Overall This has some good stories, and for those more into gun kink, this will definitely be something to pick up. They are all well writt...moreStars: 3.5/5
Overall This has some good stories, and for those more into gun kink, this will definitely be something to pick up. They are all well written and enjoyable, although some of the stories were lacking, which turned what could have been a fantastic anthology into an average one.
Though the cover makes up for that a little. Another gorgeous one.
The Inquisitor by Gryvon Stars: 2.5/5 Note: I read "The Mechinist" in the previous anthology, but didn't remember any of it when reading this story. Even taking into consideration the previous story, I think most of my qualms still stand.
I feel like I'm missing something from this story. There is so much world building, and while it happens through character action, there is also a lot of unknowns that are never explained. The end resolution also feels incomplete, as if the lessons learned by Avery only had a minor purpose, when it feels like a grander scheme is in play. More points are raised and never really mentioned, and the title (and instigating element) seems secondary to much of the story.
I enjoyed the writing and everything that I saw here, but it felt like an incomplete story. There were too many elements left hanging and while a happy ending isn't completely necessary, this felt more like the opening chapter than a standalone. I want more--not just because I enjoyed it so much, but because it felt unfinished. I would have loved to have given this a higher star rank, but the ending was not enough of an ending to satisfy. Considering this is the second story of this type, it seems to be ongoing, but offers no indication when it'd be continued.
Playing With the Big Boys by Scarlet Blackwell Stars:3/5 For readers sensitive to rape, this story may trigger, but despite the circumstances, the main characters enjoys what he's given, which kind of recalls the adage, "It's not rape if you like it." (Whether or not you agree with that is completely different.) This is very much the setup of a porn, and with the amount of smut going on, it feels like a porn. However, that's not a bad thing. This story relishes it's dirty, dirty place in the world and hopes to take the reader along with it down the path of pleasure.
I could never really sink into the story. It wasn't quite believable (again, the porn storyline) and the hints we're given about the ending, while I think were absolutely fitting and necessary, also had me hurrying through to find out if I was right. So yes, this story is unabashedly gun smut being gun smut. But it's well written, enjoyable, and very, very dirty. There are definitely some questionable morals in most of the characters, but the fact that the narrator enjoys everything so much makes it hard to be too annoyed at the circumstances.
Benjamin Pepperwhistle and the Fantabulous Circus of Wonders by Cornelia Grey Stars: 5/5 Yum. This is a sexy, smoking hot piece that weaves in touches of humor and humanity that brings it all together. I loved the two main characters (one hard ass, one newbie) and the colorful people who surround them in rainbows of movement. While the plot is pretty much exactly what you expect, it delivers in every way you want it to. And maybe even a little more.
I think my only complaint (and it's minor) would be that we learn nothing about Pepperwhistle's life before he came to the circus. But that's mostly just reader curiosity, I think the hints and teases we're given are all that's needed for the story. After all, he's leaving all of that behind him and moving forward--there's no point dwelling on the past.
Another fantastic piece by Grey!
Received this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.(less)
Overall Anthologies are always tough, and once again I found a wide range of quality, both in writing and storytelling. How much you enjoy the stories...moreOverall Anthologies are always tough, and once again I found a wide range of quality, both in writing and storytelling. How much you enjoy the stories will really depend on what you want out of them: Are you here purely for the carving kink? Then they all will probably satisfy that. For those who want more depth and exploration, there are a good number for that as well, and even the ones I considered weak were still enjoyable.
I must admit that the creation of scars always made my skin crawl, but after reading "Oren's Right" and "Sojourn Home," it has become beautiful. These stories definitely opened my eyes, and it was interesting the different ways the authors interpreted the theme.
Oren's Right by Blaine D. Arden Stars: 3.5/5 This was an interesting story that continued in the world of Arden's short "The Forester." I found the characters compelling, and I love the world we're provided, but I wasn't wild about the plot. While it fits in and explains some points in the story, it also feels completely unrelated to the romantic strain of the story and the narrator's near-obsession with Oren and his marks. I enjoyed the description of the scarring ritual and Vern's own marks—and his love of Oren's marks. I wanted more of that and less of the mystery, but overall still an enjoyable read.
Tiofaidh Ar La by Angelia Sparrow & Naomi Brooks Stars: 2.5/5 Initially I wasn't too wild about this story. It felt rushed through the meeting and the courting and the sex. The time skips jumped through massive amounts of development and potential for character building, and while I can understand why, it all went too fast. This would have been better told in a full novel to better explore the bond between the characters and to explain why a young man would go to such lengths for a man he's only known a few months/a year.
I liked Joe's difficulties with his scars and how Ryan reacted to them, recognizing them, adoring them, but not forgetting that they still hurt. The romance worked well, despite what I felt were underdeveloped characters, because of the strong emotions Joe felt about his scars and Ryan. So a nice story, but really could have been explored more completely.
Faded Love by MA Church Stars: 3/5 This one started rough for me, as the opening scene is sex and felt rather porny. It took me a while to get into the story, and I wasn't wild about the narration jumping between the two main characters constantly, but the end was sweet and made me go "Aww." So that was worth it in the end.
The plot (pretty boy loses his looks) isn't necessarily new, but some interesting things were done with it here, although again it felt like too much story was pushed into a short piece.
Scar Therapy by Logan Zachary Stars: 2/5 This one really didn't do it for me. I like the concept of the injured young man coming in for scar therapy and the bond between man and therapist, but too much was told not shown and I never really got a good sense of the characters and their bond over the story.
