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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 2017-09-26 00:33
Even with romance thrown in, fishing just doesn't do it for me...
Breaking the Ice (States of Love) - Tali Spencer
Tag Team Review with Sara!

--Ice Fishing.

I knew of it, but this book is definitely an ode to the sport.

Let me tell you something. I'm the least sports appreciating person you might meet. And sadly, I'm surrounded by the sports people. My BFF is a fisherwoman. Like she takes joy in sitting around with live bait and catching fish any free time she can. Do I join her? Fuck no! I tune out the moment she mentions bait. So I took my fishing non-love to this book, it seems.

This book is a lot about the appreciation and dedication of the sport in a icy tundra of a Wisconsin town. That's the major selling point of this book.

Matt Wasko is small, college educated, out and proud, grandson of a revered family in his small town and works an office job in a factory. His co-workers and Matt bowl together and against each other on two teams. And other the other team is Matt's love interest, John Lutz. Lutz's team has a bunch of homophobic jerks and Lutz does nothing to shut those guys up. He joins in the lame jokes or laughs.

Matt can't stand them especially that good looking Lutz. Thankfully, he had a two week vacation away from the job and with his beloved frozen lake Winnebago. When Lutz shows up to his icy piece of heaven, it seems like Matt can't catch a break.

At the core of things, Matt is a good guy. And he can't be an asshole to anyone... even his nemesis. The thing is John isn't a bad guy, he makes poor choices and follows the crowd, so no one knows how deep he's in the closet.

The two make nice on the ice and discover shared geeky interests. But they also are attracted to each other. The romance part was cute. I thought the epilogue was a bit soon just because we don't get to spend as much time with the couple as we did with Matt. There is some hotness dropped in there. *coughs*intercrural *coughs*rimming *coughs*

The guys were cute. Lutz pulls his head out of his ass. Wasko was adorably snarky. I liked them (okay, I liked Wasko a little more) But the klutzy wooing was cute. Thank goodness, we get dual POV.

Overall, the love story is the love of Wisconsin. Never been to the state, but it read authentic.

And who doesn't love unicorn name dropping?

Recommended to readers who enjoy the ice fishing sport (or want to learn as this is chock full of info).

A copy provided for an honest review.
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review 2017-09-05 13:52
The Emperor Had the Boy Locked Up: "Mastering Kali Linux for Web Penetration Testing” by Michael McPhee
Mastering Kali Linux for Web Penetration Testing - Michael McPhee

“As applications have become more complex, and their importance has skyrocketed, bolt-on security approaches are no longer cutting it.”


In “Mastering Kali Linux for Web Penetration Testing” by Michael McPhee.



Hah... memories of a rather expensive inter-bank trading system we were offered one time to test. Examining the executable revealed a few plain text strings, one of which (the name of a biscuit in upper case) stood out as dubious, and turned out to be the encryption key for all communications (“super-duper unbreakable encryption" was one of their selling points) ... With that, and a little bit of poking around, we reached the stage where we could send a message to another counterpart offering them a product at a certain price, and then we could send a message that told the server they'd accepted it (forming a legally binding contract - notional values for these goods were of the order of millions and tens of millions of dollars). Being nice guys, we didn't do this for real (the above was done on the QA rig), but rejected the software. When we explained why, the vendors told us what we did would be "a breach of the license terms", and couldn't understand why we fell about laughing... especially after the way they "patched" the holes (obscured the encryption key with, I kid you not, ROT13.)


Names above withheld to protect the incompetent...



If you're into Computer Science and Web PenTesting in particular, read on.

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review 2017-04-16 05:55
Gimme gimme that cracky fluff... aaahh!
Tall, Dark, and Deported (Dreamspun Desires) - Bru Baker

A tag team review with Sara

4.5 HEARTS--
And now I have another book to add to my top favorites Dreamspun Desires list!

I've been fluffed. Pour it all over my face, baby. Just watch me melt.

Mateus is a Portuguese botanist who is staying with his brother and pregnant sister-in-law on their orchard in Washington state. Mateus is helping with his family's failing orchard and wants to stay in America. Unfortunately, he has an expiring tourist visa and searched online for a scheme to stay in the country: go to Canada, get his visa stamped and reset and return to America for another 3 months. Sounds too good to be true?

It's because it is.

Luckily, older stoic boutique hotel auditor/ businessman Crawford is being forced to Canada for work. His boss is sending him to the chain's failing Vancouver hotel for the next two weeks... along with Crawford's ex-husband. The bitter divorce happened three years ago and he's still jaded from his cheating ex. He doesn't believe love exists.

Thanks to a plane delay in Seattle, love weary Crawford meets Mateus and the connection is imminent. They strike up a conversation and are just vibing off each other over Auntie Anne's pretzel nuggets out of all things. The delay becomes a cancelled flight and the new acquaintances are thrown together through a series of events. And events get crazier as an impromptu drive to the Canadian border becomes Mateus not being able to cross either side of the border.

