In The Book Spotlight: The Biker’s Omega by Lisa Oliver (excerpt and giveaway)

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Cover copy

 The Biker’s Omega by Lisa Oliver

Release Date: December, 2014

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Oliver Group Publications
Cover Artist: Lisa Oliver

Sales Links:  Amazon – All Romance (ARe) – Smashwords

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STRW Author BookSynopsis

Marly Miles has been happy in his life as a lone Omega wolf, living and working among the humans of Orlando, Florida. When an attack on him and his friend brings Marly to the notice of the Sergeant of Arms of the Epitaph’s Motorcycle Club, he realizes immediately that the man carries the same scent as his attackers. Not a very good start when the same man is also his mate.

Alpha wolf, Trent Beaumont has spent a lot of years living as a human when he walked away from his home pack. Forced to live as a straight man, because of the Epitaph’s club culture, he walks away from Marly after checking the man is safe. But no wolf, not even an Alpha, can refuse the mating call from the Fates. But with his President looking over his shoulder, and a woman panting after him to share his bed, Trent isn’t sure it will ever be the right time to claim his own Omega.

Fights, misunderstandings and a lack of communication aren’t the only problems Trent and Marly face. Trent has a history that has clouded his judgment and when Marly gets attacked again, Trent realizes he could lose his mate permanently, if he doesn’t get his head out of the sand.

Warning: Contains one hot biker, a beautiful twink with a sassy mouth, and a ton of misunderstandings. Graphic m/m sex, violence and strong language.
Pages or Words: 130 pages

Categories: Erotica, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Trent had been waiting hours, freaking hours, for his mate to get home. He had pulled into the apartment block about an hour after he left the club, figuring a shower and a change of clothes was a good idea. But from the scent in the hallway outside of Marly’s apartment door, it seemed he had just missed the little man. Oh, well. Maybe his mate had gone out for food. Four hours later, Trent had to leave his post to get his own food and to take a bathroom break. But in less than thirty minutes, he was back at his post, waiting for Marly to get home. He didn’t remember falling asleep, but being awoken by a mini biker vision in black was more than Trent’s control could handle, especially when Marly smelled of so many different men. The little shit had been clubbing and while Trent wasn’t silly enough to think that Marly had been with anyone else, his wolf’s need to cover the man with his own scent was overwhelming.

Yes, he meant to talk to Marly first – get to know a little bit about the man he was about to become bonded to. Trent wasn’t some crass shifter who fucked first, and then talked after. Not with his mate at least. With most men he had enjoyed in the past it was fuck first and then fuck the talking. But Trent wanted to explain to Marly about his position in the club and what was happening there. He needed to find out about Marly’s pack status and explain his own lack of one. But then the sexy man just had to put a wiggle in his step as he walked passed him and that one little movement shattered what was left of Trent’s resolve, already weakened by his long wait. It had been so long since he had enjoyed a man in his arms, and this one was already deemed perfect for him by the Fates. He didn’t have the strength to argue with that sort of situation.

And right now? With Marly’s mouth open under his, Trent couldn’t think of one goddamn fucking reason why he had wanted to wait at all. The hint of pineapple and cream suggested his mate liked those frou-frou drinks that Trent had never tasted because they looked too girly. The lack of anyone else’s scent on Marly’s tongue meant the man had behaved himself while he was out, and Trent made sure to check, thoroughly, in every crevice and corner of Marly’s mouth.

It wasn’t only Marly’s mouth that was driving Trent insane. Marly’s slim but solid chest was rammed tight between his own and the wall, not a cigarette paper gap between them. Trent moaned as he felt Marly’s cock throbbing behind his jeans, against his own abs, and his Omega’s fingers gripping his shoulders was pure heaven. There was nothing hesitant about Marly – not the way he opened his mouth to accept Trent’s tongue, nor the way he clasped Trent’s shoulders as though the bigger man would try and get away. When Trent felt Marly wrap his lean legs around his waist, opening out that delectable denim covered ass, Trent couldn’t help running his fingers along the seam covered crack. Marly’s full body shiver and the way he pressed even closer into Trent’s chest was proof his mate was as eager for their mating as he was.

 

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Lisa Oliver had been writing non-fiction books for years when visions of half dressed, buff men started invading her dreams. Unable to resist the lure of her stories, Lisa decided to switch to fiction books, and now stories about her men clamor to get out from under her fingertips.

When Lisa is not writing, she is usually reading with a cup of tea always at hand. Her grown children and grandchildren sometimes try and pry her away from the computer and have found that the best way to do it, is to promise her chocolate. Lisa will do anything for chocolate.

Lisa loves to hear from her readers and other writers. You can friend her on Facebook here, or email her directly at yoursintuitively@gmail.com.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lisaoliverauthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/wisecrone333
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lisaoliver79
Other: http://www.supernaturalsmut.com

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Contest:  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions. Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘The Biker’s Omega’ by Lisa Oliver.

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A MelanieM Review: The Beast Without by Christian Baines

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The Beast Without coverReylan, a Blood Shade, the correct term for vampires,, likes being on his own.  He is wealthy, gorgeous,  sexy and particular in who he eats.  He picks out his prey from the popular gay clubs of Sidney, on Oxford Street.  Reylan is always careful not to take too much, just enough to last a few days  before he has to feed again.  So when a crazed werewolf kills his latest companion, Reylan is not happy.  He is even less so when the werewolf, young Jorgas, seems to have developed an obsession with him.  An obsession that puts Reylan and those he cares about at risk.

In order for Reylan to take care of the situation, he finds he must work with a mysterious supernatural organization  called The Arcadia Trust and its leader Patricia Bakker.  The Arcadia Trust has its own agenda and wants Reylan to deliver the werewolf to them alive.  But things change when Reylan hunts down the young werewolf in question.  In a moment of intense need and hunger a tenuous relationship is formed between vampire and werewolf, a relationship neither wants.

