A Stella Review: Haven’s Creed by Parker Williams

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RATING  3, 5 out of 5 stars

Havan's CreedAn act of violence destroys his family and ends the life he knows. To escape his haunted past, he joins the military, where, as a sniper, he is trained to kill with precision and detachment. When a covert organization offers him a new purpose, he becomes Haven, an operative devoted to protecting the innocent when he can and avenging them when he cannot.

After ten years of battling the evil in the world, the life no longer holds the attraction or meaning it once had, and he’s ready to walk away. Then he meets Samuel, a young man forced from the age of twelve to work as a sex slave. If ever a man had a need for Haven, it is this one.

Yet nothing about this growing relationship is one-sided. Sammy gives Haven a stability he’s never known, and Haven becomes the rock upon which Sammy knows he can depend.

When Sammy reveals something about the enemy Haven has been hunting for months, Sammy fears it will destroy what they’ve built and he’ll lose his home in Haven’s heart.

After a year I finally had a chance at reading a new book by Parker Williams. I have to admit as I read the blurb of Haven’s Creed, I was soon curious about it. I understood the story would have been something different from the usual fluffy romance I so love and so I wanted to give it a try.

What surprised me was how much I felt myself into the story, I found hard to put it down and I read it quickly. I liked the premise, the writing, the secondary characters and the development of the general story. That’s why I gave it a high rating, because  I liked it so much.

That said,  I had a lot of issues with Haven’s Creed, the most important one was that the book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, I was waiting for something different and when I understood I wasn’t getting it, I felt so disappointed.

First of all, be aware, this story is extremely hard and violent, and it could hurt the sensibility of people not used to these kinds of themes. I had been cautioned about them and I started this book knowing it wouldn’t be strictly a romance but I was still hoping to get some kind of love story, in any way possible. The problem for me is that Haven’s Creed IS a romance, meaning the romantic part shadowed the fiction sections greatly, turning it into a simple love story with some violent elements (and not the other way around). And when you approach a reading knowing you are going to get something and then actually got another thing, the frustration is almost certain.

Also this narrative letdown also brought about some issues with the main characters. I was confused about Sammy. I was not sure how someone who went through hell like he did, could be so strong and dominant and open with his sexuality in his relationship with Haven. Not being scared of a new man felt unrealistic and extreme. And I was confused about Haven too. From the moment he met Sammy, he became needy and emotional, he started making mistakes during his job. There was a very improbable and pointless change in his personality that almost depreciated the whole first part of the story. Really a shame.

I was ready for violence, abuses, gritty scenes and a lot of blood.  I was ready for it to be emotional. I wasn’t honestly waiting for a HEA and for me there was one between Sammy and Haven. I was hoping for a love story and I’m happy I got it. But in my opinion the author should have been bolder and pushed more versus what the story promised.

Although it left me with a lot of not so good feelings, I gave Haven’s Creed 3,5 stars because it deserves them. The author was able to keep me glued to his words till the end and I can’t ignore this.

The cover art by Laura Harner could have worked but I already saw this cover around for another book, so to me it’s nothing new.

Sales Links:  Smashwords | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon |

Book Details:

Published December 14th 2015
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
ASIN B0190XCAX2
Edition Language English

A Stella Review: Of Gods and Monsters: Hades (Of Gods and Monsters #2) by Wulf Francu Godgluck

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars          ★★★★★

******WARNING*******
Hades of Gods and Monsters
This is not a story about a hero, or some bad boy-badass-antihero.
This is a love story between two monstrous villains and one valiant kid, held together by their entwined heartstrings.
It won’t be pretty.
It won’t be pleasant.
There’s no fluffy good feelings about it.
It will rip out your heart and never give it back.

Breno Hades el Oscuro took no bullshit from anyone. He ruled the crime world of the United States. When the King fell, what was left in the ashes was not the small boy that grew up without his father, not the same kid that chose a life of crime at seventeen, nor was it the King who had killed and clawed through a river of blood to stand at the top.

The King was dragged from his throne of bones into a deep dark pit, leaving only the raw flesh of a savage monster to crawl out of Hell.
One that knew love, but didn’t want it again.

