Category Archives: 3.5 Stars

3.5 Stars for The Beast That Never Was by Caren J. Werlinger #FF #FairyTales

CoverTitle: The Beast That Never Was
Author Name & Publisher: Caren J. Werlinger (Corgyn Publishing LLC)
Publication Date & Length: June 1, 2016 – 211 pgs

Synopsis

What if Beauty was the Beast?

Lise’s father is dead, and the life of plenty and freedom that she has known as the daughter of the King’s Huntsman is gone. She must now live a life of duty to her mother and sisters, helping them to cope in their altered circumstances. But where her mother would have her wed a childhood friend to secure their future, Lise knows that is not what she longs for.

When she meets a mysterious woman in the forest, Lise feels the stirrings of emotions she cannot give voice to, but with this woman, she doesn’t have to say anything—Senna knows.

Cursed, hunted, and feared, Senna has been forced to wander from place to place for more years than she cares to remember. She gave up hope long ago that there could ever be an end to her isolation.

Odd sightings in the forest—monsters of legend come to life, old enemies back from the past, fearsome beasts on the prowl—begin to frighten the people of Lise’s village. Somehow, all of these things are connected to Senna. As the villagers’ fear grows, so does their hatred.

Senna prepares to flee, accepting what has become her fate, but Lise isn’t ready to give up her one chance for happiness. Soon, only Lise stands between the villagers and the woman she has grown to love.

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Review

 ThreeandHalfStars

I hate to review books like this. Werlinger has put together a wonderfully written story, with an interesting and engaging concept, that I didn’t really like. My problem with the book is most likely about pacing. I felt it started really slowly, which agrees with others I’ve discussed the book with. Others told me that it gets better, so I decided to keep with it. And yes, while the pace did pick up, things still moved rather slowly for me. It’s almost as though the details, especially of the day-to-day life of Lise and her village, bog the story down too much. At the end of the book, I understand why others liked the story. I love the idea of this interpretation of the fairy tale, but as much as I was looking forward to reading this, it just wasn’t for me. The problem with my rating is that I totally respect the way Werlinger crafted her story; her writing skills are great, and I like her characters. Her style just didn’t click with me.

AmyP

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3.5 Stars for Doc Brodie and the Big, Purple Cat Toy by Brigham Vaughn @AuthorBVaughn #MM

Copy of Doc Brodie and the Big, Purple Cat Toy - Brigham Vaughn

Title: Doc Brodie and the Big, Purple Cat Toy
Author Name & Publisher: Brigham Vaughn (Two Peninsulas Press)
Publication Date & Length: June 16, 2016 (111 Pages)

Synopsis

Grant Murchison is a computer programmer with a great job, a small house he’s fixing up, and a mischievous tabby cat named Molly. Doctor Brodie Hall is a veterinarian with a sleeve full of tattoos and an enormous mastiff named Ruby.
When Molly gets sick after nibbling on Grant’s favorite purple toy, he rushes her to the vet clinic where the doctor works. Grant’s embarrassed to admit what Molly ate, but Brodie finds Grant’s reaction charming.
Brodie decides to pursue Molly’s owner, but getting close to Grant is a bigger challenge than he anticipated. Despite Grant’s attraction to the vet, his past leaves him unable to trust in a future together. Doc Brodie may be great with scared and hurting animals but will his technique work on Grant?

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Review

ThreeandHalfStars

This novella stars sex front and center. It’s decent sex: masculine and unabashed. The plot is intended to be humorous, I think, but it involves at times a sick cat, which proved harrowing for me. The cat, it should be said, is the star of the novel. She’s just so perfectly a cat.
Grant is a bit of a nerd. His loneliness is real and his backstory poignant. He manages not to be too self-effacing, but he is a little, if that’s a trigger. Brodie is the veternarian in shining armor, only too willing to look past Grant’s insecurities.
There’s some drama, but they both behave like responsible, grounded adults, which is refreshing in this genre. They’re a bit generic. It would have been good to see some culture clash in their relationship. But for a nice Sunday afternoon read (or Sunday night, ifyouknowwhatImean), it’s servicable. You won’t remember it Monday morning.
C. E. Case

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3.5 Stars for Burning Tracks (Spotlight #2) by Lilah Suzanne #FF #RomCom @LilahSuzanne

Burning Tracks 900px FRONT (Tumblr)Title: Burning Tracks (Spotlight #2 – Standalone)
Author Name & Publisher: Lilah Suzanne (Interlude Press)
Publication Date & Length: August 11, 2016 – 224 pgs

Synopsis

In the sequel to Broken Records, Gwen Pasternak has it all: a job she loves as a celebrity stylist and a beautiful wife, Flora. But as her excitement in working with country music superstar Clementine Campbell grows, Gwen second-guesses her quiet domestic bliss. Meanwhile, her business partner, Nico Takahashi and his partner, reformed bad-boy musician Grady Dawson, face uncertainties of their own.

