Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Italian Ice

Title: Italian Ice
Author: EM Lynley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN:  978-1-61372-482-8
Genre: {M/M}, Suspense, Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Trent and Reed are on vacation, at least Trent is.  It seems Reed, who is supposed to be retired, has been picking up side jobs with the FBI.  While in Italy with Trent, when he’s approached, he can’t seem to walk away. 

Italian Ice, the second story in the Precious Gems series, finds Trent and Reed in Italy. These men are total opposites and, during the course of the first story, I wondered how these two would make it as a couple.  This second story seems to pick up on that thread and brings their differences further out into the open.   The men have only been together for six months and, while they are still learning about each other, it seems that Reed has been keeping secrets.  I found Trent’s reactions to everything very realistic.  It’s easy to understand the anger and betrayal he felt, and, I could not believe that Reed thought things would never come to light.  The chemistry between the two still exists however, and the passion they display really heats up the pages.

The author has woven into the story another mystery that ends up pulling both men in.  At times, Trent made me shake my head, as he came across as one of those flighty women who can’t seem to stay put when told to and always find themselves in the hands of the bad guy.  At the same time, it was easy to see that he needs and wants to be connected to Reed in any way possible and if he has the ability to help the man, he will. 

Reed grows as an individual during the course of Italian Ice and starts to realize what, and who, is important to him.  Seeing him overcome past events and face his demons makes some of his past actions understandable.  I especially enjoyed the ending and the various surprises he had for Trent.

Italian Ice is full of wonderfully written secondary characters.  Several of these characters are definitely in the bad guy category but add a great dimension to the story.   There are several twists and turns in this story and while some are predictable, it does not keep this from being a good read.  The author does throw in a small twist toward the end of the story that makes me wonder how this will switch things up in the series. I can’t wait to see what will happen to these two characters next.

Greeting Cards

Author: Tinnean
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62380-107-6
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Ben Haggerty’s devastated when his lover of nearly seven years moves out suddenly, leaving him to spend the holidays alone. Weeks later, with the help of a friend, he finds Richard’s address but the greeting card he sends ends up at the wrong house and with the wrong man, Jason Prescott.

Thinking the card he receives is from his sister, Jason opens and reads it. The message from Ben asking when Richard’s coming home pulls at his heart and he writes back. The two men correspond for months, all the time growing closer and they eventually spend weekends together. Learning Jason is even smarter than Richard makes Ben uneasy but Jason’s nothing like his snobbish ex. Can a scholar find happiness with a blue-collar worker and make a life together? Ben hopes so.

Greeting Cards is the first book by Tinnean that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and it won’t be my last. I’ll be looking for others by this talented author real soon. I suggest you do too.

From the blurb, you might expect the story to be filled with pain and angst, but nothing could be further from the truth. Instead it’s a heartwarming story of second chances that made me smile. Yes, it starts off sadly because Richard’s just dumped Ben and he’s hurting, but it moves forward pretty quickly and the author doesn’t allow the feeling of the plot to become maudlin. And I’m glad because I really like Ben. The amount of personal history explaining why he doesn’t have family to lean on during this time is perfect and makes Richard even more of a scum-bag.

Don’t worry; despite being a feel good holiday release, the story isn’t too sweet. It’s well written, Ben and Jason’s personalities are nicely developed and the plot progresses at a believable pace. I love the idea of using oddball greeting cards through the getting-to-know-you phase of Ben and Jason’s relationship. It’s a hoot. Ben and Jason build their relationship by communicating, so they know each other pretty well before they met. That means, in this case, romance and kisses but not a lot of blistering sex. And I didn’t even care. I don’t think you will either. Enjoy.

Hunter and Hunted

Author: M.D. Grimm
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-62380-103-8
Genre: {M/M} Shifter Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

Hunter Landon abandons his Knight’s training when he meets deer shifter Glenn Lightfoot. Glenn was not the monster Hunter was taught to believe all shifters to be. Instead of killing Glenn, Hunter saved the shifter’s life and received a loving mate, along with the kind of family he always wished for.

Hunter and Hunted is the fourth book in The Shifters series. In this installment, Hunter is a human with psychic abilities. Hunter was adopted by one of the members of the radical group known as the Knights because of his gift. Hunter was never comfortable with the Knight’s philosophy; he only sought having a real home and family. Glenn has a loving family. Glenn’s father was apprehensive about bringing an enemy into their home; however, Hunter proved to be trustworthy. The protectors of all shifters are a group known as the Agency. In each episode the Agency members fight a battle with the menacingly sadistic knights. In Hunter and Hunted the agents move ever closer to capturing the fanatic leader of the knights, but alas agent Poe is thwarted again.

