Reviews

Quick Review: Under Siege by Sandra Bunino

Under Siege by Sandra Bunino

John Siege, found adrift at sea, has been put to work as a deckhand on The Black Devil. His reputation precedes him, and irresistibly handsome pirate Waite wants to know if John was once the captin of The Ghost. He was, but he trusted the wrong person and was cast off after a mutiny by his crew.

But if they were so keen on ridding themselves of him, why can The Ghost be seen just off the horizon? Why are they following him?

Oz, the man who betrayed him and took his ship, wants the treasure that John’s father has hidden away. John was left alive because a clue to its location is the tattoo on John’s back.

The two pirate captains agree to team up. Waite invites him into his bed and submits to John’s expertise. “We seem to make a powerful pair. Both on deck and below it.”

They awake in the morning to find The Ghost flying the white flag of surrender. Oz comes aboard and explains that the crew wants their real captain back. He also tells John that Waite isn’t a pirate at all, but a privateer in service to the crown.

He can’t believe he put his trust in another pirate and returns to his own ship. Once in port, John sets off on his own to find the treasure. Waite joins him and, as they follow the map/clues on John’s back, explains his relationship with the king – less a privateer, and more of an independent contractor who recovers stolen art.

They find the hidden cavern filled with gold and jewels and celebrate with some hard and rough sex, which is just how they like it. A powerful pair indeed.

As one might expect from a pirate story, this spicy short is filled with lusty romance and high seas adventure. It took a minute for John to truly trust Waite, but once he did, they made for a formidable team.

For the heroes in Under Siege, two tempting pirate captains are definitely better than one.

Quick Review: Déjà Vu by Lawrence I. Hill

Déjà Vu by Lawrence I. Hill

Alvin is the hospitality director at an upscale Atlanta hotel. One afternoon while chatting/gossiping with friends Denise and Devon, he learns that their latest celebrity check-in is R&B superstar Tee Mills. As a kid, Alvin knew Tee as Tim, and they were best friends up until high school when Alvin got dropped for a more popular group of friends.

After receiving a special request from the penthouse suite, Alvin reluctantly goes up to find Tee preparing for some interviews and wearing nothing but a pair of briefs that show off everything he’s got to offer. Not that Alvin is interested. Especially not when Tim doesn’t even acknowledge him or their past together.

That night, Alvin is busy putting out fires (quit literally) at a large wedding reception being held in the hotel ballroom. The good-looking brother of the bride is chatting him up when the DJ starts spinning the Tee Mills classic, Déjà Vu. Hearing the song throws Alvin emotionally off center. He’s about to head home for the night when he gets another request from the frustratingly hot VIP upstairs.

Tim answers the door in nothing but a robe, and Alvin is frustrated by his obvious seduction techniques. Tim asks if the desert he brought up is one of Alvin’s own recipes, because he really like the food at Alvin’s restaurant.

In the years since they’d last seen each other, Alvin had gone to culinary school, opened his own place, and when that didn’t work out, he got the job at the hotel. It seems his old friend has been keeping tabs on him.

They get to talking over chocolate cake and champagne, Tim trying to explain how being on the down-low was never what he wanted, but it was his way of having both a career and a life. He always admired how Alvin was out in school and was jealous of how easy it seemed for him (it wasn’t) and how much Tim liked him back then.

They reminisce about a long-ago snow day when they danced to their favorite song and shared their first kiss. Tim shows him the ring that he wears on a gold chain around his neck, a ring that Alvin made in shop class and gave to him. He’s kept it because he’s been in love with Alvin all this time. He couldn’t tell him how he felt back then because he was too scared. He’s stronger now and has come back to Atlanta over the holidays to show Alvin how he really feels – how he’s always felt.

Everything Alvin has ever wanted is standing right in front of him. It’s a second chance and it’s one he’s not going to pass up.

After sleeping together, they cuddle up close and Tim whispers that he wrote Déjà Vu about Alvin. It was just for him.

In the morning, Alvin leaves the comfort of the suite to start his day, when his phone starts blowing up. In a telling tweet, Tee Mills has come out to the world. Dating and loving someone as famous as Tim is sure to have its challenges, but deep-down Alvin feels this is the start of something good – their future is filled with nothing but possibilities.