As more people are murdered around them, Reylan, Jorgas and The Arcadian Trust must look further than Jorgas for the cause while trying to protect the ones inside their circle.  Reylan soon realizes that the civility he has cloaked his life in is no longer enough.  Its time for his true predator nature to come out and stay out if he is to stay alive and locate the true murderer among them.

What an excellent take on vampires and werewolves.  The Beast Without is such a far cry from the Twilight movies and other more current representations of these two supernatural beings. The werewolves and vampires of The Beast Without are not the benign creatures of the night that we see in popular movies and books these days.  No, the supernaturals of this novel, The Blood Shades and the Flesh Masters (werewolves) are apex predators, vicious and superior to humans who are regarded as food.  It’s actually kind of refreshing.

The vampires, werewolves and other supernatural beings like Cloak Masters (invisible beings) are genetic by nature.  All come from families where the various genes for each type of creature runs in the family.  It can skip generations and then, right around puberty, those that carry the gene mutate into the creature whose genes they carry, whether it be vampire, werewolf, or something quite different.  Christian Baines is developing a great back history for these supernaturals, a history that is being revealed slowly throughout the book.

Along with his impressive world building, Baines takes particular pains to make his characters complex, otherworldly and sometimes cruel in their outlook.  Take Reylan.  He is not human and revels in being a Blood Shade, finding the term vampire to be distasteful and tawdry. An asexual being, at least in the beginning, he dines on men, preferring the power and vigor in their blood to the caution and other traits that occurs in female hemoglobin.   As created by Baines, Reylan is a loner, a predator and absolutely absorbing.

I can’t  say enough about the characters i found here.  Whether it is Jorgas, a confused, raged filled werewolf, Father Isaac O’Baer of Saint Barnabas Church, a Father handy with advice or a knife, or Patricia Bakker, the enigmatic leader of The Arcadia Trust, these beings are intricately layered, wildly unpredictable in nature, and totally absorbing to read about.  I can’t get enough of them or anyone else that pops up in this story.  It’s really just a roll call of strange and wonderful creatures, each more exciting, dangerous and complex  than the one before.   They may not be real, but they certainly feel that way.  Here is Reylan’s thoughts on Cloak Walkers:

It’s said, perhaps cruelly, that you can smell a Cloak Walker long before you hear him – such is the inevitable toll of invisibility on personal hygiene. It’s even been claimed that the condition brings on leprosy, and that a Cloak Walker may be tracked by the body parts he leaves behind. I find what this theory lacks in credence, it makes up for in originality.

I love that wry, amused tone.  A little mean and deceptively mild. Perfect.

The plot is just as twisted and deceptive as the characters.  Baines has really done justice to each element here.  Both the story line and supernatural beings are totally worthy of each other, working their magic on the reader from page one.  Baines’ style of writing is smooth, his descriptions vivid and sometimes almost graphically realistic.  Here is our introduction to Reylan as he heads out to hunt at night:

 I’m not human, but even so, this is a reality I can’t ignore. If I’m not careful when I feed, when I take my fill of blood, I can quickly become the wrong one-nighter.

I’ll thank you not to use the ‘v’ word.

Given my proximity to Oxford Street, the sleazy, pulsing artery of Sydney’s nightclub district where I’ve lived for the better part of thirty years, I try not to visit any club twice in the same week. It’s safer that way, particularly for a man whose lifestyle depends on discretion. Barely two nights ago, I’d graced Fantasy, a club full of pretty, if flighty young things – some gay, some straight, most happily open minded on the subject. So the following night’s destination was Blaze, a club currently serving as de facto cathedral to the Church of Saint Muscle Mary, where the buff and beautiful took time out of their forty hour a week gym schedules to model, preen and occasionally dance the night away for the slack-jawed ogling pleasure of curious onlookers.

For hunting clothes, I chose a pair of tight leather trousers, an equally tight lycra vest and a silver-studded belt. A little attractive, a little sexual, and a little ridiculous. The perfect human mix I’d developed over the years. Not the epitome of modern style, but on a healthy twenty-four-year-old man, which is what I appear to be, it did say ‘come hither and bed me,’ which was the whole point.

Then, there was the pill. I rarely use them, but if options are lacking and I get too impatient, a little chemistry in a capsule can seal the sumptuous fate of any prospective companion. You needn’t judge me. You do a lot worse to your food. Besides, it’s not as if I’ve had to use it – recently.

There he is, all deliciousness in tone and outlook.  But soon Reylan will demonstrate just exactly how good a predator he is.  How I came to love him.

I should make one thing clear.  This is not a romance.  There are m/m relationships, there is sexual need, blood lust and heat a plenty.  But if you are looking for roses and candlelight dinners, this is not the story for you.  A convoluted relationship does develop between Reylan and Jorgas, but it is just at the beginning stages and it is certainly not based on love or even affection.  A bond certainly, but of need and blood and baser emotions.  It is realistic and involving as any I have read, and I love it.

Incredibly, The Beast Without is Christian Baines first novel. I came so close to giving this  remarkable story a 5-star rating but there are just too many loose ends that remain unresolved at the end of the story to go that final inch.    Christian Baines lays out a mystery for us, several in fact but nothing more.  Just speculation and insidiously addicting clues to a larger mystery looming behind the smaller ones. Everything about The Beast Without cries out for a sequel and I can only hope that one is in the works. At any rate, I highly recommend this rich and rewarding take on vampires and werewolves, especially for those of you tired of sparkle.

Cover art and design is terrific. Cover Images: Ivan Bliznetsov (front); DSNR (back) Jacket Design: David P Reiter

Afternote:  Christian Baines has indicated that a sequel to The Beast Without is planned, very good news indeed.

