A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Alpha Heat (Heat of Love #2) by Leta Blake

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Rating 5 stars out of 5

I didn’t think it would be possible for this sequel to equal my enjoyment of Slow Heat but Alpha Heat met and surpassed it. I want more in this omegaverse where only male humans exist. They are either omega—the softer more feminine men who come on heat and bear children if their alpha impregnates them. Or they are beta—who mostly work either professionally or as servants. Betas aren’t affected by omega heats and rarely have a life partner who is bonded as an alpha and omega may be. Alphas are, of course, the more hirsute, take-charge, dominant men and choose an omega as a life partner unless they find their erosgape—their one true love and fated lifemate.

This story is about Xan Heelies, an alpha who really wants to be an omega. We first met the young man in Slow Heat. He was Jason’s college roommate and the man Jason was gaining his sexual experience with. Atypical for an alpha, Xan enjoyed being a bottom and he was heartbroken when Jason left him for his lifemate, Vale.

Xan has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders as his father’s heir, though he’s not his father’s favorite son. A few years have passed since the first book, and Xan has chosen Caleb as his omega life partner but he’s learned from the disaster of their first heat together that he can’t keep up with his omega in his deep heat so he seeks medical help from Dr. Urho Chase, the only doctor he can trust to tell that he’s “unmanned”—the term used in this universe to indicate an alpha who chooses to bottom for another alpha. Caleb, fortunately, is happy to stay with Xan because he’s asexual and Xan allows him freedom to be himself.

Dr. Urho Chase is the alpha who served Vale in Slow Heat through his heats until Vale found Jason, his erosgape. Urho lost his own erosgape and their infant a long time ago and it’s a loss he can never forget. Disdainful of Xan, a young man he knows has had sex with Jason in the past, he’s nevertheless insanely attracted to him, so he’s stayed away from him for both their sakes. Until one night when he spots Xan just after Xan has had a brutally rough sexual encounter, which could easily be labeled rape, and Urho’s heart and senses go on high alert in his need to protect Xan from this monster and from anyone else who might hurt him.

This is a love story between Xan and Urho that includes Caleb. Though Xan and Urho are sexually attracted and engage in sex—Urho calls Xan his alpha-shaped omega—their love surpasses sex and flows over into Xan’s and Caleb’s relationship where Urho is welcomed with open arms. Of course, this story is not simple at all. This is Leta Blake, so it’s complex, with a few subplots, one of which is a deadly flu that is taking down most of the citizens of their town. Jacob and Vale join Xan and Caleb at their new home in the north, where Xan is establishing a satellite for his father’s business. Naturally, Urho comes along, and thankfully he does, because with Vale’s advancing pregnancy and the flu epidemic finding them even in the remote locale, there’s plenty of drama to keep readers turning pages quickly.

In addition to the fantastic story and complex characterizations in this omegaverse, I loved the terminology the author created. My favorite example: “I can’t wait to see you with our babe in your arms, chestfeeding.” Chestfeeding! Loved it!

The story includes mpreg and knotting, which I know many MM readers love, and of course, there’s plenty of romance and sex. Near the beginning of the story, there is a brief scene of graphic sexual violence so those who may be triggered should be aware.

