Title: Conflict: Contact (Conflict #1)
Author: Jack Greene
Length: 13,650 words
Genre: m/m Sci Fi Erotica Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Series, Space Travel/Opera, Military, May/December, Cheating (it’s no biggie, more info in review), Married, Affair with the Boss, Genetic Modification, Other Worlds, Artificial Worlds, Battle/War, Alliances, Stranded
Rating: So So
**Some Spoilers! Sorry 😦
Conflict is a serial in three parts: In the not-so-distant future, the people of the Earth are repressed by the iron rule of the Emperor. The Space Colonies have resisted, and as a result are at war with the Emperor.
In Conflict: Contact, Lieutenant Colton Santarelli and the Colony Special Forces undertake a desperate mission to keep the Emperor from building the ultimate weapon, an army of supersoldiers. But amidst the terror of war, Colton is secretly in love with his dashing–and married–commanding officer Colonel Vance Hohler.
The first of a three part serialized novella called Conflict, Contact sets up this science fiction and space exploration erotic story about a colony Lieutenant named Colton who is in lust and moving toward love with his Colonel. Before setting out on a dangerous mission to overpower the Earth Emperor’s forces, Colton shares a mind-blowing moment with Vance, his Colonel, on the balcony during the party to celebrate their new venture. The problem is that no matter how much Vance shows interest in him as well, the fact remains that Vance is married.
Colton leaves with mixed feelings of lust, guilt and a little bit of love only to find that the Colonist’s offensive is in serious trouble. Before long, Colton finds himself all alone in a battle where most of his men have died and his ship is alone fighting the Emperor’s forces. In a bid to recover possible success in their mission, Colton heads to land and infiltrate the enemy base. What he finds there both horrifies him and confirms that the Emperor has been up to what they expected.
Shizu is a genetically modified human that was abducted as a child and has been through a horrible hell of testing and modification along with several others. Now, he thinks he’s the only one left, at least in this base and the sight of a man who takes him out of the base and tries to get him to freedom bonds them together. But Shizu still harbors feelings for the man who was with him, who tried to escape with him before they were caught and separated forever. Hiding in a cave with Colton while they await rescue with a downed ship, the two get to know one another and forge a friendship of mutual respect and goals that might just be a bridge between the Colony forces and Earth’s grassroots rebellion that could help them overthrow the planet’s tyrannical rule.
I’m always excited to get a new Jack Greene story for review, but lately his work has been turning from more erotica to romance. He still writes highly erotic stories, such as this, but there’s definitely more plot to work with and to keep me interested and I like the fusion of styles and his growth as an author. It certainly makes me look forward to the next two stories in this “serialized” story. As the first of such a series, a large part of this story serves to set up the world. We’re presented with a world split into three factions: Earth, where a tyrant has united the world under one rule; the colonies, artificial worlds in space that use artificial gravity and other futuristic technological advances to create a sort of mirror earth in a controlled atmosphere; and lastly, the grassroots resistance on Earth, living hardscrabble lives with little food or supplies and actively defying the Empire while remaining under the radar. Conflict gives us the initial outlook in this conflict while paving the way for the next couple of stories through the connection made between Colton, Shizu and Shizu’s lover.
The relationship between Colton and his Colonel, Vance, is a different matter. Vance appears quickly in the beginning and then later in the story, but is largely removed (so far) from the actual conflict. His motivations seemed hazy to me for much of the story before he seemed to do an about face and admit deep feelings of love for Colton, despite his marriage, which he claims is unhappy and more of convenience. There’s one brief bout of cheating in the beginning of the novel, but it seems that there won’t be anymore, going by what we learn later in the story. So if you find cheating a huge turnoff, you might be initially disappointed in the story. Otherwise, I found their interactions together to be really steamy and satisfying on an erotic level, but at the end of the story I remained unconvinced in any true feelings between them. Perhaps, hopefully, that will change in the next two stories. I’d rather have an all or nothing approach, all romance and development of those feelings, or pure erotica. But a mishmash of the two where I’m not shown any of that progression cheapens the story a bit for me.
