True Love For A VAMPIRE WITH BENEFITS–A Throwback Thursday Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M contemporary paranormal romance from EJ Russell. VAMPIRE WITH BENEFITS is the second book in the Supernatural Selection series that follows supes of all types finding love through a witch-run online matchmaking service. I think reading SINGLE WHITE INCUBUS first would help you enjoy this book better. Both of these books are a spin-off from the Fae Out of Water series, and set in the same world as CUTIE AND THE BEAST, THE DRUID NEXT DOOR, and BAD BOY’S BARD.

About the book:
A match between a vampire and shifter could be deadly—but this broken beaver doesn’t give a dam.
Silent film actor Casimir Moreau had imagined that life as a vampire would be freewheeling and glamorous. Instead, he’s plunged into a restrictive society whose rules he runs afoul of at every turn. To “rehabilitate” him, the vampire council orders him mated to an incubus with impeccable breeding who’ll mold Cas into the upstanding vampire he ought to be. Or else.

As an inactive beaver shifter, construction engineer Rusty Johnson has fought—and overcome—bias and disrespect his entire life. But when his longtime boyfriend leaves him for political reasons, Rusty is ready to call it a day. Next stop? Supernatural Selection and his guaranteed perfect mate, a bear shifter living far away from Rusty’s disapproving clan.

But then a spell snafu at Supernatural Selection robs both men of their intended husbands. Rusty can’t face returning to his clan, and Cas needs somebody on his arm to keep the council happy, so they agree to pretend to be married. Nobody needs to know their relationship is fake—especially since it’s starting to feel suspiciously like the real thing.

My Review:
At 116, Casimir Moreau is the second-youngest vampire in existence, and he’s continually making mistakes the vampire council is tired of cleaning up. In an effort to “civilize” Cas to vampire ways, he has been…required to wed an incubus of good breeding, Quentin Bertrand-Harrington. This match has been wrought through the complicated spellwork of witches at the Supernatural Selection Agency, and guaranteed to be a perfect match. Not that Cas wants this–at all. He’s not eager to be married to a man he’s never met and has no faith he’d be a good partner. It was the Council that filled out all the paperwork, and Cas is barely able to contain his frustration when he learns his “fated mate” Quentin has been inexplicably married to a bear shifter.

Rusty Johnson is a big broad inactive beaver shifter who owns a successful construction business. He’s heartbroken that his longtime friend, and boyfriend, recently broke everything off to announce an engagement to a female beaver shifter. So, Rusty has signed up with Supernatural Selection to find a true mate who could also serve as a date for his ex’s wedding. He was matched with Ted Farnsworth, an affable bear shifter, but he’s dang mad to learn Ted was somehow married to a bougie incubus.

While Cas and Rusty wait for their intended’s marriage to be annulled, they agree to a temporary marriage to one another. Cas is pleased to learn that Rusty’s inactive shifter blood isn’t toxic to him–which also makes his odor palatable, too. Rusty likes Cas’s forthrightness, and won’t stand-by when he learns that Cas NOT being immediately wed is tantamount to a death sentence.

Through the shenanigans they endure for one another, Rusty and Cas develop a rapport. Instead of Rusty’s shifter blood killing him, Cas is energized in unimaginable ways. Instead of Rusty feeling down about the loss of his first love, he’s intrigued by his handsome vamp husband. There are a couple of subplots involved with power structures straining within the vampire community–and some romps through time with a naked Druid. Cas is definitely in immortal danger, and Rusty comes to his rescue more than once.

This is a charming odd-couple romance, with all sorts of zany characters, and fun adventures. I liked how these guys fit each other so perfectly, both helping the other through the hard parts of their lives. While they originally thought it was imperative to weather a temporary marriage, they soon fall for one another. Should they still honor the original match? Or, did the magic make a last-second switch for all the right reasons? Their choices sway the situation in favor of true love, and it works out to a very happy ending. As this book is connected to the larger Fae Out of Water series, there are some fun callbacks to THE DRUID NEXT-DOOR, with Dr. Bryce MacLeod making some daring appearances.

Interested? You can find VAMPIRE WITH BENEFITS on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
E.J. Russell writes romance in a rainbow of flavors — from M/F stories grounded in absurd contemporary reality to M/M tales splashed with the supernatural — but you can be sure that while the couple makes their way to HEA, they’ll never stray too far into the dark.

You can catch up with Ms. Russell on her website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Finding Happiness With A BOYFRIEND FOR CHRISTMAS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary Christmas M/M romance from Jay Northcote. A BOYFRIEND FOR CHRISTMAS is a sweet story featuring a wealthy closeted virgin falling for a motorcycle-riding tattoo artist.

About the book:
Archie’s posh parents want him to meet a nice girl–how can he tell them he’s fallen for a bad boy instead?

Closeted, innocent and lonely, Archie Arandale longs for someone special in his life. A Christmas party organised by his wealth management company is the last place he expects to meet the man of his dreams.

With his leather jacket, tattoos, and piercings, Cal Turner turns heads the moment he walks through the door. He definitely isn’t looking for a boyfriend, but Archie’s hesitant charm captures his attention, and sneaking off during the party to have a little fun can only make a dull evening more interesting.

