on m/m romance, baking, knitting, and occasional smut

Tag Archives: Captive/Slave

Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea #1) - Shira AnthonyTitle: Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea #1)
Author: Shira Anthony
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 69,784 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty**
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between**
Keywords/Tags: Series, Shifters (Merfolk), Sea/Rivers/Sail, Under the Sea, Slaves/Prisoner, Indentured (Sexual) Slavery, m/m/m scenes, Multiple/Other Partners, Spies, Civil War, Resistance, Dreams, Superpowers, Reincarnation, Sex in Shifted Form (underwater mermen sex, which is much more interesting than underwater basket weaving)
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Taren Laxley has never known anything but life as a slave. When a lusty pirate kidnaps him and holds him prisoner on his ship, Taren embraces the chance to realize his dream of a seagoing life. Not only does the pirate captain offer him freedom in exchange for three years of labor and sexual servitude, but the pleasures Taren finds when he joins the captain and first mate in bed far surpass his greatest fantasies.

Then, during a storm, Taren dives overboard to save another sailor and is lost at sea. He’s rescued by Ian Dunaidh, the enigmatic and seemingly ageless captain of a rival ship, the Phantom, and Taren feels an overwhelming attraction to Ian that Ian appears to share. Soon Taren learns a secret that will change his life forever: Ian and his people are Ea, shape-shifting merfolk… and Taren is one of them too. Bound to each other by a fierce passion neither can explain or deny, Taren and Ian are soon embroiled in a war and forced to fight for a future—not only for themselves but for all their kind.

REVIEW

Believe it or not (and I can’t), this is the first book I’ve read by Shira Anthony. I have several and there are many of her books that I’ve really wanted to read, but somehow never found the time to. So when I saw this on the Dreamspinner Coming Soon page I made sure that I made room for it in my schedule. It wouldn’t only be a chance to try out this author, but also a book about mermen! Just like unicorns, I’m really an 8 year old little girl who loves the cute and cuddly fantastical creatures. Except, you know, when they have gay sex and aren’t as cuddly anymore, except maybe in a post-coital fashion.

I’m glad that I made room for this book, it was quite fun to read. The whole book takes place over a somewhat short amount of time — about 8 weeks — but the book starts with Taren at a young age and the first few chapters traverse his teenaged years as he’s sold and stolen as a slave and passed through several masters’ hands. The journey that Taren takes in this first book of the series is pretty big. He learns quite a bit about his life and goes through many transitions of change before the end.

Taren doesn’t know anything about his parents, save that his master told him they gave him away. He longs for the open sea and though he’s just a rigger for his master’s shipyard, he hopes that one day he’ll be able to travel the seas and be a proper sailor. When he’s sold to pay off his master’s debts, Taren becomes a slave to a man who runs an inn. He’s not sure how old he is, though he thinks around 18 or 19. He’s been mostly sheltered in his life, so when a handsome captain introduces him to his sexuality in a room full of watching sailors at the inn, he finds himself excited rather than scared and violated. He’s submissive and clings to the safety he feels in a man like the captain, whom he later knows as Rider, because of the man’s kind, yet firm dominance.

Stolen by the sailors of the ship that night, he wakes to find himself the captain’s prisoner and introduced to indentured slavery of the sexual kind. But, for a young man like Taren who has always been a slave, sexual slavery aboard a ship on the open ocean is a kind of freedom that he’s never known. Taren revels in it, especially when he comes to be a loving presence in Rider and his lover’s bed and allowed to put his knowledge of sailing to use aboard the ship.

But there is so much that Taren doesn’t know or understand — why he has such vivid dreams and the extra-sensory feelings that he has in reading the water and weather at sea. When he’s knocked unconscious and lost at sea, he washes up to their rival vessel, captained by Ian Dunaidh. Ian is enamored of Taren immediately and their connection, once he wakes, pushes and pulls between them as they sail to Ian’s home island where a shadowy presence called The Council awaits to judge Taren as a spy in their war against a resistance group of their own people who live on the mainland. Living through the hell of their torture, the betrayal between Taren and Ian and the possibility that he might never be free takes everything in him. All he knows to get him through is that he is destined for a higher purpose than this, if it is true that any higher power is guiding them.

I went pretty far in summarizing the story for you, but that is because there is such a long and twisting plot in this story. Taren goes through so many changes, homes, and relationships with other people for only 70k words. It makes me curious how many books this author has planned for this series because I didn’t feel as if I started to understand the larger picture until the very end of the book. I have no doubt that that was intended for the reader, that we should pull the pieces together at the very end, but it also meant that I had to wait through the whole book to really understand what was happening. Which, ultimately, meant that I really had to enjoy the story for the present, for what was happening to Taren in the moment without understanding where the story was headed to really enjoy the book. Sometimes I felt as if I was right there with him and Ian and I was really sucked into the present of the story. But, sometimes I wasn’t and I felt as if the story lulled, perhaps because the relationship between Taren and Ian is so freaking complicated. For much of the book they’re separated, though not for any very long pieces of time. It takes the whole book for them to really reach the same page, relationship-wise, because they each needed this book to progress themselves. Taren is searching for his destiny, a shadowy purpose that we and he knows is there, somewhere, for him to understand one day, and for him to understand his race and his history. Ian is battling his own demons — regret and guilt — that stand in the way of his happiness.

