A Jeri Review: Semper Fidelis Anthology (authors by S.A. McAuley , T.A. Chase , Devon Rhodes, LE Franks, Sara York, Kendall McKenna , Morticia Knight)

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Semper Fidelis Anthology CoverWhew! Extremely cut, shirtless guy on the cover. How can you not want to read that?

Six short stories are in this anthology, with only the common thread of the military. I think that is one of the things that I liked the most about it- all 6 stories were very different from the others.

Anomaly by S.A. McAuley

Warning: Untested chemical reactions in process…

When Staff Sergeant Galen Welc is handed Temporary Additional Duty orders that move him to the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, he thinks he’s prepared for what’s to come. Known for his uncanny ability to spot improvised explosive devices, he’s pitted against the latest in defense technology. He trusts his instincts and his training, but they may just be leading him somewhere—and to an explosive reaction with someone—he could never see coming.


This short involves a Marine involved in a study and a scientist who works at the same facility. I really enjoyed that they first connected through the phone app Waze. It’s nice to hear about “real life” things- especially since smart phones are such a part of life now.

Always Ready by T.A. Chase

Making a living on the Bering Sea is hard enough, but throw love into the equation, and things can blow into a hurricane.

Senior Chief Dean ‘Jake’ Jacobson loves his job as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. Saving lives is the second best thing he could ever do. The first is loving Phil ‘Rhody’ Rhodes.

Phil is a third generation crabber who fishes the Bering Sea. Being gay and in love with Dean isn’t something he talks about, especially not with the six men he lives with on the Angela Kayla for weeks on end. But he’s been happy with his life.

Until one day the Bering Sea reminds them that she is a dangerous place to work. As her icy waters surround them, they discover one truth. Dean and Phil must always be ready to love each other because life can be taken so easily when one works on the sea.

A Coast Guard rescue swimmer and a local crab fisherman who have been in a relationship for two years. Until it is time to move forward. I liked that this couple was already established and in the love. The story mostly involved them trying to figure out how to move forward.

A Ring and a Vow by Devon Rhodes

Every promise must someday be fulfilled, and the best way Owen knows how to reward Cary’s faith is with a vow.

It’s been nearly five years since Owen went down on one knee with his Academy ring and promised Cary he’d someday do it for real. With Cary being a Naval aviator and Owen a Marine officer serving in Iraq, they’re rarely on the same continent, let alone together.

About time for them to fill out paperwork to re-up, Owen realizes that if they were married, they’d have a much better chance of being stationed nearby. But time is not on their side so he’s forced to compromise on his proposal in order to make it work.

Cary has been waiting for Owen for years—there was no chance he’d ever say anything but yes. Owen is coming home at last, and wants to make a home with him. However, between the chronic nightmares he’s been fighting and the ever more complicated wedding plans, the next month could be anything but a dream.


Two military men trying to figure out how to stay together when they could be restationed separately. And then they realize that since DADT was over turned and gay marriage was now legal- they can get married and apply for Joint Spouse. Very romantic and cute

 

My Marine by LE Franks and Sara York

For a man who made his career in intelligence, falling for an Afghani national in the middle of a war zone wasn’t the smartest thing a Marine could do.

Marine Captain Sean Kelley loves his country and the men he serves with, but when he meets Akim, he’s tempted to throw it all away for the mysterious man. He knows better than to chase after a local, but repeat encounters culminating in a moment of passion leave him reeling—he’ll do almost anything to figure out how they can be together.

Akim Bijan has a secret of his own—one large enough to get more than just himself killed if it’s revealed. But from the moment he first lays eyes on the handsome Marine, he’s tempted to do just that rather than hide his growing attraction to the man. Being a translator allows him access to the base and he finds Sean alone one night. They take things farther than he ever intended. If only he could tell Sean everything, but his lips are sealed.

When tragedy strikes, Akim is afraid he’s lost Sean for good and he’s forced to make a decision that will change both their lives. Will love win, or will Sean and Akim be separated for


I think this was my favorite of the 6. A Marine in Afghanistan falls for an Afghan native. Even though he is totally off limits, and the Marine is set to go home soon, sparks fly.

Soul Sick by Kendall McKenna

amie thought he made it home to Tucker, leaving war behind. Now, each day he battles to fit into his own life, and save the love that saved his life.

