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Tag Archives: Wolf Shifters

SoulMagicLGTitle: Soul Magic (Triad #3)
Author: Poppy Dennison
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 220 pages, approx. 64,750 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty (I really felt the connection between Cormac & Liam!)
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Series Finale (new tag), Multiple Romances (carried over from previous books), Magic, Vampires, Shifters (Wolves & Cats), Kids, Alpha Men
Rating: LOVED It!!!

**Spoilers for the first two books, but none for this one!**

BLURB

Blood runs soul-deep. Cormac hasn’t been the same since the night the High Moon Pack was attacked. With his magic weakened, he’s consumed by a bloodlust he hasn’t felt since he first became a vampire. His need to replenish his power makes him a danger to his last remaining family member, and his hunger makes him careless. And that’s just the beginning of his troubles. Feeding from pack beta Liam Benson was supposed to slake his appetite, not leave him craving more.

Simon Osborne and Gray Townsend are trying to fight a being history says shouldn’t exist—one with all three types of magic. The pack must use all of their resources to combat the mysterious triad, even turning to the shady Council of Mages for help. While Cormac struggles to reconcile his past failures with his current desires, Simon must attempt the impossible: an alliance between mind, body, and soul.

REVIEW

Okay, straight up… let’s get this first thing out of the way. Don’t expect this review to be necessarily eloquent or far-thinking or in any way an analysis of the book or series. I just don’t have that in me at this point. What this review IS… is an immediate reaction to reading this third and final book of the series; a book which I’ve been eagerly awaiting for quite a while now. In fact, I’ve been thinking about this last book ever since reading the first, Mind Magic, back in 2012. Normally that doesn’t happen for me, I’m not sure where the story is going. But, and maybe some of you who have read the books can understand me in this, but I felt like (in reading that first book) that the series had a clearly outlined direction, firmly delineated by the names of the books and the separate romances, which mirror the way that magic is first described to us in this world, in a triangle and points of three — three kinds of magic, three different romances, and three different books. The harmony of all of those things are what the series is working towards and Poppy did a wonderful job in satisfying my need for those things to come full circle.

We start this third book with most of the essentials already firmly in hand, with the base of the story firmly established so that the threads immediately start to come together for the final picture the moment the story starts. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to me to become absorbed in a fantasy (or paranormal, but these series tend to be fantasy) series where I’m pulling the threads together on my own as I’m reading, putting the pieces together, only to have them be swept out of the way in the final confrontation or ending by a deus ex machina or even a plausible ending that is somewhat foretold but doesn’t take those threads I pulled together into account. In this series, I felt the planning throughout and that it was important to this book, which I appreciated.

Spoilers for first two books start here:

Now, back to what I was saying after that tangent. We start this book with two soild romances under our belt and a pretty firm idea that this book will concentrate on another — Cormac and Liam — the very much alive ancestor and vampire to Simon and Gray’s beta of the High Moon Pack. We know that Simon started this story by rescuing a group of wolf cubs from a demon that was working with his own mage teacher who was stealing his magic, and that by rescuing the cubs he made himself friend to the wolf pack and mate to their alpha, Gray. In the second book, Body Magic, we go further and learn that there is a man with unimaginable power who was directing both those people (for lack of a better word) and that they’re in even more dire straits than before. In this book, you’ll learn exactly who that person is and what threat they possess. The clues are all there are the start of the book and I bet some of you have already guessed the direction this book is going, in fact may have already guessed who that person is who attacked the pack during the mating ceremony in the second book (hint: you’ll get there eventually, knowing that Cormac is the focus of this last book).