By the end I was so irked by the patient/practitioner questionable-ethics issue that the sex just felt like porn. There were also several things that just felt weird, like Tim's mother coming to his first therapy session (which made me think Tim was much younger than he was [he's out of college]) and Tim just showing up at Larry's house (which was just kind of creepy and a porn setup).
Gift of the Goddess by Kaje Harper Stars: 5/5 Loved this one. The incorporation of scars was fantastic for both men, and the drama and plot were riveting. It was amazing to see how far Garvin was willing to go in order to save Nyle. It was intense, and I appreciated that while Garvin was all strong about everything, it still affected him, despite his 'choice' in the matter.
This feels like it is the start of something, with the fickle goddess's attention now turned on Garvin, but the end resolved all the current issues and felt complete, leaving the reader at a compelling point. Overall this story quickly fleshed out the history of the two characters and threw me right into the action. Absolutely recommend it.
Sojourn Home by TC Mill Stars: 4/5 I struggled with this one, not because it was poorly written or boring, but because it was so emotionally charged that it hurt to read. I have difficulties with open relationships though, so some people may not be as affected as I was, although I felt the narrator was compelling in both his desires and his restraint.
Not only did it make me ache, but it also made me rejoice. The ending was near perfect (only not perfect because I like my endings oozing a sugar-laden chocolate center). But I felt happy with how things went and it fit both the characters, which can be difficult with stories of open relationships where one is maybe not so happy with that setup. Not much happens action-wise, but this is worth reading just for the compelling emotional story.
Received this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.(less)
Overall Because of this anthology’s content, it will obviously not be for everyone. But if you’re reading this review, then you probably are interested...moreOverall Because of this anthology’s content, it will obviously not be for everyone. But if you’re reading this review, then you probably are interested enough to take the risk and dive in.
These stories definitely push the brotherhood button, and several are well done, while others left me cool. Just like every anthology, the mix is all based on the authors who write for it. For readers looking for these types of stories, I think it’s worth a gander and will be satisfying.
War and Peace and Brotherhood by DK Jernigan 3.5 stars This story has many interesting elements in the plot, from the human evolution/disease conflict, the way it’s passed on, and the two brothers stuck in the center. I like the plot of this more than the sex between the two characters, and I like how Jernigan approaches and develops the two to what eventually happens in the end. Some parts of the conclusion feel unnecessarily rushed (or added and then rushed), but overall a satisfying read.
Analgesia by Alisha Steele 4 stars One brother returns home, per his mother’s request, after being on tour with his band and the younger brother struggles to deal, as the last time they were really together, the older brother punched him in the face. Although the plot conventions aren’t fresh, the writing and eroticism of the characters work well together and made a strong dynamic as the two men come together. The two characters have a nice playful power struggle, and although the bits about analgesic and antiseptic seems a bit out of left field, the banter showed their relationship and kept the story light, sexy, and sweet.
Depression, Love, and Swimming Pools by Leigh Wilder 3 stars While this story is grounded in reality, it has some elements that make it somewhat surreal. The role of stories and characters (and actors) play is an important theme throughout and creates an almost story within a story feel. The somewhat overly dramatic actions of the characters are odd, but fitting for the people and the environment they were raised in. This story may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s worth a read.
On Clouds of Obsession Azalea Moone 2 stars I had difficulty relating to the two main characters, who were very hot and cold to one another, and the events that unfolded just seemed a little strange. Matters were raised that didn’t really seem important and the whole impetus felt contrived. Although this story dealt the most with the realism of two brothers being together, it also resolved many of the issues too quickly.
On the Edge by SL Armstrong and K Piet 4.5 stars Wow. This is a very powerful story that rips the heart out, holds it in the air a few seconds, then shoves it back in. It dissects the psychological aspects of incest for one of the partners and really looks at it how such a relationship would have to be handled in reality. I love how the characters struggle with one another and their emotions and how they handle their falling out and everything that comes after. It had my heart clenching in my chest.
Requested this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.(less)
Overall Tentacles aren’t my thing, per se, but this anthology was hot! It’s a wonderful mix of plot and tentacle sexiness, where the naughtiness may in...moreOverall Tentacles aren’t my thing, per se, but this anthology was hot! It’s a wonderful mix of plot and tentacle sexiness, where the naughtiness may involve the squirming bits, but it’s not the focus of the entire story. A fantastic collection, especially for readers who are fond of this specialty. It has a little bit of sci-fi and a little bit of fantasy, providing a range of genres for readers.
Ground Mission by Laylah Hunter 4/5 A sci-fi story that originally didn’t interest me, but when I returned to it and finished it, I thoroughly enjoyed what it had to offer. The beginning, which is necessary to set the tone of the book, was more focused on the sci-fi than anything, which left me very blase about the story being told. However, as the plot progresses it gets good and really builds the bond between the two men. I ended up enjoying this more than I was expecting and it was a great start to the anthology.
Wildwood by Thea Hayworth 5/5 I loved this story from beginning to end. Of course, it had a slight advantage over the sci-fi story because fantasy stories are my thing. There was beautiful descriptions, a plot that was edgy yet simple, and a conclusion that was both sweet and heartbreaking. My only mark against this one would be that it ends on a slightly bitter note, but even that was realistic enough that I had to forgive the author because it was true to the story’s tone.
Dark Covenant by Gryvon 3/5 I enjoyed the plot and world building in this story, but I wanted so much more. This really felt like the first few chapters of a novella (at least!). There are so many places this can go and there are a number of questions left unanswered. Overall it was enjoyable, and while the end was satisfactory in some ways, it also left me feeling like the tale was not yet finished being told.
