Book Review: Hard-Pressed by Queenie Black, Club Hard Book 1

Rose works as Lucien’s personal bodyguard, keeping him safe from dangerous situations and taking control of his life, but on her first visit to Club Hard, Lucien is determined to turn the tables. He sees Rose as his perfect submissive, and tonight he intends to show her what it’s like when he’s on top. But how will Rose cope when she’s so far out of her comfort zone?

Hard-Pressed is a quick, hot read, outlining in exquisite detail Rose’s first ever punishment session. Though part of her very much desires everything Lucien does to her, she’s fighting against her preconceived notion that submitting means being weak – something she needs to learn is not the case. Lucien, for his part, is a stern and slightly enigmatic master, but he cares very much for Rose, which becomes obvious as the evening progresses. From having to display herself in public to taking a spanking, Rose explores things that until now have been part of her fantasises, and which excite her more than she could have believed.

An unexpected twist raises the stakes and makes this more than a simple tale of Dom meets sub. This part of the story comes out of nowhere and could have been explored in more detail as it’s barely given room to breathe before it’s over, but overall this introduction to the world of Club Hard will leave readers wanting to know more about happens behind the club’s closed doors.

Hard-Pressed is published by Evernight Publishing and available from Amazon US and Amazon UK. I was given a copy of the book by Writer Marketing Services in return for an honest review.

Book Review: Professor Adorkable by Edie Danford

Pete works for an agency that finds housekeepers for gay men. When he’s hired to work for genius astrophysics professor Marek, it seems like the ideal job, living in Marek’s beautiful home and taking care of a man who’s too busy and disorganised to fend for himself. But Marek’s is cute as well as clumsy, and despite his desire to keep things strictly professional, Pete soon finds himself falling for his boss. A line is about to be crossed, and neither man is sure things will ever be the same…

Professor Adorkable is a light, engaging read that takes two characters who are perfect for each other and then spends most of the book working on ways to keep them apart. It’s one of the oldest tropes in romance, but Edie Danford handles it neatly and with plenty of humour. Both Marek and Pete have troubled pasts, having been taken advantage of in different ways (and in Pete’s case, knowingly letting it happen) and through the course of the story Marek has to learn to stand up for himself and Pete to put his fear of reliving the past aside as they work towards the happy ending certain people wish to deny them.

There’s a lot of hot sex in the book, with the running joke that Marek treats everything in life like one of his science experiments, and this extends to the bedroom too. The love scenes are by turn inventive and tender, and the author has the knack of getting deep into the most intimate thoughts and emotions of the two main characters as they explore their desires for each other. If geeky but self-aware men are your thing, Professor Adorkable should hit the spot for you.

Professor Adorkable is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK. I was given a copy of the book by Indigo Marketing and Design in return for an honest review.

 

Book Review – Ghost Wolf by Hurri Cosmo

Trevor has grown up as a wolf without a pack in a small town in the middle of nowhere. What little he knows about shifting and pack lore he’s learned from the elderly man he calls Grandpa, who’s also passed on to him a mysterious ring. When circumstances force Trevor to use the ring, he realises it turns him invisible, something he tries his best to use to his advantage. But other people want the ring, too, and that throws Trevor into some very bad situation. Luckily, Ryan Jarfang, Alpha of the biggest wolf pack in the area and the hottest man Trevor has ever met, is on hand to help out.

Ryan and Trevor are Fated Mates, with an attraction too strong to ignore, something that doesn’t go down too well with Amanda, the woman whose forthcoming mating with Ryan will create a powerful alliance with another local pack. With wolves being found dead and shifters going missing, how will Trevor and Ryan overcome all the dangers and find the happiness their status as Fated Mates should guarantee them?

Having a main character who can not only shift into a wolf but become invisible as well should be too much for one story, but in Ghost Wolf Hurri Cosmo manages to pull it off. There’s a streak of humour in the book that keeps everything from getting too serious and overblown, though when the baddies come after Ryan and Trevor there’s a genuine sense of menace about the set piece as they hunt for the ring in Trevor’s old family home. Having Trevor as an outsider to the pack means we get to learn about wolf lore through his eyes, and he’s an engaging hero, always looking out for others beside himself. Ryan might be the typical Alpha male, always on top in the bedroom, but there are times when he needs Trevor’s help and protection, and that vulnerability adds more depth to his character.