So once again I say that while I really enjoyed this book, it’s as a first book of a series. I still feel as if I don’t know much about where this series is headed. In a way, I like that because it means that this author is doing a fine job of withholding information until the correct (and perhaps most artful) time to release it. On the other hand, I fear not knowing enough to keep me interested in the big picture, and that it makes my reading experience different. So, I’m excited to read the next book and hoping that the ending of this one — seeing the formation of a more solid relationship between Taren and Ian — will carry forward through the rest of the series.

**There is a pretty big imbalance in the heat level and sex frequency in this book, as far as trying to rate it goes. The first several chapters are hot and heavy, with m/m/m scenes (spitroasting, exhibitionism) that really raise the heat, and frequent sex in those chapters. The rest of the novel has little to almost no sex at all and what intimacy there is is very romantic and tame (the underwater mermen sex).


skyrunnersTitle: Sky Runners (Skybound #2)
Author: Fae Sutherland
Publisher: Carina
Length: 51k words
Genre: m/m Sci Fi Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Series, Space Opera, Middle Book, Captive/Kidnapped, Slave, Rent Boy (forced), Dramatic Rescues, Drugs (forced), On the Lam, Bisexual
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Crux Ansata second-in-command Killian O’Neal has a plan. The governor’s son, Neith, has been enslaved in a high-end brothel. Killian’s going to break him out, take him home and collect a reward. It’s a daring mercenary rescue. What could go wrong?

A lot, as it turns out. The governor doesn’t want his son back, the ship and crew are on the run from the slavers, and Neith is in withdrawal from a drug that instills in him a desperate lust.

A passionate heat flares between Killian and Neith–but is it just the effects of the drugs still in Neith’s system, or could it be something more permanent? They both need time to figure out if what they have is real–but Neith has taken a valuable item from his old masters and they’re not going to let him go easily. When the slavers catch up with the Ansata, Killian will have to choose between the safety of his ship and its crew, or life with the man he’s falling in love with.

REVIEW

I had a love/dislike relationship with the first book of this series, Sky Riders (reviewed here), mostly because though I liked the overall story I found myself drifting throughout the middle of the book. It just didn’t keep my concentration (that is, admittedly, hard to do!). So I went back and forth for a few days before deciding if I should accept this book for review. As you can see, I decided to review it in the end. And though I feel like I had some of the same problems with this book that I had in the first, I’m still glad I made the decision I did. Even if most of that reason is that I need to be caught up for book #3, about Jeret, the one I’m really looking forward to!

Killian, “Cookie” as he’s known to the crew of the Crux Ansata (or affectionately,”Annie”), is the second in command and has watched his captain and best friend Torin fall in love with bad boy Rain. The two are now happily settled and married, for the most part, and life has gone on as normal. Though he loves them all as family his life is still lonelier than the In Between. That all changes on their next rescue mission. Well, call it a rescue mission if you must, but they’re really out for themselves. They’re a mercenary crew and though they don’t go out of the way to hurt others they’re still criminals and happy to take what they can. When they hear of a son of an influential man has been taken hostage and is being kept as a whore on Kalliope 9, they make a plan to rescue the kid and bargain him back to his father for payment.

The plan goes off without a hitch, mostly. They do indeed rescue Neith. The first problem is that he is Rain’s ex-boyfriend and the father in question the man who Rain delivered a major fuck-you to at the end of the first book. Besides the fact that Torin doesn’t want Neith anywhere on board near Rain, Neith’s father isn’t going to pay them shit for his son — both because he hates their whole crew and because he doesn’t really give a shit about his son either. Complicating things further, Neith’s captives are fast on their heels and they’re not sure what they want. Is it Neith, or something he took from them? Neith is keeping secrets. But, it’s natural, he’s been tortured, raped and drugged to want it all with a new designer chemical called Pandora’s Cure, a drug that makes the user crave sex from whoever or wherever they can get it, simultaneously shutting down any worries or fears or ability to think for themselves. With the drug moving out of his system, Neith is dangerous to the crew and to Killian, who wants to be the one Neith wants, even though he mostly wants Rain. Do the drugs affects negate any of the real feelings between the two? Or, is a relationship between rich and beautiful Neith and a big, brawny criminal a pipe dream to Killian?

