Title: Werecat: The Rearing (Werecat #1)
Author: Andrew J Peters
Length: 21k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal
Heat: 2 – Tame (mostly not explicit)
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Short Story, Shifters (Big Cats), Mythology, Homeless, NYC, Montreal, Disappeared/Runaway, Psychological Control, Secrets & Lies, College, Flashbacks, Shifted Sex
Rating: Pretty Good
For Jacks Dowd, a college senior who feels ungrounded from his family and life in general, an alcohol and sex-infused weekend in Montréal sounds like a pretty good escape. His Spring Break binge takes a detour when he meets Benoit, an admiring drifter with startling green eyes. A hook-up turns into a day, two days, and then a full week in Benoit’s hostel, making love and scarfing down take-out food. But at the end of the week, Benoit demands that Jacks make an impossible choice: stay with him forever, or go back to college and never see him again.
There’s something dangerous about Benoit, but Jacks has fallen for him brutally. The night before Jacks is supposed to return to college, he finds Benoit in Mont Royal Park, where they first met, to try to work things out. Benoit springs on Jacks an unfathomable secret: he’s a mythical creature, half man and half jungle panther. He traps Jacks in an abandoned cabin and performs an occult rite so they will be mated forever.
I’ve been sitting on this one a month or two, waiting to read it. I’m glad that I read it, but also more intrigued than satisfied in a good story, though I’ll certainly read the second one, whenever it’s out.
We first meet Jacks on a supply run in the middle of the night in NYC. He stops at a familiar bodega to pick up some protein, saying hello to the familiar (and cute) clerk, then returns to his hiding place with Benoit, an old turned out warehouse. In flashbacks we see how Jack has come to this point, by meeting scruffy and serious Benoit while on spring break in Montreal after a bad night out and their weeklong tryst that never really ends. As we go through each subsequent flashback, introducing us to their relationship, Benoit’s many quirks, and how he came to be in NYC with him, now his boyfriend.
The blurb makes one half of this story quite obvious — Jacks’ time in Montreal with Benoit — but doesn’t go much beyond that point. I’m no real fan of flashbacks and I’m not sure that I could say that they brought anything particularly important to this story, but they’re a stylistic choice that slowly introduces us to the beginning of the relationship between Jacks and Benoit at the same time as everything starts to go wrong with them in NYC. Benoit, because of his age, is much more like a cat in nature than a human, which is definitely part of his growth as a character in the story. He’s possessive to a manic degree, but also seductive and beguiling to Jacks. Jacks is someone, at least to me, who seems to put on a good front of a simple college student but really likes to flirt with the edge. The allure of Benoit in Montreal, of a man in trouble that he can’t help but fall in love with is really about sex and danger than anything else. It didn’t quite endear me to Jacks, to say the least. In fact, I had trouble through a lot of this story about whether I could really feel their relationship. That is because it was moving in a direction that I wasn’t prepared for.
That change in direction is what galvanized my interest, however, and it doesn’t come until quite late the story. It makes reviewing this harder, no matter how much more enjoyment it gave me in the overall story. It makes this somewhat difficult to talk about while still withholding all the information. But it also means I can tell you that I’m even more excited to see what this author has in store for these characters next, and that I have to implore you to keep reading if you find yourself, at first, reading something that you weren’t quite sure you thought you were.
All of this, including the misdirection, makes for an interesting last minute move, but without the next story I’m still not quite sure if I can think of this as a prequel written first or not. Does this story show the direction for the rest? Or, is Andrew Peters waiting to throw us more curveballs?
I know this is a somewhat enigmatic review, so if you’re the type of reader who doesn’t like to be kept waiting, then I think you should probably wait for the next installment in this series to be published before you start reading. What I can tell you is that though I suffered through flashbacks 😉 I liked the writing style and I like that this author is keeping me on my toes. So, for now, this first story gets a Pretty Good, with a curious but tempered excitement about what is next to come.
Posted by Cole in 16-40k, 4 Pretty Good, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Paranormal, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Andrew J Peters, Big Cats, Cat Shifters, College, Flashbacks, Homeless, Montreal, Mythology, NYC, Psychological Control, Runaway/Disappeared, Secrets & Lies, Series, Shifter Sex, Short Story, Vagabondage Press, Werecat series
Title: Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea #1)
Author: Shira Anthony
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
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.
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).
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors A-C, Fantasy, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Captive/Slave, Civil Wars, Dreams, Dreamspinner Press, Indentured Slavery, m/m/m scenes, Merfolk, Multiple/Other Partners, Prisoner, Reincarnation, Resistance, Sea/Sail/Rivers, Series, Shifter Sex, Shifters, Shira Anthony, spies, Superpowers, Under the Sea
Title: Secret Chemistry (Shifters #1)
Author: Chris T. Kat
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 59k+ words, 220 pages
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Adorable, Alpha Men, Cowboys, Forbidden Love, Forced Separation, HEA-ish, Hurt/Comfort, Injured Character, Magic, Mate Bonding, Secret & Lies, Series, Shifter Sex, (Fox/Wolf Hybrid) Shifter, Wolf Shifters, Yearning
Rating: Really Liked It
Reviewed by Nikyta
Not all werewolf societies are created equal. The one Tim Evans grew up in detests those not of “pure blood”—so when Tim discovers his mate is Jay, a male fox-wolf hybrid ten years his junior, it shocks him, to say the least. Too young to claim his mate and too weak to protect him from the rest of the pack, Tim fears for Jay’s life. When a human gets hold of Jay, Tim believes he has lost him forever.