Spoilers End

But really, even though we get to know Cade and Rocky better in Body Magic and Cormac and Liam better in this book, the main star of this series is Simon, and beside him Gray and their family and pack. But Simon’s magic and his exploration of his powers remains the main thread of this story that draws all the others together. I want to mention, at this point, that the setup of this series really pleased me and is something that I’m not sure I’ve seen very much in the past. I was originally a bit upset at the start of the second book, thinking that we were leaving Simon and Gray behind and moving to a new couple when their story wasn’t really finished. But, what Poppy has done with the series is make Simon and Gray the main couple, and even though she introduces new characters and their romances in each book (including their own chapters) she never abandoned that first couple. I really loved that, not only because Simon and Gray and even Gray’s son and the alpha-heir Garon were why I originally fell in love with the story, but because Simon’s importance to the series means that he can’t be abandoned. He’s the star.

Now I’m going to go back on my word 🙂

I think some analysis of the series as a whole is due here. I want to describe why I think I fell in love with this series at the first book and just why it has remained with me. In past, I’ve equated my intense connection and love of a story with it’s length. The more time I spend with the characters, the more I get to know them and the bigger the world is, the more detailed, the more I’m drawn into it and the less I want to leave. That didn’t happen here. I was immediately drawn into this world — three books, which in the fantasy world are rather short novels. And I think, now that I’ve finished all of them, I know why. There is a clarity of purpose in the writing and a lack of verbosity to get the author’s point across. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it’s in planning. But the world is brought through the characters and their love of it. There’s very little detail, compared to those others I’m so used to becoming engrossed in, of the world. And there is also, I must point out, what I felt to be perfect pacing. That is what really brought the story through for me. You can’t say that it is necessarily action-packed, but you can say that there aren’t any needless words. The story is succinct, to the point, and there is a somewhat heavy emphasis on the non-romance plot as opposed to the romance-centered plot, which nevertheless felt quite balanced to me because those characters and their relationships came across to me so clearly.

I hope that come across in the way I intended, and I’d absolutely LOVE to hear from those of you who are fans of this series and how you feel about it, now and after you’ve read the third book.

Now, I’ve rambled enough. But I do want to take one last minute to urge those of you who are new to this author or series to take a chance on these books. I can’t tell you that you’ll love them the way I do, but I do think you’ll enjoy them.

Soul Magic will be released from Dreamspinner Press on May 6


ThreadbareGypsySoulsTitle: Threadbare Gypsy Souls
Author: TA Chase
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 52k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Western Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Shifters (Wolves), Lone Wolf, Cowboys, Secrets & Lies, Alpha Men, Bikers, Gangs/Clubs, Drug Use/Addiction, Injured Character, Organized Crime, First Times
Rating: So So





BLURB

Nashville Rocky Rhodes roars into Fallen Creek on his motorcycle one day, and nothing is ever the same again…

Nash is trying to find his path in life, after leaving Nashville and his biker gang in the dust. Fallen Creek, Wyoming, isn’t where he plans on spending the rest of his life, but it’s a nice place to rest for a while, and take stock of his life. Yet Nash has secrets he doesn’t want to share with anyone, especially not a taciturn, scarred cowboy.

Cullen O’Murphy is a lone wolf, and he’s been fighting a losing battle against the local shifter pack. He doesn’t want to become part of their pack, not knowing what they do for a living. Cullen’s not afraid, since he knows he can defeat the Alpha, but he doesn’t want to lead. He simply wishes to be left alone.

One night, Cullen goes for a drink at the Watering Hole, a local bar, and he meets Nash. The lust is combustible, yet both men are leery about trusting the other with all their secrets. Unfortunately, neither man might have a choice as circumstances spiral out of their control…

REVIEW

I picked up this story for a very particular reason — I wanted something rather simple and easy to read. Generally, shifters fulfill that quota. And I know from past reading that I can usually count on TA Chase to provide a satisfactory read that doesn’t push me to pay attention too much. It’s actually been quite a while since I read anything by TA Chase. Probably a year and a half, at least! So, after spending three weeks sick in bed and reading only Harry Potter and watching the whole series of Merlin, I needed something easy to dip my toes back into the m/m pool. I chose Threadbare Gypsy Souls.

