An Alisa Review: For a Unicorn’s Happiness (Legendary Shifters #2) by Catherine Lievens

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Toby has known little more than loneliness since he was taken from his home and his family was killed. He’s a prisoner, forced to heal the members of the gang that bought him from the men who kidnapped him.

Until he’s not.

Camden didn’t expect to find out that Sam’s brother, the brother who was sold to a gang, is his mate. He’s not sure where to go from here. Toby is understandably wary and cautious, and most of the time, he won’t let Camden close enough to talk to him. Camden doesn’t have a problem giving him the time and space he needs, but they might not have much of it.

When the envoy from another pack arrives and demands Camden give up one of the unicorn shifters, Camden refuses, even though he knows the Rosewood pack doesn’t stand a chance. The pack is small, and its members aren’t warriors. He’s not about to give Toby or Sam up, but he has no idea how his people are going to deal with this—or if they’ll make it out alive.

Another enjoyable story.  Toby and Camden slowly start to navigate a friendship and then a relationship.  I don’t know something about this story just seemed to drag and I had a hard time keeping with it.

I felt that the drama with the Springfield pack was drawn out and the in between was Camden trying to figure out how to keep Toby and Sam safe and Toby worrying about trusting people.  I really liked the two brothers that came to help and like that they will continue to be around since one of them found his mate.  I’ll continue to read this series and I like this author though at times the writing can be very predictable.

I like the cover art by Angela Waters and the visuals for the characters.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 161 pages

Published: September 20, 2019 by eXtasy Books

ISBN: 9781487426255

Edition Language: English

Series: Legendary Shifters #2

An Alisa Review: Pack Strap Carry (Carry Me #9) by Charlie Richards

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When a successful lawyer meets the man of his dreams, he discovers the differences in their stations isn’t the only thing he must overcome.

Patrick Dolcet is hired by a friend of an ex-boyfriend to represent him when he enters a custody battle. While stopping at the client’s place for a consultation, he comes across a man who pushes every last one of his buttons. Brand Erdogan is big, brawny, and has a friendly smile. Patrick isn’t certain if the attraction is mutual, and Brand seems reluctant to start anything…for a few reasons. The man doesn’t consider himself gay, or even bisexual. On top of that, Brand thinks Patrick—a successful custody lawyer—is way out of his league. With a little help from a friend, Brand agrees to join Patrick for dinner…and then another. Even though their actions are discrete, someone has it in for Patrick. When pictures of Patrick and Brand in a compromising position threaten not only his job, but his relationship with Brand, Patrick has to rely on the trust they’ve built. Will the chance at love be enough to keep Brand at Patrick’s side? Or will one too many obstacles tear their possible future apart?

This was a nice story.  Patrick and Bran meet by chance and hit it off right away.  I loved how accepting Brand was of this new attraction and then his relationship with Patrick.  Patrick is dealing with a crazy stalker, though I know stalkers have mental issues I thought it was really strange that this man fixated on Patrick so much when they had only met up the once.

I love the friendships in this series.  I have read a few but not necessarily in order but I don’t think it affects the stories for me.  Patrick is so strong and I could see how he doesn’t want to burden Brand but Brand quickly shows him that he can be someone to lean on and trust.  I though Brand was adorable, he just jumps in with both feet, led by his stomach, but fully accepts what he feels and what it means for his life.

The cover art by Angela Waters is nice and I liked the visuals of both of the MCs.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 143 pages

Published: June 7, 2019 by eXtasy Books

ISBN: 978-1-4874-2589-0

Edition Language: English

Series: Carry Me #9

A Chaos Moondrawn Review : Tarragon (Rise of the Symbionts #4) by Jo Tannah

Standard

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

This is the fourth book in the series, but it’s a prequel. The first three books mention Tarragon, the first and greatest of the technomage kings of Oryon. He became king at 18. This is the story of how he came to have a symbiont, and planned for the survival of his family, setting the stage for everything in the last three books. Yet, this can also be read as the first book without any problems: the other three must be read in order. Having said that, this ends abruptly leading me to believe this will also be a trilogy about how the symbionts in the first book came about.

Although there is a Council of Kings, the Capricis and Zaruthrans attacked the Dacrons, leading to years of war. Tarragon is the last of his line, becoming king on his eighteenth birthday. While his father insisted that he fight his magic, when they are close to being defeated, he embraces it. Not trained to either be king, or to use his magic, he turns to the mountain mages to help him and learns history of his world that was lost to his kingdom. With his Guardian, Brenn, he finds the will and allies he needs to fight his enemies and save his vassals. He plans to change Oryon so mages are no longer shunned due to fear.

