An Alisa Review: Good Things (Roguefalls #4) by April Kelley

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Sometimes doing right by others means giving up on your own happiness and sometimes it’s just stubbornly resisting the best Fate has to offer.

 

Good things never happen in a continuous stream for Jalen Etters. He has a job he loves, a roof over his head, and all the food he could eat. He even flirts with a sexy little barista named Markie. When he finds himself hiding out from human soldiers on his construction job site, he thinks his good streak is over. Thankfully, Rico, a hawk shifter, is sent to save him, so the good streak is still intact. Then he finds out Rico is his mate but he’s in love with Markie. Maybe his good streak is over after all.

 

I was looking forward to this story and seeing these characters finally get their own story after seeing them in the last few.  Jalen has lived his life for his brothers forever and is willing to give up his own happiness for those he loves.  Markie and Rico have danced around each other for a long time and just as either of them are willing to make a move Jalen is thrown into the mix.

 

Jalen has trouble giving up control of everything and trying to figure out everything with his mates makes that even harder.  I hurt for Markie and Rico when Jalen just seemed to give up hope and wouldn’t respond to anything or anyone.  Markie really shows how he cares and is willing to push in order to break through the walls around Jalen’s heart and finally show his feelings towards Rico.  Rico seemed to think he had everything figured out but it didn’t mean they were all up to his way of thinking and I was happy to see them all finally get past the barriers in their way.

 

The cover art by Erin Dameron-Hill is nice and follows the pattern for the series.

 

Sales Links: Extasy Books | Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 112 pages

Published: September 1, 2017 by Extasy Books

ISBN: 978-1-4874-1444-3

Edition Language: English

Series: Roguefalls #4

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Dragon’s Hoard by M.A. Church

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

To be loved by a dragon is to be treasured.

A hundred years ago, werewolf Alpha Montgomery took a risk driven by desperation—he borrowed money from the ancient dragon Warwick Ehecatl, putting up the pack lands as collateral. Now the debt is due, and dragons don’t forget—or forgive. Warwick demands Montgomery’s son, Avery, and three businesses as compensation. As an Omega, Avery knows he is basically useless to his pack, so he might as well agree. He soon has second thoughts, though. Warwick is fearsome, and he’s free to do as he likes with Avery.

Warwick knows his race’s reputation, and he even admits some of it is deserved. But he’d rather cut off his tail than let his innocent mate’s light go out. It won’t be easy, but buried deep, there’s something between them worth safeguarding.

I can’t resist a dragon’s tale and this new installment in Dreamspinner Press’ Dreamspun Beyond series is another knockout! Dragon’s Hoard by M.A. Church combines several typical story elements such as a dragon and his hoard, a wolf shifter and mate bonding, a pack omega typical characteristics and serves up a finished romance that sees a wonderful new love story emerge from those familiar beginnings.

Our introduction is to a desperate bargain made by Avery’s father and pack Alpha with Warwick, an ancient Dragon and well-known money lender.  Only he’s someone you go to only as the last resort.  Think Dragon shark!  And Avery’s father has been very irresponsible with the pack holdings and finances.  A deal is done and he has 100 years to pay off his debt.  Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

But the wonderful thing about Church’s characters is that it’s not all black and white.  These beings have dimension, what they may be lacking in personality in one area of their character, Church makes it up in another, so you can maybe not identity with them but emphasize a little with their situation.  It’s also our first introduction to Warwick, a formidable personage, every ounce a scary, powerful dragon.

Skip forward to Avery, someone who develops in character and depth by the paragraph. Avery is living the life of a sheltered Omega, considered to weak, submissive, and a bit of a rare hothouse flower.  He doesn’t really think of himself that way but it’s the way all Omegas are regarded.  It’s tradition.  Until one special night…his birthday and the coming of age of himself and the 100 year loan his father made.

How Church builds that suspense and drama is terrific! And the quick meeting of glances! Powerful.

Warwick’s thousands of years of existence has prepared him for everything except for the possibility of meeting his mate. Church gives us two main characters thrown into total confusion, hopefulness, desire, and more.  The author delivers a wonderful twist on the mate bonding here that I loved, and many secondary characters that I loved spending time with.

I loved how this story ended but absolutely wouldn’t mind it if M.A. Church found a way back into this universe to check up on this couple to see how they are doing.  Who knew you could be so happy for a dragon and a wolf?

