Review: “The Alpha King” by Victoria Sue

TITLE: The Alpha King
AUTHOR: Victoria Sue
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Victoriasue.com
COVER ARTIST: Drawn 2 Design
GENRE: Paranormal; MPreg; Fantasy
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 215 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 26, 2017
PRICE: $3.99 -e-book / $9.99 –paperback
  

BLURB:

The Kingdom of Askara has been torn apart by conflict for centuries, where humans exist as subservient beings to their werewolf masters. Legend says it will only be able to heal itself when an Alpha King and a pure omega are mated and crowned together, but a pure omega hasn’t been born in over a thousand years.

Luca is an Alpha-heir eagerly awaiting the choosing ceremony on his twenty-fifth birthday and the gifts granted by whichever omega he mates. His small pack is destitute due to the decisions of its ruling council, but being only an Alpha-heir, he has no authority to challenge them. Not until now—this moment he has waited a long time for.
Kit grew up as a street-rat, an unlicensed human who would never be more than a slave for whichever master owns him. Then one day he came across a young Alpha-heir, attacked and dying of poison, and found out their fates were suddenly entwined.

Luca needs to take over his pack and save his people. He cannot afford to be distracted. But when he meets Kit, he develops abilities indicating he is not just a pack Alpha, but the King his world has needed for a thousand years.

Is Kit really the cause of Luca’s newfound power, the true mate he needs? How is it possible when the young man isn’t even a werewolf, and as merely a human, a mating is not only forbidden, but for Kit, a sentence of death? (WARNING -Contains MPreg)


jologooptimummI was entranced by this book. It gripped my imagination right from the start and didn’t let go until the end, it’s action all the way, and the emotions it evoked were strong and deep. The story is unique, stunning, intricate and based around discrimination and the plight of a downtrodden minority in the kingdom of Askara where werewolves rule and the humans are second class citizens. That sounds depressing but don’t let that put you off, it isn’t, it doesn’t diminish the awesome, fully developed characters and intriguing plot which, despite the trials the characters go through, is essentially uplifting.

Luca is the perfect alpha with just the right amount of flawed judgment to make him real and with loads of love and compassion to counteract it. Luca and his unerring desire to do what’s right is one of the drivers behind this book. Kit, what can I say about Kit? He’s strong yet fragile and perfectly adorable! His capacity to suffer for the welfare of others left me breathless at times. The supporting characters are also well developed, and I’d like to hear more from Luca’s sisters and his friend Sam.

The premise of an ancient legend about an Alpha King and a rare, pure omega, born human, is so original, as are many of the other intricacies of the story. The author has created a whole world, complete with its history, to be explored. The situation that has evolved between werewolves and humans is cleverly thought out and plotted and supports the story really well.

The plot revolves around the emergence of a new Alpha King, Luca, after hundreds of years without one and his finding and keeping of his pure omega, Kit. I loved their first meeting when Kit was a 13-year-old human slave, and Luca was dying from poison and the treachery of his twin brother. This early meeting is the prequel to their eventual mating, seven years later, which nearly doesn’t take place! A lot of the emotion and twists in the plot are based around the misunderstandings and miscommunication of the facts surrounding the newly emerged Alpha King and the pure omega. Facts such as the transference of powers, telepathy and the possibility of pregnancy! There is also the chaotic hierarchy and subsequent conflict that exists, in the realm, as a result of history and the truth being buried for so long.

The plot is quite obvious at times with no real twists that I didn’t see coming, but I actually liked that as I could just sit back, read and enjoy it without having to think too much. Perfect. I loved the ending, it tied up all the loose ends for Luca and Kit while cleverly leaving the story of the secondary characters open for further exploration…I hope.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC.  My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “The House the Devil Built” by Benjamin Hively

TITLE: The House the Devil Built
AUTHOR: Benjamin Hively
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Self
COVER ARTIST: Agata Broncel
GENRE: Horror/Thriller
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 187 pages
RELEASE DATE: January 27, 2017
PRICE: $5.94 -e-book / $13.99 -paperback
  

BLURB:

