The Diplomatic Heir by Rebecca Hefner

A new villain has emerged beyond the ether. Will two hybrids who have never wanted to rule find a way to stand up together in the face of evil? 

What’s it About? 

A new era dawns as ancient threats emerge…

Tordor, son of Queen Miranda and King Sathan, was born to inherit the immortal throne. But deep within, he feels a calling to help his people in other ways. As their imminent immersion with the humans looms, he joins a clandestine team to offer his skills.

Esmerelda, daughter of Elf King Dakath, has spent centuries evading her father’s cruelty. Striving to create peace, she leads the team that will approach the humans after the destruction of the ether. Having the kind, diplomatic immortal heir on her team is a fortunate bonus.

As Esme and Tor work together to unify the realms, Dakath’s interference intensifies, reinforcing Esme’s vow to remain free of close bonds. Even if the handsome prince is determined to break through her walls and claim her as his immortal mate…

Can Tordor push past Esme’s fears, or will her father destroy their future before it’s begun?

First Impressions

After seven books you’d think by now I would be used to the author’s ability to take us on a thrilling journey with each new installment in this series, but it still manages to surprise me every time. The Diplomatic Heir presents us with a new immortal species or two, a brand new setting beyond the walls of Etherya’s Earth, and the emergence of a dastardly new villain. Caught in the middle of it all are our two featured leads, Tordor and Esme, delightful new characters that I’m hoping we’ll see featured again and again throughout the rest of the series. They are natural-born leaders who are hesitant to lead, but will always succeed in finding a voice to stand up for their people when it matters most. 

This seventh book does a fantastic job of laying the groundwork for future novels in the series, while also creating a substantive amount of personalized drama for Tordor and Esme to hold our attention throughout this one. In hindsight it was kind of surprising to realize that for an Etherya’s Earth book the vast majority of the plot takes place outside of the world of immortals. However, we can see how necessary this change in setting was to act as a transitional point between the world we once knew before the ether fell, and the reality our characters live in now that the ether has been destroyed. It’s only a matter of time before humans are fully aware of the existence of immortals, so we need to see the beginning phases of how the people of Etherya intend to make this as smooth a transition as possible. Aside from our lead couple, we are introduced to so many new characters who will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in this progressive integration. 

If there was just one minor issue I had with this novel, it would be that we flip back and forth and sideways to so many different characters in the first half of the novel that I had a minor case of whiplash. We’ll see a chapter told from Esme’s point of view, followed by Tordor, then travel over to see what crazy thoughts our villain Dakath has, or we might go back to Etherya to check in on the couple from the first novel (a true delight), but maybe there’s a chapter to be told of a hardened soldier moving on from a lost love, or a playboy spy intent on helping our heroes succeed. Now, don’t get me wrong, the mere introduction of these side characters has me craving more of their stories almost as badly as I crave hot cocoa on a cold winter’s night. My interest has been piqued so much I can’t decide who I want to have their own novel first! Nevertheless, it was still a kind of character overload that would make me miss the focus on our lead couple for a time. By the second half of the novel we have a clearer understanding of how all the characters fit together, and Esme and Tor’s romance really picks up steam to a point where their chemistry can’t help but take center stage. It’s just that first half which felt somewhat discombobulated as we jumped from character to character. 

The Runner and the Virgin

I have fallen in love with every couple in this series, and Esme and Tor are near the top of the list when it comes to two characters who simply feel right with each other. We’re dealing with a friends-to-lovers scenario, which is always one of my favorite tropes. They made perfect sense as a couple, and yet their road from friendship to an intimate relationship was not a straightforward one. Esme has a complicated past which makes her hesitant to form deep emotional attachments with others due to the fear that her evil father will kill them. Enter Tor. He is her equal in every way, and will do everything in his power to support her vision for peace. He also happens to be a virgin, and the incorporation of this element into the overall plot of the novel was absolute perfection. It added a layer of complexity to their connection, but it also wasn’t the defining feature of their relationship. Tor has been saving himself for a woman important enough to want to share that moment with, and practically upon first meeting Esme he knows that she’s the one. 

When he learns more about her complicated background of running, Tor knows with absolutely certainty that the reveal of his virginity will make Esme want to flee. And it does. Not because she thinks there’s too much pressure over the idea of being his first, but rather because she knows it will establish yet another emotional bond between them that will make it even harder for her to run away after the deed is done. When they do finally come together in a physical sense, amidst all of the complications and drama going on in their lives, they still manage to find laughter and joy with each other. It’s a talented author indeed who can successfully bring laughter into the bedroom without it feeling awkward or forced, but Rebecca Hefner managed to show us two friends celebrating life in the midst of their intimacy, and it’s a glorious sight to behold. 

The Formidable Foe

When the ether fell between the immortal world and the human realm, Esme was determined to ensure a smooth integration of the species, yet from opening bell she understood that she probably wouldn’t be able to see the entire project through to completion. For centuries, Esme has been on the run from her powerful Elf father, Dakath. He has a determination of his own, but rather than the honorable mission his daughter fights for, Dakath will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the Elven bloodline remains pure. Even if that means killing any Elf-human hybrids he comes across. Even if it means his own daughter is a hybrid, and he’s intent on extending her torture by killing anyone with whom she forms an emotional attachment. This is why Esme knows her time with the integration team is limited, and even though her heart is pulling her towards Tor, her brain is telling her she has to flee to keep him and the rest of their team safe. 

Tor acts as the perfect partner by not always insisting or demanding that she stay with him. He shows Esme that sometimes it’s more important to live in the moment while they still have time with each other, rather than always look for the tipping point which will force her to leave. And while that tipping point does eventually rise up, their journey has made her realize that she’s no longer alone. Esme can finally face her father with other people standing alongside her. They’re so much stronger together than she could ever be running off on her own, and for the first time in centuries she has hope. Dakath is certainly a formidable foe who won’t go down easy, and I have a feeling he might even strike down a few more we’ll come to know and love in his destructive path towards what he deems as purity. However, it will be quite the thrill to see how this badass team of warriors turned family will stand up against him every step of the way. Game on. 

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 7. I’d recommend reading the series in order. We are presented with two teases in this book. One is a glimpse of what’s in store for book 8, which I need to have in my hands, like, yesterday. The other was a teasing mention that only the most die-hard fans of this writer would recognize, which was the oh-so-casual name drop of the town of Ardor Creek. To say that my mouth dropped open in an exclamation of, “oh no she didn’t!!” would be the understatement of the year.

Would I befriend the heroine? I have a feeling our mutual tendency for quips and Chandler Bing-like sarcastic comments would mesh together quite well. 

Do I crave the hero? I gotta say, this is one male lead I’d probably have to kick out of bed. But only because he snores like a freight train. Would I first drag him into bed before kicking him out of it? Absolutely. 