I’m definitely excited to see what’s in store for these characters. Of course, even though I had problems with some of the story, for the most part I’m pretty forgiving (always, of course, lol), but especially because this is the first story in a three part arc and there’s room for the characters to grow into the feelings presented here.
Be sure to comment below to win a copy of the story!
Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Conflict: Contact. The giveaway will last until Midnight CDT on Friday, August 2. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to the author so the winner can receive their book.
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Thank you and good luck!
Posted by Cole in 3 So So, Authors G-I, Erotica, Giveaways, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, SciFi, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex, up to 15k Tags: Affair with the Boss, Alliances, Artificial Worlds, Battles/War, Cheating, Conflict series, Futuristic, Genetic Modification, Jack Greene, Married, May/December, Military, Otherworlds, Phaze, Series, Short Story, Space Travel, Stranded
Title: Find a Way (Prince and Trader #2)
Author: RG Green
Length: 74,653 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Series, Series Finale?, Sword & Sorcery, Magic, Battle/War, Friends to Lovers, Royalty, Childhood Friends, Secrets & Lies, Family Issues, HEA
Rating: Pretty Good
**This review contains spoilers for those who have not read the prior book, And So It Begins.
Passion has blossomed from the lifelong friendship between Kherin Rylle, the second prince of Llarien, and Derek Resh, a trader employed by the crown. But left on his own in the border city of Gravlorn, Kherin soon draws the anger of the Defenders and his own brother as charges of cowardice and treason are thrown at his feet. Meanwhile, the increasingly dangerous attacks of the northerners bring more than the threat of war to Llarien’s border. Rumors of an ancient northern magic promise a danger far greater than war, and Kherin can’t say the rumors aren’t true.
Only now he has to learn the truth on his own.
Derek left Gravlorn in search of answers for the unexpected happenings at the border, and although Kherin is determined to keep what they found together, growing tensions, hidden jealousies, and unforeseen revelations about the northern lands threaten to take away everything he has worked to gain. As the border grows more dangerous, Kherin faces the reality that courage and honor may not be enough to end the northern threat, and love may not be enough for Derek and Kherin to find happiness.
To see my review of And So It Begins from last Friday, click here.
I will admit that I’m a little bit confused. This review came down to the wire, writing this right at 7am Monday morning because I wanted to get the review up for release day. So, I didn’t have time to look around and try to find out more about this series. So, if anyone does know and I make a mistake in my review, please let me know. From what I can gather only from reading these two books, they were one book that was broken in two. For some reason I had assumed that there were more after this but from the way this ended, which pretty much everything wrapped up and with and HEA, this is the final book in the Prince and Trader series.
We left And So it Begins with Kherin in Gravlorn at the northern border of Llarien in a war against the people of the Northern Plains. They have been sneaking into the Defender camp seemingly at will and no one, including the princes, can figure out how. Or, more importantly — why. And then after their confrontations no one can figure out how they slink away back across the border. Kherin’s plan, while his brother Adrien is still getting better from his own run in with the northern tribes, is twofold: either try to figure out what is going on and get some information from the northern prisoner he captured, or try to sneak across the border with a small contingent of Defenders to find some information about the people they’re fighting.
In the meantime, Kherin’s new relationship with the King’s trader, Derek, is on the rocks. Though they committed to one another on the eve of Derek’s departure to gain more information in the seaside port of Dennor, where a revolution has been stirring among the children of the city officials to find the magical power of the ancient people to use for themselves, Kherin and Derek’s separation leave them both unsure of the other’s real feelings. Still, Derek has his duty to the King, Kherin’s father, to find out all the information he can and no one has a better idea of how that information might help Kherin’s current war more than Derek. The information he finds in Dennor is more than he ever expected. The scholar Dar is there, waiting for him in his alley way and still denying the uprising their information. But, Derek meets another man there he never expected, Tristan. The man who was fired from his job in the royal stables because of his sexual relationship with the prince has grown violent in his anger, and may pose a threat that the trader and prince never expected.
It is only when the two can find themselves reconciled and able to share information that they might finally understand what is going on and find a way to save Llarien for good.
