Paul’s Paranormal Portfolio – A Look at MPreg (a new Reviewer Column At STRW)

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Paul’s Paranormal Portfolio

Paul B’s Look At Male Pregnancy Paranormal Stories

Welcome to the second edition of Paul’s Paranormal Portfolio. The blog editor, Melanie, has asked that I make this a monthly column to talk about all things paranormal, alien, and science fiction not only in gay romance books but also in television, movies and books in general. While the emphasis will be on gay romance in those media, this column will hopefully touch on all things paranormal.

I would like to use this edition of the portfolio to discuss an issue that has grown in the area of paranormal and science fiction gay romances. Male pregnancy has been seen in more and more books in these genres. Whole series of books are centered on the idea. Love it or hate it, the growth in the number of books featuring the idea proves that is here to stay.

Mainstream movies have used male pregnancy as a source for comedy. While there are comedic moments in gay romance novels surrounding male pregnancy, the primary function of the device is to provide offspring for our gay male couples. Having read several of these novels, I have found that there are basically four major ways that authors have used this plot line

The first and I think most prevalent is the alpha-omega coupling. The omega shifter, the weakest members according to some authors or the strongest members according to others, has the ability to become pregnant. The omega usually finds his alpha mate and they will start a family. On rare occasions, omegas will become pregnant by alphas who are not their mate.
Next up is the paranormal who can become pregnant because of the type of paranormal they are. The most common occurrence of this I have found in books featuring faes. It is usually a unique ability of the species and usually not revealed to others unless they become a mate to someone who can become pregnant. An example of this is Stormy Glenn’s Midnight Mating story Sparkle and Purr.

Another example is the paranormal who can get their mate pregnant regardless of gender. An example of this is Charlie Richard’s gargoyles in her Wolves of Stone Ridge and Love at First Bite series. Since the gargoyles are all male, they must be able to impregnate their mate, whether they are male or female to keep the gargoyle population from extinction.

The fourth major theme of male pregnancy is the paranormal with reproductive organs from both genders. While the paranormal may be distinctly male (or female), he has the ability to create offspring in either fashion. The Fal’Amoric in Lexi Ander’s series The Valespian Pact series are an example of this. When Zeus Vondorian was taken to Chtichilian doctors to cure him of his blindness, they took away half of his ability to reproduce.

While these are the primary ways I have found for male pregnancy in paranormal gay romances, it is by no means a complete list. A rare example in found in Erin M Leaf’s book Rock Star Baby. In her book, two alpha shifters produce an offspring which is noted by the outgoing leader of the wolf council to be quite rare and special. If you have different examples of male pregnancy, please feel free to comment or send me an email (found on my profile page).

Also, if you have an idea for future editions for this portfolio, email me or comment below.

                                                                                                                – Paul

A Stella Review: Taming the Lion (Lionhearts #2) by Elizabeth Coldwell

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Will he sacrifice everything for the sake of his human mate?

Taming the Lion coverThwarted in his efforts to become head of the Amsterdam pride of lion shifters, Kaspar de Wit flees to England. He finds himself in Bath, home of the biggest English pride, and begins to make a new life among friends. What he doesn’t know is that he’s moved to a city steeped in bloody ritual. Destiny seems to have drawn Kaspar to the place where he’ll meet his mate–but does something more horrifying lie in wait for him, too?

Jon Fellowes, professor of archaeology at Bath University, is obsessed with the standing stones that dominate the Somerset landscape and the people who raised them. He’s heard tales of strange creatures, half-man, half-lion, that once roamed the land, but dismisses them till he meets the beautiful Kaspar and learns the bizarre truth of his nature. As an ancient rite is revived and terror stalks the countryside, can Jon and Kaspar overcome the natural distrust between humans and shifters to find true love? Or will one of them be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Taming The Lion is the second book in the Lionhearts series by Elizabeth Coldwell. Since I enjoyed the first book, The Pride Of Amsterdam, I was really curious about this new story, especially as I was hoping to know more about this new lion universe the author has built. Well, I didn’t get what I wanted because the book is set in Bath, England, so I got nothing about my beloved Kees and Arjan.

Moreover this book was heavier and darker, with some really hard to take scenes which I was so not expecting, they destabilized me. I was expecting a paranormal book and shifters.

What I got was:

1) A lot of sex, as in the first book. If you have already read my other reviews, you already know it’s something I need to have in my stories. Here the sex scenes were well done so it was ok.
2) Nothing new about this particular shifters’ world. The book could almost pass for a normal one instead of a paranormal universe because the shifter aspect at the end it wasn’t exactly relevant, apart for a couple of sections.
3) A really dark mystery with dark scenes.  It surely made the story entertaining but it was predictable from the start as in the first book. I figured out the bad person from the start and that’s something I don’t like. I liked the plot but I’d have preferred it was addressed in a totally different way.
4) The story between the MCs is really too simple, Kaspar finds in Jon, a human, his mate and Jon discovers Kaspar is a lion shifter and everything is okay. No drama, no doubts, nothing.

