A VVivacious Review: A Sniper’s Devotion (Cuffs, Collars and Love #5) by Christa Tomlinson

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Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Miguel has managed to get himself out of an abusive relationship and he is in need of help and who better to provide it then the very guy who protected him on the schoolyard and who Miguel always thinks of as his protector.

Hector and Miguel were close prior to Miguel’s relationship with his now ex-boyfriend. As Hector finds himself in close quarters with Miguel, a lot of those old feelings are coming up along with a whole lot of suppressed desires.

One crazy night opens a whole new can of worms. Is Hector ready to embrace his sexuality? Is Miguel ready for another relationship given how his last one ended? Is their relationship going to take off or is it doomed to fail before it even starts…

Okay, first of all, I just need to get this off my chest. That epilogue is on fire. Oh My God! It has been two days since I finished this book and the first thing that comes to mind when I sit to write this review is that epilogue. On Fire! I tell you. God it just gets me, how confident and secure Miguel is in their relationship like nothing can touch him. It is actually a pretty good indicator of how their relationship turned out and I must say it was one hell of a ride.

Friends-to-Lovers is one of my all-time favourite troops and this book just took it to another level. Miguel and Hector were such amazingly well-written characters and what I loved most about this book was that it let these two characters develop outside of their relationship as well, especially with regards to Miguel.

Miguel has just gotten out of a bad relationship and he needs to stand on his own two feet before he can commit to another relationship and I personally loved the fact that he stood up for himself every time. It was so good to see Miguel find his way back to being self-confident and independent.

I loved Hector and I have no idea why. I never paid much attention to him in the previous books and I had no special interest in Hector’s story as such, it would have been okay for me if the series ended with “An Officer’s Submission” though I will never say no to more Logan and Clay. So reading this book and liking Hector so much was a surprise. Hector is a bad-ass and I loved his character so much. I especially loved all his soul-baring conversations with Clay and Ryan and it was damn good to see the team.

Hector and Miguel always had chemistry, like off the top sizzling chemistry, so, I loved the fact that what they struggle with is not how to get in a relationship or be in it but how to get rid of their own hang-ups before they can commit to each other. Personally, I loved the book and how it plots out each characters’ journey and I especially loved where they end up.

The only reason this book is not a 5-star read is because I am docking half a star for getting me all hot and bothered and not delivering on it.

All in all an amazing book in a very amazing series.

Cover art by Melody Simmons of eBook Indie Covers. I really like the cover, it really fits the aesthetic of the series.

Sales Links: 

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Kobo | iTunes

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 268 pages
Published November 7th 2017
ASINB076GP7TDK
SeriesCuffs, Collars, and Love #4 settingHouston, Texas (United States)

 

Need a New Romance? Check out A Sniper’s Devotion (Cuffs, Collars and Love #5) by Christa Tomlinson (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  A Sniper’s Devotion

Series: Cuffs, Collars and Love #5

Author: Christa Tomlinson

Publisher: Self published

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 77,500

Genre: Romance, Friends to Lovers, Multicultural Romance, Hispanic Main Characters, Spanking, Stand Alone

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Synopsis

Officer Hector Castillo, a sniper on Houston’s elite SWAT team, is content living alone as a perpetual bachelor. But when he opens up his small apartment to a friend in need, their close quarters awaken long suppressed desires Hector can’t help but acknowledge.

Miguel Delgado’s unfortunate detour down a road he never intended to travel ends in a big wake up call, but he vows to get himself back on track. Though he’s always looked up to Hector, Miguel isn’t a kid with hero-worship anymore, and his schoolyard protector has matured into a strong and caring man – who happens to look damn sexy in his SWAT uniform.

Though their physical attraction to each other is undeniable, Hector and Miguel try hard to resist and protect their friendship. Until one night changes everything…

A Sniper’s Devotion is a loving and sexy, friends to lovers erotic romance. Hector and Miguel’s story is part of the Cuffs, Collars and Love series, but it is a stand-alone novel.

Excerpt

“Aaaagh!” Miguel squeaked again, ducking his head into Hector’s shoulder as a mass of zombies burst into the shop where the hero and his family were hiding. “How are you not dying at this?” he asked in an agonized voice.

Hector held back a grin at Miguel’s over-the-top reaction. After the things he’d seen on the police force, it would take more than a jump scare to freak him out. “I’m trembling on the inside,” he said.

“You are not,” Miguel answered with a dry laugh. He started to pull away. “Sorry about that.”

Hector stopped him. “You’re just going to jump back on me anyway. Might as well stay here where I can protect you from the zombies.”

Miguel snorted another laugh, but after a moment’s hesitation, he settled back against him. He rested against Hector’s chest, with his bent legs laying half over one of Hector’s. As the movie played on, the hero and his crew making a perilous escape from the zombie horde, Hector brought his hand up from the back of the couch, absently running it through Miguel’s hair. The curls were soft, sliding through his fingers.

Eventually the action on screen slowed, giving both the hero and the viewers a moment to breathe. Hector’s attention wandered from the screen, and he realized it was strange to have his hand in another man’s hair. He and Miguel were so close, and it was such a habit from watching movies with dates that he’d done it without even thinking. He abruptly stopped. Sitting there stiffly, his hand frozen in Miguel’s hair, he wondered if he should apologize. Before he could decide, Miguel turned his head slightly, his lips brushing Hector’s neck as he spoke.

“That felt nice,” he said in a soft whisper. “Keep going.”

His chest suddenly tight, Hector relaxed his fingers and slowly started playing them through Miguel’s hair again. His eyes were on the TV, but he wasn’t really watching the movie. Neither was Miguel. His face stayed turned into Hector’s neck, warm breath softly blowing over his skin. It was a surprise and yet not when Miguel pressed a kiss to his throat.

