Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Angel Baby

Title: Angel Baby
Author: Cherie Noel
Publisher: MLR Press
Publisher URL: www.mlrbooks.com
ISBN: MLR-1-02013-0051
Genre: {M/M} Paranormal Series
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

Vampires Gem and Don are investigators for the paranormal government agency Interspecies Disciplinary Investigation Optimizing Taskforce, or I.D.I.O.T for short. Their assignment is to uncover who or what is butchering human males in New Orleans. When evil rears its ugly head and Don goes missing, Gem discovers the gifted human Angel is the only one who can save them from a continual Hell.
Angel Baby is the first book in the French Quarter Quartet Series. The plot is an action-packed romantic mystery featuring species discrimination. The characters are amusing, as well as engaging. Best friends since childhood, Don is the brawn and Gem is the brains in the team. Don has a quick temper plus he is less socially approachable than Gem. Don is also much larger than Gem, so Don is better suited to successfully hunting down perpetrators. Undercover as a bartender, Gem is immediately attracted to the small feisty man known as Angel. In fact, Gem was so captivated by the man, he almost revealed his fangs when others showed interest in Angel. Being an extrasensory human, Angel immediately knew evil was attempting to capture Gem. Angel has the ability to commune with the spiritual realm. Angel was able to rescue the vampires, as well as bond with Gem. The information garnered by Don revealed this case is far from over; someone in the agency has gone rogue.

Cherie Noel has created a superb forceful saga that I thoroughly enjoyed. I look forward to the next installment.  

Breaking the Playboy’s Curse

Author: Charlie Richards
Publisher: eXtasy Books
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-77111-489-9
Genre: {M/M}, Paranormal, Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

One by one, Vail’s pack mates have been finding their true mates.  While he’s happy for his brethren, he is also jealous that he will never be able to acknowledge his own mate.  But Vail never counted on Draven.

Breaking the Playboy’s Curse is the tenth book in the Kontra’s Menagerie series and picks up shortly after the end of In the Eyes of Crazy.  This story brings together Draven, the vampire wizard half breed who will be mentoring Tim, and Vail, a wolf shifter in Kontra’s pack.  Vail has reason to believe that he may never be able to claim his mate and I liked this new twist in the story.  I also like the way the author is switching things up a little by introducing new paranormal beings in the form of half-breeds.  For fans of this genre, these changes help keep the stories from becoming stale.

There is chemistry between Vail and Draven that can’t be denied, regardless of the curse that hangs over Vail’s head.  When these two get together, they heat up the pages and Draven, who is not only a vampire wizard but also a tough detective, felt comfortable submitting to his mate so that Vail could claim him.  I thought it showed that the Draven was just as anxious to make sure his mate was happy, as Vail seemed to be.   

There are a variety of great secondary characters in this story.  While most are characters readers have met already, there are a couple of new ones.  I especially liked Draven’s partner, even if he does come across a little narrow minded and can’t help wanting to see him get a story of his own. 

While as a whole I liked the story, I did feel a little let down.  It’s not possible to say much without giving the story away, but because the curse that hangs over Vail’s head plays such an important part in keeping the character from looking for a mate, I expected to see it as a large part in Breaking the Playboy’s Curse, yet for me it came across as almost a second thought.  This will not keep me from re-reading the story and I am waiting to see what more the author will be introducing to this interesting series.

Soul Restoration

Author: Carol Lynne
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Publisher URL: www.total-e-bound.com
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-78184-275-1
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Series
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

Pete Braxton was disowned by his father after he graduated from high school. It hasn’t been easy but after years of hard work, he’s built a life for himself. Pete’s wanted to reconcile with his brother but that hope is dashed when his brother dies. It’s a shock to learn he’s inheriting the family fortune and the home they grew up in. But an even bigger surprise is the condition of the house. His brother nearly destroyed the interior and it needs to be restored, which requires a craftsman.