My opinion on the Lionhearted series hasn’t improved reading Taming The Lion, on the contrary. The thing that keeps me from giving up on it is the writing. I found both books well written and I like the author’s style. So I think maybe I’m going to read Vintage Pride too. Maybe.

Cover art by Posh Gosh. It’s slightly different from the cover of the first book in the series. It’s absolutely well done and eye catching but I would have loved something different since I already had seen this one.

Sales Links:  Totally Bound BooksAll Romance (ARe)Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 148 pages
Published March 27th 2015 by Totally Bound
ISBN13 9781784305048
Edition Language English

Lionhearts series
The Pride Of Amsterdam #1
Taming the Lion #2
Vintage pride #3 coming soon

 

Author Belinda Burke on Sweet Dreams, Mythology and “Undone” (tour and guest post)

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Undone by Belinda Burke
Publisher:  Totally Bound Books

Sales Link:  Totally Bound Books

 

Love M/M Romance?  Dying to delve into fantasy?  Combine the two and read Belinda Burke’s latest novel, Undone!

Check out the blurb and excerpt below after Belinda Burke’s guest post and don’t forget to enter the contest too! 

 

Sweet Dreams by Belinda Burke…

One of the things I enjoy the most about being an author is being able to play with the mythology I grew up with. I can give it a new shape, even while the heart remains the same. My grandmother used to put me to sleep with stories about sidhe and their hidden kingdoms, about Arthur and Merlin, and about how the first Irish won their home from dangerous immortals. So, when I first started writing I really, really wanted to share my own versions of those stories. I wanted to share of the twists my grandmother told, many that I invented myself, and some that appeared like magic (I occasionally suspect my brain isn’t entirely under my own control, but that might be a delusion of fiction.)

When I started reading in the wider world, I found out that the tales that were familiar to me were well known all over – and the more I read, the more I began to notice the similarities, as well as the differences. They come in many retellings, but some things are always the same. There’s a huge boom in fairy tale stories, while the writers of our generation (including me) try to build a new mythology out of the old. It’s important to give these stories meaning that fits the world as it is now, instead of how it was a thousand years ago.

Part of this means that the stories need to reflect new problems and struggles, and part of this means that it needs to reflect new values, too. It’s for that reason that my retelling of these stories and Arthurian saga focuses on LGBT characters – and on the sidhe. There has always been romance in the legends and in tales of Camelot, but every single one of those stories has two things in common – firstly, they’re all straight romances, and secondly, they take place in the “human” world.

Despite the occasional presence of an otherworldly interloper, we never find out what’s happening on the other side of the veil. We never get to see why Merlin is doing what he does, why the courts of fae and other immortals interact with Arthur and his predecessors. And, whether it’s an oversight in the mythology, or something lost in intervening generations, all the protagonists are straight. My characters decided to take care of both problems for me by appearing as gay and bisexual sidhe, intent on telling the old stories in their own way.

But of course, that doesn’t exempt them from the usual trauma and drama that accompanies the search for love!

 

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Blurb for Undone

The first step on the road to addiction is desire…

Tighe is Summer’s prince, the second son of the Summer Queen. The blindness of his mortal father cursed him with eyes that see too much, and now he wanders the woods of immortal Summer alone. He is an outsider in his own country or at best a curiosity—never someone anyone truly wants.

Faelan is gancanagh, one of dark Summer’s most treacherous beings. Beguiling as he is beautiful, he, like all of his kind, was made to incite lust and longing, even as he seeks true love. For anything mortal, anything unprepared, even to be in his presence is dangerous.

When the two meet by chance, Faelan can’t help but be curious about this half-mortal prince—and the prince is more interested in a companion than questioning what kind.

Tighe has never seen anything but the lie behind love. Faelan is love’s lie and knows it. Is the beginning and end of everything between them inevitable? Which is stronger, need—or nature?

Publisher’s Note: This book is associated with the Eight Kingdoms series by Belinda Burke.

Excerpt from  “Undone” by Belinda Burke

Faelan kissed him, silenced him, dared to look deep into Tighe’s eyes. “I want you.”
The truth of those words, all their wanton promises and the pure intention to keep them was in Faelan’s voice. Tighe couldn’t see it now anymore than before, but he couldn’t bring himself to believe it was a lie, either. He looked away, then back, shrugged and gave in to the smile twitching at the corners of his lips. “So? I already said the same thing. I already asked what you’re going to do.”
There was more than just heat behind the flicker of eyes that met the challenge of Tighe’s gaze.
“You did. And I said anything you’ll let me, so does this mean you’ll let me do anything?”
“No. But you know better than not to stop when you’re told, don’t you?”
There was a flash of something hurt-angry-dangerous in the bright green eyes. It dissipated in understanding humor a moment later and when Faelan leaned forward again, the curve of his lips was all but roguish. “I do. And if you can tell me to stop, I will.”
“If I can?” Fire on Tighe’s skin flared outward, brought steam off the surface of the water. Half mortal he might be. He was also the son of the Summer Queen, and his power unleashed was more than enough to singe the luster from the air. “I don’t think that’s something you should be worried about. Who do you think I am, anyway? Maybe it’s you who should think about if you can tell me to stop.”
The solemn expression Faelan had tried dissolved at Tighe’s last words. “Prince, my prince, I would never tell you to stop. Never.”
Something low and dark was in his tone, and that, like his wanting, Tighe couldn’t bring himself to doubt or deny. This time he was the one to initiate their kiss, to take Faelan’s soft lips for his own just like he’d wanted. Faelan ran his fingers under Tighe’s tunic and hummed his delight when Tighe leaned back just long enough to pull it off and toss it over his shoulders, onto the grass.

