REVIEW: Valor on the Move by Keira Andrews

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.51BwE+hbQzL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

TITLE: Valor on the Move

AUTHOR: Keira Andrews

GENRE: LGBT Contemporary, Romance

TAG LINE: “He’d give his life to protect the president’s son. But he never expected to risk his heart.”

 

RATING: 1 Stars

SUMMARY:  Growing up gay in the White House hasn’t been easy for Rafael Castillo. Codenamed “Valor” by the Secret Service, Rafa feels anything but brave as he hides in the closet and tries to stay below the radar in his last year of college. His father’s presidency is almost over, and he just needs to stick to his carefully crafted plan. Once his family’s out of the spotlight, he can be honest with his conservative parents about his sexuality and his dream of being a chef.

It’s definitely not part of Rafa’s plan to get a new Secret Service agent who’s a walking wet dream, but he’s made it this long keeping his desires to himself. Besides, it’s not like Shane Kendrick would even look at him twice if it wasn’t his job.

Shane’s worked his way up through the Secret Service ranks, and while protecting the president’s shy, boring son isn’t his dream White House assignment, it’s an easy enough task since no one pays Rafa much attention. He discovers there’s a vibrant young man beneath the timid public shell, and while he knows Rafa has a crush on him, he assures himself it’s harmless. Shane’s never had room for romance in his life, and he’d certainly never cross that line with a protectee. Keeping Rafa safe at any cost is Shane’s mission.

But as Rafa gets under his skin, will they both put their hearts on the line?

BUY LINKS: Amazon

 

REVIEW:

 

I’ve been meaning to write this review for awhile. I was putting it off because I know I’m one of the few that didn’t like this book, and well, I hate saying bad things about novels, especially when I have nothing good to say about it.

I did finish it—so hey, that’s something—but I skimmed a huge chunk of the book. The writing wasn’t terrible. Keira Andrews has a style that’s very simplistic, not really igniting much spark, but still painting a basic enough picture that you get an idea of the characters and the environment. I’ve never read anything else from her, so I don’t know if this is a-typical of her writing, but I will admit, it was on the lackluster-side of things.

Going into Valor on the Move, I had high hopes. I love me some age gap, some forbidden love, and some interracial love. This book seemed like a tri-fecta. This is one of those situations where, when you think it’s too good to be true, you’re right. I’m going to try to break this down as succinctly as possible.

My first biggest issue was the writing. There was nothing that drew me in. I wasn’t eager to read the next page. I could set the book down, not come back, and even skip paragraphs and feel like I hadn’t missed anything. This also says much about the plot. There really wasn’t much of a plot, other than Rafa being whiny/sad. I get his plight, I do, but it didn’t make for an interesting read. There was some side plot about Rafa wanting to cook and not being able to. I didn’t understand why his parents thought it was too feminine to cook, especially since there are a lot of famous male chefs, a large chunk of who are heterosexual (since that’s the only reason I could glean from them being anti-cooking). It was a weak attempt at adding conflict and just didn’t really hold.

These weak conflicts carried on throughout the book. Towards the end, when Rafa is kidnapped, none of it made sense. The motive was poor. While I’ll give nod to the fact that Keira Andrews did do a good job of foreshadowing, it still came off as a stretch, and the execution was really messy.

I think what frustrated me most was that she had an opportunity to really make the story exciting, and she decided to go the safer route. Instead of giving us an amazing action scene with Shane, we had to read about Rafa being in a box. Personally, I believe that if you can’t write fight scenes, don’t set yourself up for them. Because you’re only going to let your readers down.

The characters were all really flat. I didn’t like any of them. None. Rafa was alright, but he got on my nerves. And he acted so much younger than his 21 years. Shane wasn’t much better. He was the opposite and came off very old. And while I don’t mind huge age gaps, it is an issue when your characters aren’t acting their appointed ages.

I didn’t get Rafa’s parents. I didn’t get the other agents. They all came off as shadow people, just background characters to fill in the void between Rafa and Shane’s interactions. When Rafa and Shane were with other characters the story really took a dip in the boring direction.

