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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 2017-05-26 06:38
Consider me impressed... again!
The Poison Within: An Order Universe Short Story (Inspector Skaer Book 1) - Kasia Bacon
FOUR HEARTS--And once again, I'm impressed with this author's writes.



Two for two, both short stories that left me wanting more but enjoyed the hell at what was given.

Set in the Order universe, a fantasy based world with supernatural beings and humans coincide, The Poison Withinis another creation from the author where the characters took a mind of their own.

And I'm not mad at it.

In fact, I need to send a bottle of bubbly to those blokes for getting their stories, or should say, start of their stories out for public consumption.

Clandestine human lovers of two years, low born Inspector Käyru Skaer has been meeting whenever he can with his lover, Count Ellydhar Finn-Jánn. Käyru worries that his lower class status will call an end to this love affair with his "Elly". He knows one of these days Elly will wise up and leave him, even if it would crush his heart. He'd let his lover go. He tries to hide his feelings and takes all that he can get. Did I mention there is a noted size difference? And D/s undertones? Someone has a penchant for writing hints of D/s.

*stares*

The world they live in is xenophobic, some humans regard non-humans are lesser. Political warfare and unjust treatment runs rampant. Case in fact, nymphs are living on Elly's land due to being ousted by a power hungry, racist power that fuels on scaring the masses (sounds familiar?) Käyru is called on duty from his lover's thighs to a solve a multiple murder. And it gets a little graphic when described which I liked.

The suspense is very quick. Justice is met swiftly--hooray! And we're introduced to a new being, cousin to the vampire, the Furia. What they can do is cool! (And if this character shows up in future works, I'll have excite)

I can go either way with established couples. This couple wasn't boring in the least. The story is told from the Inspector's POV, so the reader has to rely on his feelings for Elly to get a sense of their relationship.


I craved his proximity to a degree that would've been mortifying if I hadn't long stopped caring about hiding my want for him.


I thought the author succeeded on that front. There was even snatches of snark. I don't want to include my fave snippet as it'd give away a key part to the action/suspense bit.

Now my nitpick: despite the story being short, there were two instances where the scene ended weird. Like there was either something more to be said or done or shown. Both instances are when Inspector Skaer leaves Elly. The last time, after such a pivotal moment, seemed off. The love of his life just survived, and he leaves quietly? It's a minor nitpick and most likely a me thing. The inspector has a bit of an issue with his self confidence with his lover... so it could just be his way,

This is the start of a serial, by the way. The story ends with: to be continued . After 'the end', has there ever been more cursed words?

The writing is sharp. The sense of setting is just right. The story has a way of pulling the reader in. This story has a little bit of a lot of things I enjoy reading: hint of kink, strong main characters, interesting worldbuilding, cool concepts and a hint of dark. (I wonder how dark this author could get, hm?)

A suggestion as this world and the beings seem to be intricate; a glossary of the types of beings wouldn't hurt. Especially if there are going to be more detours from the main event.

I've fold my napkin.

I'm holding my utensils.

I'm waiting super patiently.



So patiently.

Consider me there once the novel drops, which I hope is soon. Or maybe I'll need to chat with the characters a bit, ask them to plague the author.

The Order universe has facets. I'm curious to read them all. And looks like I'm victim of another serial. ;D

Recommended.

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review 2017-05-26 06:27
Age gap yum yum!
At Attention - Annabeth Albert
  • A Group Unicorn Review with Adam and Cupcake



    FOUR HEARTS--I've seen this author's work, perused the blurbs and I didn't bite.

    But this blurb was the prettiest show pony with SRAL approved buzz words and themes:


    widower still grieving after partner's passing (bring on the pain)
    widower has kidlets AND needs a manny
    manny is the widower's best friend's little brother
    best friend's brother has had a crush on widower since his teens
    AGE GAP
    NAVY SEAL


    RING A DING DING!!! GUESS WHO IS COMING HOME WITH ME?



    Of course, I lassoed the hell out of this book and gobbled all the words.

    Being as it's my first Annabeth Albert read, I'm not sure how it rates on the Annabeth Albert scale. If this was very on her A-game or there's better? *shrugs*

    I was entertained and had a great time reading At Attention.

    23 year-old Dylan gets a chance of his lifetime when his unrequited crush hires and moves him in his San Diego home for the summer. Dylan's crush, 34 year old Apollo needs a nanny to take care of his adorable 4 year old twins whole Apollo works on a naval base. This book can be read as a standalone, I wasn't lost. And I'm curious about the previous and future pairings.

    Dylan tries to tamp down his lusty feelings as Apollo works through his grief. Two years has passed but there is no time limit on grieving. And Apollo is a grumpy, more reserved bundle of emotions. He would take time to start to contemplate having feelings for another man. Luckily, Apollo's libido isn't broken. And try as he might, he can't deny the easiness he has with Dylan. The camaraderie and sharing his daily worries of being a single parent added more base to their friendship foundation formed with Dylan was just a teen.

    The story is a good mix of nerdy, adorable, (lightly) angsty, sexy and sweet. Dylan can't stop his feelings from blooming once again. Apollo sees his friend's kid brother in a new light, an adult. They try going the friendship route on equal terms, but their bodies won't be denied.

    The sex in this book?




    The sex was...hot. If I had to give it a flavor, it's hot vanilla custard. Sweet, varied and with a hint of spice. (highlights: intercrural (yay!), frottage, light domination/ control a smidge of exhibition) There is mirror sex but, it could've been hotter in my opinion. I might have been spoiled by a hotter mirror scene in another NA series I've read.