Sales Links:     All Romance (ARe)          Amazon      buy it here

Book Details:

Paperback, 234 pages
Published March 27th 2013 by Glass House Books
ISBN 192212043X (ISBN13: 9781922120434)
edition language
also eBook edition

A MelanieM Review: Midsummer Curse (Midsummer #2) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Midsummer Curse coverBrayton’s a lone wolf.  He’s also a “jack of all trades”, roaming the country fixing  problems for the supernaturals who call on him.  A call from a friend sends Brayton to supernatural town of Midsummer’s Night where a curse on the town’s gremlin threatens all things mechanical and worse in Midsummer’s Night. It should be a easy job, find the person responsible, have them break the curse and the gremlin and the town’s problem is fixed.  But nothing is ever so simple in Midsummer’s Night.

Ferdinand (Ferdy to friends), the town’s adorable gremlin, is miserable. His passion and nature is to fix and tinker  with all manner of things mechanical.  But someone or something has put a curse on him and now everything he touches falls to pieces…coffee pots, cars, clocks…everything.  His only hope lies in the gorgeous werewolf who has just arrived in town to fix his problem.  Ferdy has just broken up with his boyfriend and doesn’t want another.  So why can’t he get Brayton out of his head and heart?

Brayton’s stymied.  Everyone seems to love Ferdy and no one can figure out why he’s been cursed.  Something peculiar is going on and Brayton is determined to get to the meaning of it all.  But all he can think of is Ferdy, how the endearing pint sized gremlin smells and giggles.  What is happening to them both? Only time and a keen nose will sniff out the cause of their problems and much, much more.

Who knew gremlins could be so endearing?  Obviously Megan Derr, because with Ferdy she has created a pint-sized character full of vulnerability, sweetness, and a innate need to tinker with everything that has gears and mechanical moving parts.  With Ferdy and the reader its love at first sight.  For others it might take a sniff or  two before a powerful connection is made.  That’s where the other wonderful character of Brayton comes in.  Brayton is the odd were known as a lone wolf.  He wanders without a pack on business brought to him by word of mouth (or whatever parts necessary).  Brayton is snarky, self assured, and powerful in his own right.  Ferdy’s  total opposite or is he?  That’s one of the real delights of this story.

The chief plot of Midsummer Curse is a mystery.  Who and why cursed Ferdy so that everything mechanical he touches falls immediately to pieces?  As he is the town’s chief mechanic and handyman, this poses a huge problem for all.  That is hurts Ferdy horribly only gradually comes out as well. There are other small plot threads woven through this story that are equally enjoyable and twisty.  I love it when that happens.

Midsummer Curse may just be my favorite of the series.  A romantic duo of werewolf and gremlin?  Be still my heart and let my feet find a path to Midsummer’s Night and more stories to come.

Cover art by Megan Derr.  Love the car, now where’s my wolf?

Sales Links:    Less Than Three Press          All Romance eBooks    Amazon    Midsummer Curse

Book Details:

ebook, 57 pages, also available in audio
Published January 2010 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781936202157
edition languageEnglish
seriesMidsummer #2

Midsummer Series in order they were written and should be read (available in print, ebook and audio):

  • Midsummer Moon
  • Midsummer Curse
  • Midsummer Law
  • Midsummer Baker
  • Midsummer Days (Print collection of all stories)

Midsummer MoonMidsummer Curse covermidsummerlaw400midsummerbaker400

Review: Pretty Poison by Kari Gregg

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Pretty Poison coverNoah was only a toddler when an accident shattered not only his body but his life and that of his family.  Noah fell through the bars of a balcony railing from their eighth floor apartment, landing on the ground below, his body crushed.  Had he been human, the fall  would have killed him.  But Noah is a wolf shifter and he survived but barely.  The pack Alpha at the time as well  as others  saw Noah as a cripple, a pup to be put down as it was of no use to the pack because Noah would never be able to contribute.  Facing Noah’s death, his family took him and fled to the country where they asked human doctors to help Noah survive the fall, something the pack doctors refused to do.

Years later, Noah and his family remain isolated not only because they broke pack law but to protect Noah whose health remains fragile.  Migraines, slight with legs unable to support his body, Noah uses crutches to get around and has medication that keeps him from shifting.  But he has a tight knit family to support him and a online business he created that he loves and is  successful at.

But the past returns when the new Alpha, Wade,  arrives to claim his mate, the mating pact formed before Noah’s birth by Noah’s parents and their Alpha.  Wade chooses Noah over his brothers to the horror of Noah’s family.  Wade is determined to correct the wrongs of the previous Alpha and choosing Noah as his mate is just the start.  Noah will protect his family at all costs and goes willingly if fearfully.  But can Wade protect Noah from pack members who still regard Noah as a poison and are determined to finished what their older Alpha ordered?

I am a hardcore fan of wolf shifter stories, ok any shifter story.  Telling me that there is a new one out is like waving a pretty bauble in front of a magpie.  I just grab it up and jump right in.  Sometimes the story is like hitting the Lotto.  It’s a true winner in every respect.  World building, characters, plot.  You name it and the story has it in spades.  Other times, well, it’s that scratch off ticket that has almost all the same boxes, except one or two…almost a winner but not quite.  It’s that last one that reminds me of Pretty Poison by Kari Gregg.  It’s almost a great story.  It has some definitely terrific elements and then there are some that are both perplexing and a complete miss as far as plot and worldbuilding.

I loved Gregg’s plot.  What a great idea to have a wolf shifter injured at an early age and be unable to heal.  Instantaneously, you have made this character not only vulnerable but fascinating.  What happens when a shifter can’t heal?  How does a pack react? Here Gregg takes her lead from wolf biology and natural history.  Some packs accept an injured wolf but their harsh lifestyle makes it inevitable that it won’t survive long.  Translate that to a shifter universe where this pack lives in a fashion similar to the Amish, apart from human society, their young not educated past a certain age as they believe only in manual labor and jobs accessible for those that use their bodies and not their minds.  How that changes once an educated, tech savvy Noah joins the pack is not only realistic but sociologically sound. This aspect of Gregg’s novel is one of the true highlights of the story for me.

