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review 2017-10-02 06:58
1 1/2 out of 3 ain't bad?
Primal Need: A Sexy Male/Male Shifter Anthology: Wolf in King's ClothingThe Alpha's ClaimDark Water - Holley Trent,Parker Foye
THREE HEARTS--For a shifter anthology, this didn't deliver as expected. (avg. doesn't include the 2nd story)

Wolf in King's Clothing by Parker Foye - 3.5-3.75 Hearts

They call him "Prince".

A half breed, small assassin that has had the worst life ended up being my favorite of the anthology, go figure?



The unlikely hero who has been shat on, exiled and doesn't speak due to lacking social manners? My toes couldn't stop curling. Set in alternate Victorian period where werewolves are known, "Prince" aka Kent doesn't really know his true name. He's been collared and kept as a witch's assassin as an adult. He's been bartered over and kept like trash, exiled from wolf packs, he has no kind to call his own. His owner tasks him to do one more retrieval and he will have his freedom, Kent agreed before she even finished her sentence. Kent goes to the highlands to rescue an alpha who isn't like any alpha Kent's met.

But he doesn't care for the alpha, Hadrian's peculiar nature, he just needs to make sure he brings Hadrian back in one piece to his master. The road trip back to York is eventful, as the rival pack that kept Hadrian wants him back. The reasons why Hadrian needed to be retrieved are a little murky.

However personable Hadrian who has his own magical secret was a good choice as a foil to Kent's surly silence. The chip is mega wide on Kent's shoulder and Hadrian's steady persistence to at first befriend Kent was fun to read. The camaraderie, bodyguard/ward relationship takes a romantic turn. And it's subtle, which worked one hand and didn't on the other. The romance is pretty subtle, too subtle in the primal need department. Hadrian is alpha? He read like a beta which I can be down with. But when push comes to shove, he didn't claim his mate.

Kent still has to go through trials during this novella. And it endeared me to him. The story has a nice action/suspense twist and the reader gets to slowly learn about Kent's past and why he's so special.

I thought the reason why Kent is badass was cool. I haven't read about his type much in urban fantasy I've read.

The sex? One scene and no penetration for the smutsters keeping score. The story is interesting and evenly paced. I enjoyed the world building, pretty close to Victorian period with magical/paranormal exceptions.

Out of all the stories, this was the one that showed the most promise. If it's ever re-edited and lengthened, I'm there. Definitely would read more from this author!

The Alpha's Claim by Holley Trent - DNF Delight

A lot of anthologies have a stink bomb or two in their arsenal... this is Primal Need's



The writing style leaves a lot to be desired. Telling, shallow and none of the characters have substance. Then the setting bungle. It's supposed to be set in New York but the setting seemed like it was an internet search and find deal.

If a customer stiffs you repeatedly from tips for weeks... you end up in his bed to get the money you earned?

For what I've read, it's definitely stink face inducing.



Shifter fail. Plot fail.

NOPE.

Save yourself the time.

Dark Water by K.L. White - 2.5 Hearts

If you read the anthology, after the reading the previous stink bomb, Dark Water might read as manna from heaven.

Kelpie shifter lead is definitely on the unusual side of go to shifters.




Being as I didn't suffer through that, I read this without fume-weary eyes. This story is from a debut author... and it reads like it's from a new author. Not a bad thing, I love newbie authors. But the story, while more unusual due to the kelpie shifter mythology brought to the table, the execution has some hits and misses.

Benjamin is on the brink. He's a former naval officer in Maryland who leaves the hospital to kill himself. Trigger warning: attempted suicide. He's blind, has no friends or family other than a racist dementia diagnosed father who wouldn't recognize Benjamin on a good day. He best friend Rez was killed in front of him while trying to save his fellow officers. It's one of the last images in Benjamin's mind. He goes to the beloved beach to die.

