A supernatural rodeo with werewolves, vampires, and loads of other paranormal beings? All doing what cowboys do best – except in a supernatural way? YA supernatural rodeo with werewolves, vampires, and loads of other paranormal beings? All doing what cowboys do best – except in a supernatural way? Yee-haw and bring it on! With a unifying theme of “homecoming”, all three stories show characters who find a home. In the first story it’s a return to an old place long missed, in the second story it’s finally finding a group of people to belong, and in the third story it’s all about finding the mate and home you’ve always wanted, even though it may be a little unexpected. I totally enjoyed all of them!
Welcome to the Pack by BA Tortuga This story proves that supernatural beings can be just as selfish and nasty toward their fellow beings as humans. Actually, this makes sense since it is humans who “think them up”, but bear with me here. Even though it is fiction and all make-believe, the sense of “reality” is great when all these creatures behave just like humans – or worse!
Denver is a werewolf, the younger of twins, who left years ago so his older brother Denton could rule the pack. Unfortunately, that brother is killed by a demon bull (under very suspicious circumstances, I must add), and now Denton is suddenly called back from the human rodeo to run the pack and work in the paranormal arena. Luckily he remembers how everything works from before he left, but he has his work cut out for him!
Blaine is an outcast werewolf who is treated pretty badly, just because he was not born into the pack. He is bullied all the time, never has enough to eat, but has nowhere else to go so he perseveres. He also loved Denton – a love that remained unrequited since Denton was straight. I loved how Blaine suddenly has hope for a better future when Denton turns up and makes it very clear his sense of justice is pronounced and someone’s origins don’t matter to him half as much as their work ethic.
If you like the idea of a supernatural rodeo where all the bulls are far more dangerous than normal, and some of the other rodeo workers are vampires, ghost riders, etc., and if you’re looking for an entertaining and suspenseful read full of hot cowboys, then you will probably like this novella.
Oklahoma Rain by Kiernan Kelly What I really liked about this story is how it shows the danger and effects of reverse discrimination. For once it isn’t humans who reject supernatural beings, or Supes, instead it shows how Supes deal with a human suddenly in their midst. Granted, he is only a child, and that helps, but some of them still have an issue accepting him.
Blaze is a psychic, a Supe who shows no visible signs of his talent. He supports the wizards who set up the protective spells (so humans never find out the rodeo is full of paranormal talent – that made me laugh), but looks human. When he finds another psychic and the boy he rescued, Blaze wants to help them, but knows he has an uphill battle to fight with the rodeo owners. Not that this stops him, he is determined to help Zack and the kid.
Zack has a very rare psychic talent, and a need to protect Mikey ever since he rescued him from being beaten up after he was stolen from an orphanage. Zack himself used to live on the streets, so he is more determined to help the kid than most. His talent is needed by the supernatural rodeo, so he is allowed to stay and gradually begins to trust that he has finally found a home. I loved watching him open up and learn to trust Blaze, to the point where they work together to solve the crisis they find themselves in.
If you like the idea of a supernatural rodeo and want to explore more of the paranormal talents needed to make it run smoothly, and if you’re looking for a suspenseful read full of hatred from a bigot on the one hand and a developing romance on the other, then you will probably like this short novella.
Big Bear, Little Bear by Julia Talbot The third story in this wonderful collection tackles the topic of finding a true home with a lover, as opposed to the home you grew up in. Ben has been hoping for Ozzie to notice him for a very longtime, but it takes him being hurt and needing help to recover before Ozzie gets over his hesitation.
Ben, the horse trainer and a black bear, is attracted to Ozzie, but thinks he is not enough for the big grizzly to notice him. After he gets hurt badly in an accident involving hell hounds and his horses, his road to recovery is much longer than he expected. But one good thing happens: Ozzie finally shows an interest in him.
Ozzie is the rodeo’s clown (at least in summer, since he hibernates in winter) and a huge grizzly bear. He is interested in Ben but wants him to grow up a little. After the accident he can’t hold back any longer, especially when he gets suspicious about Ben’s medication and the fact that Ben is no longer able to shift. Ozzie won’t rest until he gets to the bottom of what is wrong, and I am very happy he is so persistent! Ben needs all the help he can get.
If you like the idea of a supernatural rodeo and want to explore more of the paranormal talents needed to make it run, and if you’re looking for an emotional read full of great food and naps (these are bears, after all) on top of developing love, then you will probably like this short novella.
‘Potions & Prisons’ is a slightly odd name for a fairy tale, even one that reimagines things and pretends the people inhabiting this world are rea‘Potions & Prisons’ is a slightly odd name for a fairy tale, even one that reimagines things and pretends the people inhabiting this world are real. But it’s a perfect description of the essence of this story about John the woodcutter and Mathias, who goes by Mat, the wicked witch. As in ‘Let Down Your Hair’, the first story in this series, there is a mix of several fairy tale elements that, by the time the author added her imagination and stirred everything, creates a new story with a slightly different flavor. While I loved the characters, what I liked was the way they ended up dealing with the curse. Not at all what I expected, and since I like surprises, this was a good thing.
