Of Gods and Monsters (2 and 3) by Wulf Francu Godgluck: Quick Reviews

OF Gods and Monsters Hades (#2)

Release date: January 22, 2016
Link: https://goo.gl/1RZgyF
Page count is: 347

******WARNING*******
This is not a story about a hero, or some bad boy-badass-antihero.
This is a love story between two monstrous villains and one valiant kid, held together by their entwined heartstrings.
It won’t be pretty.
It won’t be pleasant.
There’s no fluffy good feelings about it.
It will rip out your heart and never give it back.

Breno Hades el Oscuro took no bullshit from anyone. He ruled the crime world of the United States. When the King fell, what was left in the ashes was not the small boy that grew up without his father, not the same kid that chose a life of crime at seventeen, nor was it the King who had killed and clawed through a river of blood to stand at the top.

The King was dragged from his throne of bones into a deep dark pit, leaving only the raw flesh of a savage monster to crawl out of Hell.
One that knew love, but didn’t want it again.

Kemono Orochi was destined to inherit the legacy of his father, known as The Dragon’s Tongue. It was an inheritance he never wanted it, never desiring the power that came with the title of Dragon. Kemono ended it all by tearing off the Dragon’s head, watching the serpent’s remains be consumed in hellfire. Now tormented by the scars of his past inflicted by his father, he is struggling to come to terms with the Akuma he has become.

 

One that wants to devour everyone in his path to protect the only one that matters to him.

The only person that had ever made his icy heart beat.

His heart. His love. His beautiful pride.

Rex Hunter dreams of becoming a principal ballerino…all fierce, like a Phoenix. But this Phoenix has lost his wings and fallen prey, straight into the clutched claws and callus hands of two vicious beasts. Each bore the blackest of hearts, each desiring to keep him safe, cherished and loved unconditionally. Or was Rex just destined to be the goo that would stick two shattered souls together and prevent them from forever falling to pieces?

There will be blood, gore and nasty shit.

There will be watersports, crude, angry, sometimes sensual and other times just downright dirty and dysfunctional sex.

 

BUT…

There will always be LOVE…

Because even villains understand the tortured scars love leaves in her wake.

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“Fucker.” Hades spat, and sucked on the joint, the smoke dancing in his lungs while the weed had an orgy in his blood. He should have ripped his motherfuckin’ balls off. He should have taken his piece, pressed it to his sac and cock and blown the devils clean off in his own living room when he said he would take care of Rex. No problema. ‘Cause having a sexy little shit living with you could count as the same goddamn thing. Pride and loyalty to a dead man was fuckin’ him, royally in the ass.

Four years in the box was nothing compared to the hell Hades was going through. He was a dumb fuckin’ idiot. He squeezed his crotch, biting back the groan in his chest at the tender sting of his cock. The fucker was raw, yeah, motherfuckin’ raw, from jacking himself off so many times to relieve the fuckin’ pressure. And there wasn’t a fuckin’ moment he wasn’t reminded of the permanent semi sporting in his pants. His balls were constantly full, ready to birth a thousand mini Hades’ any fuckin’ moment.

Coming home to watch him sleep on the couch, finding the blanket had slid off, exposing his defined chest. Hades had pulled the blanket up, but hadn’t been able to resist the urge to swipe back a lock of the boy’s hair and run it between his fingers. All while imagining how those pink kissers would feel on his own lips, around his cock, and rimming his fuckin’ hairy old ass. He was a perverted fuck and needed to be shot for it. He’d carried the little thing to the bed and tucked him in, smiling, happy as a pig rolling in its own shit. ’Cause, sí, Daddy Hades always had to shove his two cents into it, and always got his goddamn way.

But that was a taste of the torment. Walking in and seeing that kid bent in half, ass tight as fuck, leggings a second skin on short muscular legs, Hades thought he’d burst a nut, seeing the little shit all-bendy-flexible like that. He’d spun and marched his shit right the fuck out of there. Pulled down his leathers in the hallway, took out his cock and stroked himself, watching the fucker belch translucent cum through the air, across the floor and onto the opposite wall.

The alcohol had helped, until two nights ago when everything had gone fuckin’ cosmic chaos as both sides of Hades, the primitive uncivilized King, el cucuy and the nurturing Daddy, had gone all motherfuckin’ batshit crazy. Not even Beo had touched the King this way, only petted el cucuy within. Rex had fuckin’ cuddled the monster, making it pant and wag its spiny tail.