At that beach, a kelpie marks him for sacrifice. The kelpie turns out to be Rez, Benjamin's best friend thought to have died on that deadly mission. The mark means Benjamin must die but Rez can't do it. And tries to save his friend. This mission of saving Benjamin gets buried under repetition, different threads to a plot that would've be best kept simple and an underwhelming chemistry.

The length could have been longer to tackle the heavy topics such as a veteran battling depression suicidal thoughts, a new permanent disability, PTSD. The items are touched on, but those are weighty topics that deserved more meat.

And to add more issues: sexuality. Benajimn identifies as heterosexual and never had any sexual feelings toward his friend. Being savd, learning his friend is actually alive and hearing his friend kiss another man helps him discover a part of sexuality he's never questioned?




Benjamin loved Rez as a friend, and while they'd kissed and touched, he didn't know if he was seeking comfort in blindness.


I'm leaning toward that camp of questioning Benjamin's motives as Rez seemed like he wasn't attracted then he was, then he kissed another man even tough he shot the persistent guy down. And now he wants to mate for life to Benjamin.

The kelpie population is dying and the men are charged to mate and make new kelpie foals with female kelpies. Another factor that makes me question the entire relationship factor as Rez wants to do his duty but needs to save his friend more.

And when they have sex, it was "I'm not attracted to males" vs. "but I have to sleep with you to save your life". I'm not liking the way the chips are stacked. It read forced and not sexy. Rough sex for an anal virgin? The possessive streak is usually my go to hot factor but I wasn't feeling it in this context. And the suicidal thoughts were still there close to the end.  I get why the need to mate was needed to keep Benjamin alive but I'm not liking the reasons.

And then way everything is neatly tied up? Uh-uh. Right. Sure.

The ideas are good. The execution is questionable. The story would have been better for me both men had an inkling of shared passion prior to meeting, the suicide and killing didn't happen and the plot remained simple.

My rating is for the kelpie folklore mostly and the premise.

The title of this anthology is Primal Need and not one story addressed that factor. So if you're a reader looking for primal shifters, look somewhere else. The good thing about this anthology is the stories are also sold separately. I'd read samples before getting any of the titles.

So, 1 1/2 out of 3?



A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.
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review 2017-09-19 03:51
Infected: Lesser Evils (Infected #6)
Infected: Lesser Evils - Andrea Speed

I just can't seem to stay in love with this series, but I am at least saying in like with it. Once again, there are lots of things I really like here, mostly with the characterizations and the relationship building. Holden and Scott were especially a nice surprise. But, and this is a big but, Ms. Speed just can't seem to decide where to take this story. The overall arc is well done - Roan's continued evolution/downslide as a virus child and how the virus is changing/being changed by him and vice versa. Other than that though, there are a lot of things that are introduced and then just sort of get shoved aside, forgotten or rushed at the end so at least something's kind of resolved. 

 

Still, I'm glad I'm reading these after they've all been released, because that cliffhanger is just cruel. CRUEL I SAY! 

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review 2017-09-10 00:52
Too much of the same thing
Mine: MMF Bisexual Menage Romance - Chloe Lynn Ellis

I really struggled with rating this book. Ellis is talented and the book is well-written as far as flow. She's also quite descriptive, especially when it comes to Boston and its many attributes. The story revolves around Jack, Dylan, and Cate, and of the three, Dylan was the most likable. Jack was a jerk through most of the story and Cate was okay, but I found little to set her apart from any female lead in any romance. However, the characters weren't my real problem with this one. The book is lengthy - over 100k word count lengthy. That, in itself, wouldn't bother me as long as there is something to keep the story moving along. Sadly, that wasn't the case. Much like Cate, I didn't find anything to set this story apart from any other menage romance. The characters bicker over the same issue and then things get steamy, over and over. I have no problem with steamy times, but sex just for the sake of another sex scene isn't beneficial to the story. The story began to drag on and in my opinion, it could've easily been cut in half and it would've been a much more entertaining read. As it stands, I began to lose interest at about the 50% mark with the same issues being discussed in triplicate with the first person multi POV, and while the characters do get their happily ever after, I felt little connection to any of them.

