Review: Omega Redeemed by Tanya Chris, Omega Reimagined 6

omegaredeemed
Cover by Chay Fox (ChayEbookCovers)

 

I would rate this 4 stars.

Sheriff Quoitrel meets Omega Daisy whilst he is renovating the old bordello in North Leland into a new bordello. This is where North Leland’s progressive values about omegas having autonomy over their own bodies comes into conflict with their paternalistic or moralistic view towards sex workers. Ideas like: protection versus control, support instead of saving someone, and that sometimes you have to fight, actually fight, for what you believe in–are explored here. Many people support something in theory, but standing behind that in actuality may be entirely different. Since this is the final book in the series the overarching storyline of succession is finally answered. Although having previous knowledge of some of the characters might make one more invested, there is no reason why this couldn’t be read as a standalone.

I liked Quoitrel and Daisy, singularly and together. Quoitrel learns about himself and his own sexuality while adapting his view of what a relationship is. Daisy is still a sex worker, so if you think him that doing his job is cheating, this is not the book for you. They find the relationship that is right for them, filled with mutual respect. Good communication is key to a relationship like this, so I do wish I could have seen more of it. There is some violence as the political situation gets sorted, but the other five books have been building up to this. One of the things I like in the whole series is that the characters are both human and wolf; they hunt and use their teeth and claws, yet the best of them don’t allow their humanity to be overcome by animal instinct, nor use it as an excuse for bad behavior. That’s really what the series is about: striving to be the best version of themselves for equality and equity for all. With steamy sex scenes, heartfelt moments of caring and loss, and striving for a better tomorrows for their citizens, this book is very entertaining.

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Tanya Chris’s Website

***The ebooks are exclusive to Amazon but you can buy books 1-3 bundled together as a paperback at Barnes And Noble here, so check back later after book six comes out to see if books 4-6 are published as volume 2. Ditto for Book Depository here.

Review: Handsome Death by Sara Dobie Bauer

HandsomeDeath
Cover Artist not credited in my ARC

 

I would rate this 4 stars.

How vampire lore works in this story is layered in through the musings of an unknown narrator, which we learn is Ethan. He uses his skills as a mercenary for a man named Marco. He becomes intrigued by a pretty man in front of a coffee shop, who is a student named Tristan. His protective urges grow, but I’m unclear as to whether vampires have a mating instinct or are obsessive by nature? I don’t like stalking as love, so frankly, I’m glad it’s illegal here, so I guess that answers the question really. Since Tristan has a vampire fetish and their kinks line up well, the story gets steamy very quickly. What saves this for me is that Ethan is actually trying to do the right thing, the struggle is real. It’s also hot, hot, hot. Parts of it are a lust fueled haze of toys, light blood play, bondage, and shibari. If the book would have stayed that way, I’d have been perfectly happy with it as an erotic romance.

This didn’t quite go how I thought it would, so I struggled to figure out why. First, the cover would fit in quite well with the dark erotic gay romance series Criminal Delights (twelve different authors), so I think I subconsciously put it in that category. Of course, Ethan is portrayed over and over again as a ruthless killer for hire, albeit he now kills “the bad guys” although I am unclear who decides that. Mario? So, when this turns into a sweet, sappy romance with flashes of dry humor and a meet the parents, I am perplexed. Then I figured out why: it heads into New Adult territory even though the sole POV is from an ancient vampire. Tristan’s parents are fantasy perfect. Tristan makes Ethan human again. Ethan goes from unlawful to legit without anyone blinking an eye. Tristan realizes his own self worth, thanks to Ethan’s love. It’s all very enjoyable with “all the feels,” but it could have been something more nuanced, more intellectually interesting–and I’ll probably still read it again.

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Review: Omega Returned by Tanya Chris, Omega Reimagined 4

Omega-Returned-small
Cover art by Chay Fox (https://www.etsy.com/shop/chayebookcovers)

 

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

Fortis and Keesh have their own complicated history of dancing around their attraction for each other for five years, each for his own reasons. As an alpha and a beta, they have a certain dynamic they maintain. When Prince Angel asks them to escort an omega named Owen back to his home in Western Pack, they agree. Owen has been treated badly by Prince Devin, who has canceled their mating. With an alpha’s ability to command compliance and an omega’s pheromones, both need Keesh’s beta abilities as a peacemaker to make their travel go smoothly, especially when Owen goes into heat.