I absolutely recommend Dragon’s Hoard by M.A. Church.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.  I like the cover, it has some really nice elements to it, including that model who works for Warwick.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 234 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635338805
Edition LanguageEnglish

Review: The Unwanted – The Complete Collection by Westbrooke Jameson

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

The Unwanted Complete CollectionThe unwanteds, that’s what society calls the people who make up the lowest of society.  The prostitutes, the drug users, the poor, the discarded and the dying.  Shots, Derek, Ambrosia, Renzo, and Sara are all young prostitutes.   In addition, they picked up Joel, a gay teenager thrown out of his house because of his sexuality. Together they form a family, willing to do any to keep each other safe and fed.  Unfortunately, Derek is sick.  He contracted the deadly VIS virus and is moving into the final stages of the disease.    The group is barely scraping by when an encounter with an alien john changes everything for all of them.

Recently a race of aliens called Narsoreal made contact and landed on Earth.  In three years time, several major diseases were cured and human technology advanced because of Narsoreal information and assistance.  In return, the alien race asked to collect and bond with humans who are genetically predisposed towards symbiosis with the Narsoreal.  For the governments of the world, only the unwanted were viewed as available for collection and bonding.

When Shots picks up a john called Alimund a Norsoreal, Shots changes not only his life but the lives of everyone in his small family of unwanteds.  Because for each one of them, there is a Narsoreal who is their bondmate, if only they will accept them.

There is so much promise buried within The Unwanted that I wanted to rate it much higher than it deserves.  Originally, each Unwanted had their own story released separately, then a collection of all the stories was published.  And it is much easier to read as a collection than they would have been as individual stories if for no other reason than the flow of the narrative works better.  Unfortunately, whether it is as a collection or separate short stories, there are just so many issues and missed opportunities that I have to give The Unwanted a fail.

Let’s start with some of the most basic issues, the world building.  It just doesn’t make any sense nor does it feel “alien” in any manner.  Jameson makes the aliens and their planet pretty much just like us, only with a few alterations that are so unbelievable that they further disconnect the reader from the Narsoreal and these stories.  The aliens land because they are looking for love.  They bring advance technology, enough to cure some diseases but not VIS or at least that’s the accepted knowledge.   There’s some nonsense about not having the right materials for them to help us build space ships ( a throw away line that makes no sense either) but really the author makes no attempt to give us anything authentically alien.  Not the people, not their abilities (more on that later), not even their technology.  And when we do find out what elements make them “different” from us, its laughable. Really the Narsoreal are so dubious a creation that its screams worst alien ever. They are poorly thought out and mindbogglying lame brained unless you are a prepubescent boy.   If you are going to create aliens, complete with alien physiology and culture, then make it believable.  Don’t make them a reflection of juvenile wants and desires, a cardboard alien worthy of  a Space Hooters or sex doll.

That brings us to characterization or the lack of it.  The only members of the Unwanted that come close to being a layered personality are Shots and Ambrosia, with Ambrosia being my pick of the litter.  The rest of the small group of prostitutes and discarded never rise above a character outline.  They certainly have no credibility as young people who have been abused, abandoned and made to prostitute themselves as the only means to survive. As a described by the author, this group has seen it all from their lowly position on the streets but the reader never gets any sort of desperation or emotions that would reflect this status.  Its more what they say they are then what actually comes across, and that’s a huge fault when it comes to characterization.

But if they are bad, then the aliens are so much worse.  The really only alien thing about them is that they physically morph or their body changes (permanently) according to the wishes of their bondmate.  Of course, they don’t tell their human bondmates that fact.  So  one ends up looking like Legolas with long white hair and elf ears.  Another ends up with wings, and another with a penis and a vagina.  *shakes head*  If you are going this heartstoppingly stupid and young, why stop there?  Where is the woman with three breasts?  Of course, there is no continuity here.  So the one alien is another species, a worker bee, who doesn’t change. Which is a good thing because his human bondmate thinks he looks like a bulldog.  Awkward. But if there were any logic to this, then it would be the worker class who would change their physiology, to better help them shoulder the load so to speak.  Another thing is that these aliens are rich.  So you have rich aliens who change their physical state according to their lovers wishes?  And the upper echelon of the world’s societies doesn’t want them to bond with?  That makes no sense either.  Who among the rich wouldn’t want a mate who is rich, changes according to your desires and cures diseases by their bond.  Oops, did I forget that exchanging fluids with these aliens cures every disease you could humanly have?  The Narsoreal are a kind of one stop shopping for any of your sexual, emotional, financial and pharmaceutical needs. Do they have personalities too?  Not really because how could they?  They aren’t real in any respect, merely objects that reflect the needs and desires of their human companions.