Kemono Orochi was destined to inherit the legacy of his father, known as The Dragon’s Tongue. It was an inheritance he never wanted it, never desiring the power that came with the title of Dragon. Kemono ended it all by tearing off the Dragon’s head, watching the serpent’s remains be consumed in hellfire. Now tormented by the scars of his past inflicted by his father, he is struggling to come to terms with the Akuma he has become.

One that wants to devour everyone in his path to protect the only one that matters to him.

The only person that had ever made his icy heart beat.

His heart. His love. His beautiful pride.

Rex Hunter dreams of becoming a principal ballerino…all fierce, like a Phoenix. But this Phoenix has lost his wings and fallen prey, straight into the clutched claws and callus hands of two vicious beasts. Each bore the blackest of hearts, each desiring to keep him safe, cherished and loved unconditionally. Or was Rex just destined to be the goo that would stick two shattered souls together and prevent them from forever falling to pieces?

There will be blood, gore and nasty shit.

There will be watersports, crude, angry, sometimes sensual and other times just downright dirty and dysfunctional sex.

BUT…

There will always be LOVE…

Because even villains understand the tortured scars love leaves in its wake.

Let’s start this review saying I loved the book a lot and when I finished reading it, I hated the author a lot. As an after thought I should have seen it coming but in my defence I was so enrolled in the story, I was blind to little details I should have been more careful with. Nonetheless in the following days when I was finally able to let the anger go, I realized that maybe it was the right choice and it is one of my favorite books I’ve read lately.

I’m honestly not sure what to write in this review because I don’t want to spoil the story. If you’re a fan of Wulf’s work, you know he is very good at surprising us with unexpected characters and developments, so just two words, be ready. I wasn’t.

Of Gods and Monsters: Hades is a story about betrayal, about second chances at love, enemies to lovers, about a monster with a cold heart that can maybe still beat for someone. It’s about a beautiful young man and the need to be human again. It’s the story of three lives, interwoven in times and fate.

The story of Hades takes place four years after Menoetius. In these four years, Hades has found and let go of who could have been the love of his life, he was betrayed by a brother and forced to live in a prison fighting ring.

Four years has passed from the day Rex has left Japan and the place that was his home and life for twelve years, where he kissed Kemono, the young man he watched become a cold hearted killer. The day he was escorted to the airport and put on a plane to the States. With his cat, Bacon, he’s now living under the Dragon’s Tongue “care”, a powerful criminal organization.

And four years ago, Kemono has killed the one who kept him away from Rex and turned him into a monster, the new dragon.

After four year spent in hell, Hades comes back to his apartment and find it occupied by a little ginger, Rex. And of course he needs to scare the young man to death. First impressions matter.

There is a lot going on this book, there are quite some second characters to keep track of, but it’s never chaotic because every new event, every new person is welcomed and fully explained.

The characters in this story are not easy, all of them have really heavy baggages on their shoulders (no one excluded), all of them are fucked up in different ways. I love knowing there are more books planned and that I’m going to meet them again and follow them in their journey to the love land. Cause they are all getting their HEA.

The story is a continuous story of messy, hard scenes. Not for everyone. It’s on the line of Menoetius but different and in my opinion so much better.

There are some things I’m very strict about in my MM books and they are often have been a deal breaker to me, this second installment has a couple of them, but I didn’t care. As I already said, the story took me completely, I couldn’t put it down for a moment. My opinion on the author is the same, he’s amazingly talented.

I can’t wait for the next one. I want to know more about Richard (and James I hope), but it seems that Monroe, a NYPD chief, has just fallen in love with someone.

Cover Art by Wulf Francú Godgluck. It’s well done and fitting, I can totally see Hades in it. And I like the black and the red together.

Sales Links:   All Romance (ARe) | Amazon

Book Details:

Published January 22nd 2016 by Wulf Francu Godgluck
Kindle Edition, 319 pages
ASIN B018WUWI18
Edition Language English

Of Gods and Monsters series

A BJ Review: Watch Me (Break You) (Run This Town #1) by Avril Ashton

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★

Here comes trouble…

Watch Me (Break You)

Men. Women. Drugs. Dima Zhirkov’s favorite things. Add in the element of danger and he should be right as rain. But not today. It’s not working, hasn’t for a long time. He’s grasping at the flimsiest of straws to prove he’s indeed strong enough to run his streets. Until he sets eyes on him. In the midst of a room full of strangers, Dima is drawn to a man as cold and dangerous as he’s beautiful. Captivated, Dima embarks on a ruthless campaign to get his new toy into bed.

