A Free Dreamer Review: SYN Consulting (Dragon War Chronicles #1) by A.G. Carothers

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Continue to hide or help save the very kin she’s hidden from?

Welcome to SYN Consulting, the top business strategy consulting firm in Europe, home to a motley crew whose leader has a life changing secret. CEO, Danica Lestrange, is the first female dragon born in the last 800 years. Hidden from the rest of her kin and raised in the human world, she built a life that she would defend until her death.

A devious plan is unearthed while working on a new business deal that could plunge the dragons into another war with the humans. The humans may have forgotten the last dragon-human war, but the dragons have not. Will the war reveal this hidden world to the humans, or will the clans come together to defeat their enemies and maintain their anonymity?

Danica must gather her allies and help the very dragons she’s hidden from her whole life. She can only hope that she’ll be strong enough to protect her chosen family.

This is the first book in a new series about dragons who want nothing more than to live in peace, but refuse to be subjugated. In war there’s also love, and love is blind. Love doesn’t care about gender, race, species (in this case), or sexuality.

Warning: This book contains explicit sexual content between consenting adults. The sexual scenes are MM, MF, and MMF. There are romantic relationships depicted that are MM. There is also a high level of explicit language, snark, kink, and possibly bad puns and fart jokes.

First of all, I can’t believe “SYN Consulting” ended where and how it did. That’s one hell of a mean cliffhanger!! If that’s something you don’t like, you might want to wait for part 2 of the series, which is supposed to come out in November.

Now, the relationships in this book are seriously complicated and everybody seems to be involved with everybody on some level. So I’ll just limit myself to the sex scenes we get in this book. For the first half or so, there are lots and lots of explicit MF sex scenes, mostly told from Danica’s POV. Then we get one explicit MFM and one explicit MM scene, although it’s implied that this happens all the time.

It’s been many years since I read explicit MF sex scenes and I don’t remember them being this hot. Seriously, there’s a lot of sex in this book and it’s all always hot to read. It does give it a bit of a porny feel, especially for the first half.

The world of “SYN Consulting” is fascinating. This isn’t exactly the first dragon-shifter book I’ve come across, but it is the first one to make the dragons aliens and not supernatural creatures. I thought that was a really interesting idea, even if the dragons have lived on earth for many millennia. The world building was surprisingly well done, considering the plentiful sex in the first half. There’s some intriguing groundwork that will hopefully be expanded in future books.

I often have issues with female protagonists, especially if they’re romantically involved with men. But I really liked Danica. She’s damn bad-ass. Kudos for giving her her own Ducati. I like a girl who rides her own bike! She’s strong and independent, but also snarky and quite funny. And very intelligent. Oh, and she has awesome, meaningful tattoos! A strong female lead in the truest sense of the word.

The guys in the book were great too. The second half felt a little cluttered with the many POVs we get, though. I sometimes had trouble keeping Matt and Xander apart.

Long story short, “SYN Consulting” is a great Science Fantasy book, set in the near future. It felt longer than it’s 260 pages, but in a good way. I really can’t wait for the next part after that cliffhanger. A little less porn and a little more plot in the first half would have been nice, though.

The cover is gorgeous. Those eyes are mesmerizing!

Sales Links:

AMAZON US: https://amzn.to/2xXrAoK

AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2IoModj

AMAZON CA: https://amzn.to/2DN97l0

 

Book details: Kindle Edition, First Edition, 260 pages

Published August 17th 2018 by A.G. Carothers

A MelanieM Review: Drifting Sands (The Warfield Hotel Mysteries #1) by C.J. Baty

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

 

As he approaches his fortieth birthday, Justin Warfield feels alone, drifting like the sand that blows along the beach near his family’s hotel. He has done exactly as his father wanted. Married the right girl and carried on the family tradition of running the Warfield Hotel. On paper things seem perfect, but happiness hasn’t been a part of his life for a very long time.

Marcus Drummond once spent a summer with his best friend Peter at the Warfield Hotel and fell hard for Peter’s much older brother. Five years later he’s back, and this time hopes that Justin will see him as more than his kid brother’s friend.