After their reckless and thrilling encounter, Archie is keen for more experience and Cal is happy to oblige. The need for secrecy means this can only be a casual fling, yet as they spend time together in the run up to Christmas, their feelings become more intense than either of them had bargained for. How can Archie find the courage to tell his family about Cal, when Cal’s the exact opposite of the ‘nice girl’ they’ve been hoping for?

Contains: A closeted virgin, a tattooed biker, class differences, a dramatic coming out, a very inappropriate Christmas gift, and a happy ending (of course).

My Review:
Archie Arandale is the youngest son of very wealthy parents. He’s lived a very sheltered life, and only just moved out on his own now that he’s completed uni. He does work for his father’s investment firm, but he truly wants to open a non-profit to help LGBT youth. Archie envisions someday coming out, but first he should probably have some physical experience with a man.

Cal Turner is a tattoo artist who won a lottery a few years back. He’s big, burly and brash, but a compassionate and sexy man. He paid off his mum’s home and bought himself a place, then donated a bunch to charity and invested the rest. He’s been out since school, but he’s never had a real relationship even though he’s nearly thirty. His best mate convinces him to attend one of the seminar dinners hosted by his investment firm–and there he meets Archie. Archie is thin, blonde and adorably shy. It’s good fun to tease him a little, if only to watch him blush crimson, but when Archie truly responds to Cal’s teasing they make a connection neither anticipated.

One rushed encounter leads to and exchange of numbers, and a continued acquaintance. Cal’s stunned that Archie has so little experience, as wealthy and attractive as he is, but he realizes that Archie’s been so scared to ask for what he wants, leaving him isolated and lonely. Cal can empathize with loneliness, and he makes the effort to be a good partner to Archie, helping him explore his sexual needs safely, and build a rapport as well. They are so well suited, despite the class differences, because Archie’s a down-to-earth guy, not a posh git like Cal had anticipated. The only real problem is Archie being closeted–and he’s warming to the idea of sharing his truth after the Christmas holidays. Can Cal trust him to make that choice? Will Archie’s posh family accept the common man he’s falling for?

This is a sweet and sexy romance. I really loved the intimate moments and Archie’s exuberance to find an attentive partner. Their growing friendship is fun and flirty, with such potential. I loved how adventurous they were with one another, and I totally fell for both Archie and Cal, as they fell for one another. Archie’s family are more accepting than he would have guess–once he revealed all his secrets, including a mismatch in their politics. I really enjoyed the coming out scene, and Archie’s unexpected advocate was a breath of fresh air. This is a holiday story, but fully enjoyable at any time of year.

Interested? You can find A BOYFRIEND FOR CHRISTMAS on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

You can find Jay on his website, Twitter, Facebook Author Page, and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

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Picked Up By ANGELS SING–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m excited to share a review for a new M/M Christmas romance from Eli Easton. ANGELS SING is a contemporary romance that features a gay coach falling for the young gay father who owns the local bookstore. This is the second book in her Daddy Dearest series, right after FAMILY CAMP. I have loved all the Eli Easton books I’ve read, including MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. MIGGLES, her HOWL AT MOON books, SECOND HARVEST, FIVE DARES and ROBBY RIVERTON: MAIL ORDER BRIDE.

About the book:
Jamie Bailey has not had such a wonderful life. He gave up his dreams of Harvard at 18 to raise his sister’s unwanted baby, and later a prized job to help a sick friend. Now the father of six-year-old Mia, and assistant manager at Raven Books, Jamie’s dreams are dashed once again when Uncle Billy admits what dire straights the bookshop is in.

Stanton Potter, son of the most notorious businesswoman in Bedford Falls, loves his job teaching at the local elementary school. But he’s less than thrilled when he is forced to put together a Christmas pageant with first-graders, including Mia Bailey.

When Stanton meets Jamie, angels sing. Jamie’s gender-bending fashion sense, and sweet aura, have Stanton suffering through the worse crush he’s had since he was a teen. But can there be any hope for them when Jamie and Mia’s lives are about to be uprooted?

This Christmas, its Jamie’s turn to receive a little help from heaven.

My Review:
Jamie Bailey is a an out-gay 24 year old father to his adopted niece, Mia. He runs Raven Books, a bookstore in tiny Bedford Falls, Oregon, where he also lives in the upstairs apartment. Jamie went to college while caring for Mia, and had good prospects for jobs, but he stayed at Raven Books to care for its proprietor, Uncle Billy, who’d helped with Mia’s care for years now. Uncle Billy promised to sell the store to Jamie, but he’s been unwilling to turn over the reins completely.

Having been literally raised in Raven Books, Mia’s as big a part of the bookstore as her father, and she helps corral kids for the highly attended story times. She struggles to connect with kids her own age, however, and is really attached to her first-grade teacher–who is placed on emergency bed rest due to issues with a pregnancy. Jamie is nervous Mia won’t get along with the substitute teacher, Coach Stanton Potter.