I had the same problem reading this story as the previous one, in that I just had a hard time keeping my concentration. I’m not sure why. I wasn’t sure with the last one and I’m not sure here… if it’s my problem or something to do with the books. I think the most likely case is that I need quite a bit of sci-fi plot to get me interested in a space opera type story. That’s not the case here. I mean, we do get an overall plot, with the slavers chasing them and all that. But for the most part and for the middle half of the book, this reads mostly like a contemporary romance, just with a few details added in here and there to make sure we remember that they’re in an alternate world/spaceship. The setting fades into the background and the focus was on the couple. And there’s definitely an internal conflict between Neith and Killian. Neith is mistrustful of his own feelings because of the drug in his system and Killian just wants to do everything to protect Neith, while at the same time hope he realizes that what they have is real and for the long haul. I just had a hard time keeping interest. I noticed that my concentration picked up again as the tension mounted in the chase.

But, for the most part this is a good story. I think that you should definitely read Sky Riders first. Not because you’d be completely lost if you read these out of order — I don’t think you would — but because these stories are quite similar in theme and style and if you like the first one you’ll know that you’ll like the second as well. I really want to read the third book, which is coming out pretty soon. It’s about the last of the crew, 18 year old Jeret, who is always the guy who seems to draw my attention whenever he’s in the scene. I just love him, he’s quite a unique character that I can’t describe, but you have to read to see for yourself. So even if this book was only so so for me, I’m glad that I read it so that I could read Jeret’s upcoming book 🙂


subject19Title: Subject 19
Author: Todd Young
Publisher: Self Published
Length: 119,112 words
Genre: m/m & m/m/m (and more) Contemporary Erotica
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often (actual sex), Over and Over (or sexual situations)
Keywords/Tags: First Times, Twinks, Slave/Captive, Kink, Medical Kink, Dub-Con (may be considered Non-Con*), Machiavellian Madmen, an Inappropriate Use of Billiard Balls, this book is like being stuck inside of an Escher painting.
Rating: Um… Pretty Good, I think…
buttonsmashwords

**Beware — there are a few small spoilers in this review**

BLURB

Joel is young and lonely and a little oversexed. When a thief leaves him naked at the beach, he turns to Sean, a striking, dark-haired stranger for help.

Sean offers Joel a towel, and once they get talking, he tells him all about the Umberto Institute, a medical facility where they’re testing a new aphrodisiac. Sean is signed up for a three week, live-in trial.

A new aphrodisiac? It’s not something Joel really needs. But when Sean tells him they’re paying $4,500, he starts to think.

$4,500 and three weeks with Sean? That’s not an offer he can refuse. But once Joel is in the institute, will he ever get out?

REVIEW

I have read one book by this author before, Corrupted, and to be honest it wasn’t my favorite. It’s erotica, as is this, but it was pretty messed up. I mean, I like to read some messed up, but that one I just couldn’t get into. I didn’t even realize it was the same author until after I bought this, but the intriguing blurb and reviews that I read on Goodreads made this seem like a book that just could not be described or categorized. Well, I’m going to try. It was….. *5 minutes later* oh yeah, sorry, can’t do it.

I’ll just tell you what I think, why don’t I? I loved it! I can’t give this that highest rating, because it isn’t perfect and I didn’t love it, love it. But my reading experience was so unexpected and interesting that I can’t help but recommend this to readers interested in something different and not afraid to take the plunge into one acid trip of a book.

The story starts with our narrator Joel at the beach. He’s 19 and finishing up his first year at college. He’s from a small hometown, raised by his aunt after his parents died in a very religious household. Though she’s very loving (almost too loving), Joel is still having a difficult time separating himself from that ultra-religious upbringing and settling into his new life in a city and at college. But, Joel is pretty strange. Though he’s nice and frankly beautiful, he’s oddly inept at making friends. One year of college down, Joel doesn’t really have any friends at all. They all seem to be attracted to him, like bees to honey for his soft beauty, but none of them stick and Joel wonders if he has nothing inside of him, no reason for anyone to stay. His solitude has fed some of his odd idiosyncrasies. Combined with his abnormally large sexual appetite (he’s even hornier than a typical 19 year old man), these have become secret games that Joel plays — jerking off in public places and casually revealing borderline nudity in public — all of them sexual.

It is during one of these games that Joel meets Sean. Wearing nothing but a skimpy white pair of shorts, Joel decides to take a swim in the ocean at a crowded beach. After beating off in the water, he’s a bit embarrassed that his horniness got him into a situation where he now has to walk in front of all the other beach-goers with a hard on in a see through pair or short shorts. The only thing worse than trying to ignore the stares is finding all of his belongings gone — his money, his phone and his extra clothes. Fleeing to the showers, he meets and has an encounter with a beautiful, curly haired guy named Sean, who then offers him the use of his home, phone and shower. While there, Sean tells Joel about a medical study he’s going to participate in. It is only three weeks long, pays $4,500 and is for young men who are abnormally horny. Even better, Joel is excited at the chance to maybe get to know Sean better, and a three week period stuck in the same situation sounds wonderful to him. The other alternative is his return to live with his aunt for the summer.