Noah is another plus.  I found his character to be interesting and accessible.   His differences extend past his injuries.  His coloration is rare, that of a true redhead (think Grey Wolf versus the smaller Red Wolf of the East Coast).  Noah has continued his education and now owns a web business that he works at online.  He is highly intelligent, technologically brilliant, and highly loyal. Plus he is cute. And he has endured countless hours of surgeries and therapy to help him continue to improve and maintain his current condition, even if it means numerous human medications and incapacitating migraines.  In fact most of the characters found here at very well done.  Each one feels like a real person, complete with both positive and negative aspects of their personalities.  It’s not the characters that I have issues with, but some of their actions that come across as less than plausible, including the short time frame of the story.

This is a case of near instant bonding, although thankfully not  instant love. But it’s a close call.  Gregg does establish a case of pheromones as the cause of their attraction but it still  feels too quick for all the adjustments that happens after Noah is pulled from his house and taken to the pack compound.  Gregg’s use of herbs that both harm and heal the werewolves is again a marvelous  element as is Noah’s changing situation once he is away from the family.  All great.  Even the miscommunication that occurs between Noah and Wade seems reasonable. And the sex scenes, including the one that ties the two wolves together, knotting, is white hot.  But there are also some very odd bits that intrude into the picture that makes the story go off course for me.

One is the case of Mpreg that occurs here.  Wolves have a gestation of 60 to 63 days and Gregg adheres to that.  But for a male pregnancy story to work (to my mind at least), it must be based somehow within the realm of scientific speculation. And if all conjecture, than at least give me a plausible explanation as to how it would work, especially with dealing with a species that shifts into different forms.   Gregg’s reasoning called up more questions than it answered.  Plus I am not sure it added anything especially relevant to the story, even given Noah’s rationale.

Another is actions of some of her characters that are counter to the personas she created.  Noah’s father especially acts in ways that seem counterintuitive to the scenes earlier in the story.  He loves his children, especially Noah, deeply and without regard to his own safety.  But later on in the story, he believes outsiders who in the past have done nothing but threaten his son over the continual advice and pleadings from his own children.  As the phrase goes “it does not compute.”

Pretty Poison is that shifter story that has much to offer.  Realistically developed characters, great plot, and interesting aspects to her world building make it easy to read but it also contains elements that cause the flow of the narrative to falter when the reader stops to ponder some of the stranger sections to the story.   If all of the above sound attractive, then pick it up and add it to your reading list.  If not, then consider some of Kari Gregg’s other stories.  She has a wonderful backlist where you will surely find something to your taste.

Cover artist Lou Harper.  I loved this cover.  The elements are dramatic, the men hot and sexy, and the wolf is gorgeous.  So well done.

Buy Link: ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 147 pages
Published December 15th 2013 by Kari Gregg (first published December 14th 2013)
original titlePretty Poison
ISBN132940148931812
edition languageEnglish

Review: Bloody Love Spats (Among Wolves #2) by Valentina Heart

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Bloody Love spats coverDespite having a coven queen for a sister, Tomislav “Tomi” Vugrin feels anything but powerful himself.  Considered young by vampire  standards, Tomi has  unusual powers, like telekinesis, that he can’t control and run in his family, making Tomi a freak of nature in the other vampires in his coven.  Disliked and taunted, Tomi spends his days reading, watching tv or getting into trouble.  But nothing prepares him for  what happens when he  finds a lost cellphone during a walk in the woods.

Stone Marik, the new Alpha werewolf of the East Pack, is out looking for his brother’s cellphone in his Pack’s territory.  The cellphone happens to have an incriminating picture of Stone taken when they were much younger and Stone wants the picture  erased.  But first he must  find the phone.  Then he smells something wonderful and traces the aroma to a young vampire in possession of the lost phone.  The instant lust tells Stone that the vampire is his mate, something unheard of between two species separated by culture and law.

What follows the mating of Tomi and Stone is nothing  anyone could have expected.  Will the mate bond and love be enough to hold Stone and Tomi together or will the centuries of prejudice and  laws bring destruction down upon them and the East Pack.

Bloody Love Spats is the sequel to Sebastian’s Wolves and it picks up the story in the aftermath of the battle for the East Pack and the death of its corrupted Alpha.  Now Stone Marik is Alpha of the East Pack and has been busy trying to rebuild the pack and its wolves.  But the years of pain and torture have left a pack cowed and broken and Stone is unsure of his ability to rebuild not only the structures that house them but make the pack into a cohesive strong unit they have the promise to be.

Heart delivers a different book and characters than the one we read in Sebastian’s Wolves.  Instead of dwelling solely on the wolf shifters and the pack structures, she adds the politics and relationships of a vampire coven to the wolf shifter universe she has been building to turn it into a combustive mixture of primal animal needs versus an ancient vampire culture so rigidly structured that all they have left to amuse themselves are with internal gamesmanship and alliances borne of self interest.  It is those political and social “headgames”, ones that potentially could end up in lashes and confinement for decades for breaking the vampire laws and social strictures that garner most of our attention, mostly because Tomi so often breaks them.

With her characterizations, Heart also deviates from the types of characters we originally met in Sebastian’s Wolves.  Unlike the older, experienced Sebastian who is just part of the pack, here the reader is given two completely different yet younger characters to connect with.  Alpha Stone, with his Beta brother Tait, are younger wolves than Sebastian.  Stone is less experienced but also an Alpha who feels responsible for his new pack and the amount of rebuilding needed for the Pack’s infrastructure and emotional needs as well.  By his very nature as an Alpha, Stone’s universe is much larger than Sebastian’s.  We meet individual pack  members as well as the adorable young pup, Naji, who he has adopted as his son.  And almost in tandem, we have Tait, Stone’s brother who is both incorrigible but also loyal.  I loved Stone and thought he and the East Pack could have used their own book, so huge are the issues they are dealing with at the moment, nothing less than an entire restructuring of the pack, from the buildings they live in to the manner in which the pack will live and deal with each other.