Here comes the danger…
Xavier “X” Storm is content to pull the strings while someone else handles the day to day dealings of his gang, The Rude Boys. He’s after what Dima holds closest—the Coney Island streets. He contracts out the job of killing the Russian, except Dima isn’t that easy to kill. When he suddenly shows up in X’s path, tempting him to indulge in the dirtiest play, he finds Dima isn’t all that easy to shake, either. His cocky attitude and rough submission tempts X to go where he’d vowed to never return, and they plunge head first into an affair fueled by possessive obsession.

Run for cover.
Sex and pain Dima can handle, and X delivers the most depraved kind. Their connection is explosive, their games addictive, but Dima can end it whenever he wishes. He doesn’t see that X is breaking him down, giving Dima everything he wants and even more than he ever thought to need. By the time he realizes who X is and what he wants, Dima is raw and bullet riddled. It’s run or fight. And Dima doesn’t back down. Neither does X.

These guys are brutal, harsh and totally, spellbindingly captivating. They’re bad boys without a doubt, but their story sucked me in, grabbed me by the throat, and made me care. Both characters are interesting and well-developed. Loved the interracial aspect. Plus I adored Dima right off from nearly the first page, but when the author puts these two together it’s electric. This story is off the charts, sizzling hot. Definitely a one-handed read, but yet so much more.

It’s also a fast-paced, hold-onto-your-seat kind of story that I simply couldn’t put down. I adore enemies-to-lovers tropes, and this story puts a twist on it that I found enthralling. You see, one of the main character’s true identity is unknown to the other for some time, and hence only one knows they are enemies at the start. When the truth eventually comes out, oh man, the betrayal… just delicious.

Did I mention that these are some seriously bad guys… criminals! Gangsters! They’re violent, enjoy giving/receiving pain, like kinky, raunchy, dirty sex and plenty of it. They lie and kill, they’re seriously shitty to each other, and they’re possessive as hell. Stalking, sadistic, and sometimes bat-shit crazy. But you know what, despite all that, the author made me care for them, fall in love with them, cry for them, and despite the awesome HEA endng which I adored, I’m still left desperately wanting to read more about them!

This book is an e-ticket ride… fast, wild, fun, kinky and absolutely worth the price of admission!  Hop on board. I cannot recommend this book more highly.

The cover is excellent. I like that it doesn’t include the typical men. It gives a sense of location and a just right hint of the kinky content, the color and mood is dead on, it just feels right.

Sales Links:   Amazon | Buy It Here


Book Details:  

Kindle Edition, 278 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Sinner’s Haven Publishing (first published September 5th 2014)
original title(Watch Me) Break You
ASINB00MWMQYHC
edition languageEnglish
seriesRun This Town #1
charactersDima Zhirkov, Xavier Storm

A Free Dreamer Review: The Demon You Know by Barbara Elsborg

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

the Demon You know coverA good demon?

Ezra is a timekeeper in Hell, responsible for building and maintaining the clocks that tick away eternal torment. He’s never believed he deserves to be in Hell, and when the reason he’s there is revealed, he’s horrified…yet filled with hope. But is this just another form of torture? When Ezra’s given a chance to go to the surface, he’s determined to uncover the truth, but his fellow demons seem just as determined he won’t survive the journey.

A bad angel?

Roman doesn’t understand why an angel who failed his training the first time round has been given the job of policing paranormals in the UK’s capital city. He’s consumed by unhappiness. He might not be in Hell, but sometimes it damn well feels like it.

When Roman meets Ezra his failings come back to haunt him. Ezra makes him want to break the rules, but an angel protecting a demon? Discovery would bring an eternity of suffering, and with a boss none other than the archangel Michael, it’ll take more than a miracle for the lovers to stand together.

Let me start off by saying that while this is part 3 of a series, it works perfectly fine as a stand alone. I didn’t even read the blurbs of the two other books before starting this one and I had absolutely no trouble understanding what’s going on.

You should also be aware that this is a pretty dark book. There’s rape, there’s dub-con, there’s violence and there’s depression and potentially suicidal thoughts. If that’s not your kind of thing, back away slowly.

