An Ali Review: The Well by Marie Sexton

Standard
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Twenty years after prom queen Cassie Kennedy is brutally murdered, six teenagers break into the house where she was killed to hold a séance. Haven knows his cousin Elise only wants to scare the crap out of him and his friends, but he’s willing to put up with one of her pranks if it means a chance to spend a few hours with the new kid in town, Pierce Hunter. 

But when morning comes, Elise has disappeared without a trace. 

Twelve years later, Pierce and his twin brother Jordan are professional paranormal investigators, starring in their own ghost-hunting TV show. When Pierce calls Haven, insisting they return to the supposedly haunted building one last time, Haven reluctantly agrees. He’s nervous about seeing Pierce again, but he’s determined to get some answers. Did they really speak to Cassie’s ghost that night? What happened to Elise? And the biggest mystery of all – how did she know the secret of the well?
 
I was immediately intrigued when I read the blurb for this book.  I love a good mystery story and when you throw in a paranormal aspect I’m beyond excited.  I wasn’t sure what to think though, of this type of book written by this author.  Everything I’ve read of hers before has been a contemporary romance.  I’m super excited to say that she knocked this out of the ballpark.
The story focused on Haven who is now a horror book author.  When he was still a teen, he and his two cousins and some other friends, spend the night in a reportedly haunted house and then his cousin Elise disappears.  Two of the boys are now paranormal investigators with a famous television show and they contact Haven and ask him to come meet with them in regards to doing a new show on the house and it’s mysteries.  Haven can’t say no because he’s haunted by the question of what happened to Elise, as well as his feelings for Pierce.
The story is told in alternating chapters.  It goes back and forth between the past and the present.  The chapters from the past were spooky and I probably shouldn’t have been reading this late at night.  Just when things would start to get scary it would move to the present.  I thought it was a great story telling technique.  It gave me a break from clutching my blanket and dog against me and it kept me totally intrigued.  I couldn’t read fast enough to find out what really happened that night.
There is some romance between Haven and Pierce but it is not the main focus of the story.  I enjoyed watching them together and felt the ending was a solid HFN.
If you enjoy stories with a paranormal twist I can’t recommend this enough.  While it’s different than her norm, I think this is one of the best books this author has written.
Cover:  I think the cover is well done and it fits the story perfectly.  It gives off the creepy vibe that the book does.
Sales Links
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 206 pages
Published May 22nd 2017
Original TitleThe Well
ASINB06XWVMH7H
Edition LanguageEnglish

A BJ Review: Stealing Innocents by Cari Waites aka Lisa Henry

Standard

Overall Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

StealingInnocents_600x900Those who dare to scratch the surface of ordinary, everyday life may be horrified to find a sick underbelly beneath—a nightmare world populated by villains and victims, predators and prey, where the rules of society no longer apply.

Where you’ll find people like Danny, the boy who sells himself to pay for his father’s gambling debts and ends up in a situation more twisted than he ever imagined. Or Troy, the cop whose obsession with saving a brutalized human trafficking victim turns deadly. Or Drew, the mental patient who begins to suspect his nightly delusions of abuse by his doctor are actually real. Or David, the cuckolded husband who decides the best way to get revenge is to seduce his wife’s barely legal son.

Stealing Innocents is an exploration of our darkest human impulses, where sex is power, love is horror, and there’s no such thing as a happy ending.

Holy crap! I mean, seriously folks… this anthology is well-written, compelling, and it will mess with your head. Seriously. Are you ready for that? Cuz if non-con and rape bother you, if you’re squeamish and or if horror keeps you up at night, then I’d say this may not be an anthology for you. It will push your buttons for sure. This is some sick and twisted stuff we have here… at times it made me feel dirty/wrong just reading it. It also also make me think and question. There are twists I didn’t see coming, nuances I didn’t fully experience until I sat back and thought about what I’d just read. And there’s stuff I can’t get out of my head, can’t un-read but maybe partly wish I could.

Gamble Everything – 4 stars

Eighteen year old Danny sells himself to Peter Archer to repay his father’s gambling debts.

I’d read the original version of this as a compilation and had rated it originally as 4 stars. Reading it in this anthology, it did seem to read more smoothly and feel more fully realized, but that could also be just because it was my second reading. This one has kink galore: sounding, fisting, plugging, cock cage, orgasm denial, caning, spanking, enemas, multiple partners, toys, bondage, humiliation, daddy-kink, and more. If you enjoy reading some kink, this book should totally rock your boat. However, it was the twist at the end that made it what it was for me. Damn, Archer is a master manipulator. And is there romance… well, read it and decide.

First and Only – 3 stars

David is pretty sure his wife of less than twelve months is cheating on him and since he’s had the hots for her barely legal son since he first saw him, he decides the best way to get revenge is to him. However, he didn’t bargain for having real feelings for the youth. This one did have love… of a sort. I read it waiting for the twist I sensed would come, but didn’t see what ended up happening coming. Again, this one wasn’t erotic to me, but it definitely drew me in and made me eager to see where it would go. It left me with a ton of unanswered questions floating around in my head though, and also given how it ended, it seemed a bit strange that it was written from David’s past tense POV.