Sparks fly when the two meet again, but there are a few things standing in their way. The closet that Justin has himself buried in and someone on a killing spree, dumping bodies on the Warfield beach . . . victims that indicate Justin may be involved in some way.

Drifting Sands (The Warfield Hotel Mysteries #1) by C.J. Baty was another difficult story to review.  I liked many elements but found others hard to navigate and others still baffling in their inability to like or believe in.

First of all, I adore mysteries.  I have shelves waited down with them and have mainstreamed them starting with Nancy Drew from childhood.  Honestly, I can’t get enough, from cozies to outright thrillers.  And I like the tales that come from C.J. Baty so I thought this would be a series to grab up and get involved with from the start.

The idea of this family establishment (The Warfield Hotel Mysteries)with all it’s traditions set in the coastal tide water town is lovely.  That’s a great hook!  And Baty lays out its history and drama perfectly.

We also jump into the story in high fashion…with a murder.  Loved that.  The murders and mysteries that start swirling around Justin, his brother Peter who is about to inherit his share of the Hotel and the house (I adored Peter), and Robert, and yes, even Matthew.  Those were the best part of this story.  Some nifty clues were left strewn around that if wasn’t too hard to figure out who exactly was behind the evil goings on and you were still curious enough to want to see everything unfold to want to continue reading.

No, I think my issues here are with Justin and Matthew.  Justin who seems like a bit of a doormat, someone lacking the courage  to get out of the closet where his father put him all those years ago when he forced him to get married.  All around him, including Peter his younger brother, are one’s I am able to connect with more than Justin.  It simply takes far too long for Justin to find any ounce of gumption here before he starts to fight back against, well, everyone.

Another thing is the relationship between Justin and Matthew.  Justin doesn’t remember him.  So while the bodies are falling all around him, Justin is firmly in the closet, the wife is threatening him, the stress and guests must be attended to, Justin is just going to what?  Have a fling with  someone he can’t remember? While a killer is loose closeby?  And fall instantly in love?  Even though Matthew is a friend of his brother’s it just never struck me as terribly convincing.  Again.  I think it was the character of Justin.  I think he just came off as incredibly dense.

Yes, there is a lot of everyone’s here, including a bigoted Sheriff.

I found the wife’s character interesting, especially towards the end and wonder if more information will be forthcoming in the next installment.

This story ends with a cliffhanger and the plot does not wrap up as you would hope.  In fact it leaves the main characters in a dire situation.  If you aren’t fans of this format, this is going to make you really unhappy.

Didn’t bother  me for some reason.

I just have to figure out if I care enough about him to pick up the next story.  The jury is still out.

Cover art is generic and doesn’t really speak to the story.

Sales Links:  Bottom Drawer Publication | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 211 pages
Published July 12th 2017 (first published June 7th 2015)
Original Title Drifting Sands
ASINB073WY9LVQ
Edition Language English
SeriesThe Warfield Hotel Mysteries #

An Alisa Review: Meik & Sebastian (Obsessed #2) by Quin Perin

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Ever since the first sexual encounter with Sebastian, Meik has felt off-kilter.

He can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t work without thinking about the musician and so, Meik decides to settle into an arrangement with him. There is no love. There is no romance. Sebastian gets a warm place to sleep, and Meik gets to keep his boy toy.

The perfect bargain.

But when Sebastian’s presence triggers memories of his first and only love, Meik unravels under the reminiscences that carved him into the man he is today. Will Meik be able to hold himself together or will his carefully crafted badass image fall apart?

This is the second book of the Gay Erotic Romance “Obsessed” which features explicit adult m/m content as well as romantic elements. The book ends on a cliffhanger.

This story delves deeper into Meik’s subconscious and gives us a little background on him.  I am enjoying the way the authors are presenting the stories and it’s written in a way that I don’t necessarily have to like the characters to like the book.  I’m not usually good with cliffhangers but I’m trusting they will get the next segment out quickly.

Meik is still an ass in this story but we get the chance to see he wasn’t always that way and we see a slight crack in his walls when Sebastian is sick.  I find myself being impatient for the next story so that I can see what happened to make him the way he is now.  We see Sebastian but other than fighting back with Meik on being tested he is just there for Meik’s enjoyment.

