Archive for February, 2012

Love Bleeds (Only After Dark Series -Book One)

Love Bleeds (Only After Dark #1) by Maggie James
This book, on paper, ticked some major boxes for me.
Rock stars – check
Vampires – check
Hot sex – check
I skimmed through the reviews on Amazon, figured it was a new author and worth splashing out the $5.99 Kindle price tag.  Mistake.
The book has a sound premise, a bunch of potential characters for a series and… that’s about it. I’m always keen to support and encourage new writers, but I really struggled with this. It’s a great example of how fiction can be so subjective.
So what did I have trouble with?
Every new person that makes an appearance is given a formal description, more akin to a police report. They almost all include a summary of outfits, too.
Lucas: Towering over them, he appeared to be at least several inches over six feet tall. His jet black hair pulled tightly off his face and secured in a braid that travelled halfway down his broad back.
Julian: At five foot ten with brown wavy hair that barely touched his shoulders and warm chocolate brown eyes. Julian was a sensitive, attractive, well-built man, nearing thirty.
Max: Standing at a meagre five foot four with what was left of his rapidly depleting hair a blending of white and silver-grey. His round cherub like face edged with a neatly trimmed goatee.
Joe: He appeared to be a few inches shy of six feet tall with a medium athletic build. His shoulder length blonde hair shone like spun gold.
Typos and spelling mistakes are everywhere (e.g. blonde instead of blond). Grammar and punctuation have gone MIA. Commas seemed to be rationed as closely as a smoker on his last packet of ciggies and all night until the corner shop opens again.
It’s supposedly set in Dublin, but written by an American author who persists in using American terms for everyday things. Elevator. Lobby. Purse. Curb. The rock stars are supposed to be English but their dialogue is so clunky and awkward that you begin to wonder if English is their native language?
Joe: “No need to be embarrassed. We may be the undead Phillip but mortal death cannot wane the true desires of the flesh.”
Joe: “Drink dammit, for fear I will eventually grow tired of this game and kill you myself!”
Joe: “You’re fairing well my friend.”(sic)Speech tags are littered like autumn leaves on a windy day.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Joe stated coldly. “Whoa… down boy!” Joe interrupted. “He’s right Joe.” Phillip agreed. “But Joe…” Phillip pleaded.
And the whole premise of show-don’t-tell is just a blue-sky concept.
Erick Slade was the leader of a modern day vampire coven who got their rocks off terrorizing innocent mortals and preyed on young beautiful women.
There were however, plenty of rock hard abdomens and lots of tanned skin and tattoos 🙂
Head hopping is dire and confusing, motivation is unfathomable… Why oh why didn’t I read the other reviews before I splurged my $5.99 on this? If it was a paperback I could at least tear the pages out and burn them 😦
Okay, I’m being harsh, especially since I think this writer has potential. I’d love to see her work properly edited. Hell, I’d love to have the opportunity to proofread her next manuscript and whip it into something un-putdownable.
Ms James, if you read this review, I’m serious with that offer – add me to your list of crit-partners. What have you got to lose?
There are gazillions of fantastic writers out there to learn from. To get into this genre you could read some JR Ward (perfect vamps) or Olivia Cunning (perfect rock stars)… The combination of Vampires and Rock Stars could be a winner; it just needs a little more work in this case 🙂
Abandoned at 30%. A reluctant 1 out of 5.

Read Full Post »

Rent-A-Stud (Coopers' Companions, Book One)

I’m giving it 3 stars, it had promise and failed to deliver. I like to suspend belief when I’m reading, but the dialogue between mother and daughter was pushing it too far. She buys her mother sex toys? And not just a fun vibrator, but an entire box of stuff (and wasn’t she a hard-up student anyway?!?) – and then talks in detail about mother’s sex life… Sorry, I don’t buy that. Also, and this really made me cringe, she nagged her mother into stripping naked and trying on new underwear IN FRONT OF HER. Ewwwwwwww.

And I did some numbers in my head. Zach has been a ‘popular’ escort for 10 years, so lets say he has sex with one new woman every 2 weeks (I’m being generous here, stay with me a moment…) – that’s an average of 26 a year – over 250 in 10 years. Yeah, he’s experienced < rolls eyes >.

I thought Zach fell for her too quickly and I really REALLY think she would be more put off by his slut-history – especially when she screws him WITHOUT a condom, and without even asking first. So ok, she couldn’t get pregnant, but HELLO…  she works in a hospital and has never heard of STDs? Yeah, right!

