Shadowcraft by Jean Woolf

ShadowcraftLGTitle: Shadowcraft

Series: N/A

Author: Jean Woolf

Genre:  Steampunk / Alternate World

Length: Novella

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4 Hearts

Reviewer: Thommie

Blurb: In the city of Tessera in the twenty-third century, the law can be as ruthless as those who break it. Li, hustler by night and drug runner by day, is caught in the crossfire.

His best friend and occasional lover is a prostitute, like himself. His nemesis and occasional savior is a man with a secret identity. But then, everyone’s identity is a secret in Tessera. Everyone is a shadow. If he plans to survive, Li must blend in—he must remain quiet and unseen, passed from hand to carnivorous hand without getting captured by a single one.

But what happens when he is captured? Will the shadow, once trapped, manage to escape? Or will Li fade away into the endless night, a shadow among shadows, one death among many?

Product Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3898

Review: Well hello, I loved this book. Do I seem surprised? Yes, I am, because frankly the blurb or the title didn’t prepare me of what exactly I was going to read. See the blurb made me think that something “shadowy” was going on and it could be I’ve been reading too much paranormal lately, but I somehow got that feeling that this book would have something of a paranormal element in it. My bad though.

So this story locates in an alternate world and has the Steampunk feel in it. Li is an unfortunate kid out of many who hustles himself for survival under the protection of Mother Hen. He’s expected to work all night, every night, turning all profits except a small amount that barely is enough for food. So are all the other prostitutes that work for Hen. His clients are rarely gentle, that’s not what they pay for, but the most brutal of them all is Li’s first client ever.

Yes, we witness a fair amount of non-consensual intercourse here. Li is being the perfect profile of a degraded human being whose life means nothing and is expendable in a heartbeat should he not conform with what his life throws at him. Pain is a constant in his life, thus his character is always gloomy and sullen. That acceptance of the inevitable usually doesn’t make me like a character, but I have to say that Li has a certain charm about him that draws you like a moth to flame almost unwillingly. There is also strength about this character and a spark of life that is carefully revealed through the story. That actually happens when a dangerous client approaches him. Honestly when Soren makes his appearance I thought he was this dark character and the story would be about dark cravings and some D/s relationship between a whore and his client. I was wrong.

When Li meets Soren it seems like another encounter in his line of job, albeit a dangerous one. Danger though he gets, Soren is nothing what Li expected, and he finds himself unwillingly pulled in the middle of a fed/drug lord war. To comply with Soren means probable death at the corner, not to means imminent death by Soren’s hand, but the stakes rise when the life of his best friend and the only person Li can still call family is threatened. Because no matter the choice Li would’ve made he’s the most compliant pawn when Matt is concerned.

Ok, so, did I say I loved this book? I did, very much so. The dynamics between the characters were fantastic. Matt and Li were simply perfect together, so sensual and sweet in the midst of all that degradation and despair. Li and Soren were astonishing. I did not expect that. Soren for the icy and chilly character he was displayed broke my heart. In the end I felt so, so sorry for him. I almost wished Li had stayed with the lonely agent; nah scratch that, I do wish Li and Soren had stayed together. Meh, that doesn’t bode well with the HEA of the story right? As for the other characters, yeah they were pretty solid as well. The cruel drug Lord, the unfeeling brothel owner, the non-committal, and detached agents, they all had their charms. I loved them, each of them and the writing style was fantastic. When the end came, although it was a happy end, what made me pin for it even more was the fact that the author maintained that melancholic touch that seems to follow Li in every step. There was this bittersweet taste in it due to the fact that Soren was left behind, and damn it I’m still feeling so sad for him, so much so that I wish a sequel will follow and give him a story of his own.

In any case I hope I gave you a hint of what this book is about without revealing too much and destroying it for you. For me it was a delightful read, just my cup of tea. J

 

Down Under by Tam Ames

DownUnderLGTitle: Down Under

Author: Tam Ames

Genre: Future (2089), Paranormal

Length: Novella (128pgs)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (26th June 2013)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4 Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: The year 2089 finds Australia split between east and west, with a wall to ensure the east stays safe. College student Aiden Taylor is traveling from Perth to Sydney to see Men at Work, who have been revived after cryogenic freezing. Regrettably, only days into his trip, his moped is stolen—and then he meets a naked man from the east. The man turns out to be Matthew King, who offers Aiden a ride—no strings attached—all the way to Sydney. 

When another attack occurs the following night, Aiden discovers Matthew’s impossible secret: he’s a were-kanga. At least that gives them something to talk about when they experience delays at the wall. One thing leads to another, and soon friends with benefits turns into something more. But when the summer is over, Aiden must return to school in Perth. How can he leave Matthew behind?