The cover art by Vanessa Rödiger is nice and typical of serials matches the other stories.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 100 pages

Expected Publication: September 1, 2018

Edition Language: English

Series: Obsessed #2

New Release Book Blitz for Astray (Wavesongs #1) by Elvira Bell (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Astray

Series: Wavesongs #1

Author: Elvira Bell

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 99,500 words

Genre: Romance, Historical fiction, LGBT, M/M, Coming of age, Pirates, Age gap

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Nick Andrews has grown up in poverty in a tiny village. All his life he’s been told that he’s useless. After getting one scolding too many he decides to go far away, off to sea. But his experience as a farmhand has done little to prepare him for the hardships of a sailor’s life.

When his ship is attacked by pirates, Nick’s life is miraculously spared by the notorious pirate captain, Christopher Hart—a man in charge of a crew feared for their brutality. Nick is forced to join the pirates, and he dreads finding out for what reason the captain has saved him.

But Hart is nothing like his reputation suggests, and Nick soon finds himself entangled in a relationship that could endanger both their lives. Unless Nick can help Hart on his quest to find a long lost treasure, their forbidden love may tear his new life apart.

Warning: This book ends with a cliffhanger, and it does not have a happy ending. The series as a whole will have a HEA ending.

Content note: This book contains dark themes and depictions of torture, murder, and rape.

Excerpt

Nick enters the cabin to find Hart sitting at the table. A book is open in front of him. Red-tinted sunlight floods the windows, casting a burnt orange glow over his hair and coat. He doesn’t look up as Nick steps inside and closes the door behind him.

“What did you want with me, sir?”

Hart sighs. Gives Nick a brief glance. “Ah, yes. My boots need a cleaning. Over there.” He points to the boots, neatly placed next to the door. “You should find what you need in that chest opposite them.”

Nick glances at the clogs on his own feet. Hart has not just one pair of footwear, but two—on his feet instead of the jackboots are black leather shoes. Sinking down to his knees, Nick gets to work. He grabs one of the boots, reaching for the cloth he’s found. His stomach clenches. All he can think of is that pool of blood around Stubbs’ head. He worries that Hart’s soles will be red, stained with the cabin boy’s blood. Thankfully, they aren’t. In fact, there’s not a trace of blood on them—almost as if they have been cleaned before.

Nick glances over to Hart. Did he clean his own boots before calling Nick in here? And if so, why? It makes no sense that he has wiped away the blood himself, when he could have made Nick do it.

Hart sighs and scribbles in the book. It’s unnerving to be alone with him and Nick feels relief surge through him when both boots are spotless and shiny.

“All done, sir.” He puts the boots back by the wall and stands up, turning to face Hart again.

The Captain doesn’t look at him. “Thank you.” Outside the window, the glowing sun has turned to just a sliver on the horizon. “That will be all.”

Available to purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Elvira Bell lives in Sweden and spends most of her time writing, reading or watching movies. Her weaknesses include, but are not limited to: vintage jazz, musicals, kittens, oversized tea cups, men in suits, the 18th century, and anything sparkly.

Elvira writes m/m fiction with a touch of romance and has a penchant for historical settings. She adores all things gothic and will put her characters through hell from time to time because she just loves watching them suffer. It makes the happy endings so much sweeter, after all.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

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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

A MelanieM Review: Calloway by Thad J.

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Welcome to the Township of Calloway! Home of the world-famous Daddy Cains’ Foods Company, a staple for the local community.

No one knows this better than James (Jimmy) Cain, heir to the family business, and his father’s pride and joy. With his limitless resources and a family that is always there for him, his life could not be more perfect. But that changes when he meets Benjamin Rei.

A determined and intelligent man, Benjamin is a junior acquisitions officers eager to close his first major purchase. His company has set Daddy Cains’ between its crosshairs and will stop at nothing to get it. Although Benjamin has a simple enough task, people and forces outside of his control will test the limits of just how far he is willing to go to make it to the top.

First of all, I’m well-versed in Southern small town living, having parents who both grew up in small southern towns and scads of relatives (whole States worth) who never left and send invitations to family reunions regularly. So I always look forward to books that have that theme or location going for them.  Calloway certainly seems to fit the bill.