This brings me to my third issue. There was no chemistry between Rafa and Shane. I’ve said it throughout, I like age gaps, but only when it’s consensual and when both characters are also emotionally mature. Since Rafa had the mentality of a sixteen year old, this just felt weird and awkward between them. They never fully developed into a relationship.

After Rafa gets kidnapped, when they’re stuck in the cavern, we get the “big moment” which was nothing more than some blow jobs and such. Honestly, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t hot. It wasn’t romantic. They’re stuck. Rafa is emotionally upset about being kidnapped. He isn’t in the right headspace. He was in no way in a state of mind to consent to anything. Shane also knew how much Rafa cared about him. Shane should have been the adult and said no, because neither needed to be giving out blow jobs or handies.

Plus, it’s dirty, they’re sweaty, and bloody, and they have limited air supply. They should be conserving energy and focused on getting out. And yes, they decide to sit and wait because rescue is coming, that doesn’t mean they should reek up the place with spunk. Because the scent of sex would have lingered, especially since it was closed off, and people would have noticed.

After that we get a time jump and Rafa finding Shane in California, being kind of stalkerish. I actually did stop there (so okay, I guess I didn’t finish). I just didn’t care if they finally had penetrative sex. I didn’t want them to be together. I didn’t like them. And their relationship was weird.

TL;DR: Did not like. Did not ship. Would not read.

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REVIEW: Through Adversity by Amelia Faulkner

I received this book for free by the author for an honest and impartial review. My receiving the book in no way affects my review.

Through-Adversity-0TITLE: Through Adversity

AUTHOR: Amelia Faulkner

GENRE: Historical Romance, LGBT

RATING: 4 Stars

SUMMARY: Tortured German fighter ace Lt. Siegfried Krämer has a terrible secret which could ruin him: he prefers men. Hurried, loveless encounters have armed him with a sardonic wit and a bleak outlook, and he faces a life in which his only companion is his dog, Eike.

The young and talented Lt. Valentine Westbrook should be considered an ace, but most of his victories are unconfirmed, and now that his squadron is relegated to bombing missions the chances of him ever reaching the magic number are dwindling. When he encounters an equally-skilled enemy pilot during a terrible storm, Valentine is unable to resist the hunt.

Both men soon abandon all common sense and – with a protracted dogfight at their backs – crash-land in the midst of the German Empire’s last great offensive push. Injured, stranded, and with no idea which side of the Line they are on, they must work together if they are to survive. One of them will become the other’s prisoner just as soon as they figure out where they are, but until then they are stuck with no food and no shelter in storms which don’t seem ready to end. But worse still, their mutual respect blossoms into something dangerously intimate, and their lives are about to become forever intertwined…

BUY LINKS: Lovelight Press | Amazon

REVIEW:

Through Adversity is a historical romance that tells the story of a British pilot and a German pilot falling in love. It’s the kind of forbidden romance that we can all get on board with, so I was eager to read this story. All together I was really happy with the book, but there were still some points that I think could have used some work.

The beginning was slow and it almost turned me away from the story. It took about three chapters for me to really grow invested. As soon as Valentine and Siegfried met, though, I felt an instant chemistry and was pulled in. While Valentine and Siegfried interacted naturally, some of the conversations Val and Siegfried had with others around them felt artificial and forced.

I was pulled in once we into the meat of the story, when Valentine and Siegfried have to trek across the countryside, not sure where they are, and slowly falling in love. It only took me a couple days to read the book. The nice thing was that when I did set it down (not because I was bored, but because life interrupted or I had to go to bed), it was easy to pick back up where I left, as if I’d never even set it down.

Ms. Faulkner crafted wonderful characters. There was an authenticity to Valentine and Siegfried that a lot of m/m novels lack. They were human. It was refreshing to read about two male characters falling in love and neither being pigeonholed into an “Alpha Male” status. They reacted to their situation appropriately and their romance felt real. Watching it unfold was heartbreaking, because you knew that things wouldn’t end well, but you hoped they would get their happy ending.

