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Tag Archives: The Bestiary collection

Cleanly Wrong by Mell Eight (11/7)Title: Cleanly Wrong
Author: Mell Eight
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 18,000 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, The Bestiary collection, Unusual Creatures, Abuse, Royalty, Orphans
Rating: Really Liked It!

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

Rung is a half-breed orphan brownie who can’t do anything right, much to the worry of his cleanliness teachers. When he runs away, Rung decides that he can resist the need to clean. Only, there is that one office that so desperately needs help…

REVIEW

This story was an absolute delight! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this was a sweet story with very little romance really, but that doesn’t detract at all from the lovely unveiling of this world. Rung is a halfbreed Brownie orphan who at 18 is still at the orphanage is 18 because he can’t seem to pass his exams and win a position out in the world. Brownies are cleaners and they are not to be seen by the humans they help. Ladder Rung who has been dubbed ‘Wrong” by his fellow orphans and his teachers cannot seem to organize the rooms he’s being tested on in the way that is desired. He has been repeatedly humiliated and punished. His hateful classmate, Needle, convinces him that he will never pass and he’ll be in danger if he stays, so he convinces Rung to run away from the orphanage.

The Prince of the land has had his fill of Brownies and has sent six back and issued a decree that NO Brownies will ever be allowed back in the castle. Rung flees the orphanage and when he comes to the first town he is nervous because he can be seen by the humans. He finds his way into a large castle and manages to find a wonderful place to make his home away from the people who live in the castle. He is very handy and makes his own comfortable bed and chair and he works his way around the castle cleaning the areas that aren’t inhabited so that he won’t draw attention to himself. He sets rules for himself so that he doesn’t cause trouble for the humans; however, he breaks his own rule by making a small adjustment to the kitchen after he witnesses an injury that could have been avoided.

Eventually as Rung is making his home in the castle he comes upon a hidden passageway and he observes an office that is in dire need of organization. He cannot help but organize the desk after watching the man who works in the office become very frustrated at not being able to find the papers he is looking for. As Rung continues to observe the office, he thinks of many organizational improvements he could make to help the office’s occupant. He wants to help but he doesn’t want to overstep and cause trouble. In the meantime, two of the staff have realized that there is a Brownie in the castle, but the Brownie is only being helpful and not intrusive. The office occupant also realizes that someone has been helping him with his disorganized office and decides he wants to hire whoever it is to be his personal secretary.

The staff members seek out and find Rung and he is overjoyed to be able to help and do his job. He agrees to take on the job of the personal secretary for the man that he has secretly admired from behind the secret passage. I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story but there are some surprises that bring the return of an old thorn in Rung’s side and support from an unexpected source. In the though, Rung is very happy in his job and he prevails over the obstacles in his way.

Rung is such a lovely character. He’s the underdog that you just can’t help but love and root for. He’s been ridiculed and humiliated and all he’s ever wanted to do it help. He tries to curb his natural desires towards cleaning and organization, but he is able to find a way to help without making a nuisance of himself. There isn’t a traditional romance in this story, but the feelings between the Brownie and the man he ends up helping are completely genuine and sweet and certainly loving and protecting. Also, the villains were appropriately nasty without being caricatures. The setting was well-done and I really couldn’t wait to see what was going to become of Rung. A very very enjoyable experience! This is the second story I’ve read by this author and it couldn’t be more different, but I’ve really enjoyed them both and think this is an author to watch.


doginthemist400x600Title: The Dog in the Mist (The Bestiary)
Author: Sylvia A. Winters
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 32,000 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Paranormal
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: The Bestiary collection, Action/Adventure, Angst-alicious, Death, Ex-Lovers, Fae, Grieving, HEA, Second Chances, (Dog) Shifters, Unrequited Love
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Nikyta

**This review may contain spoilers**

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Dorian has been favored by tragedy for what seems like his entire life. He’s lost his parents, his best friend, and now he’s lost his gran as well. As if that’s not enough, he is stalked by a black dog too large to be just an ordinary dog, and which seems to bring death in its wake. To save himself, he will have to return to beliefs that he cast away long ago …

REVIEW

Dorian is leading a very lonely and depressing life. A year ago, his best friend, Evan, disappeared without a trace and now he’s just lost his Gran. He can’t seem to find the motivation to appreciate life anymore. Unfortunately, his life starts to get very weird when he’s stalked by a big black dog that seems to bring death whenever it shows itself. When he dies, he’s given an opportunity to live again, he just has to complete one task. While doing this, he realizes the black dog that’s helping him might not be just a strange dog but someone he actually knows.

