Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Softpaw (Smilodon Pride Book One) by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus

Title: Softpaw (Smilodon
Author: Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus
Purchase at Amazon 
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
(Preorder, available July 14, 2016)
Cover Artist: Natalia Nesterova
Genre: paranormal, shifter
Length: 78,000 words
Formats Mobi, epub, PDF, print

Connor’s life used to be the dream of any cultured werecat. He spent his days in Paris’ gay quarter with comfortably little real work, playing the piano, surrounded by art, fine food and good friends. Now, a feral vampire preys on the prostitutes of ‘his’ quarter, killing the boys of the Marais one by one.

When Connor invites a newly arrived hooker to stay on his houseboat, the last thing he expects is Michel to be a member of the Brigade Criminelle - a troubled, hunky rookie cop sent undercover to explore Connor’s connection to the murders, picked mostly because he had been a boy of the Marais himself, not so long ago.

Hiding their true natures becomes a problem for both when their initial attraction becomes much more than they ever thought possible. But in order to bring down the serial killer and maybe have a chance at making their relationship work out, one of them will have to take the first, critical leap...

This book had me at the title - how could I resist a smilodon shifter? Connor was everything I hoped he would be and more, a man of culture and a saber-toothed panther. Michel, the hooker turned cop, was equally amazing, with his history, his climb to a better life, and his doubts about himself, his mission, and his new companion.

The prose was beautifully evocative, putting us right into the heart of Paris, from elegant offices to dank alleys, zinc rooftops, and the smoke filled clubs where aging torch singers put on their drag and mesmerize the audience. I felt transported, every bit as much as in the Maigret detective novels. Certain turns of phrase added to the effect, perfectly understandable but just a little strange to the ear, a "foreign language translated" effect. The few words of French make sense in context even if you don't know them as I did not.

There is a murder mystery here too, perfectly mysterious to those who don’t believe in vampires, and chilling to those who do. Connor believes, and his midnight patrols to protect the streetwalkers put him front and center as a suspect. His shifting form is just as unimaginable to the police as the undead.

Connor is a lovely character, with his very mixed heritage (he spent his extreme childhood as a kitten), his dark skin and thin dreads, and beautiful erudition. His music and understanding of art transfix Michel as much as his sensuality. Particularly excellent is that Michel sees him as a complete person, not as a fetishized collection of physical traits. He lives on a houseboat on the Seine, which can't possibly get more romantic.

Michel knows less of the City of Light than does this American transplant: for all that he grew up in Paris, his experiences were of the seamier side rather than high culture. He’s been through the streets, paying for his addictions with his body, and only the intervention of Captain Thierry Plouescat gave him the chance to redirect his life. Now, in his first case, he’s faced with going undercover in the very life he escaped.

The story itself pits the two men against each other in every way—Connor wishes to protect this crazy prostitute from the evil force Michel courts so blatantly, while Michel still cannot rule out the man who’s stealing his heart as a murder suspect. The heat between them is enough to scorch the ereader, while the trust between them is chilly enough to crack the screen. They must come together in spite of their shock at each other's true roles in this dangerous game.

I tried very hard to read this book in one sitting, and I think I’ve found my newest auto-buy authors. Connor's litter has 3 siblings, and I hope they all get stories! 5 marbles

Monday, June 27, 2016

Perilous by Cari Z

Title: Perilous
Author: Cari Z
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks 
Cover Artist: Aria Tan
Genre: Historical
Length: 43K novella
Formats Mobi, epub, pdf

In 1803, England declares war on France, staking the fates of two mighty empires against one another. Thousands of men serve in the British navy, hungry for distinction in the battle against Bonaparte.

One of them, Lieutenant Thomas Williams, thinks he knows what he wants out of life: prize money at sea, a career of decent note, and the means to maintain his independence when he leaves the navy. What he finds is service under Captain Christopher Knightly: a tactical genius, inveterate charmer, and the youngest son of a wealthy noble house.

Their unexpected and perilous love affair is a gamble against the odds, for in a time of war, nothing is sure to last. If the French don’t tear them apart, one slip in front of the wrong eyes or ears might. When the demands of Christopher’s family take him from Thomas’s side, he thinks it might be the best thing for his captain. Little does Tom realize just how far Christopher will go to return to him, and when life takes a turn for the worse, how much further he will go to save him.

I do love some Hornblower and Jack Aubrey, and also some Alex Beecroft and Charlie Cochrane, but let me say right now that Perilous fits in with this company!

Cari Z gives us a perfectly plausible way to get our two characters together, and to let them have some stolen moments of happiness. While Captain Knightly is aboard, the endless blockade work and the stealthy attacks on the French have panache and derring-do. And the celebrations afterward have to be very, very quiet, because an 18 gun sloop is a very small ship!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Let Me Explain! A Ficlet from Clare London

“Charlie! Let me explain!”

I had to turn back and look, didn’t I? I mean, the guy had an accent that’d cut through a football crowd on match day. Anyone would have to listen to those sexy syllables, me included. Especially the way he rolled “Char-lie!” over his tongue like the sweetest, honeyed schnapps.

Didn’t have to like it, though.

I paused on the pavement outside his Knightsbridge flat, the sky still tinged Wedgewood-blue at this early hour of the morning. Took a deep breath. Glanced up to his third floor window.


Friday, June 24, 2016

The Clockwork Menagerie by Elliot Cooper

Title: The Clockwork Menagerie
Author: Elliot Cooper
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Aria Tan
Genre: Steampunk
Length: 13500 words

Autosmith Clement Dyer wants to create his life-like, mechanical animals in peace. He’s tired of being badgered about selling his business to his long-time rival and former lover, Duke Goodwin. He also craves appreciation for his living works of art.

Unfortunately, not all of Clement’s clients see his clockwork creations the way he does, and a prominent but dissatisfied customer threatens to sink his struggling business into the ground.

I do love steampunk, so Clement’s mechanical animals attracted me right away. That and the luscious cover, which = niiiice. The romance isn’t wound quite as tightly as the clockwork kitty which opens the story.

The poor cat vomiting machine oil is amusing for the reader, less so for the owner, and not at all for Clement, who hasn’t been able to do much new work given the constant repairs. His shop is sinking from such issues: he’s a gifted inventor but not as fine a businessman, and his travails take up a fair amount of the slender word count.

His rival, Duke Goodwin, has a yen for the inventor, but shows it badly, forever running into Clement’s prickliness, which is fairly understandable. He’s clumsy at courting, and manages to offend more than appeal. Only a triumphal revelation and some amazing self-examination on Clement’s part let them get past the truly astonishing ways Duke puts his foot in his mouth. The level of relationship goes from a one time lapse in judgement between rivals to quite affectionate. A little more development here would have been welcome.

Steampunk requires a sense of time and place to really shine: here we’re given “Victorian England” but without firm grounding in the society and the mores, or, unfortunately, the language. A great deal of modern sensibility and slang mix in, leaving the story somewhat adrift. While I was pleased all worked properly in the end, the mechanism of getting there was a bit creaky. 3 marbles

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016

Beauty Inc. by Tara Lain: Blog Tour with giveaway and review

Is beauty only skin deep?

Chemist Dr. Robert “Belle” Belleterre loves flowers, green trees, his best friend Judy, and “his baby”: the new face cream he developed to help put his father’s small cosmetics company on the map. Sadly he gets no help from his alcoholic, gambling-addicted father who loses Belle in a poker game to Magnus Strong, the CEO of Beauty, Inc. the largest American cosmetics company—a man infamous for his scarred ugliness.

Belle finds himself uprooted from his home, living in a wildly crazy apartment in New York owned by Mr. Pennymaker, and completely unprepared for his mad attraction to the charismatic Strong. Feeling like a traitor, Belle fights his passion only to see more and more of the goodness and humility hidden by Strong’s ugly face. But when Belle’s family starts manipulating his life again, the odds turn against happiness for beautiful Belle and his beloved beast.

Available for purchase at 



 Magnus stared at the photo he kept in the top drawer. Quit being sappy. Still, helping Judy Brancoli brought it all back. He sighed. A good reason to stick with other philanthropies.
 Is someone here?
 He looked up just as Belle stepped into his doorway. His heart skipped. What did Belle’s expression mean? Confusion? Anger? Hope? “Hello.”
 Belle swallowed hard. “Are you the one who called Judy last night?”
 Okay, what had he done now? “Uh, yes. I—I thought—it was so late, and no one else was here.”
 “You had a ticket waiting for her at the airport and got Leroy to meet her?”
 “And gave her a job and insurance?”
 “I talked to HR, yes.”
 Some huge storm battled behind Belle’s midnight blue eyes. He didn’t seem to be able to catch his breath. He just gasped and clutched his chest. Magnus stood. “Are you okay? Can I get you water?”
 Suddenly Belle took off like a gazelle that had spotted a lion—except he ran to the lion. In three bounding steps, he crossed the office and hurled himself at Magnus. Before Magnus could prepare, a tall, slim body hit him full force, arms wrapping around his neck. “Thank you. Thank you. Oh my God, how can I ever thank you?”
 Magnus lost his balance and staggered, arms coming around Belle, falling until his butt hit the office chair, which rolled back. They smacked the wall with Belle sprawled on his lap. He gasped for breath, and the exhale came out as a laugh. It was like having the world’s cutest dalmatian on his lap—a dalmatian he’d like to kiss and embrace and otherwise manhandle. Dream on.
 Belle kept hugging and muttering, “Thank you. Thank you.”
 Magnus adjusted Belle a little so he was actually sitting on Magnus’s lap but didn’t make a big enough thing out of it to scare him off. Hell, this was a moment to savor and prolong.
 Finally Belle stopped wiggling, which was good, since the vibration was getting to Magnus’s cock. Belle stilled and seemed to hesitate. Reluctance or embarrassment? He sat back and looked into Magnus’s face. “Hi.”
 “Hi.” Magnus couldn’t help smiling, even though the effect wasn’t really friendly. “I’m very glad you’re happy.”
 “No one’s ever done such a wonderful thing for me before.”
 Magnus tried to be corporate and fatherly—very challenging in his current position. “It’s the mission of this company to help women.”
 “Yes, but this was very personal. I’ll be grateful all my life.”
 “I’m glad.” His heart beat so hard they both should have been able to hear it.
 Belle looked down at where he was firmly planted on Magnus’s lap. “I guess I was a bit more enthusiastic than I planned.”
 “You don’t hear me complaining.”
 Belle slowly looked up at Magnus’s face, which made Magnus want to cringe or hide. Too close. Belle cocked his head and inspected every inch of Magnus’s ruined landscape of a face. Slowly, he leaned forward and kissed the scar across the bridge of Magnus’s nose. He whispered, “In for a penny—” and his mouth moved south until he kissed the distorted corner of Magnus’s mouth.

Cryselle's Review

This latest reworked fairy tale from Tara Lain gives us a Beauty and the Beast with sweet, manipulated “Belle” and a wounded but goodhearted “Beast.” Tara Lain treats some heavy subjects in here, but with a light enough hand that the read doesn’t bog down in moralizing.

You know from the blurb that Belle’s family is screwed up beyond belief if his father can use a son as a wager and expect to pay off. Belle himself has a very strong sense of right and wrong, which he must have learned from his late mother, because the rest of the family certainly doesn’t have any. Fortunately, Magnus isn’t expecting favors, just the brilliance of a prodigy of a cosmetic chemist.

We’ve all known how this story ends since we were six, so here it’s the getting there that’s the fun. The author calls in Mr. Pennymaker, a cheerful meddler of a landlord and confidant, who shows up in other books in the series to help matters along, a la fairy godfather. Here his sage advice comes as probing questions to make the other characters think more deeply, and we should all have such a kind and level headed friend.

While we would all love to believe that we can see beyond the surface, the truth is so many people don’t look. Magnus, with his craggy, scarred features, doesn’t fare well in the gay dating market, and being in the cosmetics industry he stands out even more. Strength of personality he has in spades though, and the kind of heart that sees what needs doing plus the resources to make it happen. Even so, he is his own harshest critic.

The road to the happy ending is strewn with the speedbumps that come of this setup, plus the issues that arise with other secondary characters, some sweet, some snakes. It’s all woven together with one of the funniest, oddest sex scenes I’ve ever read.

A major subplot involves the health of someone dear to Belle, and while this was in the main done well, a few aspects of it pinned my personal rage-meter. I actually had to put the book down for a bit because of this, and many readers won’t have all the issues I did. However, it did fling me out of the story for a while, and I had to remind myself this was a fluffy read, not a serious read, before I could finish the book. I would say this is all on me except that the primary issue touches the lives of so many women and some of the details are important to me but not necessarily to others.

Even so, this is a sweet and heartwarming story with a familiar framework, with right and kindness and love winning, exactly the sort of read that can rescue a down day. 4 marbles

The Pennymaker Tales Series

Sinders and Ash
(The Pennymaker Tales Series, #1)
by Tara Lain

Available for order at 


Driven Snow

(The Pennymaker Tales, #2)
by Tara Lain

Available for purchase at 

About the Author

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

You can find Tara at



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Thursday, June 16, 2016

A picture is worth...

Insert some awful puck jokes if you like but doesn't this set the stories jangling in your head? Maybe someone will tell us.  100-1000 words of ficlet or excerpt. Come on, melt the ice.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Jacob Flores has gone Undercover!

Undercover Boyfriend 
(One Fine Day Series #1)
by Jacob Z. Flores


Two men, one lie, and a whole bunch of trouble.

Marty Valdez is in serious trouble. His sister’s wedding is around the corner, and everyone expects to meet Marty’s super-successful underwear model boyfriend—whom Marty invented. Now Marty has to produce a half-naked hottie or suffer the worst humiliation of his life.

FBI agent Luke Myers is in serious trouble. He’s been working undercover to take down a dangerous drug cartel, but his cover’s blown and he needs to disappear. Luckily, a geeky yet intriguing comic book artist gives him the perfect opportunity. Luke just has to pretend to be his boyfriend, and pretending is what he does best. But between Marty’s mother and his ex, Luke might’ve bitten off more than he can chew, and Marty’s knack for finding trouble might ruin more than just his sister’s wedding.

Release Date
Wednesday, June 15, 2016 

Available for pre-order at 

Available in paperback


The Fake Boyfriend Trope

Hi, everyone! I’m so glad to be here at Cryselle’s Bookshelf to promote my upcoming June 16 release of Undercover Boyfriend, the first book in my One Fine Day series, and I have to tell you, this was one of my favorite books to write. Why is that? Well because it involves the classic Fake Boyfriend Trope, one of the plot devices I’ve always loved.

For those of you unfamiliar with this trope, here’s a quick rundown. Basically, two complete strangers or two people who don’t really like each other pretend to be in a relationship in order to survive some potentially devastating event such as a class reunion, a business meeting, or a wedding (like in Undercover Boyfriend). Anyway, while they’re faking their way through one hilarious situation after another, the couple develops real feelings for each other, and even though they don’t see it coming, the audience does.

That’s one of the reasons I love this plot device so much. Characters in these novels normally wouldn’t date each other. They either have completely different personalities, which seem to make them an unsuitable match, or they wouldn’t naturally find themselves in each other’s orbit. However, because of this plot twist, these two characters are thrown together and discover new things about themselves and their “fake” partner.

To me, that’s where the magic of this trope truly begins. As readers, we understand what is happening. We know the characters are going to figure out that they are in love with each other and that they are no longer faking it, but it’s how the characters realize it, that’s important. Characters in a fake relationship plot change in ways neither of them expected just because they moved out of their box for once in their lives.

For someone like me, who is a routine-loving fool, it’s a reminder that doing something we wouldn’t normally do or getting to know someone we might not normally meet could change our lives in ways we could never expect.

About The Author

Jacob Z. Flores lives a double life. During the day, he is a respected college English professor and mid-level administrator. At night and during his summer vacation, he loosens the tie and tosses aside the trendy sports coat to write man on man fiction, where the hard ass assessor of freshmen level composition turns his attention to the firm posteriors and other rigid appendages of the characters in his fictional world.

 Summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, provide Jacob with inspiration for his fiction. The abundance of barely clothed man flesh and daily debauchery stimulates his personal muse. 
 When he isn’t stroking the keyboard, Jacob spends time with his daughter. They both represent a bright blue blip in an otherwise predominantly red swath in south Texas.

You can find Jacob at 



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