 Eight Kingdoms series blurb:

Strange alliances are forged among the fae as Macsen Cadoc and his fae allies attempt to defeat the Milesians, Irish huntresses who bear a grudge against the sidhe.

Failure will bring Macsen to his knees; success may do the same, unless he and Bran Fionnan, once a captive of the huntresses, can succeed in sowing seeds of peace. Yet even while some attempt to find a middle ground and forge a place where tolerance can flower, a new power rises, a threat to them all.

The Church of Rome aims to win the earth from its immortal rivals, even if doing so comes at the price of magic itself. It will be up to Macsen to make a choice that might save the fae and all that sustains them…but only Bran has the power to convince him to do what is right.

Can mortal and immortal overcome the conflicts that divide them when some must hunt others to survive? Is love stronger than anything—even a Fae King’s pride?

Like the sound of Undone? Buy it here.

About Author Belinda Burke

Belinda Burke
Belinda currently lives on the New England coast with her fiancée, their room mate and her cat. When she’s not writing, she’s working toward degrees in Philosophy and English, embroidering or reading.
Belinda writes in several genres, but a little lust and love always work their way into her stories.

Website: http://www.belindaburke.com

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Giveaway

Enter Totally Bound’s June blog tour competition for the chance to win an eBook of your choice, not including boxsets or anthologies.  Must be 18 years of age or older.  Competition open worldwide.  Prizes and links provided by Totally Bound Books.

Direct link: https://www.totallybound.com/june-blog-tour-giveaway

 

A MelanieM Review: Tall With Room by A.J. Llewellyn

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Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

Tall with Room coverAdriano is going home to Waldo, Florida, a town famous for having one of two official US speed traps and a flea market. Not much else is going on… Or is it?

A celebrated chef, Adriano has had to quit his job at a posh Beverly Hills restaurant because during his recovery from stage four cancer, chemo killed his taste buds. He can’t even taste his own cuisine. About the only thing that penetrates the dull sensation is coffee, so he’s bought a cafe in Waldo, hoping to find a new life in spite of his memory of it being a rigidly conservative town.

Looking forward to recuperating and spending time his mom, Adriano soon finds that Colin Mackenzie-the first man he ever loved, the only man he has ever wanted-never left Waldo. He apparently hasn’t forgotten Adriano either. But Colin, who once seduced then dumped him, seems to be playing games. He keeps coming into the cafe ordering his coffee-tall with room…for milk-but he doesn’t seem to have room for Adriano. Soon, the love they once shared is re-ignited in an explosive way, but what is going on in Waldo? Why do things seem so…haunted by the past?

I had just finished reading The Line by Angel Martinez and found the blurb for Tall With Room by A.J. Llewellyn at the end of the story.  It intrigued me with its unusual premise and main character.  So I got it without ever having seen the cover…if I had only checked out the cover. That would definitely have changed things.  I thought I was getting a contemporary romance and ended up with something else all together.  Was it a bad something or good something?  A little bit of both actually.

I come away from this short story very divided in my feelings towards it.  I loved most of it actually and that started with a character the likes of which I had never met before.  Adriano was a hot chef in LA and he loved everything about his life.  His restaurant and his rising recognition as a chef of high merit. He had a boyfriend he loved and a condo which suited him.  A great life until a small spot is found on his tongue, one misdiagnosis later and the cancer has become wide spread.  The treatment Adriano undergoes to cure the tongue cancer, (chemo and more) kills his taste buds and his ability to cook and remain a chef.  Alive but his living destroyed, Adriano returns to the hometown he happily left behind and his ailing mother.  What a great character and situation!  Llewellyn pulled me in with multiple tugs at my heart and a situation I hadn’t seen in a M/M romance before.  Throw in an old love, the love of his life, that disappeared early on in his youth, and you have a plot that is emotionally deep and gripping.

Even the title is pretty great when you know the story behind it.  Tall With Room refers to a type of coffee ordered, one with room for milk left at the top. A special order that Adriano’s past boyfriend was especially fond of. Its also a metaphor for their relationship.  So unusual illness, compelling character, and a home situation (mom with dementia) that most readers will connect with…all that added up to a story that should have been a real highlight on my reading list.  Those elements alone make this a story to remember.  Until it zags instead of zigs and takes an altogether different path into the supernatural.