Nashville is a tough looking’ dude. He’s immediately confronted by the Fallen Creek sheriff when he rides into town on his bike, covered in leather and looking like he came out of the bad end of a beat-down. And he looks like trouble. The truth is that no matter how gentle his nature seems, Nash has some secrets, some that don’t make him look very good and some that could come back and bite him on the ass. He’s running away from the town he’s named after, where he lived his whole life and was the Sergeant-at-Arms for a Bike Club after spending months in the hospital. He’s not really up to a long ride, but Nash deemed it prudent to get out of town fast and quietly, and started making his way to California to visit his mother. But the road isn’t kind to his still-healing injuries and he stops in Fallen Creek to take a few weeks to rest up before the rest of his journey.

But almost as soon as he comes into the town, running from trouble, he gets mixed up in Fallen Creek’s resident trouble. Stopping for a drink at the Watering Hole, he meets Jeanette, the owner and sticks up for her when her bartender stops in drunk and moves to attack her. The problem is that drunken Clay gets away with just about whatever he wants, simply because of his brother, Robinson, who pretty much rules the town. But, Nash has never backed down from a bully before, so no matter how many dire warnings he gets about getting on the bad side of Robinson, the local drug-dealer who has an inordinate amount of influence on the town, he refuses to back down. This earns him the respect of another powerful man in town, Cullen O’Murphy. But where Robinson is influential because of the power he holds over the town, Cullen is simply powerful. A natural Alpha wolf, Cullen could challenge Robinson at any point and take over the pack, the town’s big secret, but as a natural and life-long lone wolf, he doesn’t want to be in that leadership position. He’d rather have his small ranch and his comfortable life to look forward to the next day.

But Cullen will have to step in sometime soon. Robinson is even further out of control. Finding themselves on the same side of the line in the sand, they’re natural allies and even more, can’t stay away from one another. But keeping secrets from each other doesn’t make for a happy relationship, no matter how much they’re trying to avoid one.

For the most part, I got what I wanted from reading this novella. It was certainly a relatively easy read — no angst, some fun action/fight scenes, two beefy alpha types and some super hot sex. But while it was nice for the kind of read I wanted at that point in time, in the great span of m/m romance, it was only really so so. The book felt rather lopsided, in the sense that the pace, plot and style changes somewhat in the last 30-40%, leaving me feeling like I ended the book just at the point where everything came out in the open but that the relationship hadn’t settled quite yet. The biggest problem I had, however, was in the characters of Nash and Cullen. I really liked them for the first half to 60% of the book. They have pretty firmly outlined personalities, both rather dominant (though in bed Nash turns slightly submissive, so there’s no real head-butting in the sex). And I felt like I knew them rather well. Then, there’s a point (no spoilers) where one of them reveals a rather big secret that really surprised me (I felt like it hadn’t really been foreshadowed, though of course others might not be as surprised as me) and it made me feel uncertain about who that character really was, and their dynamic together that had already been worked out. Furthermore, I felt like the reveal of that secret could have been worked in better. I would have liked to be able to look back and see concrete evidence about the way the wind was blowing. So that, the timing felt off. I would have really liked to have hit that point in the story and gotten the feeling that everything came together for me. Instead, it felt off beat. More than that, I never really felt like they dealt with those secrets, instead they just seemed to… get over it.

Still, most of the story was fairly enjoyable. TA Chase is a solid author who has plenty of work already out there and a sufficient enough reputation that most of you will have probably read at least something written by her. So you’ll probably know what to expect when you pick up one of her books. If you’re a TA Chase fan, then by all means, pick this one up to read. Otherwise, I’d only really recommend it to those who fluff or sweet and easy reads, combined with shifters and cowboys. Both are in plenty of abundance!


SecretChemistryLGTitle: 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

BLURB

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?

REVIEW

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!


KC_ChanceMetTitle: Chance Met
Author: Karenna Colcroft
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 21k words
Genre: m/m Comtemporary Paranormal Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Wolf Shifters, Magic, Psychics, Kids, Boston, Secrets & Lies, Valentine’s Day
Rating: So So

**This review contains some spoilers**

BLURB

With secrets to hide and people to protect, can Trey Damone and Jeremiah Crawford trust each other and the relationship developing between them?