Situation Normal by Morgan Harcourt 3.5/5 The writing in this story was the weakest of the bunch, but still enjoyable. I’m pretty sure I could read about these two characters in a hundred different short stories and not be bored. It was fun and almost silly, but also intense, both in action and the sex. The characters come off as 2-D initially, but the last scene gives more depth to Ten and the struggle scene gives more depth to Red, enabling the characters to grow in their relationship together. It was a pleasant way to end the anthology.
Requested this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.(less)
Overall While I didn't read every story in this collection—some involved pairings that weren't to my taste—I have to give what I did read a strong scor...moreOverall While I didn't read every story in this collection—some involved pairings that weren't to my taste—I have to give what I did read a strong score. The Advent stories are a bit repetitive if read straight through, as they involve lots of hot, steamy sex with various pairings (mainly m/m, but some m/f, f/f, plus a few sets of multiple partners, and some incestual involvement). I only read the m/m stories, and they were plenty hot. I'm not big on straight erotica...erm, I mean only erotica...but these stories were excellent. Plus, while sex was the focus, there were plenty of teases for the stories to come.
Speaking of which...most of these pieces involve characters from works that are still in progress. I was never too confused about who was what doing what, and these definitely peaked my interest and I look forward to reading the longer works that these characters come from. If you want smokin' holiday sex, this will have a little of everything...enjoy the buffet!
As for the Love and Agony section: I liked these stories, although romance/sex isn't the focal point as much as it is in the Advent section. Not all the stories are happy (although even some of the Advent stories aren't completely happy), but the set is called “Love and Agony.” Enjoyable, although they didn't leave quite as lasting an impression as the Advent set.
Strengths I'm not big on sex in stories. Mainly it needs to further plot/characters or be really well done. Most of this stories were really well done. Smut for smut's sake? Perhaps. But sometimes you need a foursome with a set of triplets who all share a soul that is soul mate to the fourth. There is variety in character pairings, type of sex, level of kink, and number of partners. I recommend not reading these at work though *cough, blush*.
Although these stories don't have much plot, they hint at plot that has happened previously or is going to happen in the future. These really made me look forward to some stories that are coming. Maybe not a strength, since it can be considered a good sales ploy, but I felt the teases of plot helped carry those stories that didn't have much plot within their pages. Those stories with plot were interesting; a taste of what is to come.
At 175,000 words for the price of $5.99, this is definitely worth its weight. Although I read this after the holidays and enjoyed it just fine, it would definitely work well to warm readers through the month of December with a story or two each day.
Weaknesses Not every story will be to everyone's taste. Most readers will be going in for the m/m angle, so it's relatively easy to skip those that don't satisfy that. Readers going in for just f/f or m/f will find little to go for.
While I can understand why the stories are separated into “Advent” and “Love and Agony,” part of me wishes that the Advent stories were dispersed between the other stories in order to break up the sex—which for me became repetitious. Still delicious, but like eating too many pieces of candy.
Storm Moon Press usually does an exemplary editing job, but they may have rushed out these stories a little quicker than normal, as I found more typo mistakes than normal. They were by no means prolific, and they weren't very distracting from the story, but I do have to warn (although mine was an earlier copy and said errors may have been removed since).
Received this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.(less)
Overall I really enjoyed these stories, which came from a variety of authors, most of whom I wasn't familiar with. However, while it's subt...moreStars: 4.5/5
Overall I really enjoyed these stories, which came from a variety of authors, most of whom I wasn't familiar with. However, while it's subtitled as "Ten Short Stories About Being a Guy," it could just as appropriately be called "Ten Short Stories About Being a Person." Because honestly, how big of a difference is there between guys and gals? Not much (beyond biologicals), since it all breaks down on an individual level. That aside, this was a good collection of stories and I think it'd be great for young "guys" to read, although I'd definitely recommend it to anyone. In answer to the blurb above's question: Being a guy is different for everyone.
Strengths These stories had a good variation of topics that sometimes touched on heavy subjects but never lingered too long or too heavily and often the heavy subject wasn't the main focus of the story either, which was refreshing. Some of the topics include race issues, sexuality, changing friendships, family roles, and identity/cliques.
The writing was solid through out, and each author took a slightly different voice/approach, with one story presented in the form of a comic. And while each story was individual and different, there was never a jarring switch between stories, either. A good compilation.
Weaknesses I think my biggest peeve with this book is the idea that men are so different from women that young men/boys need a guide to being a guy. As if they couldn't figure it out themselves. This annoyance is slightly placated by the fact that the stories aren't grossly "This is how you're a Man," and instead show a variety of how to be a man (or, you know, a decent human being). Feels like a sales ploy to me, much like all products "sold" to "men" or "women."
Overall Furries aren't really my thing (I feel like I've said that before), but I've heard good reviews about this author from other people who didn't...moreOverall Furries aren't really my thing (I feel like I've said that before), but I've heard good reviews about this author from other people who didn't really think they'd like a novel centered around furries. (Furries the anthropomorphic animals, not the humans who dress up like animals and have sex, just to clarify.) I was looking at Amazon's free reads and found this and decided to give it a shot.
The writing throughout these stories is excellent, which I think is necessary for success, especially for reaching readers who are less comfortable reading about this type of character. Gold not only has a mastery of language, but also does an excellent job of describing and developing characters and plot. Gold is comfortable and familiar with the created world and confidently strides through it, building things along the way to create visually stimulating masterpieces. Definitely worth looking in to, this collection introduces the reader to various series without forcing the purchase of said series in order to understand what is going on. If you're willing to dip your toes into the world of anthropomorphic animals, this is a great place to begin.