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review 2017-08-26 18:48
Accepting the Fall
Accepting the Fall - Meg Harding

This is my first book by this author and it's a good one. It's a nice slow burn as Cole and Zander reunite and get to know each other again after their disastrous first attempt at love as teens. Cole's now a teacher and Zander's a firefighter with a daughter in Cole's class. While there's plenty of focus on their past and current relationship, this doesn't ignore the rest of their lives and I liked having that balance here. I might have found it a little hard to believe they'd still be hung up on each other after 17 years apart, but there was enough time given to them getting reacquainted that it didn't bother me too much.

 

I loved Savannah, and Cole's plethora of pets. Savannah was a realistic five-year old - not sweetly perfect but not out of control disruptive either. She had a lot of issues and I like they were taken seriously, and I really liked seeing Zander overcome his own issues to help  her deal with hers.

 

Aside from the inability to capitalize "Marines" ever, and one very wrong wording choice, there weren't too many editing issues, better than most stories out there today. 

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review 2017-08-06 04:22
Visual novel review - Animal Lover

 

Warning: this game includes a death, references to suicide, and references to homophobic bullying.

Animal Lover is a visual novel created by Trainwreck Studios. It's primarily fantasy with some romance aspects later on. There's no sex, not even fade-to-black, implied, or text-only - the romance is limited to a date and an on-screen kiss or two. I considered this a plus. If you're particularly interested in games with LGBT aspects, one of the romanceable guys is revealed to probably be bisexual later on in the game (I say "probably" because the word is never used, but he does talk about a past relationship with another guy).

Now for the summary: You play as Lucy (the default character name, which you can change), an intern at a veterinary clinic. Lucy loves animals and is immediately charmed by the hamster a little girl brings into the clinic. Because it reminds her so much of the hamster she used to have, Lucy briefly forgets herself and gives him a little kiss before putting him back in his cage. Shockingly, the little hamster then transforms into a human being. A good-looking and very naked young man.

The hamster’s owners run out in horror, leaving Lucy to figure out what to do with the guy, whose name turns out to be Edmund. Edmund used to be a prince until he was transformed into a hamster (or something very like one) hundreds of years ago. Since then, he has repeatedly lived and died as a hamster, with no end in sight. Until now. Lucy agrees to help him find and free another human-turned-animal, eventually resulting in her having to clothe, feed, and house five good-looking guys from a variety of time periods. Not only that, but it looks like her kisses don’t have a permanent effect: a random guy keeps transforming back into an animal each time the sun sets. They need to figure out a way to undo the curse for good. Especially before Charlie, whose animal form was a bear, transforms.

I’d seen this game on Steam a bunch of times but kept passing on it because the art style didn’t appeal to me. Then, during a sale, I read a few reviews written by people who said they had also disliked the art style and still ended up liking the game, so I decided to take a chance on it.

I’ll start off by saying that it takes a long time for this game to get going. My first full play through, the only one where I read all of the text, took somewhere between 5 and 5.5 hours. I didn’t keep track, but I think it might have taken an hour and a half for all the guys to be introduced and remember how they’d been cursed, at least half the game before they made some headway on figuring out what to do about it, and two thirds before romance really entered the picture. While I was a little frustrated with how long it took for all the main characters to join the story, the rest didn’t bother me quite as much because I enjoyed the characters’ conversations and banter. Your mileage may vary.

Gameplay is simple - this isn’t a stat raising visual novel. There are a variety of decision points where you have to choose between different dialogue options or actions, and that’s it. You’re not technically locked into a particular guy’s route until you decide which one you’d like to spend an afternoon (day?) with approximately two thirds of the way through the game, although certain responses earlier on will affect when one particular thing happens and, in the case of one character, whether you can get his “good” ending.

