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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 2017-10-02 06:56
Snoozefest delight
Two for Trust (Dreamspun Desires Book 34) - Elle Brownlee
A Tag Team Review with Sara!

BROKEN HEART
--How to sum up Two for Trust?



I've been wanting to read something from this author for a while. And once I read the blurb and saw the cover... I rushed to read it.

After reading, it was not a great first impression of this author's work.

The elements are there for a winning story:

Finch - down and out dorky ginger ex-nurse who struck out on life in the work and love department
Benedict - a very stiff upper lip Brit with a mysterious air
A British countryside vacation filled with historical talking points

The air for romance while on vacation was there.

The thing is, neither main characters were interesting or charismatic enough to have a believable romance. I hesitate to call this a romance. There is a HEA and the right words showed up at times. But the delivery is so wooden, so stiff, so dry, so crusty.

My favorite part is stolen instant oatmeal. I think it was the highlight.

The book spends so much time on the English historical artifacts and research that the non existent romance and chemistry suffers from the boring and dry characters. Finch was pathetic and too similar in disposition to make any impact. Benedict... he was too "reserved". He just manipulated Finch and didn't share anything until it was too late.

And that ending? Please. *side eyes*

If you're new to the Dreamspun line, do not try this. I can't recommend. I do enjoy a quiet romance but this was too staid, too reserved and too boring.

So in closing, if you're having difficulties going to sleep or need something to start a nap, I'd give this book a try.




It worked wonders for me.



A copy provided 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 2017-09-27 03:30
The premise was promising, the execution...
Louder Than Words - Siryn Sueng
2.5 HEARTS--This is a fence book.

You know those middle of the road books where the blurb has the potential, then you read it. Now you're left in the middle of escaped potential and okay?



That's me after reading Louder than Words by Siryn Sueng.

Nice premise that I was very interested in reading, a main character with a disability. Set in present day Florida, a shy physics teacher named Derrek has been visiting the Starbucks by his school just to get a glance of the hot barista with dreamy green eyes, black hair and multiple ear piercings named Alex. It been months and he was too anxious to make his move... until now.

The meet-cute is adorably hilarious and sweet. Derrek stumbles, Alex stares but doesn't speak. Assumptions are made but a boost from both men's friends help get the pair on the right track. Alex has vocal cord paresis. A vocal cord in paralyzed, his voice isn't strong enough. So his primary form of communication is sign language.

Derrek needs to learn because he wants his guy. So why not ask Alex to teach him? Who better?

The novella had pangs of first-book-itis: it ended at an odd spot and there was no conflict to carry it to the end.

How could this have been better? The author wrote in 1st POV from Derrek's POV only. He's not interesting enough to carry the story. The writing had a tendency to get passive. Or it would re-describe the original point made paragraphs ago... muddled the book.

If the story ever gets re-edited and lengthened - adding Alex's POV would add to the plot. The reader is relying on Derrek conveying Alex's actions and perceptions and even Derrek comments that he can't get a full read on Alex at times. Dual POV would make the internal angst of falling Derrek and vice versa would be the only conflict needed. The story got dull once they fell in love and it dragged. Then a late minute secondary character is added - Kevin. He served no purpose and if you take him away, the story is stronger. The second half was weak. I was swimming in the 3 Hearts range until Kevin and that wreck of a plot twist was added.

The writing needs work. An example being the sign language sessions. The story time jumps a month and half in the future with both men meeting consistently each weekend. After a month a half, they should have moved passed the introductory phase but the dialogue suggests they're initially meeting. These inconsistencies are peppered throughout.

The cute parts are the strongest: the original meeting, the sign language sessions. Also, a strong part: not cheapening Alex's disability.

Overall, a cute story with lost potential. I liked the main characters. I just wished they were fully developed.


A copy provided for an honest review.
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review 2017-09-27 03:27
Not all rent boy romances are the same...
Camouflage - Jon Keys

A Hearts On Fire Review

TWO HEARTS--All that glitters is not gold. And in the case of Camouflage by Jon Keys, not all rent boy romances will be a good one. Will I ever learn? Doubt it.

Two twenty-somethings befriend each other online (where and why is never given - a bigger issue with this story) Nash, a pierced and tatted rent boy from Atlanta is beaten up by a john prior to flying out to finally meet the guy he's been talking to online, Luke, a Oklahoman farmer. Nash, who is broke and miraculously makes a recovery from black eyes and bruising that needed to be covered up with makeup, seems to forget his predicament to fly to Oklahoma.

Luke and his best friend Chris are excited that Nash is visiting their small hometown for the week. Luke hasn't had a chance to be in love since he's deeply in the closet and screwing around with an even more closeted prick. They only got around to maybe 2nd or 3rd base, so consider Luke a virgin to backdoor pleasures.

The bruises are forgotten to continue into a very dull tale of two men who meet online maybe? They don't seem to share any interests. Add that with their personalities that are as boring as watching paint dry and the reading experience was close to painful.

Ever wanted to know how fast food tastes? You can find that in Camouflage. A page dedicated to eating everyday junk food. There were too many every day actions that was given too much page time that it weakens the already weak writing.

If you ignore the mundane events, you get a basic story that moved nowhere. The plot is supposed to be out of town rent boy finds love with closeted cowboy with some sexual discovery added in. The big secret of Nash being a rent boy was supposed to be a big thing, but the way it was presented... not really.

The sex was okay. If you're into pit licking, potential readers will rejoice. (Not knocking that kink) The lack of chemistry and the odd 0 to 180 mph direction to the feels dept. just added to the overall lackluster vibe.

Too many missed opportunities to make a tried and true trope interesting to read. And that added bit of drama in the 20% was the final nail in the coffin for me.

This was my first time reading the author and I'm pretty sure it will be final call for me. Potential readers, try a sample first.

Who knows, detailed minutiae and 2-D characters could be your thing.

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