Ring a ling ling, did someone call a knight in shining armor?

Crawford obviously heard the call and he rescues Mateus.

Older, jaded hero meets younger loyal family man who just wants to stay and help the orchard...

And then a fake marriage trope is added to help save the day.

Those tropes were a cracky fluff jackpot and I... ate... it... up!

Bru Baker wrote fleshed out main characters in Crawford and Mateus. She built a solid foundation by showcasing a glimpse of their daily lives. Crawford is a point where he's not exactly happy, his only family connection a brother and nephew he helped raise are going to move away. So there is nothing really holding him in Los Angeles. And Mateus wants to leave Portugal to help out with his only sibling's growing family. All the characters read like real people.

The cracky fluff button was engaged once the fake marriage to get a visa to stay in the USA came up. But reading how Crawford is, it worked. The two get married and thankfully the author showed the real side of marrying an immigrant...it's not as easy as they originally thought. The couple stays in Canada for two weeks due to Crawford's job. And we even get to experience his ex-husband, a good antagonist that didn't overtake the plot with obscene dramatics.

The bread and butter of the story is the undeniable, easy connection Crawford and Mateus have. The attraction is there and it's a slow burn. Crawford being a knight in shining armor tries to be noble and a gentleman. His heart is iced in the middle... good thing Mateus knows to make him melt.

There is only one sexy moment throughout the entire story. But the sexual tension was written strongly and was well paced. I lived for each kiss. Were there times that I wanted to knock Crawford in the back of the head? Yep... he's a stubborn one. And has bad Tim Hortons judgement. (I'm still trying not to hold it against him) Other than that, he's a dream guy, as is Mateus.

The story is split between Vancouver and Washington. And even when apart, they're still connected. And when the sexual tension finally comes to a melting point. Let's just say it was a swoon worthy moment.

And the last 5% of the story?

So damn romantic, I want to get drunk off the cracky fluff. *swoons* *gulps*

Recommended for fans of the Dreamspun Desires line, this is definitely not one to skip. Crawford and Mateus as a couple left a lasting impression from the Dreamspun Desires leading men I've read so far.

Not my first time reading this author, but I enjoy the way she writes her characters a lot. And if you're a fan of any of the tropes I mentioned, get ready for quality cracky fluff.

What a sweet treat!

A copy provided for an honest review.

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review 2017-04-03 07:41
Fantasy lovers, this is one to read! O_O
The Mutt: An Order Series Short Story - Kasia Bacon

4.5 HEARTS--

I wanted his attention, but he refused to give it to me.
So I had to find a way to claim it.

This story... listen, this story? It's phenomenal. And for just 41 pages, it packs a wallop into a fantasy world I want to be a part of.

The Mutt by new author Kasia Bacon is a prequel of sorts set in the Order universe, a fantasy based world with a contemporary feel. The author begins with a note stating the characters would not let up until she told their beginning. I personally want to thank Lochan and Ervyn. And I also want to let them know, I hope they nag the author (I mean it in the sweetest way possible) because this a winning concept and the novel needs to be out like yesterday.

Highland Dark elf, Ervyn, sees his man at training camp and wants his eyes on him. His man, Lochan, half human/half elf aka mutt, doesn't know it yet but he's been claimed. The aloof, talented assassin in training doesn't notice anyone and it perplexes and frustrates Ervyn. Nothing gets the blue eyed half breed's attention. Ervyn is set to be an archer once training camp is completed. It's a family tradition. Watching Lochan tests what he wants, Lochan's skills are some of the best seen. And he just wants to bask in his greatness.

And kiss him too.

"There was a fair amount of feral in that grin. I longed to be the one to tame the predator in him."

Fantasy fans this is going to be a winner. The world building, the taste that the author introduces is layered. There is even a language! And if you love reading sexual tension as much as I do, this story is filled with it. That even a mere kiss blew my top.

Plus the elves are reminiscent of Prince Nuada from Hellboy, who I have a major nerd boner for. So anything remotely written like the (misunderstood) bad guy with dark elves, emotionally stunted communication, baggage, sword and killing skills...I am ALL over it.

My one complaint is probably going to be it should have been longer. But that's the greed talking.

The author states this is a beginning and it reads just like that. We know the two men (late teens at this point, the cusp of adulthood) will have a deeper story as they hint at the future from the beginning. The story while filled with sexual tension, doesn't have an overabundance of sex. This works highly because it made me want to know more and appreciate every second either two interacted.

"What are you doing?" he breathed.
"I want to kiss you. If you want that too, you'll say, "Please, Ervyn."
"Please, Ervyn," he said in a guttural voice.

Have I mentioned there is a hint of future D/s? Someone's possessive. I'm all about it.

I haven't been as impressed with a short story in sometime.  If the author continues with the rich writing, she'll have a fan in me. I'm kind of in love with this couple already.

Highly recommended especially for fans of fantasy, elves, assassins and cool concepts.

A copy provided for an honest review.

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