The loss, deaths, and Tarragon psychically comforting his clan in their grief, is heartbreaking. Tarragon and Brenn becoming lovers, while a huge complication, was inevitable. The characters are cast about from one entertaining emergency to another, but that doesn’t hide some of the issues. The broken trust, not once but twice, between him and Brenn is never addressed. The fact that no other king has kept tabs on Kayel, for both their technology and their mages seems astonishing to me. After all, they do sell the technology to other kingdoms. There is never a good explanation for how the magic and technology work together (in any of the four books). The reader is just supposed to accept these things work because they are told they do. I would have liked to avoid the cliche of phrases like “once in every generation” and the idea that Tarragon is the being of a long held prophesy. There are abrupt shifts of mood between scenes on occasion, as well as the emotions and responses of the characters are sometimes uneven. Still, the whole thing is imaginative. There is something about these books or else I wouldn’t keep reading them. I have to know what happens, flaws and all, so I would recommend trying them if you want an easy science fiction romance without too much world-building or hard science.

The cover art by Angela Waters matches the other book covers. It establishes the magical and science fiction nature of the story whilst showing Tarragon how I pictured him except for that strange fur collar.

Sales Links: Extasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, First, 160 pages
Published April 12th 2019 by Extasy Books
Original TitleTarragon
ISBN139781487424589
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesRise of the Symbionts #4

An Alisa Review: The Romantic by Elodie Parkes

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

When Ethan Goss decides to ease a broken heart by finding a new apartment, he never dreams that he’ll also find the love of his life.

Handsome Luke Kirby loves books so when he finds boxes of old and beautiful tomes in a dusty shop, he can’t resist buying them. To his delight one of them contains what he hopes will bring an end to his loneliness and heartache. As he prepares to cast an ancient prayer-spell to the god of love, across town Ethan Goss decides that moving to a new apartment will ease his broken heart.

With the help of an eccentric real estate agent, gorgeous Ethan goes to a viewing in the block where Luke lives.

When Luke meets Ethan in the lobby, it’s the start of a passionate love affair.

Fate hasn’t finished with the two handsome men—will true happiness evade them both?

Alright, this was an interesting premise and executed pretty well but it just seemed off to me.  I liked Luke’s openness to find love though how he felt so desperate for it after only a couple months was a little desperate and Ethan was kind of the same.

They both had an instant attraction and pretty much jumped in together.  I don’t know but I didn’t feel it, I get that they were pretty much meant to be soul mates but it just fell into place way too easily.  I always love a happy ending but it just came so fast it didn’t work in my head.

The cover art by Angela Waters is nice and I liked the visual of the character together.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 79 pages

Published: January 4, 2019 by eXtasy Books

ISBN: 978-1-4874-2304-9

Edition Language: English

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Blessed (The Matawapit Family #1) by Maggie Blackbird

Standard

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Ten years ago Emery Matawapit broke Darryl Keejik’s heart, by chosing obedience to his parents over the love he shared with Darryl. Emery’s father Nathan is the church deacon and Darryl still holds a grudge. Emery comes home from Saint Michael’s Seminary six months before he’ll enter the priesthood to address the past, and ask for Darryl’s forgiveness for the way their friendship ended. Darryl is now part of the Traditionalists Society’s mission to preserve and teach the Anishinaabe ways. The deacon is scared they’ll yank the monthly donation to his church for their hydo bill. When the church asks for even more money to hold a Healing the Spirit workshop developed by the diocese to reconcile First Nations and Christian communities, all heck breaks lose. The workshop is supposed to help recovery for the generations traumatized by the Indian Residential Schools the Canadian Government imposed on the Indigenous people throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Old hurts against the church bubble to the surface causing political problems for the reserve and personal problems for our MCs.