Final Impressions: The new generation of immortals have firmly established themselves in this series, and proven that they are just as engaging as the OG’s who came before. This series is a plethora of lovable characters, and while we may have been introduced to a few too many new ones all at once in this seventh book, it’s undeniable that each and every one will play a crucial role in how this drama unfolds over the next few novels. I’m excited by this new villain, whose twisted motivations put him toe-to-toe with Crimeous in the malicious category. Esme and Tor are everything you could ever want in a lead couple, and in a pair of leaders. The heart of this series will always show us that while the road to good triumphing over evil might be an arduous one, it’s also attainable when surrounded by friends and family who will have your back around every dark corner.  

Smut Level: There are definitely some graphic and descriptive scenes, but on the whole I would say their sexual relationship is quite tame, all things considered. Tor and Esme certainly desire each other, but they sort of ease their way into things because of Tor’s virginity. He’s definitely an eager student though, just as Esme is a dedicated teacher. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 316 Pages. 

Untamed Delights by Suzanne Wright

Dominic has a cheeky pick-up line for every scenario. When he first sets his sights upon Mila, he’s struck with speechlessness one minute, and inspired to produce some of his best material the next. 

What’s it About? 

Return to the sensual and feral stirrings of the Phoenix Pack as a woman who’s already bound to one man is tempted by a wolf who’s bound only to his nightly desires.

Cat shifter Mila Devereaux can’t help but see it as a betrayal. That her one true mate imprinted himself on another female was hard enough to accept. Struggling to be at peace with her loveless fate, she doesn’t fight the suggestion of entering an arranged mating. Then she meets Dominic, a pack enforcer with a notorious reputation. It’s in his very scent. This irresistible playboy—and delicious badass wolf—is making Mila’s fantasies come alive again.

Alarming, compelling, and heady with sensual energy, Dominic is an expert at making women shed their inhibitions. Now everything about him—his killer smile, his perfectly sculpted body, and his smooth-as-honey voice—is drawing in a captivating new catch. But for the first time in his life, Dominic is feeling more than a fling. He finds himself tantalized by a female who makes him think of forever. He wants all of Mila and won’t be satisfied until he has it.

As the passion grows wild, so does the risk. They’re falling in love in the shadows and secrets of their pasts. And it’s threatening to destroy everything Mila and Dominic are fighting for. And are destined for.

First Impressions

Alas, the time has come for the sun to set on our beloved Phoenix Pack shifter series. We’ve been through a lot with these surly wolves and their lady loves, and Suzanne Wright doesn’t disappoint by saving one of the most entertaining characters for last. Dominic is a ladies man through and through, and has regaled us with ridiculously cringe-worthy yet comical pick-up lines since the beginning. It’s to be expected that there would be a bit of humor built into his eventual tale of romance, and while that is certainly true for a good portion of the novel, it was delightfully surprising to see the hidden serious side of this heretofore jovial character. This is an aspect I’ve appreciated for so many of the heroes and heroines we’ve been presented with throughout this series. There’s always another angle to their personality which prevents them from simply being one dimensional.

We discover a layer of emotional turmoil to Dominic’s past, borne from abandonment by his parents who always treated him as a stand-in for his deceased brother. He’s presented an easy-going façade to the world as a way to shield anyone from getting to close to him for fear that they will eventually leave him, just as his parents did all those years ago. Mila is the first woman who has ever tempted Dominic to get close and share the side of him he’s kept hidden away even from his pack mates. What begins as mere physical attraction between two commitment-avoidant characters slowly evolves into something more as Mila’s life is repeatedly threatened throughout the course of the novel. With every new near-death experience they become cognizant of how irreparably damaged their lives would be without the other one in it anymore.

Fated Mates?

Everyone familiar with this series will undoubtedly have seen reference to “the formula” at some point. Seemingly in every book we are presented with two badass characters, one a surly alpha wolf who falls for the strong female lead. They usually encounter drama on two fronts, one from the shifter side of things, and the other dealing with more of a personal aspect tied to some event from their past. Throw in some steamy sex, and a belated realization that they’re actually true mates, and you’ve got yourself “the formula”. Personally, I love the formula. I know what I’m getting into it, it’s usually an entertaining ride, each character still manages to have a distinctive personality, and every dramatic story line has its own twists and turns which successfully set it apart from the previous installments. Case in point, while almost every book in the series has highlighted the important connection between fated mates, this final book presents us with lead characters who aren’t actually true mates.

Mila knows who her true mate is, but he has already chosen to imprint with another woman, and is therefore blinded to the true nature of his connection with Mila. Dominic has never been eager to locate his true mate, and upon meeting Mila she is determined to leave the country to avoid hers. So, why not spend some time getting to know each other in the bedroom? However, when an unknown enemy takes out a hit on Mila’s life, the repeated attempts to kills her throw Mila and Dominic together in a way where they realize how much they mean to each other. They might not be true mates in the sense that destiny has fated them to spend eternity together, but rather they ultimately choose to make that visceral connection by imprinting. In a way, their choice in the matter makes it all the more special. 

Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 8. While I’m sad to see this series end, I do think it was a good time to bring a close to our pack of Phoenix shifters, and it was ultimately a strong conclusion. 

Final Impressions: I really enjoyed Mila and Dominic’s story. He was a seductive playboy, and she was never afraid to call him on his BS. The fact they weren’t fated mates, and that Mila’s true mate was someone she still interacted with on a regular basis made her and Dominic’s romance all the more compelling. Upon first finishing the book I was a tad disappointed with the several attacks throughout the story by random hit men who were trying to collect a bounty placed on Mila’s head. It seemed unnecessarily repetitive, and the fact a healer was always nearby meant that we could never be truly immersed in the feeling that her life were truly at stake. That being said, after letting it ruminate for a day or two I recognized that her constant brushes with death acted as the necessary trigger for Dominic’s realization of her importance in his life.

Smut Level: Dominic’s cheesy one-liners don’t stop upon finally getting Mila on her back in his bed…they just get even more sultry. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 385 Pages. 

Wild Hunger by Suzanne Wright

They haven’t seen each other since they were children, but one look as adults is all it takes for Trick to realize that Frankie is his destined mate.

What’s it About? 

When half–wolf shifter Frankie Newman receives an e-mail from a family member she didn’t know existed, a secret is revealed: as a child, Frankie witnessed her father killing her mother…and then himself. Frankie was torn from her pack by her mother’s human relatives, and the trauma was erased from her memory. Realizing that she’s been lied to her entire life, she’s never felt more alone. Until she catches the scent of an old friend—warmly familiar and intoxicating.

Trick Hardy, enforcer of the Phoenix Pack, can sense the rush of mutual attraction when he sees Frankie again. He knows immediately that she’s his true mate. But he also knows that, given her fragile state, he needs to tread with care—no matter how fierce his surging desires.

As aroused as Frankie is by Trick’s darkly dominant air and simmering desire, her priority right now is her past—not her future, no matter how tempting. But as more secrets emerge and Frankie’s life is threatened, Trick must do everything he can to keep her close and safe. After all, it’s their destiny.