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Review

ThreeandHalfStars

This was a difficult read for me. We’re reading about Gwen and Flora, who’ve been together for almost 10 years, and they’ve hit a rough spot where Gwen is freaking out about their lives together and Flora seems to be a bit clueless, even though this is definitely par for the course for Gwen. Toss in the fact that their best friends and family, Nico and Grady, who are definitely still in the honeymoon stage, have just had a fight and may be breaking up, and it sets the stage for Clementine, a client of Gwen and Nico’s and a friend of Grady’s, to come in and make things a bit murky for Gwen. I have big problems with cheating in the stories I read, so this book seemed to be headed down a predictable road that I really wasn’t sure I wanted to travel along. But I told myself that I didn’t necessarily know what the author was going to do, so I should stick with it. I’m glad I did, as things didn’t go exactly as I’d thought, but it definitely was a wake up call for Gwen. My problem with the book, and I’ll admit that it was all personal preference, is that Gwen seems to love Flora too much to go down the road she was headed. She acts like an immature brat instead of talking to her wife about her feelings, and she almost messes things up. Especially as someone who grew up with the parents that she had, it’s very difficult for me to believe that she’d treat the person who loves her so much so recklessly. And while she may have stepped up in the end, I didn’t enjoy the ride along for her stumble. The book was pretty well-written, and interesting, and if Suzanne decides to write about Clementine finding a woman of her own, I might pick that up. But I see that the first and third books are about Nico and Grady, and I’m not too sure I’d pick those up. Again, I’d say it’s more personal preference than anything really bad about the book or story.

AmyP

Excerpt

“There’s a reason you two aren’t allowed to hang out alone.” Arms crossed, one impeccable eyebrow raised, lips twisted, hair artfully tousled, and dressed to the nines: Alexander Wang black-on- black tropical-printed board shorts, a slim fit black-and- white chino and matching black lapel jacket, black boots, and a black and white scarf to tie it all together. “Nico,” Gwen says.

“Nico?” Grady is up in a flash. “You came?”

Nico’s face softens into his Grady look. “Of course I came. Did you really think you were getting rid of me that easily?” Grady comes closer, and Nico brushes a spiraled lock of hair from his face.

“I’m sorry it took me so long. There were storms over Dallas, and I got stuck on the tarmac with a dead phone. I barely made my connection, and the clusterfuck of morons known as the United gate at JFK could not get its shit together, and I may be banned outright from Charlotte-Douglas International, can you believe they flag you as a security risk and hold you in a room with no phone signal or Wi-Fi just for threatening one person with shoving that goddam intercom up their—” He opens his arms for Grady; his look of annoyance slips away the moment they touch.

“Anyway, I’m here.”

Grady sighs, crowds into Nico’s space, and tucks himself into Nico’s body. Much better, a perfect fit. “God, I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Nico sinks one hand into his hair, strokes the nape of his neck with other, breathes him in, and closes his eyes. “I’m so sorry. About the apartment and taking off and not being here yesterday, I tried to so hard to make it because I know how difficult it is for you. You shouldn’t have been alone.”

Grady sniffs and holds him tighter. “It’s okay. We’re okay. I’m sorry, too.”

Still ensnared in the sheets and duvet and barely awake, Gwen presses her hands to her cheeks and awws. “You guys,” she coos.

Grady lifts his head from Nico’s neck to smile at Gwen. “I wasn’t alone, though.”

“Mmm” Nico says. “And how much trouble did she get you into?”

“None,” Gwen says, defensive. Here she kept Grady safe and sound, searched all over Nashville and Las Vegas while he was off burying himself in work and what thanks does she get? None.

But then Grady smirks and says, “Kind of a lot.”

“Grady.” Gwen throws a pillow at him. “You’re such a tattletale, gosh.”

He bends to whisper something in Nico’s ear, and Gwen doesn’t miss the way his lips drag and linger on the shell of it, or the way Nico’s breath catches and his eyes roll back. When Nico lifts Grady’s shirt and traces around the tattoos with reverent fingers, Gwen takes that as her cue to extricate herself from the bed, put on some pants and a bra, and go fetch her luggage.

“‘Kay you guys have fun and make sure to change the sheets when you’re finished.”

