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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.


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 2017-03-06 06:31
Stereotypes in insta-love. Ho hum.
Permanent Ink - Jaime Samms
A Hearts On Fire Review

TWO HEARTS--The re-release of Permanent Ink by Jaime Samms is a short story that features a very quick pairing between white college basketball player Eric and black tatted/pierced ex-con Dwayne. Eric's best friend is Dwayne's cousin, Angel, meaning they knew of each other but never formally hung out. Eric judges Dwayne based on his outward appearance, assuming the worst. Though Dwayne doesn't help Eric's preconception in the beginning of the short when he brags about his ass pain from a hookup the night before. The two start on the wrong foot and it quickly turns around into a HEA.

Race is an important factor in this short. And unfortunately, so are a few stereotypes.

This is a re-release, I haven't read the original version but I'm going to take a stab that not much changed. Though the time period could be implied as modern day, it read more like any reference to the time period was vaguely mentioned. An example, Dwayne is supposed to look like a "thug" with cornrows and beads because he came from the hood and had to wear the "thug" exterior to protect himself on the "inside".


I just can't buy the characterization as justification for writing Dwayne this way. I'm unsure if the story is supposed to be based in the UK or America, so it could help me reference the characters. Maybe that's how the "thugs" dress and act in a different part of the world? *shrug*

I think I see what the author was going for, opposites attract insta-love romance but the beginning was rough. I didn't like Eric. He was privileged and didn't really come away as a better person in the end. Dwayne read more like 2-D character who had past rape added to his life to give depth?

Past rape was given as the reason for the "armor" of tattoos and 'tough persona....why have him brag about sleeping around if he has a sexual hang up (about bottoming). There were contradicting factors - hooking up with random men to never having sex since jail.

Didn't make the impact it tried to go for.

My second biggest gripe (after poor characterization) is if this was reedited, why not make it read more current? Angel tried to give something about race relations when he tried to give a teaching moment with Eric. But it kinda fell off to the wayside. Story is too short to try and encompass crime, rape PTSD. Not a fan of the way it was written or presented.

The one sex scene was a bust because the main characters read awkward and acted awkward to me. Example, it'd be a kiss then stall then kiss then pause...not smooth writing. Along with the vagueness in the writing.

I've read this author in the past. Samms's books have a tendency to be full of angst. I don't think the topics added to make the story...interesting (for lack of a better word) was needed.

How could the story have been better? More length, show how the two connected rather than insta-love over time. There were very tiny bits of that that just didn't go anywhere.

Didn't like Eric by the end - he still read like a privileged rich kid. I doubt he grew or will grow from his relationship with Dwayne. Dwayne could do so much better.

Not recommended.
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review 2016-06-08 05:30
It's been some time since I've read a book of this caliber...
A Year Less Three Days - Mychael Black,Alyx J. Shaw

How to describe to describe "A Year Less Three Days" by authors Alyx J. Shaw and Mychael Black:




If I could individually list all of "A Year Less Three Days" missteps, this review would possibly as long as the novella, because I honestly don't know where to begin. It was circling the 1 Heart rating from 20%, but I tend to give books a chance, maybe the plot turns in a different direction, etc


Not so with this book.


In fact, each chapter got progressively worse which is a feat in itself. It was like reading a 'What Not to Put in a Romance' how-to-guide. I have so many quotes and plot holes highlighted...*sigh* This will probably be a spoiler-y review.



What I got from the blurb: a heterosexual woodman (Lias)'s wife is presumed kidnapped and while searching for her, he is kidnapped into slavery. He he is tortured for a period of time and saved by a new Master, a knight who made a deal with a devil. Somehow master and slave, both damaged men, find a way to love one another. A romance.


What this story actually delivered: A mess of the plot. At different points, you can read the authors coming up with extraneous tidbits and plot devices with no explanation as the story moved along. Crazy things such as a wizard who is stuck as a creature, a horse who plays chess or another horse that can climb stairs, open doors and curl in bed like a dog, demons and special demon knights, a knight of some special order with no explanation, a mage that heals strangers by just knowing, a straight man who is raped and tortured but seems to have no PTSD, an adamantly straight man who by the grace of two conversations with different strangers automatically is gay when his homosexual master tells him he wants to bed him...oh while both are deathly ill...so they can have sex.


Find the plot in this mess.



While the blurb mentions two triggers, here are the additional warnings the book did not give:

- Cannibalism

- Major Character Death


I'm a reader whose limits are pretty open, but not every reader would read a story with those two warnings attached. Or are they supposed to be lumped under the "violence" warning?


Necromis is the master and knight of the white bear in a fantasy land where demons exist. He made a deal with a demon to make an abused, tortured straight slave fall in love with his master. Lias is the fifth slave to enter Necromis's mansion/castle (the dwelling types switched a few times) Lias is saved, but never shows he was traumatized or abused. And hates his master, he fights his master and looks down on Necromis being gay.