Déjà Vu is a story that’ll definitely have you rooting for the two heroes. When they’re finally able to openly talk about their past and realize that the future they want is together… well, that’s what swoony, feel-good romance is all about.

I though the characterization in this novella was particularly strong, and I especially liked the dialogue. The way Tim and Alvin talk with each other has a wonderful flow, a very natural rhythm. It’s so good that I think this story would make an amazing one act play. I would love to see Tim and Alvin’s story brought to life on stage.

If ‘second chances’ and ‘romance with a superstar’ are some of your favorite tropes, then I suggest you give this story a read.

Déjà Vu is available in both ebook and paperback formats.

Quick Review: One Good Lord Deserves Another by Eden Blake

One Good Lord Deserves Another by Eden Blake

Edmund is tasked with turning the newly christened Lord Alec into a respectable gentleman. Keeping the devastatingly handsome and flirtatious Lord in check may be a bigger task than he first imagined.

Alec cannot believe that Edmund has found his way back into his life. Years earlier, when he was a child, Edmund payed him a kindness, one that Alec has never forgotten, and ever since that time he has been smitten with the older gentleman.

Their days are spent doing the things gentlemen do during the season – making calls, taking a promenade in the park. One afternoon, the two of them are sharing an eel pie from a street vendor (don’t get grossed out, it’s apparently really good) when Alec saves Edmund from a pint-sized pickpocket. The compassion Edmund shows the little street urchin, despite the attempted theft, makes Alec love him all the more.

At a ball Alec insists he only has eyes for Edmund but does his prescribed duty and dances with several eligible young ladies… and a few gentlemen, which raises Edmunds ire. Could he possibly be jealous?

Alec finds Edmunds possessiveness a turn on. They go outside to take some air. In a dark corner of the rose garden Alec is finally able to steal the kiss that he has wanted for so long. He explains their meeting from years ago and then whispers all the wicked ways he intends to explore his irresistible lover.

They both share the same intense attraction but falling for Alec is the last thing Edmund should be doing. Alec’s uncle is heavily invested in Alec finding a good match and producing an heir.

Both of their futures are at stake.

They carry on through the season, and Edmund goes to great lengths to show Alec there is only one responsible choice to be made. But He is having none of it and soon has his beloved naked in bed, proving he knows exactly what he wants, and that is Edmund. They start slowly, but Alec is soon worked into a frenzy. If this is truly the only moment that they’ll have, then he is going to take all that Edmund is willing to give.

Afterward, Alec comes up with a scheme. With the help of a friend who has a reputation as a rogue, Alec pretends to be “ruined” so that the only honorable way out of the scandal is to marry Edmund, who is penniless, but titled, nonetheless.

They open a shop where Alec will ply his trade as a barber for the upper-class. They will make their own way, beholden to no one. A perfectly adorable HEA for a perfectly adorable couple.

Okay, where do I begin with how much I LOVED this novella? One Good Lord Deserves Another was historical age-gap perfection. Alec’s passion for Edmund practically leapt off the page. And can we please talk about how amazing it was to see an older, thicker hero, coming into his own and finding his one true love? Alec, who is a traditionally irresistible handsome hero, simply cannot get enough of Edmunds roundness which is described as plump and sturdy. His bulk is heavy and full. At one point, Alec even describes his lover a “perfect armful”. It’s all very sweet, and very, very sexy. I’d love to see more husky heroes just like this.

I also liked how in Eden Blake’s historical world, Alec and Edmund were able to marry. The only objection wasn’t to the fact that they were two men, but to the question of an heir to Alec’s title. If the rest of the stories in Eden Blake’s world are this openly accepting, and unrelentingly sexy, then sign me up! I definitely want some more.

Quick Review: Colder Than Fiction by Amanda Meuwissen

Colder Than Fiction by Amanda Meuwissen

Ezra is a man with a deadline. Add to that the stress of the holidays, plus the mother of all hangovers from a recent Christmas party, and needs an escape if he’d going to finish his latest manuscript on time. Some quiet time alone at the family cabin should be just the thing.

He awakens in the morning to find an extremely handsome stranger in his bed, one that bears an uncanny resemblance to Jon Havoc, the roguish thief who tempts the hero in his latest thriller.