If I had just seen that darn cover.

Truthfully, I didn’t enjoy the turn the story took.  I figured out what was going on before the end (when it picked up too much speed in the race to the denouement) and things got confusing with a flipflopping time line and elements that came at you with little to no setup.  It left me bereft and moping over the loss of the story I thought I was getting and a little bit peeved over the “feel good” ending the author employed.  One that I have seen/read before to more of a happy surprise/stunner than is revealed here.

The thing is I came to this book weighed down by my expectations from the blurb.  That sense of anticipation never left no matter where I was in the story (until towards the end that is).  Tall With Room a well-written tale, aside from the rushed elements and ending I mentioned.  The characters and situation remain lovely and original.  If I had only seen that cover first, then I think my anticipation about what I thought I was going to read would have been more in line with the actual story.    Yes, Virginia, book covers do make a difference!  That didn’t occur and I’m left with a sense of disappointment at how it all turned out.

So do I recommend this story?  Yep, because I have given you the cover as well as the blurb.  Its all there so you decide if you like your romance with a side order of the supernatural or not. If so, then  Tall With Room by A.J. Llewellyn is just the short story for you.  This is a HEA…although not the one you might be anticipating.  It certainly wasn’t the one I thought I was getting.  And yes, still mourning that fact.

You probably won’t.

Darn cover.

Cover art by Reese Dante,  I’m now biased and no, I don’t like it.  But only because of petty reasons, it’s actually pretty dramatic but where are the other elements from the story?

Buy Links:  Totally Bound Books  –  All Romance (ARe) –  Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 53 pages
Published August 24th 2012 by Total-E-Bound
ISBN 1781841020 (ISBN13: 9781781841020)
edition languageEnglish
Note:  All LGBT books from Totally Bound are being transferred to their new LGBT imprint, Pride Books.

 

 

A MelanieM Review: Two Hearts One Voice (Mending the Rift #3) by Valentina Heart

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Two Hearts One Voice coverThey are at war, fearing for each other, both carrying the upbringing of their children and the survival of their country. They are kings.

With the future of the throne secured, Rin and Merin still have little time to rejoice for their children or the unity of their kingdoms. Stuck in the middle of a battlefield, their lives prove to be once again at risk, Rin heads out on a long journey home with his heirs, leaving Merin to lead their army.

Rin receives his rightful title of a king from the Kari council and for once feels as if he belongs on the throne without Merin there to guide him. Missing his husband, he raises their children the best he can, but there’s no end to the war in sight and, after months of futile conflicts, Rin sees Merin cut down in battle.

Distraught and with no patience for his council, Rin threatens the Riki, making even his own men fear him.

Can Rin cope alone and still win the war, or will his sorrow mark the end of his reign?

I fell in love with Valentina Heart’s Merin and Rin in the first two stories in the Mending the Rift series.  Two kingdoms, torn by constant warfare, turn to royal marriage to stop the conflict and losses from battle.   Prince Rinin, heir to the throne of Kari Kingdom, has been demanded as a war conquest by King Merinej of Jede.  Rinin is an innocent, sheltered and lovely.  King Merin, a warrior,experienced and bold.  As part of their marriage contract, Rinin demands that Merin be faithful and in return Rinin will  provide the heir Merin needs.  And yes, this is a male pregnancy series.

The first two stories had an interesting format that brought y0u intimately into the thoughts of the main characters.  The first book is narrated by Rinin, the second by Merin and I loved that.  It was even more powerful when the traumatic events of the second story came close to shattering the characters and our hearts.  So I was thrilled to see that the last story in the trilogy was out.  How would it all end?  Who would be the narrator of this final story?

Two Hearts, One Voice by Valentina Heart brings the trilogy to a close with a tale that, while it supplies a satisfactory happy ending, is missing the impact and drama of the first two stories.  And that has to do to the manner in which it is told.  We lose the powerful single person narration to a narrative of multiple points of view and a time frame that goes from immediate events unfolding to years down the line.  Unfortunately, this change up in style brings about a loss of energy and power to the story.  Two Hearts, One Voice fluctuates between powerful scenes of battle to the intrigue of the court, and then back again.  These transitions don’t feel as smooth as they should and the momentum of Merin and Rin’s story gets lost along the way.

Another element that lessens the impact of the finale is that the power of Owner of My Heart (Mending the Rift #2) was so strong and that story so full of pain and loss, that any finale would be hard put to equal its effect upon the reader.  Plus the children grow at such a speed here that its hard to connect with any of them emotionally as we do their parents.  For those readers not fond of mpreg, other than the mention of the children and Rin’s after-childbirth body, this element takes a back-burner to the battles still going on and the mechanisms found at court.

So, while I was not completely satisfied with the story, I still found many wonderful scenes to throw my heart into.  Merin’s segments at the front, Rin’s anger and pain….that made this story sing with life and energy.  That and their love for each other that Valentina Heart made so real and gripping.  I loved their love story most of all and here they get the ending they both deserved and wanted.  I will have to be content with that.