First Impressions

We’ve been introduced to a slew of different couples throughout this series so far, and while each has traversed their own unique path to discovering that they are destined mates, one shared component is that it usually takes a decent portion of the book before our lead characters uncover the mating link drawing them together. Whether it be because they’re too busy fighting off a common enemy, one of them insists true mates aren’t real, or perhaps one mistakenly thought they’d already found and lost their mate years before, there’s something which has caused our characters to put up a mental block against recognizing the person they’ve come to desire is meant to be theirs for the rest of time. A refreshing element which sets this seventh book apart from any of the installments which have come before is the fact that Trick identifies Frankie as his true mate almost immediately upon first setting his sights on her after many years apart. As for Frankie, her realization of their fantastical connection is just a few short weeks behind Trick’s.

Neither of them tries to deny the truth from themselves or each other. The only thing preventing them from taking that final step to cement the link is that Trick acknowledges Frankie is already dealing with enough in her personal life, from finding out her grandparents lied about how her parents perished when she was just a young girl, to the fact they also hid the fact she has loving wolf family members out there who would want nothing more than to bring her into the fold of their pack. Trick has been hoping for years that he would find his destined mate, yet when she’s finally standing right in front of him he realizes she needs time to heal and reconnect with family first. Finalizing their connection can wait, and he thinks it will be a good idea for them to spend time getting to know each other first before taking that big step. Considering all we know about how strong that mating pull can be, it’s probably one of the more beautiful expressions of caring we’ve seen so far in this series. 

Sexuality

Another interesting aspect of our couple’s relationship was the history of Trick’s sexuality. We’ve seen in previous novels that Trick has been sexually involved with men, at one point even with one of his fellow packmates. It’s something that Trick reveals to Frankie fairly early on after they start having a physical relationship, primarily so that she won’t be blindsided should any troublesome characters try to use it as a way to push a wedge between these two destined mates. Frankie isn’t bothered by his admission, but she does experience a brief moment of hesitation wondering if there will ever come a time when he might desire something physically that she won’t be able to give him. He squashes any of her concerns by insisting that she’s the one he’s been waiting for all this time, and there wasn’t a romantic component to any of his previous partners, whether they were men or women.

I do wish we could have gone a bit deeper into discussing Trick’s sexuality beyond just describing his previous interactions with men as “scratching an itch”. It seemed like a bit of a missed opportunity to finally highlight a non-heterosexual male lead in more detail within this series. In terms of his exes, you also can’t help but wonder if the mere presence of Trick causes others to lose their minds with obsessive infatuation. Whether it was a woman from his past who repeatedly insisted that he was her destined mate, to a former male sexual partner who asserts that Trick is actually gay and therefore it’s impossible Frankie could be his true mate as a female. Frankie never doubts that Trick will be true to her, and it was nice to see there wasn’t a single moment where she questioned if he might leave her for someone else, but if I were Frankie I might be concerned over how many other unstable exes might be making their way out of the woodwork!

Drama on Two Fronts

As with most books in this series, our couple is faced with dramatic elements emanating from two separate fronts. One impacts the pack as a whole, where a rival wolf and his ragtag pack insist on claiming Phoenix pack territory. They approach the Phoenixes under the guise of wanting to form an alliance, but they can all recognize a scheming enemy when they see one. The villainous Morelli lurks in the background through most of the novel, but will pop up every now and again before instigating a final climactic battle at the most inopportune of moments. The fight with this rival pack is just a smaller piece of the larger war that Morelli is trying to start between wolves and humans, as extremists on both sides are shockingly coming together in the hopes of bringing down all of their enemies so they can finally rule over whoever is left standing. As we progress through the series we’ve seen these extremists become more daring in their efforts, and we can’t help but wonder if the final installment will finally bring about this aforementioned war, or crush it down once and for all. 

The more emotional dramatic plot point of this novel involves Frankie’s parents who died when she was just three years old, and the story that all have come to believe of their deaths is that Frankie’s father brutally murdered her mother before dying by suicide. Frankie’s grandparents kept these gruesome details from her, and upon learning the truth from some of her other long lost family members, we see her embark on a tragically compelling journey of confronting the details of this unfortunate tragedy. While this emotional exploration was certainly fascinating, especially as we see how uber alpha Trick can soften his surly demeanor to comfort Frankie when it matters most, this story was rather disappointing in the plot twist it tries to surprise upon us towards the end of the book. Not only is it crystal clear to us as readers that something else must have happened the night these untimely deaths occurred, but it’s kind of shocking that it wasn’t obvious to the rest of the pack back when it first happened. They can all acknowledge that it was unbelievably out of character for Frankie’s father to cause harm to his wife, but it’s also essentially unheard of for a wolf to harm their true mate. So…why would they have readily accepted this inexplicable explanation? The fact they never questioned that someone else could have been involved is quite ridiculous. Also, these are wolf shifters we’re dealing with here! How did none of them smell the remnants of another person in the house that night?! Simply preposterous!!

Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 7. We only have just one more packmate to explore next in what will be the final book of this series. And Dominic just so happens to be the most flirtatious wolf of the pack. Can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Final Impressions: This was an exciting addition to the series. In glancing through some of the other reviews of this novel, it appears a common criticism amongst some readers is that the author continues to follow a clear formula for each installment where you always know what to expect. Honestly, fair assessment! Alpha male meets sassy female, physical desire and multiple horizontal mambo sessions ensue, drama threatens, they ultimately discover and cement the mating bond, final climactic battle, sexy fun times. And you know what, I love it! There might be a formula, but I’ve never felt as though we see the same couple, or even story, on repeat each time. We see so many unique personalities, and everyone has their own history which sets them apart from those who may have come before. If anything, I find that formula comforting rather than boring. I know what I’m getting into, that it’s going to be an entertaining and sexually-filled ride, and each character will bring something new to the table.

Smut Level: How these two didn’t pass out from exhaustion considering all the delicious deeds they got up to in a hot tub is mind-blowing. Also, as with almost every other book in this series so far, we do get some description of anal sex. Something to keep in mind for those of you who are or aren’t fans of that act!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 322 Pages.

Immortal Beginnings by Rebecca Hefner

What’s better than a paranormal romance featuring a virginal male hero who finds his happily ever after with the love of his immortal life? 

What’s it About?

Can a Deamon who has never felt a lover’s touch win the affection of a beautiful but wary Vampyre widow?

Strong and stoic Dragos yearns to build an honest life after the War of the Species ends. Due to his servitude to the Dark Lord Crimeous, he never had the opportunity to experience love or true emotion.

Vampyre widow Raina promised she’d never love another. Yet, she’s taken with her handsome, enigmatic new neighbor and his kindness to her two sons.

When Raina realizes Dragos has never had a lover, she gives in to their mutual passion, never realizing she might also lose her heart to the man who somehow invaded every crevice of her soul…

First Impressions

When I found out one of my absolute favorite authors had written a novella for the Etherya’s Earth series I simply had three words to say: sign…me…up! That, and a lot of incessant squealing and hand flapping in excitement. For those of you who are also a fan of the Etherya’s Earth paranormal series, you won’t want to miss this beautiful short story, Immortal Beginnings. While it doesn’t feature any of the primary characters from the series we’ve come to know and love, you’ll quickly become enamored with the romance between deamon Dragos and vampyre Raina. You’ll have no problem finishing this novella in one sitting, and yet there is so much story to unpack between these two characters. Fangs down, of all the short stories featured in the Etherya’ Earth series so far, this was undoubtedly my favorite. I can only hope we’ll get a glimpse of this couple again in a future full-length novel.