At that moment, Hector should have moved away from Miguel. Hell, he should have gotten off the couch altogether. But he didn’t. He sat there, letting Miguel brush more kisses up and down the side of his neck. A hand landed on his thigh. Hector swallowed hard, then turned to look down at his friend.

Purchase

Self published | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

Christa Tomlinson is an exciting up and coming author in erotic romance. Her first self-published novel, The Sergeant, was an Amazon Best Seller for Gay and Lesbian Erotica for seven weeks straight.

Christa graduated from The University of Missouri-St. Louis with a degree in History. She loves to create stories that are emotional and lovely with sex that is integral to the characters’ romantic arc. Her books include straight couples, curvy couples, gay, and multicultural couples. Love is love and everyone should have their story told.

Christa lives in Houston, Texas with her two dogs, and is a retired roller derby player

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail | Instagram | Newsletter | BookBub

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A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Tender with a Twist (Rainbow Cove #2) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

One kinky wood carver. One younger chef looking to try new things. A series of lessons that bring both men more than they bargained for…

Curtis Hunt has made a name for himself as a chainsaw wood carver, winning national competitions and operating a small business in Rainbow Cove, Oregon. As winter whittles away his tourist traffic, his goal is just to survive the season and try to not get lost in grief for his dead lover. It’s been two years, but he’s sure he’ll never be over the love of a lifetime. However, his body has a certain restlessness that he doesn’t quite know how to calm.

Logan Rosner knows a thing or two about restlessness. It’s what drove him to Rainbow Cove to be a chef at a bar and grill run by his friends. And it’s what drives him to a single sizzling encounter with the local legendary lumberjack. Both men get far more than they expected and learn that first impressions aren’t always accurate…

But when Logan proposes a series of sexy lessons, Curtis must decide how much he’s willing to risk. He knows he can’t afford to get attached to Logan’s good cooking, his easy smiles, or his caretaking, but he keeps going back for more, even as deeper emotions become involved. Soon, Curtis must decide whether to risk his heart again or risk losing Logan for good.

Tender with a Twist is a 75,000 word stand-alone gay romance with a May/December theme, featuring a second chance at love, opposites attract, loads of sexy times with mild BDSM elements, and one emotionally-charged, guaranteed happy ending with no cliffhangers.

With the release of Tender with a Twist by Annabeth Albert cements Rainbow Cove as one of my favorite destinations for love and romance.  Of course it started with Trust with a Chaser (Rainbow Cove, #1) where Mason Hanks with his friends Adam and Logan Rosner open a bar and grill in an Oregon seaside town desperately in need of revival.  Mason finds love with the town’s Sheriff Nash Flint while they struggle to keep their new restaurant alive.

In Tender with a Twist,  we find both the town and the restaurant all still trying to survive.  The restaurant is trying to make it through the off-season until the tourists return and the town is trying to adapt and understand what it would mean to be an LGBT destination point if the new resort opens up and the influx of new  businesses arrive.  Not all the townspeople are happy with the new developements.  In every way change appears as a force to be faced here in this story.

For both Curtis and Logan, the need for change is at the heart of the issues both men are facing.  With Annabeth Albert, there’s never any “telling” in her stories.  The author’s ability to telegraph the deep confusion, grief, frustration, and pain these men are going through to the reader is real and amazingly vivid.

For Curtis, he’s caught in place by the loss of his husband, held in stasis by his mother-in law’s grief as well as his own,  plus her guilt that refuses the let them both move forward towards anything like a life without her son. That’s she is also his last remaining tie to the man he loved? Just another knot on the ropes holding him in place…the fear that if he moves forward he will lose her too. He’s let everything go, abandoned their old friends, their pleasures, even houses.  Only one thing he has left personally…his need to be a sub.  And that has just been pulled away from him when the Dom he’s been using has said they can’t continue.  Plus his best friend, Nash, has just found a partner.  So now Curtis truly feels alone and isolated.  Albert makes us feel every bit of the pain and heartache emanating from Curtis Hunt.

Then there’s the surprising bundle of character traits that is Logan Rosner.  He is one of the most amazing characters and one I absolutely adored.  Logan too is bound by a past that won’t let go.  This time it’s his parents who refuse to see him as an adult, keeping him firmly planted in his painful past, binding him in their fears and in their image of him.  But Logan has strengths he has kept hidden, including the fact that he’s a Dom. An untried one, basically, but still a Dom and Curtis fits everything he wants in a sub.  And more…Curtis fits everything Logan wants in his life.

How Annabeth Albert works these two complicated men past the age barrier, the grief, their backgrounds, their families that are holding them back, all the realistic elements and then moves them forward into a relationship that the readers see lasting for the rest of their lives?  Well, it’s one of the most heart warming stories that I’ve read in awhile and one that’s made me love the Rainbow Cove series even more (if that’s possible).

The D/s element is so well done here, especially as it can’t be part of the romance, at least not at first.  Curtis can’t handle that.  So it’s woven into a different part of their lives as they discover more about that aspect of each other.  That level of trust then allows an openness for other revelations to follow.  And yes, it’s sexy and very, very hot!

But for me it’s the healing of two hearts and the love that these two men find together that even now starts to send me back to the beginning of their story to start to read it all over again.  Rainbow Cove is a very special place and as much as I love all of Annabeth Albert’s series, I suspect that this one has found it’s way to the top of the list.   It’s certainly my top destination location.   Make it yours!  You don’t have to have read the first in the series to read Tender with a Twist but it helps to give you that additional background knowledge on the place and characters you will meet here.   Plus it’s another fantastic story.  I highly recommend this one and the series.

Cover design: Sloan J Designs.  I love this design.  It’s perfect for the character and I love the tone that comes across.