This goes exactly where it says it will, there aren’t many surprises. Except for what is needed for each scene, there also isn’t much world-building. Neither does this move the overarching storyline forward much. If you have not read the first three books, you would still have no problem following this story. I’m not sure how Owen is so sweet, having been raised in a political household and trained for court life. Still, it’s nice to see him learn to be more independent. Much of the book has that feeling of being in a bubble as the three travel through the forest. Even when they detour to Central Pack territory to stop at Keesh’s hometown of Hybernia, the only other character to stand out is Keesh’s mom. The book is at its best as the three men work out their hurt feelings when jealousies arise. They are all willing to step aside for each other to be happy, as they all struggle with how to make a triad work. There isn’t any need; they just have to open their minds to it. Mainly, there are sweet, cute, and adorable moments in this, broken up by hot sex scenes and pining. Read this when you want fluffy, steamy goodness to enjoy without being too taxing.

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Tanya Chris’s Website

**The ebooks are exclusive to Amazon but you can buy books 1-3 bundled together as a paperback at Barnes And Noble here, so check back later after book six comes out to see if books 4-6 are published as volume 2. Ditto for Book Depository here.

Review: The Infinite Onion By Alice Archer

theInfiniteOnion
Cover design: Tracy Kopsachilis Art & Design Front cover book photograph copyright © iStock.com/ranplett Front cover circles illustration copyright © iStock.com/Svetlana Kachurovskaia Lanpochka

 

I would rate this 4.5 stars.

Grant is so unhappy being a worker drone in Seattle, he burns his whole life down six months after his divorce. His defenses are so high, the only one he seems to lower them for is his nephew Kai. When he ends up camping rough on Vashon Island to try and figure out his life, he meets an artist named Oliver who challenges him. Sparks fly as Oliver likes irritating Grant with a strange arrangement meant to get him back on his feet. Oliver has demons of his own and stripping Grant bare exposes his own defense mechanisms. Both of them will need to battle their own and each other’s walls if they are to have a chance at living happily ever after.

Grant ignores unpleasant realities. Yet, he has a big heart for those who accept him as he is instead of trying to change him. The tweens (his nephew Kai and his friends Jill, Clover, Penelope, and Abelino) are there as the catalysts to show who he is behind his anger, fear, and desperation to find himself for himself, instead of always bending to fit the will of others. Some might say, where are their parents? But, I grew up on an island and ran wild for hours, all day and night in the summer and no one knew where I was or who I was with, so this made me think of my own adventures. How wonderful they have someone to treat them like the individual people they are. One of Grant’s lessons is that sometimes order and boundaries are needed, that their are times they are appropriate and should be respected; another is that if the rules he lives by don’t serve him, it’s time to make up new rules.

Oliver flouts the idea that you can’t help people who don’t want to be helped. I’m glad Oliver had a come to Jesus moment about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but it didn’t make him more likeable for me at that moment. With his artistic nature, his fantasies often overcome or overwrite his reality…but people who are lonely or traumatized often live in their head. His circle (Talia, Clementine, Freddy) is only people who will respect his boundaries and not expect more from him. Freddie, Oliver’s friend with benefits for seventeen years, is a deceptively complex look into Oliver’s world as he has ordered it. I liked Oliver the most when his art therapy ends up saving him from his avoidance techniques.

Being creatives, this is a wild ride with characters that explore the absurdity of their inner worlds. Memories, nostalgia, how the past shapes our reality, and thus the present, is what is battled here. This is what it looks like when people take a self inventory. So many stories focus on violence or sexual abuse as the only thing that wounds people; you will not find that here. Having said that, I was not enamored with the stalking for love trope. In the end, these two wounded men fit like puzzle pieces–their strengths and weaknesses merging to create a stronger whole. My mind was a swirl of grief and enchantment, painted with vivid art and inner imagery. The ending left me touched, breathless, and happy knowing in all the world Grant and Oliver found the one special person who gets them, crazy and all.

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Review: Gabriel’s Storm By Sue Brown

GabrielsStorm
Cover Art © 2020 Brooke Albrecht http://brookealbrechtstudio.com

 

I would rate this 4 stars.

Gabriel has become a recluse, grieving the loss of his wife Jenny and his son Michael. The only one keeping him alive is his brother-in-law and neighbor Toby and Toby’s husband Damien. But Toby has been enabling Gabriel as helping him staves off his own grief. When Gabriel’s obsession with searching the sea finds an injured man in a boat, his life is jumpstarted in ways he never saw coming. With the man who becomes Sam having amnesia due to a head injury and emotional trauma, are his nightmares of someone trying to murder him true? As Sam and Gabriel become close during the forced proximity, they may be building castles in the sand that have an expiration date when real life floods in to their intimate bubble.

