Cephalopod Coffeehouse October 2017: Fates Align…BLOOD GUARD–A Review

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month, and in keeping with the pre-Halloween weird-spooky theme I’ve had going, I’m sharing a newly-released vampire romance from Megan Erickson. BLOOD GUARD is the first book in her Mission series and features a prophesy, a duty-bound vampire and a woman willing to sacrifice herself to ensure her love is avenged.

About the book:
Enter a world of immortal danger and desire—and discover an incredible fate borne of blood.
Tendra: One minute, I’m a bartender in gritty Mission City; the next, I’m whisked away by a vampire named Athan who tells me that I’m the lifeblood of his clan. It sounds unbelievable, but he’s got evidence I can’t deny. Turns out, Athan belongs to an underground society of vampires who feed only on humans with their consent. Their enemies have no such qualms, and they want me dead. The only thing standing in their way is strong, sexy Athan. And the closer we get, the more tempted I am to let Athan feed. . . .

Athan: How could I have known when I snatched this snarky, beautiful human off the streets that she would change my destiny? As a loyal soldier, I must deliver Tendra to our future king—my brother. Empowered with the blood of ten generations of the Gregorie breed, she is fated to rule as our queen. But there’s something between us that’s so intoxicating, so carnal, I can’t help wanting Tendra for myself . . . even if it’s treason.

My Review:
This is an interesting twist on the “fated mates” trope and I really enjoyed this rich new world.

Tendra is a 20-something young woman newly-alone as her mother had just died in a car wreck, leaving her adrift in Mission City, New Jersey. She’s a cocktail waitress and deeply unsettled by a swarthy customer one evening. She’s even more unsettled when he kidnaps her and tells her she must come with him if she wants to live! At least he’s packed her most precious belongings from her barren apartment, including her cat, Brex. Even more unbelievable is what this dude, Alain, tells her: her blood has mystic properties and will help transform his brother Idris, sworn king of the Gregorie clan…of vampires. In their prophesy, they’ve been waiting ten generations for a Sanguivita–Tendra–and with the powers her blood holds Idris will be able to effectively combat the warring Valerian clan.

Yeah, she’s not buying it. But, she has little choice but to accept Athan’s aid when the bad guys come calling. Learning about the hidden vampire culture lurking just below Mission City has Tendra mixed up–and aroused. Those vamps are some seriously kinky folk. Plus, the more time she spends with Athan, the more she admires and desires him. And the feeling is very mutual. Their escape to the Gregorie compound is complicated by several attacks, some of which are thwarted by Brex the wonder cat. There is a good mix of danger, intimacy and downright delicious sexytimes. Athan falls hard for Tendra, yet holds back on tasting her blood, knowing that to drink from her could void the prophesy and Idris’ expected boon. Unfortunately, it’s not in his hands when the treachery extends far beyond what had been expected.

I liked Tendra, who is a take-no-shit kinda gal. Her life has been weird, and she finally realizes why once she meets Athan and learns about her place in their world. Honorable Athan’s confused by his compulsion toward Tendra; shouldn’t he not be attracted to his brother’s promised? But, the more he puzzles over it, the more he knows deep down: it doesn’t matter. He will do anything to have Tendra for his own. While this might seem cavalier, he knows his brother has no interest for Tendra beyond the desire for her blood to transform him for battle. And, neither he nor Idris expected the depth of their own father’s manipulation. There’s a lot more going here than clan clashes, the entire human race is at stake, literally, as the Valerians have plans to reveal themselves and take control of the populace to feed and frenzy. Together, Athan and Tendra have the ability to stop it. And, while the war isn’t over, a key battle is won before the end. I’m expecting Idris to find his fated mate in the next book, and I look forward to it!

Interested? You can find BLOOD GUARD on Goodreads, Amazon (US and UK) Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Megan Erickson is a USA Today bestselling author of romance that sizzles. Her books have a touch of nerd, a dash of humor, and always have a happily ever after. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she likes writing her own endings better.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her very own nerdy husband and two kids. Although rather fun-sized, she’s been told she has a full-sized personality. When Megan isn’t writing, she’s either lounging with her two cats named after John Hughes characters or… thinking about writing.

For more, visit Megan on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and be sure to check out reviews for my fellow Coffeehouse bloggers if you have the chance!

Shifter Wars and Love in DARING FATE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new post-apocalyptic M/M romance that features shifters of a whole new breed by Megan Erickson. DARING FATE is the first book in a series that is whoa, SMOKING hot, and totally awesome.

daringfate-fAbout the book:
We all have tragic backstories in today’s world…
I wake up chained to the wall of a dark cell aware of two things: I failed my sister, and I smell my enemy.

