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Tag Archives: Military

Conflict__ContactTitle: Conflict: Contact (Conflict #1)
Author: Jack Greene
Publisher: Phaze
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 😦

BLURB

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.

REVIEW

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!

GIVEAWAY RULES

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.

Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.

Thank you and good luck!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED


ChronicleTitle: Chronicle
Author: Jack Greene
Publisher: Phaze
Length: 15,400 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Military, Afghanistan, Second Chances, Injuries, DADT, Closeted, Public Places (Sex), Photography, Journalism, Writer
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

On assignment as an embedded journalist in Iraq, Tom falls in lust with gorgeous Sergeant Craig.

The feeling is mutual, but “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is still the rule, so they have to grab their moments of forbidden passion when they can. Then a mission goes wrong, and Tom goes home, only to lose touch with Craig.

When Tom finds Craig again, will their lust turn into something more?

REVIEW

I am an even bigger fan of Jack Greene’s work now, after reading his first novel Indiscretion (reviewed here) a few weeks ago. But even though I found that book to have surpassed anything he’s written previously (and I’ve read most of his work), I’m still rather fond of his short stories. They’re usually uncomplicated, well written, and very sexy and I tend to save them for when I need something solid and simply enjoyable to read. This story adheres to all those qualities, but also diverges in a few ways that I found new for this author, in a way which I think might garner him new fans. Where, in the past, I’ve often classified Jack Greene’s shorts as erotica over romance, this story very firmly rests in the romance camp. This is based solely on the quality and type of sex scenes in the book. Instead of a detailed descriptive scene of the sexual acts, the details take a backseat to the emotion between Tom and Craig. And while there are rather a lot of sex scenes in the story, the overall quick pace of the story (which covers more time and story in less space) means that the relationship takes precedent over the sex.

The story is a fairly common romance plot, but enjoyable for it’s simplicity and in the way the story is told, heavier on narrative voice. After a bad breakup, Tom takes a position as a freelance journalist embedded with a group of soldiers in Afghanistan. He is very quickly smitten with the battalion’s Sergeant, Craig, who has a body to die for and is a natural leader and loved by all the other men. Tom grows to love all the men he shares time with, but gets to know Craig the best. He gravitates toward him and finds that they become friends. He wonders just how Craig feels about him — at times it seems as if Craig is hinting toward more, but in such a dangerous and charged atmosphere it is dangerous to become too close. Soon, however, the two throw caution to the winds and start a secret and whirlwind romance under the very noses of the rest of the men. But, Tom’s happiness ends too soon when he’s sent away from the man he’s growing to love and time and distance drive a wedge between them.

I liked this story, but I didn’t love it. I do think that at times the pace of the story seemed too rushed and also, for the short length, that some parts of the plot seemed excessive. For instance, early in the story there is a situation that serves to bring the two men together. While I could understand why it was written — to bring them together — it was a serious situation that was pretty glossed over and not give the attention that that type of situation really needs. I would have preferred a more streamlined plot for the sake of saving space rather than not going into detail about certain parts of the story.

Still, I found this story really enjoyable and, in the end, heartwarming. I think that a lot of readers who might not have been fond of Jack Greene’s highly sexualized writing int he past might enjoy this slightly different type of story. I enjoy both sides of the coin 🙂

Thanks to Jack for once again offering a copy of this story with my review!

GIVEAWAY RULES

Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Chronicle. The giveaway will last until Midnight CDT on Thursday, April 18. 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.

Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.

Thank you and good luck!


privatedicks400x600Title: Private Dicks: Undercovers
Editors: Samantha M Derr
Authors: Siobhan Crosslin, K-Lee Klein, Holly Rinna-White, Alison Bailey, Megan Derr, EE Ottoman, Isabella Carter & Sasha L Miller
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 135k words
Genre: m/m + m/m/m Mystery Romance
Keywords/Tags: Anthology, Short Stories, Private Investigators, Undercover
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Temper by Siobhan Crosslin—Reese hates deception, but that’s all his life has been since he was sent to investigate a wolf pack on clashing sets of orders. Keeping his lies separated is all that’s keeping him alive, and it’s a job that grows harder by the day—especially with the unexpected complications of the alpha he’s investigating.