An alternating POV between Sam and Gabriel is used to good effect; I got to know and like both characters well. Gabriel has changed nothing in the house since his family died, he’s made no effort to move forward in his grieving process. Having someone in his home who doesn’t know anything about him or his family makes him confront what he has been avoiding, his home has become a shrine to them down to the mug that was his wife’s favorite. Sam has terrifying nightmares and flashbacks of people trying to murder him; little facts and bits of his life come back to him over a few days. Gabriel is his savior and safety in his world gone mad. The attraction is there, but the timing isn’t right, until it is. Both of them are experiencing fear, loss, and grief that helps them grow together. Toby, as the local doctor, grabs at the chance to support Gabriel by playing instigator and matchmaker. A well written category romance, this could have gone into great territory if the emergency that pulled the community together was a chance to really explore the others living there, but they are mostly just names with enough care from Gabriel’s POV to tug at the heartstrings without the work of making them more three dimensional. I did love the English seaside as a character that while beautiful, adds complex moods, both good and bad, to the tale.

Of course, there is that pesky attempted murder thing to deal with. By the time Sam is recognized from a news report for a missing person, the story is already emotionally satisfying. Is five days long enough to fall in love? I vote yes for a HFN, a promise to try to confront how to blend their radically different lives together after senseless loss. Much of this is down to good, believable dialogue. The angst is broken up by moments of genuine care for others and humor. For me, this was a lovely way to spend three hours.

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Review: Shades Of Henry By Amy Lane, A Flophouse Story 1

ShadesOfHenry-1
Cover Art © 2020 L.C. Chase http://www.lcchase.com

 

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

Do yourself a favor and don’t read this unless you have read the following series by Amy Lane first: Johnnies, Racing For The Sun, and Fish Out of Water. You could read this first, or out of order, and enjoy the romance between the main characters Henry and Lance, but the main events of the novel come at you sideways via the fifth book in the Fish Out of Water series; you would have to keep track of two different names for a plethora of characters from the Johnnies series, since each has their real name and their porn star name. The true emotional payoff will come for the faithful fans who will enjoy all the series being woven together and already know all the side characters in this.

Henry is finally at rock bottom when he goes to visit his brother Davy (aka Dex), a former porn model, in Sacramento with his husband Carlos (Kane). After nine years in the Army he flounders with what to do now that he has been discharged. His brother sets him up at a flophouse used by a stable of young guys who work for Johnnies. His tragic story is layered into the book as he tries to avoid thinking or talking about it unless he has to. He acts as a “den mother” for Cotton, Randy, Zeppelin, Fisher, Billy, and Curtis along with Lance. As a resident finishing his internship at the hospital, Lance still does the occasional porn scene to pay off his student loans. As the oldest in the house, and the same age as Henry, it’s inevitable they are drawn together. Right when I started to get everyone straight, and Lance and Henry are forming a bond, there’s a murder, which drags the P.I. Jackson Rivers and lawyer Ellery Cramer, among others, from the Fish Out Of Water series into it.

Maybe the absolute worst time for a relationship, might be the best time. As Henry navigates his abusive relationship from the past eleven years or so, he doesn’t even know how broken he is. This makes his journey from internalized homophobic abuse victim to over the top hero at the end, without any counseling, a bit unbelievable for me. Lance is the stable presence here, not because he doesn’t have issues of his own, but because he knows what they are and seeks treatment both for himself and to inspire the other Johnnies in the house. To me, Lance is the real hero. Then, there is what I wanted to happen versus what I could realistically expect to happen based on the story so far; having something be emotionally satisfying doesn’t make it a realistic conclusion. What saves this for me are the genuine moments of intimacy and connection Amy Lane is known for invoking in her writing. I will probably read everything again, catch up on the few books I missed, and read this last.

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Review: Scintilla by Elizabeth Noble, El Corazon 1

Scintilla
Cover not credited.

 

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

Brandon goes on vacation to fulfill his sexual fantasy with a werewolf Dom at the El Corazon adult entertainment club in Arizona. The werewolf he gets is Raul, grandson to the club owner and professional bounty hunter. One scene is not enough for either of them and a bond is struck. But Brandon is a scintilla, a magical human that wields electricity, and an expert with using electronics to glean information. Months later Brandon disappears and his father shows up to hire Raul to find him, leading everyone down a path filled with paranormals, human trafficking, and betrayal.

For me, this book is split in two with the first half being a bit awkward where some things are explained, and the second half where there is a lot of action and a better connection between the characters. The first love scene wasn’t quite as hot as I would have liked, but that’s just sex. They hang out for a week, having more sex, which is not shown. Too many sex scenes back to back can be boring, but skipping out on the time they spend together lessens the intimacy. The reader is told they emailed for months after, but that didn’t make me feel attached to either of them. Then, the second half has the intimacy and connection I wanted–almost too much as it also actually distracted them from their own undercover operation. There are a plethora of kinks here, with the age gap, Raul being a hairy bear type, knotting, and Brandon basically being a violet wand. I did like that Raul is actually a wolf, it is always part of who he is and that is consistent.