Stanton is in his mid-30s and not-exactly out. His mother is a businesswoman, owning many properties in Bedford Falls–now that they sold the family hockey-stick manufacturing plant. Bedford Falls has slowly declined in prosperity over the last few decades, with the loss of good quality jobs and younger people migrating to nearby cities for employment. She’s got a plan for the refurbishment of main street Bedford Falls, but it involves shutting down Raven Books. Stanton loves living and teaching PE in Bedford Falls, but he’s not excited for the huge change being handed down from his principal: cover the first-grade class for his sick colleague and get the kids ready for the annual Christmas pageant. A day into the job, Stanton realizes he’s way out of his depth and head to Raven Books to find books on classroom management. Mia’s a skeptical observer of her new teacher, but she’s always willing to help–and getting Jamie involved seems to assist Stanton in emotional, professional and physical ways.

Jamie and Stanton have immediate chemistry–and neither has a lot of options for partners, but it’s professionally questionable for Stanton to have anything but friendship with a student’s parent. Still, Stanton is drawn to Jamie, and when Jamie has a great plan for the Christmas pageant, Stanton is more than willing to accept his help. Unfortunately, they both know whatever might develop between them has an expiration date. Raven Books is in trouble financially, due to increases in rent outstripping their sales. Without the store, Jamie will have to move–and this will likely happen by the end of December.

I really loved the sweet and tender love story that develops between Jamie and Stanton, who willingly comes out in his efforts to help Jamie save Raven Books. Stanton didn’t realize his mother was involved in pushing Raven into bankruptcy, but he makes heroic efforts to bring in enough business to keep Jamie in Bedford Falls. The Christmas pageant is a hit, and Mia’s happy to have some new and caring people in her life. She’s a precocious child, with observation and literacy skills that surpass the usual for a 6 year-old, but she’s not horrible, or bratty. I enjoyed her simplistic viewpoint, even as I knew the shenanigans of her class were exaggerated for effect–as were Stanton’s shortcomings. The end is happy, with a nice small-town neighbor-helping vibe that I enjoyed.

Interested? You can find ANGELS SING on Goodreads and Amazon.

If you’re interested in more of the Daddy Dearest series, you can find FAMILY CAMP on Goodreads and Amazon.

Eli EastonAbout the Author:
Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, and organic farmer, Eli has been a m/m romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.

Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.

In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.

Catch up with Eli on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

BITTER HEAT–Release Blast and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new dystopian-Omegaverse M/M romance from Leta Blake. BITTER HEAT is the third book in the Heat of Love series. It’s set in a post-female world where males of three genders have a highly-ordered society. If this intrigues you, I’d advise checking out my review for ALPHA HEAT, which introduces us to Janus Heelies–an alpha in need of redemption. I also loved SLOW HEAT, the first book in the series and plan to share a review for that soon.

In the meantime, drop down to read the blurb and enter the book giveaway!
About the book
A pregnant omega trapped in a desperate situation, an unattached alpha with a lot to prove, and an unexpected fall into love that could save them both.

Kerry Monkburn is contracted to a violent alpha in prison for brutal crimes. Now pregnant with the alpha’s child, he lives high in the mountains, far above the city that once lured him in with promises of a better life. Enduring bitterness and fear, Kerry flirts with putting an end to his life of darkness, but fate intervenes.

Janus Heelies has made mistakes in the past. In an effort to redeem himself, integrity has become the watchword for his future. Training as a nurse under the only doctor willing to take him on, Janus is resolute in his intentions: he will live cleanly in the mountains and avoid all inappropriate affairs. But he doesn’t anticipate the pull that Kerry exercises on his heart and mind.

As the question of Kerry’s future health and safety comes to an explosive head, only the intervention of fate will see these desperate men through to a happy ending.

This gay romance novel by Leta Blake is the third in the Heat of Love universe which began with Slow Heat. It’s 111,000 words, with a strong happy ending and a critically-acclaimed, non-shifter Omegaverse. It features alphas, betas, omegas, male pregnancy, mpreg, heat, and knotting. Content warning for a violent and oppressive society regarding reproductive rights.

Interested? You can find BITTER HEAT on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book from Leta Blake!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Leta Blake is the author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

You can find out more on her website, Patreon, Facebook and twitter.

Unexpected Love: I WISHED FOR YOU audiobook review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new audiobook I really enjoyed from Colette Davison. I WISHED FOR YOU is a M/M/M friends to lovers romance that definitely delivered.

About the book:
Three wishes.

Seb wants to be happy.
Matt wants to find ‘the one.’
Connor wants them.

Two drunken kisses.

Seb didn’t plan to kiss Matt and Connor, but he doesn’t regret it, even if it has changed their friendship forever.

Matt has never considered dating a man before, let alone two. Despite his confusion, being with Seb and Connor feels right.

One uncertain future.

Connor’s potential fate has stopped him living and loving. Can he face his fears to be with the men he loves?

How about a little taste?