I’m not sure if the author is going to write more in this world but I would certainly stand in line for a chance to be one of the first to read it. As is obvious by my review, I very highly recommend this book.

~~~~

The cover by Dar Albert of Wicked Strange Designs depicts a color photo of two bare-chested men embracing. It’s very attractive and fits the characters in this story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition
Published May 11th 2018 by Leta Blake Books
Original TitleAlpha Heat (Heat of Love #2)
ASINB07D1MDQVS
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHeat of Love #2

Release Blitz for Saved (Breaking Free #1) by AM Arthur (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Saved

Series: Breaking Free #1

Author: A.M. Arthur

Publisher: Briggs-King Books

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 67,000 words

Genre: Romance, non-shifter Omegaverse, alternate universe, mpreg

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Synopsis

He didn’t want an alpha to save him, but fate had other ideas…

Braun Etting was raised to know his place as an omega by his alpha father’s cruel words and fast fists, and he expects nothing but violence from the alpha who may one day mate him. His older brother Kell mated a cruel alpha who abuses him daily, and Braun is terrified of that seemingly inevitable future. When Braun’s father dies in a car crash, leaving Braun an orphan, he’s sent to a halfway house for omegas. But on his fourth night there, he witnesses a horrifying crime that sends him fleeing to the streets alone—and edging into his first heat.

Tarek Bloom is settled in his workaholic, single lifestyle, even if it is somewhat embarrassing to be a twenty-eight year-old unmated alpha. He enjoys his job as a constable, helping people and solving problems, so he isn’t prepared for his life to flip upside-down when he walks into his beta friend Dex’s apartment to help with “a problem.”

The problem turns out to be an unmated, nearly in-heat omega orphan who Dex and his husband rescued off the street last night. The even bigger problem is that Tarek feels the mating bond for this terrified omega immediately—and he’s pretty sure the omega feels it, too. But Braun hates alphas as a general rule, and no way is he giving in to the bond. All mating leads to is violence and suffering, so no thank you. But Tarek’s gentle kindness slips under Braun’s emotional shields, and Braun begins to want. To dream. All Braun has ever known is violent alphas, but Tarek is determined to make Braun trust him—and to trust in the idea of their happily ever after.

NOTE: This is a non-shifter Omegaverse story with alpha/omega/beta dynamics, heats, knotting, and mpreg. In this world, omegas are second-class citizens with few civil rights and almost no protections under the law. Trigger warnings for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. 67,000 words.

Excerpt

“Would you be able to describe exactly what you saw that night in detail?” Tarek pulled a notepad and pen out of his front pocket.

Braun’s entire body went rigid. “Why? Who are you really?”

“I really am Tarek Bloom.” For a moment, he actually seemed contrite. “What I didn’t tell you is that I’m also a constable.”

“Shit.” Braun bolted out of his chair and toward the front door, fork still in his hand.

In a flurry of movement, Tarek was in front of him, blocking his path to the door, and Braun lashed out with the fork. Dex grabbed his wrist and plucked the fork out of his hand, but that didn’t stop Braun from swinging. He punched Tarek in the chest. Twice. Panic settled in, overriding his common sense, and he tried to push past the brick wall of a man.

“Let me go! I won’t go back, I won’t!”

Arms wrapped around his torso from behind, pinning his arms to his sides. Serge’s comforting scent settled his racing mind a bit, but it was Tarek’s hand on the back of his neck that settled Braun completely.

“Calm down, firecracker,” Tarek said. His deep voice soothed Braun’s frazzled nerves, and his touch sent his pulse racing with delight. “You’re still safe, I promise. No one here wants to hurt you.”

“Why do you care?” Braun snarled. “I’m just some useless omega you’ve known for twenty minutes.”

“You’re far from useless, little one.”

Tarek’s other hand rose, nearing Braun’s face. Braun snapped at his fingers. “I’m only a womb to you.”

“Far from it, my firecracker.” The hand on his neck squeezed. “Far from it.”

The grounding touch made Braun want to roll over and show his belly, but he was done being passed around. Done letting other people control his life. He didn’t want to feel this mating bond to Tarek, but he also couldn’t turn it off. Even with the heat block, Tarek was under his skin, doing funny things to his insides.

Angry and confused, Braun dared look an alpha in the eye.

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Meet the Author

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.

When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail | A.M.’s Pot O Gold | Newsletter

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Devotion (Forbes Mates #1) by Grace R. Duncan and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

When Finley Cooper met his true-mate while he was still underage, he thought nothing of what that might mean for their future together.  Handsome, alpha-to-be, Tanner Pearce was everything a young gay werewolf might want in a man, but he gets a shock when Tanner refuses to claim him until he’s “of age.”  So when Finley turns eighteen, and Tanner still refuses to claim him, he assumes the worst—the man of his dreams doesn’t love him.