Purchase Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3918

Review: Australia has been split in two since 2050 with the East shutting itself off from the West when someone accidentally caused a nuclear explosion. Aiden is looking forward to the Men At Work comeback concert and sets off from Perth for Sydney, it’s a long journey by himself on his moped, but he desperately wants to see the group. Unfortunately, his moped is stolen along with his money and his prized ticket. Aiden then he meets a naked man, Matthew, who turns into his shining knight who offers him a ride to Sydney. When Aiden is attacked again Matthew comes to his rescue and Aiden discovers the myth about were-kanga’s is true, both men have secrets that they hide and it gives them a lot to talk about when they are held up at the border. They become close but Aiden’s time in Sydney is limited, could they have something more than just a summer romance?

This is a great story that was surprisingly funny and sweet in equal measure. Aiden is a brilliant character who has an unhealthy obsession with murderous Tasmanian devils; his inner monologue is hilarious and is even funnier when it slips out of his mouth. Matthew is kind and generous and is the perfect foil to Aiden’s slightly manic mind, they fit together from the start and make a great couple especially when Aiden stops panicking. The shifter aspect isn’t really that much of a big deal and neither is Aiden’s mutation, it’s more a story of two men who meet on the road and hit it off, shacking up together and falling in love but then one has to leave to return to his life and they decide what to do for the future.

The story is an easy fun read that has the twist of Matthew being in the closet and his dad trying to fit him up with a woman, rather than being angsty it is just a bit tense with some great reactions from Aiden that has you smiling quite often. There is some great sex and Matthew and Aiden certainly make the most of it. What I loved most about this story was that although they quickly jumped into bed together they spent plenty of time getting to know each other before saying ‘I Love You’ and Matthew also had a great explanation for his initial feeling for Aiden.

I recommend this if you want a different kind of shifter, if you want a humorous light read, if you want guys falling in love and finding their happy ever after, this is definitely a story that you should give a chance.

 

 

Mountain Prey by Lyn Gala

MountainPreyLGTitle: Mountain Prey

Series: N/A

Author: Lyn Gala

Genre: Action-Adventure / Contemporary / BDSM-KINK

Length: Novel

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (June 19th, 2013)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥4.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Thommie

Blurb: Stewart Folger lives in the Appalachian Mountains, where people take care of their family and follow the Bible. He feels that Appalachian pull in his blood, but that hasn’t tamed his wild side. A youth full of pranks left him with the nickname Stunt and a preference for danger in and out of bed. Other than a few contrary moonshiners who hate him for philosophical reasons since he’s a forestry technician and federal employee, he doesn’t have a problem in the world. Then one day he runs into Alex Soto, a man out for revenge.

Just out of prison, Alex knows firsthand that the justice system doesn’t treat poor and rich equally, so he’ll have to go outside the law to avenge his brother’s death. When an innocent man lands in the middle of his plans, he doesn’t know what to do… other than take him hostage. Unfortunately, he never planned to have to deal with Stunt or with the twisted logic that passes for reasonable in Stunt’s mountain home.

Product Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3895

Review: So this is yet another book that I took on reading utterly blind. meaning I didn’t read the blurb, I didn’t care about the genre, nothing other than the other. Why? Well, because it’s Lyn Gala, of course, and somehow, somewhere along the run she made my favorite author’s list. Did I get disappointed from this? Nah, not a chance.

In fact, Mountain Prey was the book I desperately wanted to read without even knowing why. It was made clear to me though, from the first page what was that I needed and that was the fact that this book is absolutely, brilliantly funny and hilarious. which made my day and lightened my spirits. It was also ludicrous in so, so many ways. Mountain logic is a phrase you will encounter many times and by the time you’re done with the book, that very phrase will cause a whole fit of laughter to you on its own.

But, let’s take a peek on the story. This is the incredulous story of Stunt (Stewart) and Alex. Stunt is mountain folk and Alex, of course, would be the city folk. Two very different cultures meet and crash and in the end, of course, come together in a stunningly beautiful way. Alex is on a vigilante mission, tracking down the man who killed his brother – who happens to be a big Drug Lord – up in the mountains. Bidding his time, checking this man’s routine, and schedules, so he’ll find the right time to make his hit. Alex stumbles right at Stunt, or was it the other way around? Oh yeah, Stunt, being a federal forester taking care of the trails, is the one who stumbles right on Alex, gorgeous Alex, ugh and perhaps psycho killer Alex? Stunt doesn’t know. What he knows is that he’s suddenly a hostage to a very strange guy, whose moods change in a heartbeat. What he discovers is that his kidnapper is not only on a vengeance mission to what he believes is a righteous cause and he also is very good, no extremely good with binding a man. Stunt should know, after all the years he’s spent in the bondage scene. after so many Doms having used ropes on him, Stunt does know that Alex is much more than he lets on a first sight. And so their adventure begins.