However, don’t go looking for this to be a romance, as it’s not really.  More like a family drama, southern style.  In Calloway, author Thad J. lays down his foundation of town history, complicated intertwined relationships going back decades (or further), current explosive family dynamics, and the power struggle going on for control of the world-famous Daddy Cains’ Foods Company.  If that sounds like a lot of exposition, it is.   Calloway is crammed full, so much at times you might just need a notepad to keep all the players straight.

It helps that the dialog is lively, the characters interesting… like James (Jimmy) Cain who is both constant sexdog and crafty businessman, ditto his father.  However, I found Benjamin less than charming.  I suspect I’m supposed to like him and connect more with him as an outsider, however, given my background, I saw him more as an interloper and his acts self serving or worse.  No matter where I was in the story, my vision of Ben never really changed, that includes the ending.

There are many twists and turns here, some really neat ones, some you see coming.  And the end is, depending upon how you look at it either a nonexistent or a total cliffhanger, which is my way of saying you have no idea of how it ends.  Not my favorite here or elsewhere and it brought the rating down.

If you’re a fan of southern literature, snappy dialog and surprise twists, Calloway might be the book for you.  Just  don’t way I didn’t warn you about the ending.

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow.  I like the cover.  BBQ contests and pop.  Very appealing.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 271 pages
Published July 10th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN13 9781947139404
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Optical Illusion (Paint #1) by Emma Jaye

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Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

optical-illlusionSmile, wiggle, lie, apologise, and run for the hills.

That’s the formula Chris has used all his life, but this time, he has something he’s never had to lose before, a family that cares. The problem is, his new brother’s very edible friend isn’t fooled by his act. If his secrets are revealed, they won’t want him and he has nowhere else to go.

Thanks to a suicide bomber, ex-military police sergeant Jase Rosewood is back in the English countryside. His plans for quiet recuperation are ruined by the effervescent, go-go dancing twink who has everyone wrapped around his little finger. Luckily for the gullible Matt, Jase can smell a liar a mile away, and Chris Bacon, if that’s even his name, stinks to high heaven. Assigned ‘Chris-sitting’ duty while Matt’s on honeymoon, Jase has a week to discover what is hidden beneath the bright camouflage. It’s a job, just like any other, so why does it feel so different?
Unfortunately, Jase isn’t the only one drawn to the boy who can’t stay still, but instead of wanting to reveal his true colours; they want to dull them forever.

Contains issues of physical abuse, but not between the central couple.

What an incredible story.  Emma Jaye, a new author for me, has written an angst filled, gritty book almost guaranteed to make you run through a range of emotions, not all of them welcome.  I was very surprised by the shift in tone and feel of the story from the beginning.  I was really expecting a different story than the one the author delivered.  From the blurb, it comes off  much lighter in theme and tone.  Not  so.  This is a dark story in almost every aspect and those expecting a light romance will be not only disappointed but find it  overwhelming in its pain and mystery at points. There is a gang rape.  Well handled, not as graphic as it could have been but its there. And the aftermath on the character is realistic and horrific.  But lets back up. I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

Jase Rosewood…layered complicated man, home with his planned career gone and his future uncertain meets Chris while at his best friend’s wedding.  A best friend who he used to be in love with.  Oh the complications.  But that’s all very straightforward because Chris Bacon is a Rubik’s Cube of a character.  He’s really beautifully written.  Jaye take’s her time showing us and Jase one side, only to start ripping that to shreds the next, unveil another, then that one is gone too.  Its done  with such angst, pain, and vulnerability on the part of Chris that our heart just bleeds for him and Jase, and all around him.  His past has  taught Chris one thing, his present is trying to show him another is possible and Chris can’t believe in a future for himself.  Its heartbreaking.  As much as Jase tries to protect Chris, and Chris wobbles between his past and present, the reader is caught up in the author’s scary storyline and both their lives.

There are any number of mysteries here.  A relationship between Jase and Chris that tries hard to find itself, an almost impossible feat given the characters and the circumstances surrounding them.  Things that I cannot go into because this whole book is one big spoiler, one small mention can lead to you knowing what’s coming in the next.

