at the beginning we do.

When we first meet Paul, the character is having multiple, desperate sexual encounters while feeling nothing. He is acting without consideration of his own safety and physical well being, trying to see if he can get himself killed without actually having to do the job himself.  His actions are understandable and the compassion the reader feels for this character is well grounded in reality.  Then he meets Justice and Viv and all that flies out the door.  Why?  Because of mates and sex, the bandaid of bandaids.  Sigh.

Apparently with Justice, he wants to have sex with a shifter, lots of it (although to be fair, it is mentioned that Justice being a snow leopard shifter instead of a wolf makes some difference).  Not only that but Paul has five therapy sessions, yes only five, with Viv, who just graduated and got her license and he’s soooooo much better.  No mention is made of a new therapist having the experience to deal with someone as traumatized as Paul.  Nope, he just improves rapidly.  Not 100 percent, as he still has flashbacks and nightmares but nothing so substantial as to immobilize him.  Now balance that picture against the one that the author built up for Paul in captivity.  It just doesn’t match up.  If the author wants the reader to buy in on Paul’s past and the horrors he endured then there is a reasonable expectation on the reader’s part that his recovery would be just as slow, hard and realistic  to deal with all the things that were done to him and that he was forced to do.

But that doesn’t happen.  Instead Bradford uses the mating urge to slap a bandage over the pain and scars left by the experience.  It’s slapdash and insufficient, believe me.  Shortcuts rarely work in fiction, and this one certainly doesn’t. Instead the reader feels as shortchanged as they should by being denied the satisfaction of seeing Paul slowly work through the horrendous events and traumas of the past two years.  That just isn’t a missed step, that a whole Marianna Trench!

And this type of plot device and jumbled narrative happens over and over again.  A wolf shifter named Cliff pops up like some vengeful enforcer but does his thing “off stage” as it were.  Totally unsatisfying too.  His captors come after  Paul again and Justice acts with such unbelievable stupidity for someone whose character was portrayed as a Marine for 10 years and then a cop, that I almost thought that Bradford had shifted the story over to a parody.  Totally lacking in any authenticity, watching Justice in action was similar to watching those actors run into spooky houses on Scary Movie.

And after all this nonsense, the author ends it with a cryptic message and not much else.  Trust me when I say my head hurts from banging it against the wall in frustration over this story, series and author.  So much promise is thrown away so casually and repeatedly over a series of ten books that it boggles my mind.  And still I want to know where this series is going and how much worse is it going to get.  I expect that the answer is much, much, worse.

How to balance an author who gets the reader to commit to believing in a character’s degradation and two year ordeal only to see that author then negate that commitment by not treating it seriously? And all within a framework of ideas that remain compelling and new? I just don’t know.  As I said I am conflicted over this series and author and so I am not even going to say whether I will recommend this or not.  I will leave it up to you.  But if you continue on as I will, get yourself prepared to encounter all sorts of frustrations and puzzling events and characters.  This is a wild grab bag of story elements and I never know what will appear.  Consider yourself informed.

Book Details:

ebook, 145 pages
Expected publication: October 4th 2013 by Total-E-Bound Publishing

Cover art by Posh Gosh is gorgeous as always. Models are on target and perfectly represent the characters involved. Just beautiful.

Here are the books in the Leopard’s Spots series in the order they were written and should be read (mostly)

Levi (Leopard’s Spots, #1)
Oscar (Leopard’s Spots, #2)
Timothy (Leopard’s Spots, #3)
Isaiah (Leopard’s Spots #4)
Gilbert (Leopard’s Spots #5)
Esau (Leopard’s Spots #6)
Sullivan (Leopard’s Spots, #7)
Wesley (Leopard’s Spots, #8)
Nischal (Leopard’s Spots, #9)

I’m Off To GRL and The Week Ahead In Reviews

Standard

GRL 2013logoShort and oh so sweet this week.  I am off to GRL in Atlanta this week and I am beside myself in anticipation.  If you listen hard enough you can hear a little fan girl “squee” here. So many people to meet and3d-person-sit-pile-books-reading-book-26141531 get to talk with, there are authors galore, publishers,, editors, other bloggers and of course readers.