The PI and the Rockstar by K-lee Klein—Mason is a detective. He’s not flashy or hip and he doesn’t have an office conducive to entertaining wealthy clients. But when made-of-money Durango and his gum-snapping daughter hire him to do surveillance on a popular rockstar named Jade Jonathan Lee, Mason’s business world collides with his personal life, and the result is a mystery that must be solved.

Glamour by Holly Rinna-White—When his little brother is kidnapped, Jason hires Eric, PI and long-time crush, to find him, terrified of what will happen if people learn his brother is unregistered psychic. But when Jason is kidnapped as well, he learns he and his brother are not the only ones keeping secrets.

The Virginia Gentleman by Alison Bailey—When the Virginia Gentleman rides into town, it’s a sure bet that trouble ain’t far behind. He’s quick on the draw, feared by all, and one sad little group of train robbers is about to find out why it’s never wise to bet on trouble.

The Royal Inquisitor by Megan Derr—Esmour is one the best Inquisitors in the kingdom, but the penance bracelets on his wrists serve as constant reminder that once he was not a master of deception, but a victim. To solve his latest case, he must work alongside the liar who changed his life, and the love he learned too late was never real.

Regarding the Detective’s Companion by E.E. Ottoman—Jamie is desperate: he has no money, rent is coming due, and if he doesn’t do something soon he’ll be forced back into a life of charity and pity. So when he is brought a case, Jamie takes it—even if it will mean lying to his client, manipulating the suspect and propelling himself into the middle of a plot involving murder and political intrigue.

The Demon Bride by Isabella Carter—One dead body left at the door is more than enough, but after three are left on the stoop of his father’s agency and no one else is willing to investigate, Quinton decides he’ll just have to solve the mystery himself.

Too Dangerous by Sasha L. Miller—Shi is good at what he does, no matter what his stupid ex thought. Danger comes with the territory, especially when that territory includes a special license to do select work for the government. But when the government needs him to fix something that defeated even their most elite, Shi learns that some situations are too much even for him.

REVIEW

I’ve been sitting on this anthology for a while, but if there’s anything that I know about anthologies from Less Than Three Press, it’s that they’re usually some of my favorites, it not my overall favorites from a specific publisher. So I was excited to read it and I found several stories within that I really liked.

Once again, as with the LT3 anthology I reviewed earlier this week (Something Happened on the Way to Heavenreviewed here), I was delighted with the diversity in the stories presented. Each story deals with a Private Investigator and a mystery, but the stories cross all genres, from Paranormal to Steampunk to Science Fiction, Contemporary and Western. I really enjoyed the steampunk story, “Regarding the Detective’s Companion” by EE Ottoman. Even though it isn’t the best story in the anthology, I really liked the characters, the mystery and the world. Having a steampunk world was also nice because there are so few m/m steampunk stories. The first story is one of my favorites. With a very distinctive style, Siobhan Crosslin takes us into an extreme werewolf society with some really fine writing.

So, look below and I’ll give you a bit about each story. The reviews will be shorter than usual, because this was a longer anthology, but the tags and info about each story will give you quite a bit about what each one has to offer 🙂


Temper by Siobhan Crosslin (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Mystery Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Shifters (Wolves & Dragons), Mate Bonding, Enforcer/Thug, Violence, Undercover

Siobhan Crosslin takes us into a highly segregated world of the different paranormal races. Werewolves form highly structured packs, and Reese has been sent by his alpha to investigate an alpha of a different pack. He infiltrates them easily. Reese was raised and groomed into a killing machine and his loyalties are clouded by his feelings for each alpha — his fear of the old one and his shifting loyalty to the new one, the one he’s lying to, and the one he’s falling in love with.