But my biggest disappointment is that cliffhanger ending.  Its why this book didn’t get the 5 star rating it probably deserves.  I have rated other cliffhangers higher but those were serialized stories, meant to end in such a manner.  Not a novel.  A novel, for me at least, comes with a certain expectation of at least some ending, even though you can see where another story will pick up.  Not a ending like this.

The second book, Blank Canvas, is out.  Boy, am I going to approach that one with trepidation and a ton of curiosity.   I need to know what happened here but I’m afraid to know what this author will do to these outstanding characters and my heart in the process.  She’s really that good.  I guess I’ll be finding out.  I must know.  That means you will too.

So who should read this story?   Those who love their romances dark, angst filled and hurt/comfort.  This is not for those who like sweet, light romances.  Emma Jaye is a new author and this is a terrific story.  Take a chance on it if it sounds like the type of love story you like.  I highly recommend it.  I’m on to book two.

Not crazy about the cover.  Could have been so much better.

Sales Links

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

 

 

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 333 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by Purindoors Publications
Original TitleOptical Illusion
ASINB01KCB8UX0
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPaint:

 

A MelanieM Review: Blood and Ghosts (Blood #2) by Shira Anthony

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Blood and Ghosts coverWith vampire Nicolas Lambert’s marriage to a rival clanswoman only weeks away, Adrien Gilbert struggles to come to terms with his defeat at the hands of Verel Pelletier, a vampire hunter and an immortal like himself. Adrien and his former teacher, Roland Günter, begin to explore his newly acquired abilities. But without his soul’s sword, Adrien flounders.

On Nicolas’s wedding day, a two-hundred-year old secret is revealed, sending the wedding party into a blazing battle between hunters and vampires. Once again Adrien finds himself facing Pelletier’s superior strength. Just as Adrien believes all hope of a future with Nicolas is lost, he finally learns his true gift—he can turn back time. But time travel comes with a high cost. To save Nicolas, Adrien must become strong enough to use his power without descending into madness.

After the death and destruction of Blood and Rain (Blood #1), I was hoping for some resolution to some of the loose ends and ever expanding plot threads but I should have known better as Blood and Ghosts is the middle story of Shira Anthony’s Blood Trilogy.  This book only ups the drama, danger, and multiple timelines these characters seem to exist in.  And therein lies this story’s strengths and weaknesses.

Time travel can be an extremely tricky element in any story but especially in one where one of the main characters or perhaps more, switch time frames frequently within chapters or pages for that matter.  For me, this format worked in several ways.  As Adrien chases not only his enemy Pelletier through  time, he is also looking frantically for his beloved Nicholas, who Pelletier has stolen away (long story, you must read the first book for this one to make any sense at all).  As the search continues through multiple eras and time periods, an exhausted Adrien is carrying with him the knowledge of the future, and all the dangers that brings with it.  With each change, the suspense and anxiety increases along with Adrien’s anguish and physical exhaustion.  We can connect with the fact that he’s losing hope with each century he passes through.  Anthony’s format serves to involve us with Adrien’s emotions and pain as the search continues even as his enemy taunts him.  I liked seeing all the “different” Adriens that existed, even if we see them only briefly.  I also liked getting more of a sense of history behind the various feuds and vampire/hunter lore.  That also serves to solidify some of the world building laid down in the first story.  But there is a downside to all this time flipping, and that’s confusion and a tendency towards density.

There are so many different eras and time periods to keep track of and with them, different logistical nightmares and ever expanding plot threads that your mind can grow tired trying to keep track of them all and how they figure into whatever current situation Adrien is finding himself in at the time.   I had to refer back to my notes several times in order to figure out  who was where at what time and why.  I can see what Anthony was going for and its works in the long view, however, I also wished for a few less stops along the time continuum and a tighter time line for the story all together.   At one point we are just jumping around way too much for us to get a feel for the “Nicholas” seen or for the other characters that are involved, there’s just not enough “time” for that to happen.

Make no mistake, there are some very cool components here.  I loved all the action sequences and the stuff that happens with Adrien’s sword had me swooning with glee.  It was unexpected, wildly imaginative, and vividly realized.  And it also made other parts of the story pale in  comparison.    Now that was a battle.