This was a hard book to read. I struggled for more than half of it. Dorian is a rather depressing individual since the story starts while he’s grieving over his Gran, in addition to grieving for Evan. His sister, Vicky, forces him to get on with his life and start living again. From the start, though, the author makes it hard to like Dorian and Evan. Dorian comes across as very dark and pines after Evan, while Evan is a complete bastard throughout the story. With that said, the story eventually becomes interesting when the fae get involved and forces Dorian to grow a backbone and save Evan.

We don’t actually meet Evan until almost the end but this story had a lot of flashbacks. Unfortunately, these flashbacks hindered the story instead of helped it move along. They were a struggle to get through because sometimes they didn’t even progress the story at all. What they ended up doing, however, was putting Evan in a bad light, showing how much of a jerk he was to not only Dorian, who was supposed to be his best friend, but to everyone else. A good portion of the book was hard to get through but, thankfully, it picks up towards the end. When I reached the point where Dorian was no longer dwelling on the past, I started to like the story a bit more (although there are still flashbacks, they aren’t as frequent). The added action that Dorian goes through boosted my enjoyment and slightly made up for my dislike of the beginning. Also, I found the ending very sweet.

In the end, this was an okay read. I can’t say that I’d recommend it because most of it was very hard endure. I was never one for flashbacks, especially ones that did not move the story along, so those were my least favorites parts of the book. The story is interesting if you can get passed the first half and finally get into the meat of the plot and I was intrigued by the world that Dorian was thrust into, as well as, what he found out about himself. There are good things and bad things to the story, so I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide if it is something they want to try.


iisforimp400x600Title: I is for Imp
Author: India Jackson
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 16,000 words
Genre: M/M Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, The Bestiary collection, Demons, Knights, HFN
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Sadonna

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Donavan is a lowly thief, scraping by picking pockets with the help of Oriax, an imp he once helped and who now is his companion on the streets. When they learn of a tournament that is to take place a few days away, they cannot resist the opportunity. But their hopes of easy gold are soon shattered by an unexpected and dangerous presence …

REVIEW

I really enjoyed this novella about a young man who makes his living as an “illusionist” and a thief. He travels from town to town with his “pet” shape-shifter, Oriax, who mesmerizes the crowd while Donavan relieves them of their purses. They quickly escape these towns on their old nag after the shows before anyone is the wiser.

After a lucrative show, they are travelling on to the next town when they are accosted by robbers. As their prospects look dim, a knight approaches on the same road and the robbers have their hands full so Donavan and Oriax are able to escape. Once they reach the town, they decide to try their luck at the Jester Tournament.

While they wait for the Jester Tournament, there is a jousting tournament and Donavan and Oriax watch and the Knight Paladin, Sir Gorum, whose fortuitous arrival allowed their escape the previous day wins. Lord Tyton, the master of the Keep then asks for the entertainers and Donavan and Oriax put on a brilliant show that wins. They are asked to stay at the keep as well as the Paladin.

What ensues is a tale of a fight between good and evil. The Paladin has come to the keep because he knows there is evil there and he must fight seek it out and destroy it. Donavan wants nothing to do with this fight and insists he has no idea what the knight is trying to reveal and defeat. Oriax become a player in this battle as well, much to Donavan’s dismay. Since Oriax has been Donavan’s only friend to this point, Donavan does all he can to protect him.