Ms. Faulkner’s style is gorgeous. She weaves in the descriptions beautifully so that you feel as if you’re stuck in the French countryside right along with Val and Siegfried.

My only other issue was that I wanted more at the ending. While it was touching and had me choking a bit, I really wished that the story had an extra fifty pages where she expanded on Val and Siegfried’s separation. I wanted to hurt while reading this. I wanted to feel their pining and the distance, and I wanted to see them suffer because of it. I feel a little cheated that we didn’t get this moment, especially after the great build up of their relationship. It would have made the reunion (which was so sweet) much more emotional.

I went back and forth on how I should rate this one by about ½ a star. While Through Adversity has some faults and parts that could use work, for the most part the story was engaging and beautiful, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In the end I settled on four stars, because despite some cons, all together this was a very entertaining read and I would recommend it to other readers.

Review: The Homecoming by J. Scott Coatsworth

I received this book for free by the author for an honest and impartial review. My receiving the book in no way affects my review.

 

TITLE: The Homecoming

AUTHOR: J. Scott Coatsworth

GENRE: LGBT Romance, Fantasy 

RATING: 2 ½ Stars

Buy Links: 

Less Than Three Press

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

Kobo

SUMMARY: When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.

When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.

BUY LINKS:

REVIEW:

The Homecoming had a mixture of pros and cons. I think the biggest issue with the book was that it was too short. There’s a reason fantasy stories are long. It’s to allow ample room for world building and character development, to key points in the genre. The story didn’t allow for this. Important details and developments are crammed into a short number of pages, leaving you wanting (and needing) more.

Scott Coatsworth is talented. The writing was strong, with great imagery. The characters were intriguing and I was genuinely interested about the worlds, but for the majority of the story I was confused and wanting to know more—why did humans leave earth, what happened on their new planet, what are all these unique things they keep mentioning? How do wolves shift to humans? Why are there only certain wolves that do?

Aldiss and Hari had potential as characters, but the space the author allowed for them to grow and form a relationship, wasn’t enough. The romance felt rushed, especially since it doesn’t start till a good portion of the way through the story.

To put simply in terms of pros and cons:

Pros—Great writing. Interesting characters. A unique world.

Cons—A little too much tree imagery. Too short, not enough world & character development.

What I’d like is to see the author take the story and turn it into a full length fantasy. I’d be happy to see 90-110k of the world. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be about sex, but rather about the environment and the characters as a whole. If J. Scott Coatsworth did that, I’d happily throw my money at the story and buy it.

REVIEW: Bear Wanted by Julia Talbot

I received this book for free by the author for an honest and impartial review. My receiving the book in no way affects my review. 

BearWanted_1400X2100-300dpiTITLE: Bear Wanted

AUTHOR: Julia Talbot

GENRE: LGBT Romance, Shifter

TAG LINE: “He always wanted a bear to keep him warm at night…”

RATING: 2 Stars

SUMMARY: Lane knows want he wants in a lover, but hasn’t been able to find the perfect bear of a man in his small Colorado hometown. So he turns to the Grizzly List, a regional personal ad service for bears and their lovers. He’s not sure what to expect when he meets Fin, but what he gets might be his perfect man.

Bear shifter Fin has been looking for someone with whom to spend his days, nights, and winter hibernation. He’s a happy guy, but needs someone who wants a big, burly, slightly dominant mate. When he meets Lane, Fin knows he’s found what he needs, but will he be able to convince Lane that they’re made for one another, in human form and bear?

BUY LINKS: Amazon

REVIEW:

I didn’t expect much when I started Bear Wanted. It’s a bear shifter story, so I can’t take it too seriously. I did have some expectations though—basic ones that all readers have, including quality writing, engaging characters, and a sense of belief. The concept behind Bear Wanted is a really fun idea. I think shifter stories, when done right, can be really fun quick readers. They’re great for when you’re killing time and want something light to get lost in. Plus, some of them can be really steamy. I love bears. They’re cuddly and cute. I also like the other bears, the big burly men with a thatch of hair on their chest and a well-groomed beard (yum!). This story was supposed to encompass both of those things, and it did.