This one ended up being on the high end of Pretty Good for me, almost Really Liked It. In fact, for most of the story I really, really liked it. Most of all, I loved the writing style. The story thrusts you into the lies and deception from a point of view that is compromised, confused and unable to accurately bring the reader up to speed about what is actually going on and who is who. I admired that and fell into the story, excited by the challenging point of view. It soon grew to be tedious, however, and I ended the story upset that I never really learned much about the world or the people. I had hoped that the writing I loved so much was just being choosy about how to impart information to the reader, but what was held back never came to light.

I’ve since read the sequel to this story (Weld), or rather another story by this author, not a direct serial but also in this world. I ended up liking that one even less, because it carried on with this same writing style, but at an even higher degree, which made for an unpleasant read, unfortunately.


The PI and the Rockstar by K-Lee Klein (So So)
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Rockers, Private Investigators, Piercings!, Sexy to the 999s, Closeted

Mason is a private investigator with a rather famous boyfriend. Though that’s all on the hush hush. Of course, that secret means that when a teenage client and her father come into his office asking him to find a musician that got the girl pregnant and then ditched her, he can’t tell them that the man they’re trying to frame is, in fact his boyfriend, the lead singer of a popular rock group. So what is the girl really up to? And how will the added level of duplicity affect Mason’s relationship with Jade?

This was an okay story for me. I was a bit sad that there weren’t any surprises for me — as soon as the girl came in with her father and explained “what happened” with the rockstar, I had a feeling I knew what was going to happen. Sadly, I was right. Add to that the fact that I never really felt like I got to know the characters well, made this story just a So So read for me.


Glamour by Holly Rinna-White (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Science Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Brothers, Undercover, Private Investigator, Psychic, Aliens, Kidnapping

Most of my enjoyment of this story came from the world, which I found rather interesting. Jason and his brother are both unregistered psychics, in a world where those with abilities have to come forward to be assessed by the government. While Jason has mild precognition, his little brother is a different case, with a powerful precognitive sight that puts them all in danger. When Jason’s little brother is psychic, he must go to the man he’s had a crush on for months. Eric is a private investigator with secrets of his own, the least of which is that he’s as interested in Jason as Jason is in him. Searching for the men who kidnapped Jason’s brother, and then trying to rescue Jason himself when the fool rushes in to save his brother, brings both of them closer together.


The Virginia Gentleman by Alison Bailey (So So)
Genre: m/m Western Historical Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Undercover, Cowboys, Thieves, Kidnapping, Private Investigator

I admit, I had a little trouble with this one. I read half of it, finished the anthology then came back and re-read this story. I enjoy westerns, but most westerns in m/m romance are simply contemporary cowboy stories, and this story harkens to a much more authentic historical Old West. The story moved a little too slow for me, but that is all personal preference — the pace suits the plot and sub-genre.

While a man is searching for a boy that was taken years ago as a child, the Virginia Gentleman is looking for some helping hands for a train robbery. Finding the boy and his ogre of a keeper, as well as a man looking to score money to settle with his fiancee, the Virginia Gentlemen leads them across the west to a planned heist of a princess’ carriage. Along the way the VG gets to know the young boy, now a young man but shy and quiet and scared, all while holding some rather big secrets of his own.


The Royal Inquisitor by Megan Derr (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Alternate World Historical Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few & Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Royalty, Thieves, Second Chances, Undercover, The Big Mis

I really, really enjoyed this story. You all know how much I love Megan Derr’s writing, and I really got into this story. Sadly, I felt like the tension was created by a misunderstanding, and while it isn’t classic Big Mis type situation, having to do with some duplicity from other nefarious characters, it was still a little disappointing to me that the hurt Esmour feels in this story is because of pride and miscommunication. Still, that was only a shadow on the ending for me, and for the most part I really liked this one.

Esmour wears bracelets that show his penance toward the crown. Unknowingly involved in a sting operation in the past, he came down on the wrong side of the axe when all was said and done, only spared from the noose by his connection and faux-relationship with the undercover prince. Now, the prince has need of him to solve a mystery slave trade in a city in the kingdom, and Esmour, despite his bracelets, is still the best investigator working for the crown. The case will force the two back together into a situation that for all the hurt it may cause might ultimately lead to a reconciliation that Esmour could never have envisioned.