Then we have Tomi.  He is a young vampire, by vampire years and by personality.  Tomi has been cosseted by his sister, the Vampire Queen.  She has kept him insulated inside the castle, insulated by proximity but not isolated enough that  he is not aware that the rest of the coven not only actively dislikes him but considers him a freak of nature because of the other powers he possesses but cannot control.    Tomi is childlike, he presses against the vampire society’s boundaries, he tests his sister’s patience and the Ancients laws which she can’t always protect him against.  He is adorable, quixotic, and a character anyone can relate to, especially if you are familiar with teenagers at their most exasperating.  He wears a hoodie, watches The Big Bang Theory and  drives a Smart car.  How could you not love him?

It’s their mating that starts an explosion of cultures and ancient laws with a bloody back history Valentina Heart only hints at.  I expect the following books to fill in the missing parts of the werewolf/vampire shared history and the reasoning behind the mutually agreed upon need to keep separate.  A separation that Stone and Tomi has just destroyed by their mating and continued existence.

I think those who loved Sebastian’s Wolves and thought they were getting an continuation of that character and story might be disappointed when they get something different in scope and tone in Bloody Love Spats.  Even the title gives the reader a hint that something quite different is to follow.  The format also might take some getting used to.  It alternates pov between Stone and Tomi so we understand each person’s internal insecurities and feelings towards each other.  It will also bring one of the character’s pain home in bloody detail.

I really enjoyed this story and the characters of Stone and Tomi.  Certain characters from the original book make an appearance or two and new characters are created as a bridge to the next story and the battle of the species.  I  can’t wait to see where Valentina Heart will take this series next.  I am sure it will be just as unexpected as the two books she has given us already.

Cover art by Maria Fanning is gorgeous.  I love that model and its perfect for the story.

Among Wolves series consists of:

Sebastian’s Wolves
Bloody Love Spats

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages, sequel to Sebastian’s Wolves
Published October 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781627981385
edition language English

Review: Ashland (WereWolf Fight League #2) by Lynn Lorenz

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Ashland WWF 2For years Dan Stoltz has dreamed of owning his own werewolf fighter.  He apprenticed with the well-known trainer and friend, Murphy, and now he is ready to make his first purchase.  At the auctions, Murphy points out a slave that he thinks would make a good fighter, one being sold because his owner is broke and can’t pay his back taxes.  Dan is wavering,as he has decided upon an Asian were. Then the slave raises his head and looks into Dan’s eyes.  With that one gaze, Dan is lost and determined to have Ashland at any cost.

Ashland has known nothing but abuse at the hands of his former owner, Durio.  Starved, sexually abused, kept weak for his owner’s amusement, now Ashland is for sale again and fears the new master who buys him. He sees Dan Stolz watching him on the auction block. When Dan wins the bidding war and buys him, Ashland finds that his life has changed for the better. With good food, rest, and training, Ashland thrives, becoming a skilled sparing partner.  And something more happens. Dan and Ashland are attracted to each other, lust and something more threatening the bonds being built between master and slave.

Ashland is the second installment in the WereWolf Fight League series and the main characters make this a very different book from Tor, the first in the series.  In the first book, the relationships are between slaves, the Owner/Master Marrack is a secondary character.  In Ashland, the relationship starts with the characters occupying two different strata in society.   Dan Stolz, Murphy and Ashland’s former owner Durio are free man, Masters in every sense of the word.  Lorenz’ universe seems to mirror ours here, at least as far as economics, as each man above has a slightly different financial reality.  Murphy is doing well as a seasoned successful trainer.  Dan is the apprentice who is ready to branch out on his own, lower middle case on the rise.  And then there is Durio, bankrupt and unable to pay his taxes, someone on the way down and hopefully out.

Next are the slaves, human and were.  Some fighters are breeders and are intact.  Others like Ashland have been “snipped”, they can function but not reproduce, an almost gelding as it were.  There are sex slaves of both genders, and instead of prison, those free men who have committed crimes against the government or society pay by becoming slaves themselves, condemned to perform the worst tasks society can give them (getting rid of the dead and cleaning up the streets).  Owners have total control, including rape, over their slaves, although change is coming via were and slave right activists.

A Master/slave relationship is by  definition an unequal relationship as the Master has total power over the slave.  So I was expecting to see something of that  reflected back in the story. And outside the brief mention of Durio’s actions towards Ashland, I didn’t see that. In fact I found this owner/slave dynamic  missing in this slave/owner relationship story.  Almost from the first, Dan is treating Ashland less like a slave and more like a person he wants to get to know.  Yes, Dan is a new owner, one of the people who believe in humane treatment of slaves, but still I found his attitude and behavior towards Ashland anything but masterful.

I have to admit I didn’t mind that this aspect was missing from the story (I actually preferred it this way) but just found it a bit odd. Their love for each others develops at the same pace as Ashland’s training, with the traumatized Ashland wanting Dan’s affections to Dan needing Ashland yet not wanting to abuse Ashland’s trust.  Apparently men don’t communicate very well in alternate worlds either.

New characters are introduced, another Master/slave/slave grouping, that I expect to appear in the third book.  I liked this trio.  They have real possibilities as men who respect each other within the limitations of their society.  I think my problem here is that the inequality within Dan and Ashland’s relationship continues even when Dan professes his love for Ashland.  Dan calls him “baby” which is accurate given his inability to read or navigate in Dan’s world.  Ashland remains emotionally unprepared for the status Dan is laying on him.  At least that is the way it seems to me.