“Wow,” Matt breathed as a shooting star shot across the now dark sky, trailing a tail of light behind it.
“That’s awesome,” Seb said. “Hey, aren’t you meant to wish on shooting stars or something?”
Matt stood, watching the sky intently. He’d finished his second can of beer and started on his third before he saw another shooting star.
“I wish I could find the one,” he yelled at the star.
Anything was worth a shot. Every girl he’d dated had held the promise of being the one, but every relationship had fizzled out within weeks or months. He was getting close to believing he’d permanently be shut in the friend zone by every woman he knew.
“My turn,” Seb said, leaping up to stand beside Matt. “Find me a star.”
“There might not be any more,” Connor pointed out.
A glance over his shoulder told Matt that Connor was still sitting, nursing a can of beer in his cupped hands. With their breath frosting on the air in front of them, Matt and Seb kept a fierce watch on the sky.
“There,” Matt said, pointing towards the far right as a star shot across the darkness.
“I wish to be happy again,” Seb yelled.
Matt turned to Connor. “It’s your turn.”
Connor shook his head.
“Why not?”
Connor met Matt’s curious stare. “I’ve already had one wish come true. I figure I’d be pushing my luck to make a second.”
Matt’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh? Do we get to know what this wish of yours was?”
Pink splashed across Connor’s nose and cheeks. He looked down, mumbling his answer. “I wished for friends. Someone I could count on. I met the two of you right after.”
Matt’s chest clenched. He tried to speak, but his voice stuck fast in his throat.
“Really?” Seb asked, staring intently at Connor as he sat in the middle chair.
Connor lifted his eyes again, staring at Seb and then at Matt. “Yeah.” He looked to the sky. “I mean… it was probably a coincidence, but I wished for you, and there you were.”
Tears stung Matt’s eyes. He ran his hand over them and down his face, sniffing loudly. “Well, fuck, Con…” He wasn’t even sure what it was he wanted to say. “I’m glad we met you, too,” he managed. “I’m glad we could help you when you needed us.”
“You still do,” Connor said softly. “Every day.”
“Okay, shut the fuck up now,” Matt said, trying not to cry. He flopped into the third chair. “I’m not nearly drunk enough to be getting this sentimental. More booze!”
Seb handed him a full can, and together, they sat and watched the occasional light show of falling stars as they drank into the night.

My Review:
Seb, Matt and Connor have been close friends from primary school. They are grown adults most unlucky in love. Matt can’t find a woman who won’t ‘friend-zone’ him. Connor is afraid to fall in love, sure he will develop early-onset dementia like his deceased mother. Seb thinks He’s found the one, until his boyfriend of five years breaks up with him and asks him to move out…on his birthday.

Matt and Connor help Seb with his despair, and agree to an impromptu camping trip the weekend after Seb moves out. Drunk and reckless, Seb confesses his undying love for both Matt and Connor—the truth more sincere than they anticipate, especially when Seb kisses Matt. Matt’s as surprised as anyone when he realizes he really likes Sb’s kiss. Connor has long fancied his dedicated friends, but he’s shy and inexperienced. Only when Matt presses Connor does he reveal his true feelings for both Seb and Matt. Matt can’t forget that kiss, or the feelings now awakening for him about his best mates.

I think the narrator does a great job of differentiating the characters’ voices, including Seb’s and Matt’s mums. Each man has a distinct sound, and the pace was reasonable. I loved the echoes of vulnerability forMattand Connor, because this is all new for both of them. There is so much good stuff happening between these guys, that I was caught by surprise when the climax came—expect bloodshed and scars, but a stronger love to emerge. There are plenty of sexy times, of the partner and ménage variety. It was steamy and fun, and I really enjoyed it.

Interested? You can find I WISHED FOR YOU on Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link to be entered to win a $10 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

Catch up with Colette on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, or Bookbub.

Surviving His Change: PREDATORY —Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new paranormal M/M romance from a new-to-me author, Brooklyn Ray! PREDATORY is the third novella in the Port Lewis Witches series featuring a young shifter-witch coming into his own to help two of his circle mates, and his boyfriend, survive the wrath of Leviathan, Sea Queen. I have read the two previous titles in this series, but I won’t get to share those reviews until next week.

Scroll down for an excerpt and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
about the book:Donovan Quinn is faced with the impossible: unleashing the wild energy inside him. In the aftermath of a rushed, thoughtless sacrifice, his circle mates brainstorm a plan to appease the Queen of Water. Meanwhile, Donovan desperately tries to find a way to access the lonely Earth magic hiding inside him.
​But with his heart reaching for Tyler, the aggressive and volatile head witch of his circle, and friendships being tested at every turn, Donovan is at a standstill with his magic. Saving his friends, his circle, and his heart becomes far more complicated than he ever thought.
How about a little taste?