When I’m taken to meet Dare, the alpha of the Silver Tip pack, I’m sure I’m about to lose my throat. The last thing I expect is for the Alpha to recognize me as his fated mate. No way is he going to let me go now, and I still have to find a way to rescue my sister.

As I plot my escape to save her, I find that if I leave, Dare could be killed by power-hungry members of his pack. And now he’s more to me than my fated mate—my heart is involved. With time ticking by on my sister’s life, I have to make a choice I never thought I’d face—my sister’s life or my mate’s? That’s if I can survive the undead shifters intent on killing me first…

How about a little taste?

Dare’s eyes flashed. His fingernails were still curved into claws, his canines descended, and a dusting of fur still covered his shoulders. He looked wild and a little feral. “Shift.” His voice was garbled, and I backed up a step, dipping my head as I whined.

He took a heaving breath and the fur on his shoulders disappeared. His eyes closed and when they opened, they were nearly black. “Shift,” he ordered again.

My body obeyed.

Never in my life had anyone been able to command me to shift, but Dare could. His command was a swell of power that I couldn’t deny. My bones cracked as I shifted back to human form, then I collapsed onto my stomach and panted as I tested my limbs. My ribs weren’t even tender.

Fuck yeah, shifter power.

I rose to my feet, shaking out my arms as I lifted my head to meet Dare’s gaze.

His teeth were bared, eyes cycling between green and black like a two-toned tornado.

He moved so fast, I didn’t even see his arm, didn’t realize he was in motion until a hand wrapped around my neck and claws dug into my throat. He hauled me against him, and with my feet not touching the floor, the only thing I could do was clutch his shoulders and wrap my legs around his waist.

“Mine,” he growled against my lips.

Not gonna lie, I was fucking terrified. Dare was only half there, his Were pulsing inside his skin. I didn’t know his Were, and I hoped to hell Dare had enough power to stay human.

I shifted my hands to grip his face, my fingers digging into his scalp as I rutted against him. The mating instinct overtook all my other thoughts. So, despite my terror, I was hard as hell. “Yours,” I muttered back.

That seemed to appease the Were, because Dare’s eyes stopped flickering, finally resting on green.

His chest rumbled, and he pressed our lips together—hard, punishing, furious—before delving his tongue inside.

The kiss was possessive and all-consuming. While I’d fucked around plenty, I’d never been kissed in my life, so I didn’t know how to deal with it. My head was spinning, my body on fire, ass clenching in anticipation for being taken. I wanted it. God help me, but I wanted him to pin me down and fuck me until I broke.

I wanted to be owned.

So I kissed him back, pushing against his tongue with mine, gnashing his lips with my teeth, which only seemed to spur him on harder.

My Review:

This story is set in the future, long after the death of humanity. There are three types of people who still walk the Earth: shifter, Were and Nowere. Shifters can vary between human and wolf form, while Weres can be human, wolf or Were, a cross of the two (the mental image I got was of Lycans from Underworld). Weres are enormous, easily six and a half to seven feet tall. Weres and shifters had lived alongside humans, but an active virus outbreak killed most of the humans. When it got into the Were population, the Weres didn’t die, they became undead killing machines known as Nowere. Packs of Nowere roam the land killing whatever they come across. Shifters live in packs, as do Weres, though these populations rarely mix.

Ten years ago Reese’s family’s Whitethroat shifter pack was decimated by Nowere attack. His family fled to Xan’s Bluefoot pack to seek shelter. It wasn’t a good call. Ten years of servitude for Reese, while also defending his younger sister, Selene, and brother, Jude, from Xan’s brutality is at it’s end. His plan to get them out of the compound goes bad, however, and Reese is beaten almost dead and left out in the wild for Nowere to ravage. Jude’s desperation to save his brother is so great he turns to the nearby Silver Tip Were pack for sanctuary.

When Reese becomes conscious, he’s not only scared out of his mind–all the stories he’s heard of Weres are even more brutal than Xan’s pack–he’s dejected that Selene was left behind for Xan to take. Meeting the Were Alpha, Dare, is the most confusing experience of Reese’s life–because he recognizes instantly that Dare, all seven feet of bulging muscle of him, is his True Mate.

The sexytimes? O.M.G. Off the freaking charts. The first half of the book is pretty much a treatise on how to build a bond by never getting out of bed. And, yet, I was never tempted to skim. There’s a knock-out punch of emotion in there. Dare and Reese are compelled to each other, and their responses are dramatic. Their insecurity is interesting, and Reese is extra conflicted because he needs to escape Dare, somehow, so he can rescue Selene. Meanwhile, his, and Jude’s, welfare is dependent upon Dare’s good graces, and position as Alpha. There are dissenters, chief among them Dare’s cousin, and they aren’t impressed with their Alpha mating a wolf. Reese knows that showing any fear, or desire to leave, in front of the pack could lead to a power shift.