Jamie is a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps who carried a photo of Tucker with him throughout his deployment. His body and his heart both make it home, but he isn’t sure about his sanity. It no longer feels like his own life even fits.

Tucker is a reformed bad boy who has an advanced degree and an important job but still sports long hair and tattoos. He missed Jamie while he was on deployment, but he couldn’t stop living his own life. Now, they’re struggling to learn to live with one another again, and things are going downhill fast.

Jamie wants everything to be the way it used to, but his anger and self-destructive behaviour begin to push Tucker away. Too much alcohol and a night of violence inside their home take them nearly to the brink. Tucker is willing to fight alongside Jamie to keep it all from falling apart, if Jamie can learn to accept the help he needs…before it’s too late.

Since I had a favorite, I have to have a least favorite. A Marine coming back from war is haunted by his experiences there. To the point where he hurts the man he loves. His boyfriend encourages him to get help and be the man he was before war. Or they would be over. Least favorite because he seemed to “get better” too easily.

Safe Shores by Morticia Knight

Kirk’s Coast Guard lover, Shane, is the only person who can save his son from a vicious gale storm – if he’s not too late.

Fishing is the only life that Kirk has ever known. Born and raised in a small town on the Northern Oregon Coast, coming out of the closet was a struggle. Fortunately, he’s been lucky to find an amazing man to be with who serves in the Coast Guard. But he can’t help but wonder whether Shane wants more than just a shore leave romance.

Shane loves the Coast Guard, loves the sea. That’s one of the main things he has in common with his fisherman lover, Kirk. He just needs to make sure that Kirk knows how serious he is about their relationship and what he plans on doing about it.

Shane and Kirk’s joyful reunion is interrupted when a vicious gale storm threatens the coast. Kirk has to stand by helplessly and wait while his lover battles the raging seas to save his son. In an instant, Kirk could lose everyone he holds dear.

Another Coast Guard/ fisherman story- but different from the previous. I liked that there was an age difference and the two of them really compromised to be together.

This was a really great anthology to read. As I said previously, I liked how all of the books were different. You weren’t reading the same story six different ways. If you like hot, alpha military men- definitely give this a read.

Sexy cover!

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

Book Details:

ebook, 213 pages
Published January 23rd 2015 by Totally Bound Publishing
ISBN1784304301 (ISBN13: 9781784304300)
edition languageEnglish
settingCalifornia (United States)
Alaska (United States) Virginia (United States)

A Bj Review: Unconventional In San Diego Anthology (Authors Carol Lynne, Amber Kell, T.A. Chase, Jambrea Jo Jones, Devon Rhodes)

Overall Rating:   3.75 stars out of 5

Unconventional In San Diego Anthology coverThis anthology features stories by Carol Lynne, Amber Kell, TA Chase, Jambrea Jo Jones, and Devon Rhodes; the stories are tied together by a common setting, a paranormal club/bar in San Diego named Unconventional.

Fate’s Bridge by Carol Lynne – 2.75 stars


Vampire Roman Gschwind discovers the soul of his lost love inside the body of another. Having promised not to turn his love, he has no choice but to allow his brother Alexi to do so in order to save his life. But now he must decide if he’s willing to share his love with another vampire in order to rekindle what he lost?

This one started well, but quickly became disjointed for me. This story has quite a lot of M/M/M sex and very little buildup of sexual tension beforehand, which made it a bit flat for me. There wasn’t a lot of character development, especially of Alexi, and that combined with lower levels of UST than I prefer kept me from forming a connection to the characters. Reincarnation is an interesting theme, so I was looking forward to that aspect. Julian and Roman’s story was touching, and the ending gave it such a bittersweet twist that it made me teary. But I think the story suffered because of length and moving too fast, especially at the beginning.

Coming in Third by Amber Kell – 3.5 stars

Niall is a fae prince who’s fifth in line for the throne, and his mother wants him wed. When Niall sneaks out of the palace to fulfill a fantasy of having two men, he winds up at Unconventional faced with a pair of lion shifters looking to spice up their love life. After a night with him, Jovan and Luka’s shifter instincts tell them the innocent fae could be their long sought mate—the one fated to be theirs. But Niall’s guards cart him back to the palace and a possible arranged marriage. Will the shifters go after him or let it be the one-night stand Niall had offered?