After purchasing a plantation home in the picturesque town of Acadian Springs, Louisiana, in the heart of Cajun country, Ashton and Dillon hoped the peace and quiet of this town would allow them to escape the insanity and problems that had forced them to move from New Orleans. Soon they find themselves facing more than just the problems that had precipitated their move. The hypocrisy and harassment they find from the majority of their new neighbors are a far cry from the sleepy, laid back town they had expected.
Fueled by the strange goings on in their home and the actions of the local townspeople, inner demons begin to manifest into something larger. Ashton, Dillon, and the whole town of Acadian Springs, LA, find themselves fighting against ignorance and morality, pride and prejudices, and eventually, even their own mortality.


jologooptimummIt took a while for me to get into this book but once I did, it was a real page turner. This is a supernatural horror story with an MM twist and a very powerful, emotive plot. Ashton and his husband Dillon have moved to an old plantation house that’s been on the market for a long time. The low price had proved irresistible, but they were never informed why! Ashton has just finished three months rehabilitation for a drink and drug habit brought on by his mother’s death and fuelled by depression. Dillon bought the new house to help them escape the temptation of the city, but the house has an evil history which soon makes itself known. I felt so strongly for these two men, going through so much, yet just wanting to be accepted and live a quiet life.

Terry took over as pastor of the Baptist church in Arcadian Springs from his father, and he has hopes that his son, Luke, will take over from him, though that looks less likely as the years pass. He visits the two men who have moved into the plantation house only to be horrified that they’re homosexual! He believes it’s his duty to rid the town of these abominations against God and he mobilises his congregation to do just that before they can spread their evil into the town. Terry angered me so much with his ego and arrogance that I found it hard to read about his actions against Ashton, Dillon and other innocent victims, and yet I felt compelled, almost, to bear witness to his hateful machinations.

When the front of the plantation house is vandalised with anti-gay graffiti, it falls to the sheriff, Mark, a friend of Pastor Terry to investigate. His investigation of the hate crime makes him question his own beliefs and his understanding of both friends and family. His family is torn apart by Trevor’s actions, and his own changing feelings and in the process tragedy strikes close to home and he’s swept down a path not completely of his own choosing.

The terror at the plantation continues to grow and the pace of the horror story, set against the bigotry of Pastor Terry and the church congregation, builds. This story involves demonic possession, rampant homophobia, and themes that are very emotive and is not for the faint-hearted. It’s not an easy read, but it is compelling. Ashton, Dillon and Mark are set on a course of confrontation amid the tragedy that’s become their lives. The tension heats up, and the run-up to the climax of the events had my emotions working overtime and my heart in my mouth. The outcome is absolutely right for the whole tone of the book although it’s not a totally comfortable conclusion, but there are no loose ends. I can recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t mind being swept away on a tide of strong emotions.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC.  My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “Dinner at the Blue Moon Cafe” by Rick R. Reed

TITLE: Dinner at the Blue Moon Cafe
AUTHOR: Rick R. Reed
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Aaron Anderson
GENRE: Paranormal; Shapeshifter
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 206 pages
RELEASE DATE: March 13, 2017
PRICE: $6.99 -e-book
  

BLURB:

2nd Edition

A monster moves through the night, hidden by the darkness, taking men, one by one, from Seattle’s gay gathering areas.

Amid an atmosphere of crippling fear, Thad Matthews finds his first true love working in an Italian restaurant called the Blue Moon Café. Sam Lupino is everything Thad has ever hoped for in a man: virile, sexy as hell, kind, and… he can cook!