I had a blast reading this. I had to clutch at my belly and wipe away the tears because this story was way, way too funny. Stunt is a character so freaking unique, so funny albeit unwillingly so. So extraordinary that it’s near impossible not to love him. It is obvious that this character was created with a lot of care and passion. He is a vortex that absorbs you into his world and doesn’t let you go. instead makes you love irrationality in a way no other character has ever achieved. And Alex, damn, no tell me who can resist a god on a vengeance mission? No one, I assure you. But, what I like more about this character was his Dom side. Now you know how I love myself the kink and BDSM scenes. I find few authors that can pull ‘em off and make ‘em real in a piece of paper, and well Ly is one of them. The whole Dom/sub relationship that occurred, the buildup and the final strike, how it followed up and continued, the intimate scenes that left you near breathless, panting for air and fanning yourself because their hotness was simply unbearable. My God, what a gorgeous piece of work, what an erotic result, un-freaking-believable. And last, but not least, I must, must mention Elijah. I will forever remember this character and hold close to my heart that damn shotgun wedding he performed that had me nearly pissing myself and hurt so much from laughing that I still feel sore on my abs.

There is so much to say about this book that if I indulged in all that I’d be writing on forever. Bottom end this was brilliant and so fresh that it managed to give me a new appreciation for this author. The book is totally worth the read, and then re-read, and then a twice a year dust off just for the fun of it. Definitely one of my favorites overall.

 

Whipped Cream by Andrew Grey

1010767_641559562538384_1613169080_nTitle:  Whipped Cream

Series:  N/A

Author:  Andrew Grey

Genre:   Contemporary Romance

Length:  Novella (80 pages)

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press (June 26th, 2013)

Heat Level:  Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Blurb:   Former model Brent Phillips now works the other side of the camera. He makes his money on senior portraits but wants to create an art exhibition. His only problems are lack of a central image and a three-week deadline.

Enter Brent’s friends, who resolve to discover the perfect model for his project. They find him in Tristan Greer, a college student who left home after coming out and is trying to make ends meet.

Though initially reluctant, Tristan agrees to work with Brent to capture the image Brent wants—a gay version of Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream album photo. It turns out the camera loves Tristan, and the photographer may as well.

Product Link:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3978

Reviewer:   Tams

Review:  Short, Sexy and Steamy.. say it with me now, my three favorite colors! Brent is a former model turned photographer. Being familiar with both sides of the camera gives him an edge that his rival, Xavier doesn’t possess.

Tristan is a college student trying to make ends meet, and the perfect model for Brent’s latest project. To spite the age difference, the two begin a passionate affair. Brent falls hard for the young, charismatic model, but does his best to hide his feelings. Because there is no possible way Tristan feels the same way about him, is there?

This is the first short I’ve read by Grey, and he manages to capture the emotions of the story and the characters just as he does with his full length novels. I can almost see Tristan looking at Brent as I’m reading, with love and longing. These two have some hot, steamy sex as well. Again, Grey is very good at conveying to the reader the way Tristan makes Brent feel, the sensuality of their relationship.

Definitely a must read for Andrew Grey fans. And if you are a fan of romantic, sexy, HEA stories this one is for you.

Directing Traffic by Charley Descoteaux

DirectingTrafficLGTitle:  Directing Traffic

Series: 

Author: Charley Descoteaux 

Genre:   Contemporary

Length:  Novella (65 pages)

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press (June 26th 2013)

Heat Level:  Moderate to Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥4Hearts

Blurb:   Neil Sedwick expects to spend his vacation in a sleepy tourist trap mourning his late partner’s death. Instead, he puts his recently acquired CPR certificate to use and saves an elderly resident’s life. But it’s the survivor’s nephew, sexy middle-school teacher Ty Bigelow, who causes Neil to reevaluate his routine and consider reopening his heart.

Though the electricity between them is undeniable, Ty is struggling with his own feelings of inadequacy, and Neil is moored to the past. Even the healing peace of an old man’s garden and the ever-changing waters of the Oregon coast may not be enough to prepare Neil to overcome a crisis of the heart.

Product Link:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3917

Reviewer:   Tams

Review:  Short, Sexy, and Steamy, my three favorite colors! Although the sexiness is not overbearing and there is really only one HOT sex scene, it is only a 65-page novella; this was such a fun read.