Purchase at Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published October 2nd 2017 by Annabeth Albert
SeriesRainbow Cove #2 settingOregon (United States)

RELEASE DAY BLITZ: Figure Study by Suzanne Clay (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Figure Study

Series: Chiaroscuro, Book Two

Author: Suzanne Clay

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 25, 2017

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 19900

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, erotica, contemporary, lesbian, artist, teacher/student, age-gap, interracial, light D/s, edging, spanking, rope bondage/shibari

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Synopsis

Ainsley and her former student Noma face the aftermath of their unexpected one-night stand in this second story of Chiaroscuro.

The night Ainsley spent gently dominating Noma was far more intimate than any scene she’d ever been in before. The intensity of playing with someone she’d taught and cared about was a completely different experience–and twice as intimidating. She’d had two options: turn Noma away and never see her again, or let her stay for a few hours more.

The years away from scenes have left Ainsley eager for play but unsteady in her role. And memories of a younger Noma, when their relationship was student and mentor, only add to the confusion. A return to familiar ropes and knots, an erotic bondage play, helps Ainsley regain a sense of control and face her vulnerabilities. She must learn to see Noma as an adult woman in every way, risking a dangerous power imbalance, even as her heart begins to yearn for intimacy she’s long hidden from.

As they delve into new scenes, Ainsley and Noma confront past pain and baggage. Only by facing their fear of opening up can they learn to trust each other and share something deeper.

Excerpt

Figure Study
Suzanne Clay © 2017
All Rights Reserved

 

The last time Ainsley made breakfast for someone she was procrastinating for her senior show. There had been paintings to finish, an artist statement to make foolproof, and a final defense to prepare, and ultimately, it had been too much for her. A warm body and a kind smile had helped for the night, but the morning after had been too soon for Ainsley to jump back into the fray. On that day fifteen years ago, her delaying tactic had been blueberry muffins. This morning, it was blueberry pancakes.

The fruit felt cool and firm in Ainsley’s hand as she poured them into the pale batter. She lingered for a moment, considering their fullness and the way they floated on the surface. There was a striking color contrast emphasized by the sunrise cutting through her kitchen’s picture window. It felt shameful to ruin it. But ruin she did. With one stir of her wooden spoon, she watched the berries disappear under the surface, leaving behind divots that rapidly filled with the batter again.

Moments like this struck her on a daily basis, and not for the first time, Ainsley wondered why. Was it from her artistic sensibilities, appreciating the difference of colors and the play of textures and the shifting of shapes? Or was it from yet another night of insomnia? Did her exhausted mind make everything feel a little more visceral, look a little more striking? She wasn’t sure. And while she found appreciation from these little things regardless, she also felt uncomfortable that maybe, just maybe, it was something she shouldn’t be pleased by.

She was making these pancakes to delay waking the girl in her room. She was making coffee to avoid sleeping so she wouldn’t risk sensual, aching dreams about the woman she still wasn’t sure she regretted touching.

Ainsley paused by the pantry with the syrup bottle loose in her grip. She sat at the breakfast table cradling the bottle safely in her hands.

Fifteen years ago, she made blueberry muffins to avoid her final university projects. And Noma, the girl dreaming so peacefully in her bed, had left kindergarten only a short time later. God, that puts things in perspective.

Ainsley sacrificed a pancake’s perfect golden-brown color to pour some coffee and drink it—too hot, too bitter, and too strong. The taste was enough to drown out the burgeoning worries in her head, and the burned edges of the pancake were enough penance to set Ainsley’s heart at ease again. Ainsley would eat it. She never much minded eating things everyone else wanted to throw away.

By the time Ainsley brought the tray full of pancakes and coffee and syrup into the bedroom, her mind was clear again. Noma looked like she hadn’t moved an inch in her sleep. She lay on her stomach, hands fisted by her face, and the pinks and purples that Ainsley had painted on her back were perfectly intact. She hadn’t stirred from the sounds of Ainsley moving pots around or the grinding of the coffee beans. She slept perfectly. Peacefully.

Ainsley envied that to the very depths of her soul.

After setting the tray on the end of the bed, she sat next to Noma and caressed her arm. The play of the color contrast between their skin—Ainsley’s blue-white paleness against Noma’s umber brown—stirred her imagination toward painting, but her thoughts silenced as Noma moved under her touch and made a low sound. Ainsley gently squeezed her arm and smiled. “Good morning.”

“Mmnh…” Noma squinted up at Ainsley, came up on her elbows, and rubbed her eyes. “Morning.” She froze, hand still in a fist, and grunted. “God, I’ve still got my makeup on. Did I really just pass out last night?”

“You did,” Ainsley said with a chuckle. “You must’ve been out of it.”

“Yeah, well…” Noma’s cheeks flushed a dark rose as she collapsed flat again. “I mean, y’know, I had a pretty good night and all.”

Ainsley tipped her head to the side. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” With her cheek resting on her bent forearms like a pillow, Noma peeked up at Ainsley, half her face still obscured. “You?”

Ainsley had spent a long night sitting at her breakfast table staring into the darkness and remembering over and over again what she’d done: crossing paths with Noma at Ainsley’s gallery showing, getting Noma’s safeword, painting her skin, tasting her sweet arousal—all without ever asking herself if it had been wise to move so fast. Ainsley considered her response. “I think it went rather well,” she finally said as she pushed her hair over her shoulder.

Noma stared at her intently. “You think so, huh?”

There was something Noma wasn’t saying—something Ainsley couldn’t pick up on as much as she wanted to. It was like Noma was hedging her bets until she knew exactly what Ainsley wasn’t saying. Ainsley narrowed her eyes, weighing her thoughts, and shook her head. “Didn’t I used to be able to read your face a lot better?”

“That was a long time ago,” Noma said, smiling. “I’m not quite the girl I used to be.”