So apart from the terrible cover and the cheesy title (which is actually kinda fun), it was only the author’s great writing that held this together for me. 3 out of 5.



Read Full Post »

Carnal Ecstasy


I think after the sheer perfection of Simple Need, it would be hard to match it, and I had high hopes for Carnal Ecstasy, the second book in this trilogy.

Dallon, part bar-owner, part-tattoo-parlour-owner and best friend of Vintner and Jaz is not looking for an emotional entanglement. He’s especially not looking for Carrie – the complete opposite of his ‘type’. She’s a good girl, a well brought up Christian who follows her parents instructions in everything. Until now. She’s rebelling – and first on her list of things to try is the gorgeous man that she’s just met.

“You don’t need to be messing with me, Carrie. You really don’t. If ever there was a black sheep, I’m it. My reputation is bad, very, very bad. It’s best that you go. Now.”

He wants her – wanted her from the moment she stopped him outside to ask for directions – but recognizes that she isn’t the type for his usual one-night stand. So he tries to resist her… and fails.

FedEx was going to bust through the doors, package him up and send him straight to hell by ten the next morning for asking his next question and already knowing the answer. “What else do you want?”


She worries that she’s too innocent.

“Naughty girls are always sexy, but taking a girl like you,” he slid a hand down the lace to cup her pussy through it, “and turning her into a naughty one is even sexier.”

For the first time ever, Dallon shares his bed with a woman. All night.

She looked adorable and rumpled though. Her skin had that just-awakened flush, her eyes were still drowsy and heavy lidded. She was so warm and soft, and he wanted to melt into her at the same time he wanted to kick her out of his bed because she was a threat to everything he knew prior to meeting her. His one-night stands and easy lays were gonna come to a screeching halt if he didn’t get rid of her soon.

So… Carrie and Dallon hook up and have some hot sex. There’s a bit of character growth and a nice easy ending, but it didn’t grab me. It was just too… empty, a bit like a puzzle where you fill in the blanks.

I think it suffered from being so short, that there wasn’t time for any character depth. I didn’t get why Dallon was such a bad, bad boy. He has tats and piercings, and runs a bar. He didn’t come across as anything other than thoughtful and generous – and affectionate. He’s polite with her parents. Good with his friends, and loving with Carrie. And why did Carrie suddenly decide to rebel? Going from long-term celibacy to instant sex-kitten overnight, was a bit of a leap.

On the plus side, Lissa Matthews has a lovely relaxed style of writing, so if you’re looking for a quick, hot read, this ticks the boxes. 3 out of 5.


Read Full Post »

Frontier Wolf


Rosemary Sutcliff writes historical drama with such an eye for detail, when you stop reading and come back to ‘real life’, there’s a brief sense of disorientation. Her work is so vivid, the narrative breathtaking in parts – and the storylines are filled with characters you come to love.

And so it is with Frontier Wolf. Alexios Flavius Aquila is a young commander in the Roman Army, despatched to the semi-wild Frontier Wolves north of Hadrian’s Wall following a disastrous command decision in Germany.

“We’ll never make it.” Centurion Clovis forgot the “Sir.”

They faced each other across the table, and after a moment Alexios said deliberately, “Centurion, I am in command here.”

And silence came down between them like a sword.

Centurion Clovis, who had grey hairs in his beard, looked back at this puppy, who with nothing to recommend him save that he was a first-class swordsman (and you could say the same of any gladiator who outlasted three fights in the arena), just because he had an influential uncle, had been promoted over the heads of men like himself, before he had time to learn his job, and said, “I should like to place it officially on record that I disagree with your decision, Sir.”

This takes place in the last years of Roman rule in Britain, and Aquila’s new soldiers are a mixture of native tribesmen and Romans. He has much to learn.

“They may make some kind of man out of you – if they don’t arrange for you to have a fatal accident instead,” said Uncle Marius’s voice in his memory.

Not only does he have to gain respect from his soldiers, he also has to maintain the uneasy peace with the local tribes – the nearest of which is the Votadini. Here at least, he finds it easier. The Chieftain’s eldest son is a similar age and they become friends.

Suddenly laughter caught at them both, eye meeting eye; a quiet laughter – men seldom bellow their mirth in the wild places – but quick and potent, linking them together.

His first Midwinter Night, two months into his new command, brings trouble. The celebratory dancing gets out of control and he has to impose his authority for the first time.