In reality, Tanner is afraid that finalizing their bond when Finley is still young and inexperienced may lead to Finley changing his mind later. Tanner wants to be absolutely sure before he goes forward. After all, didn’t that happen to his childhood friend? He wouldn’t survive if Finley left him after they were bonded. 

I really enjoyed this story, and to be honest, I believe that a major part of that enjoyment was the life Joel Leslie infused into the characters in this audiobook version. They became real to me and I got caught up in the adventure when Finley felt so lost that he headed out west to visit his grandparents, rather than face a future in his hometown without Tanner.  I also appreciated the author’s infusion of new twists into the werewolf story, including their difficulty in being “trapped” in a plane or train while traveling. 

And the drama and chase that ensued when Finley thought Tanner was hurt created the perfect amount of adventure to keep the story moving and keep the excitement up.  The second half of the story was pretty darn hot, I must say.  Personal fan warning: the amount and level of heat that occurs when these young wolves get together is pretty darn high, never mind the excitement generated by vocalizations from a quality voice artist like Joel Leslie. 

This one should definitely go on your list of audio listens.  I’m looking forward to the next in the series that will feature Jamie, the secondary character from this one—the guy who almost got to have sex with Finley in his bid for independence.  Lovers of MM paranormal-shifter romance, fated mates, knotting (!), age gap, and audiobooks will all benefit from adding this to their TBR. 

The very attractive cover by Reese Dante features both two wolves and head shots of two young men kissing—all against a background of mountain scenery.  It’s perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible| iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio
Published June 23rd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published September 11th 2015)
ASINB072YHRPWH
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesForbes Mates #1

An Alisa Review: Different Dynamics by Tamir Drake

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Rating:  4.25 stars out of 5

 

Richard doesn’t mind being an omega; all he cares about is playing good hockey, even though it means ignoring the media that tries to rip him apart for it. They don’t think omegas should be allowed on the ice, but he gets along fine. He’s team captain. He can play with the best of them.

 

The one sticking point is his heats; Richard might be on suppressants, but he’s one of the unlucky ones who still gets a heat every four months or so. They suck to deal with, especially alone, but seeking out a heat partner isn’t an option. The PR nightmare alone keeps him from any kind of hook-up. He can’t risk it. Hockey is all he’s got.

 

When Richard’s heat comes early while his team is on a roadie, teammate and best friend James helps him out of a bad situation. Tired of hurting, Richard decides it’s better not to go it alone. And James is safe and warm; he’s a great alpha who knows just what Richard needs. When Richard also imprints on big, bad rival player, Dmitry Sokolov? There’s sweet comfort in a three-way with lots of knotting and dirty talk.

 

Richard might be on cloud nine.

 

I really liked this story.  Considering Richard is an omega he knows next to nothing about his own biology other than the fact that he still gets heats even with the suppressants.  He has never had anyone to help him through his heats before and isn’t sure what to do about how he is feeling but with James and then also Dmitry they are able to take care of him.

 

Richard has always had to keep his guard up and protect himself from the nay sayers, but watching him finally have the opportunity to give up his control and let James and Dmitry take care and protect him was wonderful.  This story is told from Richard’s viewpoint so we can see his confusion and helplessness when it comes to how this heat reacts to his medicine and hormones.  James and Dmitry make it clear that they want to be there for Richard in the future in which Richard is hopeful for, but there is mention about both of them having to be there for heats and Dmitry doesn’t live near Richard and James.  I’m not sure if it can change by heat or if he will continue to need both of them if they continue their relationship.

 

Cover art by Natasha Snow is great and gives us a great visual of Richard.

 

Sales Links: Nine Star Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 63 pages

Published: June 26, 2017 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 9781947139329

Edition Language: English

Blog Tour for Different Dynamics by Tamir Drake (exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Different Dynamics

Author: Tamir Drake

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 26

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male Menage

Length: 19300

Genre: Contemporary, paranormal, erotica, ABO, sports, hockey, MMM, knotting, hurt/comfort, dirty talk

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Tamir Drake today on the Different Dynamics tour.  Check out the exclusive excerpt before entering the giveaway! Enjoy!

Synopsis

Richard doesn’t mind being an omega; all he cares about is playing good hockey, even though it means ignoring the media that tries to rip him apart for it. They don’t think omegas should be allowed on the ice, but he gets along fine. He’s team captain. He can play with the best of them.