Letting Go of the Past

Yes, this novella does feature a virginal male hero which I was fully on board for, but beyond this amazing trope of a more experienced female lead guiding her man in the ways of pleasure, we were also presented with two complex characters who are trying to find their way in a new world unlike anything they’ve known before. Etherya’s Earth has been plagued by war for centuries, but its inhabitants are finally living in a time of peace, when vampyres, deamons and slayers can coexist rather than fight against each other. This is the setting upon which our novella opens, as deamon Dragos is trying to live a “normal” life away from the world of deamon caves and constant fighting which he’s only known up until this point. As for Raina, she is now a single mother trying to adapt to life following the death of her “bonded” in the final battle against the evil deamon Crimeous. These two unlikely neighbors are able to push aside their troubled pasts to find happiness and pleasure with each other in the present, and the promising hope of something even more permanent going forward.

Upon first reading this novella, I was so worried we’d ultimately discover that Dragos was responsible for killing Raina’s husband in battle, but thankfully we focus instead on what it means for these two to explore a relationship together at this particular point in their lives. For Dragos, he has only known the horrors of war. At one point in the story, Raina offers to bring him salve for a burn on his arm, and he reveals that it is the first time he’s been voluntarily touched by another in all of his centuries on this Earth. The glimpses of vulnerability we witness for this weathered soldier are almost enough to bring a tear to your eye, as you realize that beneath the tough exterior lies a man who simply craves the soft touch of another. He has craved Raina since she first moved in next door, and when she finally offers herself to him, he can’t help but fall hard and fast for this loving woman and caring mother.

For Raina, she initially worries that Dragos will feel more for her than she could ever reciprocate, especially considering she’s the one to touch and physically please him for the first time ever. Even though a letter from her belated husband clearly states he hopes she can move on to find happiness with another during her immortal life, she can’t help but keep a part of herself back from Dragos in a foolhardy attempt to prevent herself from falling for this deamon. Dragos is willing to accept any part of her she’s willing to give, but can Raina acknowledge that there’s room in her heart for both Dragos and her former bonded? Giving her heart to this man doesn’t mean she’s replacing the memory of her husband. She’s allowing herself the opportunity to move on and make new memories that can co-exist with, rather than take over, those of the man she loved before. Again, there’s definitely a lot of emotional baggage to unpack in such a short novella!

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 4.5. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it here for posterity: I will read anything and everything this author ever releases.

Final Impressions: Loved it, adored it, consider myself officially smitten. It’s not simply the tale of a male losing his v-card, but also an observation of how two people can put aside their traumatic pasts, and convince themselves they are worthy of love. How it’s possible to open up one’s heart again after having found and lost true love before. We not only fall in love with Dragos and Raina, but also Raina’s two adorable sons, Galen and Ekon. There is so much to love about this novella, and I’m excited to see what else this anthology has in store!

Smut Level: The first time this series presented us with a deamon falling for a vampyre we were privy to the most alpha of males who was well-versed in the ways of pleasure. This time around, Dragos might not have the experience, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a quick study in the ways of pleasure, or dirty talk for that matter. As a former soldier, he is more than capable of following all the sultry orders that Raina has to give in the bedroom.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 154 Pages.

Fierce Obsessions by Suzanne Wright

He can’t stand her wisecracks and pomposity. She’s infuriated by his ego and skepticism. Sounds like a match made in mate shifter Heaven! 

What’s it About? 

When raven shifter Riley Porter was given sanctuary by the Phoenix Pack, she let them believe she had left her flock. Reluctant to divulge the secrets of her past, she was still embraced as family. Only Tao Lukas, the protective and passionate Head Enforcer of the pack, was resistant to the enigmatic shifter. Until Riley started to arouse in him something other than suspicion…

Tao doesn’t trust lone shifters, especially ones so guarded – and tempting. But the sexual tension between them is making them both come undone, and vulnerable to more than desire. All Tao wants is for Riley to stay with him and to trust him with the truth of her past…

As Riley’s mysteries come to light, so does a danger that threatens not only her life but the safety of the entire pack. For Tao, keeping Riley safe means keeping her close – forever – as his mate!

First Impressions

It’s been a few years since I last engaged with this series, and soon after starting this sixth book I quickly remembered how freakin’ fantabulous it is! If you’re a fan of shape-shifters, alpha wolf males and sassily resilient female leads, you definitely don’t want to miss out on everything this author and series has to offer. I may not have entered this world for some time now, but it simply took one step before I was thrust back into this close pack of characters with unique personalities and dynamics all their own. Riley and Tao certainly have a chemistry and connection which sets them apart from every couple which has come before, and their witty banter back-and-forth is the most delicious kind of foreplay. It’s expected for alpha male characters in romances like this to be the kings of one-liners, and while Tao can hold his own with the best of them, Riley has a piercing repartee that sets her far and above the rest. 

I relished the fact that this novel presented us with not only a dominant male, but also a dominant female who could dish back everything Tao was serving up. There’s a humor to their exchanges which manages to keep everything light-hearted in the face of some rather pointed remarks, and it’s clear that the more “insults” they hurl at each other, the more likely it becomes that Tao will soon be pushing Riley up against a wall, gripping her raven locks in a passionate embrace. It’s also clear that certain characteristics of their animal forms shine forth in their personalities. Tao is all kinds of growly and surly, but just like his wolf he has a stealthy and protective soft-side that you don’t expect to see upon first meeting. Riley might seem small and unassuming, similar to her inner-Raven, but that doesn’t mean she’s weak. Far from it, she’s a quick-witted trickster who can clearly take care of herself, and will stand up in the face of danger to protect not only herself, but those closest to her. Bringing these two passionate, over-protective and dominant characters together guaranteed that sparks would fly, and my Kindle was near set alight by the chemistry emitting from Riley and Tao. 

Fleeing the Flock

While the connection between main characters, as well as sexy fun times, have always been a strong hallmark of each book in the series so far, one detail which has had a tendency to fall short in previous novels was the dramatic plot point. This conflict would often involve human extremists who would turn to violence in their hatred of shifters, but it was typically pushed aside to simmer in the background for the full-breadth of the novel until one final climactic battle scene. Not terrible, but just not always brought to the forefront in a compelling way. This installment of the series brought not just one, but two gripping dramatic plot points front and center, and wove them together in a way that constantly had you questioning where the next attack would come from. On the one hand, we have a human criminal mob boss who is seeking out the healer of the Phoenix Pack to rehabilitate his dying brother, something which the healer wouldn’t be able to do without resulting in her own death. Let’s just say that the word “no” isn’t one that a somewhat psychotic mafioso likes to hear very often. The other element of drama for our lovebirds involves a tragedy which befell Riley’s raven flock years before, and one she’s been running from ever since. When Riley and Tao go back to her flock for a visit, an unknown enemy from the past tries to finish the job which was started but never completed.