“No, you’re not,” Ainsley murmured. “No, you’re a woman now.” She flicked her eyes down Noma’s body and took in the swell of her rear end, the stretch marks over her hips, and the smoothness of her skin. “Do you want to know a secret?”

Noma sat up on her elbows. “Yes, ma’am.”

“That’s part of why I didn’t sleep last night,” Ainsley said. “Just from trying to reconcile the idea of you as a woman instead of a student.”

The smile Noma gave was more tentative than anything, no doubt still trying to figure out her place in Ainsley’s bed. “Makes sense. Guess I gotta do that too. I keep seeing you as Miss Edwards.”

Ainsley smiled back. “Is that why you called me ‘ma’am’ just a second ago?”

Noma seemed flustered for a moment, her cheeks flushing even more. “No, that’s, uh…no, I think that’s from last night.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Suzanne is an asexual woman with a great love for writing erotica and enjoys spending her time confusing people with that fact. She believes there is a need for heightened diversity in erotic fiction and strives to write enough stories so that everyone can see themselves mirrored in a protagonist. She lives with her husband and cat, and, when not writing, Suzanne enjoys reading, playing video games poorly, and refusing to interact outdoors with other human beings.

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A MelanieM Review: Sūnder (Darksoul #1) by Lexi Ander

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

If Sūnder Alārd had been born female he would have been cherished for being faeborn—born with magick—and his birth celebrated. Instead, his L’fÿn mother insisted on his death. Only his Panthrÿn father’s desperate escape through the forest saved him. With most Chándariāns uneasy in his presence due to rumors he is doomed to become a darksoul, and unlikely to find a mate because of it, Sunder has nevertheless carved out an honorable existence as a warrior and commander. Serving as bodyguard and chaperone for the Chándariān prince, Sūnder accompanies his charge to the annual mating festival on Earth, and when the prince is injured, he can’t help but be fascinated by the tongue-tied nurse who attends them at the hospital.

At sixteen years of age, Gabriel St. Baptista came home to discover his parents had taken off into space, leaving him behind to look after himself. Gabe never recovered from the unexpected desertion, and keeps everyone at arm’s length to avoid being abandoned again. However, after meeting Sūnder, Gabe finds himself unable to resist the bond between them and breaks all of his carefully crafted rules to spend time with the Chándariān, regardless of the fact that Sūnder will soon leave. Scared by what he feels for Sūnder, Gabe can only hope his heart won’t be too broken when Sūnder returns to Chándaria.

But deceit and treachery is all around them, and when Gabe saves Sūnder’s life, it sets off a chain of events that could either tear Gabe and Sūnder apart or give them both exactly what they want.

I’m totally captivated by the fantasy world and characters of Sūnder (Darksoul #1) by Lexi Ander.  Finishing at wee morning hours, I lay there lost in the relationship of Gabe and Sūnder, the amazing resolution of the saga that had unfolded through the night hours, all the beings that I had met and fallen madly in love with and knew I was not ready to leave any of them behind.

Ander has created such a deeply layered, diverse universe for the Darksoul series.  There are a multitude of beings, hybrids, mixtures of cultures,  planets, religions, levels of soldiers, magics and technologies interwoven with history, past wrongs and current politics (galactic and racial).  That’s a lot of elements to juggle but Lexi  Ander does a remarkable job of it while keeping the tension and suspense tight and the romance between our two main characters hot and everything you love to read.

Yes, you can have a remarkable foundation but without the characters, the heart of the story, you have nothing.  Here the author truly delivers.  Gabe is one that almost breaks your heart.  Abandoned by his parents inexplicably when he’s in his teens, he has but one friend in his life, Ronan, whose family took him in when his parents left.  Now grown, Ronan remains his best and perhaps only friend who helps him recover from things like his latest boyfriend breaking up with him and going off planet.   Gabe’s that endearing mixture of vulnerability, kindness, and intelligence that draws you in immediately.  Then he meets Sūnder, the faeborn with his own anguished past and pained present, one who smells sooo good, and I’m so connected to this pair that the thought never occurs to me to put down the story.

Told from Sūnder’s perspective as well as Gabe’s, you understand  what Sūnder has gone through his entire life, being on the outside, never being acknowledged for who he really is.  Like Gabe, he too carries his own family induced pain, lessened only by the love of his adoptive mother Princess Válora (adore her too).  Ander lets both Gabe and Sūnder become true partners to each other, working through and supporting each other.   It’s such a joy to read, especially with all the amazing storylines going on around them that adds to the suspense.

There’s so much more I’m not going into here. A Jade forest, Guardians, moving trees, battles…this story is a feast on every level!  I just love it so!  And there’s the promise of more.  I especially want Ronan and Akira’s story so I hope the author is listening.

If you love fantasy, run immediately get this book!  And prepare to fall in love just as I did.  It’s going right on our STRW Fantasy Rec List!

Cover art by Kirby Crow is perfect for the character and book.

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

Book Details:

ebook, 2
Published September 4th 2017 by Lexi Ander
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDarksoul #1

Tour and Giveaway for Runner (The Runner #1) by Karma Kingsley (special excerpt)

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Title:  Runner

Series: The Runner, Book One

Author: Karma Kingsley

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: August 21

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 79300

Genre: Contemporary, age gap, celebrities, hurt/comfort, interracial, mild BDSM, movie industry, spanking, toys

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host the tour and giveaway for Runner (The Runner #1) by Karma Kingsley.  Be sure to check out the exclusive excerpt below!

Synopsis

Alex Banez is a runner for a Los Angeles film set. When he has a chance encounter with executive producer Atwell Richards, he finds himself falling fast and hard. Atwell is rich, powerful, gorgeous, and everything Alex never thought he would have. But Atwell also has a dark side and an inflexible need for control that threatens to suffocate everyone around him.

Alex has to figure out if he can love Atwell without losing himself.