The world-building was a bit haphazard. There are four classes of magical humans, so what are they? There are five types of jinn, but only effrit and sila are referenced. There is a leprechaun and a prism character, but neither are explored. Later, acoustic and aether paranormals are also mentioned. The only thing I know about werewolf culture is they are pansexual and matriarchal. Raul’s family is also Latin, so that comes across the most. As the matriarch, Natty is a force to be reckoned with, and a welcome, loving presence. A jinni, Fahim, who is a business partner of Raul’s cousin, Tad, is always there to lend of hand, but I don’t know anything about him. At first I felt I missed something as a character named Janey was introduced; I had no idea who she was. She is described as a prism, and ends up being the police captain, but I have no idea what she or her lieutenant, Iva, whom Raul has known since grade school, actually look like. So, really, the world-building here is contained to Raul’s family life and glimpses of his work as a bounty hunter. Things that need to be known are thrown in scene by scene. That’s a shame since the plot is actually interesting. This is really just a fun, low angst for the subject matter adventure, with some steamy sex scenes, a bit of violence, and likeable lead characters. Expect that instead of urban fantasy and it’ll be an enjoyable diversion.

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**This book is currently exclusive to Amazon, but not all the author’s works are. She sometimes offers books through her Payhip for a short time and publishes through JMS Books.

Review: Without A Trace by RJ Scott, Lancaster Falls Trilogy 2

withoutatrace
Cover design by Meredith Russell

 

I would rate this 4 stars.

This is the second book in a trilogy that shares a story arc, thus should be read in order. As such, it’s difficult to review without spoilers. The first book builds a relationship between Chris, a famous horror writer, and a local police Captain, Sawyer. They start to share their lives together whilst navigating strange graffiti, a domestic violence case, and the gruesome discovery of several human remains. Sawyer’s best friend Drew comes back to town after his missing brother Casey is identified as one of the bodies. But ten years in the military has changed him; Drew is no longer that teenaged boy that left. Rumor blamed Drew for Casey’s disappearance, but frankly, everyone’s a suspect, except Drew. Logan, a cop introduced in the first book as ex-military, has made Lancaster Falls his home after he was discharged from the Army. This story focuses on his part in working on the strange graffiti, Casey’s last days before his disappearance, and trying to help a veteran with PTSD, Adam Gray. As a landowner near where the bodies were found, and related by marriage to one of the two dynastic families in town, Adam is one part of this small town puzzle.

Being inside Drew’s and Logan’s POV makes this book completely different in tone to the first book. Drew, tortured by whatifs and PTSD, is determined to find out what happened to Casey. As he goes around town asking questions, he’s like a kid hitting a bee hive with his stick, stirring up trouble to see what pops out. Logan is a more steady presence; as the outsider who moved there, he is unburdened with a lifetime of memories of the deceased. As Drew starts to pull him off balance, all Logan’s cases start to dovetail together. Drew is at turns seductive and bratty, vulnerable and angry, which creates a sort of enemies to lovers vibe. The attraction between them didn’t seem as natural at the beginning, but that may be because Drew is desperately grabbing at anything to hold back grief and memories. He’s confused about his past, future, and present all at the same time…which is why I think their romance is less stable than I would like.

The pacing also feels like marching relentlessly towards a conclusion. At the end of this you will know who, but not all the whos, and why, but not all the whys. I don’t know why I did this to myself because I hate cliffhangers. The first book was excellent, but it focused more on character development and the romance; this book, I think the romance suffered a little as the actual case was ratcheted up to the forefront. Of the three best friends, Sawyer and Drew have been paired off leaving Josh for book three. So far, I feel like I know some of the secondary characters better than Josh. The FBI will come to investigate the remains found in book one, so expect new characters for book three, although the reader should know all the essential players on the board at this point. While some of the resolution for this relied on someone cracking under pressure, there has been plenty of foreshadowing for where this is going to go, so I have very high hopes for the next book.

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**This author usually wide releases her books for a few days and then makes them exclusive to Amazon for a set time, then wide releases them again. If you don’t want mobi or KU, subscribe to her newsletter where she is excellent at communicating when the books are for sale, when, and where.

Review: Running To Him by P.D. Singer, Men Of Monument 1

runningtohim
Copyright © P.D. Singer 2020

 

I would rate this 4.5 stars.