I really enjoyed this fantasy story. It was short but dense if that makes sense. There is a lot of ground covered including the knight’s backstory. I found myself cheering for Donavan and Oriax to overcome the obstacles that are thrown in their way. The relationship between the knight and Donavan is subtly written as well. This is the first story I’ve read by this author, but I look forward to reading more.


baronsgargoyle400x600Title: The Baron’s Gargoyle
Author: Cassandra Pierce
Publisher: Less Than Three
Length: 16,000 words
Genre: m/m Historical Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: The Bestiary Collection, Unusual Creatures (Gargoyles), HEA, Magic, Secrets & Lies, Short Story, Warriors
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Nikyta

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Banished from court when the King runs out of patience for his predilection for men, Jothan is forced to take up the title of Baron of Darkwood and charged with the task of making the lands profitable again. But when he arrives all he finds is a crumbling castle, neglected servants, and a monstrous creature no one else ever seems to see …

REVIEW

Jothan is a rather promiscuous man and when numerous rumors of his escapades become too much for even the King to ignore, he’s newly titled Baron of Darkwood and forced into essentially isolation. From the beginning, Jothan sees trouble with Darkwood. It’s a desolate area with no servants and no surrounding village but most of all there’s a creature that’s haunting its walls that only Jothan can see. Either Jothan’s going crazy or there’s more than just a frightening gargoyle lingering within the castle and he’ll do anything to figure out the mystery and how a mysterious young man no one knows exists fits into it all.

This was a rather interesting story in the way it gives the traditional Beauty and the Beast story a twist. I enjoyed the fact that Jothan was very serious about fixing Castle Darkwood up and making it profitable again. While he seems selfish and arrogant at first, it wasn’t long before you realize he just needed direction in his life and being titled Baron of Darkwood and all that comes with it gave him a new purpose in life. Delphas is a very mysterious and secretive young man. He lies to Jothan, acting as a servant, so that Jothan doesn’t figure out the horrible curse that was cast on him. While the love that develops between them is very spontaneous, it was sweet the level of affection they develop and the outcomes brought on by that love.

The story follows Jothan as he figures out what happened at Darkwood a few years back. He and his miniscule servants do all they can to repair the castle while Jothan finds as many answers as he can. He’s also the only one that seems to notice the huge gargoyle sitting in the tower so he takes it upon himself to get rid of the thing. Unfortunately, his efforts are for nothing because the gargoyle isn’t leaving anytime soon. The story was very interesting although it lacked the necessary depth to make it truly amazing. I liked the pace of the story but really wished it had been more descriptive. The conclusion was intriguing and I liked how it was handled but I have a lot of questions around the Castle and the history of how it all happened. Some details are given but it wasn’t enough for my curiosity and the questions I still have to be settled.

Overall, not a bad story. I like this author’s writing and the story was very interesting. The mystery around the Castle and Delphas’ curse made the book fascinating to me. I just really wished it had been longer and more expanded on. The ending might be my favorite part, however, I don’t want to give any details on it because I think it’s best figured out by the reader. All I’ll say is that it’s sweet and made me smile. 🙂


bindingties400x600 Title: Binding Ties
Author: Alessandra Ebulu
Publisher: Less Than Three
Length: 15,000 words
Genre: m/m, Paranormal, Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Adorable!, Agents, The Bestiary collection, HEA, Mate Bonding, Mystery-ish, (Kitsune/Wolf/Dog) Shifters, Short Story
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Nikyta

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Determined to find freedom and avoid an unwanted bond, Taeyo runs away from home. But no sooner does he make his escape then he is captured again, the latest victim in a string of kidnappings. His rescue comes at the hands of Germane, a half-wolf, half-dog sent to find him. The rescue results in a mating bond, however—a fact that pleases Taeyo, but angers Germane. Until the mystery of the missing kitsunes is solved, however, he can only endure it…

REVIEW

This was a rather interesting story. Taeyo is a kitsune with seven tails who’s run away so he wouldn’t have to mate with another kitsune he doesn’t love. Unfortunately, his curiosity causes him to be the next victim in another kidnapping. In swoops Germane, an agent tasked with finding Taeyo and inadvertently ends up getting a lead on solving the kitsune kidnapping case he was originally assigned to. However, Taeyo’s managed to bond himself with Germane even though Germane is against the idea. Now they have to figure out how to solve the case while Germane gets used to being with a man he can barely stand but truly desires.

I think one of the most appealing things about this story was the kitsune aspect. A fox with multiple tails is just fascinating to me but Taeyo doesn’t have the normal three tails, he has seven and is a silver kitsune, one of the strongest of the kitsune breed. It was intriguing to read about Taeyo and his family, how crazy they all are and how Germane fit into it all, as well as, how Germane’s family reacts to Taeyo.

