“Sinfully addictive…” — Book Review: Alasdair, by Ella Frank (Rating: 4.5/5)

frank-alasdair-smallAlasdair, by Ella Frank (Masters Among Monsters, Book 1)
Publisher: Self-Published (October 13, 2015)
Page Count: 244 pages
Genre: Paranormal/Horror; Gay (M/M) Erotica

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Purchase Links: Amazon (Kindle) BN (Nook) KoboiBooks

* I received an advanced copy of this novel from Rock Star Lit in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

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Giveaway: Click on the image below for your chance to win one of THREE incredible prizes!

1st Prize: Kindle Fire HD 7 + $25.00 Amazon Gift Card (US ONLY)

2nd Prize: $50.00 Amazon Gift Card (US ONLY)

3rd Prize: Signed paperback of Alasdair with swag (OPEN TO ALL)

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Dark, delightful, and absolutely delicious! Ella Frank is a well-known name in the M/M genre (and the Romance genre in general!), but Alasdair is something new from the author of the sweet and sexy Temptation trilogy. This is paranormal horror and romance at its finest.

Can I compare this to Anne Rice? Too bad, I’m doing it anyways. Ella jump starts the vampire romance genre with the first in this new trilogy– a genre which has been saturated with vampires that sparkle– and brings back the wicked protagonist that I love to read! This is Anne Rice for the M/M genre, for sure!

(And it’s the first in a new trilogy? YES PLEASE!)

Bestowed with eternal life by the Ancient Vasilios, Alasdair Kyriakous is one of the most feared and ruthless vampires in existence. His name carries weight across all of the seven continents.

But he is a mystery to his kind, an anomaly among the self-indulgent. While he enjoys the pleasures of the flesh, he is exceptionally particular in his choice of partners and prides himself on his ironclad self-control.

Thrust into a world he could never have imagined, Leo Chapel awakens in his worst nightmare. Taken hostage by the dangerously mesmerizing vampire, Alasdair, Leo must rely on his intelligence to escape before he reveals a secret he isn’t even aware he’s hiding.

This book was sinfully addictive; I pretty much devoured it like a vampire in need of a good meal. Alasdair isn’t a hero, and Ella doesn’t try to make him into one. He’s unapologetically 100% vampire, with everything that denotes. And while he may not be as free with his lust as his fellow vampires, he’s not above doing whatever it takes to get what (or who) he wants.

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Leo, on the other hand, is sweet and naive in many ways. He has a layer of toughness, and he’s fiercely independent, but he’s also unwilling to stand up for himself at times. In fact, it’s his decision not to challenge others that draws Alasdair to him in the first place, when Leo chooses to leave his own birthday party rather than deal with a handsy stranger. It makes him prey, in Alasdair’s eyes, and the vampire is eager for a hunt.

“He’s uncommon for a human. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“You mean he’s appealing and you want to fuck him.”
“Well, that too.” (Kindle Loc. 600)

Now, there are a few things you should be aware of before jumping into this book:

Don’t think it’s going to be just like Ella’s Temptation trilogy!

While I definitely noticed some similarities between Alasdair’s character and Logan’s, these are definitely two very different series, which very different characters. The Temptation series had it’s darker moments, but was mostly light-hearted, fun, and incredibly sexy. With the first book in the Monsters series, Frank has instead written an incredibly dark novel. Alasdair’s arrogance may make you think of Logan, and aspects of Tate may be found in Leo’s innocence and determination, but this is a book about monsters, plain and simple.

This human was curious in the most unusual ways. Asking questions Alasdair would think would horrify him. But the telltale signs of arousal told him otherwise and had Alasdair fighting every instinct he had to keep his teeth off of him. (Kindle Loc. 903)

Beware the darkness!

I can’t emphasize enough how dark parts of this novel is. There are scenes that read (to me at least) as dubious consent. There is violence and gore. But at no point did I feel like it was overdone, or too much. The darker emotions and themes fit the novel very well, and Alasdair’s character never reads as the “redeemable” one. He is what he is, and even the feelings that he begins to develop for Leo are shrouded in the darkness.

“My confusion. My fear. It turns you on, right? What kind of sick fuck are you?”