Regarding the Detective’s Companion by EE Ottoman (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Historical, Steampunk Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Disability, Injured Character, Nerds/Geeks, Politics, Science, Awesome Female Characters, Present Tense

**Spoiler Alert! The review of this story in the anthology has some spoilers**

Jamie was rescued from certain death by a priest. With no working legs, he hobbles on crutches, but manages to get around a steampunk Victorian England trying to solve enough cases to make a name for himself as a private investigator. If he does, he might finally be able to make rent, but as it is he’s facing another week of near starvation and one step closer to being back on the streets… or worse, falling up on the Father’s mercy. In his desperation, Jamie takes a case from a man who he’s certain is aiming to frame an innocent man for murder. So what if he didn’t explicitly agree to finding the man guilty? If he investigates, he can find the real murderer and bring real justice. The case could make his career. Plus, they’re paying him up front.

I really liked this story, mostly because of the characters. Jamie is great, but the really great characters are the friends he makes during his time undercover, as well as the sweet romance that develops with his employer and the man he’s meant to frame. I think what I really liked was that this story diverted from the norm. What I expect when I read a story with the lie/undercover plot device is that the deception will go on until the characters are in love and then the secret coming out destroys the trust and is the climax of the story. Instead, when the truth of Jamie’s deception is revealed, the characters band together, almost making their relationship stronger with the real truth. It brings down the barriers that previously existed as boss/assistant and teacher/student and put the characters on an equal footing. Plus, that allows the two to continue the investigation, but now together. And I really liked that, because the best parts of this story are the interactions between these two characters. It’s sweet, awkward, funny, and totally nerdy. And I loved it 🙂


The Demon Bride by Isabella Carter (Not Feelin’ It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few & Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Serial Killer, Demons

For some reason, I really just could not get into this story. I think it was the fact that both the romance and the mystery felt a bit incomplete to me. And even more, I didn’t really understand any of the characters, and to a smaller extent, what was really going on in the end. This could obviously be in my own mis-reading of the story, but I still never really latched on to this story like the others, no matter how little I understood about the end. Plus, I didn’t ever feel like this was really an m/m/m story.

Quinton has now found several bodies lying at the door of his father’s detective agency. No matter how many times he brings the subject of what to do about it up to his father, his father refuses to give him any information about it, despite the fact that Quinton feels he deserves to know, not only because he’s now older and wants to investigate the mystery himself, but also because he’s found the bodies, and he knew them. But when the third body is left of the stoop and Quinton finds a letter addressed to him, he decides he must investigate.


Too Dangerous by Sasha L Miller (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Science Fiction Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Action/Adventure, Second Chances, Military, Futuristic, Secrets & Lies, Kidnapping/Hostage

Ending this anthology with a Science Fiction story was a nice change of pace from the previous ones. And I really like Sasha MIller’s work, so this story, which was more of an action/adventure story was very nice to end the book with.

Shi is a successful private investigator, but he’s thinking about letting his military consultant status (at the highest clearance) lapse. Working a case for the military was how he met his ex-boyfriend in the first place and Shi is still trying to get over their breakup several months previously. So when he arrives at his office to find an unmarked hovercraft, he knows that the military has come to call once again. He fully expects to turn the offer down. After all, he made sure that provision was put into his contract. But when he finds out that he’s the only man for the job — to infiltrate the operate of a space crime syndicate to rescue the remaining member of the special ops team being held captive on the man’s ship — he knows he has to consider. Especially when he finds out that the man held captive is… his ex-boyfriend. No matter the hard feelings, he can’t leave him there. So despite the fact that he’s in way over his head, he’ll do what he has to to get the man out of there, and hopefully get some answers in the process.