If you would’ve asked Donovan Quinn where he might be this time last year, he would’ve had a perfectly executed answer. Something standard and palatable. He would’ve batted his lashes and shrugged, hinted at finishing his degree and landing a good job. That was what people wanted to hear—his mother, the clan leaders, his family and circle-mates. He would’ve lied, and they would’ve smiled, and he would’ve swallowed the truth.
Because Donovan didn’t care about a degree or a good job. He wasn’t worried about appearances or being a good witch. If you’d asked him, he would’ve said, “I’m sure I’ll be keeping busy.”
Donovan never expected to trade those lies for this truth: being in the passenger’s seat of Tyler’s Jeep on the night Liam committed murder.
The sound of the windshield wipers made the silence between them seem like a chasm. They’d dropped Christy off at home after a twenty-minute argument over rights and wrongs, secrets and consequences. Christy had burst into tears and told Tyler his cruelty didn’t count for strength, and when he’d refused to look at her or speak to her, she’d climbed out of the car and slammed the door for good measure.
Now they were parked somewhere in the middle of the woods. The headlights were turned off, rain pelted the roof, and Donovan wasn’t sure if this was the end of something—their circle, their magic, whatever festered between them. It’d been three months and they still didn’t have a name for it. Relationship didn’t fit. Friends with benefits was too watered down.
Whatever it was, it had been born out of Tyler’s anger. His possessiveness and desire. Three months ago, Donovan had taken Tyler to a club to unwind. We’ll find different people. Just have fun for a night. And Tyler had agreed. But as the night went on, liquor and stolen glances turned desire into something else. Donovan had met Tyler’s eyes as a handsome man covered in tattoos licked salt from his neck. Tyler had shoved himself between them and pulled Donovan onto the dancefloor.
Everything changed after that. Everything had kept changing since then.
“You have anything to say?” Tyler asked.
Donovan followed the straight line of Tyler’s nose to his thin, set mouth. He rested his elbow on the top of the door, hand splayed over his jaw. He was typically handsome—black hair kept neat and slicked back, ears pierced with plain silver hoops, skin never inked. His black turtleneck covered a barely there bruise left behind from Donovan’s mouth. Sometimes he glamoured hickeys. Other times he covered them with foundation, like he did the bruises he brought back from fights with his father.
It was difficult to separate who Tyler was from who his family expected him to be. Because Donovan had seen Tyler gentle and everyone else only knew him as a Li.
“They’re our friends,” Donovan said. He picked at the chipped nail polish on his thumb. “We can’t just exile them. We took an oath.”
“They’ve been using dark magic behind our backs, that’s enough to break the damn oath. Not to mention Liam murdered someone tonight and we’ve got demons knocking on our door.”
“Still,” Donovan said.
“Still?”
“We can’t leave them.” Donovan watched Tyler’s jaw flex. He almost brushed his fingers over Tyler’s thigh, but hesitated, unsure if touch could be casual between them or not. “I won’t leave them.”
“Aren’t leopards solitary?” Tyler’s sarcasm was a mean deflection, but it cut Donovan to the bone.
Liam had murdered someone and because of it, the Queen of Water had walked from the sea and put Donovan’s secret on display like it was nothing. Leopard. He’d rarely used the term, even in his own home, and now it fit in Tyler’s mouth like a curse.
“That isn’t fair,” Donovan whispered. He squirmed in place and pulled at the bottom of his shirt, picking at threads, giving his nerves a place to go. He glanced out of the window and watched rain streak through tree branches. The forest was alive around them. “Don’t take your elitist bullshit out on me, Tyler.”
“You didn’t tell me,” Tyler said softly, then louder. “You didn’t even tell me.”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes,” Tyler snapped.
The silence was no longer a chasm. It was too close, too personal, and it made Donovan’s lungs ache. His mouth tightened and he turned away, fighting the urge to shout or cry or argue or explain. He didn’t think Tyler cared for his explanations. He didn’t know if Tyler cared for anything at all.
“Take me home,” Donovan said.
Tyler glanced at him, rolled his eyes, and flicked on the headlights. They didn’t speak for the duration of the trip. Tyler’s gaze flicked toward him while they idled at a stoplight and Donovan hoped he’d say something. Anything. But he didn’t.
The duplex Donovan and his mother lived in was outside downtown, nestled between a gated community and a shopping plaza. There was a whole neighborhood of attached houses painted in different shades of mauve. Donovan’s house was the one with the darkest paint and a yellow door, the last one on the left. Tyler put the car in park and heaved a sigh. Donovan waited for an apology or a question, for something other than silence, but Tyler didn’t say a word.
Fuck him. He slammed the door harder than Christy had and walked inside without looking back. His mom worked the night shift at the hospital, but she’d left a box of macaroni and cheese on the counter. His familiar, a serval cat named Melody, sat on the back of the couch. She looked wild despite how domestic she truly was.
“Why do I always date dickheads?” Donovan asked. Not that he was dating Tyler. Not even close. But still. He narrowed his eyes at Melody and she yawned.
Dickhead was putting it lightly. Tyler was the head witch of their circle, seven years older than him. He had anger issues. He’d never uttered the words commitment or relationship. He was possessive and jealous and mean. He made Donovan feel irreplaceable on some nights, and like nothing on others.
Donovan hated how much he cared for him.

My Review:
This is the third book in a series of witchcraft in the Port Lewis area of Washington state. I think this book is best enjoyed if read in sequence.

Donovan is an earth witch joined in a circle with four others: the circle leader Tyler, an air witch with whom Donovan has regular D/s hook-ups, Liam, a water witch who has royally pissed off Leviathan, Christy, a psychic, and Ryder, a fire witch who also practices dark magic….

Their circle is all off balance due to the dark magic, and Leviathan is demanding some tribute, which could be Liam, if they can’t get a big, bad strong witch to protect him. Unfortunately, they all think it could be Donovan, who has hardly been able to tap the extent of his power. Donovan’s father was a leopard shifter, but Donovan didn’t learn the secret of that magic before his dad was killed.