 

OF Gods and Monsters Komainu (#3)

 

Release date: August 9, 2017
Link: https://goo.gl/eUCm7b

Page count is: 347

Hades

His innocence was the fire that blighted the deepest dark, but even he can’t save the King from a past stained so black, the devil won’t even touch it.

Years creep up on you, like a rotting hand: cold and wet, it will drag you down into your grave.

Life will hand you eternity only to rip it away from you.

Love will slaughter you in the most beautiful way and still manage to nail you in the ass, bareback, when you see him choose the heart of another man.

But Death… He is a patient soul. He waits, and he waits, and he waits.

‘Cause the bastard knows he will always have the last laugh when he knocks at the door.

Kemono

Memories were all I had, all I had clung to as my heart turned to stone and finally to dust.

Now he is mine and I will hold him, and I will kiss him. We will dance and we will laugh, and we will cry… We will be human together…

I did not know heaven until I knew him.

There is no greater power that can tear and rip your world apart as when their lips finally kiss yours again.

But being human comes at a fatal price.

Sometimes you have to let go of the hand you hold onto so tightly that it brought pain, because that is the only way you can save them from Death.

Rex

Why did she take them away, hand them back, then force me to choose?

Is love really that cruel, that she would enjoy tormenting you as you watch the two men you love with your whole heart, kill each other…?

And then, my worst fear, my deepest darkest nightmare became a living breathing thing.

Death had come to take from us what we could never replace.

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Kemono

He’d never had that, never even touched Rex other than that single instance when he had stroked Rex’s broken lip before the boy had hugged him, stealing a single febrile kiss. A memory so ancient, yet it held the power to hollow-out Kemono’s darkest nightmares and give him an ephemeral glimpse of nirvana. The thought of simply cuddling with the boy made acid guzzle through his veins, he didn’t know how…to hold Rex that close to him.

It was one thing to touch a man, fuck them while you held them down as they withered under you, or have their lips on your cock as you gripped them by the hair using their throat.
It was a ruinous sentiment to touch and hold close, for the first time in your life, the man who owned your heart and soul.

He was too terrified to even speak to him.

Because the words Kemono needed to say would never be enough to apologize, but not saying anything would be worse.

He was a large disturbing man, a strong, brutal monster, whose hands only knew annihilation, afraid to touch an angel, because Rex’s touch would be more fatal to Kemono than any cicatrix he had received.

 

 

This is Book 2 in the Of Gods and Monsters series, but it’s Book 1 of the story of Hades and Rex. **SPOILER** This is not an HEA, in my opinion. If non-HEAs that are just cruel make you want to throw things like they make me want to throw things, this is not the book for you. I’m still angry and I probably still need a cooling off period before I write this.

***several weeks later***

Hi, I’m back and I’m now more able to approach talking about this book in more than frustrated grunts and curses. I’ve put some distance between me and this book by reading some nice, true HEAs and in fact I had to review my notes to remember all the things that made me see red just a short few weeks ago.

Hades is first introduced in Book 1 of the series, Gods and Monsters: Menoetius, which tells the story of Beo and Colt. Now, Godgluck warns us that the story of Beo and Colt is rough and not for the faint of heart. Fine. That’s actually true, but I liked the book overall and was happy for their HEA. In that book we meet Hades, the president of the Cerberus Motorcycle Club. Hades is an angry, rough, unrepentant criminal who is so bad ass crazy, that Colt — himself a borderline nut job — quakes in fear when he comes around. Hades’ connection to Book 1 is through Beo, his ex-lover that he still cannot get over. Naturally this causes issues with Colt and these two never really get along; rather, they manage to not kill each other in deference to darling Beo, who cares for them both (though naturally has found his soul mate in Colt.)

