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)

The Tin Star – My Favorite M/M Books

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Recently I was asked to name my all-time favorite book and I was stumped.  Not because I couldn’t come up with a name but because I came up with far too many and in a multitude of categories.

So we switched gears and was asked to name my top favorite book that I would recommend for someone to read.  Nope.  Still couldn’t do it.  But it was a smaller list this time.  Well, I spent the night mulling it over, then got up and toddled  over to my overloaded bookshelf (pre-Kindle days) for inspiration.  I didn’t have to look long as the stories I loved have the look of someone who stayed too long at the party.  You know the signs, they appear off color from too much wear and tear plus they are a little bent around the edges. Perfect.

The first one I grabbed will be the first I recommend.  The Tin Star by J.L. Langley.  I am so fond of this book that it is a comfort reread for me.  I am sure you have those.  You are home sick, have the sniffles so you haul out the hot tea and curl up in a chair with old friends in a favorite story.  Like Pooh and his Hunny Pot.

The Tin Star is the story of rancher Ethan Whitehall and James Killian, brother of one of Ethan’s best friends.  Ethan is from one of the oldest families in town and his ranch, The Tin Star, makes him one of the most respected and powerful men in town.  Ethan is gay but given the small town homophobic atmosphere, he keeps his sexuality under wraps.

Then Jamie comes out to his family and is promptly kicked off his home, the Quadruple J Ranch and out of the only life he had ever known.  Gone is his home and job as the ranch foreman.  Jamie turns to the one man he has always looked up to and secretly crushed on for years – Ethan Whitehall.  Now Ethan has a choice to make.  Does he stake all he has when it turns out that Jamie needs not only shelter but protection from those whose hatred and bigotry spell danger to Jamie and those around him.

J.L. Langley’s characters are so well written that they eat, breathe, and ooze so much sex appeal that they almost jump off the page.  Ethan and Jamie have their flaws, they are real people.  But the men here have the ability to make you laugh as well as they struggle towards a relationship.  The secondary characters surrounding them, such as John Killian (Jamie’s brother), Bill the foreman and even Spot, Ethan’s ornery horse become real to you as you move into the story.  This book has everything…..love, humor, suspense, and hot, hot men.  What’s not to love?

J.L. Langley has written two books in this series so far, the second is The Broken H which has crossover characters from this novel.  Published by Loose Id in 2006, it is still available from them as well as Amazon and All Romance Publishing.  And don’t miss the Christmas short, The Christmas Tree Bargain, as Jamie and Ethan celebrate their first Christmas together.

 

Review of My Regelence Rake (Sci-Regency #3) by JL Langley

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Yes, I know this should have come later but I couldn’t help it.  I loved this book.  The contest winner will still be announced on Friday.  Enjoy.

Rating: 5 stars

Prince Colton Townsend has loved Lord Sebastian Hastings since he was fifteen.  The Captain of the Guard is everything Colton has ever wanted.  He’s handsome, dashing, and an excellent horseman.  His affections have never been returned by Hastings but Colton has never figured out if that was because the Captain sees him still as a young boy instead of a man or perhaps because Sebastian has declared never to remarry.  Still his crush  continued right up until the day he and his brothers spied Captain Hastings in a tryst in a garden during a ball.  Now  Colton decides to focus only on his horses and opening a racing stable will help him forget about his love for the Captain of the Guard.

Lord Sebastian Hastings’ schedule changed from busy to overwhelmed when asked by King Steven to provide security for all of the Royal Family on a constant basis, including Prince Colton.  Sebastian isn’t certain when exactly he became aware of how handsome the young man had become.  Sebastian knew the young Prince had a crush on him as the lad followed him around like a puppy when younger.  But lately, Colton has seemed distant, even downright curt and that bothered Sebastian more than he wanted to admit.  Then an argument with Colton over disobeying his orders flared into a kiss, and then another and all of Sebastian’s carefully erected barriers began to fall.