“Is that a trick question?” Alasdair asked, unhooking the chain. “I’m not a person, Leonidas. I’m vampire. That’s the kind of sick fuck I am.” (Kindle Loc. 927)

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Final Verdict:

I loved this book. I really did. I grew up sneaking Anne Rice books into my bedroom, because my parents had forbidden me from reading them until I was older, so I have a deep love for dark vampire novels. Ella Frank writes fantastic characters with complex backgrounds, and there’s a mystery throughout the novel that is intriguing but not overwhelming to the character development.

This is the first book in a trilogy, so keep in mind that the mystery and plot will not be resolved here. But if you’re looking for a delightfully wicked and dark novel, you should absolutely check this out.

(And if you want something lighter and more fun, but still very sexy, I cannot recommend Ella’s Temptation trilogy highly enough!)

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Coming Soon: “Alasdair”, by Ella Frank!!

If you read M/M romance, then you’ve almost certainly heard of (and probably read) Ella Frank’s Temptation trilogy. But now Ella is back with a new series, and the first book is dark, delicious M/M that will completely blow you away! Take one sexy vampire, add in a brilliant scholar, and combine with a very intriguing mystery, and what do you get? Alasdair, the first in the “Masters Among Monsters” series!

Alasdair (Masters Among Monsters Book 1)
Publication Date: October 13, 2015

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A DANGEROUS ALLURE

Bestowed with eternal life by the Ancient Vasilios, Alasdair Kyriakous is one of the most feared and ruthless vampires in existence. His name carries weight across all of the seven continents.

But he is a mystery to his kind, an anomaly among the self-indulgent. While he enjoys the pleasures of the flesh, he is exceptionally particular in his choice of partners and prides himself on his ironclad self-control.

Yet with one look his control will become a thing of the past, and Alasdair will discover that eternal life doesn’t always last forever…

A DEADLY ATTRACTION

Thrust into a world he could never have imagined, Leo Chapel awakens in his worst nightmare. Taken hostage by the dangerously mesmerizing vampire, Alasdair, Leo must rely on his intelligence to escape before he reveals a secret he isn’t even aware he’s hiding.

A FORBIDDEN DESIRE

Unaware that they’ve been brought together by an outside force and are little more than pawns to a higher power, Alasdair and Leo spend time trying to uncover the other’s secrets, the attraction between them growing stronger all the while.

But enemies are watching and preparing to act against them.  When decisions that will alter lives and destinies have to be made—can a dead, grey heart learn to beat again?

Purchase Links:
Amazon (Kindle) BN (Nook) KoboiBooks

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About Ella Frank:

Ella Frank is the author of the #1 Bestselling Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust and is the co-author of the fan-favorite erotic serial, A Desperate Man. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”

A life-long fan of the romance genre, Ella writes contemporary and erotic fiction and lives with her husband in Portland, OR. You can reach her on the web at http://www.ellafrank.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ella.frank.author

Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Philips.

Website Goodreads Author Page Facebook Twitter

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Review: Dangerous Spirits, by Jordan L. Hawk (Rating: 4/5)

hawk-dangerous-spiritsDangerous Spirits, by Jordan L. Hawk (Spirits, Book 2)
Publisher: Self-Published (September 15, 2015)
Page Count: 193 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Romance, Horror

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Henry and Vincent return in this sequel to Jordan’s Restless Spirits, a horror/paranormal series about two men who use different methods to battle and help the dead who are trapped in our realm.

After the events of Reyhome Castle, Henry Strauss expected the Psychical Society to embrace his application of science to the study of hauntings. Instead, the society humiliates and blacklists him. His confidence shaken, he can’t bring himself to admit the truth to his lover, the handsome medium Vincent Night.

Vincent’s new life in Baltimore with Henry is disrupted when a friend from the past asks for help with a haunting. In the remote town of Devil’s Walk, old ties and new lies threaten to tear the lovers apart, if a fiery spirit bent on vengeance doesn’t put an end to them first.

I know it’s an overdone plot, but I love when a character keeps a secret that they know is going to come back and bite them in the ass later. Henry is dreading the moment that Vincent finds out about his disgrace, but he can’t bring himself to tell the truth, too ashamed, so he keeps burying himself deeper in the lie. As a reader, it made for a delicious anticipation!

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I normally don’t like the horror genre very much. I’m a wuss, I admit it! But I love Jordan’s books and her characters, so I gathered my courage and dove in. I don’t think many people would say that these are “horror” books, necessarily. I mean, they’re definitely not Stephen King in terms of creepiness levels. But ghosts covered in flames and hauntings in a small town are definitely enough to get the hairs on the back of my neck rising.