Joel quickly makes the decision to participate in the study and goes for the requisite tests. A lot happens during this time. He has his first sexual experience with a strange man down the hall from his dorm, he gets blown off by Sean when he wants to see him again, and he finds that though the tests were a little strange, the contact for the study seems on the up and up. Still, he has a strange feeling about it. But getting another chance to see Sean easily sways his decision, and Joel finds himself showing up for the first day of the study to find Sean and the strange man who he was intimate with in his dorm just a few days earlier.

The subjects in the study soon find that what they expected is nothing like reality in the institute. They’re being given medicine that is supposed to increase their sex drives, but it has a stronger effect than expected, and a laundry list of side effects. Really, really severe side effects. Are all of them even being given the drug? While they get to know one another and the conditions of their drug trial seem to affect their behavior, among other things, they soon become like pawns in a game, for a mysterious man’s amusement. Or is that the case at all? And whom is really on whose side? Does Sean return Joel’s feelings?

First of all, though this is erotica and at times I was worried because it started to get kinda dark, it does have a happy ending. It’s really hard to review this book, because it’s so strangely weird I just want to tell you all what happens. I can’t do that (unless you want me to and in that case email me, I’ll spill!), but I can tell you that this went to places I never expected. And there is a relationship here, several of them in fact with all of the different characters who are subjects in the study, they just aren’t the main focus of the story. So while there are parts that are…. somewhat romantic, it isn’t really a romance. In the same vein, though, it isn’t the typical erotica that you’d expect. For most of the book, there isn’t really penetrative sex, and most of the times that it does happen on screen, it isn’t with Joel, our narrator. Most of all it’s just highly sexual and with a lot of sexual tension.

In the end I was really glad that I read this. It was a trip, for sure, and it was a nice change from the status quo of reading romance books. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure, but if you are at all interested then I say go for it. I couldn’t put it down, mostly just because I couldn’t wait to find out how more outrageous it could get!

*Note: I added the dub-con/non-con/rape tag because there are instances in the book where people have sex with drugged up people, and some people who are out of it. Usually they’re under some kind of influence themselves, if not mind-altering then behavioral. It didn’t really bother me and I found the situation (one specific one I’m thinking of for this tag) to be more in line with dub-con. But that’s semantics, really.


milescrossTitle: Miles Cross
Author: Rachelle Cochran
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 50k words
Genre: m/m Historical Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Fae, Enemies, Slave/Captive (not sexual), Machiavellian Bad Guy
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

On the way to visit his uncle, Lord Ciarnán McKay and his guards are attacked. In search of assistance, he finds his way to Oakwood Manor, where he meets the mysterious Leannán Roxbrough. Immediately drawn to Leannán, but unable to linger as he would like, Ciarnán takes his leave with a promise that he will return.

Upon his return however, Leannán immediately turns him away…

REVIEW

To be honest, I wasn’t going to read and review this book, but I decided to try it out anyway. i think this is the longest thing I’ve read by this author and definitely the first thing in a long time, at least over a year. So I was curious. I was at first … nervous, shall we say. I knew this was going to be tale of the fae from the beginning of the story and as it unfolded and I started to see a rather cruel side of the fae I wasn’t sure whether this would be to my taste or not. I’ve learned over the years that while I love stories of the faerie, I’m not a big fan of them when
they only show a cruel and terrible side of them with no redeeming qualities. I prefer, instead, a lighter side. But, in the end, I was very happy with this story and I enjoyed reading it very much. I even stayed up through the night to finish instead of waiting until the next day.

Ciarnán McKay is in route to visit his sick uncle when his party is attacked. All his guards are killed and he barely makes it away by the swiftness of his horse. His flight leads him to a manor very like his own. They quickly shelter him and nurse him back to his proper state. While there, he becomes friendly with the family — the two brothers, Lord Tiernan Roxbrough and his younger brother Leannán Roxbrough. The situation at Oakwood Manor seems a bit strange, but Ciarnán quickly learns that the brothers’ parents died the year before, leaving Tiernan the Lord of the estate as the oldest and their sister, the middle child, already married and moved away. The strange vibes come from Mr. Boyle, the steward and friend to the late Lord Roxbrough. He seems displeased by many things, but the brothers assure Ciarnán that he was once a disciplinarian to them like their father and old habits die hard. Tiernan leaves quickly after Ciarnán arrives to visit his intended wife, and in the week that Ciarnán has delayed his visit to his uncle, he and Leannán become close, both of them recognizing the attraction to the other. But their days of walks into the woods and picnics under the trees on the estate (as well as a few shy kisses) must be put aside so Ciarnán can finish his intended trip. Leannán asks him to stop by for another visit on his return.