FragileBond_750x500Title: Fragile Bond
Author: Rhi Etzweiler
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 48,400 words, 197 pages
Genre: m/m Scifi Futuristic
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Aliens, HEA, Assassins/Mercs, Enemies to Lovers, Felines, Prisoner, Mate Bonding, Military, Otherworlds, Pheromones
Rating: Really Liked It

Review by Nikyta

**Warning! This review may contain spoilers! Read at your own risk!**

BLURB

Sniper Sergeant Marc Staille and his trusty rifle, Mat, are on bodyguard duty at a mining operation on a backwater planet. The resource-rich valley is crawling with tawnies, the native dirt-colored predators. Huge things that hunt in packs and kill as well with tooth and claw as Marc ever has with Mat.

The rules change when a tawny uses an unexpected weapon: pheromones.

Commander Hamm Orsonna, leader of the fefa clan, is determined to chase off the invading aliens. The one he sets out to capture for intel is scrawny and hairless, not very intimidating—until it takes out his entire squad. Seasoned warriors, felled from halfway down the valley by its metal death stick.

Their sacrifice may be worth it, though. The alien male smells like he’s interested in making things right. He smells of other things too, but nobody else seems to notice. Before long, Hamm finds himself fighting off his own kind to defend the alien, who might be his people’s only hope for peace, and Hamm’s only chance for happiness.

REVIEW

On an unknown planet, Sergeant Marc Staille is on a mission to clear a valley of deadly mindless predators so a battalion can set up shop and strip the planet of a valuable resource. Unfortunately, Commander Hamm Orsonna, one of the predators, captures Marc before he can escape. Except, Marc’s not just overpowered by the Commander, he’s pretty much incapacitated by the shear amount of pheromones the Commander unintentionally uses on him. What neither of them expected was the bond those pheromones created between them and how that affects their loyalty to their own people. The Commander just wants Marc to stay, even if he does cause a lot of problems, but Marc is more confused than ever especially when he realizes he wasn’t killing some random predators but a strange, slightly civilized intelligent feline race.

I really enjoyed this book for a variety of reasons. While I wouldn’t consider it technically romance, I loved the pheromones that shaped the bond between Marc and Hamm. I found it amusing but also sweet in how it could essentially cripple both men with desire, possessive and the need to protect. I loved that Hamm’s race, the furr, were so reliant on scents because of how they used their pheromones for attraction, fighting and dominance in their clan. However, while we get a feel for both men and their current situations, we actually don’t know them beyond the surface details.

The story is shaped around the humans invading Hamm’s world and how the furr must defend themselves against the humans. What it ultimately comes down to, however, is negotiations between the humans and the furr. This is one of those stories that take place in the span of a few hours and is heavy in clan politics and the almost hostile negotiations between the furr and the humans. It is an interesting world because the furr have feline characteristics like their thick manes, purring and roaring. I loved those parts, they always made me smile, because they were innocent yet dangerous. I also found Marc’s reactions to Hamm’s purring and roaring very entertaining.

With I really liked the story, I had a few issues with it. My biggest problem was a lack of detail on a lot of areas such as the world, Hamm’s clan, the culture and ultimately the relationship between Marc and Hamm. They form a strong bond but there’s no hint of intimate feelings from that bond so it was just based off Hamm’s pheromones without a deeper, mental connection between them. Aside from that, I found the ending very abrupt. We don’t actually know how anything is resolved or how the couple will live now. How Hamm was able to hold his position or even if he still has his position (I’m just assuming he does because it’s not mentioned otherwise). Also, what happened to Dehna, how is the clan coping with Marc, and a lot of other questions I have. Some parts of the epilogue also confused me. Mostly the reference to Marc healing from his wounds but what wounds and how he got them, I’m not quite sure so it left an impression that there were a few parts of the story missing.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story but its biggest downfall is the lack of details necessary to really love it. The writing is great and engaging and I adored the elements and conflicts brought on by Hamm’s pheromones. The secondary characters are enjoyable, and even the ones you want to strangle, brought entertaining quarrels to the story. I’m hoping Ms. Etzweiler visits this world again (a story for Reccin would be awesome!) so that we can go deeper into this world and see more of what it has to offer.