Some authors i have chatted  with electronically just recently, some I have admired for years as well as so many new authors I have yet discover.  Really I am beside myself with joy. I hope to post some pictures and small journal pieces while I am gone but if things get busy (as I anticipate them to do) then, it will wait for a Scattered Thoughts at GRL Blog to pull it all together when I get back.

So here are the book reviews to be posted this week:

Monday, Oct. 14:     Conquer The Flames by Ariel Tachna

Tuesday, Oct. 15:      The Unwanted Collection by Westbrooke Jamison

Wed.., Oct. 16:            Strange Angels by Andrea Speed

Thurs, Oct. 17:            Wireless by L.A. Witt

Friday, Oct.18:           Fool For Love by Cassandra Gold

Sat., Oct. 19:               Justice  (Leopard’s Spots #10) by Bailey Bradford

Scattered Thoughts Summary of Reviews for August 2013

Standard

August banner with pencils

August 2013 Review and Blog Summary:

5 Star Rating:

Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #3) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are #4) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #4) by Havan Fellows, contemporary
Wicked Incarcerations (Wicked’s Way #3) by Havan Fellows contemporarysummer images with book

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Chances Are (Chances Are #1) by Lee Brazil (4.5 stars) contemporary
Dance Only For Me (Dance With The Devil #6) by Megan Derr (4.75 stars) fantasy
Demolished by Astrid Amara (4 stars), contemporary
Home Sweet Home (Home #5) by T.A. Chase, (4.5 stars) contemporary
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #2) by Lee Brazil
The Beast Without by Christian Baines (4.75 stars) supernatural
Welcome, Brother (College Fun and Gays #5) by Erica Pike (4 stars) contemporary
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Ways #2) by Havan Fellows
Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Ways #1) by Havan Fellows

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Burden by Annmarie McKenna (3.5 stars) contemporary
Faire Fugitive by Madeleine Ribbon (3.75 stars) fantasy
Fall For Me (Rock Gods #1) by Ann Lister, contemporary
Handle With Care by Josephine Myles (3.5 stars) contemporary
Mixed Tapes, Vol. 2 by Kris Jacen editor (3.5 stars) contemporary
Nischal (Leopard’s Spots #9) by Bailey Bradford (3.75 stars) supernatural
Subtle Innuendos (Mixed Tape series) by Z. Allora (3 stars) contemporary
The Boy Who Came In From The Cold by B.G. Thomas ((3 stars) contemporary

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Queen’s Librarian by Carole Cummings (2.75 stars) fantasy

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:

Aching For It (Dominican Heat #1) by Stanley Bennett Clay (1 star) contemporary

Other Blogs:
Author Spotlight: Havan Fellows    
Author Spotlight: Lee Brazil
Wait? That Was The Ending? A Writing Mini rant From Scattered Thoughts

Review: Nischal (Leopard’s Spots #9) by Bailey Bradford

Standard

Rating:          3.75 stars out of 5

Nischal Leopards Spots 9Preston Hardy’s brother, Paul,  went missing over a year ago and is presumed dead.  But Preston hasn’t given up hope of finding his twin.  Preston knew his brother’s fascination with snow leopards and has found his way to Texas , the last place Paul was seen, and a side show with two snow leopards on display.  The people  exhibiting them seem suspicious and the snow leopards themselves are in bad shape.  As Preston investigates further into the show’s owners and his brother’s disappearance, he falls into a perilous trap and a situation that will change his life  and his perception of the world forever.

Nischal and his brother Sabin are snow leopard shifters.  Trapped and taken away from their mother in their leopard form, the two young men have been drugged and starved while in captivity, their poor mental and physical condition keeping them from shifting back to their human form.  Years of being caged have deprived them of hope but the appearance of Preston outside their cage changes everything.  From the moment Nischal sees Preston, he knows his mate has arrived.  But their captors will do everything in their power to keep the snow leopards as theirs and prevent Preston from the truth about his brother.