This book is an emotional journey and anyone with a complicated relationship with Christianity whilst supporting LGBTQIA+ people might want to read it. Where I live we just had our first Pride event and it was interesting to see which churches came and were supportive. In many ways, Protestantism is geared to be more supportive of queer people, but that doesn’t always work in practice. The issue taken up here is Catholicism and how it related to the “two spirit” on the reserve. There are many times where the author tries to say Creator and God are the same, making prayer the same whether it is the Anishinaabe way or the Catholic way. While I actually agree personally, the official Catholic and Christian line is that you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God or you are not saved and are going to hell. A lot of this book tries to justify this position of these different faiths being equal or compatible in a way that is not defensible; if that church was a Unitarian Universalist one, we might be able to have a different discussion, but not when the church is Catholic. While the Catholic (and Mormon) church may allow queer people as long as they never actually have sex, I have a difficult time understanding why anyone who believes the Lord made people the way they are would tell them that they can never experience physical love with the person they are in love with. I also can’t understand why a queer person would choose to be part of a church like that when there are churches that have a more nuanced understanding of scripture, that use proper academic translations rather than radical paraphrasing, and learn about the actual historical context of the bible, that would accept them as they are. For full disclosure, I was Christian and went as a missionary to evangelize at one point, but after studying early church history, latin, and medieval pilgrimage, as well as traveling in different countries, I became pagan. I say this because I don’t care if queer people choose to be Christian, I just don’t understand choosing a particular church that thinks queer people are abominations–that seems unhealthy. Also, I don’t have to understand, I just have to be supportive.

I like reading about some of the Anishinaabe traditions. The book doesn’t shy away from tough topics such as alcoholism, sexual abuse, and inherited trauma. I do wish Darryl was a little toned down at the beginning; he is so angry it’s off putting and comes across as immature, his constant profanity is coarse. Emery’s dad is controlling and scared his son will make a decision he doesn’t want without constant supervision. Even though he comes around in the end, it is difficult to like him. Many of the characters are difficult to like until the end and I feel this would have benefited from more time being spent with Father Arnold, Emory’s spiritual advisor, or Darryl’s spiritual advisor Basil. These two men make the most sense in the whole book–wanting what is best for everyone without forcing an agenda, giving advice but letting them make their own decisions. It was good to watch Emery listen to his heart and stand up for living his own life when the cost for him was so high. I have to say there are some awkward transitions between scenes. The sex scenes weren’t particularly erotic as the author uses some strange word choices like “tingles” and “hot shivers” repeatedly: “the ripeness in Darryl’s crotch teetered on bursting.” Part of me feels this would have been more successful faded to black, while the other part of me recognizes that would defeat the point, which is that sex between two men in love is natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Sex scenes are incredibly difficult to write and are subjective to judge as not everyone will like the same thing, so it might just be me.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book. I like reading about other cultures and points of view, so I’m glad I read it. There were things that didn’t work for me. In the end, it was good to see Darryl and Emory grow both together and in spirit. Keep in mind after ten years apart, this takes place within three weeks so developing the relationship longer would have added more emotional impact and made everyone’s reactions hold more weight at the end.

The cover art by Martine Jardin is how I pictured the characters. While I am not generally a fan of cover models floating in the sky, in this case, it is actually fitting.

Sales Link:  Extasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published July 6th 2018 by eXtasy Books Inc
ASIN B07F6DL98W
Edition Language English

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Italian Weddings and Funerals (Italian Stallions #1) by A.J. Llewellyn

Standard

Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

Luca Dell’Oro is the owner of an event planning business in California. He takes a job in Italy to cater a funeral for an Italian opera singer. The client is a grieving widower, the man Luca loved in sixteenth-century Italy. Luca is a vampire, but how is Francesco still alive? That seems obvious, but the details are sad and Francesco has many reasons to hold a grudge. At first, we’re not sure what his motives are for hiring Luca to bury his wife, Elettra. I will say the blurb is a little misleading, almost to misdirect you about the plot when there isn’t a lot of plot to begin with. This is a pretty straightforward second chances story with a lot of baggage.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t expect this to be so funny. Everything in the first half of the book is entertaining. Luca does like to hear himself think. His reminiscences allow us to get to know him. Italian Weddings and Funerals, which he runs from his home, allows him to stay involved in the life around him. I loved learning about his unique vampiric powers little by little. He seems a man content in his life and in charge of his surroundings. He has hired an interesting cast of quicky employees. I was drawn in by the descriptions of them from Luca’s point of view. Unfortunately most of them are either not there or fade into the background during the second half of the book. The new characters we meet are not fleshed out. Even the man Luca shares a room with in Italy is barely mentioned.

In the second half, the tone changes which makes sense going from planning a wedding, to planning a wake. Still, Luca also changes when he arrives in Italy and the book seems to be more wrapped up in what is happening around him. In many ways, he ran away from Italy, his friends, his lover, his life–oh, there were reasons, but this is the first time he has had to confront his losses. It seemed strange to me that although Luca is quite wealthy, he chooses to cater for a living and basically be the help, and be treated as such by those who were once his equals. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a form of self punishment for being a vampire, like denying himself food and love. He also seems to have been in mourning for centuries, never really living once separated from Francesco. I’m not sure I like this new Luca. But, Luca is a much more solid person as compared to Francesco, who comes across as selfish and weak–bound by the expectations of others and definitely spoiled.