Crazy – 3.75 stars

Drew’s not crazy. The dreams he has at night of his doctor restraining and dominating him can’t be true. Just because he’s a patient in a mental health facility doesn’t mean he’s crazy. Right?

Is it real or is it not? A twisted, intensely harrowing little story that could fly either way, I guess, from how it’s written. But I took it as being real, which left me wondering how in heck his parents could take the doctor’s word over his when he’d went into the facility for mere depression and is now diagnosed with… well, deemed as crazy. Probably once again my issue with trust (i.e. his parents not trusting that he is telling them the truth.) It’s definitely well-written, and it made me feel—revulsion, disgust, anger, even betrayal. So while my initial impulse was to rate it three, that got outvoted (see story reference) as I thought on it. It reminded me a bit of how I felt when I watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I’d classify this little story firmly in the category of horror rather than BDSM or erotica and for the most part, I do enjoy horror stories. Except…

Falling Angels – Cannot Even Rate

Arkady is a legend. Arkady is an angel. Arkady is a slave.
Troy is a voyeur. Troy is a rescuer. Troy may be a monster.

Sex trafficking of young boys… non-con, torture, mutilation.  An innocent in the hands of first a sex trafficker which is awful, right? Well, it pales when you go further into the story and meet a monster. This gives new meaning to the idea that things could always be worse. And Troy… the obsessed police officer, the one man would could have possibly have saved him but couldn’t even save himself.

Make no mistake here: this story is very dark with no redemption or love. For me, this is more horror than erotica. I read it with hope, but there was no hope. I finished and just sat stunned speechless. If the point was to horrify, it did that. In spades. Move over Stephen King, Clive Barker and the other masters of horror. Cuz this one freaked me he heck out. Left me feeling disturbing and hopeless, drained and dirty, and overall not really knowing how to rate it.

How do you rate a nightmare? As a horror story, yep… completely horrified so I guess that would be a five. But giving it a five seems to say that I enjoyed it and that it’s a favorite. Can I say that? Hell, no. So I chose not to rate this one at all.

This cover by L.C. Chase is dark, the model is hot and the pose is just incredibly sexy to me. Very nice.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | ARe | Amazon


Book Details:  

book, 264 pages
Published January 9th 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleStealing Innocents
ISBN 1626493782 (ISBN13: 9781626493780)
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL

A MelanieM Review: Dead Things by Meredith Russell

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Devin never thought he could find hope or love among the ruins of a broken world. Not until he found Noah.

Dead-Things-ebookDevin Reed is one of the last survivors of a virus that has turned the earth’s population into living corpses…zombies.  Devin lives and conducts daily hunts from high security penitentiary in Kansas State that provides his group of survivors with shelter and security.   Devin returned from his last tour in Afghanistan to find the world gone mad.  He lost everyone he loved to the plague, including his long term partner and love.  Broken hearted and enraged by the circumstances he finds himself in, he risks his life daily to leave to hunt for supplies and any other survivors he can find.

One fateful scavenger trip changes everything when Devin and his partner check out what looks to be an abandoned farm house and find Noah Webber, the last of his family and the only person to survive a zombie attack.  Each man has lost so much, and their attraction to each other is bound up in each other’s survivor guilt and fear.  Together Devin and Noah unite to fight the monsters around them.  But it will take more than determination and firepower to win, it  might take finding the courage  to risk all for love and the hope of a future.

Just when I think I’ve about had my fill of all things zombie, along comes a story to remind me why this genre is so pupular.  Dead Things by Meredith Russell manages to combines  the heartbreak of loss, suspense, a post apocalyptic world, zombies and, of course, romance and has us sitting on the edge of our seats while doing it.

I especially liked her character, Devin Reed.  He is the epitome of a survivor, complete with a lost love, a sense of futility about the present and yet he endures and perseveres.  He’s also a warrior, hot, and gay.  Devin feels real,  he is shut down emotionally, allowing only the pain of loss or anger to penetrate the barriers he has erected again any further vulnerability.  There are other characters around that also seem authentic to the direness of the circumstances they find themselves in but Devin comes across as the most believable.

Noah Webber took longer for me to invest in.  His attitude seems at odds with his history and background.  And although we got a good explanation for his actions and outlook, it ended up irritating not only Devin but the reader as well.  Luckily for the story, that faded away under the onslaught of zombies and the events that occur.

Russell adds in high suspense, to go along with the anxiety of survival and the prickling of hope for the future.  The author solidly builds her story and keeps us guessing as we head into the climax and story resolution.  It’s fun, heartbreaking, white knuckle ride all the way to the end.  If you are a lover of zombies and post apocalyptic worlds to go along with your M/M romance, then add this to your TBR list.  It delivers what it promises. And that makes it one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words recommended reads.

Like most fiction of this trope, a small group of survivors has banded together in the most secure place they could find, a high security penitentiary.  This place has become their world, complete with a dictator who makes the rules and expects everyone to follow them.

Cover art by Meredith Russell.  Love the cover, it works perfectly for the character and gives a dark tone to the overall look.

Sales Links:  All Romance (ARe)       Amazon        Dead Things

Book Details:

book, Second edition
Published August 29th 2014 (first published August 2012)