Captain Jonathan Thomsin was the only Captain of Earth’s combined forces to successfully destroy Daranii ships, not by confronting them, but with guerilla warfare. Outraged by Thomsin’s dishonorable tactics, the Daranii demand the captain as part of Earth’s reparations to Daran. Captain Thomsin was given to Daran to protect Earth from Daranii vengeance.
He expected to be tormented by loss and grief.
He expected to be tortured and die on Daran.
He never expected to fall in love.
Noah is at a crossroads in his life. He's an art history major, who's working on his masters degree, but has no way of paying for it. He's been working on getting certified as a sommelier. To earn some extra money over the summer, he's interviewed for a job helping a rich couple, the Cunninghams, with the renovations of the new villa they bought in Italy. He discovers that they don't want him for his art history knowledge, but for his wine acumen.
Christian Caravelli has been drifting through life with no special plan. He's still living with his parents in Miami, but their arguing has led them to the point where a divorce seems inevitable. He decides to spend some time with his grandfather in Italy. When his grandfather falls and breaks his leg, he realizes he'll be unable to do the renovations on the villa he's been commissioned to work on, so he tells Christian that he'll have to do the work.
This sets up Noah to meet Christian when he arrives at the villa. Both points of view are used, and we see how both are attracted to each other. Along with the uncertainty of, is he gay or not? There is also the question of whether or not the other man finds him attractive. Noah has always been the shy, nerdy guy who is hesitant to take chances. Christian has always been the easy-going sexy man who's never been at a loss for men who want him. Over time, both men realize that not only are they both smitten with each other, but that there is the tantalizing possibility that this relationship could lead to more. Both have to be willing to sacrifice and change their future plans.
This was an enjoyable read. I also like learning about wines, and there were bits of knowledge about Italian wines tossed into the story. Since Italian reds are my favorite, I was pleased. I enjoyed the slow build-up to the sex scenes, since good sex starts in the mind, and both men have quite an imagination. This is a fun way to spend a couple of hours, pretending you're in Italy with Noah and Christian.
Robyn is a curator of historical artifacts. Somewhere along the line she met and married Maxim Vallois. He is a vampire who hunts vampires who are still old-fashioned enough to kill humans. Maxim's job is often dangerous, so he doesn't usually tell Robyn much about it. Centuries ago, the fae, the werewolves and the vampires decided to appear to humans as themselves, and attempt to coexist with them. A huge part of that was that they needed to police their own, so that humans aren't considered "food" anymore. Of course there are humans who still want to hunt and kill paranormals. In fact, Maxim had an affair with a British woman who came from a family of hunters. When she was injured, she chose to die rather than allow him to bring her into eternal life as a vampire. But their child, a dhampire (half-human, half-vampire) named Heath, still lives with Maxim. In fact, he's part of the comedy relief, since he refers to his father as "the old bat."
The plot of this story involves a mummy being delivered to the office where Robyn spends her days cataloging and displaying the artifacts that Maxim has bought over the years. When she finds the mummy in a big box, she's intrigued by the oddities surrounding it. Robyn seeks to have it examined by experts which is of course, a huge mistake, since it's a vampire mummy, who is totally upset that he's been forced to endure the centuries living only in his own mind, thirsting for revenge. He recognizes Robyn as a "shaman," which is never mentioned by anyone else, so I suspect that will be part of the story in future books in the series.
When I was done with this book I was smiling. Then I realized that I've done that each time I've read one of Alexa Piper's books. The word that sprang to my mind was "frothy" but now I realize that her writing style is like that of the old romantic comedy movies that used to star Cary Grant. The hero is undeniably sexy, but he's also urbane and suave. He's smooth as silk, and he adores his chosen female to distraction. The heroines are smart and independent, while head-over-heels in love with their man whatever species he happens to belong to. The stories are fun to read because of the easy relationship between the characters, and how much they enjoy each other. That makes me enjoy reading about them.