When Dylan Oliver moves across country to restore Pete’s family mansion, he thought his time in Kansas City would be just another job.  He never expected the instant attraction to the owner and he certainly didn’t expect to fall in love. When the job’s finished, will he and Pete have enough reason to stay together or will he return home?

Soul Restoration is the second release in Carol Lynne’s Brookside Athletic Club series but it can be read as a standalone.

I like this premise and there are enough personal details on Pete and Dylan’s lives for me to know that I like them both. Circumstances didn’t make life easy for either but they still prospered and are upright, good men. Pete, inheriting the family home and wanting it renovated, is the only way of getting Dylan into the story, since they otherwise couldn’t have met. It’s a smooth transition, with enough vivid details on the sad condition of the house to understand how much Dylan’s needed.

There’s so much potential in Soul Restoration, yet portions just didn’t work for me. Please don’t forget that I do like these guys—but after their immediate attraction/ sexual escapade, the story fell flat. The only thing I can attribute the problem to at this point is the serious overbalancing of the story in sex vs. plot. Yes, I got snippets of their relationship but I didn’t feel like I really understood the basis of what made them work as a couple. I’m a huge fan of Ms. Lynne but this one—well, I found it disappointing, but I’ll still give the next one a try.

Justice’s Little Nibbler

Author: Stephani Hecht
Publisher: eXtasy Books
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-77111-488-2
Genre: {M/M}, Paranormal, Series
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymph Reviewer: Critter Nymph

Tyson has tried just about everything he can think of to grab Justice’s attention.  Unfortunately, the only thing he has accomplished is annoying the man.  But then something changes and while Tyson is unsure what, he isn’t willing to give up the attention the warrior is now showing him.

Justice’s Little Nibbler is the newest addition to the Wayne County Wolves series.  I love when at least one of the main characters is a little quirky, which always seem to make the stories more fun to read.  In this story that character is Tyson and his bounciness had me laughing a few times while reading.  He is also the perfect counterpoint for Justice, who is one of the half breed shifters who recently escaped from a lab.  I love how he drives Justice a little crazy and that craziness is one of the things that draws the warrior to the little medic.  Things seem like they may be going smoothly for the men, until someone from Tyson’s past shows up.

When Tyson’s brother shows up to start trouble for his new pack, Justice is there to stand by the younger man.  This isn’t the only problem the two must put up with and the many little twists will keep the readers entertained.  While the author wraps the men’s relationship up wonderfully, she leaves some questions unanswered, opening the way for future trouble to hit the Wayne County Wolf pack.

I can’t wait for more stories from this series, especially those concerning Justice’s brothers.

Adapting Instincts

Author: S.J. Frost
Publisher: MLR Press
Publisher URL: www.mlrbooks.com
ISBN: MLR-1-02013-0040
Genre: {M/M] Vampire Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Chocolate Minx 

The discovery of real vampires has Carl Anderson questioning his beliefs. After all, it is the vampires who saved his life when the hunters would have killed him and it is the vampire Egill Dalgaard that Carl will never forget.

Adapting Instincts is the fourth book in the Instincts series.  Carl loves his job at the zoo working with the primates but Carl is lonely without his best friend, who is now living in Africa with his eternal partner. Carl is intelligent, in addition to being a compassionate man. Nevertheless, his acts of compassion without forethought give Carl the appearance of being untrustworthy to some of the vampires. Combined to that the obstacle of Carl’s low self esteem; the possibility of having a relationship with Egill is not very promising. The proposal to join his best friend’s animal sanctuary in Africa is the only positive thing Carl has in his life until Egill returns for a short visit. The understanding Carl and Egill acquire about each other deepens their desire to move forward into a relationship.

S.J. Frost has created another superb addition to this captivating series. In this enjoyable installment, the characters are emotionally engaging with a blend of dramatic action, Daniel’s snarky humor, sensual lovemaking as well as feisty pets with attitude. Carl stirred my ire on more than one occasion but he redeemed himself as the story developed. All of the characters featured in the first book Natural Instincts are included in Adapting Instincts.