And while Adrien is believably flawed, impatient, angry, and powerful, Nicholas remains a bit of a shadow character.  I was just starting to get a sense of him before the traumatic events of Blood and Rain.  Then nothing.  I find him even more elusive here than Adrien does, and the switching of personas through the centuries doesn’t help that.  I’m continually told that their love is eternal and they know it “through the blood”.  But I would have wished for more showing to help me connect with the person behind all the drama and events that happen.

Blood and Ghosts is the middle story in this trilogy and it ends on a heartbreaker of a cliffhanger, one I can’t wait to see the author write her way out of.  I thought it was a fascinating way to end this story as it supplies tons of questions with little answers, its thought provoking in a major way and the riddle it implies will keep you guessing until we get the answers in early 2016 which is when the final story, Blood and Eternity, will come out.   If you aren’t a fan of cliffhangers, perhaps you might want to wait and read all three stories one right after the other.   If you are like me and have the impulse control of a magpie, then go ahead and pick this up and see what happened after the carnage of Blood and Rain.

But if you are new to this trilogy, run back to the first story and start there otherwise you will find yourself lost in time, along with the characters here.  For all vampire lovers, this is a new take on vampire lore and vampire hunters.  This story and series is beautifully written, intricately plotted and heavy with elements and logistics.  And yes, there’s some hot men/vampires and sexy times too.  The time travel can get a wee bit wearying but hang in there, for the acton sequences and rocky journey to everlasting love worth every minute, hour, and year.  Now if only I could time travel my way to 2016 and get my hands on Blood and Eternity….

Cover art by Reese Dante. I’m not a fan of this cover, not sure why.  Perhaps its the models or the design color.  Either way, its more of a miss than hit.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 242 pages, available in DSP paperback too
Published April 20th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press (first published April 2015)
ISBN139781634761154
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.shiraanthony.com/books/blood-and-ghosts/
seriesBlood #2

Books in the Blood Trilogy are:

A MelanieM Review: Blind Stud (King of Hearts #1) (PF 2015) by Havan Fellows

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

In a world where supernatural creatures openly exist, who can blame them for coalescing in one of the most fascinating and erotic places on earth? Welcome to New Orleans.

Laurant likes sex…

Blind Stud, King of Hearts cover PF2015Who is Laurant?  An incubus of course, so the pleasures of the flesh aren’t just enjoyment, they’re food. However, Laurant isn’t attracted to women, but to men.  In his family, being a gay demon means you are the wrong type of demon. And that makes Laurant’s life more than a little difficult when your family looks down on you for your choice of food and companionship.

But all that changes when Laurant catches sight of a lost and alone human who definitely needs his help…a gorgeous young man about to become prey to the human sort of predator.  Once saved, a larger mystery looms.  That of the stranger himself who is a stranger…to himself.

What are you supposed to do when you blink your eyes and realize you have no idea who or where you are? Pretty sure the answer isn’t trust a sex demon with your life…all things considered that may be the lesser of two evils…

You just know a series is going to be captivating when the first character you meet is not only unapologetically outrageous and charismatic but also oozes with merriment and sex appeal.  That’s Laurant.  A incubus with the appetites of a succubus.  Laurant comes equipped with corny pickup lines and the ability to make the local squirrels and any other living being around him, go into a sexual frenzied state.  He also has a more complex personality than is first apparent.  I think all readers will love Laurant upon introduction.  He’s a terrific character and Fellows did a great job in providing him with layers that makes one look past some of his more “eye rolling” actions and dialog.

But what or in this case who pulls at Laurant’s attention and needs is a young amnesiac he rescues off the streets in New Orleans.  First given the name “Vic” for victim by Laurant, the young man sets the incubus straight (kind of) and names himself for the street they are on.  For all the questions posed by his presence, Havan Fellows crafts a wonderful character who is a strong fascinating man behind the mystery and soon we are as drawn to him as Laurant is.