Prince Raven of Dark Sphere has more power than anyone else around him has ever known. But when the traditional fortune-teller attended his birth, she predicted that he would lead his people to the destruction of their world. So he's been shunned his whole life. He's now in his early twenties. He's only got a very few real friends, since his tragic reaction years ago to discovering that his family had been slaughtered in an attempt to get him to return to Dark Sphere, so he could be killed. His emotions and his power combined, and he's been depressed about it ever since. He puts strong metaphysical chains around himself at least twice a day, to try to keep himself sane.
Veracity is the third child of a king and queen whose other two children will not be inheriting rule over their planet, C7. Her brother, Prince True, died in a tragic accident. And her older sister, Whimsical, Whimsy for short, fell in love with Gaedrian and ran off to marry him. He's a prince also, but not the one her parents had chosen for her. So Veracity is determined to make her parents happy. Unfortunately, the man they've chosen to unite her with is boring beyond belief. The only man her heart wants is referred to only as Dark. And he's barely acknowledged her existence. When her sister's twins turn three, there is a huge birthday celebration. Since Gaedrian is one of Dark's only friends, she knows he'll be at the party. She decides to throw herself at him, to try to get his attention. And somehow, she has to get rid of her betrothed.
I was so captured by this story that I had to keep reading long after I should have gone to bed. Dark is sent on a perilous assignment, and Veracity is determined to prove her love for him, so she decides to stow-away on the ship he travels in. Dark has been keeping his strong feelings for her to himself, because of his mistaken belief that no one so pure and beautiful could love a monster like him. He suffers eloquently. But little-by-little, she wins his trust. Since she's a virgin, once again there is the required deflowering scene, where she suffers minimal discomfort after he pleasures her with his tongue. But for all of his talk of how violent his urges are, and how afraid he is that he'll hurt her, he proves to be such a considerate lover that I wanted to join her in yelling at him--"I won't break!"
They have many adventures before they realize their HEA, but when Prince Raven is finally able to undo what he had done so many years before, I was thrilled for the relief he felt. And when you care about the characters that much, you really enjoy reading the book.
Trent is an out-and-proud gay man who has had a few one-night stands, where he's always been the top, but he's never met anyone he wanted more from--nor has he ever felt he needed to. He's got a best friend from grade school named Candace, who is a lesbian. They've always supported each other through whatever life throws at them. Trent likes his job, owns a small, rundown house in a town so tiny that no one locks their doors. And he keeps three chickens in his backyard--he calls them his ladies.
One night when Trent's walking home from his job in a blinding rainstorm, a flashy Corvette almost slams into him, managing to splash him from the deep standing water it must have been swerving to avoid. He watches in shock while it smashes into a parked car. He runs to the wreckage, and pulls out a strikingly attractive man who is everything Trent has ever wanted. And since his car needs to be towed then fixed, and there's no hotel/motel or Uber in town, he needs a place to spend the weekend. Trent offers his house, then starts to stress, wondering if he'll be able to keep his hands off his houseguest.
Ian is a man so deeply in the closet that even his best friends don't suspect he's got anything to hide. But he joins Trent in the tiny shower, and over the weekend, they make spectacular use of Trent's bed, his sofa, his shower, etc. After so many days of continuing passion, Trent finds himself falling for Ian, even though Trent lives in Canada, and Ian in the USA--Miami, to be exact. But Ian is also keeping a secret from Trent--which leads to a fight due to a misunderstanding, and Ian leaves on bad terms.
This is a very realistic and graphic story about two men who don't want or expect to, falling in love so deeply that they can't help hurting each other, because of the stress of Ian's job--and a few instances on both Trent's and Ian's part, of jumping to erroneous conclusions. We know they'll end up together, but in-between the falling in love and the HEA, there is angst and suffering, along with some humor--mostly from Trent's relationship with Candace--and with his totally accepting, but over-bearing mother. There are also many steamy moments that are described in such detail, I was sure the author was a man--until I read the bio at the end. You'll laugh at the funny parts, feel Trent (and Ian's, and Candace's) pain while they suffer. And you'll get turned on by the frequent sex scenes. But you'll also enjoy this book a lot--I did.