Exclusive Excerpt

Runner
Karma Kingsley © 2017
All Rights Reserved

By the time Alex finished work, Atwell had already claimed him in his mind. He had absolutely taken possession of him and dared anyone to challenge him about it. He waited in the parking lot for him, coolly positioned against his car. He loved the hot, crisp LA air and it soothed his clamoring nerves.

“Hey,” he called out as Alex approached.

“Hey.” Alex dropped his eyes, still avoiding his gaze, and Atwell hated how devastated that made him feel.

Atwell swallowed down the lump of hurt in his throat and moved to open the passenger door of his sleek, dark blue sports car. He was feeling like he needed raw power beneath him, so he’d traded out his day car. “Come on. Get in. We’ll talk at my place.” He held the door open and waited for Alex to climb in. He gaped in confusion when Alex walked past him, shaking his head.

“I can’t. I’ve got my bike,” he said, heading for the bike rack.

“So leave it. I’ll take you home.”

Alex finally looked up at him and Atwell couldn’t decide which he liked less, when he looked at him with those beautiful green eyes clouded over with darkness or when he avoided looking at him altogether.

“I can’t.” He shook his head again. “I can’t afford to keep Uber-ing to work in the mornings.”

“Okay. So you’ll stay over.”

“Atwell.”

“Or I’ll send a car for you. Whatever you want, but I thought you wanted to talk.”

Alex let out a sigh. “I did—I do. I want to be with you, Atwell.” Atwell’s heart soared at hearing the claim. “But I don’t want to feel like your prostitute, or your charity case, or your project. I can take care of myself, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

Atwell closed the passenger door of his car with a slam. His high from hearing that Alex wanted to be with him was quickly diminished by the fact that he thought he was considering him as some sort of toy, or some pay-as-you-go sex doll. “Alex, I don’t think of you as any of those things, but the fact of it is, I am a wealthy man. And while I have no doubts that you are perfectly capable of taking care of yourself, I want to take care of you. I’ve watched you take care of everyone around you, except for you. Let me do that. I need to do that.”

Alex dropped his eyes again, but Atwell caught a glimpse of some of the clouds clearing. Alex squirmed. “I don’t want our relationship to be public. Aside from the drama it would cause at work, I don’t want to be an item on the news.” He shifted uncomfortably. “There are things in my past that I’d just rather not have surface for the world to see.”

Atwell nodded in understanding. “Well, I am a public figure but I’ll do what I can to keep a lid on the media. But I’ve told you before, I won’t be ashamed to be with you. If we’re out in public and I want to touch you, I reserve the right to do so. And I have a feeling I’ll be wanting to touch you quite often.”

Alex flushed and said nothing.

“Anything else?” Atwell asked.

“Does it matter? It seems all my conditions are irrelevant. You’re not a very flexible man.”

“Shit,” Atwell cursed at himself. He’d meant to be much more bending, much more accommodating to Alex’s need—at least at first. But now he’d let all his true colors flare, shooting him down at every turn.

Alex shook his head and moved closer to him, meeting his gaze and sending Atwell into a frenzy with the brightness of his eyes. “Atwell, it’s okay. I still want to do this.” Atwell’s heart jumped in his chest, racing faster as Alex moved in even closer. “And you told me to tell you when I wanted you.” Alex’s chest rose and fell in rapid succession and Atwell realized so did his own. The air between them was electric, stinging every single one of his nerve endings. He’d never felt so alive and buzzing in his life. He nodded his head, not trusting his voice. “Well, Atwell, I think if you don’t kiss me, I may die.”

 

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Karma is a wine-enthusiast, feminist, activist, humanitarian, vegetarian and just all around liberal and that often seeps into her writing. She loves any place with white, white sand and blue, blue water and an endless supply of prefix-mo drinks (Moscato, Mojito, etc.).

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Tour Schedule

8/21    Love Bytes Reviews

8/22    Erotica For All

8/22    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/23    The Novel Approach

8/23    Boy Meets Boy Reviews

8/23    Happily Ever Chapter

8/24    Bayou Book Junkie

8/25    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

8/25    MM Good Book Reviews

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Review: Esau (Leopard’s Spots #6) by Bailey Bradford

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Rating: 4 stars

Esau Leoppard Spots 6During the confrontation with Chung Kee’s lepe and the death of Chung Kee and his shaman, Esau Wallraven was separated from the rest of his family with the mission to find Ye—sun Warren, the brother who helped Jihu Warren and his son Daniel escape the compound.  The compound burned to the ground as the different factions fought and neither Bae and Jihu are sure their half brother survived. So as the family gathers their wounded and leaves for home, Esau remains behind to search for Ye-sun.

Ye-sun Warren has had a hellish life.  Imprisoned and tortured by his grandfather as punishment for helping Jihu escape with his son, he is shocked and drugged, as his grandfather hopes to force him to impregnate the females in the compound, something he has refused to do.  When he is left to burn with the building, he manages to escape and runs directly into a Snow Leopard, Esau.

Both men are astounded to find that they are mates and the biological drive to consummate their bond is overwhelming. But Esau is tormented by his past and doesn’t want a mate, a fact he communicates to Ye-sun after their mating.  Hurt, rejected by family and mate, Ye-sun runs off, leaving Esau wondering if he hasn’t just made the worse mistake of his life.

Esau (Leopard’s Spots 6) picks up directly after the events of Gilbert (Leopard Spot’s 5).  The Warren family and their mates and friends have confronted the heinous Chung Kee at his compound with the results that several key members of both families were injured, and Chung Kee and his shamans were killed. Esau had disappeared into the woods at the end of that story, looking for the missing Warren brother, and this story picks up just as Esau gets the scent of a Amur Leopard in the woods.