There is, as you’d expect, plenty of hot sex, especially on the night of Ryan and Trevor’s mating, though I could have done without the detour into male pregnancy territory. It may be a necessary part of the happy ending for some readers, but personally, I find it silly. With that caveat (and that part of the book is easy to skip once you realise where the storyline is headed), this is a fun and entertaining shifter story that’ll have you howling for more.

Ghost Wolf is published by Painted Hearts and is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK. Find out more about Hurri Cosmo at Hurricosmo.com.

I received a copy of Ghost Wolf from Indigo Marketing and Design in return for an honest review.

Book Review – Vampire Claus by Robert Winter

A vampire without a territory, Taviano arrives in Boston on Christmas Eve. When he was turned, in 19th century Italy, he was studying for the priesthood, and he still finds himself drawn to the familiar ritual of Midnight Mass. While lurking near the church, he manages to prevent a young short order cook, Paul, from being robbed of the presents he’s taking to a shelter for homeless LGBTQ children. Taviano is drawn to Paul, but even though it’s obvious Paul wants him, too, anything that happens between them can only be a one-night thing. Unless, of course, they can experience a Christmas miracle…

Taviano is the kind of vampire romance readers will adore. While the other vampires that feature in this novella are undead monsters, not afraid to use extreme violence to get what they want, Taviano still retains a soul and a moral code. He satiates his need to feed (here personified as a ‘bloodbeast’, a literal demon living inside him) by drinking the blood of muggers, rapists and other lowlife, and he still has strong memories of his life before he was turned. Paul, meanwhile, is poor but good of heart, willing to put others before himself and with a recklessness to his personality that makes him embrace the desires of a vampire rather than run away from them. Both are loners, so naturally they’ll be drawn to each other, and when they have sex it’s hot and sensual and deliciously described.

Robert Winter tends to overdo Paul’s use of slang to emphasise the difference in age and attitude between him and Taviano (does anyone really say “amazeballs”, and if so, please can they stop?), and there’s a rather too contrived revelation about Paul’s family background late in the story, but these are minor quibbles. If you’re looking for a heart-warming slice of paranormal romance to stuff your Christmas stocking, Vampire Claus is the one for you.

Vampire Claus is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK. You can find out more about Robert Winter at his author site.

I received a copy of Vampire Claus from Indigo Marketing in return for an honest review.

Book Review: Unearthly Delights – An ERWA Anthology

For more than twenty years, the Erotic Readers and Writers Association has offered budding writers of erotic fiction a place to discuss and hone their craft. It’s expanded from its original concept of a place where women could find the intelligent erotica that was largely absent from the Internet at that time, and now offers regular book and video reviews, new fiction produced by its members, and is one of the best sites for finding details of publishers’ submission calls and other useful author resources.

Given all that, it’s a surprise that it’s taken quite so long for the ERWA to put together a book showcasing its members’ talents. Unearthly Delights, a collection of paranormal stories edited by ERWA owner and prolific author Selena Kitt, is the first in a planned series of anthologies, and it features a variety of writing styles, from romance to full-on erotica.

The writing is of a uniformly high standard, but it’s best to be warned up front that this is not a collection for the faint of heart. If descriptions of blood-letting make you queasy, then you might be advised to avoid Lisabet Sarai’s elegant but disturbing Underground, the tale of a woman whose need for extreme blood play, and a man who is in tune with her taboo desires, leads her to a club frequented by vampires. Also on the horror end of the spectrum is The Velvet Choker, Selena Kitt’s compelling and very adult take on the classic scary campfire story, The Red Ribbon.

By far the most fun story of the bunch is Daddy X’s The Rasputin Collection. The collection of the title is a set of bronze lamps with highly erotic reliefs in their bases. Reputed to have been owned by the legendary “mad monk”, Rasputin, the lamps exert a strange power when lit, compelling whoever they shine on to perform the acts they portray – much to the surprise, and delight, of their new owner.

Elsewhere, Delores Swallows’ Night Visitors features the classic trope of the couple who buy a run-down home for a bargain price, only to discover that it might not be as uninhabited as they think, Jean Roberta’s A Ripple In The Air pits vampires against those who are fated to protect the world from them, and Belinda La Page’s Imagine is a series of darkly funny flash stories about the misadventures of an alien charged with hunting human men for breeding stock.