Donovan is unwillingly solitary, because he and Tyler don’t have a solid relationship. Donovan is afraid to ask for what he needs, and Tyler doesn’t know he isn’t giving Donovan the support he needs. Meanwhile, Tyler struggles to hold his circle together while his abusive parents make trouble.

This is a really inventive witchcraft series, where all the characters are way ore than their magic, and have to struggle with power they never intended to wield. They do not always make “good” decisions, but they do rely on one another and develop strong bonds—both magical and emotional. Donovan wants to be claimed by Tyler, and once he finally asks, he reaps an amazing bounty of love. There are D/s elements here but they are not intense.

The first two books center on Ryder and Liam, with Donovan playing a supporting role—these stories set up the conflict between Tyler and Ryder and Liam and Leviathan, which is why I think they should be read first. There is a little bit of world-building up front, but it pales compared to the full story. Having read all three books, I’d definitely read on.

Interested? You can find PREDATORY on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 GC to NineStar Press.
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About the Author:
Brooklyn Ray is a tea connoisseur and an occult junkie. She writes queer speculative fiction layered with magic, rituals and found families.

Catch up to Brooklyn on twitter or Tumblr.

Persevering as THE DRAGON’S REBEL–Review and Giveaway!


Hi there! I’m baaaack! Ugh, my summer has started WAY TOO LATE, y’all, and my personal computer decided to kill itself as soon as I found time to use it…so. Anywhoo! Today, I’m sharing a review for a new M/M shifter fantasy from Jacqueline Rohrbach. THE DRAGON’S REBEL features a devout warrior-turned-king seeking the release of his goddess and finding the love of his life in the process.

Scroll down for your chance to win a $10 GC, catch the excerpt and pick up a copy for yourself.
About the book:
Cheron, former rebel leader and newly crowned king, comes to Wren Gardens on a holy mission to free his goddess from exile and bring peace to his kingdom, but he’s distracted by an unholy and very beautiful concubine, Ekos.
Ekos may be more than a simple love slave, though. The King of Wren Gardens seems afraid of the strange and often blasphemous concubine and swears the man is cursed. Cheron agrees, especially when Ekos mocks and taunts Cheron’s sense of honor. But the urge to distance himself from Ekos can’t compete with the desire to remain close. Nor is it as strong as the urges in his body—urges he hasn’t felt in years.
As Cheron tries to refocus on his mission, Ekos throws him off again—this time by offering to help him in his holy quest. Cheron knows he shouldn’t trust a man who’s in the employ of a rival king, particularly not one who seems to know all Cheron’s deepest secrets. But he can’t ignore the signs from the goddess telling him to entwine his fate with this tricky, captivating man.
He prays the signs aren’t simply wishful thinking, manifestations of his very unholy desires. Time is running out, and Cheron is falling deeper for Ekos—and deeper into danger of another betrayal. One that could cost him his life.

How about a little taste?