“Wait.” Nico tugs Grady’s shirt down. Then he goes to the case he always has nearby. “You have trouble of your own, Gwen. Thought you might want to know about this.”

Gwen catches the magazine and folded-up papers he tosses her way: screen grabs from a few entertainment websites printed out in black and white.

Is This Clementine Campbell’s Girlfriend? Our source says, “It wouldn’t surprise me.”

Clementine and Gal Pal Definitely More Than Pals Sunning On Vegas Pool Deck.

Our exclusive source and close confidant of both says: Clementine’s married girlfriend “would cheat for sure. She was always touching her. There’s been an energy between them from the very beginning.”

There are pictures: her rubbing sunscreen on Clementine’s bare back, which looks far steamier in a fuzzy long-range picture than it actually was; a picture of them from the back at the store in the Venetian with their hands clasped and Clementine curled in close and her lips on Gwen’s cheek; and most damning of all, grinding together at the VIP club at the Bellagio just last night.

“I don’t—” Frantic and confused, she flaps the magazine and printouts in the air. “What is this? This isn’t— Nico, I didn’t, I swear.”

Nico holds both hands up. “Hey, I am well aware of the slander of tabloids. I get it.” He gives her a sympathetic look. “I’m just not sure Flora is going to.”

AuthorInterview

Tell us about your pets – past or present. Pictures are a must! (Not really, but they would be welcome.)

 

Currently I have four pets: Tank, a chihuahua-Jack Russel mix (yes he’s exactly as crazy as you imagine) a blue and white parakeet named Sky, and two orange tabby cats: Buttercup and Dandelion. By happenstance I have only ever had orange tabby cats, and though I lack the experience to say for sure they are favorite kind of cat.

 

In a flashback chapter in Burning Tracks Gwen and Flora rescue two orange tabby kittens from a dumpster, and this is sort of borrowed from my life, as my current cats are also rescues, though we found them ditched on the side of a very busy road. Luckily I didn’t have to wade through garbage to save them, but the traffic racing by was pretty scary, and an enormous spider landed on my head. I think I’d pick swimming through a dumpster if given the choice, honestly.

 

We spend most the story later on, when Gwen and Flora only have one of the rescue cats, Cheese. And as I’m incapable of writing an animal in my stories without them becoming essential to the plot the story, Cheese and her siblings take on a lot of symbolism: Gwen’s fierce heart, Flora’s unshakeable faith, and Clementine’s continued sacrifices.

 

I don’t usually base characters directly on people (or pets) in my life, but for Cheese I did base her on Buttercup: They’re both enormous, lazy orange tabbies. Both love food and hate food somehow at the same time. And both cats are skittish and sensitive and very sweet. And so far Buttercup is taking being immortalized in a novel in stride, she’s spends just as much time sleeping under my bed as she always has. The the nice thing about orange tabby cats: they’re humble. Or, as humble as a cat can be, I guess.

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5 Stars and 3.5 Stars for A Class Act by T.L. Hayes #FF #Romance

CoverTitle: A Class Act
Author Name & Publisher: T.L. Hayes (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: August 1, 2016 – 240 pgs

Synopsis

Twenty-five-year-old theater grad student Rory Morgan walks into her Intro to Theater class expecting it to be a piece of cake. She isn’t prepared for the diminutive little fireball of a professor who walks in. She is instantly captivated by Dr. Margaret Parks, her forty-year-old professor, and even works up the courage to flirt a little, which Dr. Parks quickly dismisses. After their first class, Rory finds herself thinking about the professor more and more and spends most of her class time watching the professor as she passionately does her job. Rory really wants to ask her out, but she doesn’t know if the professor is even gay, to say nothing of the fact that she’s her professor. What follows is a romance full of humor, passionate awakenings, and college politics. Can they overcome the hurdles that lie before them and still be a class act?