    The grieving and the time given for Apollo to work through his process was more important factor for me. Apollo plays hot and cold. The ghost of his lover is one he surrounds himself with daily and it's hard to break through. Dylan makes him crack through the shell. Plus, he's possessive and doesn't want any other guy getting Dylan's time. He wants it all to his self. That was bonus characteristics that I enjoy. The possessiveness and the control in the bedroom (of course).

    The best bonus of all? Dylan wasn't a pushover. And he spoke his mind even if might hurt, be it himself or Apollo. I'm #teamDylan all day!

    This story was really good. Not Earth shattering, or extremely memorable. For all themes it had going on, it worked. The writing is easy to read, all of the characters are likeable. All of them from kids to grandmas. I really liked how it ended, well maybe before the fluffed ending. It was added sugar I could have done without. But HEA lovers will totes lurve it.

    This couple totally worked for me and I see them having a long loving future ahead of them.

    Recommended for readers who enjoy contemporary, like the tropes I listed and wallow in second chance romance.

    Come join me as I ride my pretty pony into the sunset.



    #NoRegrets #teamDylan

    A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.
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review 2017-03-24 11:36
This author has skills! Urban fantasy lovers might want to check it out
Warlock in Training - T.J. Nichols
  4.5 HEARTS--I knew this author's first novel would be great. It was magical.



This isn't my first T.J. Nichols; all previous works were urban fantasy/ paranormal short stories: The Vampire's Dinner and A Wolf's Resistance . Both works had great world building and paranormal ideas. The same can be said for Warlock in Training. But what I wanted to see is what the author could do with something novel length.

Not disappointed.

Earth has changed, new countries have formed and magic is known. Well I should say warlocks and wizards are real on Earth, or Humanside. The Earth is continuing to change, forget global warming, it's approaching an ice age. Most of the population doesn't know what the cause is for it. Warlocks are believed to be the saviors to stop it, But what they don't want people to know is they're the culprits. Magic exists in Humanside and Demonside, a second world where demons and other paranormal beings live. Demonside is experiencing extreme global warming, the world turning into a desert, water is scarce. Do these changes share something in common?

Wizards practice magic without using demons. Warlocks on the other hand drain demons for their magic to be more power, have stronger magic. Wizards are looked down on in the magical society. Warlocks are the upper echelon, the 1% if you will.

Nineteen year old ginger Angus Donohue doesn't want to be a warlock, despite his prestigious warlock family history. His father is forced him to attend warlock college and threatened him not embarrass the family name or him. Angus doesn't even want to summon a demon during a requisite class and tries to fail.

And that's where the magic begins.

Enter demon Saka (I am 1000% for him). He chooses Angus despite Angus trying to fail and takes him to Demonside across the void (the bridge between the two worlds). Points to the story being dual POV. Both worlds are too interesting not to immerse yourself in.

The cover is so fitting! Because I think Angus has the potential to be the bridge.

Saka is a demon mage and is trying to help his world. He's smart, calm and wicked with a knife. He shows Angus there is more to life and magic. I couldn't help but imagine Saka something like Hellboy (black horns instead, no hair, the similar skin tone)



I always try to find a Hellboy in demons I read about. LOL

Saka teaches different types of magic: soul, blood and sex. Saka's really great at the last two.

A lot of urban fantasy, tends to have an alpha type as the lead. Not the case in Warlock in Training. Angus is nineteen and reads nineteen - unsure of himself, still learning his place in the world, exploring relationships with potential partners. But he's not the typical teenager. Demonside helps open his eyes.

There is a battle between two magical worlds that felt similar to what the political and global feel is right now. The 1% is ruining both worlds, damn the results as long as they're in power. It's magical politics. People are dying for a cause that does not benefit the greater good. The ones in charge lie to the masses and attacks any form of resistance.

But there is a resistance.



And it's growing.

The book ends with a cliffhanger of sorts. There are loose threads that need to be answered. Such as who really is in charge? Why the harvesting of so much power? The suspense is well written.

Before jumping all over this, I feel I should warn potential readers of possible triggers/deal breakers: There are romantic undertones rather than a defined romance. Both main characters have sex with other people (But I feel I should explain demons have different views on 'relationships' - monogamy is not the norm,) There were brief MF moments. (Also, didn't mind. The moments were a blip on the entire scale of things) Cutting is practiced for magical purposes.

How erotic does this get? There is on page sex but don't expect pages of a drawn out sex scene. (Quite happy about that, it can be a chore to read drawn out pages) The relationship between Saka and Angus is still forming, is kinda fluid. There is another character that has a potential of maybe making this a love/lust triangle. It's not romantic. More as a means to an end but there is potential for deeper feelings. Sex on Demonside can be and is used for ritualistic needs. If you are a reader who needs the one and only, I would say to approach with caution. Because the way the sex, relationship and openness is written fits the characters. And they struggle. But it's secondary to the world building, action and suspense.

I want to rate this all the hearts but I have tiny issues, pretty minor. Technically, the story reads well. But I feel some of the chapters ended in odd spots. I like the fact the chapters aren't overly long but some ended with where it could have just combined with half of the next chapter for better impact.

But I see this book as the foundation for more to come. War is approaching. What side are you on? Will the resistance win?

Bonus was that this book stars my favorite paranormal beings: DEMONS!



And a ginger warlock! It was like it was written just for me. ;P

Fans of urban fantasy should definitely check this series out because the world building is tops. The author obvious is an urban fantasy fan and it shows in their work. The first third is mostly building. The other two thirds are fast paced and filled with intrigue. My heart started to crumble in the last 5-8% but the author pulled it through.

I am so there for this series! And I'm definitely a fan of this author after this. It's 3 out of 3 for me!

Recommended.



A copy provided for an honest review.

 

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