Remember the wicked witch who tried to lure Hänsel and Gretel into her oven? Well, in this version of events she not only survived but was punished by an unknown enchantress – the result of which was that her cottage vanished into a desolate wasteland, only reappearing in the Enchanted Forest on Midsummer Day each year. She also had a daughter, who, in time, managed to lure a man into her cottage and they had a son, Mathias. Mat is now an accomplished witch in his own right, but he refuses to use magic with evil intent. He can’t escape the curse, and has been alone for many years.
John is desperate to obtain a love potion to make his lover, Bryce, return to him. Bryce has left him to marry a woman, but John isn’t ready to give him up. He ends up at the wicked witch’s door late at night and refuses to heed her warnings to leave. Imagine his surprise when he ends up in the wasteland with the witch, and discovers there is no way out.
These two men are total strangers when they meet, yet are forced to spend a whole year in close proximity. Watching them get used to each other and deal with the simple life they have was interesting. They come from very different backgrounds, but soon figure out there is fun to be had when you’re sharing a prison. There is only one problem: John knows he can leave at the end of the year, but Mathias can never follow him. That is one tough situation for both of them.
If you like reinterpreted fairy tales, if you're looking for something to make you think and give you hope, and if you’re looking for a read that is both entertaining and a great love story, then you will probably like this novella.
‘A Fortunate Blizzard’ may start like a Christmas story, but that’s really only the initial setting and it ends up being so much more. It is a heartbr‘A Fortunate Blizzard’ may start like a Christmas story, but that’s really only the initial setting and it ends up being so much more. It is a heartbreaking story about Trevor, an artist who faces permanent kidney failure because no donor has been found for seven years, but it is also about him courageously dealing with the realities of life and death, his struggle with accepting his fate, and the hope he is about to let go of. And I thought that was saddest of all – I mean, not to have any hope any longer? ‘A Fortunate Blizzard’ is a love story and a very romantic look at how two lonely men manage to connect and find themselves involved in a relationship that is as unlikely as it is beautiful.
Trevor is at the end of his rope. Time is, quite literally, running out for him. Dialysis only works for a set number of years, and according to his doctor, his time is going to be up very soon. And with his extremely rare blood type and not having found a donor in the last seven years, I can certainly understand how despondent he is. Then a blizzard stops him from flying home for Christmas, he meets Marc, and the attraction and connection are so strong that both men want more. But Trevor can’t do that to Marc – give him a relationship that might last for a year if they are lucky. Trevor has truly given up, but even then he is still selfless enough not to want to burden someone else with his issues. What Trevor wants to have and what he thinks he can have are so different, it boggles the mind.
Marc is a successful lawyer, but his life is empty. He is still trying to please a mother who rejected him when she found out he was gay, then kicked him out of her house and life when Marc turned eighteen. Even though he is very successful professionally, he has no social life, and his dream of becoming an artist was buried when he was fourteen years old and realized his mother would never respect him for becoming a painter. The connection Marc feels with Trevor is strong. But even though Marc insists he wants more, for as long as they can have it, he can’t convince Trevor to stay. But Marc is determined to save Trevor’s life, so he comes up with a plan. Now all he needs to do is find Trevor and convince him.
If you like stories about lonely men who are perfect for each other, if you want to find out more about what can happen to a man’s heart and soul when he loses all hope, and if you’re looking for a read that is deeply emotional, very touching, and that might make you cry more than once, then you will probably like this novella. It affected me profoundly, and I won’t easily forget Trevor and Marc.
It’s no secret that I love Christmas stories, and even though you could argue that it’s now January and Christmas is over, it’s also true that less thIt’s no secret that I love Christmas stories, and even though you could argue that it’s now January and Christmas is over, it’s also true that less than eleven months from now it will be Christmas again. Whether I’m late for last year’s Christmas, or early for this year’s doesn’t really matter – what’s important is the cuteness of this story. With a slightly insecure and very dedicated-to-his-job music teacher (just LOOK at that face on the cover!), a hunky coach, and a somewhat stern principal in a dance of “who might be gay and interested in whom”, this is a highly entertaining tale. Told with lots of humor that verges on sarcasm, it tells the story of how music teacher Eli is trying to figure out which of the two men might be his secret Santa.
Eli loves his job; he loves teaching kids, but he’d love to have a permanent partner even more. His last breakup was a year ago when he caught his then boyfriend with another man, and he misses the companionship. With a secret Santa leaving beautiful notes in his cubbyhole, his family pressuring him to “get out there again”, and his wish for someone to love, it is easy to see why Eli jumps at the opportunity for a possible affair with one of his coworkers. But when he finally figures it out, not all is as it seems, and he plunges into the depths of despair.
If you like your romance with a generous helping of humor, if a slightly insecure main character with a highly developed sense of self-deprecation is your thing, and if you’re looking for a read that is funny, full of drama and angst, and yet manages to bumble its way to a happy ending, then you will probably like this novella.