Henry glanced at Vincent, then back to the window. His hand trembled visibly as he reached out and brushed the fabric back just an inch.

A white eye, without iris or pupil, stared in at them. (ePub page 60)

I don’t think it was as good as Restless Spirits, but that’s because the first book had a lot of character development and an equal amount of conflict between the two characters. Dangerous Spirits had a good plot, but very little character development, and the conflict was entirely one-sided. But if I’m not comparing it to the first book, I think it’s still very good!

This is definitely a book for readers who like the paranormal side of the m/m genre. It’s pretty short (under 200 pages), and I would have preferred if there’d been more about Lizzie and Jo, since I find both of their characters incredibly interesting. But it was super enjoyable… even though I may not sleep tonight!

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Review: Josh of the Damned series, by Andrea Speed (Rating: 5/5)

speed-josh-of-the-damnedJosh of the Damned, by Andrea Speed
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Page Count: 196 (complete collection)
Genre: Gay (M/M) Humor/Horror

Rating: 5 out of 5

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After reading a short story by Andrea Speed in the Charmed and Dangerous anthology, I completely fell in love with Josh and his crazy world. I got the first book in this series right away (it’s FREE!!! so you should totally check it out!) and basically devoured it, and then immediately went and grabbed the Complete Collection. Andrea calls these books “goofy horror”, and I completely agree with that genre description!

Josh Caplan is your average late-night convenience store clerk, but the Quik-Mart where he works is nothing like normal with that hell vortex in the parking lot. Waiting on zombies, demons, and other things that go bump in the night might scare some, but they’re actually more polite than the stoners, and Josh welcomes the break in the monotony—especially when he acquires himself a sexy new boyfriend with a deadly secret.

Will Josh survive this retail nightmare? It’s a Big Gulp of a chance, but between the hazard pay and the hottie with a sweet tooth for Josh’s candy, it’s a chance he’s willing to take.

This review is for the Complete Collection, as each story is pretty short by itself.

Okay, first off, I cracked up over and over while reading these! Josh is sassy, sarcastic, and full of hilarious geek references, and the stories are just the right kind of ridiculous.

“Imagine the Hulk with hair, and you’ll have some idea of what you’re dealing with. Although I wouldn’t put that in the manual, ’cause Marvel might sue.” (“Triple Feature #1: Interview with the Empire”)

Helping Josh to stay sane and alive in the chaos is his roommate Doug (a stoner, pizza delivery guy, and all-around awesome friend), his boss Mr. Kwon (surprisingly chill about the hell vortex behind his store), and his insanely hot boyfriend, Colin.

There were pretty monsters? Why hadn’t anyone told him there were pretty monsters? (“Pretty Monsters”)

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Each story in this universe is pretty short, but there’s an over-arching plot as well. Josh is pretty much the least likely hero to ever exist, but he does a pretty good job regardless.

“Why are you invincible, bitch?” Mr. Kwon asked, looking over one of the zombie’s shoulders. Josh held up the wrist cuff. Mr. Kwon’s eyes went wide. “Fuck a duck! Is that a reliquary?” (“Triple Feature #2: Clerk of the Living Dead”)

You should read these stories if you:

  • like horror
  • like horror that is also hilarious
  • think frozen burrito meat might actually be human brains
  • appreciate sentient facial hair
  • are interested in mythology
  • have ever thought that gas stations are kind of creepy late at night

Also, I know a lot of people are interested in reading m/m novels with no erotic content… if that’s you, then let me point you towards Josh of the Damned! Josh and his boyfriend Colin are sweet as candy bars, but there’s no sexytimes to be found here.

Highly recommend all around, and I hope there’s more to come from this series!

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Anthology Review: Charmed and Dangerous (Part Two of Two)

charmed-coverCharmed and Dangerous, an Anthology

Authors: Astrid Amara, K.J. Charles, Charlie Cochet,
Rhys Ford, Gin Hale, Lou Harper, Jordan L. Hawk,
Nicole Kimberling, Jordan Castillo Price, & Andrea Speed
Publisher: JCP Books LLC (August 25, 2015)
Page Count: 480 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Paranormal/Fantasy

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* I was given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

I’m back with the second half of the Charmed and Dangerous anthology! This half features the following stories: “The Thirteenth Hex” by Jordan L. Hawk, “The Soldati Prince” by Charlie Cochet, “One Hex Too Many” by Lou Harper, “Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom” by Andrea Speed, and “The Trouble with Hexes” by Astrid Amara.