There are a number of complicating factors that are organic to this world, and I really dug the intricacies of the new society. While the whole first half is about Dare and Reese’s bonding, the second half is the hunt and rescue of Selene. It’s a wedge between the newly bonded mates, and quite harrowing. The world here is stark, and yet rich–within the Silver Tip pack walls, that is. These Weres are awesome, and their pack is a peaceful community, most of the time. The Nowere are horrifying, and the stakes are extreme. Just when I thought they were going to be okay? Bam! Another problem.COuldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

The stage is set for another story, but this one is wrapped up tight. Expect love, lust, lore, and luck to win the day. I can’t wait to dive back into this world.

Interested? You can find DARING FATE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.

About the Author:
Megan Erickson is a USA Today bestselling author of romance that sizzles. Her books have a touch of nerd, a dash of humor, and always have a happily ever after. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she likes writing her own endings better.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her very own nerdy husband and two kids. Although rather fun-sized, she’s been told she has a full-sized personality. When Megan isn’t writing, she’s either lounging with her two cats named after John Hughes characters or… thinking about writing.

For more, visit Megan on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

True Hearts OVEREXPOSED–A Review

Hi there. Today I’m sharing a review for a fantastic contemporary M/M romance from Megan Erickson. OVEREXPOSED is the fourth book in a series, but I swear you’ll love it even if you haven’t read any of the previous books. I did. It was fantastic.

overexposedAbout the book:
Love runs wild on the Appalachian Trail in the latest from the author of Out of Frame and Focus on Me
Levi Grainger needs a break. As a reality show star, he’s had enough of the spotlight and being edited into a walking stereotype. When he returns home after the last season of Trip League, he expects to spend time with his family, only to learn his sister is coming back from her deployment in a flag-draped casket. Devastated, Levi decides the best way to grieve will be to go off grid and hike the Appalachian Trail—a trip he’d planned to do with his sister.

His solitary existence on the trail is interrupted when he meets Thad, a quiet man with a hard body and intense eyes. Their connection is stronger than anything Levi has ever experienced. But when Levi discovers the truth about what Thad is hiking to escape, their future together looks uncertain, and uncertainty is the last thing Levi needs…

My Review:
So…I haven’t read any book in this series before, and though it’s book FOUR I didn’t feel the lack. It was amazing, and I can’t imagine liking it any more than I do.

Levi Grainger is a recent reality TV star hiking the Appalachian Trail in memory of his sister, Layla, an army gal who died on deployment. Levi idolized his elder sister, and it was her dream for them to hike the two thousand miles together. She’d planned and strategized and had tons of research on where to go and where to camp, and Levi’s so adrift after her death that he hopes to connect with her spirit on the trail.

Who he connects with, however, is Thad, a strong, capable hiker who’s as surly as a July day is long. Thad rarely speaks, but what he says to Levi is earth-shattering. That this behemoth of capability is gay is further stunning to Levi. That Thad desires Levi is surprising to both men–Thad’s demisexual. (On the spectrum, simply put, it means he only finds attraction to people with whom he emotionally connects. It’s probably an oversimplification, but I’m accepting his words.)

While they traverse the tough terrain, Levi’s overcome with grief over Layla, and he’s not sure if he’ll ever get over her loss. Plus, he’s confused over Thad’s interest, and Thad’s tightly guarded words and past. Thad could go entire days without speaking, it seems, which is antithetical to cordial and chatty Levi. Their budding relationship explodes, however, because Thad’s secrets can’t be held back–and that breaks Levi’s heart.

Unfortunately, it’s also a moment of craptacular family problems, and Thad’s Levi’s rock through out the entire ordeal. Levi’s forced to see Thad for more than his job, and that’s a good thing. Thad has a real problem trusting people; his one and only boyfriend was a cheater. He doesn’t think Levi would do that, per se, but there’s a big separation coming due to Thad’s job, and it’s the worst kind of scenario for Levi. Should they cut their losses before they get more attached? Thad thinks so, but Levi’s a scrapper, and he’s willing to fight for the love he deserves, even if Thad doesn’t think he’s capable of giving it.

The tension and love her is so high! I fell into lock-step with these guys and loved every moment of their loving, and agonized every moment of their turmoil. Both Levi and Thad are great guys in a rough patch. There are bits of humor woven in, especially when Levi is recognized by fans at perhaps epicly bad moments, but that’s so AWESOME. Because the book is intense.

I really enjoyed Levi and Thad’s story, which felt raw and real and fantastic. There are other couples present in the end, and I’m sure they are from previous books which made the HEA more sweet for the series readers. For my part, I was captivated by this story, and would highly recommend.

