Review: Unveiled (Master Chronicles #2) by Jamie Craig

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Gideon and Jesse work together as private investigators and after years of friendship, become an established couple in book one. This isn’t difficult to follow if you haven’t read the first book, but your understanding of the characters will be very different. The case investigated here revolves around a missing young woman found killed after an exclusive party. Right after leaving a hideous crime scene where Jesse is emotionally devastated, Jesse and Gideon go to the vampire club Sangre where they participate in a gang bang that involves other vampires and a lot of blood. Why this isn’t traumatic for Jesse after the way the woman was killed, is a mystery to me. While there they rescue an empath named Emma who can sense and transmit the feelings of others.

The world building never had a hint of anything else paranormal except vampires, so it felt abrupt to have an empath thrown in to this world. The vampires must know Gideon works with the police. Why would they do anything illegal like sell him a human slave? They were able to rescue Emma because no one already “owned” her, so if she had already been bought, they wouldn’t have helped her? The author seems to skirt the line, maybe not wanting to go into non consensual territory, but that’s too little too late with these characters. Clearly there are limits and rules as to when they are the good guys. In book one, Gideon is not always shown in the best light so it felt like here, Emma was used to reassure the audience (and Michelle and Jesse) that he really is a good guy. I’m not sure why this is actually necessary since the audience can have more of Gideon’s POV any time the author chooses to write more of it. Both main characters seem pansexual so adding Emma into their mix wouldn’t be too unexpected if it were just sex, but laying the groundwork to add her to their relationship was unexpected. In this book, she is just used for titillation–a will they, won’t they–that could be expanded upon in later books.

Emma is also utilized to give them a lead on the case; she was taken while trying to find her sister, who went missing after dating a vampire. I didn’t like when a scene suddenly switched to Emma’s point of view for a very short time. The usual POV is Jesse’s. However, once Gideon and Jesse go undercover, Emma goes to help Michelle and there needed to be another point of view as action happens in different places. As the only other established character, I am unclear why this couldn’t have been Michelle’s POV. My concern is that because she’s a lesbian, and therefore will not be having sex with Jesse or Gideon, her POV is considered unimportant. For me, this seemed like a lost opportunity.

The interaction between law enforcement and the private investigators is really lacking. The world is built with humans knowing about vampires, but this is another situation where the author seems to hedge and not commit to that. Why are the police not asking Gideon for help on vampire cases? Why do the police only raid the party when Gideon says so? This is written as Gideon being the only vampire who actually cares about humans, but then the author has Rina, who was friends with the murdered woman, and promptly dismisses her of being capable of being a complex person.

While the use of humans, alive or dead, to entertain the wealthy is not an original idea, the “art” created by Jesse and Gideon with Emma’s help sounded interesting. Sadly, it wasn’t described in a way that came alive as scenery, it was used as a means to an end. The other artists and their creations weren’t shown, even though the story was Gideon’s POV at that point. Then, the final confrontation with the killer(s) fizzled out. In the end, I felt like I was left with many sex scenes, some more successful than others, without an intriguing enough plot or emotional connection to the characters to hold them all together.

The cover design is by Written Ink Designs (written-ink.com) with image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License. It shows Jesse and elements of the art exhibits mentioned in the book.

Sales Link:  JMS Books LLC |   Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 176 pages, JMS Books LLC
Published: (first published August 1st 2007)
Original Title: Unveiled (Book II of The Master Chronicles)
ASINB001JMFBPW

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Unveiled (Master Chronicles #2) by Jamie Craig — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Master Of Obsidian (Master Chronicles #1) by Jamie Craig

Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

This is a dark erotic romance, with urban fantasy elements, set in Chicago. Jesse is a human who works for a vampire named Gideon doing private investigations. They’ve been hired to solve a murder that may tie to a dangerous new demon drug. This shows alternating points of view, but I still feel like I got to know Jesse better than Gideon, which may be a good thing.

One issue is the plot is obviously just to move them from one sex scene to another, which is a shame because there could have been something more interesting done with what is here. For instance, seeing more of their actual relationship before being thrown into their sexual relationship would have given this a more solid basis. More UST before they got together as well as any indication at all that Jesse was into pain before they have sex, would have made it less jarring. Seeing Jesse’s fantasies and revelling in Gideon’s angst to control himself would have added more depth. For me, the distressing part was no aftercare, even when Jesse had open wounds. Gideon doesn’t really treat Jesse with the care, the respect, the reader is told he has for him; not just in their personal interactions, but with the case they are working, where he doesn’t give Jesse vital information. At least that is acknowledged after the fact, it’s just that so much of this really should have been talked about before all the events that happen.

Between sex scenes, most of the information is told to the reader as a statement right before they need it, rather than being seen in flashbacks. I’m going to mention something that is not related to the plot, so it’s not a spoiler, but would turn many people off: I want readers to be aware there is a scene where Jesse gets off to Gideon’s snuff porn. This caused an issue for me: why is Jesse expecting better behavior from John, the blackest of mages, but then turns around and has no issue with Gideon’s past? I guess for those raised on a TV show with Angel and Spike, maybe this isn’t a big deal? But the reader doesn’t get to know enough of this supposedly good Gideon that is trying to save humans before being introduced to who he used to be. Then, there is the torture scene which really points out the problems with the world-building. One assumes, if the suspect were human, they would have involved the police, but since the suspect is a vampire (demon), they can do whatever they want to her? Obviously humans, mages, and vampires know about each other and coexist, but that is all the reader really knows about this world. In the end, I was left with a few steamy sex scenes and characters that are a bit twisted and not necessarily likeable. Even Jesse seemed more dangerously obsessed with Gideon rather than in love with him, enough to blur ethical lines and basically do whatever he wants as long as Jesse gets what he wants from Gideon.