As I mentioned before, I do think that some of my enjoyment of this book was robbed. Maybe that’s a harsh word. But, all I know is that because this was labeled as a series I suppose I had the idea that this wasn’t the end. So my mind kept expecting the book to go farther than where it did. I don’t lay the blame for that anywhere in particular. I certainly could have done more research to find out if this was just really one book that was broken up and I wouldn’t have had that problem. But I will also say that I probably wouldn’t have had that problem if this book was presented as just a standalone book, even if it was around 150k words in the end. Maybe that’s a hard sell, such a long book for Dreamspinner. I don’t know all the reasons that went into the choice to split this book up into two, it might be something else completely that I don’t know. So, it’s fine and I understand. But, I would like to see more from this couple. Because even though my expectations weren’t met, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t really like this book (counting as one, of course). The writing is simply beautiful and I’ve already gone back to find the books that I’ve missed by RG Green to read.
Because of the split, I did feel like I lost a bit of the romantic momentum in the second book. The first book is continuous in the relationship between Kherin and Derek, right up until the end where their relationship solidifies. I think that the split in the book added with their separation in the book for the first half of this sequel lost some of those momentum and I never quite found the same tension between them. This book, the second half of the story, was almost entirely about the external plot. And while it did come together nicely, I think I did feel a bit of a letdown because I was expecting the book to go further than it did, so the wrap-up seemed a little too nice. I’m not letting that affect the rating, because as I said before I don’t want to place the blame for that in any specific place, especially when I could have, hopefully, found out that information myself, but it is the way it is.
But this book really made me appreciate this author’s writing. These two books are the first I’ve read by RG Green, and I’m looking forward to reading more in the future. Hopefully, she’ll continue writing fantasy as well even if she’s finished with this couple and world. It would be nice to see their journey’s however, if she does have anything more planned for them 🙂 So, definitely, I recommend these books. I really liked them and I had a great time with this story. Just make sure you have both books handy to read back to back 😉
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors G-I, Fantasy, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Battles/War, Childhood Friends, Dreamspinner Press, Family Issues, Friends to Lovers, HEA, Magic, Prince and Trader, RG Green, Royalty, Secrets & Lies, Series, Series Finale, Swords & Sorcery
Title: And So It Begins (Prince and Trader #1)
Author: RG Green
Length: 80,031 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy!
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Sword & Sorcery, Magic, Battle/War, Royalty, Friends to Lovers, Childhood Friends, Secrets & Lies
Rating: Really Liked It
For hundreds of years, the kingdom of Llarien has maintained a defense against the barbarians. Now, activity at the border draws attention from Kherin Rhylle, the less-favored younger son of the king. Kherin suspects a deeper purpose behind the attacks, but his father refuses to grant permission to travel to the border, despite Kherin’s obligated tenure as a Defender. Not even unprecedented deaths or the serious injury of Kherin’s brother, the crown prince, can change the king’s mind.
Then Derek Resh, kingdom trader and Kherin’s closest friend, convinces the king to allow Kherin to travel with him, and an unexpected journey to the border proves the threat real—while an unexpected intimacy with Derek makes Kherin realize that his feelings go deeper than the friendship they have shared for most of his life. But even that turns devastating, as Derek won’t pursue anything more intimate when the king’s disapproval is certain.
Grasping at straws, Kherin is caught between a danger he doesn’t understand and the desire for a deeper relationship he can’t have. And then there’s the magic that threatens to return after being banished hundreds of years ago…
This is the first book by this author that I read, and I was intrigued immediately from the blurb, but I’ve been sitting on it for a month or so now not tempted enough to read it yet when I have so many other pressing reviews to do. But when I saw that I’d have to make a decision to keep reviewing the series with the release of the second book (Find a Way) this week, I decided to give it a try. And I’m very pleasantly surprised by what I found. Just a tease for the other side of the summary 😉
Kherin Rhylle is the second prince of Llarien. At the start of the novel, he’s laid up by a broken leg, left to sifting through the books in the royal library while off of his feet. He is supposed to be fulfilling his current post at the border in the north, where Llarien borders the Northern lands. And he is not happy that his older brother Adrien, the Crown Prince, is currently fulfilling his duty at the border, a post that every man of Llarien takes for three months of the year at the start of their seventeenth birthday. Instead, Kherin is left to his idle games at the castle, which include his well-known promiscuous sex life (currently with the stable boy Tristan) and the enmity between his father and himself.