And that’s both my problem with these stories and the promise I see as well.  Had these stories been a treatise of the objectification of others, or a humorous take on loving yourself, or some sort of allegory about making love to one’s dreams, that would have been one thing.  All the elements are there for any of those takes on the human condition or maybe just an alien comedy.  All but one human changes the alien into the lover of their dreams and that one can’t because that alien’s different? It’s all instant love and instant bonding.  But how is that believable is that love if you change them almost immediately without getting to know them?  These humans don’t love the aliens, they love what the alien becomes. What a great subject for these stories!  But was that ever addressed any where? No, I mean even their cum changes from purple grape flavor to black licorice, a sort of Skittles of choices. Oh look, he shoots purple jism, If that’s not a juvenile giggle fest in the making I don’t know what is.  If you were the alien, wouldn’t you be a teensy bit upset over wings, a purple penis,  purple nipples and purple cum, a purple grape tasting cum?  That other alien has it worse, his human loves the color pink. But as written, the Narsoreal are both intergalactic doormats and any teenagers sexual wet dream mashed up together.

Add to that just awful dialog.  The aiiens say things like  “Yes, my treasure, I will change for you. I will become whatever pleases you most, my prince, my darling.” or to Joel Flowers . “I will be your giant if you will be my flower.”  The group explains it away as the aliens speak “formally”.  No, that’s bad romance talking, not Downton Abbey.

Add all of that up from the terrible world building, poor characterization, cheesy dialog and a plot with promise that misses on every level, and you have a collection of stories I can’t  recommend to anyone other than a friend of the author’s.   I think thats one of the problems when you self publish, not enough eyes and assistance (read that as editing) for the author and their writing.  I hope that the next stories from Westbrooke Jameson achieve the promise I saw here.

Cover Design by Morris Duncan. Cover Photo Credit to Joel Kramer via Flickr Creative Commons License.  The cover makes no sense either.  No aliens, nothing other than an alley?  Consider the cover a missed opportunity too.

Book Details:

ebook
Published August 2013 by Westbrooke Jameson
edition language English
series The Unwanted

Review: Redemption of the Beast (Outside the City #3) by Amylea Lyn

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Rating: 4 stars

Redemption of the Beast coverIt’s been 15 years since the City Dome fell and Owen Sanders returned home with his small twin brothers, Micah and Lucah to the Katrian village where he lives with his mate, Maltok, co leader of the Katria.  And while Lucah recovered from their shared ordeal, Micah’s health still suffers from the effects of the gassing he took as a child.  But one thing has stayed constant, other than his love for his brothers, and that would be his love of Sashan, the Katrian warrior who found them escaping from the City and carried him back to the village.  For all 15 years, Micah has loved Sashan but the shy, hermit like warrior stays away from Micah and the village, visiting infrequently.  From Sashan’s actions, Micah concludes that it is his physical weakness and small size that repulses Sashan, and he despairs of ever having his love returned.

Sashon is a gentle and troubled  warrior who is still trying to recover emotionally from the events of the past.  Emotionally and physically abused by his twin brother, Rashon, he was still devastated when the identity of the betrayer was revealed.  Further solidifying his guilt and pain was the fact that Sashon delivered the blow that killed his brother.  His emotions in turmoil and his guilt overwhelming him, Sashon feels unworthy of the one person he loves and who he knows to be his mate, Micah.

Then Micah is kidnapped and Sashan must put away all his fears and guilt to rescue his mate, discover who is behind the kidnapping, and how the City and its Planners are involved.  The race is on and Micah’s frail health puts his life in jeopardy.  Will Sashon find the redemption he seeks when he finds his mate?

Redemption of the Beast is the third book in this addicting and sometimes frustrating series, Outside The City,  by Amylea Lyn.  First let’s go over the highlights and wonders that make me return book after book.