As their romance heats up, the questions pile up. Who is the killer preying on Seattle’s gay men? What secrets is Sam’s Sicilian family hiding? And more importantly, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

The strength of Thad and Sam’s love will face the ultimate test when horrific revelations come to light beneath the full moon.


jologooptimummThis book surprised me, pleasantly, as I was expecting something in the normal werewolf, romance spectrum and this was different enough to appeal to me. It’s well written with good character development, both good and bad, and I loved the main characters. Thad is at a loose end, he has no job and no boyfriend. His days are spent with his Chihuahua Edith, and his nights, when he can afford it, hooking up with men in the gay bars of Seattle. Thad decides to break the boredom by going out to a new local Italian restaurant and that’s when his life changes completely. He catches the eye of the owner, Sam, and he’s just Thad’s type, dark-skinned, bearded and ‘furry’ and he’s also an awesome chef! The attraction is immediate but after one night of passion Thad awakes to a note from Sam saying that he can’t afford to get involved right now, it’s complicated. Thad’s devastated. He takes a volunteer job to pass the time, and that’s where he meets Jared who’s definitely interested in Thad, but Thad can’t quite get past the memory of Sam. Jared and Thad strike up an easy friendship, but fate intervenes to bring Sam and Thad back together. They agree to see where things go and that includes Thad meeting Sam’s family. He finds out that Sam has a son, but Sam and his family also have a huge secret. The course of true love definitely doesn’t run smooth.

Meanwhile, Seattle has a big problem. Gay men are being attacked and eaten! I really liked reading the killers POV, it made it real somehow. Jared witnesses an attack which shocks him to his core and word gets out that it could be a werewolf! Thad realises that the attacks take place at the full moon which happens to coincide with when Sam and his family are always ‘out of town’. Thad has his doubts and suspicions, but he just can’t make the leap required to believe what’s really going on. Then Jared is targeted by the killer and only just survives, but his attacker dies setting in motion a series of events that lead to Thad having to accept the truth.

Sam and Thad are perfect for each other, the red-headed, natural ‘bottom’ and the dark, swarthy Italian ‘top’. If only Sam could be open and Thad could suspend belief and be receptive to the truth then maybe they would stand a chance. This book has an original take on the werewolf theme which I liked a lot and the intricacy of the plot, and Sam and Thad’s relationship, kept me hooked to the end. The ending, incidentally, could have gone either way and I didn’t know how it would turn out until the last chapter which is refreshing. I would definitely recommend this book

 4.5 OptimuMM's

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “Ride of Your Life” by Noah Harris

TITLE: Ride of Your Life
AUTHOR: Noah Harris
SERIES: Awakening Desires
PUBLISHER: Books Unite People
COVER ARTIST: Stefan Morgan
GENRE: Paranormal; Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 429 pages
RELEASE DATE: March 9, 2017
PRICE: $0.99 -e-book / $17.99 –paperback
  

BLURB:

Drake is an omega wolf who just wants to be left alone, which becomes difficult when the Alpha of his pack decides he wants him as a mate. Rather than accept, Drake decides to run, and he’s been running ever since. He relishes in the thrill of the wild and the easiness of freedom. When he runs low on cash, however, he makes a snap decision to head down south to participate in an amateur rodeo to earn the prize money. His only problem? He’s never ridden a bull in his life. Luckily, a friendly trucker points him in the direction of a local dude ranch where he can find a teacher.

Gabe has dealt with a lot in his lifetime and lost many he held dear. It left him hardened and with little tolerance for his own kind. Luckily, he’s spent the last decade in a peaceful life on his ranch, with work to keep him busy and his ranch hands to keep him company. He was prepared to live out the rest of his days like this until a storm in the form of a young Omega came hurtling into his life, single-handedly awakening desires that had long been dormant.

Now the two of them have to decide to keep going on the paths they’ve paved for themselves or to take a chance and blaze a new trail.

Disclaimer: Ride of Your Life is a passionate long novel with over 400 pages packed of lovely man on male action. Very steamy M/M eBook for a mature audience ONLY.


jologooptimummWith Ride of Your Life, Noah Harris is returning to his paranormal roots, but with a lot more maturity and skill.

What do you think of when you read cowboy romances? Dude ranches? Alpha men? Horse or bull riding? All those would be expected but what about werewolves, or even…well, I’ll just say another type of paranormal character? Those definitely weren’t on my list until I read this book. Naturally, there’s the usual cowboy action, runaway horses, riding trails and there’s even songs around the campfire, but add in the M/M romance, an awesome paranormal plot with werewolves; then add the well-developed characters, and it’s definitely a winning combination.