The only reprieve is Derek, one of his best friends and a highly valued trader by his father. Derek is a master trader, traveling Llarien and trading in secrets which he brings back to his father. He’s a master indeed at hearing what the people are saying and in plying and bartering for sensitive information. But that also means that Derek is always leaving and rarely staying in any one place for a significant length of time. Derek has brought interesting news, that a northerner was apparently found and killed and of growing instability from the sons of nobles of one of Llarien’s most valuable ports. These young men are stirring a rebellion. But it isn’t until word travels back to the castle of the injury of his brother Adrien and of the mass simultaneous attacks from large groups of northerners that Kherin really feels useless. A request from his son won’t go far to convince him that Kherin needs activity and to do something helpful for his brother and the country, but a stern warning from his trusted trader that Kherin’s behavior might spin further out of control if he’s given nothing constructive to do is just the thing that Kherin needs to get out of the capital, and to follow Derek on his next trip.
The first and maybe most important thing that you really need to know going into this series is how slow the pace is. We’re given much time to get to know the characters, which I love, but the plot moves very slowly. In fact, I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to tell you that by the end of the first book much less happened than I thought it would. Still, I was really into it, but I might have been more upset if I didn’t have the second book to immediately start reading. The style of writing in this fantasy reminds me a great deal of Ann Somerville’s writing in Kei’s Gift. That book is a total of 300k words, but it is okay because it isn’t broken up. My suspicion is that this is a choice by Dreamspinner, but I really wish that the book was kept in tact. Of course, I’m going on assumption here, but the ending of the first book seems as if it was just the first part of one book that was split into smaller pieces. And while the author did a pretty admirable job to give this first book a climax, it’s done in the romance and not the external fantasy plot. That means, of course that you pay more. Now, I hate to say this since I’m getting this book for free in trade of a review, but I would pay for these books, even if I had to pay double. I mean, I pay more for other books anyway. But it does change how you read this series. The fact that only a month separates the release dates shows me that the second book was already written. Anyway, what that means is that I’m really glad that I waited to read this first book until I had the second in hand. And I’ll tell you now that the first book is worth it now that the second is coming out. I only hope that it is either the end of the series or that the third and following books will come as quickly.
I’ll have much more to tell you about the story when I finish and review the second book this week. But I will say that I think the romance in this story is so far going superbly, with lots of natural tension and angst between Kherin and Derek and the (im)possibility of a future relationship between them because of the king. As for the fantasy plot, well… it’s coming. There is still so little known at the end of the first book that I hesitate to really get into it, other than to say that pretty much everything is an unknown and up in the air at this point. As I said before, I like that style of writing, but I also prefer the books to not be so cut up…. but, fair enough. So, if you’re a fantasy fan then I definitely recommend you get your hands on this one right away, if you haven’t yet, so that you’re ready to start the second book, Find a Way, when it is released this Monday. See you then 😉
Posted by Cole in 5 Really Like It, 76-100k, Authors G-I, Fantasy, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Battles/War, Childhood Friends, Dreamspinner Press, Friends to Lovers, Magic, Prince and Trader, RG Green, Royalty, Secrets & Lies, Series, Swords & Sorcery
Title: The Battle for Galerir (The Galerir Saga #2)
Author: Anna Lee
Length: 68k words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty (1 really hot scene!)
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Dragons, Sweet & Light, Battles/War, Warriors, Knights, Royalty, Death, Established Couple, Meet the Parents, Magic, Mages/Sorcerers, gods, Secrets & Lies, Middle Book
Rating: Pretty Good
**Review contains spoilers for those who have not read the first book in the series**
Sword against sword, magik against magik, dragon against dragon, the Battle for Galerir is being waged and victory will come with great sacrifice.