Two Hearts, Once Voice is not a standalone story. As part of a series, the books must be read in the order they were written.  None are long and that works if you want to read them together in one sitting as I did the first two.  I recommend this series. The love story is moving, the mpreg aspect well done, and you get a HEA you want for them both.

Cover art is ok but nothing that really captures your imagination like it should.

Sales Links:  Totally Bound BooksAmazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

Note: This book and series contains scenes of and references to Mpreg.

book, 95 pages
Expected publication: June 2nd 2015 by Totally Bound Publishing
original titleTwo Hearts One Voice
ISBN 1784305731 (ISBN13: 9781784305734)
edition languageEnglish
seriesMending the Rift #3

Books in the Mending the Rift series:

  • King’s Conquest (Mending the Rift, #1)
  • Owner of My Heart (Mending the Rift, #2)
  • Two Hearts One Voice (Mending the Rift #3)

 

A BJ Review: Manbot by Scarlet Blackwell

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Rating:  4.25 stars out of 5

If a robot is programmed to obey your every need, wouldn’t you take advantage? 



Manbot cover 2In a future where most families can afford to own their own robot (either a manbot or fembot), that question would definitely come up for those who live a lonely, solitary lifestyle. Especially since the robots are quite lovely and designed to obey their owner’s every command. So if you had one, what would you do? Really?

Gray Benedict is lonely teacher who owns Kavan, a six-foot-three gorgeous manbot just ready to do his bidding. When his friend Mitchell mentions that he’s been getting it on with his own manbot, George, Gray can’t help but begin to look at Kavin in a different light. Unlike his friend, Mitchell the letch, Gray has scruples and a heart. He’s concerned about taking advantage and maybe even damaging Kavan. It becomes clear that Kavan is eager to serve, but Gray is a nice guy and rather than order his robot around, he finds himself falling for his ever more humanlike manbot.

This is an enjoyable and well-written novella. Kavan is equipped with software that allows him to learn from his experiences as well as his manuals. As Gray gets closer and opens up to him emotionally as well as physically, Kavan becomes more and more human. He blossoms and its so fun to follow along this process. The way Kavan so much wanted to be a real man for Gray made me think of Pinnochio wanting to be a real boy. I loved it. And Gray was so sweet in his concerns that he’d damage Kavan. He was considerate of him at all times, never treating him as an object or something he owned except when his scumwad friend Mitchel gets him to agree to loan Kavan to him for an hour.

The bond between Gray and Kavan grows on both sides, because despite being a robot, it soon becomes obvious from Kavan’s actions that he is not just obeying his owner anymore. Its interesting to see the relationship of Mitchell and George juxtaposed to that of Gray and Kavan because it shows so vividly the two sides of a coin. How some humans treat anything or anyone they believe to be lesser than them (animals, other races, religions, etc.) with cruelty. The story explores a little of what makes someone human and worthy of love and respect.

The sex scenes are hot and so fun, the way Kavan’s operating system fritzes out when he’s overcome with pleasure/orgasm is just adorable.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the main reasons I didn’t give it five stars is not what was there, but what I wish had been! I’d have loved it if this were longer with more in-depth world building, because I think it had so much more that could have been explored such as the friendship of the two manbots and the relationship of George/Mitchell. The process of Kavan’s developing emotions would have come across much more if we could have been given more than the small snippets of his POV snippets near the end. I’d have loved to get a peek into the doors of the Tuesday programmer meetings and explore more on how and why the bots were able to develop feelings. And finally, I totally wanted to follow along with the couple a bit on their journey. A sweet HFN ending that left me hopeful but nervous for them and definitely wanting more. I would LOVE it if this book had a sequel.

Cover art bu Unknown. Beautiful cover! Love how it gives the feel of what’s inside Kavan, the little city at the bottom marking it as urban, and the warm vs cool colors.

Sales Links: Totally Bound Publishing –  All Romance (ARe)Amazon Buy It Here

Book Details:

CONTENT ADVISORY: This titles has a HFN ending. (less)
ebook, 82 pages
Published November 21st 2014 by Totally Bound (first published August 3rd 2012)
ISBN139781784302931
edition languageEnglish

A Paul B Review: Temple’s Touch (A Wizard’s Touch #6) by Amber Kell

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Temple's Touch coverMadison Archer and Temple Stewartson have longed for each other for years. When Temple goes to school, they think they have missed their chance. When Madison goes missing, Temple will use all his connections to find his man.

Temple Stewartson was born the son of a wizard father and a werewolf mother. Unlike his siblings who were strong wolves, Temple favored his father’s side of the family. As his brother shows strong alpha tendencies, the Stewartson siblings decide they will start their own pack as soon as Temple has finished his schooling. Having been tutored by the wizards associated with his pack, Temple heads off to wizard school.