Chapter One
Half parted in invitation, the concubine’s painted red lips teased the possibilities for Cheron’s sole benefit, for his sole pleasure, for his sole use. At least that was the intended impression, but who knew the actual number of men the concubine had truly pleasured? Many, Cheron assumed. Undeniably gorgeous, the pampered little house pet had all the markings of a palace favorite. Jewels hung from his earlobes, fine silks concealed his thin but muscular frame, and his body had been rubbed down with musky oils. Minus the golden, diamond-studded collar at his throat, he appeared to be a member of court.
“Is Ekos not to your taste, Majesty? He is personal stock, in case you are worried. No low-born has touched him.”
The emphasis had Cheron grinding his teeth. While Sinnac politely used the proper title while addressing him, there was always a lilt to his pronunciation, a gentle reminder that Cheron had only recently became a king. Before, he’d been a lowly soldier—a servant. To men like Sinnac, men who’d been born into power, he would never be anything other than a lucky usurper playacting at greatness.
Sinnac continued, “Perhaps His Majesty would like to see him from a different angle?”
King Sinnac tilted the concubine’s face upward to give Cheron a better look. Ekos lowered his crystal-blue eyes demurely, as was proper, but Cheron swore he saw a flash of mocking defiance in the depths before his lashes lowered. In a second, the brazen glare vanished. Ekos bowed his head, allowing his golden-yellow hair to fall over his shoulders. The posture gave Cheron a clear view of the concubine’s long back and the enticing dip of his ass.
Suppressing his disgust, Cheron kept his response to King Sinnac formal. “He is most pleasing. I am recently sated and do not require sexual services just now, Your Excellence. Perhaps later.”
“I heard you Northern men needed no pause between sessions. That you were an insatiable lot.” Sinnac, a severe man who resembled a long tendril of smoke with his long white body, steel-gray hair, and gray eyes, raised his bushy eyebrows and took a drag from his hookah. Foul-smelling mist coiled around his head, momentarily canceling out the masculine, sweet smell of the concubine’s body oils.
Cheron gave the characterization a breathy laugh. “I’m afraid all men must submit to biology.”
“Of course. Of course.”
Truthfully, Cheron’s carnal needs hadn’t been satisfied recently or even in the past year. His aversion to touching Ekos had nothing to do with lack of desire. Perhaps the young concubine served freely now, but at some point in his life, he’d been brought here in chains and trained in the arts of pleasure. The very thought made Cheron’s skin crawl. Not too long ago, he’d been enslaved under the reign of a cruel king who raped and tortured to stay in power. He had no intentions of following the same path.
After he took control of Broken Maw, servants continued to exist, but they were compensated for their work. No one was compelled to offer sexual services. Those who sold themselves demanded money, certainly, but also equal pleasure. Ekos’s circumstances were much different.
Sinnac, as if stressing those differences, commanded the concubine to attend to Cheron’s needs. “Show our guest your skills, my pet. Seduce him.”
The concubine pouted. In a spoiled voice, he said, “My treasure, I do not believe he wants me.”
A hard glint in his eye, Sinnac returned, “Nonsense. Help him settle in to Wren Gardens. I’ll not have my guests frustrated. And if the rumors I hear are true, he is quite congested with lust.”
Gossip between courts wasn’t uncommon. Certainly, Cheron heard his fair share of stories from Sinnac’s lands, especially tales of the financial troubles of Wren Gardens. It didn’t upset Cheron to learn he was the subject of discussion among Sinnac’s people, but his temperature rose at being so directly contradicted by another monarch.
“What do you know of my frustration, Excellency?”
His laughter croaked as he took another puff from the hookah. “I hear you haven’t had any pleasure since Aethel. His betrayal must still sting, yes?”
Honesty roughened his voice to an almost inaudible, harsh whisper. “Betrayal burns more than it stings, Excellency. Afterward, the smoke blinds us.”
Sinnac raised an eyebrow. “Dramatic. Betrayal also chokes us, apparently, though I heard your lover made good kindling for fire.”
Cheron swallowed down the memory before it overwhelmed him. Sometimes, in the dead of night, he still woke to the sound of his lover’s screams as he twisted on the pyre and the king’s executioner’s grim pronouncement that justice had been done. Now that Cheron had overthrown the king in a successful rebellion, there would be no such burnings. Never again.
Cheron kept his voice level. “His crime was nowhere near as severe as the punishment.”
“Hm,” Sinnac responded. Supposedly, the price for his displeasure ran higher. This marked Cheron’s first time visiting Wren Gardens, but his father told tales of a ruler obsessed with revenge to the point of madness. If the stories were true, Sinnac’s gardens grew on human blood.
Cheron tried to smile. “At any rate, that is in the past.”
“Well, then. My pet can make you forget the traitor existed. Perhaps he can make you forget your own treason.”
It would be unwise to answer the bait, so Cheron kept quiet on the matter. “I have no doubt of Ekos’s skills, but they are wasted on me at the present.”
“We’ll see.” Sinnac waved his graceful fingers, an order for Ekos to proceed.
The concubine’s crystal-blue eyes lowered again. Looking into their depths was akin to jumping into ice-cold water. One could drown, but he’d feel the sting of cold as he sank. Just the same, Cheron barely kept from gasping out loud as Ekos’s long fingers stroked the outer folds of the long robe he wore. Beneath the clothes, his body was taut, ready for a lover’s touch.
“Majesty,” Ekos simpered, his full, round mouth set in a pout. “I can’t please you through so many layers of clothing.”
In Wren Gardens, sex servants weren’t allowed to remove the clothing of nobility. Such a task was reserved for only the most trusted of servants, those who’d been with households for generations. Poisons that seeped through the skin were common here; the precaution made sense.
Ekos’s own dress confused Cheron. Station required servants to wear only thin scraps of fabric that advertised their wares and marked them as slaves. The concubine was swathed nearly head to toe in a loose-fitting, semitransparent silken frock that was embroidered along the hem by a skilled hand. Somehow, this enticed Cheron’s interests far better than any scant loincloth.
As if sensing his increasing desires, the concubine formed his full mouth into an aware smirk. The arrogance took Cheron aback and made him worry for the concubine’s safety. The man’s voice was strong and confident when he said, “Perhaps His Majesty would like to undress me first?”
Sinnac guffawed at Cheron’s horrified expression. “Forgive Ekos, my royal brother. He is overeager to prove his affections.”
Once again, Cheron ignored the overt slight. For now, Cheron had to be content another monarch had even stooped to meet with him. Smiling, he said, “He hasn’t been tested already?”
Sinnac’s countenance darkened. Without thinking, Cheron had insulted the other man’s virility, which he touted with great pride. In the short time Cheron had been a guest at Wren Gardens, Sinnac boasted as many as fifty lovers, all of whom couldn’t get enough of their lord and master.
“My apologies, Excellency.” Cheron spread his hands in contrition. “I understand your prowess is legendary.”
Sniffing, Sinnac got to his knees and began undoing the knot keeping his robe together. Seconds later, he was nearly naked except for his white linen undergarments. Covered in a network of impressive scars, his body flaunted a lifetime of war. “Turn around,” he commanded Ekos.
Immediately, Ekos obeyed. Cheron swore he saw a flash of disgust in the man’s crystal-blue eyes. Soon enough, the meaningless and practiced smile fell back into place. The young man dipped forward, raising his hips. “Enter if you dare,” he mocked.
Sinnac growled at the challenge.
Stomach lurching, Cheron realized the other monarch’s intent. Baring witness to rape immediately quashed his previous desires. He knew it was a typical practice in Wren Gardens, but Cheron failed to control a wave of pity. This was no way to treat another human being.
“Excellency,” Cheron said, interrupting the looming sexual encounter. “I have been an ungracious guest. I would love to indulge in Ekos’s sweet attentions privately. But how can I enjoy him if you put me to shame? Will he even consider me adequate after you?”
“I’m sure I would, Majesty,” Ekos softly assured him. “A man as magnificent as you must be bliss to touch.”
Sinnac ran his hands up and down the length of the concubine’s body, slapping and prodding as he went, but eventually sat back against the cushions without penetrating, much to Cheron’s relief.
His gaze hooded, almost fully concealed, Sinnac said, “Please retire to your quarters, Majesty. We’ll attend to matters of state after dinner. I will have Ekos sent to your rooms. Treat him gently. I paid a high price for him.”
As equals, they stood and formally bowed. The concubine, head still bent toward the ground, his expression concealed by a long flow of honey hair, remained prostrated. His fists clenched and unclenched. When he lifted his head, he smiled serenely and said, “You have yet to pay the full price for me, Excellency.”