Fairy tales are the first type of story I remember being read to me when I was a child, and I have always liked (most) of them. Reading different versFairy tales are the first type of story I remember being read to me when I was a child, and I have always liked (most) of them. Reading different versions now - with all types of added naughtiness as in the case of this collection of four old and new tales – is at least as much fun, if not more. And with Joe Cosentino’s brand of humor added to the proceedings, I was ready for a very entertaining read. I am happy to say that I was not disappointed, and some of the situations in these stories made me laugh out loud. The tone and language (very flowery in places) added to the ambiance, and transported me into a slightly different world – the one of Fairyland.
‘The Naked Prince’ is a retelling of ‘Cinderella’, but with a definite GLBT twist added to it. “Cinder” is a very talented young fashion designer, the prince has been named Charming because that is what his parents thought of him, and the stepmother and her two awful daughters are not the only horrible baddies in this version of the tale. While most of the story develops as I expected, there were some wonderful changes and delightful little twists not contained in the original. And the ending? Priceless!
‘The Golden Rule’ is a version of ‘Goldilocks and the three Bears’ that made me laugh out loud several times. Well, not the bit where poor Gideon falls for Jack, the candlemaker’s son’s charms, only to be kicked out of his home by his homophobic parents. Then Jack rejects him (being too busy with the Woodsman, Aladdin, and the Wizard of Oz), and Gideon ends up in an abandoned cabin in the woods. See where this is going? The three Bear brothers aren’t easily convinced to let Gideon into their lives, but things sort of develop their own dynamic.
‘Whatever Happened To…?’ is a hilarious story about a reporter interviewing “a celebrity with a growing appendage” about his life in and out of the limelight. And no, the appendage in question is not the one from the original… that wouldn’t fit very well with the naughtiness level of these retellings. But some of the lies the interviewee comes up with are very funny. It took me a while to figure out who he was, and I did, but identifying the reporter was a little more difficult. When the two characters veer off the interview questions, then go on a date, I loved the fact that they were given a happy ending of their own.
‘Ice Cold’ is a variation on ‘Snow Queen’ with Gaelen and Kieran, who have grown up together in Frost Village after their parents died in a blizzard. They grow up and become lovers, but they are in deep trouble when a heartless prince abducts, bewitches, and abuses Kieran. Gaelen’s adventures as he searches for Kieran are full of temptation, but in typical fairy tale fashion he resists and collects information and support along the way. An intriguing action/adventure-like tale follows, and the ultimate confrontation as well as the ending were nicely done.
If you like fairy tales retold in a slightly different way, if you have always wondered who else might be pairing up behind the scenes other than princes and princesses, and if you’re looking for a fun, entertaining read that will make you laugh, then you will probably like this collection of imaginatively retold and sometimes naughty fairy tales.
A new, magical, and even dangerous world discovered by hunky, kindhearted firefighter Mason? Sign me up! This story starts harmlessly enough, not a trA new, magical, and even dangerous world discovered by hunky, kindhearted firefighter Mason? Sign me up! This story starts harmlessly enough, not a trace of the supernatural. It sucked me in, curious for the “big reveal” Mason was about to unearth, but what I got instead was a most delicious gradual unveiling with small mystery after small mystery pointing in the direction of “something is going on here” – but no clarity about the details until almost the last possible moment. Masterfully done!
Mason is a really great guy. No matter how tired he is after a double shift, he stops for the old man wandering around in the dark, then ensures that the slightly confused guy makes it home safely. But what Mason finds there is more than odd: a group of people around a bonfire, naked guys all over the place, and a woman who treats him reverently just for bringing home her grandfather. The mysteries and riddles just keep coming, and nobody seems willing to give Mason a straight answer.
Then there is Luc. The man is gorgeous to the point of being beautiful, slightly arrogant at first, and definitely intriguing. When it is all too weird for Mason and he flees, Luc follows him. A few intriguingly mysterious statements later they fall into bed together, and Mason begins to feel possessive. And when Luc finally reveals who and what he is, who his people are, it’s only the beginning of an even more astounding adventure than Mason could have ever imagined.
I read this book's first edition many years ago, but coming back to it hasn’t reduced my fascination with the world Mary Calmes has created here. And yes, I am STILL hoping for a sequel. I think there is potential for a few more stories.
If you like paranormal stories with unusual touches, if “a mystery on top of a riddle wrapped in an enigma” is your thing, and if you’re looking for a read that contains a touching love story as well as an intriguing journey of discovery, then you will probably like this novella as much as I did.
With a slightly different take on vampires, this is a suspenseful story with lots of drama, misunderstandings, and two main characters whose flaws almWith a slightly different take on vampires, this is a suspenseful story with lots of drama, misunderstandings, and two main characters whose flaws almost cost them more than they are willing to pay. They may be insta-bonded and meant for each other, but Matty, the human, is not making it easy for gorgeous vampire guardian Kaden to love him. On top of that, Matty cannot stand the sight of blood – he just faints. Imagine him as a vampire’s source of food… Add in some villains out for world domination and a male pregnancy that shocks almost everyone, and you have a romantic adventure-thriller that is highly entertaining.
If you like vampires and are open to a “new approach”, if the gorgeous, strong older man rescuing the struggling weaker male is your thing, and if you’re looking for a read that is as fantastical as it is hot, then you will probably like this novella....more