Nischal is the ninth book in the Leopard’s Spots series and a return finally to the story basics that made this such a fascinating series.  Nischal starts at a seemingly random point with two captive Snow Leopards caged in a side show in Texas.  A reader familiar with this series will search their memories for some prior mention of these brothers to no avail.  This is the first we have heard of them.  They are unaware of other Snow Leopards, including our foundation family, the Traveses, in Colorado, existing in a bubble created out of their mother’s isolation of them as cubs and their continued existence in captivity.  Preston Hardy too has not the slightest connection to the previous books.  He, like the shifter brothers, arrives outside of the previous narratives.  It is not until mid-story that a character from the other books arrives and heralds the beginning of a connection to the series plotlines and universe.  From there on out, this story’s twists and turns will surprise the most jaded of Bradford’s readers, especially a bombshell close to the end.  I never saw it coming, and loved that surprising turn of events.

Really, Nischal exemplifies what is most frustrating and wondrous about this series.  Bradford’s ideas are startlingly original, pinging off here and there but always eventually finding their way back to the pattern she is weaving in this series.  Just as the reader is getting frustrated that she has left her original premise with the leopard shifters far behind with her wolf shifters and cougar shifters and shaman, she manages to bring all these disparate elements together in a wide ranging plot that continues to exasperate and involve us deeply in the futures of the leopard shifters and their mates.  I loved all the different aspects of Nischal’s story.  There is several mysteries, including that of Paul’s disappearance and the origin of the shifter brothers.  A wolf faction from a previous book makes a reappearance here.  And always there is the mate sex.  Tons and tons of mate sex.

That is always my biggest issue with Bradford’s stories, that she sacrifices almost half her books story to over the top sex scenes involving various mated pairs.  It usually starts right before or after the men realize they are mates.  They leap into  bed and spend the next five or ten pages staying there.   Now I love a good sex scene and this book has many.  But there are so many that the plot suffers under the weight of all that sex.  When they finally stop you have to try and remember where you are in the storyline because its been that long since she has made reference to it.  And that is a shame because she is giving you glimpses of a much larger picture here, one that will encompass all the story lines of the previous books.  The possibilities I see within this story are intriguing and addicting.  It is the reason I have stayed with this series even when certain books in it have almost caused me to abandon the series.

I came very close to giving this story a four, but the numerous sex scenes once more worked to the detriment of the story and pulled it down.  I know that I must sound like a broken record with the same issues at book nine, but I keep hoping the author will surprise me with a change in writing style in much the same manner she surprised me with the plot twist at the end.  Like Nischal and Sabin, there is always hope.  And in this case, there is hope and a darn fine story to go along with it.

Cover art by Posh Gosh is gorgeous as always.  Models are on target and perfectly represent the characters involved.  Just beautiful.

Here are the books in the Leopard’s Spots series in the order they were written and should be read (mostly)

Levi (Leopard’s Spots, #1)
Oscar (Leopard’s Spots, #2)
Timothy (Leopard’s Spots, #3)
Isaiah (Leopard’s Spots #4)
Gilbert (Leopard’s Spots #5)
Esau (Leopard’s Spots #6)
Sullivan (Leopard’s Spots, #7)
Wesley (Leopard’s Spots, #8)
Nischal (Leopard’s Spots, #9)

:

 

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: August 9th 2013 by Total-E-Bound Publishing

Dog Days of Summer and the Week Ahead in Reviews

Standard

Canis Major Dog StarHere it is mid – August and the Dog Days of  Summer are almost over.  I know many of you have heard the term but do you really know where it came from?  I know that some of you are looking at your four pawed companions panting away the summer heat beside you, whether on shared walks or just sitting together in the backyard. One look at how the heat is affecting them, and I am sure you think “ah, dog days indeed.” But to understand where the term Dog Days of Summer, you must look to the sky.  The night sky that is and the Dog Star, Sirius, the brightest star above (no, we are not talking about the Sun right now).