A month later Ciarnán returns to Oakwood Manor, but finds a very different scene than the one he left. Tiernan is still gone, leaving Leannán with Mr. Boyle. Leannán has changed, however, and urges Ciarnán to leave and never return… that no matter their feelings it is the best choice for all, no matter how obviously difficult it is for Leannán to turn Ciarnán away. But when he leaves, Ciarnán can’t seem to stay away. When he hears rumors about the strange fae happenings at Oakwood Manor at a small inn not far away, he returns not knowing what he’ll say to get Leannán to reconsider. Instead, he finds Mr. Boyle talking to a beautiful and strange man with wings, and learns the truth of the whole situation: that Leannán is one in a long tradition of lords from Oakwood Manor who are required to pay the tithe. His sacrifice will ensure protection for his family and replenish the fae in a seven year cycle of renewal. By not leaving as he should, Ciarnán is taken prisoner under the hill to work as a servant for the cruel fae queen, where he’ll be released after the sacrifice of Leannán. No matter how much he tries and how many friends he makes among the fae, there’s no escape. And now that Leannán and Ciarnán have more time together, even if it is borrowed time, they’ll make the most if it, falling further in love.

I mentioned earlier that I have a difficult time reading books with really cruel fae characters in a situation like this, where the characters are being held captive by them. So I was really pleased to see a well balanced representation of the faerie characters. The queen is quite Machiavellian, but she’s really the only one that is shown as cruel. The others range from remote and aloof to Ciarnán to friendly and sympathetic and we get to see Ciarnán spend much more time with these characters. Most of the story takes place under the hill, while the two are held captive. I also thought that the relationship between Ciarnán and Leannán was sweet but not too sweet. The tone that comes across when they spend time together is really loving and they reassure themselves a lot of their feelings for one another. Sometimes this bothers me in other books, it can be a bit much. But it never went too far to me into sickly sweet territory, partly because of their circumstance (which requires reassurance), but also because of the time period. The story isn’t placed firmly in any time or place, but resembles a historical period with Irish influence. And the “love that dare not speak it’s name” type romance set apart from their world and in a place where anyone is free to love anyone else (the faerie realm) went really well with the sweet romantic periods the two had when they’re together. And even more than these two things, I liked that their relationship was very much based on how they felt, individually, about their circumstances. Ciarnán never refuses to give up looking for a way to escape, because he’s facing the prospect of losing Leannán and then having to carry on without him. Leannán, however, vacillates between his need to accept his fate to assure the well-being of his family (and assure that one of them isn’t taken in his place) and his desire to forget the circumstances and envision a life with Ciarnán. His feelings fluctuate with the actions of the faerie queen.

I won’t get into it much, but I really really loved the fae characters that get close to Ciarnán, Sorcha and especially Cáel. If there is one thing that I didn’t like about the book, it’s that the turn in the climax of the story rests on what seemed to be a rather easy bit of information. The answer to all of Ciarnán’s problems just seemed to come a little out of the blue for me, and while it didn’t bother me a lot, it made me sigh a little. I would have preferred the outcome to come a little more organically.

I definitely recommend this one and I really enjoyed reading it!


heaven400Title: Something Happened on the Way to Heaven
Editors: Samantha Derr
Authors: Isabella Carter, Sylvia Winters, Elizah J Davis, Kayla Bain-Vrba, Evie Kiels, Megan Derr, Debora Day, May Ridge & Sasha L Miller
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 208k words
Genre: m/m & f/f Contemporary Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Keywords/Tags: Anthology, Short Stories, Angels, Demons
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Archangels. Guardians Angels. Cherubim. Angels of death, wrath, vengeance, love, peace, and hope. Fallen Angels. Nephilim. The lore of angels is wide and varied, from battles lost and won, to duties fulfilled and failed, from men raised up to their ranks, and angels banished forever from the heavens. They can be fierce warriors and gentle guides, heralds of joy and tragedy. They are beings of fearsome power, and the highest of servants.

But what else can angels be? What happens when they soar too high or dive too low? Are they flawless in their servitude, or cursed and blessed with free will? Come read these tales of angels in some of their many incarnations…

REVIEW

I meant to post this review this morning, but I forgot. Sorry about that! So, here it is now. I usually have a very specific format for reviewing an anthology, and it can be very taxing to review. Essentially, I review each story separately, and it’s like doing however many reviews all in one, which takes a lot of time. Since I’m not actually contracted for a review for this one, I just wanted to share my thoughts with you, I’ve cut them a lot shorter, but I still put all the details down for each story so that you get that individual information and ratings for each one. With 10 stories, that was just too much to write as much as I normally do!

In all, I really enjoyed this anthology. I wasn’t quite sure I would at first. I read the first story as a serial (this anthology has been being published chapter by chapter for a LONG time now) and sadly, the first story wasn’t my favorite of the lot, though it’s not a bad story. Angel stories tend not to be my favorite, but I was really surprised and delighted by the sheer diversity of stories, themes, plots and uses of angels in this story.

The anthology is $9.99, which is a pretty steep price, but for some readers I think the price is well worth it. For fans of these authors, fans of Less Than Three Press, or fans of angel stories, I think that you’ll like this. It’s over 200,000 words, well over 600 pages in PDF format, and has ten stories, some novellas by some really wonderful authors. Some of these stories were really wonderful, one in particular, “On Wings Not My Own” by Evie Kiels, which I just really loved. I read it twice. A few others were really wonderful. Sasha Miller’s addition, capping off the anthology, is a similar type story we get from her and the type that I love. The angels are very non-traditional in this historical, magical mercenary story. Megan Derr brings us back into the Dance series (which I love and I know many of you do as well). And Kayla Bain-Vrba gives us a very dark tale of fallen angels in a post-apocalyptic, post-Rapture world of broken civilization and the worst of human nature.