You can find Part One of my review here.

My heart races just thinking about all of those amazing authors! I loved the second half of this book just as much as the first, and these five stories are filled with some incredible talent, lots of sexy men, and, of course, plenty of hexes and spells.

(Again, all quotes referenced are followed by the ePub page location.)

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The Thirteenth Hex, by Jordan L. Hawk (★★★★★)
Does this count as historical urban fantasy? It’s an alternate universe where magic exists, and witches and their familiars help infuse hexes for everything from policework to helping crops grow. Whatever genre it is, I loved it!

Hexman Dominic Kopecky doesn’t understand why dashing crow familiar Rook wants his help investigating murder by patent hex. For one thing, Dominic isn’t a witch. For another, the case is already closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

The mystery here was fantastic, and the sexual tension between Dominic and Rook was off the charts! It’s amazing how some authors can create an entire world with gorgeous characters in such a short space! LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Favorite Quote:

Still, Dominic hadn’t been able to bring himself to forget about magic altogether. It haunted him, just as his longing for men did, a need he couldn’t seem to stamp out no matter how hard he tried. (278)

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The Soldati Prince, by Charlie Cochet (★★★☆☆)
In many ways, this was very typical Charlie Cochet writing. Sarcastic and stubborn characters, witty one-liners, and that awesome opposites-attract of the big, tough, serious guy and the small wiry guy with the sense of humor. (Yes, the main characters remind me of Dex and Sloane!)

Riley Murrough goes from serving lattes to being chased by demons. If that wasn’t bad enough, he bears the mark of a shapeshifter king from a magical realm. Riley’s determined to get answers, but if the demons out for his blood don’t kill him, the urge to strangle the arrogant king might.

I really liked the characters, but the romance was kind of unbelievable. The pacing was off, so Khalon does a complete 180 of his feelings for Riley in like two pages. But it was still a lot of fun to read, I have to admit!

Favorite Quote:

“It means he’s made an emotional connection with you, one from the depths of his very soul.”
“Oh. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Because you know, most of his emotional connections leave me thinking he’s close to following through with a physical connection of his fist to my face.” (346)

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One Hex Too Many, by Lou Harper (★★★★☆)
I love when mystery/crime fiction pairs up with urban fantasy, because cops with magic is so much fun to read. This story was heavy on the crime drama, and not so much with the romance, but that was more than okay with me.

Veteran detective Mike Mulligan is an expert on violent crimes—of the occult variety. He might even be cursed. Detective Hugh Fox is eager to partner up and prove himself, but Mulligan is accustomed to flying solo. Can they trust each other enough to track a killer who’ll stop at nothing, not even summoning a demon?

Mike is an interesting character, with some great back story. I love the little hints that were dropped about his history throughout the story, and his actions with his new partner were great. Detective Fox, on the other hand, ended up being as mysterious as the actual crime they were trying to solve. Still, a very interesting read!

Favorite Quote:

“I work alone,” I said once the door shut.
“Because you’re a maverick cop who plays by his own rules?” Parker had a good poker face, only the slightest twitch in the corner of his mouth betrayed he was mocking me. (367)

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Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom, by Andrea Speed (★★★★☆)
I knew from the title alone that this was going to be a hilarious read, and it most definitely was! It looks like this is part of a series, so I definitely need to check out the other books if they’re as funny and quirky as this one.

It’s a boring night at the Quik-Mart for Josh and his friend Doug. Until a vampire with a grudge—and the most adorable backup ever—crashes the store. Can Josh survive the Bathroom of Doom?

Too bad we only get a glimpse of Josh’s sexy boyfriend, but the snarky back and forth between Josh, Doug, and the other characters is so funny! I couldn’t stop laughing the entire time.

Favorite Quote:

“Satan on a unicorn, is getting stoned all you think about?” the vampire exclaimed.
“I’m a pizza delivery driver with a useless degree, and debts I’m never gonna pay off. So what else am I supposed to do?”