Who would think that a child’s wish for hot chocolate would change lives? Jeremiah Crawford didn’t expect anything but coffee when he walked into Dunkin Donuts one morning. But a little boy catches his attention–along with the boy’s father. When he realizes the boy, Mikey, has psychic abilities like him, Crawford wants to learn more about him. And more than that, he wants to learn more about Trey Damone, Mikey’s father.

Trey has kept secrets of his own. Mikey’s mother’s family is looking for Mikey to make use of his abilities, which Trey has forbidden his son to speak about in public. And Trey himself is a werewolf, changed only a month earlier. But he’s tired of carrying the secrets alone. Can he trust Crawford enough to let the man into his life?

REVIEW

It has been a while since I’ve read anything by this author and I seem to remember that I enjoyed her work. Though, ultimately, this story was only So So for me, there were still some parts that I liked and many other readers will probably disagree with me and really like the story, which was light, sweet, and a nice Valentine’s Day read.

Jeremiah works for a sorcerer and is himself a psychic. When he makes a detour on his way to work at Dunkin Donuts, he meets Trey and his little boy Mikey, who has a similar ability. Mikey immediately recognizes him and his powers as well, and Jeremiah finds himself taken with both the boy and his father. Not wanting to creep Trey out by showing an interest in his little boy, Jeremiah frets over how to find Trey again, to ask him out. But besides seeing glimpses of the future, Jeremiah has one highly developed skill — sometimes when he wants to find a person, he does. Like following a trail, thinking of Trey leads them to bump into each other on their commute home from work nearly a week later. After talking, both find that they really like each other and would like to see each other again. But Trey has secrets that he’s bound not to share, even with Jeremiah. Trey and Mikey are new to the city, running from a mysterious threat. One month ago, Trey was attacked by wolves and bitten, now new to the local pack and the life of a werewolf.

Part of my feelings about this short novella come from thinking that this was a different type of story than it turned out to be. While there is a background of magic and shifters, that paranormal world doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with the story, other than as a backdrop and as history for the characters. I expected, especially with the threat looming over Trey, that it would be more fundamental to the story. That wouldn’t have been a problem in and of itself, if I had really felt a connection between Trey and Jeremiah and could get behind their relationship, reading it like a shorter contemporary piece, but I just couldn’t. The paranormal pieces of the story are so ingrained into the characters and the setting, but because they come into play so little in the plot, I could never really see their relationship and the story as whole or finished.

What bothered me most was that the story is set up for a confrontation that never happened. It depends on how you read the story and what you expect from it. You can either read it like I did, that the enemies Trey has will eventually crop up, or that it’s just a backdrop to create tension in the relationship between Trey and Jeremiah. One way, the story feels like it ends in the middle and feels unfinished, and in the other, there was never meant to be another sub-plot and the end of the story was intended to be the start of a new relationship between the two men. I feel like I couldn’t quite help, however, feeling as if the story was leading to that absent climax, but then that’s my perspective which could be quite different from your own.

In any way, I still felt like this story had some problems, but ultimately my enjoyment of the story came down to the relationship between the two characters. Maybe, if there had been more time, I could have settled into it, but I finished the story without feeling the connection. There were parts that I liked — in particular, the little boy Mikey. He speaks at times quite a lot older than he is, but that makes sense with his psychic perception of the world around him, and his presence lightened the story and the scenes he was in and added an interesting element that I enjoyed. Fans of this author might want to read this, but since I don’t know her work that well, I can’t say if this one is in line with the others or similar in any way.


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.


ThreeFatesLGTitle: Three Fates
Author: Andrew Grey, Mary Calmes & Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 103,075 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Keywords/Tags: Anthology, Author Backlist Project, Mythology
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

For time immemorial, the goddesses of fate have decided which human threads will shine and which will be cut short. But even the fates have off days.