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Review

 FiveStarsWhat a beautiful, romantic and heart-warming love story! I really enjoyed being an onlooker in this well written and totally engrossing new relationship between Maggie and Rory.  Rory was just so gorgeous and kind and brought out a side of Maggie that had been kept hidden her whole life. She allowed her to be herself at last, to be happy and content with who she was. It seemed each of them were waiting for that person to make them feel whole.  They had enormous problems to overcome as professor and student dating and the threat to Maggie’s career was always there in the background.  How they both dealt with it and the reactions of those around them made this a powerful novel.  I hope to read a lot more from T L Hayes in the future.
Kitty Kat
ThreeandHalfStars
Truthfully, I don’t know how to rate this. I enjoyed the book; it turned out in some ways much better than I thought it would at about a third of the way through. But in other ways, there are some things that just missed the mark. This is a May-December book, an age gap book for those who don’t use months (I had to explain the term to someone recently). Rory is a grad student, aged 25, who falls for her professor, Maggie, aged 40. One of my first problems was Miranda’s character. I do like the direction Hayes took it, but at first Miranda seemed like a cliched, contrived character – the mean girl who ruins things for others out of spite and because she’s not getting what she wants. And my opinion of the book would have gone south if Hayes had continued with that as the main conflict. But after Miranda stopped being the main impediment to the relationship, and actually the main catalyst as well, the story coasts with no major conflict the rest of the way. Hayes lost the opportunity to use the age gap and Maggie’s feelings about it to explore the biggest stumbling block to their relationship. As the May in an age gap relationship myself, let me tell you those feelings don’t go away easily for the December portion. There was no real problem with Rory’s parents accepting the relationship, which again I think is a lost opportunity. The problem with Maggie’s coworkers also feels a bit underdone. Maggie is supposed to feel extremely uncomfortable with how much they’re intruding into her private life, but other than a note, an email, and the knowledge that they’re going to the board, and subsequently getting shut down, there isn’t a whole lot there that makes me believe the whole change of jobs would be necessary. In all, the book was entertaining, and the romance was sweet, but missed being as deep as it could have been.
AmyP

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5 Stars, 3.5 Stars and 3 Stars for Choosing Home (The Call of Home #1) by Alexa Milne @Alexa_Milne #MM #Romance @PridePublishing

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Title: Choosing Home (The Call of Home #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Alexa Milne (Pride Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: June 14, 2016 – 187 Pages

Synopsis

You can never escape from yourself.

Zac McKenzie is an ex-professional footballer with a secret he gave up his career to protect. Several years ago, he fled to his home in the North East of Scotland to avoid being outed as gay. Now, he owns a successful hotel and restaurant, but is it time to finally come out into the open?

Seth Pritchard feels he is damaged goods. He comes to Scotland to escape memories of the accident that left him injured, his bullying step-brothers and a life of lies.

For their whole lives, Zac and Seth have denied who they truly are to themselves as well as to others. When they meet, each man is forced to confront his fears and tear them down one by one.

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Review

FiveStars

This is such a great story but it also one of those stories where your breaks for one of the characters.

Seth just broke my heart. His life growing up with his step brothers was nothing short of tramatic they way they treated him and the cruel things they said and did to him. They left him pretty much hating himself for being gay out of fear of what others thought of him. Not only just that, but he was also left not being able to be intimate with anyone after everything his step brothers did to him. My heart broke over and over for Seth but at the same time I think he is so much stronger then he even realized. He works through his issues and becomes a stronger man that is capable of standing up for himself and he is able to truly start living and loving for the first time in his life.

Zac has always been worried about coming out but not because of his family or friends but because of the profession he was in. Seeing Seth face his Demons made it easy for Zac to be strong and decide it was time to stop hiding and time to start living in the open.

These two men made a beautiful story together, horror parts and all. They proved that love can and will conquer all. This is a great book by Alexa and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

Tosha

ThreeandHalfStars

This is my first book by this author. I had high hopes for the story, as I love stories about sports, but it was at times difficult to relate to Sean (one of the MC’s). The other MC, Zac I was totally able to relate to. We never got much of the background story about Sean, only bits and pieces, whereas Zac we got lots of background info. The plot was excellent and I was really hoping to get more from the book then I did. The author definitely has a way with describing a scene and I loved how she described Scotland (someplace I’ve always wanted to visit). I loved the secondary characters especially Abby and Zac brother, Ellis. I will definitely read the next book in the series hoping this was just a one-time thing.

Lynn

ThreeStar

There is a fantastic sense of place in this story set on the Scottish Coast.  I enjoyed the characters and sense of community, but this didn’t entirely work as a romance for me.  

I enjoyed Zac’s story – the closeted footballer returned home to set up a holiday lodge.  His family, his kids, his friends and employees all contribute to the wonderful sense of family and community surrounding the man.  The details of Seth’s life are less clear through the book and because there is so much mystery surrounding him, I found him harder to relate to.

I had to re-read parts of this story to fully understand why I failed to fully connect with it.  Ultimately, I settled on the dialogue as my biggest problem.  The conversations between these characters feels stilted.  I would expect casual slang from a retired footballer and  Zach’s unnaturally formal speech prevents him from becoming a fully developed character for me.  Similarly, Seth might be the most formal 30 year old I’ve ever encountered.  When this formality meets the bedroom the result is entirely awkward and not at all sexy.  Ultimately, there is something stiff and formal about both men and it just doesn’t work, especially for Zach.  