Most of this story deals with the past traumatic histories of both men.  Ye-sun’s is one most familiar to those who have read the previous books.  Brought up in a cult like compound, under the strict rule of a obsessive leader, his grandfather Chung Kee, Ye-sun was looked at more as a breeding stud than as a person and to refuse that role meant hours of torture and shock treatments to get him to submit to his grandfather ‘s plans.  In addition to the physical trauma, his grandfather also used emotional abuse to inflict pain on the young man and chemicals to keep him from shifting.  Bradford does an excellent job of giving us a young man, confused and so full of anger that he is not sure about anything now that he has escaped.  I liked both main characters here immensely.  Ye-sun pulls at our heartstrings and his anger is something everyone can relate to.

Esau Wallraven makes a formidable mate and partner for Ye-sun.  The only child of his parents, he lead a sheltered life, where his only dream was to be normal, an impossibility for a Snow Leopard shifter.  As soon as he could, he left to travel the world, never settling down, always looking for that elusive “something” to fill up the hole within him.  Then a horrific event in South America leaves it permanent scar on his heart and cements his life of isolation.  Everything about Esau makes sense, including his rejection of his mate, done out of fear and past pain.

There is no case of instant love or even instant affection.  What draws them together is a natural imperative to mate, brought on by their animals and hormones.  And mate they do, for about 75 to 80 percent of the book, in both animal and human forms.  It’s brutal, snarling, biting and bestial for the most part as is fitting for cat shifters.  As humans, there is an exploration of their sexual natures through spanking and mild bdsm, as pain with sex seems to be part of the shifter sexuality as written by Bradford.  Ye-sun is a virgin to anal sex but is not treated like one, a subject that is brought up and dealt with.

And that is really my only quibble with this book.  Yes, there is tons of hot  sex but too much hurts the book when exposition is left behind as it is here.  I wanted to know more about the injured family members left in a coma in Gilbert’s book.  Here there was only a sentence or two to say all will survive but it did not address some of the serious situations mentioned previously.  Another Amur Leopard is scented in the woods during their mating frenzy but never brought up again.  Did someone else survive?  Is this a red herring?  Don’t know and it’s frustrating.  There are so many issues and conspiracies involved in this series and this story moves none of the plot lines forward.  We need more depth here in storyline, and to resolve some of the problems addressed in Gilbert.  None of that really happened here and it makes this story much weaker than it should have been.

We also get a look at a character just introduced, Bobby the wolf shifter brother to the alpha wolf mated to Oscar.  Bobby seems to be a good ole boy red neck shifter but Esau sees below the shallow, callow demeanor Bobby projects.  Bobby lit up the pages with his sass and moxy.  I can’t wait to see more of him.  He really deserves his own story and soon.

So on to the next story which is Sullivan (Leopard’s Spots #7).  Bailey Bradford has me hooked good and proper.  I need to know what happens next, who is drugging the shifters, what happens to all those poor schmoes from the compound who survived.  What about the Amur Leopard they smelled in the woods?  Who was that?  See, so many questions and I need the answers.   Hopefully, I will find some in Sullivan.  I will let you know.

The gorgeous series covers by Posh Gosh continues.  Just beautiful.

Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, their relationships and events:

Levi (Leopards Spots #1)

Oscar (Leopards Spots #2) read my review here.

Timothy (Leopards Spots #3) read my review here

Isaiah (Leopards Spots #4) read my review here

Gilbert (Leopards Spots #5) read my review here

Esau (Leopards Spots #6)

Sullivan (Leopards Spots #7)

Review of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, A Clandestine Classic by Jules Verne and Marie Sexton

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Rating: 4 stars

The year is 1866, and Naturalist Dr. Pierre Arronax and his manservant Conseil board the Abraham Lincoln, a vessel whose purpose is to track down and destroy the marine monster terrorizing the oceans.  This unknown monster threatens international shipping and has sunk the ships of many nations so it is imperative that it be stopped at all costs. The nations have come together to fund the mission and now the Abraham Lincoln holds the best sailors to do the job.  But from sea to sea, after visiting multiple locations where the monster has been sited, the ship turns up nothing, boredom besets the crew and the Professor’s interests turn to Ned Land, a sexy harpooner who returns Arronax’s interest.

As the Professor and Ned engage in a tempestous affair, the Captain of the Abraham Lincoln makes one last attempt to locate the monster and succeeds beyond its wildest goals.  The mighty sea monster is sighted and the Abraham Lincoln attacks, only to be attacked by the thing in turn.  During the proceedings, Dr. Arronax is thrown overboard, followed by Conseil, and then Ned Land.  The men find themselves rescued and then imprisoned upon The Nautilus, as their “sea monster” turns out to be a submergible vessel captained by the enigmatic and dangerous Captain Nemo. As the days aboard the secret submarine turn into months, the Professor and Conseil spend their days mesmerized by the new worlds they see under the sea and the Professor and Ned spend their nights investigating their sexual pleasures.  But Ned feels that he cannot live his life forever  imprisoned and the Professor must choose trying to escape with his lover or a life spent in scientific discovery on board the Nautilus.

With Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Marie Sexton merges the classic Jules Verne novel with m/m fiction to a remarkably successful degree.  Jules Verne published his popular science fiction story in 1870 and his saga of the mysterious Captain Nemo, the submarine Nautilus and its narrator Professor Pierre Arronax became a instant  classic that continues to this day.  A layered, complex tale of scientific discoveries, amazing undersea journeys and futuristic assumptions also included the basest of human emotions such as anger, hatred and the need for revenge.  Jules Verne was ahead of his time in predicting the military use of high speed submarines.  Also forward thinking was his use of “oppressive peoples” in his story,  that Captain Nemo was so voluble in his heated arguments and discussions about the oppressors and the oppressed which is how Nemo and his crew regarded themselves was a rarity.  The original book included authentic scientific lists of flora and fauna to go with the animals seen during their voyages.  As Marie Sexton states “several places where extended monologues or lists of plant and/or animal species have been deleted from the story.”  In their place, the author establishes a romance between Professor Pierre Arronax and Ned Land, the definitely did not exist in the Jules Verne story.