While previous installments presented us with somewhat repetitious problems involving human extremists and lone shifters, this sixth book takes us in a different direction completely. Throughout the read you’re practically guaranteed to suspect almost every member of Riley’s flock of trying to kill her, while also wondering if it’s all just a distraction from the real threat of our treacherous mob boss. When Riley and Tao finally return to Phoenix Pack territory we question if they’re finally leaving the danger of Riley’s past behind, if it might follow them back home, or if they’re just leaving one threat behind to run straight back to another in the form of the mob boss. Perhaps a combo pack! While these two dramatic plot points fed off of each other quite seamlessly in a way that majestically amplified the suspense level, the only hindrance came in their conclusion. One story line is essentially the full focus of the climax, drawn out with constant twists and turns that will leave you on the edge of your seat. The other felt too rushed with how everything came together, clearly with the intention of focusing more attention on that other story line. Not terrible, but not as seamless a conclusion as I was hoping for. 

Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 6. If you’re looking for a steamy paranormal romance series with alpha heroes and powerful female leads, be sure to check out this series. 

Final Impressions: This was a fabulous addition to the series. Riley and Tao played off of each other so well. Their banter is simultaneously cutting, yet tongue-in-cheek. A scintillating flirtation that pulls you in from the very beginning, and won’t let you go until you’ve finished the last page. You’ll be fanning yourself from the steam coming off of this read, but it will also keep you in suspense as danger lurks behind every corner. Our lovebirds aren’t the only ones that will keep you entranced, as familiar faces from previous books return to create a sense of family within this pack of shapeshifters. My only complaint is that one of the story lines was too rushed in its final explanation, but other than that this is an exciting and fiery read that you’ll want to be sure and bring on your next beach vacation! 

Smut Level: Mkay….hot daaaaaang. The novel opens on the morning after a drunken sexcapade between our two lead characters, but don’t be disappointed on missing out on a description of their first time together. There will be a plethora of descriptive sexy fun times throughout the novel to keep you fully satisfied, especially considering we have two dominant and forthright characters that can go head to head. Pun absolutely intended 🙂 There is also one scene involving anal sex, just as an FYI for those of you who are or aren’t into that. 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 305 Pages. 

Hit by the Cupid Stick by Abigail Owen

“A siren who lures men to their deaths and a cupid who helps humans fall in love.” I can’t think of a more perfect match for this sexy Valentine’s Day paranormal romance. 

What’s it About? 

All’s fair in love and…whatever this is. This Valentine’s Day, when a cupid accidentally shoots himself with his own arrow, he falls for a siren whose only job is to lure men to their deaths.

Charismatic and irresistibly fun, Chance Eroson is a cupid who gets a kick from pairing odd couples and being right about them. Used to getting his way, the only person who shuts him down is the siren who has ruined more than one of his pairings before they started. But his bigger problem is he wants her. He’s always wanted her.

Elodie Sirenian uses her power for good, only hunting evil men. But after so long, and so many horrible people, her cynicism has settled deep inside. She can turn on the charm when she doesn’t mean it, and they fall for it. Every single one. Every single time.

Except Chance. He’s the only person—man or god—who has ever challenged her.

But a cupid’s magic is temporary. There’s no way a true love match is possible. Not this time.

First Impressions

This is one paranormal novella you’ll want to be sure and add to your Valentine’s Day TBR list. You know when you have those cravings for a romance where the lead characters just go for it? No dilly dallying, let’s get to the good stuff ASAP? Well then this read will scratch your itch. We are not only presented with two delightfully entertaining main characters full of moxie and teasing, but there’s a bit of suspense enveloped throughout the story as their feelings for each other quickly transition from instantaneous lust to trust to love. Chance plays our debonair cupid whose six-pack abs will put the standard cartoonish Valentine cherub image to shame. He and gorgeous siren Elodie have always exchanged a witty rapport throughout the years, though the call of her siren monster to hunt a few of Chance’s targets has sometimes caused them to quarrel on top of their banter. 

All of that changes one night when Chance takes aim with his bow, only to have a misfire when his arrow goes through both he and Elodie, resulting in an immediate, all-consuming need to finally give into their desire for each other. On the one hand they could stay apart in an attempt to ignore their burning passion, or they could dive in head first. It’s no big mystery as to which option these two fall for. On his couch…against the living room window…in his bed…the shower…I think the kitchen may have been involved at one point, etc. etc. But what happens when the power of his arrow ultimately fades? Will Elodie and Chance want to explore a lifetime together, or will they revert back to their solitary ways before the arrow brought all of their secret wants to the forefront? Well, this is a proper romance after all, I’m sure you can guess which way the story goes!

Oh gods and goddesses!

Fans of Greek mythology will definitely have a blast with this read. The fact that Chance’s last name is Eroson, and he’s a cupid…the connection there just filled me with absolute delight! Towards the end of this short read there is sort of a quick mention of multiple mythological characters and stories that I could see being slightly overwhelming for those who aren’t as familiar with those particular tales. Overall though, the way these myths and creatures are interwoven into Chance and Elodie’s story was the perfect mixture of action and romance. While our lovebirds spend the first part of the story steeped in their sensual bubble of sexual delights, we’re also aware that in the not too distant background there exists the plot point of a vengeful minotaur seeking Elodie’s downfall due to her killing of his brother. We do get a few minor confrontations between these characters before one exciting, action-packed final battle scene. 
Another element which went hand-in-hand with this tale of revenge that ultimately provided a well-rounded story arch for our characters was Elodie’s fear at revealing her true siren monster to Chance.

She’s been abandoned by former lovers in the past who couldn’t handle the transformation of this beautiful vixen into a frightening siren who must feed off the aura of her enemies to survive. If the power of cupid’s arrow should wear off, and Chance catches a glimpse of her true monster, will he also be tempted to run? And then there’s Chance’s true nature, which he is quite upfront with Elodie about even though it stands in contradiction to what many would consider the conventions of “masculinity”. He is a cupid after all, doing his best to bring couples together to find love, and his Netflix is jam packed full of romance movies that he consistently fast forwards to get to the good parts, aka all the smooching. He just might be my ideal man! The true test of their love isn’t how well they connect in the bedroom (or taxi cab, or secluded cabin, or shower again, etc. etc.), but rather how they will react to these mythological influences on their personalities: her siren propensity for violence and death, and his cupid devotion to love and a happily ever after. 

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Brimstone, Inc. book 5. It’s not 100% necessary you read the previous books before you get to this one, but just note that there are a few characters who reappear here from previous installments. 

Final Impressions: Loved it! If it weren’t for my bedtime I wouldn’t have had any problem knocking this baby out in one sitting. There was no messing around before our characters got to the sexy fun times, yet it wasn’t just about the physical component from start to finish either. We have a tale of revenge that will keep you on the edge of your seat, as well as the emotional conundrum of showing one’s true self to the one they’re falling for. It’s something that most of us can probably relate to, even though we’re not mythological sirens or cupids!