Aquifers A good start to the anthology, we are eased into Gold's world and the sexuality that exists there. For most this will be a good indicator if you really can't stand the thought of two furries being in love and having sex. I fell in love with the characters, who are awkward sometimes, impossibly sweet, and pretty much standard high schoolers trying to find themselves and love. I love the themes of racism, class differences, and acceptance that are the secondary focus of the story outside the main character's exploration and self-acceptance. A good strong piece that is a perfect introduction. Although this story is continued into a novel, this one stands alone, satisfying the reader while creating interest in the rest of the tale.
In Between This story has more sex and older characters as we're bumped up to college. Here a fox, playing as a female, seduces a tiger and gets him to thinking beyond his heterosexual desires. Perhaps a little too well, as he comes back, unable to get the fox out of his head. The sex scenes are well done, although the author doesn't let the reader forget that these are animals as things such as claws and tails are taken into consideration. A classic tale of a jock realizing he's not as straight as he thought and struggling to come to terms with it. I found the characters enjoyable and the fox is smart, witty, and a perfect foil to the tiger.
Secrets A continuation of "In Between," this story works heavily with flashbacks, doing lots of time skips, which could be confusing, but it was well handled. Most of the events don't rely too heavily on when they take place, so the shifts aren't too discombobulating. Because I read this and the previous story back to back, they flowed easily into one another and I don't remember exactly what happened in each, but the main focus of this story is that the tiger has a secret and as the story progresses, different secrets are revealed until the big one at the end is displayed. I think the time jumps were handled well in this story, and it made me even more curious about where the rest of the tale goes.
Don't Blink This story was weaker than the previous ones. Revolving around a young superhero trying to prove himself both to the police and the league of superheroes, Blink Coyote wants a nemesis and gets what he wants when his girlfriend gets captured. There were several things I enjoyed in this, including many of the side characters and Blink's general desire to be noticed. Other elements and turn of events fell flat and while they didn't necessarily feel forced, they didn't feel like a natural progression. More like they came from far left field. Still it was an overall enjoyable story for what it was.
Jacks to Open Initially this story's focus is on gambling, which doesn't really interest me, but as everything unfolds, it becomes apparent that there is more there than some playing cards. I really enjoyed this story and the path that it took, although I admittedly wanted more (and the author made no mention of this story continuing). The characters are shady without being bad, and they can hold their own with one another, which I'm noticing is a theme with this author's relationships. There is an underlying magical-ish world that the reader just gets to dip toes in, something I'd like to see more of, especially with these two characters--although I can see the advantage of the mystery being half the fun.
Race to the Moon A cute little story that is styled much like a fable, following a coyote and raven, which has a touch of romance in it. This was enjoyable, and I couldn't guess where it was going completely (aside from obvious things that fables tend to have). A nicely done effort.
Drifting This was a difficult story for me to read, since it involves a relationship where at least one member of the couple is unhappy with certain aspects. I think everything was well handled, whether I liked the content or not, and I definitely felt for all the different characters. My main niggle with this story was that we never find out what is going on with the other person in the pair, even after he admits that it is "my problem." I would have liked more development there, even if it wasn't the focus of the story.
How to Get Through the Day This story was written as a bonus story as an addition to another work by the author. While this story stands alone fairly well, it's obvious that it's building off of something that already exists and there are a lot of questions that I want answers to, which if this is used to tease the reader into purchasing Gold's works, it's a good thing! I liked the insecurity of both characters, especially the main one, and the construct of the story as a list that the main character goes through as his to-do list of every day. There are plenty of teases in the story, but it's also self-satisfying and good in its own right.
The Prisoner's Release A very different story from the others, this one is dark (most of it takes place in a prison cell) and inhabits a more historical and royal-infested world. I felt that the story overall was good, although some parts at the end confused me since it seemed to conflict with what the main character had said at the beginning (though he could have been lying then, as is likely, but I was still confused about who was being loyal to whom, etc). I liked the two main characters and their dynamic, bouncing between wary trust and tentative emotions. Although not my favorite, it was still enjoyable.
Overall An enjoyable mix of stories with a medley from fairy tales to bitter endings, it's definitely worth picking up, if only to grab a f...moreStars: 3.5/5
Overall An enjoyable mix of stories with a medley from fairy tales to bitter endings, it's definitely worth picking up, if only to grab a few stories from favorite authors. Some stories are stronger than others, per the norm for anthologies, but overall a good bunch. (Note, I only reviewed the M/M books below.)
The Lindorm's Twin by Tracey Pennington An OK story that weaves the tales of classic fairy tales with it's own spin. An extended tale that combines multiple tales, the ride was a little long, but fairly enjoyable, especially for those who enjoy Grimm-like stories.
Desire and Disguise by Alex Beecroft This is an interesting story that left me pleasantly surprised, despite the slightly bittersweet ending. It has interesting characters, a fresh plot, and while it has a few after-school special moments, they fit into the story and don't detract from the overall telling.
The Roaming Heart by Charlie Cochrane A short historical piece that gives a taste of the story and a happy ending without going on too long or too in depth. Short and sweet without much filling.
Outed by Clare London A fun story about a young man who isn't out but isn't hiding his partner either and a memorable celebratory tea with his Auntie where she accidentally spills the beans without realizing it and everyone's reactions. Cute, funny, and short, this is a nice glimpse into a family.
Lust in Translation by Storm Grant Explosively cute and funny, I giggled my way through this one as I watched these two men fumble there way from drugged to dopey.
Swansong by Sharon Maria Bidwell A sweet, slightly sad tale of moving on after a loved one has died and being honest with yourself.