At first, I didn’t like Taeyo because he’s very arrogant and egotistical. He has a haughty attitude that basically says, “You must worship me for I deserve such a thing simply because I’m me.” It was slightly annoying but then Germane’s reactions to Taeyo made it funny. I adored Germane because he was rough, grumpy and made Taeyo know he wasn’t wanted at first. I found it funny how everyone was pretty much horrified Germane was part dog/part wolf because apparently kitsunes can’t stand dogs.

While the conflict within the story is very easily resolved, it was entertaining to see Taeyo work with Germane, to see how well they worked together. While I enjoyed the story very much, though, I felt like there needed to be more details around everything. A lot of things were mentioned but never elaborated on so it left me confused and bewildered with a ton of questions. It also felt too rushed overall. A lot of events happen but they go by so quickly that it feels like you only get a taste of it before it’s gone.

Overall, a good story, very enjoyable with a different style of shifters. I loved the banter between Taeyo and Germane. There were great secondary characters but I really wished we had gotten to know more into Germane and Taeyo’s family… or to even see how they react when they all finally meet.


wizardtower400x600Title: Inside the Wizard Tower
Author: Ashley Shaw
Publisher: Less Than Three
Length: 25,000 words
Genre: m/m, Fantasy
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Captive, HEA, Magic, Mate Bonding, Cruelty/Physical Abuse, (Kelpie/Sphinx) Shifters, The Bestiary Collection
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

Determined to escape the tower where he is poked and prodded and experimented on daily by the wizards who captured him, Rhine makes use of his kelpie magic to steal what he needs to summon a creature that even the wizards cannot control or contain. What he gets, however, is far from what he expected …

REVIEW

Rhine was kidnapped many years ago and forced to stay as a captive within a tower controlled by wizards who experiment on him in the worst of ways. He’s finally managed to collect all the objects required to summon a creature that could help him escape. Instead of a creature who can do that, however, he conjures a sphinx who’s powers are strong in protection. Rhine’s disappointed that Keahi can’t help him but he’s determined to figure out some way to escape even if it means recruiting other captives to help Rhine and Keahi.

This was a very intriguing story. From the start, you’re thrust into the situation Rhine lives in. As a kelpie, he’s a strong magical user with an affinity to water. However, his magic isn’t useful when it comes to warding off the wizards and after a while, it was just easier to go grudgingly go along with the tests and experiments while he plotted his escape. I really liked his determination to get out of that place and how he handled all the situations he was thrust into. Keahi was a fascinating creature. As a sphinx, he could also shift into a house cat but what truly made me like him was his desire for a family. Rhine was able to give Keahi that family in addition to his love. In exchange, Keahi returned Rhine’s love and offered him protection. While the romance between Keahi and Rhine isn’t the focus of the story, it’s sweet how their feelings develop because of the bond they created and the way they came to rely on one another and need each other.

The conflict within the story was interesting. From seeing how Rhine summons Keahi to his silent freak out at the fact Keahi couldn’t get him out of there to finally having to trust the other inhabitants of the tower was fascinating to me because it showed Rhine in all different types of situations and emotions. On top of that, I liked the author’s flow and direction of the story. The fact that Rhine gets a surprise visit from someone he truly cares about and his ultimate trust in those captives he never wanted to associate with before gave the story enough substance to make it entertaining.

However, one thing this story truly lacks is a detailed background to why Rhine and Keahi ended up at the tower. We know the basics of the story and Rhine’s loathing towards the wizards but we never figure out why they’re experimenting on Rhine and the other shifters. The characters were interesting but they don’t have as much depth as they could have. The fact we barely know anything of Keahi and why he chose to be summoned by Rhine is also questionable and leaves the story with a lot of questions like why Volos hated Rhine so much or what happened to the rest of the shifters in the tower.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. It’s not perfect but it’s very entertaining. I loved the characters and all they go through. I wished the story had been longer so we could have gotten the proper details needed to answer all those burning questions. As it was, I liked the fact this story dealt with unique shifters because it made this book different from other shifter stories.