Smut Level: Phewwwwww!! There’s a lot of heat packed into these pages. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and it might be below freezing temperatures outside, but even I was tempted to crack open a window to cool down a bit. A cupid full of charm and an enchanting siren just might be the best mythological combination possible!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. 114 Pages. 

The Dawn of Peace by Rebecca Hefner

This Etherya’s Earth prequel takes us back to the beginning when Vampyres and Slayers were still at war with each other. When enemies Alrec and Kilani find themselves alone in a secluded cabin together, and with one tied to the bedframe no less, we know these two won’t be at war for much longer. 

What’s it About? 

Before the end of hatred, there was the dawn of peace…

Two immortals from warring species save each other’s lives as the conflict rages on. Alrec, the hulking Vampyre warrior, spares her first. Years later, Kilani, the fierce, uncompromising Slayer, returns the favor. Stuck in her remote cabin, their bond grows as Kilani warily nurses her injured Vampyre, determined to deny her growing desire for the man with deep, knowing eyes and mesmerizing fangs. And, of course, there’s only one bed…

The sizzling prequel to the Etherya’s Earth paranormal romance saga

First Impressions

Any journey we can take to Etherya’s Earth is bound to be an entertaining ride, and this proved true once again when the author takes us back to before the events of the first novel in the series, just a few years after the Awakening has pitted Vampyre against Slayer as immortal enemies. Kilani has never felt like she truly belonged to the high society world she was born into, and until the Slayer army will accept women into their ranks she knows her strength and prowess with a sword will be pushed to the sidelines. That all changes one night when a raid on her family’s compound results in a direct confrontation with a Vampyre soldier who makes her blood boil and her loins…do some boiling of their own. Alrec and Kilani are worthy combatants who like to taunt and tease, which makes their intense sparring quickly turn into the most delightful kind of foreplay. Alrec spares Kilani’s life during their first confrontation, and it isn’t until years later when they cross paths once again that Kilani has the opportunity to return the favor by nursing this wounded soldier back to health in her secluded cabin far away from the prying eyes of Slayer, Vampyre or Deamon. Not one to let her guard down however, Kilani sees the need to tie up this currently bedridden Vampyre so as not to risk his quick healing abilities coming back to literally bite her down the road. 

When Alrec awakens following his injury he’s delighted to see the woman who rescued him is the same one he hasn’t been able to stop daydreaming about for the last few years. The two immediately pick up where they left off, ergo an inordinate amount of flirtatious teasing, eyebrow wagging, and tented bed sheets. What follows is the most delicious evolution of enemies to lovers, as the confined space of the cabin creates a seductive bubble wherein these two can escape, if only for a brief moment, the complexities and battles of the world outside. They have been taught to despise each other, yet when left to their own devices their true nature can’t help but shine forth. They are dutiful soldiers who want to serve their people, but they also have a caring and tender side which comes to the forefront when trapped in each other’s company. He is one of the only men to ever admire and encourage her desire to fight, and Alrec also can’t help but love the courage of this little vixen to stand up and spar with him at any possible moment. As they continue to build up his strength we just know it’s only a matter of time before they test out his newfound strength in the bedroom, but also not long before Alrec must return to his duties as a soldier. How can our lovebirds possibly find their happily ever after when we know that peace between the species is still several centuries away? 

A Secluded Observation

Another hallmark of this series is the savage war being waged against the Deamon leader Crimeous and his scourge of minions. While we’re usually privy to some intense battle scenes in Etherya’s Earth, the fact that Alrec and Kilani spend the vast majority of the novel on the outskirts of civilization within their love cabin means that most of the drama of the story comes from the “will they or won’t they” romance between our lead characters. In a way, the only fight scene we really see come to fruition in exacting detail is the one which takes place at the start of the novel between Alrec and Kilani. There’s a few ensuing mentions here and there of fighting some Deamon clusters, but nothing quite at the level to put us on the edge of our seats. While I definitely appreciated the centralized focus on what was happening inside this secluded cabin, I really would have loved just one scene where we could have witnessed Alrec and Kilani fight together. So much of their time together is spent training and sparring, and to see them work in tandem as partners to defeat a common enemy would have been the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae.  

This is a delightfully quick read which can easily be devoured in one sitting. Considering this is a prequel to events which we know will eventually transpire, and that we know a happily ever after is guaranteed with any addition to this series, you can’t help but commend the author at her ability to heighten our anticipation as we wonder how Alrec and Kilani will ever be able to overcome the multiple obstacles surrounding them to ultimately find peace and happiness with each other. There were definitely a few times that I worried we might be witnessing a tragedy in the making, or maybe even two characters who were doomed to spend centuries apart before finally finding each other again once the events of the subsequent novels have a chance to play out. Alas, rest assured we have a much more satisfying conclusion to their romance than any scenario my mind was conjuring up throughout the read. 

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 0.5. This is definitely one of my favorite paranormal romance series of all time. I’ll take any full-length, novella or prequel addition I can get my hands on. 

Final Impressions: Enemies-to-lovers, secluded cabin, sparring, and light restraints to prevent escape. What’s not to like here?! This is a fantastically quick read that can kick off your exploration into this amazing series. I’d recommend it to anyone going on their next beach vacation, and this is coming from someone who usually isn’t a fan of paranormal romances! The only nitpick I’d have is that I wish we would have had one scene where Alrec and Kilani joined forces to fight off a Deamon or two as a couple. It could have been the perfect culmination to all their training, demonstrate the strength of Kilani as a female fighter, and perhaps even highlight that they’re stronger together as a couple. Again though, this is a minor nitpick to an overall entertaining and steamy read. 

Smut Level: Mmm, sparring. 🙂 The perfect form of foreplay when it comes to this series. All that close contact, heavy breathing, sweating…mmm. And did I mention the bed frame restraints and tenting of sheets?! 

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 

The Cursed King by Abigail Owen

The battle of the dragon clans has been building to this final moment. When the smoke and ashes clear, we can’t help but wonder who will emerge victorious to rule over them all. Let the battle commence!

What’s it About?

He will burn. She will rise.

Airk Azdajah, the rightful King of the White Clan, spent half a millennium being tortured by the false High King Pytheios. The only reason he’s alive is a curse— the man to kill Airk will be consumed in his own fire. Which is why Pytheios kept Airk alive, barely, unable to shift in his prison cage, driving the creature half of him into madness. Airk escaped, but he’ll never be truly free. What good is a king who can never let his feral dragon loose, never fly, and never lead his people? He’s better off dead.

Angelika Amon is the last unmated phoenix. The problem? She has no powers. Zip. Zilch. Angelika hates being dormant, especially now that her three sisters are blissfully mated to powerful dragon shifter kings and are very much part of the fight to take down the rotting king Pytheios, their parents’ killer. What good is a useless runt of a phoenix in a battle to save the dragon kingdom?