Now, here’s the individual information for each story, with just a bit of summary for each.

**Note: The third story in the anthology, “One for Sorrow” by Sylvia A Winters, is f/f, which I didn’t read. So it isn’t included in the review.


Sunburnt Country by LJ LaBarthe (So So)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Demons, Australia, Good vs. Evil

This wasn’t my favorite of the anthology, but it’s a good story to start off with and we get to see a type of angel in this story which is traditional in a way, yet larger than life and really powerful. The setting here, the far west of Australia, was perfect.

James has finally gotten over the death of just about everyone in his life, including his lover, after moving to the far west of Australia. He’s become part of the family of the small town and works various jobs for them all. He’s accustomed to having a life of migraines, but the one that starts at the beginning of this story is the worst he’s ever had, and he doesn’t understand why until a beautiful man with wings shows up and explains to him that he has an ability to hear the speech of demons, several of whom are inhabiting the area after stealing a very dangerous book.


A Better Ending by Isabella Carter (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Fallen Angels, Demons, Nephilim, Good vs. Evil, Mystery

Isabella Carter is an author who I’ve really grown to like. Her serialized novel, A Shadow of a Dream also just finished at Less Than Three Press and was released today, and I really liked it. This story was another in this anthology that stood out, and gives us a very interesting take on the process of angels falling and the sometimes inexplicable unfairness of Heaven.

Ainsley is mortified when he catches a story on the nightly news while cooking himself dinner. An unidentified woman has been found murdered in an alley and police are looking for anyone who can identify her. He can’t believe that the woman could be his friend Eleanor, but it is. Now, he has to explain what he knows about her to the police. One of the detectives assigned to the case is intense, and Ainsley seems to have some sort of connection to him. As they get to know each other, Ainsley starts to learn more about the detective, who is much more than he seems and is harboring a personal history and connection to the killer.


One for Sorrow by Sylvia Winters
Keywords/Tags: f/f


The Lost Angel by Elizah J Davis (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Nasty Exes

Alex has been able to see and talk to angels since he was five years old. But the world has changed and angels aren’t needed as much anymore. Through is life, Alex seemed to reveal a talent for finding people that needed angelic intervention, so he bought a bar, named it The Lost Angel, and every night a whole host of angels show up to make bids for those that walk through the door. The bar seems to have a knack for attracting people who need help, and they’re never seen again — that’s the mark of a job well done. When Finley shows up, newly dumped by an asshole boyfriend who stole all his money, Alex seems someone that he wants to help, despite his angels’ feelings.

This was a very cute story and I really liked these characters. Seeing Alex and Finley get to know each other slowly and fall in love while working at the bar together was really nice and this came out as one of the stories I remembered best.


Watch as My World Ends by Kayla Bain-Vrba (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Post Apocalyptic, Religion, Mythology, Dictators, Rent Boys, Slaves, Dub-Con

I mentioned this story earlier in the main part of my review, and it’s definitely the darkest story of the lot. It also has some of the very best worldbuilding. Growing up in a southern Baptist church, a lot of emphasis was given to the Rapture and the Apocalyptic Literature of the Bible. I always found the thought of the world and people left behind rather interesting, and I was delighted to see a story that really explored that thought, but not from a human perspective (though there is a small part from a human POV), but from two angels. This was another really great story in the collection.

Nathan (“Ephraim”) was created in the third generation of angel creations by God, but fell when he questioned his orders to slaughter and kill humans, including children. As such, they tore out his wings and he was left at the mercy of the civilizations created after the Rapture. Falling up on the mercy of the leader of such a city, while waiting for the seven years of plagues to end before all were sentenced to death, Nathan becomes the town’s whore, not allowed to do any other job and adamant that he pay his own way, even if that way is the most degrading way possible. Another angel is the leader’s assassin, but he has hope for redemption, and as such sets his eyes on helping Nathan. But Nathan won’t accept handouts, and a stalemate is created when the other angel, now called Dakota refuses to sleep with Nathan in order for Nathan to accept his help. But, Dakota won’t give up his mission — but is it because he is falling in love with Nathan, or because he’s obsessed with being redeemed?


On Wings Not My Own by Evie Kiels (Loved It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Alternate World, Religion, Second Chances, Amnesia

This story was my favorite in the whole collection. I’m not sure why, honestly, because I normally really don’t like amnesia stories and it had a few problems near the end (I thought). The world, however, really swept me up and I loved the idea that the two men, even though one can’t remember the other, are still completely in love and will do anything to escape the religious madmen who have taken them away from one another.