Fate Delivers a Prince by Andrew Grey: Finding love shouldn’t be that difficult for a diplomat’s son, except Cheyenne is part of a grand tradition of werewolves, and a werewolf with a skin condition needs more help than most mortals. When Chay meets the prince of his dreams, it takes Clotho’s intervention to keep him from letting go.



Jump by Mary Calmes: When two lovers die, their threads of life are collected instead of scattered, as one of them was the brother of a god. Can the fates reunite two lovers whose threads should have twined together for eternity? Or will Cassidy allow Raza’s interest to pass his pale, mortal self by?



Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane: The gods’ meddling isn’t always welcome. It’s given Leif good luck but poor fortune, and Hacon a family curse he’s lived in fear of all his life. But when Leif’s good luck saves Hake’s life, Hake has to reevaluate everything he’s ever believed about luck, life, and love.

REVIEW

I was interested in this quasi-anthology (?? — collection?) from the get-go and bought it mostly because of two of my favorite authors — Mary Calmes and Amy Lane — were in it. But, now that I’m reading a book by both of these authors a week, or at least trying, for my Author Backlist Project, I knew it was time to get this one out and see what to make of it. While I mostly liked it, the three stories within are all very different, so I’ll refrain from talking too much in this general part of the review and save it all for the individual stories.

However, all three stories do deal with the mythology of the Three Fates/Sisters/Morai. Known in Greek mythology as Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, there are many things you might associate or remember about them from different sources — the one eye they share, how one allots the yarn or string, one weaves them and the other cuts them. These three different authors dealt with this mythology in different and interesting ways. Andrew Grey didn’t associate them with any of our known mythologies, but made them rather independent and changed their tools from fiber to wheels (though this might be from another cultural myth, I’m not sure). Mary Calmes gives us a the classical Greek definition with a bit of ancient Egyptian flair. Amy Lane, however, took the cake with her representation of the sisters, I think. Much more heavily involved in the lives of the characters of her story than the other author’s stories, her sisters were firmly entrenched in Norse mythology along with some other famous gods you might recognize, Loki and Thor. I found the interludes where they watched and discussed the lives of Leif and Hacon to be some of the best parts of the story and I loved that she inserted a bit of her own fiber knowledge (spit-slicing!) in there for comic relief. Of all the representations of the gods throughout these three stories, I have to say that not only were they the most enjoyable to watch, but they acted the most like the gods from mythology, at turns flighty and careless of their human charges, while at the same time playing favorites and taking a very firm hand in the mortal realm.


Fate Delivers a Prince by Andrew Grey (So So)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Wolf Shifters, Germany, Royalty, Mate Bonding

Coming in at around 20% of the overall length of the book, Andrew Grey’s story is the paranormal tale of a wolf shifter named Cheyenne, an American in Bavaria with his family. Chay is the youngest of three boys in their diplomat family, his father a powerful Alpha. Cheyenne is a rather weak wolf himself and not at all like his brothers, the oldest just like their father in strength and personality and the middle cruel and callous. What Chay wants more than anything is so find a mate he can love, but he knows that won’t ever happen. He’s afflicted with a mysterious skin condition, but when he’s a wolf and a human that covers his skin in large and red flaky patches that drive him crazy with discomfort and pain. He’s a bit of an embarrassment to his family really — who wants to sit next to the boy constantly starching himself at a state dinner?

So Chay might be the most surprised of all of them when he finally gets a whiff of his mate at a ball. And not only is it a man like he expected (and his father feared), but it’s Arthur, a prince. Chay is doomed. Not only is his mate entirely out of his league, but he’s human. The intervention of a mysterious and divine woman will change all of that.