Anyway, to say Hades is rough around the edges is an understatement. He’s violent, crude, and he always describes himself as physically ugly. But Hades does have some softness to him. Sure, he will kill someone who’s wronged him without thinking twice, but we know he still cares for Beo and would do anything to help him. We just need to find him his own soul mate that can love him through his faults. Enter Rex, a young ballet dancer whose connection to all of this is through his father, the MC club’s president when Hades was a teenager. Hades looked up to Dean Hunter and as the man lay dying after a shootout, he made young Hades promise to take care of Rex. But shortly after, Rex was sent to live in Japan as the ward of a powerful underworld boss. Hades doesn’t lay eyes on him again until maybe 15 years later and it’s lust at first sight for them both. This book should also have a warning, that it’s rough and gross and hard and sometimes funny. Hades is bat shit cray, but we still kind of like him. For instance, Beo has a kitten, and I love these big toughies who try to outlast a kitten that wants to make you their bed. Good luck, grumpy hero! There’s also a dom/sub aspect to their relationship, which honestly isn’t terrible (I’m not a huge fan and I’ve read worse). Though Rex calls him “Daddy Hades” and that causes my Squick-O-Meter to go off. I will warn you right now: the sex scenes are rough and hot, but include bodily fluid exchanges that, in my opinion, are beyond turn-off gross. I had to skip parts. Also, nearer the end of the book, Hades began displaying abusive relationship red flags that pissed me off, though it actually felt a bit out of left field. I think in Hades’ mind it’s part of the dom/sub culture, which is another reason I just can’t get into that whole scene. It’s a very thin line between abuse and dom/sub and that’s just too close for my comfort.

Hades ends on a cliffhanger, so don’t even bother to just try this book and walk away. I liked this one overall, and I wish I hadn’t because I may not have ventured into the next one. Man, that’s really where I got angry at this whole story.

Komainu picks up after the cliffhanger ending to Hades. I’m a little miffed at both Hades and Rex at this point and let me tell you something. When the author puts in an apology to readers as the dedication, asking for forgiveness, I want you to stop and think very carefully whether you want to go through with this. There’s a lot of crazy, pain and anger waiting for you. Kemono, Rex’s childhood, not-quite lover, has inherited his father’s underworld empire and is on a mission to find him — and kill any and all romantic rivals. Rex certainly has a type, doesn’t he?  Hades and Kemono hate each other instantly. But each are powerful leaders of their own empires, so they can’t just kill each other willy-nilly, opting instead to forge a temporary alliance in order to find Rex, who’s disappeared. They figure the only person that wants to find Rex safe and sound more than themselves is the other, so who better to work with? Once they find him, all bets will be off, of course, but in the meantime, the embark on a year-long, cross country search.

They finally find him and the three do the menage thing for a while. Threesome’s are also not really my thing as I don’t care what anyone says, someone will always be left out and that’s such a drag on my already low self-esteem. Everyone loves Rex. Hades grudgingly thinks Kemono is tolerable but is nothing compared to Rex; Kemono actually kind of falls in love with Hades. He’s a bit softer than Hades, but as I already told you, someone ALWAYS is odd man out, and Kemono is that guy. Which, I feel bad for him of course, but my ‘ship here is clearly Hades and Rex. Then because both Hades and Kemono are the kings of their respective empires, there’s always danger from one direction or other. That danger finally hits them, and Kemono is gone. And while initially he was as psycho as Hades, I didn’t hate him.

Rex loved Kemono in a way, but he realizes that Hades has his whole heart. And now Hades and Rex can be together, right? … Right …? RIGHT? Listen, don’t be angry. Don’t wail to yourself that it isn’t fair and curse the author’s name. It does no good. You were warned at the outset that this isn’t happy, and you were asked to be forgiven by the author 200 pages ago. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT WAS? I won’t give you details but … it’s awful. And I’m angry at both Rex and Hades. Rex essentially tries to play psychologist with Hades and for God’s sake … it’s Hades. You KNOW what he’s like, he’s completely unhinged on a good day, you cannot try to manipulate him into admitting stuff that may not really be true and are really unimportant. God, I’m getting mad all over again about it, and honestly my heart hurts for Hades. Don’t get me wrong, Hades does some truly bad things afterwards, but it’s because he’s cracked. Completely and utterly broken. And? The book just ends, and you’re left blinking at your Kindle debating whether it’s worth finding out if smashing it on the ground will make you feel better (it won’t). I don’t feel like I’m spoiling, per se. I just want to give fair warning to those of us who go from “yay!” to “Hulk-smash” in .3 seconds to think about it before you start these books.

Godgluck’s writing style is frenzied, full of curses, gross out images and crude language. I don’t hate it necessarily, but in Komainu especially, my patience was short, wondering where the part comes that Godgluck apologizes for in the dedication. Don’t get me wrong, there are some funny light moments in both books, the way Hades speaks sometimes is kind of sweet and charming, in his gruff way. At the same time, there are some parts that are just not clearly written; where I didn’t know or realize what was going on and had to re-read a few times or give up altogether. Some of the words he uses are just so odd: “fuckpecker”, “disco stick”, “dick tears” and other oddities began to grate on my nerves. Various characters or things happen that are talked about as if we’re supposed to know all about them, but it seems that those are just threads to other stories that don’t have direct impact on this story.