The next eighteen years are hell. Tim devotes his life to his family and running their stable, but anger and depression threaten to consume him. Then fate brings Jay back into his life. Tim knows Jay feels the same attraction he does—mates always do. So why won’t Jay act on it?
At a gathering, thirteen year old Tim notices a strangely enticing smell but before he can figure out what it is, chaos starts to rein within his pack. Some of the pack want to hunt a den of hybrids, which causes hostility among the wolves. Forced to go home when the wolves turn violent, Tim can’t resist the smell for long and follows it to a mother and a young fox/wolf hybrid named Jay. Noticing the hybrid is his mate, protective instincts compel Tim to do everything in his power to get them to safety. Unfortunately, while trying to save Jay, he ends up getting injured and forced to leave Jay’s side. Now, eighteen years later, Tim’s life hasn’t exactly been alluring but he’s finally put into a situation to reconnect with Jay when Jay and his father want to buy a horse from Tim’s family’s ranch. Jay, though, doesn’t understand the instant connection between the two, which causes Tim to explain to Jay his own existence. Not only that but now Tim has to break it to his family that the mate he’s been yearning for is not only male but the very shifter that caused so much unintentional chaos and hatred almost two decades earlier.
This story starts off a bit odd in that the Jay and Tim meet when they are very young. In fact, the first third of the book revolves around their first encounter at such an early age. Some readers might have an issue with this because, while they don’t mate, the connection is there and very real even though Jay is only three and Tim is thirteen. In my opinion, it worked with this story because the separation they are forced to endure for eighteen years has molded them into the individuals they are in present day. More than that, it allows the reader to get a sense of how their connection formed and grew without there being flashbacks throughout the story, which is part of why I adored this book so much because I’m not that fond of sporadic flashbacks.
Another reason I loved this book is because of the characters. When you first see Jay, he’s a toddler and probably one of the cutest things I’ve ever read. He’s so innocent and trusting of Tim right away because of their mate bond so there are a few sweet moments between the two when they’re young, which I found completely adorable. Jay, at twenty-one, is much more bolder and feisty. He won’t put up with Tim’s irrational or possessive behavior (at least not often) so it made for an entertaining read watching Jay put Tim in his place. Tim, on the other hand, is fiercely protective of Jay from the start and those feelings didn’t diminish in their eighteen-year absence. Actually, I really loved how alpha male he was. I found his jealousy and possessiveness extremely amusing but he was also very gentle with Jay. Their chemistry is really hot and the sexual tension between them is even better.
The plot deals with a few things. First is the fact that Jay is a hybrid and, therefore, wanted dead. Tim’s father has a hatred for hybrids because of what happened to Tim’s mom for trying to protect them. So, one of the conflicts is getting Tim’s family to understand their mating and accepting it. The other major conflict is the fact that Tim has made some rash decisions in the past eighteen years that has made him unfit for being an alpha. This means not only is their relationship forbidden but there can only be one alpha pair and that is not supposed to be Tim and Jay but Tim’s brother, Robin, who is more submissive than anything else, and Robin’s eventual mate. It’s interesting how it all plays out and the emotions that run rampant through every character in this book but there’s also a whole host of interesting shifter capabilities (like sensers and their healing ability) that I loved reading about because it made this shifter story unique in its own way, which made this read stand out from ordinary shifter stories. One of the highlights of this book is definitely Tim’s little brother Robin. He’s such a delight to read about because of his mischievous behavior and his very naughty comments. I loved reading every scene he was in.
I really adored this story but it’s not without its problems. First off, the story ends with the assumption that trouble will strike again. I don’t want to go into too much more detail because that will ruin the enjoyment, I think, but I’m just going to say that while it’s an HEA, it’s left open-ended because there’s the realization that more conflict is bound to happen because of their mating. My only other problem was the sister, Debra. She was a real piece of work and I would have happily strangled her if I could have. I’m curious, though, with all her animosity if she’ll be the cause of the problems sure to come. More than that, I’m still left wondering, what does Tim look like? Being from Tim’s POV, we never really know (and if it’s told, I unfortunately missed that). I feel like I should also warn readers that this book has shifter sex in it. While this didn’t bother me, I know that is not some readers’ cup of tea.
Overall, this was a delightful read that was both adorable and hot. It’s intense at times but the characters are definitely loveable and entertaining with a plot that is very intriguing. The world is different but easy to follow and even though it has a sort of open ending, I’m curious where the story will head from here. I’m also wondering if the sequel will be about Jay and Tim or about Robin and his eventual mate. Really looking forward to finding out!
Posted by Nikyta in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors J-L, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Paranormal, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Adorable!, Alpha Men, Chris T Kat, Cowboys, Dreamspinner Press, Forbidden Love, Forced Separation, HEA, Hurt/Comfort, Injured Character, Magic, Mate Bonding, Secrets & Lies, Series, Shifter Sex, Shifters, Shifters series, Wolf Shifters, Yearning