For the most part, Ms. Talbot’s writing wasn’t bad. I think the biggest issue with the story was that she took a story that needed to be more than 80 some pages and condensed it down, so her writing was stilted and the characters didn’t have enough time to develop a true voice. While Lane and Fin each have their own personalities, they start to blend together rather quickly, until neither voice is distinguishing.

I have to give props to Ms. Talbot though for writing an authentic first day. When Lane and Fin meet its awkward, but not in a bad way. It’s the kind of awkward you get when you’re meeting a blind date. As someone who has done her fair share of the online dating, I can say that she accurately showed how anxiously and fumbling those first few moments in your date can be.

Of course, after the initial first date, my belief starts to go out the window. Lane and Fin sleep together on the first date. Which, sure, that happens. But it was really random and felt rushed and forced, like she was trying to get the sex out there immediately to snag the reader.

Then there was the issue with the lore of the story. I wasn’t sure what was going on. Fin is not only a bear as in a big hairy man, but he’s also a bear shifter. Okay, that’s fine. That’s what I expected when I went into this story. But nothing is explained about shifters. Are they accepted? Does society know about them? Are there others? Ms. Talbot gives us a vague and convoluted answer, which only makes me more confused. So there are others, but not everyone knows about them…but they’re accepted? And then there are some people who don’t even know they’re shifters, even when they’re well into their twenties? Wouldn’t they have been affected by the moon? Or by a heat cycle? Or something!?

Once Lane started finding out he was a shifter (because he had sex with Fin??), that’s when the story really lost me. My sense of belief went out the window. Plus, Lane’s dependency on Fin and the abrupt way their relationship developed really turned me off. Their relationship didn’t feel authentic. It felt written.

The idea she had was good. I think if she’d allowed herself another hundred pages or so to develop Lane and Fin’s relationship healthily and to focus on world building, than this story would have been a four star story. It has potential, but right now it feels like a first draft.

Review: Lip Service by Adele Downs

TITLE: Lip Service

AUTHOR: Adele Downs

GENRE: Contemporary Romance, Erotica

TAG LINE: “Some ghosts won’t take ‘yes’ as an answer.”

 

RATING: 4 Stars

BUY LINKS: Boroughs Publishing     ARe     Amazon    BN   Kobo   Smashwords

SUMMARY: Getting Between Jack…

Orphaned at a young age, Legs Anderson owes her Aunt Ada everything. The stoic old lady raised her, and Ada’s warnings about men—and the Harris boys in particular—have stuck, even after her death. Of course, that could be because Ada stuck around, too.

…And His Legs

Patience is not one of Jack Harris’ virtues, and he’s waited too long to start a life with the woman he’s loved since childhood instead of them just knocking boots. Now Ada is interfering from beyond the grave, haunting the old Victorian house she bequeathed to her niece and reinforcing Legs’s fears of commitment.

But Jack won’t give up. No matter what trouble may follow, the house will be renovated, Ada will learn to let go, Legs will put her money where her mouth is… then Jack’ll put his lips everywhere else.

REVIEW:

 

I really enjoyed Lip Service. I didn’t know what to expect when going into it. I figured it be a short, sweet read, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how much I did enjoy it. The story isn’t very long; an afternoon read that will leave you tingly and yearning for a taste of Jack’s lips. The plot is rather basic, but it provides enough that you feel satisfied.

Ms. Downs did a wonderful job of distinguishing the voices of her characters, and I had a clear image of both of them. It made the transition between POVs smooth, without causing any real confusion. The sex its self was steamy and ice-melting. She does a great job of building up to it. It starts off as a bit of back and forth between Legs and Jack, to painting a bedroom and some heavy decisions about their relationship. When we finally get to the goods, it’s a satisfying conclusion.