Like all anthologies, some stories work better – or appeal more to a reader’s personal tastes – than others. The two contributions that failed to grab me here were Ian D. Smith’s The Lesson of History, which tries to pack too much into the story of a woman who’s testing a device designed to measure the body’s responses to stimulation and has a series of ghostly encounters at a country wedding, and Mary Ramsey’s Mystic Force, about a group of deeply unpleasant and unlikable people who have superpowers. Overall, though, this is a great showcase for the talented writers at the ERWA, and I’m looking forward to seeing more.

Unearthly Delights is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK. You can find out more about the ERWA here.

I was supplied with a copy of Unearthly Delights by Indigo Marketing in return for an honest review.

Book Review: Hiding In Plain Sight By Lucy Felthouse

Mallory Scott works for a covert intelligence agency, infiltrating her way into criminal gangs or getting close to those who want to sell government secrets. She’s good at her job, mostly because she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to bring the bad guys to justice. If that means setting up a honey trap and sleeping with them, well, that’s all in a day’s work. However, the one thing she’s never counted on is falling for the enemy, but when an operation to prevent a huge diamond heist in Amsterdam brings her into contact with handsome and charismatic thief Baxter Collinson does just that, everything changes for Mallory. She needs to keep things on a professional basis, but will her growing attraction to Baxter make that impossible?

Hiding In Plain Sight begins as a straightforward cat-and-mouse chase as Mallory works to foil the diamond thieves, but spins off in an interesting direction from the original premise. To reveal any more would be to spoil the surprise, but let’s just say that rounding up the gang doesn’t necessarily signal the end of Mallory and Baxter’s story.

The couple have plenty of chemistry from their initial meeting, and the sex they enjoy is just you’d expect from a Lucy Felthouse novel – sizzling hot but cute and playful. And when a box of luxury chocolates is incorporated into Mallory and Baxter’s sex play, things take a lusciously sensual turn.

Of course, the test of any erotic thriller is whether it would work without the sex scenes, and in the case of Hiding In Plain sight, the answer is yes. There’s enough technical jargon to make the work of the agency seem believable, without weighing down the plot, and an edge of tension to remind you how much is at stake for Mallory and her team. She is always conscious of the choices she has to make to protect her own security and that of her colleagues, which becomes doubly difficult when she’s in danger of blurring the lines between work and pleasure. Only a scene at the start of the story, where Mallory has a one-night stand with a hotel waiter, feels a little like a gratuitous effort to up the sex content of the book. Overall, though, Hiding In Plain Sight is a fun read that leaves you hoping for more adventures featuring this sexy spycatcher.

Hiding In Plain Sight is available from Amazon and Smashwords. Find out more about the book on Goodreads.

I received a copy of the book from Lucy in return for an honest review.

Book Review: A New Way To Dance By Sean Michael

Seth is a successful dancer in Toronto, until a serious car crash destroys his career. At his lowest ebb, he runs into Brook, who’s the brother of his best friend, Lizzie, and who he met briefly on the night of his accident. There’s an obvious attraction between the two of them, but Seth has too many scars, both physical and mental, to consider getting involved with anyone. Brook, however, is determined to help Seth overcome his demons and realize that his identity is bound up in more than being a dancer.

Set against the backdrop of a snowy Ottawa winter and written in Sean Michael’s usual straightforward, unfussy style, A New Way To Dance is a contemporary romance that deals with some complex emotional issues. Though he doesn’t acknowledge it at first, Seth has a serious eating disorder that’s only made worse by his refusal to give up on everything associated with being a dancer. In his mind, he can’t let go of his old way of life, and it’s up to Brook to make him see that things need to change if they’re going to have any chance of happiness. Brook turns out to be selfless and devoted to making Seth well, while Seth struggles with getting close to someone again after his previous sub ended their relationship in the nastiest way possible.

As you’d expect, there is plenty of hot and very loving sex, as Seth and Brook learn everything about each other’s needs and desires. However, the story takes an abrupt tonal shift towards the end, as the last couple of chapters turn into a long and involved piercing scenario. It’s almost as if, having wrapped things up to a satisfying conclusion, the author then thought readers wouldn’t be happy unless the book contained some heavy BDSM action. Fans of hurt/comfort fiction, though, will enjoy seeing how Brook helps Seth heal, and the many descriptions of Seth being fed will appeal whether or not that’s your particular fetish. (Though seriously, ‘ants on a log’? Celery, peanut butter and raisins combined as a snack? That’s wrong on too many levels to count…)

A New Way To Dance is available from Amazon and Evil Plot Bunny. I was given a copy of the book by Indigo Marketing and Design in return for an honest review.