Interested? You can find OVEREXPOSED on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Megan Erickson is a USA Today bestselling author of romance that sizzles. Her books have a touch of nerd, a dash of humor, and always have a happily ever after. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she likes writing her own endings better.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her very own nerdy husband and two kids. Although rather fun-sized, she’s been told she has a full-sized personality. When Megan isn’t writing, she’s either lounging with her two cats named after John Hughes characters or… thinking about writing.

For more, visit Megan on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

New Love TIED TO TROUBLE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M romance from Megan Erickson. TIED TO TROUBLE is a part of the Gamers series, which is a M/F romance series, but I felt like this was an integral part of the series, not written as a book to be skipped, as with other mainstream M/F authors. I liked the gaming aspect, and the interconnectedness of the characters. For a mainstream romance writer to pick up M/M, it was a smooth transition.

Tied to Trouble (Gamers #3)About the book:
Between love and hate, there’s a whole lot of trouble…
Chad Lake only showed up at his sister’s party for the free food, but when he spots an uptight nerd at the edge of the crowd, he can’t resist trying to ruffle the guy’s perfect bow tie and impeccable hair. The hottie’s ready for him, though, and in the end, it’s Chad who’s left wide-eyed, his ears still ringing with the filthy things Bow Tie whispered in his ear. No one gets the upper hand on Chad. Ever.

Owen Hawkins has heard all about the cocky Adonis from Chad’s sister—the same sister who holds Owen’s career advancement in her hands. He has every intention of steering clear of the other man…until Chad’s sexy taunts push him too far. There’s something intriguing about Chad, and even though Owen knows that getting tangled up with the infuriating man is trouble, he can’t seem to stay away…

**This is part of an M/F series but can be read as standalone**

My Review:
While this is the third book in a series, it’s easily enjoyed on its own.

Chad is the bad boy younger brother of Marley (MC from a previous book) and shows up at her house on the promise of 1. free food 2. free drink. That’s where he “meets” “Bow Tie,” a svelte geeky member of Marley’s staff at <i>GAMERS</i> magazine. Bow Tie ties Chad’s guts into knots when he doesn’t immediately fall for Chad’s come hither. The wearer of the eponymous bow tie, Owen, (or:  Oh-Oh-Owen because Chad wants to give him an “Oh! Oh!” face, not because of a stutter!!) is interested, but not willing to let on how inadequate he feels in the presence of sexy-sexy Chad.

Owen wants Chad, bad, but doesn’t want Marley–his direct superior–to find out about their bathroom shenanigans, or supply closet shenanigans. Or that time they did it on the floor… Meanwhile, Chad wants more floor time. Or naked in the park time…or any time with Owen.

Chad’s always felt like a ne’er do well after flunking out of college. He pays his bills, and lives alone, but he can’t stick with a job. He has aspirations in graphic design, but doesn’t know if he has the staying power to commit to going back to school. And how would he pay for it anyhow? Plus, Owen’s whole life had been commitment-phobic. He’s bisexual (some people claim that’s a commitment thing–not me, but it was there), and his longest stint at a job is his current one–four months as a topless bartender. Chad’s starting to realize that this is not the best life for a 27 y/o man, and one who sincerely desires a successful man like Owen to find him desirable.

Trouble is, Chad’s immature. Turns out that it might be better if he’d been forced to stick it out–in anything–because then he might have learned conflict resolution skills that are better than juvenile. Every time Chad gets upset, it seemed, he did the adult-equivalent of yelling “You’re a poop-head” and taking his ball home from the park. (Which, honestly was pretty close to what he actually did.)

I adored Owen, who is a fully-functional adult. He may not be happy with Chad’s behavior but he endeavors to root out the cause, instead of being smug. I guess finding the person to challenge him was what Owen needed. And, he helps Chad grow up. Chad decides to do some growing up of his own, on his own. Marley’s there as a confidante, and there’s a big part of the plot that hinges on Marley’s boyfriend Austin’s very public, very cosplay wedding proposal, and that keeps Owen and Chad in very close proximity when they would ordinarily not see each other. As a device it wasn’t too obtrusive, and the proposal scene will definitely satisfy readers of the predominantly M/F romance series.

This is a quick read with steamy sexytimes and delicious dirty talk. Expect pornographic graphic arts and bow ties to go where no bow ties have gone before…  HEA All The Way.

Interested? You can find TIED TO TROUBLE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

Megan EricksonAbout the Author:
Megan worked as a journalist covering real-life dramas before she decided she liked writing her own endings better and switched to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she’s probably listening to the characters in her head who won’t stop talking.

For more, visit Megan’s website, twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!