For those who might be bothered by it, be aware that this one has some abuse (past/off page) both from Niall’s domineering, controlling mother and the guards who string him up and whip him at his mother’s instructions. Niall is a magical fae, but the bindings his guards use strip away his magic. This is a case of an established couple bringing in a third who had been search for exactly such a situation, hence no jealousy or angst. I loved that Niall glowed when sated, and that despite being small, he was strong both physically and mentally (the former because of his magic). A cute story with some interesting world details and a satisfying ending. Some humor in this one. Also some rather weird metaphor use, some of which worked for me and others which totally didn’t.

The Unicorn Said Yes by T.A. Chase – 3 stars

Ivan Brusilov, king of the unicorns, goes to Unconventional for a drink and meets Carney Ferguson—a twenty-five year old human virgin. Turns out that innocence, and hence virgins, are irresistible to unicorns! But there are darker forces at work and neither Ivan nor Carney are safe and things are not as they seem.

This was cute at first but got to be confusing at parts. There was an awful lot of telling vs showing and some repetitiveness. I found it strange that they were both so into the Kinsey scale enough to have known their exact number ratings. I enjoyed Carney’s brother Jordan quite a bit. Many things about the way the story as a whole was told didn’t work so well for me, but the premise was quite unique and interesting and the tension and intrigue in the latter half was well done.

Blood on the Moon’ by Jambrea Jo Jones – 3.75 stars

Montague Ramey is a witch seeking exciting in his boring everyday life. Then came the night the moon turned red and his life changed. Kishar Nichelson’s is an incubus whose motorcycle ended up in a ditch on the road at midnight under the red moon and then stalled out on him. Someone’s after him, but he can’t remember what happened exactly and he’s weak from lack of sex that its hard for him to think. Can a witch and an incubus find love and solve a mystery on the night of the blood moon?

Montague is a rather sad, mousy man at the start of this story. And not really very appealing. This story, like the one before, had lots of telling vs showing at the start, but I liked how it tied in some characters from prior stories. There was a contradiction that bothered me and took me out of the story early on–him wishing out loud for something exciting to happen in one sentence and cowering from having even said it out loud in the next. Huh? BUT…

Kishar, on the other hand, was quite interesting from the start. An incubus who chooses to feed his need for sex with other paranormals rather than harm the delicate, fragile humans. And once the two are together, it starts to work for me. The head-hopping made it a bit hard to follow at parts, but I enjoyed seeing both characters grow and change once they found each other. Overall, it was a bit playful with some nice action and a sweet HEA.

A Sliver of Sunset by Devon Rhodes – 4.25 stars

Angelo is the only paranormal known to ever have leukemia, and the doctors are mystified as to the cause. To cure himself, he must repress his shifter side with a chemical inhibitor so he can go through chemotherapy as a human. Dominic hooked up with hottest guy and spent a night having the best sex ever, but wakes to find his lover gone. A week later, he meet a new oncology patient to find the same man fighting for his life and dependent upon his care.

This is by far my favorite story in this anthology. Angelo intrigued me from when I read about him in one of the earlier stories, and I hoped we’d get more about him. Glad I was right. More than any of the other stories, this one gave a sense of being set in San Diego (where I lived for some years in the past). This anchor story of the collection also did an excellent job of tying all the stories together.

I won’t give away exactly what sort of paranormal Angelo is, since that’s a fun part of the story to learn as you go. I don’t usually like to read stories in which one of the MC has cancer (or any possibly fatal disease), but this was an exception. This is well-written, well-paced and all-around enjoyable read.

The cover is appealing; picturing the cityscape and two hot guys in sunglasses, so it has a definite San Diego feel and caught my eye. However, I don’t think it gave me much of a feel for the stories within as nothing about it says paranormal.

Sales Links: Pride Publishing |  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 198 pages
Published July 11th 2015 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781784306878
edition languageEnglish
other editions (1)
Unconventional in San Diego

Review of Unconventional at Best Anthology

Rating: 3.5 stars

Unconventional at Best is an anthology from six authors of stories featuring romance in and around conventions.  GayRomLit convention last  year provided the inspiration for this selection of stories by Carol Lynne, TA Chase, Amber Kell, Jambrea Jo Jones, Stephani Hecht, and Devon Rhodes. The stories run the gamut of lovers reunited, best friends to lovers, alien love, geek love, confectionary love and love among tops and it all occurs at a convention.