Aive can’t remember the last year of his life, but has the feeling that he’s missed something big. It drives him crazy that he doesn’t know what me missed but also why he can’t remember. And with the encouragement of his sister, he journeys from his home, walking hundreds and hundreds of miles to the ocean, following the prophetic dreams that come to him every night from the perspective of a beautiful, winged man that Aive feels he must know. When he gets to the city on the ocean, he finds people that seem to know him and wonder where he disappeared to. And when he follows the dreams to their very end, he finds an angel in a cell deep in a cave, left to starve and almost dead.

When he takes the angel to the Angel Embassy, he finds that not only is Sobal the one that sent him the dreams, but that they fell in love, were married, and were soon to travel to Sobal’s home, a city high in the mountains where the angels come from. But they waited, because Aive wanted to see a little more of the world knowing that once they journeyed there they could never leave. And in that time, a zealot devoted to God took his faith too far, possibly separating the two forever. Will his memories of falling in love never return? And will Sobal ever wake from his ordeal?


Made For You by Megan Derr (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Dance With the Devil series, Angels, Magic, Demons, Captive/Kidnapped

It was wonderful to return to this series. I love the Dance with the Devil books, I even re-read Dance with the Devil recently, as well as The Glass Coffin and I’m currently reading the newest book, Dance Only for Me as a serial. I seem to slightly remember this couple that was mentioned in one of the books, I think the first one, so seeing their story was interesting.

Charlie was brought to life and made into form by his master Jed, a descendant of Solomon, holder of the Solomon Ring, and a world-renowned sorcerer. Charlie is an angel, the best of his kind brought to life from the ether with only the power of Jed. He’s in love with his master, and set to protect him. He’s waited for Jed to realize that they belong together in love as well as in life and work, but Jed won’t accept it. They’ve been on the run for months from the men trying to kill of the last remaining descendant of Solomon and to take the ring, and they almost succeeded. Six months prior, they overpowered Charlie and kidnapped Jed. Now Charlie is searching everywhere he can, on the trail of the kidnappers, and he stops into Brennus territory to talk to the demon.


Angel Eyes by Debora Day (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Fallen Angels, Angels, Demons, Warriors/Bodyguards

This wasn’t one of my favorites of the anthology, but it is a well written story. I just, for some reason, couldn’t really feel the romance.

Uriel wakes up naked in the snow with no wings. He’s always been faithful and never failed his Creator’s orders, so why does he find himself fallen and unable to remember how he got there, how he could have made the worst mistake available? He’s rescued by Stephen, a man who lives in a cabin nearby. They get to know one another, Stephen disbelieving of Uriel’s story and thinking he’s just some crazy guy, while Uriel is nursed back to health. For the first time, Uriel feels human emotion, and starts to understand what makes angels fall, or want to fall — the addiction to feeling. But there is actually a reason that Uriel is here, with Stephen, and surprisingly it isn’t because of a mistake he made. He, the protector of the Garden of Eden, is set to protect Stephen against the hosts of hell who would kill him before he can enact a change in someone in the future, which will change the world.


Angel Fever by May Ridge (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Priests, Guardians/Bodyguards, Magic, Healers, Adoption, Family Issues

“Angel Eyes” is another story that I liked because of the world building. That, also, was the reason that it didn’t get even higher marks. I would have liked to have just a bit more information, or maybe history of how the angles and the church came to be working in a leading partnership of sorts. While I liked the story and romance within the world, and I got just enough for it to make sense, I didn’t get a sense of why, or a larger picture of the world, and because I was intrigued by it, I really wanted to know those things and to understand.

Malachi (Mal) grew up in the angel orphanage, like most angels do. He’s just turned 18 and can finally access his records. He found out that his father is a very prominent angel, on the Council, but he still doesn’t know who his mother is. He is a healer, and because he is male and has a different nature of magic, he is one of the best healers in a long, long time. When he returns to the orphanage, he meets with the priest in charge, a new one from when he was there and a very young priest by the name of Tobias. It seems, however, that Tobias cannot access Mal’s records either, which is very curious indeed. They begin to form a relationship out of their partnership to find out the details of why Mal’s files have been hidden away and what secrets they hold, learning about one another and each one’s secrets along the way. Why is Mal’s mother such a secret? And why do the priests regard Tobias with contempt?


The Book of Judgement by Sasha L Miller (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: HFN, Magic, Warriors, Assassins/Mercs

And last, one of the stories I was most eager to get to. I had to make myself not skip again and read out of order. I’m a big fan of Sasha’s work and this story definitely lived up to my expectations. I admit that I was getting a bit tired of angels by this point (I did say that I wasn’t really an angel story fan!), so this story was a nice diversion from the typical angel mythology and a story along a similar vein to the stories that I’ve liked in the past by this author. Unfortunately, the rushed ending and even somewhat shaky HFN, IMO, made it unable for me to give this story top honors.