I loved the banter between Legs and Jack. They had great chemistry, and I grinned in the beginning when they both shot their mouths off. Ms. Downs has a knack for banter, and it’s very clear with these two.

My biggest issues with the story were at the beginning, we get a POV that’s completely separate from the story. This third person isn’t necessary for the story, and it easily could have been rewritten to go from either Jack’s or Legs’s POV. I understood it was to provide a bit of backdrop, but it really felt unnecessary. I also wasn’t a large fan of Legs’s nickname, but that’s a personal issue.

All together I think Lip Service was a great story and I think anyone looking for a sultry, quick read would enjoy the story.

REVIEW: One Two Three Kiss Box set by E.J. Kimelman

I received this book for free in order to get a fair and honest review. My receiving this book does not affect my opinion.

TITLE: One Two Three Kiss Box Set

AUTHOR: E.J. Kimelman

GENRE: Urban Fantasy

RATING: 3 Stars

SUMMARY: The International Council for the Exploration of the Universe exists to consider and conduct investigations into the dimensions of the Universe; to examine how far humans are being depleted by zombies; to investigate natural methods, such as by breeding, etc., of keeping up the stock; and in cases of certain future failure of supply to suggest the necessary remedial measures. For the most part it deals with the humans common to all dimensions, but a special sub-committee considers the vampires, and a second the shifters; disembodied spirits are not investigated.

BUY LINKS: Amazon  iTunes  BN

 

REVIEW:

The One Two Three Kiss box set is a whirlwind adventure. There’s a lot going on. And by a lot, I mean a lot. We have zombies, vampires, shifters, warlocks, and more. Kimelman somehow finds a balance in all of this to create an exciting story that leaves you on the edge of your seat. This is definitely a new twist on the urban fantasy genre, taking try-and-true monsters and giving it a new spin.

Darling and Megan’s relationship was my favorite part. It was nice to see two strong females as a focus in the story, and I loved that they could stand on their own, but also enhanced one another. I’d love to see more stories like this, focusing on female relationships.

While Kimelman’s writing isn’t the strongest I’ve read, the story still can stand on its own. She crafts suspenseful scenes and her dialogue flows naturally. I would have liked a little more showing and not telling in certain parts, but it wasn’t a large enough issue to detract from the story. She definitely proves she has the chops to become a great writer.

REVIEW: A Jinni’s Wish by B. Leslie Tirrell

ajw

I received this book for free in order to get a fair and honest review. My receiving this book in no way affects my opinion.

TITLE: A Jinni’s Wish

AUTHOR: B. Leslie Tirrell

GENRE: Fantasy, Romance, LGBT, Multicultural

TAG LINE: Their combined talents are desperately needed when the Mystics are also threatened, but their growing passion may endanger everyone, including themselves.”

 

RATING: 3 Stars

SUMMARY: In the desert city, Al-Timini, humans and Mystics–magical beings–coexist peacefully…until humans begin to disappear. Suspecting evil in their own kind, Mystic detectives hire Ilyas Bashour, a lonely human scholar, hoping his keen mind can uncover answers where their own efforts have failed.

Namir is a jinni living in the city’s ancient library. Abused and degraded by his former master, he has abandoned hope of finding another who is kind and trustworthy–until Ilyas discovers him. To Namir’s surprise, his reluctant new master treats him as an equal. Soon their relationship takes on a sexual dimension. And not just that; the two of them begin falling in love.

Their combined talents are desperately needed when the Mystics are also threatened, but their growing passion may endanger everyone, including themselves.

 

BUY LINKS: http://www.amazon.com/Jinnis-Wish-B-Leslie-Tirrell-ebook/dp/B00YQHB46M/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?ie=UTF8&noEncodingTag=1&redirectFromSS=1&ref_=aw_ss_kndl_dp

 

REVIEW:

 

Tirrell had a really interesting concept for her story. I haven’t read many stories about jinn or the Arabic/Islamic culture, so I was super excited when I found this small gem. It’s an interesting story, focusing on a scholar named Ilyas and an abused jinni named Namir. In the midst of their developing relationship, there’s a mystery to be solved about disappearing humans.