Lucy has five romantic options: Edmund, who used to be a prince several hundred years ago and was transformed into a hamster; Frankie, a car mechanic from the 1950s who was transformed into a cat; Kyle, an anarchist punk rocker from the 1980s (if I remember right) who was transformed into a ferret; Miguel, a football player from the 1990s (again, not sure if I’m remembering this right) who was transformed into a dog; and Charlie, who was only transformed into a bear a year ago and who owns a website designed to help indie bands/musicians sell their music.

During my first playthrough, I focused on Miguel and Charlie and decided to have Lucy go out with Charlie when I was finally asked to make a decision. And that’s when the game became more than just lots of laid back conversations and funny moments and really hooked me. I mean, I enjoyed the humor, I enjoyed Lucy’s strong personality, and I liked most of the guys, but for a while there I was sure my final verdict was going to be that this was simply an okay visual novel.

I had thought that the guys’ explanations about how and why they’d been transformed sounded pretty weak, but I hadn’t realized how much they’d been holding back until Charlie told me the full truth about his transformation. Then the

“Last Living Punk Rocker” chapter happened, and it was like a gut punch. I wanted to go back, choose Kyle, and fix everything. (FYI: there’s no way to make that chapter not happen. Sorry. But things can get better, depending on your past and future choices. I promise.)

(spoiler show)


There are essentially seven endings: one “good” ending for each of the guys, one “I don’t forgive you” ending where Lucy ends up single, and one “you can’t be serious, where’s the ‘good’ ending?” ending for

Kyle

(spoiler show)

. Although it’s fairly obvious that the “Lucy ends up single” ending isn’t the way you’re supposed to want things to go, I appreciated that Lucy had clearly started to move on with her life and wasn’t a wreck, and that the guys had accepted her choice. It didn’t feel like a “bad” ending, aside from the whole thing with Kyle (which is present in four of the five “good” endings, anyway).

I’ve only managed to get three of the five guys (Charlie, Frankie, and Kyle) to tell me the full truth about why they were transformed, although I imagine it’s possible to get all of them to talk to you depending on your choices. It bugged me a little that, in order for any of the romances to work out, Lucy had to decide in an instant whether she forgave the guy for what he’d done or didn’t. A day of processing time would have been nice. That said, I liked that each of the “I forgive” dialogues explicitly recognized that the guys had done something bad, something that counted as a potential relationship red flag. Those “I forgive” moments were also a lot better if the guys had admitted what they’d done earlier on, rather than waiting for their secret to forcibly be revealed later. As much as I liked and felt for Miguel, for example, it irked me that I had to hear the full truth from someone else. I’ll probably do another playthrough with an eye towards getting him to tell me what he’d done.

All in all, this packed more of a punch than I expected it would. Parts with

Kyle

(spoiler show)

flat out made me cry - I became way more invested in him than I expected I would. And I’ll probably be thinking about the game’s “forgiveness” aspect for quite some time, even though it didn’t 100% work for me.

Additional Comments:

  • If you want to use an actual "Save" slot and not the "Quick" of "Auto" save slots, you need to right-click on the screen to do that - the Save button just does "Quick" saves.
  • There's no art gallery. Although the artwork didn't appeal to me at first, it eventually grew on me, so this bugged me. I'd have liked to save a few scenes. My favorites: Kyle's first appearance, Kyle's kissing scene, and Miguel's kissing scene (wow, that height difference).

 

Rating Note:

 

For a large portion of my first playthrough, I thought I'd be giving this 3.5 stars. There were spots where I got really impatient and just wanted things to move along - the first half of the story really could have used some tightening up. However, this is one of those visual novels that actually seemed to improve with each playthrough (keeping in mind that I made liberal use of the "skip read text" button). I could see myself rereading the full thing (aiming for the "canon" ending) sometime in the future.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

 

I'll end this with one of my favorite spoiler-free screenshots. Kyle is the cutest and wildest little ferret.

 

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