Alexios found that he was shaking a little, and hoped desperately that it did not show, as he looked from one to another of the men about him. And the men in their turn looked back, taking in the fact that their new Commander stood in their midst with one cheek cut and an eye rapidly filling up and turning black. Maybe some of them were pondering the punishment for striking an officer. Well, it would do them no harm to sweat a little.

This is a story as much about forging friendships as it is about Alexios growing and learning his trade. His seconds in command (Lucius and Hilarion), the young trumpeter Rufus, the Quartermaster Kaeso and the Chieftain’s son Cunorix all take their places in your heart. He goes hunting with Cunorix to gain his own wolfskin.

Between the darkly sodden wreck of last year’s bracken and the soft, grey drift of the sky, the catkins were lengthening on the hazel bushes, making a kind of faint sunlight of their own, and in one especially sheltered place, as the two young men brushed past, the first pollen scattered from the whippy sprays so that they rode through a sudden golden mist.

But peace is tenuous at best and things deteriorate during an inspection of the fort.

Montanus raised his voice as Alexios tried to cut in. “These people forget who is master all too quickly. They need to be taught the lesson afresh from time to time.”

“I doubt you’ll teach it them by putting the Chief’s brother up as a live target for javelin practice!”

“It’s a usual enough form of execution.”

The second half of the book revolves around Alexios trying to survive a series of pitched battles with the tribesmen and it’s difficult to tear yourself away from the pages as he throws himself wholeheartedly into the task.

The Dextra gate, well greased in advance, opened without sound onto the windy darkness of the night beyond. And men and horses slipped forward like a long skein of ghosts, one after another through the gate and down the steep track to the ford, the men of the decoy party leading the way.

Most of the story takes place in the middle of winter. I frequently looked up from the pages to see summer sunshine blazing through my windows and felt a moment’s confusion. While I read this book, I was there, with the soldiers, riding a rough pony through the wind and rain.

It’s a delight to immerse yourself in a Rosemary Sutcliff and to my relief, there are still plenty for me to read. 5 out of 5.

Read Full Post »

Master of the Abyss


After devouring Master of the Mountain, I was eager to read the sequel and find out more about Logan’s charismatic brother, Jake. His avoidance of commitment is legendary in the small town of Bear Flat and he’s dated most of the available women, using his infamous “One night only” rule. He’s never really noticed tomboy Kallie before, until she comes to his attention in a bar fight.

Kallie stood in front, one scruffy sprite, boots planted, guarding the territory. Looked rather like Toto trying to defend Dorothy from all comers.

Kallie and her cousins are going into business with Jake & Logan, running hiking trails for tourists that stay at Jake’s Serenity Lodge. However, these tourists often have a different ‘lifestyle’ (yeah, you can guess what kind) and Kallie finds herself invited there, to get an appreciation of what to expect from them.

She realized she was wringing her hands and shoved them in the front pockets of her jeans. There. Look casual. She swallowed hard. Hey, I see people manacled to log walls all the time. You bet. It’s a popular sport in Bear Flat. Gonna replace fishing soon.

My initial enthusiasm waned a little when Jake and Kallie launched almost immediately into D/S play. He’s an experienced Dom, and he usually selects his subs from clubs far away from Bear Flat, but he’s tempted by Kallie and keen to initiate her into his lifestyle.

His sky blue eyes darkened as if storm clouds had rolled in. “We’re playing together only this one time. Only tonight.”

It helps that she’s lusted after him for months, even though she’s nothing like his usual blonde bimbo choice of partner.

A weight lifted from her shoulders, knowing that he’d seen all of her and had liked what he saw. There could be no compliment more potent than that huge erection in his jeans. All for her.

Kallie makes a great female lead. Tough and strong, she’s spent her formative years with three male cousins and has suppressed any feminine traits. Jake is surprised – and delighted by her.

Damn, she was sweet. Tough little Kallie. According to her family and friends, she’d been the terror of the high school, trying to outmacho her big cousins and every other male also. But here? She was all woman.

Coping with Jake’s one-night-rule is not so easy for Kallie when she runs into him the morning after.

Jake saw her. His gait hitched, and the laughter faded from his face. He said, “Morning, Kallie,” his voice as polite as if she were… a tourist. As if he’d never kissed her or been inside her or sucked on her breasts. Obviously he’d meant that “one night only.” The bastard.

I would have liked a little more getting-to-know-each other before they launched into play, but thankfully it didn’t take long before their characters started to develop – and Jake breaks his rule and asks her for another night of play.