Neil Sedwick is going through the motions in life after the loss of his partner of 18 + years almost 2 years ago. An accidental meeting on the street changes his mundane life forever. Ty Bigelow has suffered personal loss as well, even if not to the extent Neil has, so they are kindred spirits of sorts. The attraction is immediate and intense, but a simple misunderstanding pulls them apart before Neil can even begin to show Ty his true feelings. Will Ty realize that Neil isn’t trying to take control before he walks out of his life forever?

Charley packs a great story into this novella with amazingly well-rounded characters and a fantastic back-story for them both. Ty’s uncle and Neil’s longtime best friend add that little something extra to the story, just to take the reader outside of the romance between the two ML. One of the best “first times” I’ve ever read as well.

Like romance, steamy guy on guy action and a HEA ending? This is a must read then, and it’s short so you will just breeze through. I’ll definitely be reading this one again though.

Same Page by Lily Velden

SamePageLGTitle:  Same Page

Series:  How the Light Gets In, Book #1

Author:  Lily Velden

Genre:   Contemporary

Length:  Novel (340 pages)

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press (June 14th, 2013)

Heat Level:  Explicit and Erotic

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥5! Hearts

Blurb:   Book One: How the Light Gets In

He was like the only splash of color in a black-and-white photograph.

The man was beautiful.

At an exhibition opening in Sydney, jaded Hollywood heartthrob Jaxon Moncrieff lays eyes on publicity-shy artist Liam Lassiter for the first time and is immediately captivated. But he doesn’t get far into their first conversation before he realizes what he’s feeling is attraction, which brings him up short. Jaxon has always been a womanizer.

Despite his reservations, Jaxon makes a play for Liam, but Liam has his own issues. Unlucky in love and orphaned at sixteen, he is reluctant to open his heart to anyone, and dismisses Jaxon out of hand.

Driven by a need he doesn’t understand, Jaxon organizes a return to Sydney to film his next project. If he can’t be with Liam, maybe they can be friends. Of course, that creates a whole new problem. Now Jaxon is falling in love for the first time. How can he move their relationship from friends to lovers without destroying the trust he’s worked so hard for?

Product Link:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3893

Reviewer:   Tams

Review:  Jaxon Moncrieff is gorgeous, famous, talented, and straight. The tall and tanned actor with his curly, shaggy blonde hair and dazzling blue eyes can have (and probably has) any woman he wants. While in Sydney promoting his latest movie and at the urging of his assistant and best friend, Alison, he attends an art showing. He spots a man across the room with red, gold, and brown hair and bronze eyes to match. He’s immediately captivated by the lean curves of his body, which throws him for a loop at first; he’s straight, so why is he feeling this immediate and overwhelming attraction to another man.

Liam Lassiter is a terribly gifted artist with a terrible past to match. Orphaned at sixteen and then raised by his parent’s best friend, Garrett, he’s only had two meaningful relationships that both ended in disaster. He’s jaded and bitter so as soon as Jaxon approaches him Liam dismisses him thinking Jaxon isn’t looking beyond his good looks.

They go their separate ways, but both men spend the next several months fixated on each other. Jaxon, more so than Liam. Even going as far as to strike up a friendship with Garrett just to get one step closer to the brooding and handsome artist. Jaxon ends up back in Sydney filming his next movie and, of course, his first stop is Liam. The two begin an unconventional friendship that blossoms into love. Can a relationship that truly is built on friendship and love survive the enigma that is Hollywood? Will Liam be able to leave his past in the past, or will his failed relationships drive a wedge between him and Jaxon?

This is by far one of the best M/M romances I have read, ever. It wasn’t insta-love by any means. Jaxon and Liam learned about each other and their pasts, became basically best friends before they became lovers. What they have to learn if they are going to make their relationship last is trust. Watching them fall in love was beautiful and mesmerizing, I couldn’t put the book down! Then once they finally come together what follows is not just a heated night of passion; it’s a full-blown love affair with all the bells and whistles! I thought my kindle might explode from all the heat these two put off in the bedroom, and the living room, and the shower. Oh good god, the things they do in the shower just might be illegal in a dozen or so states!

Extremely well written, emotional and passionate, Same Page is a love story at heart. Jaxon and Liam are three-dimensional characters with flaws and depth. Velden even gives us some page worthy secondary characters with Garrett and Alison, the two leading men’s respective best friends. Who, coincidentally, end up falling in love with each other. I anxiously await book 2 in this series, I’d pre-order it if Dreamspinner had it listed! HIGHLY recommend this book.