Finally Forever by Jeanne Barrack Two Jewish lovers talk on the phone, planning their move and wedding. A sweet snapshot of their lives and love for one another.
Code of Honour by Marquesate A fun, sexy story of two legion men in France and the struggles of one to accept who he is. While intense and hot, there was definitely a level of deepness to the story too.
Tango and Temptation by ZA Maxfield Ohhh, sexy dancing, sharp barbs, and fake accents make this a playful and sweet story that makes you smile, even if you're rolling your eyes. Fun characters, simple plot, and quick tongues make this piece come together.
The Mistake by PA Brown Funny and cute with a touch of sweetness. I found the sex to be a little porn star for me, but if you like big black cock--I mean cops!--then it will be right up your...alley.
The Snow Queen by Erastes Wow. Beautiful and heart-breaking. Depressing. Painfully honest in its reality.
Semi-detached by Emma Collingwood A nice little story, just a slice of life although it did very little to move me.
Rules of the Game by Mallory Path A short, sexy little piece about two committed partners who switch things up for the evening.
Templeton's in Love by Jerry Wheeler And interesting story, but the characters didn't really grab me, although I liked some of the messages and the overall atmosphere.
Salad Days by Fiona Glass A tender story about a man who constantly mentions his ex and the current boyfriend who keeps his jealousy quiet--all while making a salad.
Wedding Announcement by Lee Rowan A quick end to the anthology, this one is OK, another slice of life as a man calls his father to tell him about his civil ceremony.
Overall An excellent collection of four Christmas novellas, these stories capture the spirit of the holidays and warm you to your toes better than a cu...moreOverall An excellent collection of four Christmas novellas, these stories capture the spirit of the holidays and warm you to your toes better than a cup of spiked cocoa. A nice mix of hot sex, warm loving, and cold shoulders, you may think you know how some of these end, but others will surprise you. Check these out for Christmas, or for any time you want to curl up with some holiday cheer.
My True Love Gave to Me by Ava March Stars: 4/5 This is my first read of anything by March, so I don't know if somewhat-flowery language is the norm, but it definitely worked in this piece. I rarely read historicals, but I'm always impressed when I do and I can FEEL how much research and knowledge went into them. March obviously knows a thing or two about the time period and uses what I assume is all the appropriate language, although sometimes it may be a bit too much for those not familiar with the terms. The story starts off sweet, but the blurb tells us that it's not going to continue, which makes their secret kisses and Alexander's hopefulness all the more difficult to bear when the fallout happens.
Because the novella's blurb (not listed above) gives away the break up, I found the beginning a bit slow, since I knew what was going to happen. However, it was worth reading through, because it developed both characters as they were as youths--hopeful and adventurous yet kind, and sweet and self-sacrificing, always wanting to do the right thing. Seeing the change between the years and how the time altered them, made the changes more significant and the struggle for Thomas to prove himself to Alexander all the more daunting. While moments of the ending were a touch saccharine for my liking, it was a proper reward for all their emotional struggles.
Winter Knights by Harper Fox Stars: 5/5 Twining together reality and the supernatural, Arthurian legend and love, this novella brings to life the spirit of the past, the present, and the future. Initially, Gavin comes across as the hero while Piers is the faulted Catholic blinded by his hateful religion. But what I loved about the story is that Gavin isn't as right as the reader is led to believe in the beginning. He has faults, some which have majorly disrupted his relationship with Piers, not that the other man doesn't have some faults as well. There is so much going on in this story, from the various Arthurian references, the presence of the rescue workers, Gavin and Piers' relationship, and all the other factors that push the events along.
I don't want to say too much, for fear of giving away the wonderful little twists that this story provides, but I will say this was a wonderful tale and it's levels and depth were brilliantly handled.
Lone Star by Josh Lanyon Stars: 3.5/5 While I enjoyed the characters and the resolution of this novella, overall the story didn't really grab me. In addition, the reindeer ploy was creative but I felt like its presence needed more explanation or attention. It feels like a tool to get the two men together--and it's fine if that's what it is there for, but as the reader, I shouldn't be so keenly aware of its place as a tool. While it's a minor issue, it reappears often enough to make the narrator wonder if he's crazy--and the lack of resolution leaves the reader wondering the same thing.
What I liked about the story is mainly the resolution, which felt right for the situation and the characters, who seem to be as opposite as possible. If it weren't for how this story ended, I probably would have scored this lower, because while the characters entertained me, they didn't feel exciting and new, although they played out their roles with some fresh touches. In addition, the warmth of Wet's family both among each other and to Mitch was a perfect, heart-warming touch to this holiday story.
The Christmas Proposition by KA Mitchell Stars: 4.5/5 This story resonated a classic holiday feel although it isn't resolved by the leading man Mel learning the meaning of Christmas. Instead he learns the meaning of trust and love and taking chances and relying on others. It sounds rather trite and silly when I say it, but Mitchell does an excellent job bringing everything around.
In some ways the resolution is too easy, but in reality, the struggles Mel sees are not actually there (or no longer require his exacting attention). While this story definitely has a rich man throwing money around, I didn't feel like it suffered from the "rich man solves all problems for poor man" syndrome. A happy story with minimal angst scattered throughout as Mel tries not to be angsty and instead focuses on what he has now, since he has no hope of it in the future.
Finally, I think one of my favorite elements of this story is Bryce asking what childhood trauma caused Mel to be so mistrusting, and Mel says there is none. I just love that someone pointed out (bluntly) that just because we're screwed up now, doesn't mean there was one thing that screwed us up.