Desperate to find some way to help, she offers herself to Airk as a mate — just for political leverage. But a dormant phoenix is no damn use to him just like a dragon who can’t shift is no use to her. Until Pytheios sets his sights on Angelika for himself…

First Impressions

I think a very real part of me is still in disbelief that this incredible series is finally over. We have been enveloped in this story of dragon shifters, phoenixes, kings vs. king and good against evil for not only four books in this Inferno Rising series, but also an additional five primary works in the companion Fire’s Edge series. It’s definitely possible I’ll be going through an intense period of withdrawal over the next few months. However, I’m also thrilled that we could close out this series with two leading characters who once again manage to capture our hearts in the midst of perhaps more crushing adversity than any other dragon or phoenix has experienced so far in either series. Honestly, I didn’t even know that was still possible at this point! Every novel has presented us with two destined mates who somehow face debilitating challenges head-on, all in the hopes of saving their clans from the centuries of manipulative rule at the hands of a mad-king drunk from power. We’ve always seen two strong lead characters who are stronger together as a pair than apart, and while that is also true in many ways of Angelika and Airk, this is really the first time that we’ve examined a couple who are seen by both themselves and others as a liability.

They are determined to join in the fight against King Pytheios, but before they can do that they must first prove their worth to those who constantly try to push them to observe from the sidelines. Angelika might be a phoenix like her powerful sisters, but unlike them any power she may have been willed by her dying mother lies dormant within her. Instead, her primary strength involves convincing other dragons to join in their fight against evil. Airk on the other hand has almost too much power within him. After centuries of imprisonment by King Pytheios, and his dragon trapped within his mind with no ability to fly free, this beast has become a feral creature within him rather than a seamless part of him. To release his dragon now would run the risk of never being able to rein him back in again. Something Airk fears even more though than his dragon overtaking his very existence is the possibility of his creature harming Angelika in the process through her determination to have them mated. He can try to fight their connection as much as he wants, but if this series has taught us anything, it’s that two destined mates with this amount of scorching natural chemistry will never be able to stay apart for long.

The Culmination of Kings and Queens

Even though I didn’t want to see this series come to an end, I must say it was one of the more perfect examples of how to bring a long-running series to a close. We saw all of the key players from the previous novels, the companion series, and even a surprise appearance from those in another series by this author that I didn’t even realize was going to play a role in the events of this final book! The beauty of how all of our characters came together in this ultimate battle wasn’t just that we see how willing they were to support each other, or that we were granted one final opportunity to be in their presence before having to say goodbye. Instead, it highlights that no one character, or even one couple from this series, would have been able to face King Pytheios alone. It literally takes every single one of them joining together as an ultimate source of power to even stand a chance in the face of such evil.

Another feature of this series which is highlighted particularly well in this last book is the political struggle for power over the dragon clans. Up until this point, we’ve always known that King Pytheios is the premier representation of evil, unwilling to give up his reign. We are also privy to the extremes he’s gone to up to now in order to not only assume power, but to keep it. He betrayed his rulers, his people, and even his family to stay on the throne. And while part of this can be explained away as someone consumed with power, this final book reveals how much he believed his actions were in fact for the betterment of dragons everywhere. In a way, he too thought he was on the side of right, battling against those who were trying to take their society backwards to the way things used to be living under the rule of phoenixes rather than dragons. It finally provides a window into why King Pytheios fought with such ferocity. It wasn’t simply that he didn’t want to give up power, it’s that he also believed in what he was fighting for, however misguided and based in misconceptions he may have been in the end.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Inferno Rising, book 4. I may have secretly wished this series could last forever, but I’m also happy with how everything finally came together for a satisfying conclusion. If anything, it makes me even more excited to see what Abigail Owen will have in store for us next!

Final Impressions: There are two critical details to keep in mind before starting this read, which can also apply to any final book in your favorite series. 1) Treasure each and every turn of the page that you get to spend with these characters for the last time. I can only keep my fingers crossed that maybe one day in the future we’ll see a light-hearted follow up novella which details what our characters are up to following the concluding events in this book. 2) Seeing as this is the final novel, all bets are off. You never know which characters might survive or ultimately fall to the forces of evil. It adds a thrilling level of suspense as you constantly wonder how or if our heroes will succeed. While the progression of some events were a bit tricky to follow along with logistically, overall this was a breathtaking and electrifying climax to the series.

Smut Level: Airk may be a virgin seeing as he’s spent centuries trapped alone in an isolated mountain prison, but that doesn’t mean he’s uneducated in the ways of pleasure. When a secret friend brings him a copy of the Kama Sutra, his years of study benefits Angelika in every way possible.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Amara. 419 Pages.

Garridan’s Mate by Rebecca Hefner

These two bad-ass Vampyre soldiers are committed to doing whatever is necessary to save their fellow countrymen, and each other, from the forces of evil.

What’s it About? 

Lose yourself in the magic…

General Garridan has lived for centuries without a bonded mate. Born an aristocrat, he chose to forgo his family’s wealth and privilege to fight in the Vampyre immortal army. After the centuries-long War of the Species ended, a new foe emerged, reaffirming his vow to protect his people. Although his father wants him to bond with an aristocrat and settle down, Garridan only has eyes for one woman.

Siora is a natural warrior. When the immortal army finally allows women to join, she pledges to become the first battalion leader as conflict consumes the realm. Once they defeat Bakari, she can settle into a security role at Lynia and help her father at his farm. Dreams of the amber-eyed Vampyre who relentlessly pushes her during training have no place in her world, even if the general is the only man who’s ever made her long for a bonded mate.

Consumed by her skill and effort, along with her inherent natural beauty, Garridan offers to help Siora secure a leadership position as they near the final battle. Although she swears they have no future, Garridan finds himself longing to claim the stubborn woman as his mate, no matter the cost. Can two warriors from different paths find love amid their blazing desire, or will fear douse their spark before it’s barely begun to burn?

First Impressions

We were initially introduced to Siora in the sixth novel of the Etherya’s Earth series “The Cryptic Prophecy”. I distinctly remember the first scene where she was introduced to interact with one of our main characters in that book and immediately thinking, “Mkay, so she’s definitely gonna need her own book one day.” Lo and behold, wish for something with every fiber of your being, and you shall receive.

While Siora and Garridan don’t get their own full-length novel, we get this perfect intermediary novella which essentially takes place in the last few weeks leading up to the epic battle which took place at the end of book six, and concludes with us in the same timeframe as when that book also ended. This novella was truly the perfect vehicle to tell the story of these two soldiers. It makes sense with their combat training that their love would blossom in the close quarters leading up to the final battle. Had there been an attempt to squeeze their story into book six in between the scenes of Callie and Brecken’s romance, I don’t think it would have received the attention it deserved. Therefore, this novella provides us with the perfect opportunity to see their story as a stand-alone rather than an afterthought, while still fitting into the overall general timeline of the series. Smart move by the author for sure!

An Activity Better than Sex?

Do you know how I realized this book was going to be amazing within just the first few pages? Easy. Battalion commander + soldier = sparring. Lots…and lots…of sparring. And lemme tell ya, that is Siora and Garridan’s physical activity of choice throughout the vast majority of this read, which of course inevitably leads to a more sultry pastime. When Garridan first offered to train with Siora for a few hours in the evenings I immediately said to myself, “If these two don’t end up with Siora flat on her back and Garridan splayed out over her thighs with her hands held down by both of his at some point, you can revoke my romance novel fan-card right now.” Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long at all for this blessed scenario to occur. The true benefits of a novella: you don’t have to wait around before you get to the good stuff. And believe me when I tell you there was plenty of delicious stuff to enjoy in this one.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 6.5. Part of the Hearts Unleashed Anthology. While I didn’t read the rest of the anthology in which this novella appeared, I can tell you that Etherya’s Earth is definitely one of my favorite series ever.