Osiris

The Egyptians called Sirius the dog star after their god Osirus, whose head in pictograms resembled that of a dog.  In Egypt, and in ancient Rome, Sirius was in conjunction with the Sun in the summer (ie. it was up in the sky at the same time as the Sun) and ancient Egyptians and Romans argued that it was responsible for the summer heat by adding its heat to the heat from the Sun. Those in ancient times called the period of time from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction “the dog days of summer” because it coincidentally fell at the time of year when it was very hot.

The Dog Days of Summer start around July 7th ( I have also seen July 3rd at the start date as well) and runs until August 18th, normally the time in the Northern Hemisphere when it is the hottest.  It is the time we head for the beach, the air-conditioning, anywhere but the office.  It is also a great time to catch up on your reading and make headway on your “to be read” pile. Here are some books and one great series (Wicked’s Way by Haven Fellows) that you will want to add to the list.

Monday, Augusts 12, 2013:                   Nischal by Bailey Bradford

Tuesday, August 13, 2013:                     Wicked Incarceration by Haven Fellows

Wed., August 14, 2013:                           Wicked Guidance by Haven Fellows

Thursday, August 15, 2013                   Guest Blog by Haven Fellows

Friday, August 16, 2013                          Fall For Me by Ann Lister

Saturday, August 17, 2013:                   Home Sweet Home by TA Chase

Sirius

I will leave you all with two quotes about the dog days of summer.  Both perfection in tone and ability to paint a portrait of this time of year.

“Sophia and Grandmother sat down by the shore to discuss the matter further. It was a pretty day, and the sea was running a long, windless swell. It was on days just like this–dog days–that boats went sailing off all by themselves. Large, alien objects made their way in from sea, certain things sank and others rose, milk soured, and dragonflies danced in desperation. Lizards were not afraid. When the moon came up, red spiders mated on uninhabited skerries, where the rock became an unbroken carpet of tiny, ecstatic spiders.”
― Tove Jansson, The Summer Book

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”
― Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

Review: Breaking the Devil by Bailey Bradford

Standard

Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Breaking the Devil civerTwelve years ago, Mack Wilson made the mistake of his life, giving his love and virginity to his best friend Justin who then threw his love back at him telling Mack he was just a youthful experiment before leaving town for good.  Justin’s hateful message left Mack a broken man unable to get past that experience and Justin.  Now Justin has returned wanting to pick up where he left off, in Mack’s bed.  And despite Mack’s pain and fury, he lets him.  But the past is still haunts Mack and Justin has many obstacles to overcome before he can reclaim the man he walked away from.

Will pride and pain stand in the way of true love or  together can Mack and Justin break the devil of a past to have the love they always dreamed of.

Normally when I finish a Bailey Bradford story (either in the Southwestern Shifters or Leopard’s Spots series), I allude to the shortness of the book as one of its faults.  Here at 127 pages, I can actually declare that Breaking the Devil is far too long.  But let’s get to the positive element of Breaking the Devil.  That would be the storyline.  I love a “lovers reunited” story as well as the next person.  I can’t wait normally to see what each author brings to such a common plot line.  Bailey Bradford has the ability to create interesting universes or flesh out cliched ones, unfortunately neither of that happens here.  But at least she started out with one guaranteed to catch ones interest.  Too bad it stayed at that level, an idea.

First the plot and the title, Breaking the Devil, which refers to a stallion Mack has been given to break.  Right away things go off course as Mack states

Inside the corral stood the meanest, foulest stallion he’d ever seen—and also the most magnificent. A huge horse, too, his size matching his nasty disposition. Mack wondered half the time why he’d ever bothered buying the damn critter. The other half of the time he admitted it was because he didn’t like anything that was easy, not in most cases, at least. While he didn’t want a horse that was going to stomp him to death, he did like a challenge.