There is a measure of suspense with regard to Ashland’s former owner trying to reclaim his slave.  The resolution of this plot thread is so pat that it felt perfunctory.  Wrapped up all too quickly, with many issues left unanswered, I found myself wishing that Lorenz had added at least a chapter or two of the “behind the scenes” mechanisms that made the ending possible.  I found myself liking this story marginally less than Tor perhaps because of the difference in relationship as well as the ending.  I think that the people who liked Tor will find themselves divided over this story.  And perhaps those that didn’t care for Tor will love the dynamics in play here. Either way Lynn Lorenz’s wonderful, heartfelt characters make this a werewolf story to add to your collection.

Stories in the WereWolf Fight League series include:

Tor (WereWolf Fight League #1)
Ashland (WereWolf Fight League #2), in many ways a prequel to Tor

No Publishers warnings accompany this story, unlike Tor, the first in the series.

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 151 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Loose Id (first published November 4th 2013)
ISBN13 9781623005528
edition language English

Review: Tor (WereWolf Fight League #1) by Lynn Lorenz

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Tor WWF coverSlave and WWF fighter, Tor is a werewolf whose life has just shattered in the arena.  His mate and love, Jin, has just killed by his opponent in the arena, a circumstance that shouldn’t have happened and is forbidden by Coliseum laws.  Injured by the berserker wolf who killed Jin, Tor wants to die but his Master Marrack has other plans.

Marrack is broke and needs Tor to fight again so he buys a young sex slave to replace Jin.  Sky is a virgin and beautiful.  He is also a sex slave.  When Marrack purchases him, he promises Sky his freedom if he can get Tor to fight again in the arena (all without Tor’s knowledge of course).  The last thing Tor wants is another mate who might be lost to him through fighting.  Who will win out with all that’s at stake?  Will Tor find love with Sky only to lose him to freedom or worse?

I have to admit I approached this story with some trepidation.  I am a fan of Lynn Lorenz. Her Rougaroux Bayou werewolves and her New Orleans stories are always found on my Must Read lists of recommendations.  I normally shy away from fiction with a slave element, especially those with scenes of rape. But a series with werewolves fighting in a sort of gladiator werewolf fight league caught my interest and I just had to know how this author handled such a storyline.

Tor, the first in the series, left me with mixed opinions.  I thought the idea of using the mixed martial arts fighting leagues in a werewolf story intriguing, especially if the setting included a Coliseum.  Ancient Rome has always been a fount of inspiration for authors and using it as a basis for her world building works really well here.  Other creative additions to her WWF series is the PETA modeled Werewolf Rights group  fighting to outlaw slavery and the WWF.   This is such an imaginative use of an animal rights organization when applied to werewolves that I am surprised that other authors have not thought of this (and if someone has please let me know).   I only wish that this element had a larger part to play in this story.  When the issues of abuse at the hands of their Masters, or being raised in substandard kennels is mentioned, it would have added another interesting layer to see this institutionalized combat slavery from outside the societal thinking on the subject.  I can only hope that this aspect might be enlarged in the stories to come later in the series.

Lynn Lorenz has added several new twists to the ever enlarging werewolf lore.  In this series, the werewolves do not mate for life.  They are offered sex slaves (not weres) as mates which then can be taken away if the fighters lose in the arena, the winner takes the other wolf’s mate to do with as they please.  The prettier the mate, the more intense the fight, although never to the death as that would mean a loss of income property and revenue to their masters.   Rarely have I read a wolf shifter story that changes out mates as often as occurs here although Lorenz supplies a good foundation for that. Bonds can be formed between Master and slave, although not considered a mate bond (illegal apparently).   I did wish for a little more background information on the society and universe the humans and weres inhabit, but again that might be supplied as the series builds.

The characters of Tor and Sky are given enough layers to make them interesting and their relationship viable.  But the biggest obstacle to that connection is one that Lorenz made herself.  The beginning of the story starts in the arena, in the middle of a fight between Tor and the berserk werewolf Cosack with Jin caught in the middle.  It’s brutal and it contains the scene that the publisher issued the warning about.  And even with all that, the character of  Jin is a charismatic and riveting one.  He is also referred to throughout the story and innocent Sky gets lost in the comparison.  I liked Sky and thought the background Lorenz provided made him someone the reader could connect to but I never quite bought the Tor/Sky love and the story suffered because of that lack of connection to the romance.

The initial fight scenes that carry the publisher’s warning can be scanned if this aspect is offensive without harming the rest of the story.  In fact, without that connection to Jin, it might work better for some readers.  The rest of the story can be read free of any sort of anxiety over the characters and their love affair.  The two other interesting characters in this story, Dan Stoltz and Ashland, are given the next installment in the series.  I liked these two and can’t wait to read their story.

Would I recommend Tor? Yes with some hesitation.  If you can’t resist a wolf shifter story like me, grab this up.  It has some great new twists to add to werewolf fiction lore.  If you love Lynn Lorenz like I do, grab it up as well.  I have never been able to pass her books by.  This is just the first in the series and it has so many terrific aspects that can be enlarged with each new story.  I will let the rest of you decide on the romance central to Tor as to whether you connected to the characters or not.  And now on to Ashland (WereWolf Fight League #2).

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: BDSM them and elements, exhibitionism, master/slave, violence (including rape).

Readers with a history of rape or sexual abuse may find elements of this story disturbing

WereWolf Fight League Series:

Tor (WereWolf Fight League #1)
Ashland (WereWolf Fight League #2)

Cover by artist Mina Carter is a wow.  I love that torso with the WWF brand on the chest.  Sexy, hot and relevant to the story.

Book Details:

ebook, 134 pages
Published April 2nd 2012 by Loose Id
ISBN13 9781611188110
edition language English
series WereWolf Fight League

Review: Accidental Alpha (Pack Partners, #1) by Poppy Dennison

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Book Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Accidental Alpha coverOne year ago police officer Lex Tompkins was stabbed while on the job.  The severity of the wounds and the long recovery time meant disability and retirement for Lex as he could no longer physically do his job.  Bitter, Lex withdraws from everyone he knows, buying seven acres in the middle of nowhere to hide in and retreat from society.  But almost from the beginning his plans go awry. Lex has a neighbor when his real estate agent promised him none.  And that neighbor, Spencer Robinson, always seems to have a ton of people at his house and a party going on.  Plus the guy isn’t even Lex’s type.