Final Impressions: Sometimes I don’t always understand half-books in between full-length novels of a series, but in this instance it really worked. We get just a small glimpse of the suspense of battle at the very end of this short read, but for the most part this novella provides us with a welcome breather in between some of the more intense action happening in the series as a whole. We primarily get to indulge in the passionate scenes of Siora and Garridan learning how perfect they are for each other. I also appreciated that Garridan never pushed Siora into admitting they were destined mates before she was ready. When she expressed hesitancy over a future with Garridan, he had the wherewithal to give her the space she needed to realize on her own that they were meant for each other. Absolute perfection!

Smut Level: So…much…sparring!! The fact Garridan had the strength to literally tear the sports bra from Siora’s chest on more than one occasion was a pure delight. We’ve all come across scenes of panty ripping, but sports bra ripping is a special category all on its own.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Naughty Nights Press, LLC. 

This is Not a Horror Movie by Sara Dobie Bauer

“I‘ve wanted to taste your words for years—and see if they taste as sweet as you make them look.” Not gonna say no to that request!

What’s it About?

Emory Jones loves two things: horror movies and Connor Nichols. For the past four years, Emory, Connor, and their families have vacationed side by side on Longboat Key, Florida. Eighteen-year-old Emory has pined for his neighbor from behind the covers of Stephen King books, but college boy Connor has never noticed him. Probably because Emory looks like Jack Skellington with good hair.

Emory anticipates another predictable summer of sunburn and disappointment. Instead, he ends up with a mystery on his hands when a beloved beach bum goes missing, and Connor volunteers to help with the search. Turns out it’s not just scary movie cops who are worthless, so the boys start an investigation of their own—leading them straight to an abandoned beach resort.

Despite the danger, Emory and Connor grow closer, but as Emory’s gay dreams start coming true, so do the horror movie tropes he so loves. Even though he knows that sex equals death in slasher flicks, Emory can’t keep his hands off the guy of his teenage dreams.

First Impressions

I’ll admit, I initially approached this read with a smidge of hesitancy. While the title might insist this is not a horror movie, the dramatic cover art and synopsis would suggest otherwise. And I…don’t…do…HORROR! What can I say, I blame Freddy Krueger. That bastard gets ya in your dreams, and when my sleep is compromised we’re gonna have problems. However, while there were definitely some scenes in this novel which involved horrific actions and even deaths, I somehow found myself giggling with glee throughout the majority of this read! If I had to sum up the experience in just a few words? Pure delight!!

Perrysburg, Ohio

So what made this such an enjoyable read considering my aversion to all things horror? Simply put: Emory Jones. At first I questioned how much I’d have in common with our main character. After all, he’s an 18-year-old gay male who loves all things horror, and I’m, well…not. I might love a good beach read, but the concept of reading a horror book on the beach is a nightmarish concept to me!! However, I found myself quickly developing an amazing kinship with this fictional character the author has presented to us. Not only are Emory and I from the same small Ohio town, but we also went to the same high school, vacationed a mere 8 miles apart from each other some summers, and while neither of us are into sports we both knew who the primary rival high school was across the river. We both grew up in an environment feeling like there must be something bigger and better out there beyond the borders of this small Ohio town where high school bullies reigned supreme.

Beyond these mere coincidences of geography though, Emory’s close connection with his sister Liz involved some of my favorite banter and hilarity of the entire novel, and also felt reminiscent of the close relationship I have with my own sister. And then there’s Connor. The hunky neighbor boy that Emory has pined after for countless summers, yet can only admire from a distance. Surely Emory is not at the same level as this beautiful man? He is constantly left feeling inferior, something I’m sure many of us can sympathize with. Honestly I think most readers will find something within these down-to-Earth and realistic characters that they can also identify in themselves. The narrative format itself was even something I could relate to, as we constantly have to navigate the rather filter-less and quick-moving inner musings of Emory’s mind. Sure, it took some time to get used to and follow along with his line of thinking, but nevertheless it seemed similar to how my own mind is known to wander whenever I think to myself. The author does such a fantastic job of pulling us into Emory’s world where we can associate with all of his insecurities, fears, joys, embarrassments and even moments of love.

A Romantic Paranormal Horror Comedy?

Considering the number of times I giggled aloud to myself while reading this book, it definitely falls within the categorization of a comedy, but it also touches upon the romance and horror categories. Let’s tackle the more prominent of themes, which would be the lovey-doveyness between Connor and Emory. Yet again, all I can say is it was a pure delight! They’ve been summer buds for years, with Emory always dreaming of more with this hot jock. However, it’s only this summer before college when Connor finally discovers that Emory is gay, and Emory simultaneously discovers that Connor is bisexual. After this jaw-dropping realization Connor lays all his cards out on the table, and the two finally decide to give into the desires they’ve kept hidden from each other for so long. And I must say, the sheer joy and playfulness that these two men share with each other left me with a dopey grin on my face, and more head-tilt “awwwww” exclamations than I care to admit.

Now for the horror. Again, typically this is something I loathe, but in this instance the author somehow managed to present it in a way that was still comedic in its approach. What can I say, this woman is a master!! Several moments reminded me of the movie Scream where our characters, who are essentially experts when it comes to horror tropes, would oftentimes relate the situations happening around them to how a horror film or book would typically play out. Emory would often lament the fact he was no longer a virgin seeing as the virgin is usually the last one standing at the end of a horror movie. People never tell the adults what’s happening? Well let’s be upfront with them from the beginning! Should we involve the cops? Eeesh, that never goes over well in the movies. It helped add a sense of levity to the “horror”. Now, I will say the drama of the story took a rather unexpected turn towards the end that had me going, “huh, mkay so I guess we’re really doing this!!” At times I was left wanting a bit more depth and back-story for some of the more villainous characters, but at the same time I could appreciate that staying on the surface in some respects allowed for more of the comedic underpinnings of the plot to shine through.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Stand-Alone

Final Impressions: I don’t quite know what I was expecting with this one, but I thought it was so much fun! It’s a great summer read to bring along to the beach. Just consider yourself warned you’ll probably laugh aloud a few times and be smiling to yourself. I could see how some aspects might not be everyone’s cup of tea, including Emory’s penchant for a wandering and fast-paced inner dialogue, as well as the fact that the horror aspect became a bit outlandish towards the end. However, I personally appreciated both of these features, as it helped me relate to Emory on a personal level, and the somewhat ridiculous nature of the horror story was kind of needed for me to feel less scared as I was reading it! Ultimately, it helped the novel lean more towards the comedy category rather than the horror.

Smut Level: The make out scenes in this novel were scorching hot! However, the one sex scene was more of a “fade to black” moment.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. 280 Pages.