My Review:
Cheron is the new ruler of the Northern Lands, and he’s visiting Sinnac, king over Wren Gardens, in order to find Hell’s Echo, a talisman Sinnac has hidden in his gruesome dungeons. Hell’s Echo is necessary for Cheron to free his goddess, Kalin. He keeps a relic around his neck that heats or vibrates when Kalin is communicating with Cheron from her celestial prison. He encounters the beautiful Ekos early in his visit to Wren Gardens, when Sinnac offers Cheron Ekos’s body for pleasure–because Ekos is a concubine. While Cheron is attracted to Ekos, he abhors slavery of any type, as true followers of Kalin would. Cheron is struck by the brutality of Sinnac’s court, but he’s not savvy enough to understand when he’s being hoodwinked into trouble.

Ekos, on the other hand, is a match for Sinnac’s guile–and Ekos knows that the path for his own freedom will come through assisting Cheron on his quest. Ekos doesn’t honor Kalin, not since his kin were all captured by Sinnac and turned into living garden plots for eternity. Sinnac hopes that Cheron will be able to claim the Hell’s Echo, so Sinnac can steal it and use it to release his own blood-thirsty god, Atyx.

The world building here was a little spartan, at first, and I would have liked a bit more of that upfront so I understood where I was, and what the goals were in the beginning. Cheron is a bit of a bungler, but his heart is true and his mission is foremost in his mind. He strikes bargains with Ekos to forward both of their aims, and that leads from mutual dependence into love. I admit I was a little lost about how a king, such as Cheron, would enter a foreign monarch’s palace under the guise of striking a trade bargain yet without any attendants, or advisors? This seemed shoddy planning, especially as Cheron’s true plan is to hunt out Hell’s Echo and escape with it. Surely he has generals or someone who might have his back?

Unfortunately, he didn’t, which leads to his imprisonment and a series of battles to save himself, or Ekos, or to regain Hell’s Echo…because, as I mentioned, Cheron is a bungler and he manages to lose it more than once.

Still, the pace is brisk and in the second half we fly along from battle to battle with a bit of romance developing between Ekos and Cheron. Ekos has a secret–about himself and his role in Kalin’s imprisonment–but Cheron’s never willing to give up on either Ekos or Kalin, no matter how dire the situation. I loved his steadfastness, as did Ekos. The climax is rapid-fire, with murderous gods and near-death experiences. Cheron never quit his quest, even when it would have been comfortable to do so–and that lead to his ultimate reward, with Ekos by his side, perhaps for eternity.

There’s a little bit of sexytimes, and a lot of magic, of good and bad types. The followers of Atyx–Sinnac and his host of priests and disciples–are disastrously rotten, and they are mutilated accordingly, so if you abhor the gore, this one is likely not going to satisfy. For fans of magical, mythical heroes and the power of good triumphing evil, well, you’ll have a long slog until you get your cockles warmed. But, the end is joyous, and features a fun reward for Cheron.

Interested? You can find THE DRAGON’S REBEL on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on the Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 GC to NineStar Press. Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Jacqueline Rohrbach is a 36-year-old creative writer living in windy central Washington. When she isn’t writing strange books about bloodsucking magical werewolves, she’s baking sweets, or walking her two dogs, Nibbler and Mulder. She also loves cheesy ghost shows, especially when the hosts call out the ghost out like he wants to brawl with it in a bar. You know, “Come out here, you coward! You like to haunt little kids. Haunt me!” Jackee laughs at this EVERY time.

She’s also a hopeless World of Warcraft addict. In her heyday, she was a top parsing disc priest. She became a paladin to fight Deathwing, she went back to a priest to cuddle pandas, and then she went to a shaman because I guess she thought it would be fun to spend an entire expansion underpowered and frustrated. Boomchicken for Legion!

Catch up with Jackee on her website and twitter.