When a toddler shows up alone in Lex’s front yard, he knows that there is only one place he could have come from. Lex picks the kid up and starts to head across the street when the toddler bites the heck out of his neck.  Lex passes out and the next moment wakes up in Spencer’s house as the new Alpha werewolf of a small and dysfunctional pack of werewolves.

Faced with new responsibilities that he doesn’t want, Lex also finds himself attracted to Spencer, someone he never looked twice at before.  What’s a bitter excop to do when Fate rearranges his life in ways he never imagined?

Poppy Dennison became a go to author of mine when I started reading her Triad series (now at book four). So when I saw that she had a new shifter story out, I knew I had to have it.  Accidental Alpha, the first in the Pack Partners series, starts with a hysterical premise, what happens when a toddler accidentally turns a person into a werewolf? I love it when an author gives me a new twist on a popular genre and that’s exactly what Dennison has delivered here.

Dennison has created a unique pack structure for her werewolf story which includes the toddler’s position within it and the reason why he bit Lex in the first place.  This is a small and somewhat dysfunctional pack with a few shifters hanging at the outskirts of the core group that is not getting along without leadership.  Into this interesting group dynamics, Dennison thrusts her disabled alpha cop, Lex Tompkins.  I really liked his character, he comes across as a hard core cop who loved his job.  And the type of personality that it takes to be a cop is exactly the type of leadership needed in an Alpha.  I liked the manner in which Dennison  connects those dots not only for the reader  but for Lex as well.  Lex is a man in need of a job that requires him to police and take care of people and that is exactly what he gets again.

This pack is made up of some very damaged, sad, and angry shifters. Each comes with their own set of challenges that Lex must first decipher and then deal with.  That includes his very strong attraction to Spencer which is clearly a werewolf thing Lex needs to get figure out immediately before his own behavior gets out of control.  I liked the pack that the author has created for this story.  There’s the toddler, Aiden, who is quite adorable.  His mother Mia, two special special favorites of mine Ruby and Nathan, Justin and more.  And then there is Spencer, the neighbor and perhaps potential mate.  I connected with the character of Spencer as well.  Quiet and unassuming, he has a reserve to him that works when the rest of the pack is spiraling out of control.  Its a nice yin and yang  sort of relationship that will evolve with the story and the series.  It’s also a lovely change from the wham bam mate thing that overwhelms characterization and plot that I so often read in shifter stories. Poppy Dennsion sets out a structure for not only the pack but for acquiring mates as well.

The ending of Accidental Alpha sees Lex, Spencer and the rest slowly adjusting to each other and the change in pack dynamics.   It’s a new start for them all and an appropriate place to end the first book in the series.  Poppy Dennison had laid her ground work while still leaving room to flesh out the personalities and back history of the individual pack members.  I also expect to learn more about Lex as well.   Accidental Alpha leaves me wanting more of the Pack Partners series and that’s exactly what it should do.  Great job, Poppy Dennison.  I can’t wait to see what will happen next.  Please don’t make us wait too long.

Cover Art © 2013 Wilde City Press Photo by Kent Taylor, courtesy http://www.ragingstallion.com  What a perfect cover!  That’s Lex exactly.

Book Details:

ebook, 56 pages
Published September 11th 2013 by Wilde City Press

Don’t Miss Out! The Tameness of the Wolf Insanity Continues with Contests and Dog Tags!

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Strength of the Wolf Banner

It’s been a week since Strength of the Wolf was released and the insanity continues!!StrengthoftheWolf4

If you missed yesterday’s post, go check it out really quick. I talked about the werewolves in, Strength of the Pack and Strength of the Wolf, how I created them, and why I gave them the characteristics that I did. There’s still time to enter to win an e-book copy of Strength of the Wolf, so go get yourself signed up! The winner will be announced, right here, tomorrow!

Today, you can enter to win a set of authentic Dog Tags for the main characters of Strength of the Wolf! These are highly coveted dog tags, featuring the vital statistics of Tim Madison and Jeremy Wagner, from Strength of the Wolf. These are brand new! No one has a set, yet, so you might be lucky enough to be the first!

KM Dog TagsHere is everything you need to know to get entered for your chance to win! The winner will be announced tomorrow, as well, so don’t wait! Get entered!
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1bf30764

Love and Dog Tags,

Kendall

www.kendallmckenna.comBlack Wolf from the back

www.facebook.com/kendallmckenna

www.facebook.com/thetamenessofthewolf

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Buy Links:

MLR Press LLC

Amazon

All Romance 

Review: Strength of the Wolf (The Tameness of the Wolf #2) by Kendall McKenna

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

StrengthoftheWolf4After the events in Afghanistan, Captain Tim Madison,  Lt. Lucas Young, Dominant and True Alpha Sergeant Noah Hammond find themselves back in the States as part of a new military unit designed to better utilize and integrate the wolf shifters into the military to the benefit of both species.  Its a huge job and they have plenty of preconceived notions, misinformation and outdated combat structures to get rid of.  All receive promotions with Tim Madison promoted to major.  He is also made the head of the new unit which is composed of both human and shifter soldiers. The first order of business? To the bottom of the huge amount of shifter casualties in combat.

Jeremy Wagner is a civilian wolf shifter.  He’s smart, young and just beginning his career as an architect intern.  Jeremy is also a Lone Wolf, having been Cast Out by the True Alpha of the North Coast pack.  To that True Alpha, Jeremy represents a threat to his leadership asJeremy is just beginning his Transition to True Alpha.  Now Jeremy is alone, hormonal and trying to deal with all the physical and emotional changes of his transition and it’s not going well.