Requested this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.(less)
Overall I really love the cover of this anthology, which is dark and sexy without being obscene or cheesy. As for the stories, I've judged...moreStars: 4.5/5
Overall I really love the cover of this anthology, which is dark and sexy without being obscene or cheesy. As for the stories, I've judged each of them below individually, but rated them as a whole anthology. Anthologies like this are tough, since they combine the talents of multiple authors and provide mixed content. This collection's works had good writing, plot, and story telling and interesting characters. It is a strong selection and definitely worth a read, especially if you like your sex a touch darker and with a gun. Even if guns aren't your thing, the stories hold their own.
Bounty Hunter by Cornelia Grey Pretty much exactly what you expect when you hear the words "gun kink." With a Western theme, the thrill of the chase and a Colt, this story hits all the major points. Grey's artful descriptions paint a gritty world interspersed with touches of love and beauty. The tale unfolds in real time with heavy (but balanced) use of flashbacks to explain everything that happened. A strong, well-rounded story that digs deep emotionally and sexually as the truth unfolds for both the reader and the characters. I found the ending fitting intellectually but unsatisfying emotionally.
Changing the Guard by Peter Hansen From the wild west we jump forward to a sci-fi future where planets have become super computers. In a short space, Hansen builds the world, dispersing information about it throughout the pages. Tomi is all alone on his post and when a stranger arrives saying he's supposed to work on the computer, Tomi doesn't buy it. Of course, a man all alone in the cold doesn't have much chance for companionship, and Andile is willing. What I enjoyed about this story is the plot builds to a point where the reader can't see the way out, and although some elements of the end left me questioning "Why did they..?" nothing threw me out of the story and ruined the ride. Interesting characters and a plot that leaves you with a good feeling.
The Machinist by Gryvon This story has some interesting characters and we're thrown right into the middle of the action. However, my biggest complaint is that we're given so little in regards to the world, the history, and the characters. This feels like it belongs to a larger story that explains why the main character is in prison, what the creatures are that attack, and who the commander is. For those who like rough and kinky sex, this story satisfies with gun penetration, hair pulling, some spanking, and of course a cocked gun. Least this author pointed out that a slip of the finger could kill the lead man. The writing wasn't my favorite, but it was a strong piece nonetheless, and made me squirm in my seat.
My Rifle Is Human by Sumi Considering the basis of the story is human weapons that get their powers from having sex, this was a surprisingly tender story with minimal kink and sex. After the heavy-duty stories that came before, it was a welcome change, although some readers may be disappointed by the lack of kink. While this story doesn't delve particularly deeply into the characters, the world, or much plot, there is just enough of each for a pleasant, warm read, which is what the story aims for. The weakest part of the story is the ending, which feels slightly tagged on and slightly rushed, but isn't disruptive enough to ruin the read, and I liked the resolution, which seemed fitting, if not a touch too perfect. Finally, the weakest part is the title, which considering the quality of the story, seems lame.
In the Pines by Lydia Nyx Wow. This story was dark and sexy and the plot was interesting (and suspenseful) enough that I found myself skimming through the sex to find out what was going to happen. Although not all elements were a surprise, I felt the overall plot was well handled and the big reveal was hinted at enough to substantiate the ending. I was disturbed by the ending, but it was suited to the type of story being told. While most of the characters are pretty flat, this brings all the focus to the main character and everything that has happened and will happen to him. I both hated and really liked this story.
Compromised Judgment by Penny K Moss I found the writing in this story to be a little stiff, but I'm not certain that it's the author's style or if it is to imitate the stiffness of the character and the characters' language. There is mystery, intrigue, spying, and dangerous attractions all tangling together to form what ended up being an enjoyable story. Although there is some frustration with only seeing a glimpse of what promises to be a larger world, for the most part the knowledge the reader needs is provided within the story. The characters didn't really speak to me, although the sexual tension and eventual release was good.
Received this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.(less)
This is gloriously funny and cute as the big, tough crime fighter shows his softer side and becomes a blubbering idiot. Good for Batman fans (with a t...moreThis is gloriously funny and cute as the big, tough crime fighter shows his softer side and becomes a blubbering idiot. Good for Batman fans (with a twist from the original) and those who know nothing of the premise, this is a punny story that's just the right mix of funny and sweet.(less)
A gory romance that doesn't get too overwhelming in gore or horror. It's well written and disturbingly sweet, although I was a little confused over wh...moreA gory romance that doesn't get too overwhelming in gore or horror. It's well written and disturbingly sweet, although I was a little confused over whether this was really a "second chance" if it's not the first time it's happened. Unless every time is a second chance. (less)
A sweet story that, even with a slightly open-ended conclusion, leaves the reader feeling hopeful, not just for Gale's love life, but for his whole li...moreA sweet story that, even with a slightly open-ended conclusion, leaves the reader feeling hopeful, not just for Gale's love life, but for his whole life. (less)
Overall It's been a long time since I've read lesbian romance, and even when I did, I was very particular about it, favoring romances to erotic tales....moreOverall It's been a long time since I've read lesbian romance, and even when I did, I was very particular about it, favoring romances to erotic tales. Please keep this in mind when considering this review.
Anthologies are always hard to judge, since the writing varies, both based on strength and personal preferences. This anthology was a mix of mediocre and good, with just about every other story being well written. For fans of the genre, this will be an enjoyable dip into several different worlds with varying takes on werewolves and steamy scenes between our heroines. It's worth a shot if these two things push all your buttons, but the stories aren't strong enough on their own to tempt an outsider.