At 22, Tim is still being controlled by his mother, Lorraine, a HR specialist at a pharmaceutical company, where she is desperate to get him a job. Carson, who also works there, is on Lorraine’s bad side and it becomes increasingly clear it’s because he’s gay. Lorraine’s hatred, and need to control, spurs Carson into getting to know Tim a little better–and Tim certainly doesn’t mind. As attraction turns to love and friendship, Carson is increasingly the port in the storm that Tim needs to break free from the increasing danger he doesn’t even understand he is in.

As a young adult trying to flee the nest, Tim is completely age appropriate teetering between childish dreams and naivety, with startling moments of insight and strength. Carson has had no choice but to be a realist after learning his own harsh lessons about failed family relationships. Since the POV switches between the two of them, it’s sad to read enough to extrapolate Carson’s experiences and witness the loss of Tim’s innocence. Happily, Carson’s support and care allows Tim the time to catch up to reality. The genius of this book is Carson’s realization that when he tells Tim what to do, things don’t go well, but when he lets Tim make his own decisions, mistakes and all, that’s actually the way to be a good friend and partner, rather than be another controlling parental figure–especially with their inequities and age gap. I believe what Carson believes wholeheartedly, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Carson’s friend, a chemist named Wes, is a chaos-agent I wish was more rounded out. Ditto the coworker Angie, although she does indeed prove herself to be a “wonderful, wonderful human being.” The star here is Carson’s old math teacher Mrs. Hedstrom, who happens to be Tim’s neighbor. Tim’s brother Paul and his wife Miyoko round out the cast. I guess Paul didn’t want to poison the well with Tim about Lorraine; maybe he didn’t think Tim would believe him. Obviously Carson’s relationship with his neighbor John is close since Carson shows trust in him, but it wasn’t explored at all.

What at first seemed funny and annoying, soon turned scary, filling me with tension and anxiety. Sexual tension builds throughout the book as Tim navigates many firsts. This is all leading to the inevitable conclusion, mostly where I wanted it to go. I’m sorry for this spoiler, but my concern, after reading the whole book, is that actions have consequences; it was disheartening to see violent behavior not prosecuted. Still, watching Tim grow through this journey was as amazing as watching Carson release his tight hold on the past. I was rooting for them! I’m glad the epilogue reminded us all that friends are the family we choose. Well written, engaging, with likeable and relatable characters, this was more than I expected from the blurb.

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Review: Omega Replaced by Tanya Chris, Omega Reimagined 5

 

omegareplaced
Not credited

 

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

This is book five in the series, but I’ve not read the previous four and had no issues reading it as a standalone. This one focuses on Donovan, an alpha from Southern Pack who comes to Northern Pack territory as a bounty hunter for a runaway omega named Carmen. When he arrives, Judge Tarek refuses to give him an extradition order. His stay, while trying to convince Carmen to voluntarily return to her family, shows him how restrictive the wolf caste system is. As he acknowledges his forbidden desire for another alpha, he has an affair with Tarek that is rapidly becoming something else. Can he confront the difference between what he’s been taught his whole life, and the reality he is faced with?

Since this is about Donovan’s character development, the POV stays with him. The politics snuck up on me, although I don’t know why; the correlation with patriarchy and gender roles is obvious. In this world, omegas are treated differently in each region as is the legality of same sex and mixed caste unions. Central and Western Pack are mentioned, but don’t play a role. Here’s where some more in depth world-building would have made this really shine for me. Maybe that’s unfair because perhaps it was already done in previous books, but with this writing style, I doubt the previous books were markedly more detailed. Ditto the secondary characters in this book who have had their own books: they are all likeable and move the story forward, but not much is learned about them here. So reading the previous books might have given me a greater emotional attachment to them. However, it’s cleverly written because you can read them all in order for the overarching political story, or you can just read the ones you want if that couple strikes your fancy without missing much.

The sex scenes are steamy and well written. While this world has heats and knotting, there was no mpreg. The development of Tarek and Donovan’s relationship is fast–a matter of days. While cute, I would have liked more connection outside of the sex. In the end, did me wanting more detail about everything affect my enjoyment of this book? Nope. This is a new to me author and I really loved the writing style. As a fun, easy to read, steamy, paranormal erotic romance, this is a great choice when you want to be entertained for a few hours and have some food for thought (it’s okay to be who you are), without a lot of angst. I will read this author again.

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**The ebooks are exclusive to Amazon but you can buy books 1-3 bundled together as a paperback at Barnes And Noble here, so check back later after book six comes out to see if books 4-6 are published as volume 2. Ditto for Book Depository here.