Tirrell has created a rich world, filled with fantastical creatures. One issue I did have was that I wasn’t sure what time period or dimension this story was set in. All we know is the city, but I wasn’t sure when it took place; if this city happened to be on Earth or a completely different original world. While she has a great cast of Mystics, I wanted a little more on where they came from, where the city was from, and a bit more world building in general.

Her writing style is very neat and clean, though there were parts where it was more telling and not showing. It would have been nice to get a deeper sense of the city, to get the feel of the desert heat, the smell of the food cooking, and the sounds of the bazaar.

Ilyas and Namir are interesting characters. Ilyas was my favorite, because he was a level headed, kind hearted scholar. Namir is an abuse victim, so he is a bit more emotional. I’m not overly fond of emotional characters, so I wasn’t a super fan of him, but he still has a cuteness to him that is endearing, and you can feel the connection between him and Ilyas. The sex doesn’t happen for awhile, so I wouldn’t categorize this story under erotica. Trigger warning: past abuse is talked about, including rape.

There is a prologue at the beginning, and I would personally cut it. Prologues are useless; if it can be integrated into the story, than it probably isn’t necessary to the plot. This prologue made the story start off as an episode of Law and Order, which is kind of off putting.

All together I think this was a good read. There were parts I would change and expand on, but Tirrell did a great job of creating a unique world that we don’t see often in the LGBT genre.

REVIEW: I’ll Still Be There by Keelan Ellis

TITLE: I’ll Still Be There

AUTHOR: Keelan Ellis

GENRE: LGBT, Erotic Romance

RATING: 2 1/2 Stars

SUMMARY: The summer after high school, Eli Dunn and Jess Early explore an abandoned brothel in the rural Florida Panhandle. They’ve always kept their mutual attraction unspoken, but in an upstairs room at the end of the hall, everything changes. Suddenly, all the longing Eli and Jess have tried so hard to conceal bursts free, and passion like they’ve never experienced comes to light, along with the ghosts of Clay Bailey and Silas Denton, murdered owners of the brothel. And Clay and Silas have no problem possessing Eli and Jess in order to express their love for each other, without thought for the living.

Deeply disturbed by the experience, Eli and Jess part and try to get on with life as best they can. But after several years, Eli returns to Florida, only to find that Jess has made some questionable choices. These eventually lead him back to the abandoned house and a confrontation with Eli. Old scores are settled and Eli and Jess reunite. But Clay and Silas’s ghosts aren’t finished yet, for they’ve always believed in the power of open and honest love.

 

REVIEW: Keelan Ellis had a very interesting premise for I’ll Still Be There, and I think if it had gone through a couple more rounds of edits and some fleshing out, the story would have been great. She had a lovely cast of characters and she did a good job of distinguishing the two separate time periods, so that you could visualize each one.

Ms. Ellis did a great job of character development. We got to see how each character grew and adapted to their situations. Each character had a personality, and it showed in their choices and actions.

My biggest issue with the book was that it dragged. I found myself struggling to read on, especially in Eli’s and Jess’s parts. I was interested in Clay and Silas more than anything, and I really wish the author would have made the focus about them.

The story is listed as an erotic romance, but we don’t actually get to the sex until over half the story is complete, and it isn’t very “erotic”. The sex scenes are basic and short, not really doing their job of exciting the reader. I didn’t feel connected to the story and characters, and I found some of the “sex talk” a bit off putting (at least for me).

That was the major flaw in the story; I’ll Still Be There is advertised as an LGBT erotica, but it feels more like a romance or contemporary novel. Even the ghost/haunting aspect seems to be an afterthought. The interaction between the four characters doesn’t happen until a good portion of the way through the story, well after the point of actually hooking the reader. It’s because the story couldn’t hold my attention that I’m giving it a 2 ½ star rating.