And yes, danger to both lurks just around the corner.  Fellows throws so many neat clues around the mystery man that I was making a list of bribes to offer her so she would tell me who and what he possibly might be.  And then that ending…

This story flew by so rapidly that it felt as though the ending appeared seconds after I started on page one.  Not true but I was so into this tale, that the story was over before I was ready for it to end.  For those of you for whom cliffhangers are beyond frustrating (you binge watchers know who I’m talking to), you just might want to wait for another story or two to come out.  Those readers who love to be surprised, stymied by plot and events, and who enjoy every minute of it, grab this up and start reading.

Round One is four stories and only two are out.  Each represents additional layers to the overall series and world building and you can see the stories start to interlock here as old and new characters appear.  But as interesting as those peripheral (for now) characters are, nothing and nobody will steal your  attention away from our couple here.  They are amusing and astonishingly equal in their interactions, sexually dynamic,  and just plain out engaging.  And they make this story unputdownable – yes, that’s a word and I’m sticking to it.

I highly recommend this story and its companion in the Altered States Pulp Friction 2015 combined story.  I’ve become a fan once more of serialized fiction and think you will feel the same.  If you are new to the Pulp Friction gang, once you’ve delved into these stories, go back and read the Pulp Friction series of 2013 and 2014…all terrific and must reads for me!

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Great cover, love the model and the branding at the bottom.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 49 pages
Published March 1st 2015 by Appleton Publishing Avenue
ASINB00U634T2Q
edition languageEnglish

 

About Pulp Friction 2015
Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner

The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
Four authors.
Four Series.
Twenty books.
One supernatural finale.

Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.
Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner

Not familiar with the Altered States series? Check them all out here:

Books in the Altered States Series in the order they should be read:
• Altered States (Altered States, #0.5) by Laura Harner and T. A. Webb
• Deep Blues Goodbye (Altered States, #1) by Laura Harner and T. A. Webb
• Deadly Shades of Gold (Altered States, #2) by Laura Harner and T. A. Webb
• Free Falling Crimson (Altered States, #3)  by Laura Harner and T. A. Webb (aka Tom Webb)

Review: Lying with Scorpions (Memory of Scorpions #2) by Aleksandr Voinov

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

If you lie with scorpions, you’d better have a taste for poison.

Lying with Scorpions coverNow that Adrastes, ex leader of the Scorpions and Kendras’s lover, has assumed the throne of Dalman along with his sister Queen, Kendras is finding himself increasingly out of his depths. He feels uncertain not only his own leadership of the Scorpions but of Adrastes the King. Kendras was brought up to fight, his enemy clear.  Now he is smothered in political games of treachery, poison and succession.  Even his past is shaken when old memories are stirred up of his childhood and parents.

Adrastes has a new role for the Scorpions, one which means leaving their centuries old rules and traditions behind to become a fighting army for the king.  Once Kendras would have followed Adrastes blindly but now he starts to have questions.  And with the arrival of the formidable Commander Graukar, General of the West, Kendras becomes even more unsettled.  Graukar is the opposite of everything that Adrastes seems to becoming.  Graukar is forthright, a formidable fighter, a person  unlike any Kendras has known before.  Now the future seems uncertain. What is the truth and what is false?  Can Kendras, the Officer and lover, still trust the man he risked everything to find and save?  Or is there more going on around Kendras that even he can imagine.

What a brutal and brilliant saga this is turning out to be.  In the first story of the series,Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions, #1), we are introduced to Kendras, member of the Scorpions, an elite fighting force that has been decimated by the constant warfare between the rival cities.  Kendras’ world has been a very straightforward place up until recently.  He had a mission, to find and rescue his Officer, the leader of the Scorpions who also happens to be his lover.  No person or obstacles kept Kendras from accomplishing his task.   His life is the Scorpions, a group of men who have become a family steeped in the traditions of this mercenary unit.  But by the end of that story, Adrastes, the Officer Kendras rescued turns out to be someone unexpected, a King. And upon assuming the throne, the title and responsibilities of the leadership of the Scorpions passes to Kendras.  Suddenly his life is overwhelmingly complicated and his loyalties stretched to include not just his close-knit band of fighters but a king and his political agenda.