The sex scenes are well written and explicit, but don’t seem meant for titillation so much as just part of what happens. Vampires like sex and blood, so if it will bother you for the main characters to have sex with others in the same story, be warned. I wonder if we will see Luca’s lover Keefe again since we spent so much time with him before Italy, although this too now seems like a pattern for Luca.

I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the way it ended, however it was also an abrupt turnabout. I mean they have been separated for centuries and jump right back into being together. Don’t you think they might have changed a bit over time? Wouldn’t they get to know each other again, and I mean for longer than a couple of weeks? Also, Francesco did seem to care for his wife to have spent 500 years with her and he really hasn’t had any time to mourn. It will be interesting to see how things develop in book two because nostalgia and memories are quite different than daily reality and right now, I think Luca deserves better. I also liked Luca better as a character without Francesco, or maybe just the humor and confidence he showed in his home environment in California. I would call this a HFN (happy for now.)

The cover art is by Martine Jardin. It has an old fashioned sepia feel and shows a place they spent time together in the past when they were young lovers and both met Elettra.

Sales Links:  eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 109 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by eXtasy Books (first published March 14th 2011)
ISBN139781554878253
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lucy Review: Stumbling in the Dark by Deja Black

Standard

Rating: 3 stars  out of 5

In this novella, 94 pages on my iPad, we have Jake, a 12-year-old boy who has been abused by his stepfather and his mother.  While on a camping trip Jake runs away,  knowing that to stay would be tantamount to worsening abuse.  His stepfather sounds like a pedophile and has been watching Jake a little too much, between all the verbal and physical abuse.  “He’d had to struggle to move out of Brad’s spidery touches when they were just a little too much to the left of weird as he gripped Jake and yanked him close…” Jake is lucky enough to run to the circus, where a lovely circus couple, Colleen and Leonardo, realize the abuse and take him in as their own.   They become the mom and dad Jake should have had. I loved that immediately, when Jake’s biological mother and stepfather come looking for him, Colleen asks if Jake’s family had come.  “No, amore mio. Not his family.  A woman and a man.”   He knows right away there’s something not right.

Fast forward ten years and Jake is now 22 and a knife thrower in the circus.  He has been in love with Blaine, the lion tamer, since he was young but Blaine has never shown any interest in him.  We are told this has happened but we don’t see it, we don’t see their history. Jake says Blaine treats him like a child but again, we aren’t shown that.  Since Blaine doesn’t want Jake, Jake tries to soothe himself by sleeping around.

What I loved were Jake’s parents, especially Colleen.  She is the catalyst for Blaine getting his head out of his butt.  “Now, we can continue this conversation, or you can intercede before he’s found another vapid fool to dip his cock in.”  She pulls no punches and she wants her boy happy.

There were things that just didn’t work for me.  Blaine not bothering to even attempt to mention the shifter aspect until after he’s done something permanent, the whole dream aspect, and the fact that Blaine says “I wondered what to do because I couldn’t envision leaving you…” yet that was exactly what he had planned to do, so that was confusing.

All in all, it was probably just too short to make the story rich.  I needed more backstory of the Pride, to be shown more instead of just told, and even more of Jake’s biological parents. They just drop out of the picture. I wish the book had been longer with more detail, I would have connected with it more.

The cover art, a headless very muscled torso, must be a stock cover because I just read another book, Lush Lunches, with the exact same cover.

Sales LInks:  Extasy Books  | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 34 pages
Published June 14th 2018 by Extasy Books
ISBN139781487419325
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review: Step Into Love (Taboo Love #2) by Lili Draguer

Standard

Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Colton Johnson has successfully buried the crazy attraction he feels for his younger stepbrother for so long, he can pretend he’s not attracted to Asher at all. Graduating and dealing with the daily chore that is his bipolar disorder are the only two things on his mind. Then Colton makes the impulsive decision to accept his stepmother’s invitation to visit. What Colton doesn’t know is that Asher has been making plans.

With boundless enthusiasm, good looks, and endless amounts of persistence Asher Miller usually gets what he wants. The one plan that hasn’t worked out for him is falling in love. He never thought his off limits, damaged, hot-as-sin stepbrother would be the one to catch his heart. For years Asher has squashed down his forbidden desire but now he’s eighteen, he’s following Colton’s footsteps to college…and all bets are off. It’s time to take the steps that will seduce Colton into love.