Amylea Lyn has created a remarkable universe for her series.  We are on a planet of various geology and climes, but humans (as such) have retreated to a Domed City that was created by the Founders, their creation race, and now never venture outside because of the rules of their society and their fears of the creatures and plants that live there.  A race of felines called the Katria (various species from tigers to lions etc) live in villages outside the Dome and are at odds with the rulers of the City.  Book one, The Nature of the Beast, gives us a general outline for The City, its culture and homogeneous human inhabitants.  They all have light blue eyes, white blonde hair, same physical structure and anything outside of that norm, including honey blonde hair is looked down upon. Along with the marvelous Katrian culture, Lyn brought an amazing element of plant symbiosis in Raine, another important character.  This merger of human and plants is so enthralling and potent that I still cannot stop thinking about all the possibilities that can occur in future plots.

Book two, The Beast’s Promise, saw the fall of the Dome that protected the City and isolated its citizens. It was brings back a secondary character of Owen Sanders, his mate Maltok and Owen’s quest to find and save his twin brothers. It is also our first glimpse of Sashan.  We are given further information as to the Founders and their purpose on the planet, just fascinating as the author starts adding additional layers to her universe and the series story lines.  By the end of this book, we are clamoring to know more about the twins and she gives it to us in book three. However, there is no mention of the  plant symbiosis that drove the first book, sigh.

Redemption of the Beast continues to enlarge our knowledge of the planet’s inhabitants as it now adds a race of wolf shifters called Wolfrik to the mix and an explanation as to their (and the Katrians) existence. Sashan, a character that captured our hearts along with the twins now gets his story and that of his mate.  The addition of the Wolfrik shows that the Founders had a larger role for all the species involved, we just don’t know what it is yet.  There are more betrayals, twists and turns along with the angst and sorrow I have come to expect from this series.  But Lyn always balances the pain with the joy of a mate bond concluded and the suspense of a new bond yet to be revealed.  Amylea Lyn always sets the stage for the next in the series by the end of the current book. So we know that Lucah’s book is the next to come.

Combine the author’s terrific plot ideas with her ability to bring her scenes to life with vivid and powerful descriptions, and you have a series that compels you to read them like an addictive treat you can’t stop eating.  But there are also frustrations here as well that make me grind my teeth even as I devour each page of the story.  Most of it would be assuaged if Silver Publishing would do a better job at editing their stories.  Mistakes such as “on” when it should be “of”, and other errors similar in nature are noted but what really makes me crazy is things like the sentence below:

“I would know where I was going if you hadn’t broken my (blank), you little piss ant!” (spoiler word removed)

Now, yes you can call someone a piss ant although with that usage it should be pissed ant.  I suspect (and hope) that the editors knew the word was pissant  for an insignificant or contemptible person or thing.  Or use piss-ant, that’s ok too.  Both come from pismire, a 14th Old English term for ant. Yes, spell check wants to divide it, not so the dictionary. Still a human editor relying on knowledge and not a machine should know whether you want it to mean an angry arthropod or someone of no consequence. By the way, the word piss came from the smell emanating from an ant hill, good Jeopardy question.  Now you know.

And another is that when talking about a treaty between the Wolfrik tribe and the Katria, it is proposed between two negotiators to send the wolf shifter healers to the Katria and Katrian hunters to the Wolfrik to help them hunt.  Huh, because wolves are such bad hunters?  Either we are missing some necessary information, or this doesn’t make sense give the wolf shifter backstory the author supplies us with.

Anyhow let’s return to my qualms about editing errors and mistakes because I know there are some of you thinking that this is nick picking and you might be right.  But when something, whether it is suspect language or punctuation, stops you mid sentence, interrupting the story for you, then it becomes important,  It has provided a distraction away from the author’s narrative, impeded the proceedings, and the momentum is lost for however long it takes to get it back, not good when it happens during an “aha” moment.  Frustrating or as I call it, the “argh” moment.

But even with those issues, I can’t stop reading this series.  Lyn’s lively, layered characters will stay with you, their backstories will haunt you, and the predicaments they find themselves in amuse and terrify you.  Amylea Lyn leaves me wanting more and wanting to know more about the universe she has created and the beings that populate it.  This is a terrific series and with the right editor, it could be a 5 star series that the ideas deserve.  Either way, if you are new to the series, start at the beginning book and work your way through.  It is the only way to make sense of the characters and the situations they are involved in.

Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read:

Nature of the Beast (Outside the City #1)

The Beast’s Promise (Outside the City #2)

Redemption of the Beast (Outside the City #3)

Cover design by Reese Dante.  I love the design with the exception of the blond haired model, something about him seems off and ruins it for me.  Otherwise it is ok, love the tiger and the mountains as well as the model at the upper left corner.