The Fullness That Love Began by Marie Carlson A story that focuses more on sex than plot, there are several major issues that arise during the story. However, all the Big Deals aren't dealt with by the end, and although it "leaves you hanging," I didn't feel frustrated. It feels like it's the beginning of something bigger, but I wasn't involved with the characters enough to be worried. A bit too sex heavy for my liking, especially as the first in the anthology, but people may feel differently about it.
The Fire of Her Eyes by K. Piet Starting and ending with action, this story has a nice lull in the center where everything becomes peaceful and domestic, letting the reader see how the characters react in urgent, political, and romantic settings. The difference and variety quickly develop the characters and the bond between the two leading females. Everything flowed nicely and the story was well constructed.
While she is arguably the more secondary of the two characters, since she's not the narrator, Yun stole the show for me. With her quiet strength, awesome ability, and talents, in addition to her blindness, she is very likable. Plus, the sensuality described between the two characters in bed gives the sex scenes a greater purpose than the tawdry. A nice, compact glimpse into this wolf pack.
Luna's Mate by Shashauna P. Thomas My first impression of this story was that it was going to be humorous because the writing style seemed to focus on the silly: Luna's bad luck and clumsiness. However, it quickly turned darker as Luna is attacked by wolves and her luck just seems to get worse from there. The plot line had great potential as the awkward misfit finds her place in the world after two harrowing encounters.
However, I was never able to really enjoy this story because the writing kept me from sinking into the characters and really being absorbed in their problems and emotions. The writing wasn't bad, but it wasn't smooth enough to let me forget that I was reading. I felt like I was being told more what was happening than being shown it, although things were written in an active voice. Part of the problem could stem from the feeling that this was a larger story clipped into a short, thus it left the author trying to prune facts to be able to fit into it, making some of the writing come across choppy.
To Pierce the Sky by Erik Moore I'll be honest, I had a little snicker at the title, because sometimes I have the maturity of a twelve-year-old. However, this is a good story, with nice pacing, and interesting if not unimaginative characters. The conflict and resolution are believable and realistic (which I think we can agree are different things when talking about a world with werewolves). Susan also had a character development point that I thought worked well for her history and her character and helped make her more interesting.
The story takes place in a Lakota tribe (of werewolves, of course), and mixes tradition with modern conveniences, as well as doing an excellent job of weaving white and Lakota culture/myths. And since it did make me laugh at first, there was a good reference of the myth in the title. Overall enjoyable.
Protect the Moon by Della R. Buckland This short action fantasy felt a little too cliche for my tastes, as the (special) big, tough werewolf is sent to protect the (special) new-age witch. Much of the story seemed to happen without much explanation as though it was just a taste of the world, although it didn't really entice me to want more. It read like it was pulled from a table top RPG, from the specificity of clothing and weapons and the set up of the politics to the amount of detail given to the characters' appearances.
The writing was stiff, probably due to the consistently short sentence structure, although I recognize I'm hypersensitive about this. In addition, Jade presented as an innocent woman who is being sucked into a world that's bigger than she thought. Several of her actions in the beginning of the novel take an almost wicked angle once the reader has knowledge of the facts at the end. I didn't like her, didn't trust, and wasn't sure our lead female should trust her either.
Sacrifices by SL Armstrong The werewolves in this story weren't really werewolves, although wolves were the theme of the group of elves. The culture and society in which this story takes place seems deeply involved, although the reader is only given a glimpse. Although I'd liked to have learned more, I appreciate that the story wasn't burdened with information and the reader is left to make some leaps and fill in some blanks. However, that being said, some clarification on what exactly the characters in the story were would have been helpful. Things were a little too vague at times.
Still, this was an enjoyable story where the main character has to appease her King, her mate, and her pack while also finding her own happiness. While the plot didn't blow me away, the writing was strong and it was a good finish to the anthology. It's also interesting to note that the first and last stories in the group both involve het sex and child bearing.
Received this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.(less)
Notice: While many people who read this book will be reading it after Anchored, I read it before. Overall Whenever I read a story that I either really e...moreNotice: While many people who read this book will be reading it after Anchored, I read it before. Overall Whenever I read a story that I either really enjoyed or didn't expect to enjoy, I never know what to say. I don't want to gush over it, because I hate giving high expectations that could lead to disappointment--not because the story isn't good, but because the expectations were so high.
That being said, I did enjoy this collection of five short stories, two chapters from Anchored, and a selection from Counterpunch by Aleksandr Voinov. Aside from her collection of stories Sublime, I haven't read any of Haimowitz' work. That, in addition to coming at this collection backwards (having not read the book it's a prequel to), I was worried I wouldn't get it.
I needn't have. The five stories were delightful, all of them bittersweet with an aftertaste of hope. Although each was only a few pages, the characters leaped off the page and many straight into the heart. The bonus chapter previews were enticing enough that the books are now ensured a higher rank on my to-read list.
One last note: I do enjoy the concept of slaves, in fiction. If this is not to your liking, reconsider reading this (although don't discount it completely).
Strengths Writing. Each of the stories is short, but the concise yet exploratory writing used every inch of the page to draw out the dynamic of characters and the relationships and show glimpses into a world that the reader wants to see more of.
Characters. While each story is a small glimpse at a life, there isn't a lot of plot to speak of. These short stories are mainly character drawings, snapshots of Daniel's life and the men in them, whether they be friends, future lovers, or keepers. We don't see much of them, but what we do see says a lot about them.
Psychology. The character studies are so interesting because humanity and psychology are studied in each vignette as the characters, mainly Daniel, struggles to cope with the idea of being a slave and how people view him because of this and, incidentally, how he views himself. A good, if brief, look inside the mind.