KM_StrengthOfThePackTitle: Strength of the Pack (The Tameness of the Wolf #1)
Author: Kendall McKenna
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 95,000 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Action/Adventure, Alpha Doms, Famous, HEA, Injured Character, Mate Bonding, Military, Series, Suspense, Wolf Shifters
Rating: Really, Really Liked It!!

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

A Marine werewolf and his commander bring legends to life while surviving combat deployment in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Lucas Young doesn’t know much about shifters. When Sergeant Noah Hammond is assigned to Lucas’ platoon, the Marine Corps’ True Alpha werewolf challenges the Lieutenant’s authority and his self-control. As Lucas learns to dominate and command Noah, he struggles against a strong attraction and deepening emotional bond. During their combat deployment to Afghanistan, Lucas and Noah begin mirroring legendary partnerships. Their bond and their power grow as they survive dangerous combat and ambushes. When one of them is wounded in battle, they both must embrace the strength of their bond before they lose each other forever.

REVIEW

When I first read the blurb, I thought it sounded a bit vague but after reading this story, I realized that it is pretty dead on with explaining the book without giving away too many details. I appreciated that while reading because I didn’t feel like I knew everything that was going to happen. With that said, I’m not going to reiterate the story because I’ll give away more spoilers than I want to.

I loved this story, though. I loved the connection between Lucas and Noah. As Noah’s Lieutenant, Lucas is a bit weary of Noah and having to command him. As a Sergeant and Lucas’ Team Leader, Noah is the True Alpha of all the weres and while he’ll humor his commanders, he doesn’t submit to them. I took great delight in Lucas’ reaction when Noah finally submits to him. Lucas was so adorably confused and excited. He had no idea what was going on but he secretly loved every move that was made between them. One thing I really loved, though, was how dominate Noah was but then how pliant he became at Lucas’ touch. It was so nice to finally see a story where the alpha doesn’t always have to be an alpha. Lucas, while physically smaller and a human, was Noah’s Dominate and had a lot of control over Noah. Seeing that dynamic between them and how they balanced each other was great because it heightened the intensity between them. It’s one of the things that made the story so appealing for me. I just found them extremely hot and, even though I’m a stickler when it comes to a lot of sex, I couldn’t get enough of them together.

Ms. McKenna is still a relatively new author in the m/m genre. However, she seems to offer something you don’t find in military stories that often (at least I haven’t) and that’s actual detailed combat in the war. This story is rich in that aspect and it gave me an inside look into the military lingo and everything associated with it. She doesn’t shy away from the missions they go, the situations they have to get through or the tension they constantly feel for being in Afghanistan. It’s something I really loved about this story because it placed me in the heart of the war and made me feel like I was there. Another thing I enjoyed was, with the relationship between Noah and Lucas, Noah tried to explain their connection to Lucas by using stories from history. I found these hysterical and fascinating for how the author put a spin on them to include werewolves.

While I very much enjoyed the book, and I desperately want to give it the highest rating possible, I did have some problems with the story. It starts off rather confusing. For someone as me, who doesn’t understand much of military speak, it was hard to understand what was going on, what they were saying and all that. I grew used to it but those first few pages were rather hard to get through. In that respect, there’s also a lack of world building and details about the weres, how they were put in the limelight, when it all happened, etc. Because of that, I still have a ton of questions about them. My main niggle was how the wolves were made. Were they all born like Noah or are they turned by other weres? If that’s the case, why doesn’t Noah turn Lucas so that they can both be weres?

Aside from that, I found Lucas a bit dense who had severe horse blinders on towards the end of the story. It grew slightly annoying because he had all his answers right in front of him but he refused to look. This lead to him and Noah putting off talking until quite literally the end of the book. I guess, when you look at it, Noah and Lucas portrayed the stereotypical guys that don’t communicate and while they had this awesome ability to mentally communicate and did rather well, they still found vocally expressing themselves as weak or made them too vulnerable to do, I suppose. Either way, I loved it because it caused some conflict but then hated it because I wanted to shake them at times.