I suppose that I was just a little bit disappointed by this story. I mean, it isn’t bad, but it really isn’t great either. It’s cute, but we never really get to know Arthur that well. It was frustrating to see the climax of the story hinge on the stupidity of the characters rather than a more original plot twist and the behavior of all of the characters was a little annoying. It doesn’t quite read “Big Mis” standards, because the miscommunication doesn’t last all that long, but I was hoping for a more interesting turn of events. In many respects it’s a werewolf Cinderfella (Cindercubba?) story, with the rich prince falling in love with the skin-afflicted commoner (no matter how rich he is), but I found the tone of the story to be more in line with a typical paranormal story rather than a fairy tale.

In all, this was my least favorite story in the collection. However, it takes a really ingenious, original and interesting shifter story to really get my attention and I know that many readers will like this story. It’s cute, a bit fluffy and an easy read. It just wasn’t what I was looking for.


Jump by Mary Calmes (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Cops/Agents, Crime, The Mafia, Psychics, Mythology, Reincarnation

Taking up about a third of the overall length of the book, Jump is the story of Cassidy, a short-term psychic matchmaker who is urged by his gift to interrupt the pattern of Raza’s life, in order to safe him from death. Raza is a mysterious figure, surrounded by guards, but Cassidy can immediately see that for as dangerous as he looks he has a big heart and a sweet disposition. Cassidy, who is rather self-effacing and seems desperate to remain lonely and guarded from his lovers, and the two immediately take to one another.

What they don’t know is how their lives are fated to continually cross after their death in a past life in ancient Egypt. It isn’t just Cass’ gift that shows they have an extra-strong connection to one another, but also interference from the gods. Because this divine intervention from the gods is set up in the prologue, I didn’t really mind too much that Raza and Cass fall immediately in love. If they were fated and felt like they knew each other upon meeting because of their past-life history, then I can suspend disbelief for that. I actually found Cass to be an interesting Calmes character, because though he has the token magnetism that she always seems to give her characters, where everyone is drawn to them as if they’re sent down from Heaven, Cass was actually rather nerdy and had quite a strong streak of low self-esteem.

This was definitely an enjoyable read, something that I’m used to getting with Mary Calmes’ stories. I still had a few problems with it, though. I felt it was rather short for the plot. I’m used to quite a fast pace from this author, where the scenes bleed into one another and seem to go directions I hadn’t expected, but I felt like since the mystery behind the men who want to kill Raza isn’t the primary focus of the story then we could maybe have gotten some more time for the romance to develop. I’m not even saying to make it not insta-love, but they only know one another for one day before their jumping into an HEA (and they really jump into it!), but a couple extra days together wouldn’t have hurt anything and I would have liked to have a little more time to settle into the relationship and see the characters getting to know each other better.


Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Norse Mythology, Fiber Arts, Family Issues, Mystery

The last story in this collection takes the remaining half of the book, coming in at a much longer story than the others and around 50k. It’s certainly a much larger story, with more characters and more time for the characters to develop a relationship. I already talked about one of my favorite aspects of this story, the heavy intervention on the part of the gods at just about every turn. The thing that made this story so absolutely charming, though, is Leif, who is lucky. Leif’s luck is a tangible thing, a little piece of string he sees in his mind which makes his decisions for him and keeps him out of trouble. It’s hardly scientific and sometimes it leads him into trouble only for him to learn that with that trouble is an even luckier payoff at the end. It also doesn’t mean that Leif has lived a charmed life. The luck/string goes hand in hand with his personality, however. It has shown Leif to look on the bright side of every situation, which leads him to have the sunniest disposition of any person or character I’ve ever seen. Some might even think him naive, but he’s a completely unique and utterly enthralling character, and so absolutely charming that you’ll be cheering for him to have his happily ever after.

There is quite a bit more that I could talk about with this story, there are (funnily enough) multiple strands running throughout that all give greater meaning in reflection of one another. But, I’ll let you find out all about this one on your own. Sure, I liked the other stories — I liked Mary Calmes’ story a lot — but this story is worth buying the whole book for. Even if you don’t read the others, get this book to read this story. Leif charmed me so much that I want to say he’s one of my all time favorite Amy Lane characters, which is saying something considering I finish every book of her’s and think, ‘WOW… those are my new favorite characters!’