Necromis doesn't care because he's the prettiest (no lie) knight in the land, the meanest mean girl knight with long silvery hair down to the floor. Necromis likes to belittle those he deems beneath him (there was an equivalent to a "you can't sit with us" scene), takes his anger out on Lias by nearly killing him and then somehow falls in love. Without showing the reader how it happened. The instalove doesn't stop there, Lias gets told by two strangers that he should love Necromis and he gathers that he should just do it in gratitude for Necromis finding his children...that Lias figured out on his own.




I think a horror fairytale themed romance is what the authors were trying to convey. And there were one or two scenes where it got spooky, but the plot holes and wacky random ideas made the read ridiculous and took away from any semblance to a plot. The best thing going for the book is the cover- though it implies both men are equals and for the majority of the book, Lias is not. He's scarred, whipped and chained more than not...so it's not accurate.


Since I can't cover all of the problems with this book, I'll try to summarize the main areas with a few examples.


The Plot (or lack thereof) - to say it was rushed is the least of this story's problems. There were so many random things added to the tale, that it made no sense.  Lias was remarried and lost his wife, who he loved. I get the plot was supposed to entice the 'make a straight man gay' theme, since it was stressed, Necromis would need to get a straight slave to end his curse. But there was no effort into trying to show either man falling in love. It goes from I hate you--I'm dying-okay, I'll fuck you because someone told me to--and fuck me too while you're at it, because butt sex will cement a relationship that literally started at 70%. Since the previous 70% was filled with the horse farts and many side characters that added nothing to the weak plot.



What was up with all the horse farts? Every other page would have a description of someone or something farting. If it was supposed to be funny, the timing is way off. And if this was supposed to be a parody...it should have been clear. I can't see this story as something serious.


The Plot Holes - they were abundant, they overtook the story.


Filled with ass gas? Maybe?


Here are a few:


- Since the story tried to jam in an entire novella's worth of sex in roughly 20%, it seemed that the men didn't spend enough time together previously to know how the "exact way" Necromis would want to be stroked off during their first hand job scene.


Too vague?


- How about Necromis making a deal with Bonecracker, the big bad demon in this story to be rich enough to buy his original love...and becomes a white bear knight. Does being a knight automatically mean you're rich? I'm guessing not if there weren't as many rich knights? Is there a parallel the reader should just assume?



- It's told that Lias comes from a modest section of the country, where nakedness is kept behind closed doors. He even reacts to Necromis's exhibitionist side negatively. How is it that Lias's comfortable to be naked and fondling another naked man in front of his children? And his children from the same part of the land don't react to the nakedness? They're cool about it? No hiding their faces? No reaction?

Here's a better question: why wouldn't the adults cover up in front of the children? Is their fucking that important? Must everyone see their big ol' dicks?


- The tortured, abused, raped slave has no problems with having sex, gay sex at that. In fact, he can deep throat without an issue.



I won't even touch the actual penis sorcery performed to make an already humongous dick into tree trunk proportions. Because sex can't make up for the lack of development which leads to...


The Characters - they were as dimensional as a pocket of air. No explanation as to what the knights did. Necromis is a knight of a white bear. What does that mean? Someone was a knight of a boar. Why are animals being thrown out without explanations? These "knights" were worse than children. All of the adults read like sulky, bratty teens. We have the head knight telling any one how beautiful he was with his long silver hair to the floor, which makes no sense in battle to me, but I guess makes sense in this world. The characters just like the plot holes and plot were random and flat. Any emotion couldn't and wasn't shown, just told. Lias kept talking about how uneducated and straight he was. I guess to hype up the GFY/ slave angle. If written differently, he could deliver more than that. There was promise in the beginning but the poor writing style ruined any chance of the promise being realized. More yelling at the slave, threatening him and treating him like an animal rather than talking to him. It just was a big...horse fart bubble.


The Writing Style - All telling and junior high school telling at thatt with nothing shown. I will give the story something, it read like one voice rather than two, so at least the tones melded. But the story couldn't stick to one lane - horror, erotica, a mystery, paranormal, fantasy. It's not like it couldn't be done - I've read it written in more competent hands.



I had an imaginary red pen going through just about every paragraph and was left too many questions. Simple questions could have easily shaved this novella in half - did this add to the story? No? Then, it's a throwaway.


An example:

"It is as my mistress says, men who favor other men are all romance and foolishness."

Why this quote was even used in a gay romance novel when it adds nothing to the plot or overall story? It was said by a tertiary character who basically had one scene and did nothing for the plot.


This was a throwaway scene and character. Not needed and inflammatory for no good reason.


I've read one of the authors in this pairing in the past and enjoyed. But this...was a mess all around. I don't know if it was a first draft? The lowest that I can rate on Netgalley is one and I feel it's still too high. It's memorable for all the wrong reasons. The romance is dumped the moment the former slave who said he will never fall in love with another man other than Necromis...does the opposite and falls for another man after his lover dies.


Not recommended to anyone I know who can read.



Maybe not even non-readers either.


A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.


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review 2016-05-04 22:33
One for the receptacle...
Quinn I: Undaunted Men Series - J.C. Cliff,Sommer Stein,K.D. Robichaux,Soni Gillette
DNF--6%--I tried reading but I had to give up after the hero's dick started to act like it was a separate entity. I'm all for lusty heroes but there needs to be something else there, unless it's a joke. (I don't think he thought it was...)

So not my deal.
Everyone who has read might have a different opinion from me though. *shrugs*
1st POV will be my go to choice of POV in a romance. Didn't work for me here.
I didn't love the hero. I don't mind jerk heroes -- especially written with a sense of character. This book's hero was as deep as a puff of air. So disappointing.
I tend to jump all over those grumpy types. Yum! ;P
The mafia romances are also really cool especially when gritty. Sad, this didn't pan out for me. I jumped to the end (It's a big fat no all around)
I needed some Q titled books for a few challenges I'm in and I was in the mood for good mafia smut/romantica.

Guess my search will have to continue, didn't find it here.

I had to stop reading this book because there wasn't any character growth.
Upside is... at least I know this won't be a series I'll continue.

Best to spend my money somewhere else.

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review 2016-03-16 19:54
Because "rubicund beige center[s]" aren't going to write themselves. :/
Pup Love - Kenn Dahll

RATED BROKEN HEART--I enjoy reading PWP.

I've read all types:

- the ones that get straight to the point - cock's out, time to start stuffing those hungry holes;

- the ones that try to tease - a hint of sexy, then story and then a big sloppy finish;

- the ones that try to impress you with the author's thesaurus skills- nothing says sexy like a thick toothsome tumescent protrusion;

- the ones that are weird - *coughs*Dr. Chuck Tingle*coughs*

- the ones that are just bad from jump...

For me, "Pup Love" by Kenn Dahll just was a miss, from the first page.

It's not the kinks written that irks me (okay, maybe the BDSM practiced was off for me), it's the writing style.

"His armpits promise olfactory sensations beyond belief as the strains of his workout manifest in droplets of perspiration most certainly perfumed with his masculine pheromones"


"Fuck, one of his burgundy tits is poking through a tear in the wet material! I can barely concentrate on my spotting responsibilities. My rigid prick aches to peek out of its confinement in my jockstrap's mesh--the angry-red tip, protruding from its crinkly snout, reaches into the wide elastic waistband."

Really? Cocks and snouts?

Pup Love is a PWP that is stuffed with sex scenes. And I'm sure there are readers out there who can find this erotic. Any muscle porn lovers out there? Or puppy play fans? *waves hands* Readers who don't mind erotic stories that feature open relationships? I thought that was the best thing about the book. The couple was fully upfront about their extracurricular activities.

This story fell flat in just about all the other departments for me. Granted, doms written like Dave who yell and speak in exclamation points turn me the hell off, so I wasn't going to like him. He's an example of a bad dom to me. And Brett wasn't any better as his sub. The story is written from Brett's POV in first person.

"I'm gonna fuck your ass. You better make it tight. I don't like loose fucks."  I don't do fifty Kegel clenches daily to be a loose fuck. Focusing on my sphincter, I contract my anus and hold it clenched against the onslaught of his indomitable bludgeon.

Brett is a "power bottom" who serves his Master/dom Dave. They have an open relationship. He goes on a business trip and fucks the help staff, finally getting a chance to top. And this makes him more dominant. *yawn* As you can see, Brett tries to impress with his synonym skills.

Using both palms, I spread his butt cheeks until I see the rubicund beige center into which I deliver a glob of spittle.

Mmmhmm...that "rubicund beige center" got a pounding. But the way the person who it's attached to was written pissed me off a little. Pedro, the Mexican waiter, who couldn't speak the best English but somehow got it right while being sexed and went back to not speaking good English in conversation. Something was off about the way the Latino characters were written. But then again, they weren't written to be people, more as sex toys.

And once Brett declared,

"Take it amigo! Take my whole fucking cock up your ass. Shit! Damn! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I'm filling your hole with my gringo salsa!"

I was over it.

Didn't care about the threesomes. Didn't care about the main character. Didn't care about the kink.



For stroke fic, it's not sexy. If there was a point, I missed it. You can tell me PWP doesn't need a point, but I've read better fuck scenes without the thesaurus thrown in shorter amount of words.

It could have been sliced in half (lengthwise), lose the unnecessary business trip and just portray Brett discovering his dominant side with the "Nebraska twink". I'm all for interracial PWP, but the awkward word choice, flat characters and not sexy sex...it makes all the story's missteps stand out.

Unless this was the intention for the entire story, to be a satire of bad porn? Or the reader is supposed to laugh instead of cum? Then, this got the job done in spades!

A copy provided for an honest review. 

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