Overall, I still found this book phenomenal. I was on the edge of my seat because the story has a lot of action and suspense. Beyond that, I loved the development between Lucas and Noah. At times, I wanted to shake them but mostly I just loved them and wanted more of them. While it’s heavy in action, it still gives off a good deal of romance and ended sweet, which satisfied my need for an HEA. I’ll anxiously be awaiting the next in the series. Until then, I’m left to wonder, will there be more Lucas and Noah? Or will we get a new couple? I’m hoping for both!


NP_OlivesForTheStranger_coverlgTitle: Olives for the Strangers (Have Body, Will Guard #4)
Author: Neil Plakcy
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 69,622 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Action/Adventure, Established Couple, Bodyguards, Ex-Military, Africa, Middle East
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

As demonstrators and police spar in the streets of Tunis, bodyguards Aidan and Liam must protect Leila, a young girl whose mother has been taken into police custody. While the threats against her and her activist parents grow, hunky ex-SEAL Liam is stuck in the Tunisian countryside while teacher and novice bodyguard Aidan travels to France on his own with Leila.

Liam must deal with his emotions once separated from his partner, while Aidan struggles to protect Leila and her father from a deadly villian as Liam has taught him. Both men must examine the depths of their love for each other and satisfy themselves that more than just sexual desire keeps them together.

REVIEW

This series was the series that introduced me to Neil Plakcy. I read them two years ago with the release of the third book, Dance with Me Tonight. I was really excited about having another book in this series to read, but I somehow missed it and only remembered it recently.

Liam and Aidan have been together for a while now. After they met in the first book, when Liam mistook Aidan for a client and they set off on an adventure through the Libyan desert, they fell in love and Aidan became Liam’s partner. Since, they’ve guarded many people where they live in Tunis. Olives for the Stranger picks up where those left off, the two living and loving in Tunis and looking for more jobs. The political climate is changing with the protests sweeping across the Middle East, and they’ve come to Tunis. Aidan is nervous that they might have to leave, but Liam never believes that the Tunisian government could fall and them put in a dangerous place.

Things change when the two are asked to investigate a mystery. It isn’t what they do, but providing protection to an olive grove outside the city is what the couple who hires them really wants. They’re a gay couple who are revolutionizing the olive oil exporting from Tunisia, and someone seems to be sabotaging their grove of trees and their whole operation. Liam and Aidan set off to investigate and find that the men have a family connection to a group that is currently protesting the government in Tunis. When a woman in a prominent leadership position in the Muslim organization is killed in Tunis, it all becomes wrapped up into what they’re doing in the grove. They’re taking care of the woman’s daughter, and dealing with their clients at the same time. All the time, the pressure rises as the political climate drastically changes, plunging their safe new life into danger.

I’m not sure if this is the last book in the series or not. By the ending, it could be. There’s more finality in the end of this book than in the previous ones. Of course, I wouldn’t object to another book with Liam and Aidan, this one just wasn’t nearly as exciting as the previous ones. In fact, they’ve sortof felt watered down as each subsequent one came out. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like them, or that they weren’t good, but it’s just a classic sequel syndrome. It’s possible that if Neil Plakcy decided to inject some life into this series he could with another book. It would be a big change, taking into consideration the ending of this book, but I’d like that. If they carried on as they were, it’s just a little tired.

I think the main reason I felt this way is because there wasn’t much forward growth in their relationship in this book. In previous books I felt as if they were making their way to normal, working on their relationship and making it something long-term and stable. But by this point, they’ve mostly done that. Of course, there are a lot of little bits and pieces they need to work on, every day problems, like hurt feelings, different ideas for the course of their future together, and injecting some new romance into what sometimes has become a too stable relationship.

I needed a bit more romance in this one because I just couldn’t get as excited about the mystery in this book. It’s engaging. I can’t quite pin anything I found wrong with it. But I just wasn’t as excited about it. So I think that fans of these characters will want to read this book, if you haven’t already, simply because you want to know what happens with them. But, it’s probably time, as sad as I am about it, to put this series to rest. Because of my feelings about this book, I went back and re-read (again!) the first book, Three Wrong Turns in the Desert. I still love that one 😉