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The Trouble With Hexes, by Astrid Amara (★★★★☆)
Right from the first sentence, I knew this was my type of story. Ex-boyfriends who still love each other is one of my favorite tropes, and adding magic to mix makes it even better!

P.I. Tim Keller has a problem. And the only person who can solve it is his ex-boyfriend, Vincent, whose job as a hexbreaker was the reason they broke up. It’s hard admitting he was wrong, especially when coughing up organs. But there’s a missing person to find, a hexmaker to hunt down, and a romance to repair before Tim breathes his last.

This was an emotional rollercoaster as Vincent and Tim rush to find the hexmaker and save Tim’s life. I liked seeing their relationship as it started to heal. The mystery was really well done, too, and the side characters were fantastic. I’d love to read more in this universe!

Favorite Quote:

It was a whole new world and changed everything. If there were hexes, then there could be ghosts. Vampires. Hell, a weight loss pill that worked. Anything was possible. (500)

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And that concludes my review of Charmed and Dangerous! This anthology was absolutely amazing, and I all of the authors involved did an incredible job. I think this would be a great book for someone new to the m/m genre, because it brings together so many well-known authors and gives you a chance to see their writing styles side by side!

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Review: The Possession of Lawrence Eugene Davis, by E.E. Ottoman (Rating: 3.5/5)

ottoman-thepossessionoflawrenceeugenedavisThe Possession of Lawrence Eugene Davis, by E.E. Ottoman
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (September 2, 2015)
Word Count: approx. 35,000 words
Genre: Gay (M/M) Romance; Menage/Poly; Horror/Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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* I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

This book was creepy and sexy all at the same time! I really enjoyed this novella, and I thought the balance of horror and romance was excellent. Lawrence is a man who’s seen some truly horrifying things, so at first the odd, eerie sounds and feelings he encounters in the house he’s inherited don’t cause him any worry. He still has nightmares from fighting in WWI, and his body is scarred and damaged from battle. But when the bumps in the night turn into full-fledged waking nightmares, Lawrence calls for help… and his call is answered by Elijah, an incubus who uses sex to power his vendetta against flesh-eating demons.

The memory of the pain and the hand pushing out at the skin of his stomach, the shape of it, so much like a human hand, rose up again. “Please.” Lawrence couldn’t remember begging like this since he’d come back from the war. “Please, I’ll do anything.” (Kindle Loc. 230)

Given the time period, I did struggle with Lawrence’s (and eventually Billy’s) easy acceptance of Elijah’s need for sex. This is a period when homosexuality is still illegal and disgraceful, and Lawrence and Billy are unwilling to act on their attraction to one another. So it was weird for me that they barely batted an eye when Elijah asks them for sex (often during extremely unsexy moments, like while Lawrence is still covered in blood and gore after an encounter with a demon).

“Best I could do.” Elijah held up his hands. “Especially at such short notice, but still, he won’t be coming back here anytime soon. And now I need to feed.”

“What exactly will that entail?” Lawrence swallowed, thinking he already had a good idea of what Elijah wanted.

“Us fucking.” Elijah smiled, leaning closer. (Kindle Loc. 446)

Honestly, the timing of the erotic scenes is really what brought my rating for this novella down. There would be a delightful horror scene, and great descriptions of demons and the like, and then bam, a sex scene when I had no interest in reading about one. That said, I really loved the mystery and the ghost story, and I liked the way Elijah slotted neatly into Lawrence and Billy’s relationship. This was a short novella, and I would have liked to see it extended to include more plot and character backstory, but it was still very enjoyable!

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Review: Cronin’s Key II, by N.R. Walker (Rating: 3.5/5)

Cover Artist: Sara York

Cover Artist: Sara York

Cronin’s Key II, by N.R. Walker (Book One: Cronin’s Key)
Publisher: Self-Published (May 22, 2015)
Page Count: 195

There’s something to be said for a novel that’s fun, easy to read, and has a great ratio of hot sex and absurd plot. It’s like candy for your brain, and I devoured Walker’s latest in the Cronin’s Key trilogy like a kid with a chocolate bar. Don’t go looking here for high literature and deep, meaningful conversations about life; this is a book where vampires battle Genghis Khan and an army of terracotta soldiers in modern day New York City (and still find time in the bedroom, of course).

Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, it’s delightful. If you can suspend disbelief, you’ll find almost 200 pages of crazy action, vague prophecies, hot vampire sex, and twisted history, all well-written.

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