I want him. But could she take the inevitable end? Her feelings had already taken a blow from only one night. How many could she survive before she fell? “I need to think about it.”

Kallie and Jake each have a multitude of unresolved issues and I loved the way Cherise Sinclair uncovered them, a little at a time.

He’d work on this insecurity of hers more in the future – no, he wouldn’t. No ties. What the hell was he thinking?

By the time Kallie drops her ILY bomb, I was glued to the pages.

She rose on one elbow, trying to see his face in the darkness. Her voice came out strained. “Guess that wasn’t what you wanted to hear.”

He cleared his throat. “No. That’s unexpected.” Everything in him wished to reassure her and ease the strain he heard in her voice. At the same time, he wanted – needed – to grab his pack and head down the mountain. To get away.

My earlier doubts about this story were swept away. I felt for Kallie and longed for her to find happiness with Jake.

Jake had gone out of town, huh? He didn’t think it was adequate to dump her, but he had to flee the territory too, like she’d turn into some deranged stalker. Like she couldn’t take a hint – well, hardly a hint, more like Get Lost, Kallie.

There’s more to this than just Kallie and Jake being unsure about each other. Her three over-protective cousins are determined to keep them apart – and they discover there’s a serial killer in town, murdering young dark-haired women. Girls like Kallie. And she might be the next victim.

This developed into another 5-star read from Cherise Sinclair, one of the best and hottest erotic writers I’ve found.

Read Full Post »

Male Order


My travelling companions on the train are used to me burying my nose in a book for my daily journeys to work. It’s still unusual though, for me to squeal with laughter and have to wipe my eyes because I’m laughing so hard – and blushing at the same time. But so it was with Male Order.

Meg would say her sex life sucks, if she had one. As it happens, her 2 favourite guys are called Ben & Jerry and she sees them most nights, when she curls up on the sofa with a movie. After all, she needs something to distract her from her new flatmate, the ridiculously buff and sexy Sam. Gym instructor Sam. Super-fit Sam. All round Nice Guy Sam. The total opposite of Meg in every way.

Her best friend Laura has a brilliant idea for a new business. Lifestyle Advisors, aka pimps. They will advise the attention of a handsome young man to woman lacking that certain zing in their lives. And then of course, supply the man in question.

Meg stared open-mouthed. Had she lost her mind? “Do I look like I should be giving people lifestyle advice? Unless they want to learn how to dress badly and put on weight, in which case, I’m definitely their girl.”

She could, of course, do with a little zing in her own life – and when Sam learns about her terrible her sex life has been so far, he agrees – and makes her a suggestion.

“We’ll treat the night as two friends doing each other a favour. No commitment, no pain, just mind blowing sex.”

Well… who wouldn’t be tempted! And Meg succumbs, but has doubts the morning after.

He’d seen her in all her wobbly glory, and yet he had valiantly soldiered on. She should put his name up for an award. Presented to Sam Stephens for services rendered in the face of mountainous fat in an ongoing quest for Maggie Riley’s missing libido.

To her surprise – amazement – Sam wanted a second round.

All her ice cream munching and lack of exercise must be catching up with her – she was having a coronary. At least if she died now she would be happy in the knowledge that sex was better than any flavour made by Ben & Jerry.

However, things never run to plan for Meg. She knows it’s a bad idea to take Sam to the family BBQ, to expose him to her very bizarre family, but somehow that’s what happens. First off, her mother. A woman who strikes fear into Sam’s heart.

Her arrival was like a royal tour. Hat placed firmly on her head, crisp white and blue flowery patterned linen dress, matching shoes and handbag. She looked like she’d escaped from the fifties.

And there’s Meg, wearing a dress that Sam picked from her terrible wardrobe.

Even though the dress ended mid-calf she knew her mother would glare disapprovingly at the two tiny triangles barely covering her boobs. If she leaned forwards too far the girls would escape their inadequate refuge.

If her mother is bad enough, Sam has never met anyone quite like Great Aunt Maud!

If she were Sam, she’d have blocked the whole memory from her mind. Her mother had cross examined him and her great aunt Maud had just pinched his butt, declaring him to be just the sort of young man she needed to keep her pacemaker ticking.

They seek refuge in her mother’s kitchen, and get a little carried away…

“Do you have a condom on you?”
He slid his free hand into his pocket. Some girls might think it presumptuous of him to be carrying protection, but like a boy scout, a good fuck buddy should always be prepared.