I think for maximum enjoyment, this should be read as a series of sexual fantasies without a lot of expectations. Since it’s about vampires, expect a lot a blood. Also be aware this has a m/m/f scene, violence, torture, and Gideon sharing Jesse, so they are not monogamous in the traditional sense.

The cover art for my version was done by Cover Design: Written Ink Designs (written-ink.com) with image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License. It does communicate the BDSM elements, but not really the paranormal or investigative elements.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon | Kobo

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 192 pages
Published September 25th 2019 by JMS Books LLC
ASINB07XWNT85S

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Master Of Obsidian (Master Chronicles #1) by Jamie Craig — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Love Is All: Volume 2 edited by Xio Axelrod

LoveIsAllVol2
Copyright © 2019 by Xio Axelrod LLC

I would rate this whole collection 3.75 stars.

This is a charity anthology, so I tend to think of the stories as a thank you for donating money. All anthologies are a mixed bag and people will like different stories than I do, but here are a few of my favorites from this collection. There is a variety of combinations (M/M, F/F, M/M/F, M/F) with bisexual, trans, and ace represented. They are all contemporary except for the one historical, paranormal romance. The foreword by Roan Parrish is quite eloquent.

R.L. Merrill, Pinups and Puppies (F/F, 4 stars)

This is told from the first person POV of Marianne, who is struggling with grief and reintegration after her retirement from the Air Force. She owns a vintage plane and volunteers to transport dogs to help shelters who find them homes. That’s how she meets Dinah, who co-owns the shelter. They both seem to have great support systems filled with family and friends. With great chemistry, their lives and interests slot nicely together, making them a cute couple.

Susan Scott Shelley, Sugar Crush (Bliss Bakery Series) (M/M, 4.5 stars)

Jack, a horror novelist, gets to know a baker named Gabriel when he joins a softball team to help his friend Shane. This has an opposites attract trope with great sexual tension and friends as extended family. This is about fitting into someone’s life and making room for them to fit into yours–giving each other a safe space and carving out shared time, while still having their own interests. Also, not letting fear or the past get in the way of the future.

Xio Axelrod When Frankie Meets Johnny (M/M, 4.25 stars)

DJ meets contractor/teacher in this hurt/comfort tale with an age gap. This story is what you make it. I highly recommend listening to all the songs that he plays for a hell of a good time. If an artist is mentioned, but not a song, pick one that has a title that fits the scene. I would have rated this higher, but I couldn’t tell if this was Johnny’s first time with a man or he was demisexual? There is certainly a misunderstanding I think could have been handled better, but the story is charming.

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Review: Ruff Trouble by Sharon Maria Bidwell

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This is a new to me author. These stories were published previously, I believe separately, so this is a complete trilogy. The first story is Hounding The Beat. Chantelle and her police colleague Bobby, are supernaturals or supes. They keep it secret that they are romantic partners so they won’t be transferred away from each other at work. As canine shifters, they can smell the emotions of others. Sam, Bobby’s former human police partner, was injured in the line of duty and is now desk bound. It’s Chantelle who wants them to “make up” as she realizes Sam is in love with Bobby and she has caused the distance between them. Neither Sam, nor Bobby, knows the other is bisexual. Chantelle encourages their relationship, and once Bobby is honest with himself about Sam, he and Chantelle set out to seduce Sam together. Sam is moody, has low self esteem, and is disbelieving of them wanting to share what they have with him. Trusting Sam with their secret will change all their lives.

I liked all three of these characters, helped by having all three points of view. It does move from care to love quite quickly, but it’s always clear that while Chantelle and Sam are attracted to each other, Bobby is the glue that holds them together, the one they both love best. This is erotic romance, so there is one sex scene after another. Since Bobby is the Alpha canine shifter, there is some knotting involved but all the sex is while they are all in human form.

Mistletoe and Wine is the second story. In order to resolve having three police officers involved with each other in the same precinct, Sam and Chantelle have quit and opened a bar/restuarant together. They have moved away from London to a place better suited to their canine impulses to run in the woods. Bobby is now a country cop. Here the sex gets more intimate. This includes all possible combinations (m/f, m/f/m, m/m/f, m/m) as they work to be a triad and pack. There is quite a bit of violence in this due to a criminal with a grudge.

Paws for Thought is the third story. When they go back to London for a ceremony to honor their old Sarge, Chantelle gets kidnapped. This is also somewhat violent as Sam and Bobby try to find her before something happens to her, and before the police do. Decisions made in the last story and during Chantelle’s captivity prompt changes in their future. I’m trying not to spoil what plot there actually is; I think fans of Kate Douglas’s Wolf Tales series should like this, although this has a bit more depth. The scenes are steamy hot and the care and comfort is clear. The connection between the characters is forged through consent, compromise, and agreement. Although the three plots are simple and obvious, each one serves to move the romantic relationship further along. For erotic romance, I would recommend this. I would say it might be best to read them one story at a time, with breaks, so you can enjoy all the sexy scenes without them getting to be too much.

Cover Design: Written Ink Designs with the image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License. I am assuming the couple is Sam and Chantelle, with the wolf as Bobby in the foreground. I would guess this is meant to represent the first story, as Sam is in uniform, and leaves the police force by the end. I have to say, this cover is a little more sweet than the carnal nature displayed repeatedly in this book.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC  | Amazon

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 248 pages

Published January 12th 2019 by JMS Books LLC
Author(s): Sharon Maria Bidwell
ASIN: B07M6M6BBR

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Ruff Trouble by Sharon Maria Bidwell — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

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