Ezra doesn’t know if he’s lost his mind, but with Havoc as his sexy inspiration, he’s finally able to make headway on his book. Havoc inspires Ezra on the page and in the bedroom, his fictional creation encouraging him in ways no other man has.

With the book finally finished, Ezra’s editor praises the new direction his work has taken. While leaving the office, Ezra runs into a man whose bluer-than-blue eyes remind him of a certain flirtations anti-hero. Is it a matter of fiction made real, or is real life stranger than fiction?

If you like flirty banter, then Amanda Meuwissen has got you covered. The banter between our two heroes is sexy and fun. I particularly enjoyed how Havoc is able to seduce Ezra as well as Graham, his fictional love interest in the thriller Ezra is writing. Speaking of which, we get to read sections of the book as Ezra is writing them. The adventures of Havoc and Graham are pretty compelling, and I certainly wouldn’t mind reading more about their exploits in the future.

Colder Than Fiction is a terrific short that sexily plays with the line between reality and fantasy.

Quick Review: Standby by Kim Fielding

Standby by Kim Fielding

After an awful job interview, Tom has to fly back home to Iowa, only to have his flights grounded or delayed. He’s on standby for the first flight out in the morning, so it looks like he’s stuck, an uncomfortable airport chair his bed for the night.

In the deserted terminal, a handsome man strikes up a conversation with him. Rafael likes watching the planes. It reminds him of a time before he was grounded. The attraction between them is electric (literally) and Rafael Takes Tom to an out of the way storage room. He shows Tom the scars on his back, convincing Tom that Rafael is much more than he seems. After sex than can only be described as transcendent, Tom opens up about what he really wants – a simple life and someone special to share it with.

Tom awakens in the terminal. As he waits for his flight, he strikes up a conversation with a handsome guy. Rafael is headed to Iowa too, moving there for a new job. Things Tom are starting to look a whole lot brighter.

This short about Tom and his tryst with a uniquely appealing stranger is really charming. I especially enjoyed the banter between the two character (I’m a sucker for snappy dialog). I also liked the idea that even in an undeniably awful situation (airports, amirite?) a little bit of magic can be found.

Standby is a quick and engaging read that offers a little bit of heat and a lot of hope.

Quick Review: Dante by Stella Shaw

Dante by Stella Shaw

A dilapidated London hotel, The Haven, is home to Dante and several other of his rent boy pals. Rick, the new owner, and his best friend/accountant Blake, want to try and keep the place going. Everyone chips in to make it habitable again and Dante even pulls in a few favors from his previous life (he was an accountant too) to get Rick a business loan to pay for some of the larger repairs.

Blake comes by on an evening when Dante has no other clients – giving them a chance to the explore the undeniable attraction that they have for each other. Their chemistry is electric, and the sex is something they both desperately want and need.

As Dante helps Rick go over some of the books, he is annoyed that he can’t seem to stop thinking about that night with Blake who likes Dante just as much.

When they end up in bed again, Dante is feeling vulnerable after such a loving and vigorously satisfying fuck. He tells Blake about his life and how he’s found himself in this particular profession. It’s more than just sex for Blake, he wants more.

But unexpected news means Blake must move back to Scotland to handle things at his family’s firm. He asks Dante to join him, but he doesn’t see it working out between them and says no.

Rick and some of the other guys give Dante a stern talking to, and he explains that he’s been burned by love and too trusting of men in the past. But the thing is, he cares for Blake than he willing to admit.

He makes a mad dash to King’s Cross station where, amongst the bedlam of holiday travelers, they confess what it is they really want – each other.

In Edinburgh, Dante spends Christmas with Blake and his family. They also make plans for the New Year… and for many years to come.

Romances about escorts can be kinda tricky. How exactly does the author craft a convincing love story when the character’s profession means sleeping with someone other than their intended love interest? It’s a difficult tightrope to walk and I think Stella Shaw does a wonderful job with this story. While exploring Dante and Blake’s sexual chemistry, she not only delves into the physical connection that they share, but the emotional one as well. Falling in love is something completely new for these two men and watching them achieve their HEA is lot of fun to read.

Dante is the novella length introduction to the series, Love at the Haven. Each book focuses on a different member of the found family that call this unique place home.