A traitorous plot seals King Antony’s fate and the enemy is days away from reaching the kingdom of Galerir. Prince Tomas must become regent and ensure Galerir is prepared for war. Tomas must also learn to balance duty and love when he lifts the ban on magik and fights for the chance to openly love his knight, Griffin. Together, he and Griffin face their destiny.
After reading and reviewing the first book in this series, The Prince of Galerir in February of this year, I was excited and interested to see where Anna Lee would take this story. I had quite a bit of criticism for her then, even though I really enjoyed reading the story, and I was particularly interested to see the writing in this sequel. I wasn’t disappointed 🙂
We left Tomas and Griffin in the end of the first book in the capital city of Galerir and in the castle. Tomas has been accepted by the people and crowned as Crown Prince Tomas, nephew of King Antony of Galerir. Tomas didn’t know his uncle for all of his life, and only learned about his real heritage and family in the first book, after the events were set in motion for war for Galerir from a lost descendant eager for the throne and the weakened health of Antony. Until then, he was the son of a lord and his best friend is Griffin, now his knight. The two grew up together and fell in love. And only when it was the choice of a life married to a girl he doesn’t care about (and he’s gay) or running away with Griffin did the two admit their feelings — with a little help from a baby dragon they found and bonded with that helped them share their true emotions. But then, Tomas found out that King Antony was really his uncle and that he’d been hidden away until he was needed to secure the lineage and the throne.
This sequel carries forward in the outside plot more than the romantic plot. Tomas and Griffin are quite in love and committed to one another. They are engaged, and ready to change the laws that say one man cannot marry and love another, and eager to come out to the people themselves. Until that time however, they have a lot to deal with. Galerir is preparing for war from the lost descendant of one of the past kings and the rogue, evil dragon named Ator that he convinced to help him in his cause. King Antony is growing weaker and may be dying if they cannot find a cure to what is ailing him. And that means that Prince Tomas has even more duties than normal, acting as interim Regent while his uncle Antony is bedridden. Can they find those across the border that once had to flee Galerir when magik was made illegal? Will the elves, centaurs and dragons there help them in trying to unite Galerir as it once was? And will it be in time to stop the war that is coming?
I was really, really pleased with the writing in this story. I thought that Anna Lee’s writing grew leaps and bounds between the first book and this book. Perhaps it is also that Griffin and Tomas have been together a while and now are committed rather than very new lovers, but I also felt that the overly sweet and constant declarations of love were way toned down. Their relationship is still very sweet, but most of the tension and conflict in this series is not internal, but rather external. However, I really liked that their relationship grew in this book, and that was partly done because they, at times, but heads and argue. I loved that. I liked seeing a more dynamic relationship between them. The other reason that they grew together was the appearance of Griffin’s family, especially his father whom he has a rocky and abusive relationship with.
I got confused a few times. I’m not going to really spoiler you here, but I will tell you that this book ends with the end of the war. At least, I assume that’s the case unless the next book is going to introduce an even bigger villain that we didn’t know about. But, a few times I wondered if I had it wrong and this wasn’t the second book in a three-part series. Was this a duology and the battle and the end of the war was the end of the series? That is typically the end of the series arc in fantasy stories. But, according to the info at the end of the book, the third book Reuniting Galerir is to continue and I assume finish the series with Tomas and Griffin’s adventures to visit the magikal creatures I mentioned earlier to reunite the country. If that’s the case, then I’m really excited for the third book. The structure of the overall plot arc was not what I was expecting at all, but I’m excited by it. The forte of this story isn’t the politics of the world and the war, those act simply as a catalyst to explore the magikal world, creatures and people and mostly the relationship between Tomas and Griffin. It is, if I could describe it well enough, a more sweet and gentle exploration of a fantasy. I like that. I liked the first book okay, but after reading the second one I’m really interested and hooked on the series.
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors J-L, Fantasy, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Anna Lee, Battles/War, Death, Dragons, Existing Relationship, gods, Knights, Light & Sweet, Mage, Magic, Meet the Parents, Middle Book, MLR Press, Royalty, Secrets & Lies, Series, The Galerir Saga, Warriors