Tag Archives: published: 2014-03

Vampire Prince by S.J. Frost

Vampire Prince

Vampire Prince by S.J. Frost

Series: Paranormal Nobles, Book 1
Published by: Ellora’s Cave on March 7, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Three years ago, Sebastian Beaumont was tricked. Having been kicked out by his parents when they discovered he was gay, Sebastian tried to make it on the streets. But living on the streets is hard enough for an adult; it can be even harder for a teenager. So the offer for a roof over his head, good food, and security was something he jumped at. He just didn’t expect that he would be come a blood slave, forced to let random vampires feed off of him, in exchange. And he expects he will die in Wesley’s blood house.

Sebastian’s outlook changes when a mysterious new patron arrives and selects him. Valentin is a vampire prince–something Sebastian didn’t know existed. The two hit it off quickly, and when Sebastian is threatened, Valentin buys Sebastian’s contract off a reluctant Wesley and takes him home. Sebastian is free, but for someone who has been enslaved and expected to die that way, freedom is a difficult concept. And Valentin has some wounds of his own. Of course, there’s also the fact that Wesley feels scorned over the loss of one of his slaves, and he may stop at nothing to get him back. With the cards stacked against them, can Sebastian and Valentin find a way to make this work?

There’s something I really enjoyed about the world in which this story takes place. I mean, yes the concept of blood slaves isn’t a huge stretch in a vampire universe, though I don’t know that I’ve read many stories that have featured something like that. But the interaction with demons, the backstory of how vampires were created, and some of the other lore kept me intrigued. And Beezle–everyone needs a Beezle.

There isn’t as much focus here on the development of the relationship between Sebastian and Valentin, but that was okay with me. There was a good balance between focusing on them and letting other characters shine while drawing readers into this world. Definitely an enjoyable read.

Relief Valve by J.L. Merrow

Relief Valve

Relief Valve by J.L. Merrow

Series: The Plumber’s Mate, Book 2
Published by: Samhain Publishing on March 25, 2014
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that things have been smooth sailing for Tom Paretski and Phil Morrison since they reconnected and became romantically involved. They both agreed to put the past behind them, recognizing they’ve both changed. But there’s still something tentative about the relationship. And that’s even without family opinions being considered.

Tom’s older sister, Cherry, gets back in touch with him to let him know two things. One, their former neighbor, a woman he knew affectionately as “Auntie Lol” has died and he’s named in the will. Two, she’s met a man that she would like him to meet. Of course neither of these are as simple as they seem.

First, Auntie Lol’s will is incomplete. The second piece of it is hidden in her old home, and she asked that Tom use his “gift” for finding hidden things to fetch it. And this is something her ex-husband and current resident of the home isn’t very keen on.

Second, Cherry’s new man, Gregory, has asked her to marry him. It seems a bit sudden considering they haven’t been together long. And it gets even more complicated when Cherry is poisoned at her own engagement party.

Suspects quickly emerge, from Gregory himself to members of a writing circle of which Cherry had previously been a member. With Tom’s gift and his boyfriends private investigation skills, they are hot on the trail. But can they find who wants Cherry dead before they strike again?

I absolutely love how fun and cheeky this books are without losing any of their seriousness or legitimacy. I enjoy a good whodunnit, and the added humor that the author provides here is honestly icing on the cake for me. The twists and the reveals are always dramatic (while not being over-the-top) and Tom is just one of those characters you have to love.

Man and the Beast by J. Ashburn

Man and the Beast

Man and the Beast by J. Ashburn

Series: The Beast Within, Book 1
Published by: J. Ashburn on March 22, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

When Alec Ashcroft begins having vivid dreams and blackouts, he’s afraid. Those dreams involve him attacking people–most notably his boyfriend. It’s not even that they’re just dreams. They manifest as desires. Unsure if he can control himself, Alec decides his only option is to run away. The pain of leaving people behind is less than having to live with the knowledge that he harmed them should it come to that.

Alec winds up in Redfern, a quiet little town that seems like the perfect place to disappear. He’s lucky enough to find a job and a place to stay without much effort. And his boss’s attempts to fix him up with the bartender at least reassure him that he may not have to hide being gay in his new home. But he’s still wary of relationships until he can get whatever his urges are under control. When the mysterious Luca shows up, Alec thinks he may have an answer. Luca is like him. And he lives with a group of guys who are the same. The two quickly fall into an intense and passionate relationship. But there’s a dark side to Luca that Alec isn’t sure he can live with. And he’s not sure he can fit the image Luca has of what they need to do with their “gift”. But when Alec doesn’t know where to turn, he’s surprised once again by the little town of Redfern and everything it has to offer.

This is a little different take on the shifter story than I’ve read before. There are some interesting layers to the mythology here that I really liked. And the character relationships are interesting. And Max–you have to just love Max. I didn’t really like the way Alec’s boyfriend at the beginning of the story was just sort of dropped, but I understand that’s part of how Alec gets to where he needs to be. It just would have been nice to see some closure there. Maybe it will come in one of the later books?

Definitely give this a recommend for a quick and fun read. It’s not deep or heavy–it’s almost more of an action book. There is some violence, so take note of that before you read.