A confrontation in a parking lots brings Tim Madison together with Jeremy Wagner with explosive results.  Despite Tim’s concerns about the swiftness of their feelings and age difference, Tim and Jeremy soon form an intimate bond.  But outside elements gather to pull them apart.  Tim’s dysfunctional brother has reappeared in his life,  casualties are mounting for the werewolves in combat and Jeremy must still deal with his transition to True Alpha.  Will their bond and the strength of the wolf be strong enough to withstand the obstacles in their path?

Each new book from Kendall McKenna just reinforces my enthusiasm and love for The Tameness of the Wolf universe and the wolf shifters (and humans) she has created for it.  Strength of the Wolf follows shortly after the events of Strength of the Pack and the kidnapping of Lt. Lucas Young.  That military action highlighted the errors in which the wolfshifters were being used and the need for more investigation and regulating where the shifters and the military were concerned.  After an intense Prologue, McKenna switches focus away from combat and brings us into an exploration of werewolf natural history, one of the aspects I wished had been enlarged in Strength of the Pack..  How did they operate? What was the hierarchy?  In Strength of the Wolf, McKenna starts to answer some of those questions.  I have to admit that I love how McKenna intertwines shapeshifter history with that of human history and lore.  It works beautifully and also manages to introduce an element of humor to the proceedings.

Kendall McKenna’s characters are as strong, deep, and intense, all of which is necessary considering their occupations and difference in physiology.  I love her soldiers, her Marines both human and werewolf.  They are all resoundingly authentic and compelling.  Now we get to see the civilian side of the wolf.  Jeremy is a architectural intern.  He is young, brash, smart, and alone.  His is a more subtle characterization if you can say that about a wolf shifter, especially one becoming a True Alpha.  His is a character in transition in more ways than one.  Jeremy is twenty five.  He is, as an intern, learning about himself as a architect as well as his new  status as True Alpha.  Jeremy has always been a mid level pack member and is not prepared when he starts to change mentally, emotionally, and physically.  He is in all respects, a late bloomer and that’s a problem.  I really love this character.  He is powerful and he is also very vulnerable, he is insecure and having problems handling his transition without help.   Then into his life strides Tim Madison, Lucas Young and Noah Hammond.  Talk about a life changing moment.  That scene in the parking lot is a great example of why everything about this series and book works.  It’s intense, its perspective is both intimate and broad in scope, it’s humorous and potentially terrifying.  It’s amazing.   And the more we learn about Jeremy’s journey to True Alpha, the more we learn about werewolf society, pack rules and regulations.

The character of Tim Madison is, naturally, given more depth and scope than his role in Strength of the Pack.  I liked Tim in that novel but came to love him here.  Older, responsible, and still he yearns for the type of bond he sees in Lucas and Noah, a permanence and deep love that includes respect and understanding.  Tim’s past and his military career have taught him caution, to be wary of unplanned,  quick moves.  So it is absolutely understandable that when faced with Jeremy’s (and his own) desires, that Tim would want to slow things down.  So very human, but that doesn’t always work with your mate is a shapeshifter.  Again, McKenna gives each man his strong persona and then shows us exactly how and why they work so well in combination.  It’s realistic and incredibly sexy!  I mean incendiary sexy!  Those scenes between Tim and Jeremy are the hottest things since…well, since Noah and Lucas!

Of course,  Dominant Lucas Young and his mate, Noah Hammond, the True Alpha of the U.S. Armed Forces Pack are back in force.  This couple always manages to bring an startling sexual and emotional component to each scene they are in.   They remain as charismatic and white hot as you would expect.  But even with all those qualities, their presence doesn’t take away anything from the story of Tim and Jeremy.  They enhance it, not dilute it.  McKenna balances her couples and the needs of the narrative beautifully so neither couple is diminished by the other.  It may be  Tim and Jeremy’s story but the author has a wider plan that she is moving towards and many other elements in play.  And this will include some of the new characters she introduces in Strength of the Wolf.  At least I am hoping to see certain Marines show up again as well as Tim’s brother.

A  review of any of Kendall McKenna’s novels would be incomplete without mentioning the superb military elements so much a part of her narratives.  Because of Kendall McKenna, I now know what a sit-rep is, also a “oscar mike”, CASEVAC, and LPC’s, that’s leather personnel carriers, also known as boots for those of you as ignorant as I was of military speak!  Because of Kendall McKenna and her vivid realistic descriptions, I can almost feel the heat of the desert baking into their skin, and the dessert sand that invades every crevasse of clothes and body no matter the preventative measures taken to keep it out.  The drudgery, the danger, the boredom and the unmitigated horror of a ambush, its all here, done with a gritty realism that will make you wince,cringe and cry out for those involved.  Reading through a Kendall McKenna story is both a pleasure and a revelation.  I feel grounded in its authenticity (especially where the military and combat is concerned) but revel in the new facts and aspects of situation and characters that I had not thought of.    What a joy.

Kendall McKenna’s Strength of the Wolf and The Tameness of the Wolf series are on Scattered Thoughts Best Lists of 2013.  Consider both books highly recommended.  So grab up your LPCs and run to get your copy of Strength of the Wolf.  If you are new to the series, go directly back to the beginning and Strength of the Pack first.  If you loved that book, trust me you will be running back to reread it after finishing Strength of the Wolf.  This is a series you will never get enough of, trust me on this one.

Cover art by Jared Rackler is amazing.  I love it.

Books in The Tameness of the Wolf series in the order they were written and should be read:

Strength of the Pack (The Tameness of the Wolf #1)
Strength of the Wolf (The Tameness of the Wolf #2)

Book Details:

ebook, 365 pages
Published September 6th 2013 by MLR Press
original title Strength of the Wolf
ISBN13 MLR1020130136
edition language English
series The Tameness of the Wolf
Buy links: