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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 2017-09-27 03:35
This is how I like my pirates!!!!!!
The Puritan Pirate - Jules Radcliffe
FIVE HEARTS-- It's like it was written for me...
"Will you punish me?"
"Do you need to be punished?"
"I have such... wicked thoughts of you."
"Dear God, I hope you do."




Pirate fans? This is the book for you. I can't believe how wonderful this book was. And as I look through my pages upon pages of quotes, I can't help but gush from this novel. (Seriously, I probably highlighted a third of this book)

New-to-me author Jules Radcliffe delivered historical kinky pirates with action and adventure. "Perry" aka Lieutenant Thomas Peregrine is an uptight Puritan British naval soldier ordered to be on buccaneer (pirate) ship, Audacious. Pirates and the British are working together, pirates no longer are considered against the King's army with proper documents. But on Audacious, led by the famous captain Black Wolf, no one trusts Perry.

And Perry doesn't make it easy to be liked. He is quiet, judgmental and with the former quartermaster, Irish Gabriel Quinn, he can't seem to hold his tongue. There's been animosity between the two from the moment Perry stepped on the ship. Enemies that are filled with passion can make the best lovers when they put their mind to it.

Quinn saves Perry one night and the passion takes a sharp turn into more. The thing is the story is not linear and the sexy times happen fairly early. It felt like the culmination already happened in the beginning. I warn of this because the story isn't written linearly. And if you need the story to be straight, you'll be disappointed. The story uses flashbacks to help flesh out the plot. The characters come in their own as the story moves along.

How so? The gift that is Perry's submission and his acceptance of his needs, Gabriel's mastery of Perry is showed a thousand times fold.


"Gabriel, what I give to you cannot be taken; 'tis a thing you've earned. To submit is my gift to you, and pleasure is your gift."


At only 22 years old, Perry has had a hard life. He's been used and abused (trigger warning: off page abuse, torture) and he carries the scars, figuratively and literally. Gabriel knows his man and follows Perry's cues.

The flashbacks show when the men originally met, Perry's start in the navy. Also, how Quinn left the Audacious to be another master on the female led pirate ship! I wondered how could the men have so much chemistry if they weren't on the same ship. But their chemistry is just that palpable.



The novel isn't just sex. There are pirate ship fights, double crossing, some suspense and cool adventurous rescue! The author interjected wit within historically accurate dialogue. I'll admit the dictionary function on my Kindle became my BFF while reading this book. But I wasn't lost.

The enemies are the Spanish navy. And they show themselves while the pirate crew are on the open seas. And the novel got a little dark which enhanced the entire experience. While the action and adventure satisfied the pirate lover in me. It's the romantic side that gutted me.


"God, but I love being inside you," he whispered in his own tongue. "So perfect, your body iron hard and petal soft. So beautiful, your satin mouth, your starlight eyes, your silken skin. My heart beats for you, sings for you."


Gabriel, the rough and tough Dom with a heart of gold, was possessively smitten by his needy kitten, Perry. Perry knew his was submissive, but Gabriel nurtured that side. Gave his boy just what he needed. And it was kinkly delightful: CBT! Bondage! Spanking!

I haven't been this pirate satisfied since Caged.

The writing is very strong, the tale entertaining. I didn't want it to end.


"They'll know I tamed you, and it's no secret I've a liking for rough play. But exactly what goes on betwixt us?" [...] "Your submission belongs to me alone. But everyone is to know you're mine, and no one else is to lay a hand on you. No one."


And that ending? Fitting for the time and just swoon-worthy. Matelot squee!

If I had to nitpick, it got a tad schmoopy in the last bit. But overall, this novel is stellar. It's on my 2017 favorites list. The author took time to detail without making it drag, the research is very evident. And a lot of showing how the characters choose the paths they follow.

And this pirate will battle ye if ye say nay!




Arr! Just kidding, mateys. I'll love this book even ye'll not love it.

Highly recommended for readers who enjoy pirates, historically accurate writings that doesn't give contemporary feels and a yummy kinky love story!




A copy provided for an honest review.
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review 2017-09-26 00:27
Gave good enemies to lovers vibes!
Rough Edges - Cardeno C.
3.75 HEARTS--Another Cardeno C winner for me! Short and contemporary from this author seems to work for me.

I love a lot of tropes, but enemies to lovers is near and dear. In Rough Edges, the enemies are within a group of friends.




Can we say awkward especially when they all hangout?

Thirty-something year old Kyle is determined. He's come a long way from that trailer park in Alabama. He fought and studied hard to be a professional at a prestigious firm in LA. He's got the right clothes, the perfect job, and soon to be the perfect condo. And others think he's a pretentious snob, so what? He's earned it. What he can't stand are people who are "lazy" and live off their trust funds without working and making something of themselves.

Unfortunately, the guy he started to crush on when he first moved to LA, Brent, falls under that category. And Kyle's been prejudiced ever since. Two years has passed from that initial magic meeting. The vitriol that Kyle spews is still iron strong. He digs at the happy go lucky Brent any chance he gets.

One day Kyle loses it all. (Cardeno is good at that, giving a character maximum crap day dealings by the boatload) And you know who helps the pissy guy out? You guessed it, Brent. They become roommates.

In this book the enmity read more one sided but Brent had the mouth and backbone to give as good as he got. But damn is Kyle a prick to Brent. I get Kyle's mindset: when you come from nothing and have to fight for any semblance normal you can get, you could resent others who have it easier aka born with a silver spoon in their mouths.

But Brent's not that guy. He's so likeable. He gets under Kyle's skin. And best part is he gets why Kyle is the way he is toward him.

Kyle is angry and pretentious and that stick in his ass is rooted deep. (The thing is I expected Kyle to be appreciative and humble. But he's not that guy.)




Thankfully, the chemistry is there. And we got dual POV because if it was one sided, I might not have bought it.

I both read and listened to new to me narrator, Kevin Chandler. I think he did a pretty good job. And I would listen to him again. Chandler didn't make all the voices distinct.  But I loved what he does for Kyle's voice. I knew exactly where he was from (the South). And when Kyle gets upset, the Southern intensifies. That was the best part of the audiobook, his take on Kyle.

The roommates learn about each other. That years long lust that was shelved for Kyle's ridiculousness? It comes off the shelf...


"When you want more, I'll give you my dick and then we can see which of us is begging to finish first."



Yes!

The sex is hot, nothing extreme. But the author sets up the characters to share just enough of themselves for the moment to feel intimate. Having Chandler narrate those bits didn't hurt.

Someone's monogamous and definitely a relationship guy. (Cardeno C staple!) Once bedroom action happens, he wants his man. The relationship is not one sided. And the guys seemed to be a great fit, in and out of the bedroom.

Kyle's the type of character who needs to learn as a person to grow. I think he's still a work in progress. He shares his inner demons with Brent. And Brent brings out the best in him.

Overall, a pretty great story with good narration. I'd recommend either version: ebook or audio.



A copy provided for an honest review.
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review 2017-04-16 04:42
Stalkery alpha-type... why, yes, I do enjoy reading about those types.
Jumping In - Cardeno C.

3.5 HEARTS--Officer Clint Rivera is having a very, very bad day.




So bad it feels like the universe is against him. Why?

He's being kicked out his apartment, his closeted ex-lover--who he wasted many months on--is suddenly getting married after two weeks of leaving Clint. And this cheating douchcanoe had the audacity to send Clint an invitation to his engagement. After internally raging, he returns to his soon-to-be ex-home to find it destroyed by his lovely dogs.  This would drive a man to drink an ice cold stiff one, but he's out of that too after a clumsy catastrophe that caused all his bottles of beers to break.

He'd had enough. Life keeps taking the piss, so he figures his ex owes him all the alcohol after the last couple of shitty hours he's had.





Enter hunky deputy mayor of Clint's small New Mexico town, Hawk. The 6' 6" blue eyed man seems to always be underfoot whenever Clint least expects it. If only he could get over his crush on the hunky, boner inducing man. The best he can manage around Hawk is be adorably tongued tied. Besides, Clint's pretty sure Hawk's straight. Especially with his luck, the best he could do is keep Hawk in his spank bank.

Enter a boozy night where he's rescued by a patient, possessive stalker of a knight in shining armor: Hawk!

Hawk has changed his entire life waiting for his man to be free of that douchecanoe. And he swoops in just like a Cardeno C. possessive hero can do.

We're talking hot dirty talking, sweet courting and possessive insta-love.

And hot sex all over the place once Hawk gets his hands on his man. *coughs* *hint* An appliance might need to take a pregnancy test after a really rocking time.

I'm still fairly new to this author. Cardeno's contemporary seems to do it for me. I wanted possessive alpha that is intense in getting their man. It's exactly what was delivered. It's short enough not to bore and read in between novels.

Some of it was super quick. I mean the coupling lasted for a weekend before we're plopped into a HEA. Something tells me they're going to stick together forever and ever.

And if Clint ever gets second thoughts... well Hawk is just going to have to show him what his amazing tongue and "eight and half inches" can really do.

Newsflash: A fucking lot.





And I'm not mad at it.

Recommended for smutsters who want to read something possessive, hot and sweet all at the same time. 

You know, when you're in a mood. ;D



A copy provided for an honest review.

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review 2017-04-06 22:47
So Many Opportunities!
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

When my children's lit professor assigned this book, I was not thrilled. I don't want to read a book about a boy who was raised by ghosts. That sort of story doesn't appeal to me at all, but I found myself staying up until 1am trying to finish it. This is a well written story about a boy whose parents are killed when he is a baby and then he ends up getting raised by ghosts, a vampire, and a werewolf. Despite the spooky theme of the book, it actually teaches extremely good lessons. Bod, the protagonist, grows up and becomes his own throughout the story. He learns how to read and write by tracing/rubbing letters on gravestones, he learns about history by the dead people who lived through it, but most importantly, he yearns to learn more. What Bod really wants to do is read and learn as much as he can. This book shows how important education is in a totally different way than most people imagine. I would use The Graveyard Book with upper elementary- no younger than 5th grade- for many reasons. When teaching this book in the classroom, there are obvious lessons you can teach such as figurative language, references, writing styles, etc. But there is so much content that can go beyond that. You could use this to teach about European history (or any history for that matter), early American history, the human body (science), geography, and many others.

If I were teaching this, one of the activities I would do would be to have the students pick out a prefabricated name and birth/death date out of separate piles. I would then have the students do heavy research on that time period (I could give a location if necessary such as the US). They would then write a fictional story about their character and give the character an inscription on a headstone that they would draw. 

 

Lexile: 820L

Grade Equivalent: 5.4

 

Wonderful website I found full of The Graveyard Book resources:

https://sites.google.com/site/theghoulgate/home

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