Charlotte (Charlie) Bisset was born to a witch family, but has no magical power at all. She's a sexy librarian who has not just one, but two devoted men. I use "men" loosely, since Dr. Hugo is a centuries-old vampire, and Laurette is Elven royalty with untold power. He's also a devoted baker who takes up knitting in this book. Charlie has been to Hell and back, literally, (Elvenswood Tales 2) with Laurette, and she's still enthralled with the knowledge that both of these sexy guys love only her--well, she's their only female lover.
Seems that Dr. Hugo and Laurette have been besties for many years, but their relationship was never physical until Charlie came into the picture. Now she's got her reverse harem to enjoy, and when she's not available or the mood strikes them, (which is often--these folks are mighty lusty!) the two guys will eagerly pleasure each other.
The plot of this book, the third in the series, involves unnatural vermin attacks in Elvenswood. Seems there is a protective spell woven on the museum at the center of town, which was built and maintained by the earliest elves to live there, to show their devotion to their human lovers. When evil bunnies start chomping on innocent folks, then rats, frogs, and chickens get into the act, Laurette is determined to get to the bottom of this, because it's upsetting Charlie--and that can't be allowed. It's also spring, and Dr. Hugo wants to go on the yearly Easter Egg Hunt run by the local witches.
Please, ignore the cover of this book. It doesn't begin to capture the fun of reading these stories! Even the supporting characters are well-drawn--a couple just for comedy relief. The plots are secondary to the relationship between the folks in this triad. Hugo isn't possessive, but Laurette is--of both of his lovers--whom he dresses in his royal house colors when they go to the hunt, so everyone will know they both belong to him. I thought he was overbearing when I first started reading these books. But he's the perfect foil for Charlie and Hugo, who need to be reminded that human concerns are not all they should be involved with. And no review can be complete without mentioning the smokin' hot sex scenes! These three are lusty to the max, and hot for each other--which manifests itself in frequent steamy encounters that will convince you that maybe, just maybe, it really IS possible for a triad to be successful. Now where can I find me a vampire and elf to make MY dreams come true?
Layla is still learning how to be a witch, under the sporadic tutelage of her bonded lust-demon Ink. She's always been dyslexic, so reading her spell book, which apparently only she can read, is difficult for her. She's learning by the seat of her pants, as monsters keep creeping into her life, and she has to draw wards and learn spells on the run, to stay alive. But she has Ink to satisfy her every desire--practically as soon as she thinks it.
She also has Cal, her boyfriend. She'd lusted after him for many years, while they were in a study group for the nursing classes they're both taking. Finally they both seized the opportunity to make things reality--while she was learning all about his past, and his horrible upbringing in a werewolf pack known for the cruelty of its leader--his father. He's been spectacularly endowed by nature with an 8-pack of abs, despite his diet of junk food--and a male member she describes as being the size of a coke can. Um, yeah. Lots of lube required, as you discover in a very hot scene early in this book!
I've enjoyed all of the stories in this saga, including the two short stories she's published. Now it's starting to seem like Layla is collecting males like a queen bee. They all gravitate to her, falling in love with her, despite her being convinced that she's unlovable, due to her awful childhood. But she really loves sex, and the men are all too willing to pleasure her, for their mutual benefit. Phew! I love a heroine who can indulge her every desire, heedless of societal rules. In this book, Layla is almost stymied when she starts lusting after a ghost--who seems to be able to help her by reading her spell book to her. Ink dismissively refers to him as a whisper, or a memory. Is he jealous? Perhaps. But Cal isn't worried--she can't touch the ghost and he can't touch her--right? So there's no harm in her working with him to discover who killed him many years ago. The harm becomes apparent little-by-little, and the author makes sure that you'll enjoy every minute! If you like paranormal romances and/or reverse harem stories, you must read this book! (Then you'll want to go back and start with Ink, then read the other two in this series.)
Ava apparently doesn't know just what she is, but she does know it's not human--even though that's what she looks like. She has snark and sass to spare, along with abilities that sometimes manifest that let her know that there's a lot her grandmother never told her about her background. Both of her parents are long-dead, and her grandmother is MIA, so there's no one left to ask. When this book opens, she's in Hell. Seems that Lucifer put some kind of mark on her in the first book, and it means she's been summoned to meet him in his palace. In Hell. But he didn't provide her with an easy route, since she appeared on the outskirts and has to undertake a long and perilous journey to get to him.
Ava has four big, strong men to accompany her--each with their own special abilities. Hunter is a hell-hound whose real shape resembles a dragon made of fire and smoke. He's from Hell and likes it there, so he's a great guide for them. Kase is a very old vampire who has been to Hell many times. Grant is a mage who can work enchantments to protect Ava, or to repel some of the demons they meet. He's been to Hell often to get supplies for his spells. Troy is a werewolf who hates what he is, and is the closest thing to a mortal of the bunch of them--besides Ava.
I don't usually like to read a series book without having read the previous book(s), because you often have trouble with what you missed. This one was fairly easy to follow, once I wrote down the men's names and what they were. The author does a fabulous job of creating the reality that is Hell. Her world-building involves imagining creatures that live there, and places for them to live in. I was interested in her view of Hell that didn't involve myths or religion in any way--it's just a horrible place to live in, and not so great to visit--unless you were born (?) there, like Hunter.
Each of the men is very attracted to Ava, and she likes sex, so whichever one is interested is okay with her. There are reasons for her having to have sex with various combinations of the men together, or singly, and I was on board with that. The descriptions were steamy and satisfying--except for one thing. I detest the "c" word in romance. I employ that word as my ultimate swear, using it sparingly, only when extreme situations call for it. I'm always pulled out of a sex scene when it's used as a common word, as if it has no special meaning--just a description of a body part. So despite the steamy scenes, I can't give this a higher rating on the steam factor, because of my personal "ick" factor. If it doesn't bother you, then you'll really enjoy the steamy scenes--especially as a counter-point to all of the ugly grossness of the inhabitants of Hell.
Maggie was only 18 years old when the world changed. Overnight, large swaths of the world's population died--presumably from some kind of virus. She lost both of her parents to it. She's spent the past 3 years staying out of everyone's sight. She's traveled alone, keeping herself alive by sheer strength of will, and her wits. But her luck runs out when she encounters the first man she's seen. He's a lower-level lackey for someone, so when he overpowers her, he tells her he's going to "gift" her to the guy in charge, so he'll be forgiven for his mistakes. But when she sees him, she's shocked.
Clay Knight was a high school History teacher in his previous life. Now he's the leader of a rag-tag group of folks who depend on him to keep them safe. But years ago he was tempted for the only time in his life, to date a student. Maggie's curves imprinted themselves on his mind, and she's all he's thought about for the past 3 years, while he turned down any other females who offered themselves to him. When she's thrown at his feet as an offering, he's not interested in her mind. He just wants what he's desired for years.
This book's first sex scene is a virgin-being-deflowered one--which I don't care for. The females who've presumably never even touched themselves before, suffer only a minimum of pain, before they're screaming out their ecstasy as they experience multiple orgasms. I guess this is a fictional story, after all. But this was an interesting look at a possible dystopic future society. The journey that the small band of survivors take is similar to the journey of emotional rescue that Maggie and Clay experience. They both come to realize that despite their age difference, they are perfectly suited to each other. They've found a home in each other's hearts just like they find a place to call home for their people.
Princess Ellegra is chafing at all of the rules she must follow as a princess. Most of all, she's tired of being watched all of the time--she wants to experience a little spontaneous fun. So she disguises herself while she and her entourage are visiting another planet, and goes for a stroll along the beach. When a sexy man assumes she's been sent to pleasure him, she's smitten with his smoldering looks, so she plays along with him. But the deed once done, cannot be undone.
Xandore is the Prince of Planet Artemis. He knows what he must do, and a politically-advantageous marriage has been arranged for him. It will benefit his planet as well as that of the Hesperians. He's willing to marry the princess, but has no plans at all to be monogamous. He's thoroughly enjoying being single, and sees no reason to stop taking mistresses, just because he has to marry and produce offspring with a chosen wife. He just hopes she won't be too hideous, and won't ask too many questions when he's off pursuing his pleasure elsewhere.
When Ellegra and Xandore meet each other, they realize that their dalliance set them up for more steamy encounters. The courts of both planets are pleased that these two seem to be so hot for each other. But Ellegra has heard all about Xandore's wanton ways, and refuses to look the other way, or to forgive him any straying. So there's a huge fly in the ointment of their pleasure together. Through a series of events, Xandore comes to realize he doesn't need other women, since his wife is more than enough woman for him from now on.
I really dislike virgins-being-deflowered scenes. There is always just a quick pain that disappears instantly, allowing for the formerly-virtuous woman to start enjoying sex like she's been doing it for years. How a female who hasn't ever even pleasured herself, can suddenly become like a cat-in-heat is beyond me. So for me, the initial sex scene wasn't believable. That being said, this is a cute short romance that involves a female forcing her man to accept that now that she's his wife, he has to accept that his days of fooling around are over. And she gets the benefit of his years of experience in pleasuring females. Win-win for both of them.
Mallory Kane feels her life's calling is to insert herself into very dangerous hot-spots around the world, then write about them. She wants to expose all of the evils being done, and has made a name for herself with best-selling books doing just that. Five years ago she was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and figured her time had run out. But a team of Navy Seals took on the very dangerous assignment to rescue her. And while she was waiting for the helicopter, in a cave with one of the Seals, she obeyed her instincts and had a hot, steamy interlude with that man. Then she never saw him again.
John "Rocket" Hardin is the Navy Seal who was in the cave with Mallory--a fact that his dreams have never let him forget. Five years later, he's now an ex-Seal, but he and his buddies formed a top secret organization that's the last resort when impossible things need to be done. When a US Senator calls him seeking his services, he's initially going to refuse. He and his buds haven't even had a chance to shower from their last assignment. But Senator Alicia Kane she tells him that her sister, Mallory Kane is in huge trouble and she's moved heaven and earth to get his contact information to engage his services. Rocket tries to ignore his hard cock, but the little brain in it is a large part of why he agrees to take on this near-impossible mission.
I would have liked to learn more about each of these characters. Sure, Mallory likes danger--so much so that it turned her on to be rescued, and led to mind-blowing sex with one of the Seals who saved her butt. But why? Is she an adrenaline junkie? If so, I'm not sure that settling down with any man, staying in any one place, is going to make her happy. She hints that she's proving herself, but she never gets around to revealing to whom, or why. Rocket has major hots for Mallory, but knows almost nothing about her--and she knows as little about him. He doesn't even tell her how he got his nickname. Good sex is an important part of a good relationship--but it can't be the only thing.
Speaking of sex, there are a few very hot scenes, despite--or maybe because of--all of the dangerous situations they get into. Their scorching hot desire for each other is steamy to read! My only complaint is that during their first encounter, she's been held captive for who knows how long, by the Taliban. No doubt she's not been allowed to brush her teeth or shower. In fact, she's probably been forced to use whatever primitive bathroom facilities are available--if there even are any. Yet Rocket is so turned on by her that he's gung-ho to perform oral sex on her, and raves about how delicious she smells and tastes. Um--yeah. At least when he rescues her the second time, she's been showering occasionally.
And the drug-lord bad guys on Santa Marita, the island she's been scoping out for her next book, talk a good game about how truly evil they are--but end up being paper tigers. The ending is a bit too convenient, as if now that the besotted couple is reunited, there's no need for any more trouble on the island. Everything is settled in the happy ending. But I can't help wondering how long it will take before Mallory sneaks away to another hot spot for her next book. Good thing her man is in the rescue business.
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