Madison Archer is an orphan who lost his pack in a flood when he was a young pup. He was adopted by the members of Temple’s pack. He considers Temple his best friend and longs for the day that he can make Temple his mate. But he feels that he must let Temple go to school so that he can fulfill his destiny to be a healing wizard.

The two have grown up in the same pack, having shared the same bed as pack mates often do but each long for more. Temple believes that since Madison is a full wolf he should feel something but hasn’t so they must not be mates. Madison feels that since Temple is part wizard, the need to mate must not be as strong because of his mixed heritage. Only with the help of Temple’s father do they realize that they are indeed mates.

Problems start just after their mating when a new wolf shows up near the pack house. The pack calls on Temple to calm the jittery wolf down but in doing so, Temple passes out. When he recovers the next day, Temple goes to school and Madison goes to work. When Temple returns from school, Madison is not waiting for him as usual and the new wolf is missing as well. Temple turns to his pack and their friends to find his missing mate and solve the mystery of just who the new wolf was.

This is the sixth book in the Wizard’s Touch series. It is helpful to have read the previous books to get some of the references that are mentioned in the book. Having said that, this book does time jump quite a number of years from the previous books in the series as Temple’s father was a wizard student himself in the previous books. As Temple is the youngest of three children, I would say approximately twenty years or so have passed since the last book. However, it is nice that most of the major characters from the previous volumes either make an appearance or at least mentioned in the storyline.

I enjoyed the characters of Temple and Madison. Given their different backgrounds, I could understand how they would come to the misunderstandings that they did about the other maybe not being their mates. Each assumes that the other would be recognizes that they are their mate and say something but neither do. This makes an important lesson that communication is essential even in were relationships.

The cover art by Posh Gosh depicts two young men in the background with a wolf in the foreground. Decent cover that reflects the characters well.

Sales Links:    Totally Bound Books       All Romance (ARe)      Amazon        Buy It Here

Book details: 
Ebook , 93 pages
Published: April 2015 by Totally Bound
ISBN: 978-1-78430-537-6
Edition: English

Series: A Wizard’s Touch
Jaynell’s Wolf (Wizard’s Touch #1)
Kevin’s Alpha (Wizard’s Touch # 2)
Farren’s Wizard (Wizard’s Touch # 3)
Elijah’s Ghost (Wizard’s Touch #4)
Porter’s Reaper (Wizard’s Touch #5)
Temple’s Touch (Wizard’s Touch #6)

A MelanieM Review: The Line by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5:

The Line coverRafael Schiller, vampire and sexual god without peer, believes himself the top of the food chain, until a bizarre creature feeding in an alley scares the deathless hell out of him.

Rafael Schiller’s had a long road and he’s forgotten the meaning of several human words along the way. Commitment? Relationship? Love, for all the gods’ sakes? What does a vampire need those for? He’s completely content treating his long string of one-off lovers as midnight snacks. He makes it good for them and has no reason for guilt or grief. Some nights still induce an odd, hollow ache, but he can just drown it in the next conquest. Master of his universe, he lives without a care…until he encounters a bizarre creature feeding in an alley.

It’s caught his scent, and now that it’s hunting him, Rafael remembers a word from his childhood. Krsnik—the hunters, the monsters who feed on the blood of vampires. He could run, but he’d be running forever, and that would sure as hell take the fun out of life. Time to figure out what the creature really is, what can defeat it, and why he feels so drawn to it.

 The Line by Angel Martinez is another terrific story from this “auto read” fantasy author.   The Line takes the typical vampire character, normally an apex predator when they aren’t sparkling, and gives him an adversary, the Krsnik, worthy of such formidable being.  Furthermore, Martinez doesn’t just give us a remarkably scary hunter in the Krsnik, no, she gives us the haunting backstory as to how this creature came into being.  By giving us those extra layers, Martinez’ The Line and her characters steps outside the ordinary “supernatural” narrative into something quite wonderful and unexpected.

Talk about a duo meant for each other in every way but romantic.  At least at first.  Rafael, is a vampire whose years of existence has taught him that killing his “food’ is unnecessary. Instead he leaves his “young men” sexually sated and happy when he is done and on his way out the  door.  It’s a lonely existence but Rafael has made his peace with it.  Then a new predator appears in his town and Rafael decides to track it down and dispatch it.  Only this predator feeds on vampires and is more powerful and just as cunning as Rafael.  Now the hunter is the hunted, Rafael’s position at the top of the food chain is gone and his continued existence in doubt.  It’s a lovely turn of events and the author wrings every bit of angst, suspense and shock out of this element.

Lan the Krsnik is remarkable as the predator of predators.  He’s a truly fearsome creature.  But he is also as layered a being as Raphael. I won’t spoil the surprises that come with his character but they brought to mind a quote I recently read that said when creating villains/dark characters, a good way to make them real is to give them vulnerabilities, a way for the reader to also understand and sympathize with them*.  Angel Martinez has certainly done that here with Lan.  Together Lan and Rafael become this dance of hunter and hunted that I never wanted to end.  I loved every bit of it, including those instances where humor surfaces to ease the tension…for just a moment before it all gets deadly again.