REVIEW: Club Revenge by J.M. Dabney

I was given this book for free in order to receive a fair and honest review. My receiving the book for free in no way affects my review.

ClubRevenge_JPEG

TITLE: Club Revenge

AUTHOR: J.M. Dabney

GENRE: Dark Erotica, Paranormal Horror

TAG LINE: “They inflicted pain without mercy to those who deserved the punishment.”

 

RATING: 2 Stars

SUMMARY: Amora Medina-Jackyl and her son, Ripper, know one thing well—vengeance. They inflicted pain without mercy to those who deserved the punishment. Although, they lived by one motto, family is to be protected above all else. When a child, an ancient cult murdered Amora’s parents and siblings. They never knew the Hell they brought down on themselves that one brutal night.

Amora was many things in her four centuries. A daughter and a sister, a mother, yet she was best known as a killer. When she meets her end, Amora will have hundreds, maybe thousands of lives to answer for. Her only wish is to find one moment of peace. She denies her need as much as she fights to protect it. When the one woman who can bring her serenity comes into her life, can Amora destroy century old walls to let her in?

Ripper has watched his mother fight savagely for others. He learned lessons in revenge from the moment of his birth; Ripper was his mother’s son. Yet he has a curse hanging over his head. A prophesy that wouldn’t be denied. He wants some semblance of normal. When he can’t deny his need for the one woman he’s kept his distance from would his love cause pain or pleasure?

When some truths come to light, the very reality of the family changes. Can they know something other than the taste of revenge and loss?

BUY LINKS:

Stiff Rain Press |Are | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble

REVIEW:

This story was interesting. It’s a unique blend of family legacy, (light) horror, and erotica, creating a genre-bending novel that tells the story of mother and son. J.M. Dabney does have raw talent. She could set a mood well, and when the action scenes took place, the words leapt off the pages.

The reason I gave the story a two star review was because in the end, despite edge of your seat action scenes, I found the writing too confusing at parts, a lack of depth and direction to the actual plot, and the main characters annoying. I didn’t really support them in their endeavors, nor did I care if they lived or died.

While J.M. Dabney can construct a fight scene that will have you biting your nails, she also has a tendency to lose herself in the words. If you blink, you may actually miss a pivotal moment in the story. Any eye drifting (which will happen, because there are parts that drag), will mean you’ll miss an abrupt but important scene. These whiplash moments, blended with bouts of sluggish, unimportant dialogue or actions, makes it hard to focus on the story.

Club Revenge is marketed as dark erotica, but it isn’t until you’re about fifty or more pages in before you actually get a sex scene. In fact, Amora doesn’t meet her mate until several chapters into the story. This also added to confusion. I think a lot of the story could have been cut or trimmed, in order to make it a tighter and fuller story.

Description wise J.M Dabney edged that fine line of floral language and not enough detail. There were moments where the descriptions were abundant, but other times where I wanted a little more. I wanted to smell New Orleans. I wanted to feel the chill in the air as Amora prepared for a kill. A mood was never set, and it detracted from the ambiance of the tale.

There were several characters in the story. The side characters sparked my interest, but as for Amora and Ripper (don’t even get me started on his name), I wasn’t a fan. First off, we don’t learn about Ripper until a good portion of the way through Amora’s story. Instead of introducing him briefly in the beginning, he isn’t mentioned at all. If you didn’t read the blurb, you wouldn’t even know this was a family sage story.

Personality wise, Amora was an asshole with a capital A. She had a harsh and difficult life, I understand. She had some redeeming qualities, like wanting to protect women, but for the most part, Amora was a character who I couldn’t get behind. She also growled a lot. And I mean a lot. Every time you turned around, she was growling about something. I wasn’t sure if she was a dog or a vampire. It was really annoying.

Ripper wasn’t much better. He had more a charming personality than his mother, but he seemed to make really rash decisions and I didn’t quite understand his problems. His arc was harder to follow, and by that point I wasn’t really invested in the story.