So, there’s Ezra, sweet, gentle, good Ezra. He lives in Hell but has no idea why. Usually you have to be at least 16 before you’re sent to Hell. But not Ezra, who was apparently born in Hell. He works as a timekeeper, making sure the countless clocks that are part of the eternal torment of the demons are in working order. He’s different from the other demon. For one, he’s far smaller than even the females and he looks unusually normal. That makes him a prime victim to the other demons, who delight in making his life miserable. He was also chosen as one of a handful of demons to go to the surface and corrupt humans for a week. But Ezra has other plans: He wants to run, to hide, to never go back down to Hell again. He wants to see snow, see clouds and for once in his life to experience what it means to be cold.

Then there’s Roman, the jaded head of supernatural London, who makes sure the other supernatural beings (vampires, werewolves, faeries, gargoyles) stick to the rules and remain undiscovered. He’s an angel, but not a very good one. Angels are supposed to be free of sin, yet he always lusts after other men. He’s very unhappy with his life. Maybe not exactly suicidal, but definitely close. He doesn’t care too much about whether he’s dead or alive one way or another.

Of course Roman is part of the team that has to catch the demons before they can do any serious harm. When Ezra and Roman meet, it’s lust at first sight. But why can’t Roman sense Ezra’s a demon? And how can an angel and a demon ever have a HEA?

For the most part, I enjoyed this book.

I liked both Roman and Ezra from the beginning. They were nice guys. Though in Ezra’s case, I’d have to say he was too nice. He was so very sweet and kind, even though he’s only ever known sorrow and pain. He’s been raped countless times, yet he’s all too happy to have a sexual relationship with Roman. The past abuse seems to have no effect on him whatsoever, except that he’s kind of sad and occasionally flinches back when Roman makes a sudden move. That’s something I definitely don’t like. If you’re going to include traumatizing events such as rape and abuse, make sure your character actually is traumatized. Rape doesn’t make you go all sweet and submissive and happy to be of help to strangers. Though I did like the way he acted otherwise, he was funny and witty and had an interesting story to tell.

Roman is jaded through and through. He’s hurt, he’s lonely and he hates his life. It’s a little hard to understand just why he is so miserable in the beginning, but I promise there is an explanation eventually. I thought he was far more realistic that Ezra.

Since the two of them fall in instant lust, there’s plenty of sex. Almost too much, really, even if it is very hot. A little less sex and a little more world and character building would definitely have helped me really like this story though.

I’m generally none too fond of insta-love/lust and “The Demon You Know” was no exception. I get that they found each other attractive from the very beginning, so I understand all the sex they had, even at the most inappropriate moments. What I had a hard time understanding though was what made them fall in love with each other. It’s understandable that Ezra falls for the first person to have ever treated him kindly. But I have absolutely no idea what made Roman return those feelings. They barely knew each other. They only spent a few hours together, really. And why would Roman risk everything for a demon, when he knows it will only be trouble and that Ezra must have done something truly awful to be sent to hell?

Usually, I avoid books about angels, simply because there tends to be a strong element of religion and belief present most of the time. Being an atheist, this tends to bore or annoy me easily. “The Demon You Know” had very little religion and belief for the most part. Sure, there was a bit of talk about God and the devil, and about the Seven Deadly Sins, but for the most part, it just focused on the two MCs. I liked that.

To sum it up, “The Demon You Know” is a quick, hot read, without a lot of depth. With more depth, this could have easily been a truly great story. As it is, I had fun and I finished it within two days. If you don’t mind the darkness of this and are willing to suspend your disbelief for a bit, you’ll most likely enjoy this too.

And I’ll definitely take a look at the previous book, Bloodline, which is about two of the minor characters in this book.

Fiona Jade’s cover is just wow. Breathtakingly beautiful. I think it matches the story well, you can see Roman’s anguish and the flames from hell licking at the bottom of the cover and his wings show Ezra’s influence. The background shows various famous sights in London, so it does not only reflect the protagonists but also the setting. It’s one of the most beautiful covers out there, one that I’d love to have in my physical bookshelf.

Sales: Loose Id LLC  |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 233 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Loose Id LLC (first published April 27th 2015)

A BJ Review: Payback by John Inman

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Rating:   2 stars out of 5

Payback cover

On the night of their fourth wedding anniversary, Tyler and Spence share a special evening before going out to take their dog for a walk in the park where a deadly gay bashing attack changes their life forever.