I throughly enjoyed the author’s addition to this classic tale.  I loved Arronax’s love for his Ned Land.  Their sexual exploration of each other is carried out in a realistic manner, as fear of exposure to those around them would have resulted in death.  Ned’s small cabin aboard the Abraham Lincoln allows only the smallest of sexual play and their assignations are kept to the minimum which is also authentic.  But once the men have been taken onto the Nautilus, things change between them as the rules and law of Captain Nemo are very different from the nations above them. Sexton does a lovely job of mixing historical reality with Jules Verne science fiction story.  She also gives us a sexual relationship that includes a slight Bdsm bent between Pierre and Ned as their larger cabin on the Nautilus allows them greater physical freedom in their bed.  Ned is a lovely  character given the genuine feel of a man who lives his life outside, his love of the thrill of the hunt is present in all of his actions. So when Ned’s adrenaline based life style is curtailed when he is imprisoned, however nicely, on the Nautilus, we can understand his frustration at his inaction and his anger at Nemo and crew.  Pierre Arronax, again the narrator, and his manservant Conseil, are also beautifully portrayed as the excited scientists they are as each new discovery propels them into frissons of delight and wonder during the day and Pierre experiences the joys of submission at night.  Again, I just loved Marie Sexton’s romance enhanced version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

I will admit that my father gave me my first copy of this story back in grade school.  He passed on his own copy that he had gotten when he was young along with Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.  I was mesmerized by the many descriptions of new places and animals I had never seen.  I couldn’t get enough of the forests of kelp or the schools of marine life I had never seen or heard of. There were so many unknown animals that I had to go look up, so many places I need to find on my globe that I often felt like a voyager along with Arronax and Nemo.  But as with the original, the lush multitude of descriptions, the veritable endless lists of scientific nomenclature had me flipping past pages then as it  did now.   There is a reason that many a student turns to Cliff Notes instead of wading through the original novel, and this version suffers from the same problem.  It is simply too long.  In trying to remain faithful, it too is as long as the original version.  Jules Verne’s came in at 352 pages (approximately depending upon font size), Marie Sexton’s at 390.  And as a Naturalist as much as I love revisting the scientific terminology for various species of flora and fauna, a little of it goes a long way.  And while I delighted in the sumptuous portraits of the wonders found under the sea, after a while it became just too many to digest, too rich a banquet as it were.  For me, I had to read it over a stretch of time, pace myself so I had time to look up the places the Nautilus went and the things they saw.  And once read, I never picked it up again however much I enjoyed it.

So here’s my quibble with this Clandestine Classic, it is too true to the original.  It is very enjoyable and I give high marks to Marie Sexton for her romantic inclusion as well as the manner in which she honored the original.  That said, it is a lot to wade through.  I don’t have problems with people playing with the classics, it’s done all the time.  So if you loved the original and you love m/m romance, pick this up and prepare to enter back into Jules Verne’s universe with a twist.  If you found the original daunting,  perhaps you will give this a try in stages.  It is worth it no matter how long you take to travel 20,000 leagues under the sea with Professor Pierre Arronax, Conseil, Ned Land and Captain Nemo.

Posh Gosh over was interesting but I wish it had been more of a play on the original.

Review of Isaiah (Leopards Spots #4) by Bailey Bradford

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Snow Leopard shifter Isaiah Trujillo has always felt like the dumb brother of his family.  He isn’t smart like his brother Timothy, the PhD investigating shifter history and genetics.  Isaiah never wanted more than to be a good mechanic, own his own business and be happy.  And maybe, just maybe find a mate of his own, like his brother and cousins have. When a customer mentions he volunteers at a GLBT youth center that could use Isaiah’s help, Isaiah volunteers and changes his life forever.  At the volunteer dinner, he meets Dr. Bae Allen Warren, a mobile veterinarian and fellow cat shifter.  Bae is an Amur Leopard shifter and Isaiah’s mate. But Bae runs from Isaiah at first sight.  Confused and hurt Isaiah chases after his mate only to learn that Bae carries with him a truckload of trouble.

Dr. Bae Allen Warren comes from a lepe or clan almost cultlike in its actions and outlook.  Amur Leopards are becoming extinct, both as animals and shifters.  Bae’s lepe has kept its shifters isolated to keep their bloodline pure, demanding that each contributes by mating with as many other clan members as possible to produce offspring. These children are promptly sent off to other lepes to live in hopes they enlarge the gene pool. No one has ever questioned their leader or the manner in which the lepe live their lives until Bae brings home his mate, Isaiah.  Bae is gay and has refused to mate with the females of his or any other clan. That is the only reason his father has allowed him the freedom of an outside education and life. Isaiah changes Bae’s perspective on his clans lifestyle to his father’s disapproval and threats by his grandfather, the lepe’s leader. Even as Bae finds Isaiah, his mate, the lepe closes in around them, threatening their bond and their future together.

Isaiah (Leopard’s Spots #4) is the best of the series so far.  Bradford introduced the idea of a spiritual connection between animal and human in the last book, Timothy, that I felt was jarring at the time.  But clearly this idea or story thread is becoming a major theme for the series.  Isaiah is a spiritual man, good and decent.  Only he feels insecure when he puts himself next to his brother’s achievements, never seeing himself as others do.  Bae is a shifter forced to fight for his right to live his own life, while feeling the guilt and pressure brought on by his father and clan.  Both shifters bring to each other a shift in perspective that each desperately needs, along with the message of accepting who you are.