Weaknesses Nothing in the stories was weak (aside from the fact that, as it always is when the stories are good, I want more). The only complaint I would bring up as being an issue is format, and it is for the "bonus" content:
For people already familiar with Anchored, the two chapters taken from that will seem unnecessary. While I can understand why it made sense to put them before Voinov's contribution, I can see some readers frustrated with having to skip over those two chapters to get to the boxers. However, having not read Anchored, it didn't bother me, although I did read all the prequel stories, skip to Counterpunch then return to the Anchored content.
Even if furries aren't your thing (they aren't mine), if you're comfortable with some anthropomorphic and hum...moreOverall Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
Even if furries aren't your thing (they aren't mine), if you're comfortable with some anthropomorphic and human-crosses, then this anthology will be worth a read. If you like furries, then this is definitely the book for you. It covers various types of crosses, including one alien, and unless you're completely grossed out by humans with animal traits having sex with humans, there is nothing particularly offensive in this set. The stories that unfold are excellent, looking at social expectations and prejudices while including a romance and happy endings.
City of Foxes by Cornelia Grey A strong story to start the collection, we are sunk into a futuristic world where fox/human crosses have evolved and humans, as they tend to do, want to destroy them. Our narrator is a human who saves one of the fox people and is in turn saved by the fox people who take him to their shelter to rest. The story unfolds as the two main characters learn to tease and trust one another while unrest builds in the fox community. Along with an interesting plot, there are dynamic characters who worm their way into the heart, all topped off with a strong writing style.
Trust Me by Elizabeth Hyder A strange combination of funny and serious, this story started off a little weak but strengthened as the main character stopped being a player (and a selfish jerk) and met his foil in the form of a love interest. While who it ends up being didn't come as a surprise to me, I imagine the reader is supposed to be in on the joke. The story was good for what is was--an attempt to be slightly humorous with some more serious (but not dark) undertones. While it left me with very little impression (I had to go back to re-read a bit for this review), there was nothing so wrong with it that I'd mark it as bad. Maybe just not to my liking.
Alpha's Pride by SL Armstrong & K Piet This story starts hot and heavy and ends hot and heavy, with love and pain as its filling. Aside from one moment of "I hope those claws are retractable," it was a well-executed story about the good of the clan overcoming the individual's pride and the benefits the individual can reap from that. The main characters struggle through their personal emotions and what they know they need to do while still loving one another. It is a touching, and at times heartbreaking, story.
I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside by Wayne Mansfield This is the weakest of the anthology both in story and writing. Initially I would have ranked the writing as mediocre, but after the first sex scene, the weaknesses become apparent as the characters became cardboard cutouts whose emotional trials were too easily solved by hand waving and a quick paint job. The characters had potential—an interesting back story while facing a difficult problem--but too quickly trusted one another and fell in love, leaving me to start to wonder if this was supposed to be a comedy.
Opening Worlds by Cari Z In this futuristic space story, there aren't so much animals as aliens, but the important parts all work the same. This well-written story explores sex vs. love, the different social requirements of different planet societies, and the individual's required duties to society. This story made my chest ache with the longing that the narrator felt and it was superbly constructed. While the end may be considered to "work out too perfectly," I found it good--especially since the alternative would have made me cry. I think if this had been a novel, the author would have explored things more in depth, but as it stands, the ending worked. This was one of my favorites.
Songs for Guitar and French Harp by Angelia Sparrow This was an interesting story, a sort of alternative history during the 1930s/1940s where creatures called constructs exist. In essence they are animals with souls, although how much of them (physically) is human, I'm not exactly sure. They are animal enough in appearance that no one would mistake them for what they are. The story is surprisingly dark (compared to other Sparrow works I've read), and I thoroughly enjoyed the look at carnival life and the struggles the main bear goes through to get his mate back. Some things at the end tugged me from my suspension of disbelief--I just didn't feel they needed to be told in the story--but for the most part this long story is an excellent tale of misfits banding together and protecting one another in the sweetest way they can.
Overall A collection of fairly strong stories that are all well written, although not amazing. Honestly it's hard to have an amazing short story, and t...moreOverall A collection of fairly strong stories that are all well written, although not amazing. Honestly it's hard to have an amazing short story, and these give a good showing, especially the first story, which is a perfect mix of emotions and hot sex. The stories have bondage, but nothing too heavy. This anthology is worth picking up if you want some light tying up.
Key To Me by Jet Mykles This story goes through several different shifts, with most of it being light-hearted and playful, mixed with sexy, seductive bedroom scenes, and then gushing romantic at the end. Although the end in somewhat predictable, the journey to get there is what makes this story worth reading.
Roughly Tied Together excerpt from the novel A Bit of Rough by Laura Baumbach While I enjoyed the story overall, because this was part of a larger story, there felt like there was gaping holes of knowledge. Most of it was explained, but somethings were hinted at and seemed to contrast with what else we knew from the story. Fun and nice, but left me lukewarm.
The Gift of Eros by Kimberly Gardner A good story, for what it's worth and an enjoyable read, although there isn't terribly much to take from it. Seemed to have good research into Eros and Greek mythology/literature.
Rough Ride by Laura Baumbach A tumble in the snow leads to some sexy-sexy time in front of the fireplace for this committed couple. A delightfully hot scene that turned me off a touch because of language choices.
One Good Favor by J.L. Langley & Dick D. While this story has a somewhat predictable 'twist,' I don't think the authors were trying to hard to trick the reader either. Funny scenes with his horse Gus and hot scenes with his mystery man Aaron create a fun dichotomy for the main character to bounce between. Had a humorous cell phone thread that ran throughout, tying things together.