Also, there really aren’t many closeted 30 and 40 year olds left in the UK.  As a professional footballer, I was almost able to understand Zac’s situation.  Seth’s story might have been believable in the US or twenty years ago in the UK but it failed to ring true for a 30 year old in the UK today.

Ultimately, I really wanted to love this story more than I did.  I loved the premise and the setting but the execution just didn’t work very well for me.  

Sarah

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3.5 Stars for Bought: A Ripples in the Status Quo Story (#1) by R. Phoenix #MM #Paranormal @RaissaPhoenix

CoverTitle: Bought: A Ripples in the Status Quo Story (#1)
Author Name & Publisher: R. Phoenix (Phoenix Publications)
Publication Date & Length: May 17, 2016 – 46 pgs

Synopsis

When he agreed to take the fall for his pack leader’s failed attempts to help the Rebellion, Jace knew he wouldn’t live long enough to regret it. However, instead of the noble end he envisioned for himself, the werewolf finds himself at the mercy of a witch and his depraved games. Though he clings to his conviction that he can withstand anything his new master can dish out, it isn’t long before he realizes pride has no place in his life as the pet of the controlling Elias Ivers.

Revised & expanded edition as of 3/22/16. Please note that content, publisher, and other aspects of the work have changed.

Bought is approximately 12,600 words.

(This dark erotica novella caters to those who cheer on the villains as they pursue their goals…no matter what it takes to get there. This includes Very Bad Things as well as Very Sexy Things.

Those with sensibilities will likely be offended and want to attack the author with flaming pitchforks. If this applies to you, save an author. Step away from the button.

Lightheartedness aside, this is dark erotica, and it does contain elements of depravity and cruelty that will be offensive to some readers and not dark enough for others. Please proceed with caution or skip this read.)

###

Please note that the RISQ world has little place for humanity, and as a result, content in these works may be offensive to some readers. They can be read as stand-alones or as serials in a larger story.

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Review

ThreeandHalfStars

This book was a bit of a war for me.
I loved the new world that has come about when supernaturals, werewolves and witches take control. It’s not all that hard to imagine to me and the way the author wrote it was great.
I will say that part of the storyline really just… I didn’t get it. Jace is paying for something his lover did. We see his lover and get to know a bit of the backstory, but it still just seemed like an incomplete story to me. Maybe we will get more closure in one of the other books in this series, but I was left feeling like there was just somethings that didn’t work.
However, I will say that I did fine the story interesting and I did look forward to seeing what the characters would do next. It’s definitely a dark read so be forewarned (forced sex even though it’s wanted is dark for me although not horridly dark)
I can’t wait to see where this series goes next.
Renee

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3.5 Stars for Prima Facie by Nicole Field #Trans @Faerywhimsy @LT3Press

CoverTitle: Prima Facie
Author Name & Publisher: Nicole Field (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date: June 29, 2016

Synopsis

Never get involved with the client. That’s one of the first rules of the business, and a rule Con has never had trouble following. Until Maggie walks through the door. She smart, charming, isn’t impressed by his family, and doesn’t care that he’s trans. If anyone is worth breaking rules for, it seems to be Maggie.

But things that seem too good to be true often are, and Con soon finds himself caught between his family, Maggie, and figuring out what really matters most to him.

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Review

 ThreeandHalfStarsIt’s difficult for me to rate short stories well. The whole problem with short stories is that it’s hard to put so much into such a little space. And for me, this story suffers for it. There is a lot that seems to be missing with the legal part of the story, especially in the last part. We went from a cursory investigation in part one to a bit more depth in part two to skipping over most of all of the build up for the court case in part three. For me, the case is an integral part of the story, so having the resolution of the case be a whole “oh, we won, that’s so great!” without telling me how they won was not satisfying at all. Next, I’m not sure I get Maggie’s attraction to Con at all, especially when I find out that it was all initially contrived as a way to ensure Con’s attention on her court case. I’m not sure I could be as forgiving as Con seems to be and lying is definitely not a good thing to have as the base or start of a relationship. Is Con’s desire for acceptance of who he is so big that he can overlook her blatant attempt to use him? Add in the way her parents and his threaten him into not dropping the case and I’m not sure how he ever gets past the way they met. I liked the concept of the story, and I love how applicable the title is, but for me, it missed in the execution. It may have been easier to work these issues out in a longer format, but the issues for me aren’t nearly resolved at the end of this story.
AmyP

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