M.D. Grimm has created a fascinating as well as enjoyable saga featuring romance, drama and emotional turmoil. 

Hunter’s Season

Author:  Thea Harrison
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
Publisher URL:  www.samhainpublishing.com
ISBN/BIN:  978-1-61921-311-1
Genre:  {M/F}, Paranormal, Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Xanthe just got back from her latest assignment, knowing her cover has been compromised and knowing she can’t work undercover again.  While guarding the Queen, she ends up protecting Aubrey after an assassination attempt.

Hunter’s Season is the latest addition in the Elder Races series.  I felt there wasn’t really as much suspense to the story as there have been in past stories.  There was a little more information about the Dark Fae and this story takes place in the other plane, not Earth. 

The relationship and chemistry between Xanthe and Aubrey was interesting, as well as hot.  I liked the way the author contrasted some of Xanthe’s characteristics between her personal and professional lives.  Aubrey had been dealt a big blow and doesn’t trust anyone, except maybe the Queen and her consort.  Between the two, quite a few conflicts arise, especially since Xanthe is very conscious of her station as a commoner, compared to Aubrey’s as Chancellor to the Queen.

There was a small subplot that has been woven throughout some of the series regarding Tarot cards.  I enjoyed the way that situation was resolved.  In addition, I had to laugh at Aubrey and how determined he was about keeping Xanthe in his life permanently.

I am looking forward to more stories about the Elder Races.

Rarer than Rubies

Author: EM Lynley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-61372-477-4
Genre: {M/M}, Suspense, Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Trent is not too sure about his forced vacation but since he does not have much of a choice about it, he plans to make the best of things.  Reed is at the airport to pick up a map that will further his mission.  Things go wrong once Reed notices that the map is put in Trent’s bag by mistake.  Reed wonders how hard it can be to retrieve the map and complete his mission.

EM Lynley’s book, Thief of Hearts: Tempted in Thailand, has found a new home, a new title, and over 4000 extra words, something you may or may not notice depending on how long ago you read the original.  Now titled Rarer than Rubies, the book is the first story in the author’s new Precious Gems series.  Regardless of the title, this was still a fun story to read.  Trent and Reed are such different characters that you would think that, as a couple, they would not work. 

Trent is an author who is in a rut.  His last relationship did not end well and the results are showing up in his work.  Trent thought he would be going on a glamorous vacation, thanks to his friends, but they seemed to have other ideas.  Reed is a federal agent working undercover in Thailand. He’s beginning to wonder if he should get out while the getting is good.  When Trent meets Reed, he thinks things might be picking up, yet from the time the men meet nothing goes right for either of them.  The author uses this time to throw all kinds of monkey wrenches into the men’s lives.  While Reed’s results in some rough consequences, Trent’s lead to some laughs.  I liked seeing these two play off each other and Trent’s occasional prissiness made me chuckle at times.  There is a connection between the two men and once they come together they really heat up the pages. 

The adventure the men seem to find themselves in, courtesy of Reed’s undercover work, will keep the reader’s attention till the last page.  There are many twists and turns, and the author did an excellent job wrapping everything up while giving the men their happily ever after.

Rarer than Rubies was a great read and I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for these two next.

Under Pressure

Title:  Under Pressure
Author:  Laurie Roma
Publisher:  Siren Bookstrand Publishing
ISBN/BIN:    978-1-62241-578-6
Genre:  {M/F}, Romantic Suspense, Series
Rating:   5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Bella returns to Chicago to pick up the pieces of her life after nearly dying at the hands of a stalker.  Jason runs into Bella at a fund-raiser and really likes her feisty spirit.  What happens when Bella’s brothers and Jason go head-to-head when they realize she and Jason are together means lots of conflict and yelling.

The first book of the IAD Agency series is full of suspense, hot chemistry and humor.  Under Pressure examines a very serious alpha male in full alpha mode, as Jason understands the threat to Bella.  The sparks fly when Bella and Jason are together and not just in the bedroom.  I had to laugh out loud when Bella dug in her feet about Jason keeping her informed when the threat returns.

All the secondary characters, from Bella’s friends to Jason’s co-workers/friends, were funny especially since the men let their alpha personalities show.  Bella’s threats when she was cooking were so funny.  I loved the way the author wove these characters into the story and I could see where some pairings might show up future stories.  I was a little surprised about the ending, especially in light of some earlier remarks in the story.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the IAD Agency series, and I know we will be seeing all these friends in future books.  Under Pressure is one story that I will be reading again.