I rarely find that I  am happy with the length of any Angel Martinez tale because she provides such  interesting back histories and world building to her stories that she often poses as many questions in her narrative as she supplies answers.  At the end of each story I am always left wanting to know more….about everything.  And yes, that happens here as well.  Forty five pages?  I could use two hundred and still be curious about small bits of history and back story that she teased us with throughout the tale.  The only jarring element was the inclusion of the Johnny Cash song, The Line.  I know it was included because this story was initially published as part of Totally Bound’s 50’s Mixed Tape Anthology but it could have been easily eliminated here, at  least to my way of thinking.

Do you love tales of the supernatural?  Are vampires in lust and love your thing as they are mine?  Or you are just a fan of Angel Martinez as I am…in all case, pick up The Line by Angel Martinez.  It’s a vampire tale you won’t want to miss and one I highly recommend.

*Can’t remember who made this remark at the moment.  I will give them credit when my memory starts working again.

Cover Art by Pamela Sinclair.  I have to say I am tired of seeing that one model everywhere.  You know, the blond one.  He’s an elf usually, or an angel.  No matter, what he’s emphatically noticed for is being overused.  Sigh.  Surely, there is another stock model who could be substituted in his place?

Sales Links:  Totally Bound Books      All Romance (ARe)       Amazon        Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 45 pages
Published December 20th 2013 by Totally Bound
previously published as part of the 50’s Mixed Tape Anthology
ISBN 1781849145 (ISBN13: 9781781849149)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttps://www.totallybound.com

Cowboy Up! It’s Wild Western Week Today with Bailey Bradford (guest post and contest)

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Cowboy Up During Wild Western Week

With Bailey Bradford’s “Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots”

Cowboys have been my heroes ever since I was a little girl. First, it was because my dad loved cowboy movies and books—Louis L’Amour was his favorite author, and The Duke his favorite cowboy actor. Like a lot of little girls, I idolized my Dad and thought he could do no wrong, and so I watched what he watched and read the books he did, albeit sometimes I had to sneak around to do it.

As I grew to be a teenager, I fell in love with cowboys all on my own. To me, as portrayed in books and movies, they were the epitome of strength and masculinity. That whole strong, silent type was very appealing. I’d look at the boys my age and compare them to my heroes. There just weren’t any modern-day cowboys around where I grew up, unless they were fictional, so I spent a lot of time re-reading the westerns I’d practically memorized.

The good guys won. Justice was served. Life was just right when the cowboys were involved.
And the cowboys were always handsome. Clint Eastwood, when he was younger, Robert Redford—oh my, Sundance Kid? Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy? I’ve named off favorite movie cowboys before. I had many that I crushed on.

It was their roles in westerns that made me love these guys. And when the movies were over, the books read, I kept their stories going in my imagination, and created new adventures. Yes, I admit I was the love interest What was the fun in fantasizing that someone else got the handsome cowboy?

That fascination with cowboys never went away. When I started writing, the first book I finished and submitted for publication was a modern-day cowboy one. Of course I broadened my perception of what a cowboy is, and now like to add the realism of them not being perfect. I like my cowboys to be flawed, and not always handsome.

But they have to have that good heart, that abiding moral compass even if they screw up. In the end, they’ll do what’s right because that’s how they’re made. They can be bruised and battered by life and the people they’ve loved, but they’re still intrinsically good.

Every time I write about cowboys, there are some of those memories from my childhood in each one of the guys. Good memories, and lots of love.

Added to that are the adult, Not Safe For Work parts of the stories, too. Once I grew up—I hesitate to say ‘matured’, heh—sexuality became a part of the stories in my head and the books I read. I embraced sex whole-heartedly, and the idea of two cowboys or more, falling in love—that commitment and loyalty that would endure through anything, along with the tender and rough sex lovers shared? That was every romantic fantasy I couldn’t let go of. I could see it, in my imagination, and wanted to capture it and tell that story.

So I try, every time I write about cowboys, to convey that love—the never-ending, good always wins, follow you to the ends of the Earth kind of love.

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Blurb for Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots:

Lessons learned from past betrayals can protect Colby Vincent’s heart or cost him a chance at happiness he never thought to have.

Colby thought he’d never let anyone close again after being betrayed by everyone he loved, but one closeted, stubborn oilfield worker with a penchant for dressing like a cowboy seems determined to out himself and win Colby’s heart. It’s as if Hunter Talamentez walked right out of Colby’s fantasies and into the convenience store where Colby works.

But Hunter is closeted, and he’s never considered changing that. He’s got his homophobic cousin with him, a family that he knows won’t support him if they know the truth about who he is and a job where being out could get him hurt. He resigned himself to spending his life alone until he gets to know Colby. Then he embarks on a journey with Colby that will change their lives if only they both find the strength to take a few chances.