I found this anthology to be a fifty fifty proposition.  Out of 6 stories,only three kept me completely entertained, staying with me once I was done with the anthology.  The others remained just nice stories, forgotten as soon as I put them down.

Here are the ones that stayed with me. I think they are just wonderful stories.

‘Ninja Cupcakes’ by T.A. Chase

Ethan Gallagher is a baker of very special talents.  His cupcakes are not only delicious confections but when certain ingredients are added, downright magical.  When Ethan and his business partner agree to supply the desserts for his brother’s sci-fi convention, it presents the perfect opportunity for Ethan’s floury confections to work their particular magic on certain participants, including an astrophysicist Ethan has been corresponding with for four years. With just the right timing and the special ingredients, Ethan bakes cupcakes that insure that love is in the air or desserts.  Or perhaps we should say Ethan insures that  everyone gets their just desserts!

This is a delicious little story.  I have always found that cooking, or in this case baking, and magic were natural combinations. T.A. Chase does a terrific job of doing just that in Ninja Cupcakes.  From that great title to Chase’s wonderful characters, I just loved this story and wished to see them all again once I was done. This is fun, frothy and still is grounded in realistic characters that capture your hearts. Ethan and Callum were an especially endearing couple.  I wish I had their story, complete with how they first met, and what happening to each of them during their four year correspondence.T.A Chase, this would make a wonderful story.  Just saying.

‘Operation: Get Spencer’ by Jambrea Jo Jones:

“Even if superpowers were real, Benjamin still might not get his man.”  Good friends Benjamin and Spencer are spending the day at Comic-Con, something Spencer has always wanted to do.  Benjamin has a surprise for Spencer to go with their day at Comic-Con.  Benjamin intends to tell his friend that he is in love with him and decides the convention is the perfect time to reveal it.  The problem?  Spencer believes Benjamin is straight and with good reason as Benjamin has told everyone he is straight over and over again.  But Ben hopes that a convention where everything is possible is the perfect place to make Spencer believe in his love.

Friends to lovers and gay for you, both happen here in this story about sexuality, perceptions and fear of change.  Jones takes two completely recognizable characters and brings them together at Comic-Con for her story of friends and lovers.  Ben has been so busy denying that he is gay that everyone believes Ben is straight even if Ben no longer believes it himself.  His best friend Spencer is gay and they have always done everything together. But recently Ben has discovered that his feelings for Spencer go beyond friendship and into romantic love, but how to tell his best friend?

Jambrea Jo Jones makes us laugh and sympathize with Ben and Spencer throughout it all.  From Ben’s mishaps, missteps and outright screwing up his announcement, we are still on his side and hope he gets his man.  Spencer is authentically confused about Ben’s change of heart regarding his sexuality, we understand his point of view as well.  He doesn’t want to mess up his relationship with his best friend, his confidant, and we get that too. Somehow it all comes together in a satisfying end back where they started it all – Comic-con.

‘Fan-Tastic’ by Stephani Hecht

“Everybody knows the best lovers are geeks.” The setting this time is the annual Comic Book and Horror Convention.  Here Deke Masters, a well-known actor in a zombie TV show is ordered to appear on a panel for his show.  Also in attendance is Blake Tallision.  Blake is trying to sell his comic book Star Cats and other items that he has been working on so hard.  Blake also has a crush on Deke going back to their school days.  Even then Deke was a star and Blake the nerd hiding in the shadows of the stage.  To Blake’s amazement, Deke is a fan of Star Cats.  The convention turns out to be the perfect stage for a romance neither saw coming.

This was my favorite story of the anthology. In Deke Masters and Blake Tallision author Hecht gives us characters worth cheering for.  Blake is an especially memorable one.  In pursuit of his art, he has starved himself, living in the basement of his abusive mother’s home, almost despairing of making it.  Blake was so real I could see his skeletal frame and intense features. His vulnerability drew me in and kept me there. Deke also came across a fully realized human being, a guy who has worked to get where he is now but misses being wanted for just himself.  While Blake wants nothing more than to be noticed by Deke, when that happens, Blake is believably wary and insecure, not seeing himself as others do. Deke is perfect for him, the normal guy who just happens to be a tv star, he understands Blake’s struggle because he was once at that stage himself. Everything about this story from the dialog to the characters just cried out for a larger version, especially to delve further into the relationship between Blake and his mother who had a secret she was hiding from him.  Great job.