One of the elements I appreciated with this story is the manner in which Voinov deepens his characterizations to compete with the equally evolving complexity of his plot.  With each new political intrigue or added plot layer the author unfolds a revelation about a character to ensure that all the elements remain in balance. Central to the story is the growth that Kendras must experience in order to cope with his ever changing (and precarious) position in almost every aspect of his life.   The author paints a very clear portrait of a man out of his depths, a “rank in file” soldier promoted to Officer, a position he reluctantly assumes.  His lover went from Officer of a small fighting corp to ruler of two city kingdoms and possibly more. Kendras used to be certain where he belonged and his role in the Scorpions, now everything around him feels like smoke and mirrors, leaving Kendras desperate to adjust.  The story is again told from Kendras’ point of view, and that provides the reader with a front seat to his confusion and increasing doubts about Adrastes, his role in the King’s life and indeed, the very future of the Scorpions themselves.

Voinov has a gift of creating characters that exude a  great vitality, a certain brutal realism that is perfect for the world they inhabit. This ability to believe in Kendras, Adrastes, Widow, and all the others makes it relatively easy to slide into their lives and the conflicts that arise around them.  Kendras is the core of the story and its through his eyes that we watch his world undergo fundamental changes that start to force him to question the very tenets of his life.   The introduction of new important characters is one aspect of the change in direction for both storyline and character growth.   It is also one of the most disconcerting elements of Voinov’s series.  Much like Game of Thrones, this is a savagely violent and ruthless world where conflict and death is the norm and lives are short lived.  It contains merciless killers, barbarous priests, and sadistic, conniving rulers.  Deceit and treachery are not only commonplace but almost necessary for survival.  Need I say that to get too fond of anyone in the series is probably a mistake?  Because everyone in this series seems expendable, perhaps even Kendras himself.

The author starts expanding his universe with this story.  New lands and seas are added, and the Jaishani themselves make a remarkable and stunning entrance into the story and Kendras’ life.  Richer in texture and more deeply layered, Lying with Scorpions is full of surprises and twists.  Like shards of glass, small bits of information are laid out for Kendras and the reader to ponder, wondering where they will fall and who they will cut the deepest.  Foreshadowing of the future or a deception designed to obscure instead of instruct?  A mask, a mosaic and even a legend, all have the ability to bring forth both shivers of dread as well as anticipation.  Just more of Voinov’s master storytelling at work.

Prepare to undergo as many changes as Kendras in your feelings towards all the characters here.  Some you thought trustworthy prove otherwise, and some show sides of themselves that will surprise you with their resourcefulness as well as their loyalties.  I loved the character of Lord/Lady Amrash as well as that of Runner.  Not surprisingly, I fear for their future in the next story, A Taste of Poison (Memory of Scorpions #3) coming soon.

I quickly became addicted to this series with Scorpion, and this story only saw that addiction deepen.  I am fascinated by the author’s ability to get under the reader’s skin with his  believable characters, imaginative plot and ever widening world building.  If you are a lover of warriors, of ancient kingdoms, of lust and loyalty and so much more, then this intense magnificent saga is for you.  Lying with Scorpions ends with a bit of a cliffhanger so I am desperately waiting for the next story to arrive.  I don’t expect any quick or neat resolutions nor do I want them.  It’s not Voinov’s style nor would it work for this character and series.  I will be content to let the anticipation build.

If you are new to the series, start with the first book, Scorpions (Memory of Scorpions #1).  There are two versions.  Make sure you  have the recently revised and redited one to start with.  The cover is the quickest indication you have the correct one.  Then more on to Lying with Scorpions.  It will take your breath away.  One of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Best of 2014.

Cover by Reese Dante.  At first I thought the subject of the cover was Kendras and the lack of blue eyes confused me. But the author informs me that the person on the cover is Adrastes,  who is half-caste,  being the son from a sacred marriage between the Jaishani Besh and Ashangul who is white.  He was chosen for the cover because the story is mostly about his rise to power.  He has brown eyes per the description in the first story in the series.

Books in the series in the order they should be read to fully understand the characters and complex plot are:

Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions #1)
Lying with Scorpions (Memory of Scorpions #2)
A Taste of Poison (Memory of Scorpions #3) coming soon

Book Details:

ebook, 317 pages
Published January 20th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published January 18th 2014)
ISBN139781626491106
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/lying-with-scorpions
series: Memory of Scorpions