During a visit to Tattersalls to bid on horses for his stable, Colton and Sebastian find an abused horse and determine to save it.  The consequent events turn the horse’s abusive owner into a enemy who spreads rumors about the men and their relationship throughout society.  When the nasty gossip causes people to shun Colton at a ball, Hastings acts to quell the rumors by asking for Colton’s hand in marriage.  But instead of solving things, the marriage is only the beginning of the problems for the couple, as Sebastian is keeping secrets from Colton, an old flame reappears, and a family close to the Admiral and Sebastian have disappeared, perhaps murdered as part of the INS conspiracy against the throne. Colton  hopes that one day he will have a marriage like his fathers, one with two men deeply in love with each other.  Colton knows his marriage is only halfway there.  Now if only Sebastian would help make the rest come true.

With My Regelence Rake JL Langley has done it again.  She has given us a book not only worth the wait but one that leaves us immediately clamoring for the next in the series as soon as we have finished reading it.  All the elements that make this series so addictive are present and accounted for.  Great world building – check, outstanding characters – check, hot, hot sex – check, ongoing intrigue and mystery – check and finally romantic love – oh absolutely check.  Yes, all there and then some.  We are back on the planet Regelence after the events in The Englor Affair which took us off planet in search of more information about the political unrest being instigated between the planets.  Each subsequent book  finds new suspects in the sinister  happenings in the INS (the galactic navy)  and points to corruption at the highest levels of the service.  The royal Townsends of Regelence are being backed into a corner and no one is certain who is to be trusted.  And with each new piece of evidence that appears, another mystery surfaces to widen the scope of the investigation and make the infiltration of the royal family defenses an easier target.  As she builds the suspense, Langley ups our anxiety for the safety of the people we have come to care about greatly.  The terror of loss is never far from our thoughts when Aiden is giving chase down a alley way or Sebastian is attacked in the streets.  Is it part of the conspiracy or something entirely different?  Langley keeps us guessing and on the edge of our seats the entire time.

And then there are all those marvelous characters we have come to love over the series and new ones as well.  Everyone is present here, except perhaps for Simon and Payton.  Yes, this is Colton and Sebastian’s book and their romance is terrific.  We have watched Colton grow up in the last two books and the tantalizing glimpses we had of Sebastian come to fruition here.  Sebastian is a complex character.  His background is muddied and his marriage, which left him a widower, unhappy. Together they form a new endearing couple for us to cheer for. But we also get a closer look at the relationships of Nate and Aiden, and Steven and Raleigh.  We see clearly how well Nate and Aiden have settled into a marriage still so passionate and full of love but now time has allowed them a new security in with all things shared between them as a loving established couple.  Steven and Raleigh are here, demonstrating their love and passion in ways  both humorous and joyful while still exhibiting the strength of their feelings for their children and family.  How I love these two and I am thrilled JL Langley will give them their own story.  The real surprise here?  A closer look at Trouble and Rexley’s relationship.  Even now, I just feeling giddy over the scenes and revelations about them in MRR.  I will not spoil this for you all but trust me, it is worth the price of the book alone for these reveals!  Oh, and I have to mention Apollonia, the star of the stable and a new favorite character of mine.  I want one just like her.  She is adorable and a great addition to the family.  JL Langley’s characterizations never feel anything less than real, their emotions always come across as authentic as ours and their relationship issues ones we can relate to and understand.  All these and more are reasons why the author’s characters stay with us long past the end of the books.

Does this book, all hot and sexy, all romance and love have a happily ever after?  Why yes it does!  But JL Langley also raises some much larger questions about the INS and those arraigned against the Townsends and their allies.  She has left us some mystery concerning Sebastian and his family, given us a far more complex Rexley than I had imagined, and as to that missing family? Well, they too have a larger part in this conspiracy puzzle JL has created and now there is an encrypted computer chip to decipher.  So the mystery snowballs along with the romance.  How I love this series.  More please, JL, much, much more!

Cover:  Another hot cover by Angela Waters to go along with those of  My Fair Captain and The Englor Affair.  Definitely some of the hottest naked torsos in the business.