One reason I wanted to read this book was because it’s set in San Diego, where I lived for many years. Found myself in the mood to revisit, and the book didn’t disappoint in that respect. The trolley, the park, breweries, Coronado Bridge vistas and so many more little details had my imagination firmly planted back in my old stomping grounds.

The story begins with a steamy hot, yet also sweetly romantic scene between a couple so real I felt as if I could’ve known when I lived in the area. As Spence and Tyler celebrate their anniversary by exchanging specially made rings, their dog interrupts with a need to go out and they set off on a walk in the park. What comes next strikes with crushing, chest-constricting suddenness, shattering the almost idyllic happiness we’d just shared with them into fragmented ruins. It’s gut wrenching, heartrending, have-lots-of-tissues-handy reading for several chapters.

In the aftermath of the attack, Tyler is unconscious for a month and wakes to find himself alone in the world. Husband dead, dog missing, and apparently he has no family. After speaking with a police detective, Chris, and learning that they have no real leads on the attack, Tyler’s grief is rapidly overshadowed by intense anger that morphs into a desperate need for vengeance.

A short bout of agoraphobia, which he overcomes on his own in a matter of days, Tyler goes out and buys an illegal gun. His desire to own a gun didn’t surprise me much. Protection would be high on my list after such an attack. But why an illegal gun, unless he already had plans of how he was going to use it?

Up until then, the story was a tearjerker, but working for me. That shifted when Tyler gives in to his rage and goes out riding the trolley at night in bad parts of town carrying his illegal gun and ends up committing murder for which he feels no guilt. In fact, the murder seems to ease the rage inside him and make him feel better for a while. The only remorse comes some time later and is related to fear that his actions may have messed up the relationship between Chris, the detective assigned to his case, and himself.

Chris saw Tyler when he was brought in on the night of the attack, and reveals later that he fell in love from the first. As the story weaves on, Chris starts to creep me out. His sappiness and obsession with Tyler rubs me all wrong. Even more when clues began to make it clear to him that Tyler committed murder, and he chooses to ignore it. Later he goes further when he helps Tyler cover up the first murder in conjunction with another killing. Chris and Tyler actually discuss the cover up scheme while watching the man bleed to death.

Five months after the attack, and Chris has fallen for the grieving Tyler so deeply that he’s willing to go completely against his sworn duty. Five months and Tyler is so deeply in love with Chris that the detective has replaced Spence in Tyler’s thoughts and dreams.

The night of the cover up, Chris and Tyler make love for the first time–in the same bed that he and Spence had used to make sweet love the night of Spence’s death. They even use the same sexual position. Chris and Tyler declare their forever love, but it just didn’t work for me. It wasn’t hot or romantic. In fact, it broke my heart. Five short months and Spence, who the author made me love in that first scene, seems to be erased so completely.

On another note, I share my life with several dogs, so I usually enjoy doggie characters in my books. Franklin, Spence and Tyler’s dog, had the makings of a wonderful animal character initially. Unfortunately, it felt like he was a prop used to move things forward and then be forgotten when convenient. Near the end, he’d been repeatedly kicked with heavy boots while trying the help Tyler. He’s dripping urine on the floor, which makes me think possible kidney damage. Yet Tyler and Chris never take him to the vet to be checked out. My dog lover’s heart was left worried about him.

If some background on Chris and Tyler had been offered, it might have helped to understand them better. However, there’s only the barest hint of background on Tyler and next to none on Chris. This leaves me with many questions—one being why Chris fell for Tyler so hard and instantly when seeing him in the hospital.

The book’s rather reminiscent of a popular movie in which a woman goes vigilante after a similar attack scenario, except Tyler isn’t a vigilante. Rather it came across to me as if he just needed to take his anger out on someone. The idea that going out and looking for someone to hurt, even a bad person, in order to assuage rage over injustice done to you just wasn’t something I found ok.

Cover Artist: Maria Fanning
The cover perfectly captures the essence of this book including the setting (San Diego trolley instantly recognizable for me), the blood and violence, as well as the love. The couple walking with their dog in the park at the bottom, small, almost transparently dreamy as if they’re just a memory makes me tear up each time I look at it after having read the story.
Sales LInks:   Dreamspinner Press      All Romance (ARe)         Amazon       buy it here
Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: February 2nd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632166289
edition languageEnglish
url http://johninmanauthor.com