The one sticking point is his heats; Richard might be on suppressants, but he’s one of the unlucky ones who still gets a heat every four months or so. They suck to deal with, especially alone, but seeking out a heat partner isn’t an option. The PR nightmare alone keeps him from any kind of hook-up. He can’t risk it. Hockey is all he’s got.

When Richard’s heat comes early while his team is on a roadie, teammate and best friend James helps him out of a bad situation. Tired of hurting, Richard decides it’s better not to go it alone. And James is safe and warm; he’s a great alpha who knows just what Richard needs. When Richard also imprints on big, bad rival player, Dmitry Sokolov? There’s sweet comfort in a three-way with lots of knotting and dirty talk.

Richard might be on cloud nine.

Exclusive Excerpt

Different Dynamics
Tamir Drake © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Richard got home, dropped his bags, and said hello to his cat Marshmallow. After checking her puzzle feeder and changing the water in her drinking fountain, he went into the bedroom to collapse. He spared a thought to how he should be eating, or at least hydrating, but all he wanted to do was curl up in bed. There was another game tomorrow, and he needed to steel himself for it, to get to practice and be able to play. Once again, he’d have to prepare to hide all of himself, so he could do what he loved. Hockey was all he had.

It was this thought that finally got him out of bed. He needed to concentrate on hockey—more than that—on being a good captain. That meant pushing through his heat. It wasn’t the first time he’d done it; he usually had at least two heats during the season, even with the fairly regular onsets the implant gave him. Hiding himself meant downing painkillers and libido inhibitors, dousing his clothes in odor-blocker, keeping a constant supply of pads on hand, and playing through the discomfort. He’d gotten good at ignoring the battle of scents on the ice, the distraction of the other players. It was just hockey; as long as he kept his head in the game, it would be good enough.

He dragged himself to the kitchen and pulled a ready meal out of the freezer, not up to trying to cook or calling in. He did his best to drain a bottle of juice while he waited for his food to warm up, hunched over the kitchen island. His mouth felt so dry no matter how much he drank—another side effect of the inhibitors—and his head was pounding.

The microwave beeped and Richard took his food into the living room. Curling up on the couch to eat it, he smiled feebly at Marshmallow when she jumped up next to him. She’d always been able to tell when he was hurting, and her warmth was a small comfort.

His phone rang after a few mouthfuls, flashing James’s face on the screen.

“’Lo?”

“Hey, Packer,” James said easily. “How are you doing?”

“Uh. Fine?” Richard shifted on the couch. “Just, you know, trying to settle back in and shit.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine,” Richard said, a little testily. He really didn’t feel well. “I just told you.”

“Can I come by?”

Richard didn’t exactly want company right now, but it was James. “I guess so. Why?”

“Because you went into heat yesterday, and I’m worried about you, fucker. What even happened, by the way? Did your implant malfunction or something? Are you getting it checked out?”

“Uh…”

“What?”

All in. “I might, uh, get heats regularly.”

“Richard!” Richard winced and pulled the phone away from his ear as James continued, “The fuck? Are you shitting me? You get heats on the regular, and you never thought to tell any of us?”

“What would it have mattered if I did?” Richard snapped, glad he was having this conversation over the phone and not in person. “The media can’t know; they already try to rip me apart because I’m an omega. If they thought I didn’t have a lid on my heats, it’d be a PR nightmare.”

“We’re not the media, you shithead. We’re your team. You think any of us would have blabbed your secret? You think we wouldn’t immediately crush anyone who tried?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

There was a lot of inarticulate growling, and then James sighed.

“Okay.” James sounded tired. “If you say it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. Still think you should tell the boys, but that’s your choice. Are—are you gonna be playing in the game?”

“’Course.”

“Right.” Richard could picture James rubbing a hand over his face. “Well? Can I come by? Do you want my help?”

It dawned on Richard that James was checking up on him. That he was offering to help with the heat again. “What, really?”

“Oh my god you little—yes. How long do yours usually last?”

“Um, like a week.”

“Okay. I’ll pack a bag and be over in a few.”

Richard stared at his phone.

“Richard?”

“You want to what?”

There was a pause. “Or I could…not,” James said eventually. “If you don’t want me to?”

“No! No, I…I’m just, uh, surprised.”

“You can’t honestly tell me you’ve never had someone take you through a heat before, Packer.”

Richard was silent.

“Oh my fucking god I will be there in half an hour.”

James hung up.

Richard stared at his phone again and wondered what had just happened.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Tamir has the tendency to write feelings into everything, no matter how filthy. He’s not all that sorry about it. Visit him on his Website.

Tour Schedule

6/26    Book Lovers 4Ever

6/27    Boy Meets Boy Reviews

6/27    Love Bytes Reviews 

6/28    Divine Magazine

6/28    Making it Happen

6/28    Liz’s Reading Life

6/29    Erotica For All

6/29    Happily Ever Chapter

6/29    Reviews for Book Lovers

6/30    Bonkers About Books

6/30    Hoards Jumble 

6/30    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

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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