I think with a bit more editing and character development the story could shape up to be good. But because of an unclear plot and really annoying characters, I have to give this one only two stars.

REVIEW: Phoenix by Elle King

I received this book for free by the author for an honest and impartial review. My receiving the book in no way affects my review.

 Phoenix Cover

TITLE: Phoenix

AUTHOR: Elle King

GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

TAG LINE: “They must die so he can live.”

 

RATING: 2 Stars

SUMMARY: New York City homicide detectives Rachel Wayland and Artemis Gregory are first on the murder scene of a beautiful young gay man, the third victim of a serial killer dubbed the Moon Killer by the department. Their investigation leads them to Talis Kehk, charismatic lead singer of the rock group Phoenix Rising.

As the next full moon approaches, Rachel and her partner uncover clues that lead straight to Talis, even as Talis, exhibiting behavior Rachel finds strange indeed, considering the circumstances, uses every means possible to keep her close. Innocent or not, Talis has a secret, and discovering what it is will change Rachel’s world forever.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon | All Romance | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Scribd

REVIEW:

Elle King had an interesting premise for this book. She took a classic mythological creature and attempted to give it a fresh spin. Ms. King is an unpolished diamond—she holds raw talent, but she still needs to be cleaned and shaped. Throughout the story there were brief moments of insightful and crisp prose that showed Ms. King’s potential. I suspect that with time she will develop into a very talented author. Right now, though? Her story, while having some bright spots, lacked depth, intrigue, and characters; all of these are required in order to create a gauging mystery, which is what Ms. King is marketing her story as.

As the blurb states, the main character, Rachel Wayland, is a police detective. At the very beginning of the story we’re introduced to a murder (sans gore). That’s about as far as we get with the whole cop drama. After part one (side note: for a story barely over a 130 pages, it didn’t need four parts), the mystery is set onto the back burner and the attention is turned to the uncomfortable budding romance between Rachel and Talis.

I think Ms. King did her research on how police procedures go, which was evident in the way she explained every minute detail of the investigation process. There were moments when the story read like an instruction manual on how to inspect a crime scene. Kudos to her for actually doing her homework, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to explain everything to the reader. It shows a lack in faith that your reader is intelligent, and also slows down the story.

Now the entire plot of the story is Rachel investigating the murder of “young people” (which is how every vic is describd), who are all gorgeous. They die by mysterious causes during sex (talk about a killer orgasm). The only lead is front man Talis Kehk, the charismatic singer for Phoenix Rising. Rachel and Talis are the main pairing, and without giving away too much, I can say that I did not ship. In fact, I didn’t find Talis charming at all. I found him creepy, boring, and a little flat. While he isn’t necessarily a Christian Grey or Edward Cullens, he is definitely a contender for stalker boyfriend of the year.

This is where the story rubbed me the wrong way. It glorified what in reality is an abusive and unhealthy relationship. Talis kidnaps Rachel, transports her halfway across the world, and refuses to let her leave, forcing her to spend time with him so she can “fall in love” with him. He watches her while she sleeps, and ignores her requests to put on clothes, even when she tells him it makes her uncomfortable. He doesn’t cross the line of forcing himself on Rachel, but he definitely crossed several other lines. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them. The entire time I was hoping that the story wouldn’t end with them getting together, and that Rachel would kill him or arrest him instead.

Since this is a romance and is thus held to the same HEA rule that all romances are required to have, I can say (spoiler-free) that Rachel neither kills nor arrests him.

It should be noted that the sex scenes in the story were light and not erotica heat level.

I know it seems like I’m bashing the story, but for all its flaws, there were some redeeming factors. Ms. King provided us with interesting side characters (Artemis Gregory is someone I’d love to read more on). Grammatically, the story was crisp and clean. While there were some structural issues (such as a bit too much showing and not telling), Ms. King does have a flare with words. I think if she had lengthened the story, cut the romance (including killing the romance between Rachel and Talis, and making Talis the antagonist) and made it solely a mystery, Phoenix would have been a great story.