In that paragraph, Mack has bought this stallion.  Now a mere two paragraphs later, see if you can spot the error:

“Enough already,” he scolded himself. It was a certainty that Justin hadn’t wasted years—years—dwelling on what might have been. Normally Mack didn’t think on it so heavily himself, but that angry red horse just stirred up memories. He really shouldn’t have agreed to tame the damn critter.

Yep, quickly it has changed from Mack owning the horse to Mack taming the horse for someone else and that is at the beginning of the story.  Plus Mack starts to “gentle” the horse, not break him, a huge training difference (except to an author who hasn’t done the homework).  This is one of the mildest of errors located in Breaking the Devil.  Because shortly thereafter this scene, Justin reappears and for the next 100 or so pages, they do nothing but hump like bunnies, tons of by the book sex scenes that actually lack the heat of Bradford’s other stories.

The reader is told that Justin’s leaving broke Mack (his word) but instead of exposition we get tons of sex scenes.  What happened to the storyline?  Why did Justin leave and what happened to all the anger and pain Mack storied up over 12 years?  Seemingly unimportant because we have to wait until almost the end and then get just the thinest explanation possible.  I don’t know about you but I like a story with my story.

Then there are the thin characterizations. Both characters come complete with over the top emoting and dialog more suited to Telemundo’s telenovelas. The men glare and “squeal like girls” , (again Mack’s description), ready their fists and sneer, voices hit “like daggers to the heart”, and they swoon and are consumed by love. Now keep in mind, Justin is a hardened vet, with several tours of duty behind him and Mack is 30 years old rancher and you can see the issues. Mack and Justin, and particularly Mack seem more like a conglomerate of personality traits than an actual character. Even the dialog put into Mack’s mouth is as disconnected as the aspects of his personality. He will call someone an “idjit”, then “bub” , then a countrified saying like “He asked me what was wrong when he found me in the barn, sobbing like a baby denied the tit, you know.” pops out , then Mack returns briefly to sounding like a 30 year old. Mack is a seasoned rancher but can’t stand the sight of his own blood, a real problem when just the daily chores brings more cuts than you can imagine. This might seem like a funny trait to give a character but if you are well acquainted with the chores of a ranch hand, then you know it makes no sense. Justin too never comes across in any realistic way as a Marine.

A character called Craig, a soldier with Justin, returns with Justin to help run his ranch.  We are told Craig, a fellow Marine, is dangerous, a murderer for his country (Justin’s words), etc,  and the reader starts to have expectations that Craig will figure greatly into the storyline.  Instead after considerable buildup and attention to Craig’s explosive persona, the character disappears completely.  I thought this a real misstep as Craig was far more interesting than either Justin or Mack, although more thug than Marine.

The ending finished it off for me.  I have ridden  horses all my life and owned three.  At the end of the story, Justin and Mack decide that Diablo (the stallion now has a name) will remained unbroken, that they

 “…kind of like the evil bastard like this, all angry and righteous and untamed. He’s beautiful, like raw power set free on this earth, and I know it sounds silly probably, but I just would hate to see his spirit lessened from this brilliant, fiery sun to a dim glow.

*head desk*

And  all I could think was really? How was the horse to get groomed? Or the vet to give him the necessary shots or float his teeth when the horse can’t be touched?  And basically they didn’t “break the devil” after all.  So much for the title and so much for any type of research. All dumped in favor of an unrealistic ending to a mess of a book, more a collection of cliches than actual realized plot.  Give this book a pass even if you like Bailey Bradford’s stories because there isn’t one here.

Cover art by Posh Gosh is lovely but just as over the top as the storyline.

Book Details:

Breaking the Devil

ISBN # 978-1-78184-315-4

©Copyright Bailey Bradford 2013

Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright April 2013

Edited by Eleanor Boyall Total-E-Bound Publishing

Previously published by Loose id in 2009 at 66 pages. Skip that version too.