The Bonedrake’s Penance by Yoon Ha Lee

Title: The Bonedrake’s Penance
Author: Yoon Ha Lee
Published: March 20, 2014
Pages: 40
Publisher: Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

Talk about a story that makes you think. Even a while after I’ve read this, I immediately find myself going back to the issues this story raised for me when I first finished it. Can one truly remain neutral in conflict? Is a decision to remain neutral an amoral decision or is it a conscious choice that brings culpability for the final outcome to the “neutral” party? And then there are the issues of parenting and nurturing. What does it mean to be a parent? How does a parent’s sense of morality impact those of their children? And what if something like the fortress actually existed?

This is the kind of speculative fiction I enjoy. There’s a world here that is different enough to truly stand out, but not different in ways that make it completely outside the realm of future possibility. The fiction that raises the questions of morality, especially when it comes to technology and its implications and applications.

Snowcroft Lost by Christi Snow

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Title: Snowcroft Lost (Snowcroft Men, Book 1)
Author: Christi Snow
Published: March 19, 2014
Publisher: Christi Snow
Pages: 295

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Review:
Is it too inarticulate to review this book by simply saying “Dang”? Because that was definitely the word that was on my mind when I finished the last page. I’ve read over a hundred books already this year and this one is definitely high up on the list of the best ones I’ve read. Not meaning to make an over pun on the title, but the world that Christi Snow has created here makes it very easy to get lost in Snowcroft. The characters are dynamic and very well-written – and I found myself both cheering and aching for Jamie and Trevor so many times throughout the book. Even though I had my suspicions about who was behind the crimes that Trevor was investigating before his amnesia set in, I can honestly say I had not pinned down all of the ways things unfolded. For me, that’s a hallmark of a great mystery and so rarely do I read something where I don’t have it all figure out before the ‘big reveal’.

Highly, highly recommend this one. And I’m certainly looking forward to further installments in this series – both because I want to read more from this author and also because I can’t wait to go back to Snowcroft and spend time with the men who live there…

(eGalley provided by the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: Remnant
Author: K.J. Charles & Jordan L. Hawk
Publication Date: March 11, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
I haven’t read either of the two series that are converging in this story, though I find myself interested and intrigued about both sets of characters after reading it. I am (disclosure) a big fan of historical paranormal mystery romance stories (of which this is one – though perhaps a bit light on the romance in this iteration) and Remnant does not disappoint. I don’t think it’s necessary to have ready the respective series to engage with and understand this one (I hadn’t and I liked it), though it probably would add to one’s overall enjoyment.

Title: Love Comes Home
Author: Andrew Grey
Publication Date: March 7, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  
Review: 
When single father Gregory Hampton learns that his 10-year-old son, Davey, has a degenerative condition that will leave him blind, it’s a blow to his world. Not only does he know that the dreams that he had for Davey may not happen, he also knows that many of the things Davey wants might end up out of his reach. And when Greg meets Tom Spangler at a party thrown by mutual friends, he finds himself wondering if he will be able to pursue some of his own dreams, as well.

As Davey’s condition worsens and Greg and Tom try to get to know each other better, what are the chances that things might work out? And how much more complicated with things become when Greg’s ex-wife shows up to throw her own opinions on Davey’s care into the mix?

This is an incredibly sweet story about love of all kinds. Even though the story has an m/m romance theme, I think it truly transcends that motif to include the love of family and friends – and the notion that sometimes a family is made up of those who are there for you and support you, not necessarily just those who are related to you. Greg’s selfless love for his son is endearing, as is Tom’s support of both Greg and Davey. And all of the friends that surround them provide this wonderful sense of a community of support. I found this to be a story that pulls at the heart (and not always just for the moments between the central couple) but left me feeling great about the people in my own life who are always there to support others and truly care – and it inspires me to remember to show the people I care about that same type of support.

I started this review giving this book four stars, but I find now that I’m thinking about it more, it’s definitely a five star – one of the best books I’ve read so far this year…

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: The Desert Temple
Author: Vivan Caethe
Publication Date: March 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
The Desert Temple is a quick dystopian science fiction/fantasy read with a tiny dash of m/m romance that hangs in the background. Vernon and Harold have set out on a quest to fulfill a promise Vernon made to eradicate the Ancient technology that destroyed a city. They know it could be dangerous, but are they truly prepared for all of the challenges that might lie before them.

Overall, I enjoyed this one. (I haven’t read the first book in the series; I think having done so might have helped me jump into this one a bit more quickly, but there were only a couple of things I had to wrap my head around, so I don’t think reading the first one is necessary. As with any series, though, I’d recommend reading in order.) Even though it’s short, I got a great sense of the world and the characters and their connection doesn’t seem forced or rushed in any way. I do wish it was longer – I guess that means I need to track down book one and keep my eyes open for any future books from this author.

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: Night of the Hunter
Author: R.A. Salvatore
Publication Date: March 4, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
The story of the Companions of Hall, returned and reunited, continues in Night of the Hunter. But why exactly did Mielikki send them back into new lives? Now that they’ve returned to Drizzt’s side, is their mission complete? Is there something greater that they need to accomplish?

Moving out of The Sundering, Salvatore masterfully builds the new world of Drizzt Do’Urden. While setting out to tie up loose ends from The Companions – finding rest for Pwent, helping the dwarves figure out what to do about the orcs – a whole new range of people (and problems) begins to emerge, setting the stage for an epic battle that will bring Drizzt up against his past and his people, perhaps for the final time?

I really enjoy Salvatore’s writing style. The world-building is easy to follow (except sometimes there are so many names when the drow are involved that it can be more difficult to follow in general) and you don’t need to have an extensive knowledge of Forgotten Realms to understand where things are coming from and where they might be going. Certainly recommend this for anyone interested in fantasy.

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)