Bradford also brings back the focus on endangered cat species by including Amur Leopards also known as Korean Leopards.  Look them up, they are stunning in their beauty. Snow Leopards remain a center species and the author brings in a hybrid species known as pumapards, which actually existed earlier in the century.  Bradford has clearly done her homework on big cat species and wildlife conservation. Timothy and Otto from the 3rd book are back to help Isaiah and his mate, Bae,  with several of the mysteries running throughout the series.  One is the low shifter population within species as birthrates are at an all time low.  Is it due to inbreeding, like Bae’s lepe?  The fact that none of the isolated clans are finding their mates?  Or something more ominous, that their animal/spiritual side must be nurtured, treasured or they will lose their animal part of themselves, remaining forever damaged.  Bradford obviously has a plan with her series that is just now becoming clearer with each new book.

I loved the characters here.  I find Isaiah and Bae to be the most captivating of the group so far.  And Isaiah with his spirituality and humble outlook charmed me immediately.  I really like where Bradford is taking this series which leads me to my main quibble all around.  These stories are way too short for the goals Bradford is trying to accomplish with each book.  That was my problem with Timothy, which I will now have to reconsider given this story.  She set out so many new plot lines in Timothy (Leopard’s Spots #3) that the main story suffered under the lack of space for its development.  Here she comes close to doing it again but still pulls off her agenda.  If these books would be enlarged even a little, I think the series would benefit as new ideas could be more richly explored.

Another thing about the series is the huge amounts of sex contained within.  I find that realistic as the sexual activity helps in the bonding and if you have ever heard the neighborhood cats yowling during their nocturnal activities, well, let’s just say Bradford has that right too.  There is one section concerning the pumapards that is left completely unsettled here but I suspect that a future book will find that resolved.  At any rate, I am onto the next in the series, Gilbert (Leopard’s Spots #5) with renewed enthusiasm about the series and the vision behind it.  I promise I will let you know how it goes.

Cover by Posh Gosh.  The glorious covers just keep getting better with each book.  Nominated for the best series covers.

Here are the books in the series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and storylines:

Levi (Leopard’s Spots #1) read my review here

Oscar (Leopard’s Spots #2) read my review here.

Timothy (Leopard’s Spots #3) read my review here.

Isaiah (Leopard’s Spots #4)

Gilbert (Leopard’s  Spots #5)

Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov

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Rating: 4.75 stars

Owen Watson is on vacation in London and overseas for the first time.  After his traveling partner and ex-girlfriend ditched him for a hookup, Owen lands in a pub drinking a glass of bad beer by himself.  He’s tired from playing tourist all day and he needs something to eat. Instead of dinner, he gets an offer for another drink and a night of sex from Malcolm Kavanagh, a bonds trader and sexual player.

Malcolm Kavanagh has been waiting for his “one night only sub” to arrive.  The man is late and Malcolm’s patience has run out.  When he spies the Yank at the bar, he decides to honor him with a night of mind boggling sex before kicking the Yank out the door before breakfast.  With 80 hour work weeks, Malcolm doesn’t do relationships.  He doesn’t have time. So introducing a tourist to the joys of BDSM fits into his schedule of sex with no commitments. But moments into his pickup , he realizes that the Yank isn’t falling into line as he should, and Malcolm is more than a little stymied.

Owen is open to a night of casual sex but it will be on his terms and not the arrogant but gorgeous jerk trying to pick him up. One night later and things have changed.  Malcolm is not quite the shallow, heartless top he made  himself out to be and Owen is not the innocent country mouse Malcolm supposed him to be.  The more things change between them, the more Malcolm and Owen admit to themselves how much they want to stay together.

Country Mouse is a delightfully sexy short story from Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov.  Really, can we get them to write another?  Because I loved the result of their combined writing styles and ideas.  The authors took two stock characters, the country mouse visiting the big city for the first time and the big bad city mouse with his experience and sexual prowess, tweaked it and turned the characters on their stereotypical heads.  And made us cheer for them, laugh with them, and hope that they have a happy future together.  Didn’t I say I loved this book?

While Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov have such difference writing styles, you can always expect great characterizations from them.  Owen and Malcolm are two such wonderful creations, beautifully realized in only 79 pages.  Malcolm starts out offensive and quite frankly not terribly likable. Owen Watson is an affable person but only so far and ends up being more than a match for Malcolm’s cocky attitude. As Owen asserts himself, we start to see a shift in Malcolm’s behavior.  This shift carries right into the heart of Malcolm’s character and the unlikable facade dissipates and allows the real Malcolm that Owen sees to shine through.

What was so sexy and hot was that the change in their roles starts to happen during their sexual encounters.  Malcolm is supposed to be this badass Dom teaching this inexperienced Yank how to be his submissive toy for the night only Owen has something or rather someone he intends to be doing before the night is over.  Let’s just say their expectations don’t play out exactly how either of them intended, much to their combined enjoyment and laughter.  That’s right….fun and laughter amid sexual hijinks.  In a story by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov!  Owen and Malcolm enjoy the heck out of each other and you will be laughing along with them.

Their relationship continues to develop as Malcolm takes Owen sightseeing in a nice series of scenes that  take place at different tourist sites throughout London. At each location, Owen and Malcolm learn something about each other as well as historical facts. As they grow on each other, so does the pairing grow on the reader until you take  them both into your heart. If you are expecting a angst filled story, this one is amazingly angst free or is that angst light?  Either way, it doesn’t matter. There is some angsty moments at the end as you would expect but it is satisfactorily dealt with in an ending that will have you cheering.

Grab this one up.  I always find bad boys so appealing but here both the Country  Mouse and the bad boy City Mouse crept into my heart and set up housekeeping.  Never thought I would say that about mice.  Drat it.  Now where’s the cheese?

Cover: Love this cover.  Cover art by Jordan Taylor.  Smart sexy and eye catching.  Just like the men inside.