This series is best read in sequence

The Fight Within

Author: Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN/BIN: 978-1-62380-401-5
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary Series
Rating: 4.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Dragon Minx

When his fiancé died, Bryce Morton was devastated. A year later, Bryce is still spending most of his time alone and his friends, Jerry Lincoln and John Black Raven are worried. When they finally convince him to accompany them on a camping trip to the Sioux Reservation, they’re thrilled. Bryce doesn’t expect the trip to change his life but that’s what happens when he meets Paytah Stillwater.

Paytah was abused as a child, leaving him angry and withdrawn, and he doesn’t trust the motives of outsiders. That means he and Bryce get off to a rocky start. It’s not until he sees Bryce’s concern for the needy kids on the reservations that he begins to believe that Bryce really cares. It’s all his heart needs to open up for the first time in his adult life. When his abuser returns, putting the reservation boys in danger, Paytah and Bryce must work together to stop him.

The Fight Within is the second release in Andrew Grey’s The Good Fight series. Since John and Jerry from the previous book play important roles, the books should be read in order.

I’m always apprehensive with second books in any series—even when they’re written by an author I adore. I needn’t have worried, because the uber-talented Andrew Grey has wowed me again with his love story, set amongst the harsh life on a Native American Indian Reservation.  The rich details of Indian culture make the world of the native peoples come alive. On the other hand, the blatant issues of financial mismanagement, poverty and the lack of hope suffered by those same people infuriate me because I know it’s an active problem. I applaud Mr. Grey for tackling such weighty issues because he handles it with skill, care and sensitivity—and does it well. 

There’s a lot going on in this story. Bryce is dealing with the death of his fiancé and is angry and depressed. Paytah’s had years of fear, anger and dealing with the aftermath of being abused. These two are great characters and Mr. Grey’s done a wonderful job developing their personalities. Getting them together seemed impossible at first but it’s done in a believable manner.

As you can guess there are plenty of subplots. I’m happy to say they flow smoothly into the main one without hindering the pace. The emotions of Bryce and Paytah are intense but don’t expect an excessive amount of sex—remember Paytah’s abusive past. No more rambling. I enjoyed this release and I’m looking forward to the next one. If you enjoy non-fluffy books that make you think and feel, I suggest you give this series a try.

One Shot

Title:  One Shot
Author:  Laurie Roma
Publisher:  Siren Bookstrand
Publisher URL:  http://sirenbookstrand.com
ISBN/BIN:   978-1-62242-489-4
Genre:  {M/F}, Suspense, Series
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer:  Amazon Nymph

Julian King knows there is something more going on in Las Vegas besides Mac Securities upgrading his system.   He is blown away when Tara arrives with the team because he can’t get her off his mind.  Tara only has relationships with the ladies she grew up with and her teammates.  They are trustworthy, but she won’t do love.

The second book in the IAD Agency series, One Shot, is my favorite of the two books so far.  One Shot picks up with Bella planning her wedding, when word comes that saran gas was on the market to three known terrorists.  Because Julian is an informant to one of the agents, his hotel is being used as IADs base in Las Vegas.

The author did a lot of research about terrorism and some of what she brings to the story can be ripped out of headlines from the news.  Ms. Roma is either knowledgeable about some law enforcement issues or did some excellent research.  I love stories that keep law enforcement or military issues as realistic as possible within the context of the story.  Nothing ruins a story with these types of backgrounds faster for me.

The chemistry between Julian and Tara is there from the beginning.  Neither know quite what to make of it as both have always been able to take their past sexual relationships with a ‘no-strings’ mentality.  That is definitely not what happens.  I liked that, once Julian realizes that Tara means a lot to him, he goes out of his way to give Tara the space she needs, even as he pushes her for a permanent commitment.  The sex scenes between the two are hot.  There is a lot of humorous teasing as both staff and teammates become aware of the relationship.

There are a few surprises that show up and I liked the surprise ending.  Several new characters show up, along with those introduced in the first book, making for the potential of a lot of stories about IAD in the future and I am looking forward to reading them. Yes, readers do need to read this series in order.