Drake is strong willed for an omega, and he likes being alone. He also likes to follow his instincts, but he has a history of running away too. He’s been running from his old pack and more specifically from the Alpha, Julian, for a long time. When Julian finds him, and things get tough, will he run again? Gabe has a tragic past, and as a result, he’s made promises to himself that he fully intends to keep, that is until ‘Hurricane Drake’ hits him and throws his quiet life up in the air. Stan, an old friend of Gabe’s, is the dark horse in this book and revelations about who, or what, he is and his involvement in the plot took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting that!

I also wasn’t expecting the ‘beauty’ of the writing, yes I did say beauty! It’s an unusual term to use to describe books in this genre, but I stand by it. The descriptions of both the action and more importantly the emotions of the characters are ‘beautifully’ written. ‘Drake’s scent was all around and on the wind. He could smell the horses, the earthy scent of dust and sweat and warm bodies. He could smell the smoke from the fire and the remains of their food. He could smell the night air, crisp despite the fading warmth from the sun.’ ‘Those steely grey eyes, usually so hard and sharp, were like molten silver as they reflected the flickering flames of the firelight.’ Wow!

It’s the awesome skill Noah shows with the written word that lifts this book out of ‘normal’. This is much more than a cowboy romance and more than the usual paranormal erotica, it’s emotive and sensual but written without too much sentimentality. It has the usual Noah Harris fingerprints all over it in the well-described characters, paranormal plot twists and of course the build up of the sexual heat and hot, steamy sex scenes. This is not a short story, it’s quite a long but satisfying read. The epilogue cleverly ties up a few questions left unanswered, and it left me feeling sated but also heaving a sigh that I would have to leave Drake and Gabe behind. If you love cowboys and werewolves, this is the book for you. If you’re new to either then I highly recommend this as a first step into the genre, you won’t regret it.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC.  My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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Review: “Wild Instincts” by Ethan Stone

TITLE: Wild Instincts
AUTHOR: Ethan Stone
SERIES: Seaside Shifters Book
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Garrett Leigh
GENRE: Mpreg; Paranormal; Shapeshifter
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 142 pages
RELEASE DATE: March 8, 2017
PRICE: $5.94 -e-book
  

BLURB:

Police cadet and bear shifter Tyson Dakota looks forward to his on-the-job training in Seaside, Oregon, working alongside his cousin, Chief of Police John Dakota. Their goal is to investigate the growing meth epidemic and identify the kingpin bringing the drugs into their community. All signs point to someone inside law enforcement working with the drug traffickers, and Tyson must find out who before the body count gets any higher.

Along the way, Tyson meets Amante, a charismatic and attractive man in town for reasons he doesn’t want to share. Tyson is drawn to Amante despite his secretive ways and is sure there could be more between them than explosive passion, if he could just get Amante to make his stay in Seaside permanent. But when Tyson’s pursuit of justice puts him at odds with Amante, they could lose more than their fledgling relationship.

They could end up losing their lives.


jologooptimumm

Meanwhile, the town of Seaside has a drug problem, and meth is becoming much more common. Tyson’s cousin, John Dakota, is the police chief so, when Tyson shows up for his first day on the job, he gets to see the problem first hand and learns it’s far worse for shifters because of their nature. The two of them become involved in investigating the issue.
Also, adding to the secrets in this story, John’s boyfriend is pregnant, and because seeing a man pregnant would raise a lot of questions, he’s confined to their home. It becomes clear that this is an important and integral part of this story as it unfolds.

The action and plot move fast when Tyson’s estranged father shows up. What’s his connection to Amante? What’s Amante’s connection to the drugs? Is he one of the bad guys or just being pulled along by events outside his control? What’s wrong with Tyson’s mother?
All these questions are answered, and the story is well finished off, including an epilogue which ties up some of the back story. I have to admit, although I loved Tyson, I didn’t really warm up to Amante at the start but, as the story unfolds and his position is explained, he becomes more ‘human’ and likable. The story is a good one and moves at a quick pace, but it’s not a long book.

I finished it in one sitting as I found I really need to know how everything turned out. This book is definitely worth a read, and I’m sorely tempted to dip into the rest of the series.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book***

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