I enjoyed this story and liked that they gave a glimpse of what a relationship can be life with someone who is bi-polar.  As my spouse is it hits close to home for me, there are times that they can never think anything positive and it can be a struggle.  Colton has worked hard to keep his hand off his step brother and when Asher starts to come onto him it sends him running.  Asher knows what he wants and isn’t scared to go for it, even if he has to push a little bit.

I liked both of these characters.  Asher is quite mature for his age and the openness he has with his mom helps the situation also.  Colton has to deal with a jerk of a father while trying to succeed at school, when Asher stands up to his father it gives him the chance to see that there is someone who would want to be with him.  We get to see how both of them feel and their reactions to what the other does.

The cover art by Latricia Waters is cute and gives a nice visual of the characters.

Sales Links: Extasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 102 pages

Published: June 29, 2018 by Extasy Books

Edition Language: English

Series: Taboo Love #2

A MelanieM Review: A Trust to Follow (Wild Magics #1) by Diana Waters

Standard

Rating: 1.75  stars out of 5

 

Daymon is the second prince of a kingdom in which Evokers—those who possess intuitive magical abilities—have long since been treated with fear and mistrust. Marked as an Evoker himself, Daymon is captured by those who wish to take advantage of these powers. Now, the prince must put his faith in Rhyder, the captain of his guards—and the man Daymon has claimed as his own—to free him.

It’s never a good thing when the blurb gives you more world building than the actual story.  But that, and much more (or actually much less) happens in A Trust to Follow (Wild Magics #1) by Diana Waters.

I was drawn to the tale by the synopsis as this was a new author for me.  It has such possibilities.  All of which remain hard to find here because the reader will be scrabbling for anything to hold onto once they start into this disorganized mess of a story.

There is almost zero world building so you have little idea about the Evokers, the history of the kingdom although you will get some about Daymor’s childhood.  Wisps really.  All done in “memory flashbacks”.  Because for most of the story Daymor is a prisoner and the story/action is actually happening around him.

This means that the author need not describe anything int he story that would ground his “abduction/attempts to rescue/actual rescue” in any emotional or action worthy way or other characters.  Even on Daymor himself.  Yes, its all missing in “action”.  So the story is merely Daymor as a prisoner (floating in a narrative bubble) as nebulous “action” maybe occuring around him that you have no idea what it is and why is is happening.

The whole story just makes no sense. Neither do any of the characters.  Especially when they talk about making some difference with Evokers at the end.  Really?  When did that happen?

If you are a fan of Diana Waters, than this is a book for you.  For all others, I’ll leave the choice up to you.  It’s not one I would recommend myself.

Cover art: Erin Dameron-Hill. Cover art is lovely but would make one think its a space novel or involve more magic than this actually does.  Misleading but lovely.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 64 pages
Published June 1st 2018 by eXtasy Books Inc (first published May 26th 2016)
ASINB07DCK5BJ1
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWild Magics #1

An Alisa Review: Jordan and the Secret Pack by Sam Magna

Standard

Rating:  2 stars out of 5

Taking a short break from touring around the world Derek and his closest friend Lisa set out to snowy Mount Triffle. Their hasty departure proves to be fruitful when they find a cheerful welcome in a local club. They link up with a jazz band and the lead, Troy, invites them into their home. Derek soon finds out that there is deeply felt affection growing for the mysterious one named Jordan.

Jordan has a quiet, sinister nature about him that peaks Derek’s interest. In a wave of unseen emotions, they follow each other without being aware, while exploring the formidable landscape of the mountain. When Jordan finally reveals himself to Derek, the dread of discovering a hidden monster is short-lived. Derek wants to help the tormented werewolf, and keeping him close genuinely seems to him to be worthwhile.

This story really did not hit the mark for me.  Derek is visiting with his friend and meets Jordan.  Jordan warns Derek off but doesn’t stay away and soon Derek is involved in Jordan’s problem.

I could not connect with the characters in this story and also did not like the sex scene, they were completely unrealistic for male-male pairings.  There were also many time jumps that I lost what was going on and the end of the story was left open and the “sinister” plot was quickly resolved without any real conflict.  At least it was short so I didn’t feel like I wasted a lot of time.

The cover art by Martine Jardin is okay though you only ever see Jordan as a wolf for a few seconds.

Sales Links: Extasy Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 50 pages

Published: May 27, 2018 by Extasy Books

Edition Language: English