Reza is one of the most powerful magic users at the university, and also a professor. While clearing out a crate filled with books left to the college from an estate, Reza discovers a very powerful and dangerous book of magic called The Book of Judgement. It is the true book, not a recreation, and the possibility of it getting to the wrong hands is very real and very terrible to imagine. So, at the behest of the Chairman of the college, Reza travels with Edmé on a month long journey to the place where the book can be hidden in a tomb, protected and never to be lost into the hands of the greedy or malevolent. But someone else already knows about the book. Reza is getting death threads and dangerous spells snuck into his mail even before he has left on the journey. And as the two travel, they’ll learn to trust one another even while almost sentient book tries to tear them apart and tempt Reza with the knowledge of what is inside.


FCS2_Episode3_500x750Title: The Flesh Cartel #3: Choices
Author: Heidi Belleau & Rachel Haimowitz
Publisher: Riptide
Length: 18,800 words
Genre: m/m, Contemporary, BDSM/Kink, Erotica, Poly, Horror
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Angst, Captive/Slave, Cliffhanger, Dark, Dub/Non-Con, Emotionally/Physically Damaged, Family, Humiliation, Non-Romance, Physical Abuse, Serial, Sexual Abuse/Assault, Short Story, Watersports
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Nikyta

**This review contains possibly major spoilers so read at your own risk!**

BLURB

The Flesh Cartel returns for a compelling second season with “Choices.” Brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael thought nothing could be worse than being snatched from their home and brutally dehumanized in preparation for sale as sex slaves. But they learn their suffering has only just begun when they’re shipped to their new master’s home.

Professional trainer Nikolai Petrovic is a master of his trade. His ultra-rich clientele pay him to create perfectly tailored playthings, and Mat and Dougie are the latest in a long line of men who have walked into his remote mountain home as terrified victims and left it permanently altered: subdued and obedient, ready and even eager for a life of service.

To achieve this, Nikolai must take a drastically different tack with each brother. Dougie, manipulated with affection and denial. Mat, controlled by pain and fear. The one thread in common for both men is choice. Nikolai prides himself on never forcing, but will Mat and Dougie submit willingly to his vision, or will they first need to learn the price of disobedience?

REVIEW

Choices, the start of season two of The Flesh Cartel, starts off right where Auction left off. Mat and Dougie have been bought and are being moved to their new master. First, Dougie is stripped of almost all his senses, forced into sensory deprivation, he slowly starts to go mad, fearing he’ll lose his mind and they’ll break him. Mat is now the only one subjected to constant torture, abuse and rape while Mat and Dougie wait days before they can finally leave the Madame’s facility. Unfortunately for Mat, their new master, Nikolai, is almost as bad when he forces Mat to endure endless pain throughout his body brought on by drugs. Dougie is given a reprieve when Nikolai treats him like a precious toy. Treating each brother differently – Mat with pain and Dougie with care – he’s training them by giving them choices. But they must remember, choices come with consequences and it’s up to the brothers to decide what type of consequence they’ll receive.

One thing can be said about these authors, they sure know how to weave a captivating tale! Whereas the previous two stories were gruesome and intense, this story was not as bad. It still provided some moments of cruelty and abuse but most of the damage is told rather than shown and all of it through Mat’s perspective and only briefly. It seemed like most of the story is told from Nikolai’s POV and his reactions to the brothers. Whereas he must train Mat for his client, he wants Dougie, covets him it seems like. He’s under the impression when he’s done training the brothers, he’ll sell them and give them a life of contentment, something that they’ll be eager to embrace and take great pleasure in. The brothers obviously disagree but Nikolai is firm in his opinion.

Nikolai is actually a creepy person. He’s adamant he’s not a sadist or even enjoys the work he does, yet he does take great pleasure in seeing the brothers submit, especially Dougie. I find him worse than the Madame, which I didn’t realize was possible until Dougie and Mat arrived at Nikolai’s home, where Nikolai’s true colors are shown and the brothers must make their choices on how they’ll proceed. Mat fights as much as he can, as is his nature, but he’s not very successful. Dougie grows a bit of a spine but then realizes he’s in for pain and quickly reevaluates his situation.

One thing that sucks about this serial is that they literally pick up right where the last one left off. Unfortunately, because of the weeks/months in between each reading and the lack of a recap before the story starts, I was pretty much confused on what was happening in the beginning and why because I couldn’t really remember how it ended. There’s a brief mention of the auction but that didn’t help in reminding me or what exactly Dougie had done to Mat. It took a bit before I was able to recall at least the major pieces (I do have a horrible memory though lol). I won’t deny it’s still a captivating story. I was drawn into it and no matter how much I wanted to stop, I had this compulsion to keep reading. Unfortunately, that compulsion was quickly followed by disappointed when the story actually ended leaving me extremely dissatisfied. I didn’t feel like there was much progress with this segment as there possibly should have been. Considering how much weight episode one and two held, I was expecting something a bit more.

Overall, I liked the story. It’s an alluring read, well-written to the point I didn’t want to stop reading. However, with the way each story is ending, and with this one not feeling like it progressed much, I feel like I’m left with more questions and a slow sense of frustration. With that said, for those who are brave enough and have liked the first season, they’ll enjoy this one as well.