Nothing comes easily, and learning to give from the heart when that heart has been shattered twice before might be more than Colby is capable of. He isn’t sure about having more than a fling with Hunter, yet he can’t seem to stay away from the man, either. What was meant to be one night together turns into more, and Colby loses his ability to keep Hunter at the safe distance he’d wanted.

Excerpt from Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots:

Colby Vincent whistled as he stocked the shelf at the Valero store where he worked. He liked the late shift, working from midnight until six in the morning. He’d always been a night owl through and through, which had made school difficult more often than not. Maybe if he’d slept better, he’d have had the grades to get into college, but thinking along those lines didn’t do him any good now.

It was generally slow in regards to having customers, which was fine with him. Plastering on a smile and acting cheery was getting harder to do every day. Some people had a problem with him, and it was getting old. He supposed it came with being the only out gay man in town. Even so, he didn’t deserve to experience some of the things he did.

At least at his second job as a cook at Rio’s Mexican Café he didn’t have to worry about greeting customers. Plus, Rio and his nephew Berto were cool. Rio always gave Colby the old copies of American Cowboy and True Cowboy when the newer ones came in the mail. Maybe he should have been tired of cowboys, considering he lived in a town that had a bunch of them.

But they tended to be old, and not to be the sexy or unbigoted kind. The ones in the magazines were unknowns and he could fantasize about them if he wanted to without feeling disgusted for doing so. He’d be damned if he’d ever get off while thinking about any of the hateful people who’d crossed his path, cowboys or not. Colby did have his pride, after all.

He put the small packages of Oreo cookies in their place after having removed the outdated ones. Colby’s stomach rumbled. He pressed a fist to his belly until the dull ache backed off. When it was time for him to take a break, he’d see what his options were.

A few minutes later, a buzzer sounded and the door opened. Colby glanced over his shoulder, making sure it wasn’t some psycho wielding a weapon. Working at a convenience store, he always worried about becoming a victim of violent crime.

His co-worker, Christy, was working the counter—well, playing on her phone—and didn’t even give the customer a first glance, much less a second one. Colby stood up, having been hunched over to get the Oreos on the shelf just right. He turned and eyed the man who was now walking toward the fountain drinks.

Like the sound of Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots? Buy it here.

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About Bailey Bradford:

A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn’t happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey’s brain demanding to be let out.

Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey’s office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from Bailey’s presence can result in what is known as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.

 Contests!

Totally Bound are running two blog tours in conjunction with their Wild Western week promotion, one MF/MFM and one M/M. Visit their facebook page to find out more about the blog tour stops, discounts and deals on offer!

Enter Totally Bound’s competition for the chance to win three cowboys and western titles of your choice by entering our prize draw.

Use this link or the one above to enter.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Links and prizes provided by Totally Bound Books!

Enter Here!

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A PaulB Review: Broken Bridges by Cheyenne Meadows

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Broken Bridges coverWhen wolf shifter Detective Dax Steel discovers a serial killer is targeting bear shifters, he worries about his ex lover Adin. As he hunts for the killer, Dax is bound to protect his former flame. Will this new attention bring the two back together, drive them further apart or separate them forever?

Dax Steel is detective who is investigating a series of homicides that have occurred over the last three days. Being a wolf shifter, he recognizes each of the victims as a bear shifter. When he comes across the latest victim, Dax is relieved that it is not his ex lover Adin. Looking for any connections between the victims, Dax decides to pay his ex lover a visit.

Adin is a bear shifter who works for the parks services. As a bear shifter, his personality aligns with his creature. A loner as most bear shifters, he still cannot get past his relationship with Dax. When Dax shows up one day, it both excites and irritates him. Worried that there might be someone who is after his kind, he offers to help Dax with his investigation.

However, when Dax goes alpha wolf protector with Adin, he bristles. He reminds Dax that he is a bear shifter and can take care of himself. While the two once again reconnect, the very issues that drove them apart the first time threaten do so again. However, Dax is worries that this time it might be a permanent separation if he does not catch the serial killer in time.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. The sex scenes are hot throughout the novel. I enjoyed how the author used the alpha wolf and loner bear personalities to explain how what seemed to be a perfect match somehow fell apart when they first met. The murder mystery being used as the catalyst to bring these two lovers together again worked for me in this instance. I would like to see a sequel to this novel to see if they could work on another case together, but would be satisfied if this did not happen.

The mystery itself was well developed for a short novel. There were enough clues and red herrings to keep the reader entertained. The conclusion of the mystery was plausible without it being revealed completely until near the end of the case.

If you enjoy romance with your mystery, I would recommend this charming short novel.

The cover art by Posh Gosh shows both Dax and Adin in both their human form (in the background) and in their shifted form (in the fore). It is a gorgeous cover and the tag line “Will a second chance at love come too late?” perfectly sums up the story.

Sales Links:   Totally Bound Books     All Romance (ARe)    Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details
Ebook, 89 pages
Published by Totally Bound December 2014
ISBN: 978-1-78430-346-1