At least her sex life is improving, but her friend’s business plan makes her very nervous. Especially when it now involves a dubious male-stripper joint called the Jolly Roger.

“Some woman drew a face on Chad’s dick with a sharpie a few weeks ago and we decided he needed a name of his own. We ran a contest, with the prize being dinner and dancing with the newly named cock and his owner. The winning vote was for Roger. Now he’s the bar’s unofficial mascot. We’re going to put his picture on the wall behind the bar.”

Things go from bad to worse. The first man on their ‘payroll’ is Michael, her sister’s Irish ex-boyfriend. And their first client is the sex-mad great aunt Maud.

She glanced at Meg. “Muriel says she blows Joe when he’s out of Viagra. I offered to blow him. I even took my teeth out so I could get better suction.”

She took a step closer to the bed and Michael squealed in terror.

Nobody bundles sexy men, hot erotica and laughter together as well as Lillian Grant. I loved every minute of this book and am thrilled that the sequel (Male Review) will be out soon. This is a definite feel-good 5-star read 🙂

Read Full Post »

North of Need (Heart of the Anemoi)

A simple and moving premise: Megan is enduring the second anniversary of her husband’s untimely death and is close to rock bottom, having a tearful meltdown over the snowman that she builds.

She’d made a snow family. A snow man, a snow woman and a snow child. A sob tore up her throat and echoed into the stillness. What the hell was she thinking?

When a sexy stranger turns up at her remote cabin – in a blizzard – she gives him shelter and starts to realise there’s more to life that she first thought. She guesses that there’s something odd about Owen Winters, but the truth is more bizarre than even she can imagine.

The first thing she latched on to was the shirt and scarf – John’s clothing. The pieces she’d used on her snowman. Was it possible this guy had walked here… in what? The pair of faded jeans he wore and nothing else? And then… he’d grabbed the clothes in desperation before collapsing at her door? Everything about that was two kinds of strange.

Owen is one of the snow gods, brought to life by her tears and sent by her husband’s soul to bring her happiness. However, there was a catch. Owen was only allowed the time until the thaw, to win her heart.

What should’ve been weeks of time courting Megan, winning her affection – earning it – was now four days.

He wanted her for her, not just for the possibility of happiness and companionship she’d represented as he’d stood before the panel of gods and agreed to help John Snow. Four days then. There was still a chance. And that was more than he’d had in a very long time.

Owen is such a delightful character, it would be hard not to love him. Playful and affectionate, he’s a man of few words with a cheeky boyish side to his nature.

“So, good with languages, shovels and igloos. Anything else?”

The smug look he tossed at her was so wicked it shivered right down her spine. Walked right into that, hadn’t she.

I loved this book. Laura Kaye has the ability to take two people and weave their story so finely, that you think you’re taking part.  She captured this brilliantly in Hearts in Darkness (at which point I became a fan) and has built on this to a full length novel, the first in a new series. No complex plots, no evil villains or nasty friends, just two lonely people learning to trust each other and falling in love. Even if one of them has some special powers.

What she was seeing, what he was saying – was totally crazy. Opened doors of possibilities she’d never before considered. That just weren’t real.

A snowflake tickled the end of her nose and she shook her head. The flurries were few and far between now, nearly gone. “It was snowing in here, right? I didn’t imagine that? But, how?”

He watched her for a moment, then his lips lifted into a slow, tentative smile. “Sorry. You… affect me.”

I gasped aloud when Megan learned the truth.

Owen looked up. His dark blue and brown eyes glinted playfully from under his black hair. Lips so red…

In a flash, she saw herself. Christmas Eve. The snowman. Sorting the buttons. Disappointed she didn’t have a matching pair for the eyes. Deciding it didn’t matter – the large navy and chocolate buttons were all she had…

Realisation slammed into her.

There was magic a-plenty in this absorbing read. And humour – I loved when she was trying to explain to her mum.

She inhaled a deep breath and prayed her mother wouldn’t freak out. “I, um, met someone?” Also not exactly true, but she wasn’t broaching the whole he’s-an-ancient-god-who-came-to-life-through-my-snowman conversation. Not yet anyway. Maybe not ever.

And when his four days are up… in order to transition to the mortal realm and become a human, he needs Megan to fall in love with him.

Today was his last day. Outside the house, a symphony of drips played out, had been playing for hours.

The West Wind had arrived. The melt was upon them.

It had me hooked from the start. When I found myself in tears, on the train to work, I knew it was a keeper 🙂 5 out of 5.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »