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What is probably the first you notice in Cowboys & Vampires, the first adventure in the Venom Valley series, is the horror: a living dead zombie, a man who is forced to "kill again" the woman he has always considered his mother, the difficult of trying to scind the memories of the good time past and the present horror. Sincerely I'm not a fan of horror stories, so the first instinct should have been to not continue with the reading, but there was something in Josh, an innocence and naivete that was a stark contrast with the horror.

And as soon as Dex enters the scene, I was bought. Josh's secret, the hidden force that linked me to him, was now clear, it was Dex. The boys growing old together, both of them having feeling for each other, both of them not having the courage to say it. But the horrific events, instead of tearing them apart, is the reason to finally come true. The sweetness of their love was the right counterbalance for the horror and the main reason why I wanted to go on and see what happened.

A small warning, Cowboys & Vampires more than a first novel in the series, is a first part of the story, to fully enjoy it you have probably to read it together with the second installment, Stakes and Spurs.

Paperback: 318 pages
Publisher: Wilde City Press, LLC; 2 edition (August 21, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1925031462
ISBN-13: 978-1925031461
Amazon: Cowboys & Vampires/Stakes & Spurs
Amazon Kindle: Cowboys & Vampires: Venom Valley Book One

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Considering the setting, 1799, quite original just like that, and the plot device, a young man sent as endured servant for 5 years, I was expecting for this story to be very gothic like, dark and brooding, maybe even a little dramatic.

So it was with a little surprise that, page after page, I was discovering a romantic story, almost a sweet romance, with a kind Master who seemed more interested in taking care of his servant than using him; my prejudices almost pushed me to believe the Master was some sort of ogre and that he was fattening up the servant, but do not worry, this wasn’t the case.

Anyway, William is really a clever boy, even if only 18 years old, he had already his business as bookseller, but he had bad companies, and he ended up to pay for all his fellow mates. Merrick, his Master, is some sort of hermit, a well-respected apothecary who hides his features behind a cloak he doesn’t remove neither in front of William. But he is gentle and kind, and he treats William in a good way, so much that William starts to believe his bad fate isn’t so bad after all, and even if he has never been interested in men, now that he is in close proximity with Merrick, he is very much attracted by the man: another device plot I was used in my old fashioned romance novels, William falls for Merrick without even knowing his looks, he falls in love for the kind man who is behind the cloak, not for a pretty face.

A some sort of Beauty and the Beast, also here there is a reason for Merrick to hide himself, and William will have to prove that he loves Merrick despite all.

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Kindle: Merrick

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I don’t think it was a chance this novel reminded me of Frankenstein Junior by Mel Brooks, Igor was too much a giveaway, but, considering that was one of my favorite movie when I was younger, it was with a sort of delight I read this book, and this is strange enough to say for a paranormal/horror story.

The Vampire/Werewolf pair was probably the first one I read long ago when approaching the Gay Paranormal Romance genre, but the main big difference in this story is the humor that Rob Rosen is using, a common element in his stories, like, in a way, the drag queens; and one thing is not unrelated to the other, cause Rosen’s humor is as colorful and outrageous like the most beautiful drag queens, in your face, and without any regret. It’s sexy but funny, carelessness but clever.

Jack is a young gay man living in a small Castro apartment; truth be told, he didn’t strike me as the sharpest tool in the lot, right from the first moment when, faced with the chance to become a vampire, instead of running away in the opposite direction, he is lured into it. All right, maybe the lure is exactly the reason why he wasn’t able to go away, but still, it seems events lead him more than him being the leader. And considering he is not only the last of his family, and so in a way, Alpha of his coven, he is also just “mated” with a hot and young werewolf, who happens to be the Alpha of his pack. But nevertheless, Jack is not the “hero”, and I’m pretty sure he would prefer a night out with the girls more than playing the last immortal with the boys. But in him being like this lies all the lightness of this novel and though the reason to enjoy it.

Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: MLR Press (July 12, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1608208788
ISBN-13: 978-1608208784
Amazon: Vamp
Amazon Kindle: Vamp

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Jeff Mann isn’t shy in using a rough imaginary to set his stories, whereas they are in XIX century American frontier, or in XVIII century Scotland, but even amidst the blood and sweat, and tears, you can find the tenderness of two men loving each other.

Angus and Derek are like two halves of the same apple, they were brought up together, Derek the laird’s son, and Angus his second hand, his protector, the one who has to give up his life in case to protect Derek. And he will do. But not only for a born duty, but also cause Angus is deeply in love with Derek and they call each other such, “lover”. The same night Angus is killed, Derek is turned into a vampire, in a ceremony that mixes love and death, sex and rape; yes, it’s rape, even if Derek will enjoy the act, he clearly didn’t want it, he was still mourning the loss of his half soul. That is the tenderness amidst the violence, a Derek in search of vengeance who is asking his sire to not have sex with him, cause, yes, he is in mourn, and he needs the time to heal.

The first story, the making of Derek, is probably the longer, taking half the book; after that we follow Derek in the centuries to come, up until modern time, with Derek paired with an husbear, Matt; not being familiar with the bear culture, it was the first time I “met” a bear bottom: it’s not really a term to describe their preferred sexual position, cause, as Derek said, they switch sometime, but it’s more to describe Matt’s playful attitude, something that remains with him way longer his young age, cause, in the end, Matt is more than 40, but nevertheless, still a bear bottom.

I didn’t really understand the decision of Derek to not turn Matt, they seem happy together. What I can think is that, deep down, Derek is still in love with Angus, a man that was totally opposite to Matt, in a way, Matt is to Derek, what Derek was to Angus, and so Derek needs someone different than Matt, someone who can be to him what Angus was. Still, deep down, I’m hoping he will change mind.

Paperback: 202 pages
Publisher: Bear Bones Books (August 25, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590213939
ISBN-13: 978-1590213933
Amazon: Desire & Devour: Stories of Blood & Sweat
Amazon Kindle: Desire & Devour: Stories of Blood & Sweat

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The book is a sequel of Bite Club, but it can be a standalone, the main characters from the previous one, ancient vampire Christopher Driscoll, his new lover Troy, and coroner Becky O’Brien, are again together in an investigation, but now it’s not more about vampires, but werewolves… yes, since, after the discovery that vampires exist in Bite Club, gay population of West Hollywood is now threatened by werewolves. And of course there will be a new couple, werewolf Louis and drag queen Carlos/Shanda, so nice and cute as a couple that is a pity they are introduced more or less only half into the story.

The plot is mainly a mix of paranormal/comedy, with a push on the comic/comedy/paradox side, so much that I think the author wanted a little to parody the paranormal genre so much trendy in these past few years. But the character of Louis, an almost idiot savant, taken from his natural habitat and trust in the middle of West Hollywood, is among the most original and refreshing I have found lately in the genre.

For sure one of the main character of the novel is the suburb of West Hollywood; it’s clear the author lives and loves the city, and his able to transmit everything of it, history, planimetry, even the moods and the scent.

The story and plot is engaging, entertaining and very funny, with an ending that is worth of the most classical (West) Hollywood romantic comedies.

Amazon: The Trouble With Hairy (Volume 2)
Amazon Kindle: The Trouble With Hairy (Volume 2)
Paperback: 442 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 9, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1469926970
ISBN-13: 978-1469926971

1) Bite Club:
2) The Trouble With Hairy

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I really enjoyed the third, and for now, last installment in this series, Xavi comes out like this hedonistic, but so cute, top from the bottom character that is able to conquer Andreas’s heart completely and unavoidably.

It can appear that there is no balance between them, like Xavi is almost “forced” to be with Andreas, a feeling that you could have in the previous book, but with this one, you understand that Xavi has chosen to be with Andreas, moreover, he is happy and content; he is like a cat, who has find his home and has always a saucer full of milk cream… why in heaven should he leave all this? And like a content cat, he is more than willing to “purr” for his lover.

I did enjoy the introduction of new myths in the vampire tradition, like the fact that they could bear sunlight, but only to a moderate level: the scene in which Xavi cannot renounce to his tan, willingly subjecting himself to the pain of being under the sun is perfect for his hedonistic character.

Picking Barcellona has setting for the novel is again a perfect choice, the Barrio Antico and the Ramblas are a mix of modern and ancient, that well reflect the development of the story: the time is a near future, 2042, but the theme is a classical gothic one, vampires.

I would dare to say that, while you will for sure enjoying reading the whole series, Fool’s Rush has all the merits to be also a perfect standalone novel.

Amazon Kindle: Fool's Rush (Fool's Odyssey)
Publisher: Manifold Press (May 10, 2013)

Series: Fool's Odyssey Trilogy
1) Fool's Errand:
2) Fool's Oath:
3) Fool's Rush

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Only with an English setting and probably only an English author, or at least one that knows very well the customs of that country, can write a story about tea, crumpets and supernatural being. Location is an small, cold, but homey cottage, the central piece of the story is the restoration of two small Elizabethan portraits too many people want and only one has the right to have.

Robert is a librarian by trade, but an antique paintings restorer by vocation; in today world, that is not an art that will help you making ends meet, and so he parked his dream and left his father’s shop. But now his father is immobilized in an hospital bed and wants for Rob to complete the restoration of what he affectionately calls Ann and Adam, the wedding portrait of a couple of the XVI century. Everyone is captivated by Ann, but actually Rob’s interest is more for Adam, even if he will never say something: Robert, a lover of beautiful things, has the tendency to fall for beautiful chaps who are a little flicky. And it seems he has not learned the lesson cause know he is falling for Fox, his little brother’s friend, a beautiful biker his brother decided has to play the role of Rob’s bodyguard until those valuable paintings will be in the house, only that, instead of being Fox guarding Robert, it appears that Robert spends a lot of time “guarding” Fox’s handsome body.

The pace is slow but not boring; it really aligns with the country setting, the slow pacing rhythms of who works in the antiquity field, where job are done little square by little square, taking weeks if not months. Same is the relationship building between Robert and Fox, which is the focus of the story, so much that, when the paranormal element enters the scene, it doesn’t seem important, or at least, it doesn’t change much the equilibrium Robert and Fox have already reached.

Amazon Kindle: Fox Hunt
Publisher: Manifold Press (May 4, 2013)

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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Vampires, Demons, Angels, Fae people, same old same old you would say, and instead nothing was as expected. The author took the usual characters of paranormal/fantasy romance and intertwined it in a story that was a mix of romance and horror, gothic in a modern setting. The strange mix was also aided by the choice of location, a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, that helped the gothic feeling due to the “being trapped” situation but at the same time was big and modern enough to dispel the haunting and dark. BTW I have the feeling the author did know about cruises since the little details she used were quite right, at least according to my experience.

Silas is a fae with a mission; he is using a glamour to mix among the other passengers, but Rhys seems able to see beyond it; to Rhys, Silas appears with an otherworldly beauty, that is actually his real looks. But also to Silas, Rhys appears “different”, and not only since he is young and cute. There is a mystery in Rhys’s past and apparently Silas has the right answers.

The novel was starting in an “ordinary” way, two men meeting by chance, passions flaring between them, good sex and all; the fact one was a fae, wasn’t particularly exceptional, considering this is a fantasy romance. So yes, I was thinking, good story, nothing out of ordinary. And then the real danger arrives, and more than paranormal is horror, vampires eating human flesh, not only drinking blood; and Silas, the fae, wasn’t cute and pretty, he was dangerous, armed with a sword, and when wounded, he was almost pathetic, gaunt and feral. The author took elements that usually convey beautiful imaginary, and turned them into horrific details, with a mastery that is almost unsettling.

Close Quarter was a surprise and a very good debut novel.

Amazon Kindle: Close Quarter
Publisher: Loose Id LLC (November 13, 2012)

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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Miami Moon is at the same time original and old fashioned. It's old fashioned for the way it looks on the vampire's lair, a den of debauchery where pain is mixed with pleasure and where the kiss of a vampire is both deadly than arousing. It's original for how it plots this novella, starting from the full light of a sunny day in Miami's South Beach to end in the moon light of a cold Chicago's night.

The first scene is like a Playgirl centerfold, an handsome blong guy with an hairless broad chest and beautiful blue eyes is soaking in the sun. Apparently he is like everyone else on that beach, someone who is spending the day lazing on the beach before heading home and probably towards a night of sex and play. But Jason is not like everyone else, he is a man who is running from a destiny that was already planned before he could decide anything; and at the beginning he was all right with it, but then he had a taste of how feeble human life is and of how powerless he was. Now Jason is searching a new meaning for his life and the sunny Miami seems the right place to find it.

In another scene that seems to come out from another glossy '70 or '80 magazine, Jason leads in the water while the sun is melting around, and it's like he is washing away his past and getting ready for what is expecting him that very night. Jason has not even time to get used to the city and the atmosphere that he is swallowed up by the night and thrown out in a vampire's lair.

Again it's like being in a lustful set for an erotic shot: men strutting around in nothing if not studded collars, candlelight, poshy furniture and a vampire master as naked as his thralls: he is alluring and tempting and he is promising something to Jason, the immortality, the lack of which was the first reason why Jason left his old life. And to add a cherry to the top, the immortality comes along with unbelievable sex, something Jason was not yet ready to admit, but that he probably already wanted.

Reading this book, the lasting impression I have is of sex that borders more on being erotic than vulgar, even if it's very detailed. There is a care to details that is clear both in the setting than in the sex scenes, sorry if I go too much into graphic description, but I believe it's the first time that in a sex scene the attention is equally distributed between the balls and its near companion... it really hit me and made me wondered if this is one of that things that let you understand when a sex scene is written by a woman or by a man.

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I stopped reading het romance more or less in 2006, but Sherrilyn Kenyon and J.R. Ward were among the last authors I read in that genre, and I remember I liked them. I especially liked the paranormal genre (while oddly I now prefer the contemporary ones) probably for their alpha male hero, always so strong, always so protective, always so bound to being honorable and right. That is not how Qhuinn and Blay are, or at least not totally; they are not really Alpha males, they are more enoforcerers, and till now they gravitated on the edge of the series, favorites to many readers but never having their own story. On the forums there was speculation they were gays, but the author never really gave them the definitive push, not until the book before this one: from what I gathered (since I haven’t read that one), Blay finally came out, but not to be with Qhuinn, but instead with Qhuinn’s cousin, Saxton; and to make things even more complicated, Qhuinn decides to have a child with a female, even if he didn’t mate with her.

So this is the situation we are when this book starts, and I was not sure I liked it. For Qhuinn and Blay to be together it meant Blay had to betray Saxton, and for what I could say, Saxton was a good man. And Layla, Qhuinn’s Chosen and the mother of his still unborn child? Was it right for her what was happening? And again, she was apparently a good and comprehensive woman, someone who deserved a lover of her own. So yes, I’m not sure why and if there was a reason, but J.R. Ward didn’t pave the path for these two to be together in an easy way, a lot of hurt had to be done and it seemed there was not solution for everyone to be happy.

The plot was running in two parallel but separate ways: one was the center piece story about Qhuinn and Blay, a plot that was introduced in the previous book and that was to find an end in this one; the other was about the ongoing fight of the Brotherhood and the personal target of Wrath to make a better kingdom for everyone to live in. Not having read the previous books (and I strongly suggest to read the summary of all previous books to have an idea of the characters and of what happened before), I have to be sincere, I didn’t care much for the second plot; I mostly focused on Qhuinn and Blay, with some spare interest on Layla, Saxton and John Matthew (actually I was hoping for more on this last supporting character). This story was good, pretty much as I remembered this author was, and the sex scenes were hot, and this statement arrives from someone that usually doesn’t care much for them. In my previous experience with an het romance author trying her hand to a gay romance, the feeling was that she didn’t dare too much in the sex department, but here J.R. Ward was not shy at all. Now don’t get me wrong, she neither went into almost analytical details, and maybe that is a bonus, she cannot go wrong in that way, but for sure she gave these two guys enough time and space to enjoy also the physical side of their relationship.

Amazon: Lover At Last: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood
Amazon Kindle: Lover At Last: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood
Hardcover: 608 pages
Publisher: NAL Hardcover; 1 edition (March 26, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451239350
ISBN-13: 978-0451239358

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

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I picked this title since I wanted to try something by this author, but truth be told I wasn’t expecting much; so it was a more than pleasant surprise to read a thoroughly enjoyable funny romance, sweet but also sexy.

The main theme of this series, of which Custom Toys Made to Order is the first book, is to pair sexually awkward young men with more experienced partner; a group of six friends, Atticus Drake, Thaddeus Young, Nigel Durbin, Brenner West, Cedric Barrows, and Dorian Elder (so I suppose there will be at least 6 books) own and operate Fantasy Creations, a company producing custom made sex toys for paranormal creatures. The strange thing is that all of them are virgins, nerds who have never had a chance to “test” the toys they produce.

Atticus “Atty” Drake meets his mate, vampire prince Salem Constantine and everything seems perfect, if not for the fact that Salem has to marry in less than a month and his consort has to be a vampire. Turning a shapeshifter into a vampire is a cruel thing, an act that can push the newly made vampire into suicide. There is a bit of drama due to this subplot but this is basically a sweet and sexy romance; Atty’s awkwardness is endearing, when his feline comes out he seems more a domestic pet than a wild animal, but nevertheless Salem loves that hidden side of his mate.

I also liked that the play role of both main characters were not rigid; sure Salem is the more experienced partner, and probably the dominant one, but he is not the usual obsolete Alpha male, he is able to be “light” and funny, and to conquer Atty more with tenderness than dominance.

If you enjoy the more lighter paranormal romances, give this author a chance, I bet you will not be disappointed.

Amazon: Custom Toys Made to Order [Sexually Awkward 1]
Amazon Kindle: Custom Toys Made to Order [Sexually Awkward 1]
Paperback: 146 pages
Publisher: Siren Publishing, Inc. (June 20, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1622411897
ISBN-13: 978-1622411894

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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I think the main reason of this novel was to prove how stupid the war is and how rigid the military structure can be, above all if they try to see the world in Black and White.

The main characters of this novel are a group of kids with special powers. I say kids, even if they are probably in their twenties, since I had the feelings all these guys were taken from their family when they were still teenagers and they didn’t have the chance to grow into real adult and above all soldier. When the story starts they are approaching graduation day from the Military Academy, and to me it was like reading of boys approaching the last day of high school.

The story is told in first point of view by Mik, a misfit among them; Mik is an orphan and so he has no bad experience in his past with his family; all these boys have supernatural powers but this is not a bonus in this futuristic society, on the contrary you are considered an abomination, and most of the time your own family disown you… I think there is a parallelism here between being gay and having supernatural powers, like in today society you are disowned for being gay, in that futuristic society it happens the same when approaching adulthood you find out you have special skills people fear.

At the beginning I didn’t feel the attraction between Mik and his roommate Ash, but thinking at it twice, I noticed how Mik was jealous of his best friend; in any case it’s not Mik who does the first move, but Ash, almost taking advantage of Mik’s almost breakdown after he has to kill for the first time. Ash brings to bed a drunken Mik, and he has his way with him, tighten the bond between them that will last for all the novel, with some bumps on the road.

Dawn of Darkness is the first book in a series, and that is the reason why there is no a wrapping up ending; moreover, after the blow the author decided to give to the reader at the last chapter, he also opted for giving hope and the very last word will help many readers who maybe wanted a different ending.

Amazon: Dawn of Darkness: Daeva: Book One
Amazon Kindle: Dawn of Darkness: Daeva: Book One
Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (November 18, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1466423714
ISBN-13: 978-1466423718

Reading List:
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I’m not sure I completely understood this two “gay for you” approach of the plot, but for sure it was something I have never read before. When Marcus is turned into a vampire, he is straight and with a girlfriend he loves, he has never once desired men and he was completely satisfied with his love and sex life. But a newly made vampire is dangerous, and it’s custom to have them interact only with same-sex supernatural creatures, so that they can be as forceful as they want without causing damages. So Marcus had his first same-sex sexual experiences and truth be told, he didn’t mind it. Sure, Marcus still preferred women if he had to pick or at least that was true until Phillip.

Phillip is a young man Marcus met one night; he is fascinated by him, but probably nothing would have come from it if not for a fatal accident that forces Marcus to turn Phillip into a vampire; now Marcus feels responsible for the young vampire, even if he is almost unmanageable and almost homophobic. The only same sex relationship he manages is with Marcus, and so they become buddy friends with benefits, sharing a room and occasionally also lovers. For 20 years Marcus pines for Phillip, waiting for the time the man will realize they are destined to be together in a real mating bond.

In a way, I prefer Phillip to Marcus. I think Marcus is not fighting enough for their love, it felt like he didn’t believe in it. Phillip is always the one, to my eyes, who takes the first step, but Marcus is always ready to misunderstand his motives, in the end making him going away. This come and go motion continues for a long time, when, again, it will be Phillip that will take the ownership of deciding what it will be of them.

There is a lot of sex in this novel, even if it’s in front of your eyes sex; sex between men and women, vampires and shapeshifters, elves and sorcerers, and whatever combination of these you can imagine. So yes, love and bond here is not represented by monogamy, but more by a commitment of souls that goes beyond that of the bodies.

Amazon Kindle: I love you, asshole!
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (May 17, 2011)

Series: Green's Hill
1) Litha's Constant Whim
2) I Love You, Asshole!

Reading List:

Cover Art by Anne Cain
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A nice novella playing on the old theme of the Master/slave bond in a fantasy setting; the village where Daniel lives is bound by an ancient pact with the Kin lords to offer, or better sacrifice, one youth every year. When the chosen is Daniel’s sister, he cannot let it happen: while his sister is loved by everyone, and engaged, Daniel knows he has no better future ahead of him, he prefers the company of men and that is the worst sin according to the priest. So Daniel volunteers to be the sacrificial lamb to the Kin lords, and he is not expecting anything better than becoming like an animal: the Kin lords drink human blood and the offerings are to become their life substance providers.

Vale is the trainer of the Kin, he is the one who has to take Daniel in the first days and explain him what will be his dues. What Vale is not expecting is to bond with Daniel in a way that goes beyond the training. Daniel is a kind and gentle soul that well suit the similar behaviour of Vale. Vale is not used to train with forceful imposition, he is more like a whisperers, letting his teachings sip into the offerings.

The feeling of the story is more or less that of a fairy tale, maybe a little sexier than an old fashioned one, but still, it was like in those tales, where the godmother fairy will arrive to make everything right and grant the happily ever after to the couple.

Amazon Kindle: Bound by Blood
Publisher: Changeling Press, LLC (September 10, 2010)

Reading List:
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I liked this book very much since it made a paranormal romance almost “normal”; Bastian is a newly made vampire, but he is so new and unprepared to the event that he is almost trying to convince himself it didn’t happen. Sure, growing an allergy to sun and long fangs don’t help him. And the drinking blood issue neither. But Bastian is still hoping it will go away, especially now that he is falling in love with Riley, and he wants to enjoy this new love like any other college kid.

The first part of the story is really sweet, from what I gather Bastian and Riley spent 10 months just “courting” each other, with nothing more sexual between them than a goodnight kiss. Riley is trying to go over a very bad past experience with an abusive boyfriend, and Bastian is trying to understand how to be in love with Riley without hurting him.

If I have to find a fault to this story is only one point, the reaction of Riley to Bastian’s revelation. My impression of Riley was of a spoiled kid, more worried about himself than their relationship. One example? Bastian has just told him he killed a man as soon as he was turned, and Riley almost doesn’t take notice of that. But as I said that is only a point, and maybe it was part of Riley’s character, something that well bond with how he will behave at the end of the story, and by the way it’s also something that gives deepness to Bastian’s character: more we find little faults in Riley, more it’s possible he will be able to accept Bastian and his changes, otherwise if Riley was really perfect, he would have been too uptight for him.

As I said, even if this is a paranormal story, it was mostly sweet and very much like a college romance. Actually Bastian could have been simply “ill”, allergic to sun, and his and Riley’s story would have been nice the same. I love the meetings in the coffee shops, the dinner and cinema dates, and even the first friends night with them ending playing a card game… it was all very young and pretty and yes, even a little preppy, but I really loved the whole thing.

Amazon: Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley
Amazon Kindle: Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley
Paperback: 190 pages
Publisher: Storm Moon Press, LLC (September 23, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937058255
ISBN-13: 978-1937058258

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Nathie
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“When Lucifer looked upon God's works, he vowed to destroy it all. He followed Adam and Eve from the Garden and stole Abel's soul before his drew his final breath, thus creating the first vampire. Since then all vampires have been damned creatures, their souls lost without hope.”

This is the incipit of this vampire/angel paranormal novella, first instalment in a continuous series (be warned, if you like it as I did, you will want to read them one after the other). David is a 50 years old vampire turned when he was barely 18 years old; being a vampire he should not have a soul and for sure he should not believe in the mercy of God, but David’s mother was a pious woman who made David promises he would find his brother Danny, lost when he was only 10 years old. After 50 years of useless search, David realizes he has only one last chance, to ask help to God. And surprisingly, God decides to answer to his pray and send Jophiel, an angel, as David’s aid.

Jophiel is the first one to be surprised since he was taught vampires have no soul, but he soon finds out David is different, and if at first he had questioned God’s mission, considering it a punishment, now he is very much involved.

There is sexual tension between David and Jophiel, but nothing that in this novella will be consumed. David is gay, but Jophiel is, like angels should be, asexual. I love how the author presents Jophiel, and is blinking to express every emotion, blink to disapproval, blink to surprise, blink approval, is so cute, especially since David is able to understand him even without words.

I like the author played with common paranormal elements in an original way, there was nothing really new in this novella, but how she mixed them together made for a very nice reading.

Amazon Kindle: First Impressions (Intercession)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services

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I have to admit, this was not an easy book for me to read, mostly since the writing style is very rich and I often had the feeling I was losing myself in that, but you have to weight this feeling with me being Italian. If you add to this the fact the story is told in first point of view by Black, and first POV is always more difficult to understand, you have a good idea on how challenging it was for me this novel.

The plot revolves around Black, a whore, and Leonard, the john who buys him for one night; Black and his sister Jhez are not selling sex but chi, something you can try to match with vital energy. The Lyche community are the one in power, and they survive feeding from human on their chi; what they don’t know is that Black and Jhez are not ordinary whores and while they are selling chi, they are also stealing it from the lyche. Only this time Black falls for his same trap and Leonard, the Master of York, is pretending to be paid back, something that Black couldn’t do if not borrowing his services, and those of his sister, to Leonard.

To better describe this novel I really need to go into details that many will consider SPOILERS, so please, if you don’t want to read further stop here. Said that I’m not unveiling anything that is not also on the publisher website, albeit under the same spoiler warning.

This is a transgender story, or better, as the publisher lists it, genderqueer. I wondered about Black, he was my main suspect, but indeed I was totally unprepared on Leonard. Truth be told, transgender is the wrong word, they are actually hermaphrodites, that this the word used by Leonard and the one I prefer. In any case, being hermaphrodites or not doesn’t really matter from a sexual point of view, since sex is not the main element of this story, and for example, during their first sex scene, I hadn’t actually realized about that if not for an “easiness” in their movement that, after I went back and re-read it, it would have been not possible in any other way. I had the feeling the author chose to not tag the characters with a specific female or male label to level them, to be able to start from scratch in building their relationship without any preconception, or expectation. The author gave an empty blackboard to the main characters and they were free to fill it with their story, not with what the reader was expecting them to do.

Black and Leonard will be unusual also on their reaction to dramatic events, like the death of a parent; the reaction will not what you would expect, in that highlighting that Black and Leonard dictate their own story. Black and Leonard are difficult characters to like, they are not linear, they are not pretty; Black is mistrusting of everything and of Leonard almost until the end, Leonard is a manipulative man who has very few qualms to use other people, even people he cares for, to reach his own target.

I think that one of the main concept of urban fantasy is that you need to recreate an original world building in a familiar contest, and Rhi Etzweiler did that, this story is not the copy of anything I have ever read, and until the end the characters surprised me, really giving me the feeling they were real, and having their own free will.

Amazon: Blacker than Black
Amazon Kindle: Blacker than Black
Paperback: 406 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (February 25, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937551253
ISBN-13: 978-1937551254

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Cover Art by Del Melchionda
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The second in the Fool’s Odyssey trilogy if for me the better for now; I liked the previous book, but if I remember well the romance was not as much developed as it’s in this one. Andreas and Xavi are now a couple, Xavi went under the transition that made him a vampire, but he has not yet learned the boundaries of this new situation, and of course, as soon as Andreas has to leave him for a few days, he got himself into trouble.

I liked that the author, even if she could have played the drama card, preferred instead to remain more on a love story level. Xavi is like a kid with a dangerous new toy, he wants to try it, despite the warnings; but he is not a bad kid, and when he breaks it, he fears the consequences of his actions.

Xavi and Andreas’s relationship is a mix of Dominant and submissive and top from the bottom; of course Andreas is stronger and more experienced than Xavi, and Xavi likes to play the submissive lover, but Xavi is also a primadonna, he doesn’t like to be left in a corner. He really needs a chaperon, and more than once he has proved to Andreas that he is not ready to be independent, not before he was turned into a vampire and not now. But Xavi has also a generous heart, and I like that he knows that Andreas is good for him.

Andreas is an odd man, apparently not moved by human emotions, but actually he is very good in judging them, and above all he is a good “tutor”; Andreas knows that he has to let Xavi make his own mistakes, only in that way Xavi will grow stronger and come back to him by his own choice and not since Andreas is his only option.

Xavi and Andreas’s relationship is not yet fully matured, the author chose to let it grow during the three books and at this point, we know the completion will be in the last and third book, that at this point, I’m pretty curious to read, above all to see if Xavi will mature, or if he will remain the bratty pretty boy I ended to like.

Series: Fool's Odyssey Trilogy
1) Fool's Errand:
2) Fool's Oath

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Blacque/Blue is a fantasy paranormal urban novel. It basically imagines that in our current time there is a small town in US, Acarda, where paranormal creatures are living together in a sheltered environment. And humans as well. I actually hadn’t understood if humans are aware they are living among paranormal creatures, unless they are not in a relationship with them, mostly since paranormal creatures are not behaving any different from humans. That is the main point of this novel and what I found the most interesting as well.

Blacque is a 30 years old werewolf; he is also gay and in the closet and for that reason he is also a virgin, a 100% virgin since Blacque has never had any interest in women. Now try to imagine a big and strong auto mechanic, all tattooed and pierced and a virgin! He has a sweet core given by his innocence that is a perfect contraposition with his bad guy looks. Blacque is attracted by Blue, the vampire next door; while Blacque is an auto mechanic, Blue does custom upholstery, and if in their jobs they are a perfect match, usually werewolves and vampires don’t match, they have a “polite” cohabitation, but sexual relationship are not common.

Only that Blue is ill, affected by a chronic insomnia that is preventing him to sleep during the day and he is not even “eating” in a right way, meaning that he is not sucking enough blood to sustain him. Blacque is like a banquet to Blue, rich and wealthy werewolf blood in an hot and ripe to be picked body. When Blue finds out Blacque is as innocent as a newborn baby, his first instinct is to “hunt”, but then Blacque shows him his kind side, the one who wants to nurture and protect, and Blue is lost.

I like the play of contraposition between Blacque and Blue; Blacque is innocent where Blue is experienced, and so Blue leads in bed; Blacque is strong where Blue is weak (at least now), and so Blacque leads in life; Blacque is an Alpha for his pack, but he is a little submissive in bed with Blue; Blue is an ancient vampire, older than Blacque, but in any case Blacque feels as he has to protect Blue, to make him one of his own pack, to give him shelter in many way, with his home, his body, his love.

I really liked this story, it has almost an “ordinary” mood in a paranormal world; Blacque’s struggle to come out was very much similar to what a gay guy would face if he was born in the “wrong” side, in a place where being gay equal to being weak; Blue and Blacque’s relationship has nothing of extraordinary, even if one is a vampire and the other a werewolf, they are simply two guys in love when they are together.

Amazon: Blacque/Bleu
Amazon Kindle: Blacque/Bleu
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC (August 29, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1611183626
ISBN-13: 978-1611183627

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Cover Art by Anne Cain
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The first book I read by Megan Derr but for sure not the last, Midnight impressed me for the originality and quality of the story, both characteristics seldom found in independent small presses. Or at least when such presses are targeting a reader in search of “fun”. And please take this as the right compliment I’m paying to this author and this press. It’s not easy to write a story that is able to both involve than amuse you, at the end of Midnight I’m an happy reader, since I spend some pleasant hours with these characters and I would be willing to spend even more time with them, like if I made new friends and I was still eager to know them even better.

It’s “ordinary” to write a paranormal romance about vampires, or elves, or werewolves; if you start to talk about dragons, ghosts, witches or draugrs (from what I understood the historical version of zombies), it starts to be a little less ordinary, but still, I had already read about them in previous paranormal novels… but having all of them together? In an historical setting that was giving a “fashion-like” side to the story? Well that was original, and good.

Devlin White, eleventh Duke of Winterbourne, is a black witch; yes, someone already told me that, if it’s a man, than it’s not a witch but a warlock or a wizard, but in the novel the author appealed to Devlin as a witch and so I will do. Midnight is the Devlin’s ward, an orphaned child Devlin met during one of his mission; unfortunately Devlin was unable to save the six years old child, but when the little thing awake from the death as a draugr, Devlin bound him with a spell to his own life: if Devlin dies, Midnight dies, if Devlin lives, Midnight lives and grows and loves… Devlin. 15 years are passed and Midnight is now a 21 years old youth, beautiful and more than faithful to Devlin and only him; Midnight has always been in love with Devlin, even when he was 6 years old, and that love is the reason why he awake from the death; that innocent love turned into passion when, at 15 years old, he spied Devlin with another man, a beautiful young man with long black hair; Midnight decided he would grew in the perfect image of Devlin’s lover, so that he could replace him in that role. It’s not Devlin who shaped Midnight into his lover, it’s Midnight who has done everything in his power to be the one Devlin can love.

There is a lot to love in this story, basically all the characters are wonderful, even the villains. The half elf, half wolf Barra, the knight Neirin and his dragon Troyes, the vampires Ceadda and Alucard, and many, many other paranormal creatures are more than supporting characters to Devlin and Midnight, but what I probably loved the most in this novel is what I said at the beginning, that it was fun and yes, something even light; there was a lot of “love” for pretty things, Midnight being the prettiest thing of all, and the dark, gothic side of the story was always softened by something sweet and romantic, like a kiss, or pretty and shiny like a useless, but beautiful jewel.

Amazon: Midnight
Amazon Kindle: Midnight
Paperback: 298 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (January 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936202638
ISBN-13: 978-1936202638

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It’s not easy to like this paranormal novel, mostly since it’s not your usual happily ever after where the heroes are perfect men and the villains are easily identifiable and targetable as the one to dislike. It’s not easy also since it forces you to “change” your idea in the course of it, changing who you want to be a couple, who you hope will find their soul mates, who will be the ones to kiss in the end and the ones who will walk alone in search of something else, someone else.

At the beginning the author put a lot of effort in making you feel for Willem and his best friend since forever Jake. It’s clear that Willem is in love with Jake, but it’s also clear that Jake has a cloth in front of his eyes. Jake is juggling/fighting with his straight relationship with Amy, but at the same time is unconsciously preventing Willem to find a mate; every man Willem met was wrong, and Jake was always there, being the epitome of what Willem wanted, but being also unreachable. And now Willem once again is risking his happiness, choosing to meet face to face with Charlie, a man who he met online. Jake is not happy, but Willem is stubborn… and when he disappears, Jake has the confirmation he was right, but also the epiphany that he is in love with his friend and that he will do everything to find him.

At this point the storyline split in two, following Willem and his nightmare in the paranormal world, and Jake and his mission to find Willem. Probably for the first time since forever, they are far from each other, and while this is heartbreaking, it allows to Jake to comprehend his feelings, not only towards Willem but also on himself and his desires.

I felt a lot for Willem, and as I said, at first I hoped he would be lucky, that he had finally the chance at happiness he was searching since forever. But that is the skill of the author, to move the reader’s expectation, to yes, let you with a bittersweet aftertaste for Willem, but to give you also a glimpse on a better, and happily, future for Jake. And why not, maybe the “new” Willem will have his chance in the following three books of this 4 books series. He is no more the same Willem we knew in the first book, not at all (and I will stop here to not ruin your reading experience) but he is someone else the reader could care for.

More than a paranormal feeling, this novel reminded me a bit of a gothic genre. Maybe it was the setting, Southend and London, rainy England, always with a dark and heavy feeling, given but the clouds, the muted light, the wet cobbled streets where you expect each moment a coach to come out from the next corner. In this setting it seems more “ordinary” for paranormal events to happen.

Amazon: Seeker (The Garden)
Amazon Kindle: Seeker (The Garden)
Publisher: Untreed Reads (March 16, 2011)

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I maybe have already said it, but I think that Tales of the Darkworld is probably the only mixed series (heterosexual and gay) really working out there. And for who like me, is skipping the het stories to read only the gay ones, it’s also a series working just fine, you have not the feeling you are not gripping something due to the lack of connection.

Wilson North is one of my favourite characters in Sunstroked, maybe even more than the main characters there, Corey and Seth. He is a vampire and a really good friend, former lover of both Corey and Seth, and the one that helped them realizing they were mate and meant for each other. I didn’t find any jealousy in Will if not that he wanted the same for himself. As in almost all the other stories I read in this series, the author doesn’t spend a lot of time beating around the bush and she has Will meeting his mate, the wizard Garrick right then, right there. And the sex as well is sudden and good, sex apparently is never an issue for Lex Valentine’s men, having a relationship working fine, well, that is another problem.

I like this approach of the author, letting you know the men are meant for each other, also letting you know they would be great together, giving you a taste of it, but then having the same men suffering a little for what they really want; it’s not a trite, you are my mate now we will be happy and together forever and more, but more, well, yes, you are my mate but having a relationship is complicated as much if not more than ordinary human.

But it’s not even so much the outside dangers mining their relationship it’s also a task to find the right balance; Garrick is a Dom, Will more or less has always been a submissive, again a starting point that should be easy, like for the mate thing. But again the author didn’t want to have it easy for Garrick and Will and they will have to discuss this whole thing of top and bottom, Dom and submissive.

Nice story and again a confirmation I will wait for next book, a continuous of Holden and Garret’s story, the pair in Fire Season.

Buy Here

Amazon Kindle: Breathe Me In (Tales of the Darkworld)
Publisher: Pink Petal Books (April 15, 2011)

Series: Tales of the Darkworld
1) Shifting Winds
2) Hot Water
3) Fire Season:
4) Ride The Lightning
5) Common Ground
6) Sunstroked:
6.5) Breathe Me In

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Unlike most of the books I received to review, I actually asked a copy of this one; why? Well since I wanted to understand a little all this talking about Twilight and Co and I didn’t want to read THAT series. Young adult and het romance together were a little too much for me, so when I heard about a gay vampire teenager series, I thought, good, this I can read. I was not at all discouraged by the not-so-positive reviews I read around mostly because my idea was that who was writing them was not a teenager and you have not to forget this is a book that not only it’s classified by the same publisher as “young adult”, it was even released in a special line, K-Teen, that is targeting a young adult reader. So when I read comment like, everything seems too “youngish”, my reaction is “geez, have you or not read the book details? This is a Young Adult book! You should give positive point to the author to have been able to meet the target!”. Also since Michael Griffo is the pen-name of an author of a previous Gay Romance targeting a more adult reader, and having read that romance, I can tell you that he can be very, very adult-like if he wants.

Going back in track and talking about the story, even if the book is almost 500 pages long, it took me only 2 nights reading it since it flowed like water. The vampire theme is good, and with a twist that makes it original among so many trite similar novels, but all in all it was not even so predominant: I had the feeling the plot centered more around the romance between Michael and Ronan than not on the paranormal nature of Ronan. The novel had very much the feeling of a high-school romance and the issues that Michael and Ronan initially faced were more that of two young boys being in love and not being sure of each other feelings. Even the “evil” plot that is endangering their relationship seems more the plotting of jealous high-school mates than that of real dangerous villains.

True, to some readers all above could sound like the novel doesn’t have “deepness”, but again, I would like to highlight the real target of this book, i.e. teenagers; the average teenager wants enough complexity to be engaged but not too much to be “bothered”, the pace has to be fast and light. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the quality has to be low since the target is Young Adult, I’m saying that the “tricks” to attract a Young Adult are different. Me from my side enjoyed quite a lot that the fire between Michael and Ronan ignited easily and without much obstacles, I don’t particular enjoy when the drama of first love is diluted for long. And another point I enjoyed was that that same love was also “sexy” and physical; even if they are both teenagers, these are young men and as such they have strong sexual impulses; again don’t get me wrong, this is far from being an erotic romance, but at the same time, the two boys will be able to enjoy themselves and their young age.

Amazon: Unnatural (Archangel Academy)
Amazon Kindle: Unnatural (Archangel Academy)
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0758253389
ISBN-13: 978-0758253385

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There are two main points coming to mind as soon as I finished this book: that it’s clear the book is written by a man and that this man is young. I don’t know, maybe is the writing style, maybe is the reference to the “male” prettiness of the main characters, or something else, but to me it was like a mark all over the book. I’m not saying the book is too “virile”, on the contrary, there is a lot of emphasis on the love word, something that usually I don’t find with male writers, it’s only that I felt the “masculinity” of the story.

Aside from that, the author has woven a complex urban fantasy tale, with a mix of fairy tale and paranormal elements. In the middle of this “magick” melting pot, there is the love story between Finn, an handsome and very young warlock, and Brett, a man without roots trying to understand if he is the villain or the hero of this story.

As strange as it sounds, it was almost funny reading their story because they are so young, both of them I think under 25 years old. While Brett is living alone since when he was kicked out by his grandparents, Finn is still living in the comfortable, and welcoming embrace, of his family, a family that is a collection of extraordinary characters. They were never alone, and among the paranormal events they are living, there are also way more “ordinary” events, like being caught while having sex. Actually their same story started in a very conservative way, Brett and Finn paired by Finn’s brother in law on the assumption, you are gay, he is gay, you are both single and under 25… you are perfect together! Even if usually the algorithm doesn’t work like that, in this case it was right, since Finn’s paranormal family will help Brett reconcile with his unknown past.

I’d like to add that the “comfortable” feeling of Brett and Finn’s story, their almost comedy-like relationship, is something that doesn’t extend outside them; any other relationship, sexual or not, Brett is having outside that bond is all other than comfortable, sometime even brutal and for sure scaring. That is probably one of the reasons why Brett clings to Finn, he is able to be “normal” only in the not-normal context of their story. It was quite disconcerting to have this contraposition, horror outside, romance inside, but the author presented it in a way that it worked.

I have to warn the reader, this is book 1 in a series, and so it doesn’t have a real happily ever after, actually it’s not even a happily for now, but I’m confident the author will give us something more in the following books.

Amazon: Submerging Inferno: Men of Myth (Volume 1)
Amazon Kindle: Submerging Inferno: Men of Myth (Volume 1)
Paperback: 398 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (January 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1456558927
ISBN-13: 978-1456558925

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I recently read on an authors’ thread people complaining that Young Adult novels were too crowded of vampires, werewolves and similar creatures; the same authors were swearing they would never write such a story, since, more or less, there would be no chance to make it literary. What a coincidence when, opening this novel by Hayden Thorne, I realized it was about a young teenager vampire! Well, I thought, how could the author manage to write something literary with such abused theme? Since I was sure the output had to be good, Hayden Thorne, writing about superheroes, ghosts, boarding schools and on and on, has always in any case managed to deliver good quality books.

The answer is simple: she basically wrote an historical novel, with all the accuracy of such genre, with a paranormal twist, the vampire aristocratic family. Probably there is even a strange parallelism, I have not yet grasped it fully, but I think that the concept is that vampire are the pureblood, the real aristocracy, and humans are like the newly arrived, clever, more down to earth in comparison to vampire and as such, more likely to survive in the new world that is approaching. The year is 1815, right in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, and the new-men are coming, men like Garrick Mortimer, a scientist; for these men logic and experiment are the only way to prove something, and in the name of science you can even die. This is the reason why Garrick, who has always refused to accept a job as a tutor, this time has made an exception: the Hathaway family are vampires, and teaching to their young son, Desmond and Lavinia, is the good chance to learn something about the vampirism.

First of all, if someone is worrying about Garrick, the tutor, falling in love for Desmond, the pupil, or viceversa, don’t worry at all; in this novel Desmond has his mind, and heart, on other subject, like his unrequited love for same-age fellow student Phillip, or enigmatic, but mostly inaccessible, poet Leigh Blaise Sherbourne. If, and when, a love story will happen between Desmond and Garrick, as the title suggest, it will be maybe in following books in the series. And yes, with plenty of warning from the author, who also put a big 1 on the cover, this is a book in a series, and it almost impossible to read it standalone, above all since many treads will be still loose at the end.

The book targets a teenager reader and I think that it’s right to the point: there is enough bitchery in Desmond to appeal a boy his same age, there is even just that touch of romance that maybe even a girl, or a romantic boy, would be pleased, but there is also the weaving of a setting that capture the reader. Did it happen to you to read some tome when you were young (like those novels that even when they came out the first time were diluted into different magazine, and for such reason stretched to the max) and years later trying to pick them up again and realize they are too much for your adult mind? A young reader is like sponge, they absorb and digest everything, their mind is open and mostly free (and it’s with envy that I’m saying it, not at all a criticism).

Amazon: Desmond and Garrick: Book One
Amazon Kindle: Desmond and Garrick: Book One
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Prizm (December 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1610401174
ISBN-13: 978-1610401173

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Cover Art by Ms. Rosek
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This was only a short story, and I had the feeling it was almost a drive test, like the author wanted to prove her hand on a possible longer novel and in the meantime she realized a teasing.

Steerl is the youngest son of the Emperor and he is supposed to be the chaperon for his sister who is going to meet her mate, the prince of Vampires. But when they are in the same room with the handsome prince, they discover there was a mistaken identity. Given that Steerl is gay and that Graven is really handsome, Steerl doesn’t object much.

The story is less than 20 pages, so other than boy meets boy and boy loves boy, nothing more happens, but Steerl is the perfect top from the bottom, all impertinence and a bit of spoiled brattiness in him; Graven is the perfect example of bored aristocrat who is only waiting for another game to start, and mating with his soulmate is the ultimate adventure.

It can be interesting to see if Amber Kell will continue or expand this one, the premise was quite good.

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Blood Moon is the second book I read by this author, and where the previous one was a coming of age story about two high school students, this is a “trendy” vampire romance. I use the word “trendy” since I think it follows a bit the today love among teenagers for young vampires and werewolves, see the Twilight saga and related.

Noah and Zack, the two heroes in this romance, are maybe a little older, 21 years old, but they are not much more adult. Zack is still spending most of his free time with his family and he was not able to break the umbilical cord with his mother; maybe he was traumatized when he “lost” his best friend, and love of his life, at 18 years old: he grew up with Noah, and as soon as he moved from being a child to being a young adult, he associated love, and sex, with Noah. But as he is not independent now, he was not precocious then, and so he was 18 years old at the time he found the courage to kiss his best friend. And one kiss was everything he got since the morning after Noah told him it was better they never seen each other again. Now three years later, Zack is still “mourning” the loss.

When Noah suddenly reappears in his life, even if he is not exactly the same as before, Zack doesn’t see the reason to send him away: three years are a long time, and Zack understood that he is no able to forget him. And then vampires are trendy, as I said before, and if they are also independently wealthy and with a good fashion instinct, well, they make also a good boyfriend.

If the feeling is that Zack and Noah’s life together is not exactly dangerous, even if they try to convince the reader it’s not like that, well, I think you are right; in a perfect “teenager” video game perspective, life is a forever, and death is not a game over, but merely a stop here and start from beginning. Nothing really bad happens, and real confrontation is always delayed. Everyone is beautiful and sexy and ordinary concerns, like how you will explain to your mother that you will be never more able to join her on Sunday lunch, or that you can’t attend daily courses at college, are something you will face later, always later.

In Zack and Noah’s new world, everyone is young, and also your enemy is handsome. There is no drama or regret in being a vampire, no dark and gothic thoughts, and maybe for the first time, a vampire story didn’t give me an oppressive and gloomy feeling; being turned is more a party than a condemnation, and not even that is the moment when this young men will grow, on the contrary, it seems to be another excuse to not growing at all.

Blood Moon is a fresh and cute story that I think will appeal to a young or very young target. Or to an older reader who prefers paranormal stories not being too much dark.

Amazon Kindle: Blood Moon

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A.J. Ryan, the same author who penned the Fathom’s Five series under the name of Geoffrey Knight, has the ability to mix comedy with adventure and, in this specific case, horror, but in any case, the output is light and bright, even if it’s the bright red of fresh blood!

A.J. Ryan’s characters are always over the top, always stunning and handsome, always extraordinary. In this novella we have Ryan and Nash, two male top models involved in a special catwalk in Egypt. It’s not the first time they work together, and between them the steam sizzles, and it’s not a consequence of the hot weather. It’s not clearly said, but nor Ryan or Nash profess themselves “gay”, but they don’t mind to be able to appreciate male beauty and between the two of them there is a lot to appreciate. Ryan teases Nash and Nash is up to take the teasing and turn it in something more, but right when they probably are ready to take the next step in their relationship, Ryan and Nash are involved in a more dangerous games, with a mysterious man.

For Eternal Press, A.J. Ryan has created two series, the Darcy Boys and the Vampire’s Lair Series; I prefer the first one, it’s an all around full comedy; the two novella I read in the Vampire’s Lair series are for sure good, but maybe a bit too much dark for my own personal taste. Said that, if you are searching a good vampire novella, I think that the Vampire’s Lair series is on a “classical” track, the vampires here are really dangerous and deadly, they are not the romance heroes so common in today paranormal literature. And this is even more highlight by the fact that instead, A.J. Ryan’s men are fashionable and chic, all sleek muscles and coiffeured hair, living a life where appearance is more important than substance.

Amazon: Cairo Catwalk: Vampire's Lair Book 2 (Volume 2)

Series: Vampire's Lair
1) Miami Moon:
2) Cairo Catwalk

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Jordan Castillo Price is probably the only author I can read who presents me with needles, syringes and blood, and I find it sexy. I'm quite the squirmy type, I don't think how being punctured and bleeding can be sexy, but if it's done by an alluring pale and long dark haired artist, well maybe I can make an exception. As probably would do Mark, the man who is lucky enough to find that man.

In an alternative near future, where the vampirism virus exceed the HIV one, becoming more common and lethal, there are still few cities that allow vampire to live within their limit. Chicago is one of them, and it's here that Jonathan found his shelter; he is an artist, an Hungarian refugee, and a vampire. He is also handsome and wealthy, but a bit strange. Not artist "strange", more like he is a son of some alien planet who fell on Earth by accident. He doesn't talk of his "illness" (drinking blood is something you do in private), he is more than reclusive, even when it's night and he can go out, and he drinks only cat's blood. And before you ask, no, he doesn't kill the cats, he pays one of those old ladies with more cats than fleas to dry a bit her kittens in exchange of money. Obviously all these ordinary tasks are not brought on by Jonathan himself, he has a dogsboy for that, even if Mark is maybe a bit too old for the task.

Almost forty years old, Mark is the classical manquè artist turned art critic turned artist valet. Plus Mark is also gay, something that now maybe it's no more the crime it was, being a vampire is worst, but still it's not exactly cheered upon. Where Jonathan is reclusive and aloof, Mark is always complaining for something: he has not enough time to do everything (even if everything is only do some errands for Jonathan), he has not a boyfriend, he is not as handsome as a vampire... he is probably the only man that, while being followed by a killer and running for his life, can be disappointed by how the jeans he picked up in a store doesn't fit well. And maybe he is not the only one, but one of the best merit he finds in being a vampire, is the chance to be skinny and fabulous.

It's strange, usually in a pair there is always a leader and a follower, and here the obvious conclusion is that Mark should be the second, but neither of them have really the aurea to be leader. Don't get me wrong, they are not weak or submissive, it's only that they are almost alike, at the same level. Maybe Jonathan is the more experienced, but he has not the streak to be on the spotlight, more the people don't notice him and more he is happy. On the other hand Mark can be a primadonna, but he is too squirmy to be an adventurer; and it's strange since at 6 and half feet he is a bit too macho man to be flamboyant... I was almost expecting here and there for him to cry on his broken nails.

Then there is the love story. Again not what you will expect. As I said, probably the most romantic encounter they have is when they share blood, obviously with the aid of a needle, don't let happen that such a vulgar action happens with the use of real teeth and spit. One of the most romantic thing Mark said to Jonathan is that, if it wasn't for the virus, he would have swallowed... enough clues to frame our heroes? But despite it all, I really feel the love between Mark and Jonathan, not always sex and sex and sex is the only way to convey that feeling. I really think that Jonathan is a really reserved man, and it's not easy for him to express his feelings; and Mark is probably the same, and even if a little bitchy, he is always ready to help Jonathan, even if it means the last sacrifice, his blood... but only with a needles between them!

Amazon: Hemovore

Amazon Kindle: Hemovore

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Kanaxa
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Kristair is a very ancient vampire who needs to find a human vessel to survive, and since he lives in the United States, who is the perfect candidate? Who is young, strong and handsome more than a college football player? Jacob is the chosen one and from the meeting of an ancient warrior with a modern one, the result is a very balanced couple: where Kris is brooding and too much serious, Jake has all the energy and joy of life of a young college student whose primary purpose is to be a number one athlete and secondary to enjoy as much as possible the frat life.

When Kris picks Jake among the crowd, he decides to give to the young man a bit of space and a slowly but effective courtship starts, with Kris letting Jake know that he is there, ready for him when Jake will decide it’s time, and Jake who enjoys a little bit of teasing of the older man. Yes, even if Kris appears to be the same age or just a little older than Jake, it’s clear that he has a very much older soul, and Jake plays a bit the role of the twink with a sugar daddy; he likes to be wooed, to be cherished like a treasure, and he likes to tease Kris. But when in the end, Jake will welcome Kris in his bed, and body (and not only in the sexual meaning of the word), Jake will reveal a strong core, that is not easily commanded, not even by a powerful and ancient vampire; in bed, between them, it’s not easy to understand who is the Dominant and who is the submissive.

The mood of the story is really dark and gothic, a mood that I would dare to compare to the Anne Rice’s Vampire tales; Kris has a lot weighting on his shoulders, above all knowledge, dangerous knowledge that he has no way to share if not finding his true mate. The bond between Kris and Jake will allow the first to lighten his burden, but nevertheless the story will not loose its darken mood. Even when having sex, even considering Jake’s young age and his previous almost coquettish behaviour, there is always the feeling that something tragic will happen, that these two lovers will not have an easy life together… enough to say that in the end, I’m happy to know that this is only the first book in a series of three with the same characters.

Even if the story is set in Pittsburgh, there is a strange feeling, like a hot and bothered atmosphere, the same thing you experience during hot summer nights. The darkness I told before is not a cold one, as I said it’s like during a summer night, and probably this is due to the two main characters, way different from the usual lean and emaciated vampires: nor Kris or Jake are like that, they are more like football players, hunky and hot, tattoed and strong. So strong is their presence that they affect all the story, spreading their hotness around. And maybe it helps also Jake’s Southern origin, like the author describes him “drawl and quick temper, filled with boldness, strutting around like the cock of the morning”.

Amazon: My Heart is Within You

Amazon Kindle: My Heart is Within You

Reading List:

Cover Art by Dan Skinner
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I think that, for the first time, instead of speaking of the main characters, I will speak of their enemies… I have the feeling that Mychael Black changed his mind in the middle of writing this novella, or maybe, as often is, the villains were more interesting than the good people.

Jesse and Gabriel met in the prequel of this book, the story of Jason and Julian; even if it seems a contradiction in terms, Jason and Julian’s story is an “ordinary” one, an almost classic vampire story, where the cute and young man, Jason, falls in love for the fascinating ancient vampire, Julian. Jesse is Jason’s friend, and when Julian needed help, Gabriel, Julian’s sire, came to help. It was quite clear that there was something between Jesse and Gabriel, and so it was natural that the next story was their own. But already from the classification, as Spirits of Abaddon book 1, we understand that something changed, this is not a sequel of the Blood & Fire series, and this is an entirely new one. And so, we discover that Gabriel is not exactly a vampire, and that he has great enemies, and one of them, Lazarus, has even the help of Gabriel’s renegade brother, Semoriel.

Lazarus and Semoriel are the villains, but as I said, I had the feeling that Mychael Black liked them better than Jesse and Gabriel. Little by little Lazarus steals the scene to Gabriel, and even if Jesse is a good guy, Semoriel is for sure a more interesting bad guy. They are the bad guys, but the reader finds himself cheering for them, and a clear sign that the author is on the same line is that, the last scene is devoted to them.

Spirits of Abaddon shifts the series from a paranormal environment to a demons and ancient legends one, something the author well know. It’s different from what the reader was expecting, especially if he read the previous two books, but it’s probably more fascinating like that.

Series: Blood & Fire
1) Blood & Fire:
2) Blood Curse:
Spirits of Abaddon
1) Bad Blood

Reading List:
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As often in a Kim Dare’s story, this is a funny and light intake on the D/s world. Due to the gothic cover, that is a common cover for these vampire novellas by Total-e-Bound, at first I didn’t understand if it was an historical or contemporary setting: Leland has cornered his best friend Keats and collared him; in few words we understand first, that Keats is a brat and second, that Leland is a vampire. Other than being a brat, Keats is also a magnet for trouble, and he managed to volunteer for being a blood donor for a vampire secret society without knowing what he was really signing into. Of course when Leland, one of the vampires, recognizes Keats among the blood donor, his only choice is to claim him as blood slave, some sort of submissive for a vampire Master, but also the only way to avoid for Keats to be common property of all the vampires in the place.

Now you would expect that Leland’s choice was dangerous, maybe that he had to face a fight with another powerful vampire to claim the exclusive property of Keats… and instead he has to sign some “bloody” and above all boring paperwork. All of that for the pleasure to have Keats as his blood slave, at least he will have all the power upon the little brat… or so he thinks, pity he has not asked before Keats’s opinion on the matter.

Keats has no problem to be Leland’s blood slave, the discovery of Leland being gay is way more important than the one of him being a vampire; but Keats knows that if being a submissive means he has some rules to respect, also being a Master means that Leland has to properly take care of him, and if Leland doesn’t know that, well, Keats is more than happy to explain those rules.

In the end I don’t know if it’s Leland who gained a blood slave, or if instead, it’s Keats who reached his original purpose. In a way or the other, Keats for sure ends in a more than comfortable situation, one that well fit him. On the other hand, I think Leland will discover that being Keats’s Master is not an easy task, and he will have to have handful of patience, not to teach Keats how to behave, that is an impossible task, but to please him in everything… I’m not exactly sure who the Master is and who is the slave between them.

Again Kim Dare has a fresh and funny way to look into the D/s relationship, probably helped by the young age of her characters; and even when she adds the vampire factor, nevertheless the story is light, both in weight than in atmosphere, this is everything other than a dark gothic story.

Amazon Kindle: Voracious Vamps: Blood Slave
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (October 26, 2009)

Reading List:
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I should plea forgiveness to Z.A. Maxfield. More or less one year ago she told me she was thinking to write a book with a dashing Italian vampire and asked me if I knew of a place that could be his Italian home. If I remember well she did me some inputs and I told her that San Sepolcro could be the right place. Then some months later she sent me a first draft and I checked the italian words, but really, she did the work all by herself and I didn't find any mistake. So you see my help was little thing and when she sent me a print signed copy I was really glad but it was not necessary. The book arrived more or less at the end of July and obviously I emailed back the author to thank her but since it was a print book, I saved it for a travel in train or plane, when I prefer to read a real book instead of my laptop. So I enjoyed the hand written dedica on the first page, and looked at how pretty the cover was and the book remained on my nightstand table till today (ndr I'm writing this post on a note book on my flight to Philadelphia).

Obviously as soon as I was seated on my sit I opened the book ready to enjoy some hours of dashing vampires and what was there on the second page? A printed dedica to me! OMG, Z.A. Maxfield dedicated the book to me and to another friend for all the world to see and I haven't even written back to ZAM to appropriately thank her, what did she think of my ungrateful behavior? So this long introduction is to let ZAM know that I'm really stunned and honored and deeply grateful.

Coming back to the story, it delivered what promised and I had my dashing vampire, Donte, and the vampire himself had a worthy partner in Adin. Actually on the contrary of the usual tale on the innocent victim fallen prey of the most erotic and dangerous vampire, here it's the vampire who seems to fall for the apparently innocent Adin, who has instead a naughty core.

Adin is a professor, but he is not the mousy type, he is an exerpt in ancient erotic manuscripts, and his latest discovery is a XVI century journal of two noblemen in a clandestine affair. Being Adin gay, the idea of that is even more appealing. At first Adin has a detached attitude towards the journal, he sees it like a piece of erotica and he is not interested in the personal lives of the men in it. But then he meets Donte: since Donte has sex with him and meanwhile sucks his blood, it doesn't take much to Adin to find out Donte's true nature. The man claims to be the author of the journal and he wants it back. Again the focus of the story is more the sex than the reason why Donte wants back the journal, and again Adin seems not moved by the situation, or at least not so much... it was good sex after all.

The the story takes a turn, Adin starts to read the journal and he finds out that it's not an erotic journal, but a love story. Like the nature of the jorunal changes in Adin's eyes, so does the mood of the book, and Adin himself, who claimed to not believe in love, and has always had one night stands or meaningless relationships, starts to wonder how could it be to have a real love like the one in the journal. And he is lucky enough that the man who lived that love is still here. The problem is, could that man loves another man so much?

The story is a full and classical vampire tale, and like that it has its high erotic mood, but it's a classy eroticism, even when the sex happensin an airplane lavatory. Both characters are good but strange enough it's Adin who comes out as the strongest, Donte is powerful and ancient, but he has the behavior of an artist, instead Adin is more the warrior type. And it's really strange since it's all a question of attitude, Adin is small and lithe and he always takes the submissive role during sex. Nevertheless I found him bigger than himself.

Buy Here

Amazon: Notturno

Amazon Kindle: Notturno

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
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Weary Memories is a collection of four novella by Elizabeth Jewell following the life of the more than 200 years old vampire Liam and his assistant and lover Alex. All the collection is faithful to the most classic vampire rules, with Liam being a powerful but mourning vampire, and Alex a troubled man who finds in the strenght of the vampire, the force to move on his dramatic past.

Alex is apparently a shy and quiet man who is now comfortable working with Liam, an ancient vampire. Liam is also a scholar and Alex works for him as decipher and also as assistant. They have a routine, Alex arrives at Liam's home when the vampire is arising for his nightly session, and they work side by side in harmony. Liam is no more an hunter, he doesn't prey on human, he is "tamed" as vampire and drinks blood from freezed bags. So Alex has never really seen his vampire side; until the night he arrives a bit earlier and finds a sketchbooks decipting some of Liam's past victims. Alex is not scared by that pictures, on the contrary he is aroused: when Alex was only a child he was abused by his father, and even if he thinks to have buried that memories in his mind, they are still there, alive, and prevent him from having a normal life and sexual relationship. And so thinking to Liam, who is all but normal, Alex wonders if he can help him to forget, to make new memories to replace the old and scaring. Facing a bigger danger maybe is the way to move on a past, but still live one.

Even is Liam seems "tamed", he has still inside the inner urges to prey and feed on the living. He is able to suppress the urges, but when they are near, too near like Alex, his consciousness slips. But even if he is the stronger and probably the dangerous side of the couple, I never felt like Liam was a real trouble for Alex. Liam is ancient, and with the age he gained the knowledge, and so he is able to control his primal instinct. Instead Alex is still suffering for his past, and the wounds are still bleeding, and like a wounded animal he is dangerous, since he can be uncontrollable. Even when having sex, Liam is always the one who tries to follow a quiet pace, and instead Alex is like an outburst of rage, an up and down of mood.

There is a lot of sex in this collection, maybe also since, being a collection of four originally distinct novellas, everytime there must be a main course, a long sex scene between the two heroes, and this means that in the collection we have four of them, one soon after the other. But I think that this is also a very good vampire story, it has an elegant feelings, and it's also very dark; these are not harmless vampires in frilly dresses, these are the direct descendants of those vampires who rule on the horror stories of 100 years ago.

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle


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