So, this is either a crappy non-HEA or just a cliffhanger. I’m not sure which I’d prefer. On the one hand, I want to see what happens next, with these jerks ultimately being together. On the other hand, Hades has done stuff I’m not sure one can come back from. Rex has also betrayed Hades in a way that may not be forgivable. I get very angry when I feel an author is emotionally manipulating me; having Rex act completely out of character just to up the angst and rip the reader’s heart out and Hades reacting by going completely off the deep end. If there’s a sequel to the story of Hades and Rex, I may read it. I don’t know how this story makes it to a HEA, though. I honestly can’t tell if I liked Komainu or not.

Hades: 3.5 pieces of candy

Komainu: 3 confused pieces of candy

Wulf Francú Godgluck
They come to me in the night, creeping into my head. Their voices are all different, their stories all dissimilar, but they keep saying the same thing…

“Show us, tell us, bring us into your world, and make us known.”

Then I sit and they take over. They tell their tales of love, loss and sinister misfortune. Not all of them get a happy ending, but they are pleased when their part is written.

I sometimes find myself lost in my own mind; a world very similar to our own yet so different. Things don’t go bump in the night— they squeal and crawl under your skin, making you grind your teeth, and making your stomach turn over and putting your nerves on edge. Then there’s the drama. Oh, the drama!

Wulf Francú Godgluck hails from South Africa. His work is not for the faint-hearted! In his books you’ll find… all the beasties with their nasty claws and teeth, and some you didn’t even know existed.

But the monsters aren’t all real.

Some live inside us. Who knows what he will make you discover about yourself, lurking in your heart, behind the closed walls in the deep, black recesses where no light penetrates?

Wulf will steal your heart and never give it back. More than likely, he’ll pin it to the wall with a bobbypin and sit there sipping his tea while you writhe and squeal on the floor…

STILL sure you want to read a Wulf Godgluck book?

Proceed at your own peril.

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Yuletide Truce by Sandra Schwab: Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt, New Release Review and Giveaway

London, 1845

It’s December, Alan “Aigee” Garmond’s favorite time of the year, when the window display of the small bookshop where he works fills up with crimson Christmas books and sprays of holly. Everything could be perfect — if it weren’t for handsome Christopher Foreman, the brilliant writer for the fashionable magazine About Town, who has taken an inexplicable and public dislike to Aigee’s book reviews.

But why would a man such as Foreman choose to target reviews published in a small bookshop’s magazine? Aigee is determined to find out. And not, he tells himself, just because he finds Foreman so intriguing.

Aigee’s quest leads him from smoke-filled ale-houses into the dark, dingy alleys of one of London’s most notorious rookeries. And then, finally, to Foreman. Will Aigee be able to wrangle a Yuletide truce from his nemesis?

Title: Yuletide Truce

Publisher: Sandra Schwab

Release Date (Print & Ebook): 22 September 2017

Length (Print & Ebook): 18,000 words

Subgenre: historical romance, Victorian romance, mm romance, holiday romance

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Cute quick little Holiday read. Aigee works in a bookshop where he writes book reviews for the shop’s magazine. Aigee’s thoughtful reviews reflect his deep love of not just the stories themselves but the artwork accompanying them. Handsome Christopher Foreman is a rival magzine’s book reviewer who seems to have it out not just for Aigee, but his magazine and book reviews as well.

There’s no hope for these two getting along until one night when Aigee saves Foreman from a beating and robbery by two street urchins. From there, things progress quickly where the two begin to want to know each other better and move on from past reciprocal hurts.

Like I said, super fast read, it’s really kind of a quick study of two people over a span of a week or so. In other words, there’s not going to be much character development here, but for the length, there were still a couple of nice love scenes.

3 pieces of eye candy

This was such a sweet solid story. Definitely showed the type of research this author did on everything from clothing to locations, even to vocations in England in 1845.

The author did a great job of character development of Aigee-the story is told from his point of view-in such a short amount of words. We learn about his childhood, his mother’s illness, even how he came to work in a bookstore. I also liked that he recognized that he was gay, and didn’t try to hide away how he felt from himself.

As he and Kit recognized their attraction for each other, and the story came to a close, they acknowledged that they would work to be friends, and perhaps more. It wasn’t a “I love only you, forever and ever”, which was perfect for the confident Aigee, and the fact that they had only really known each other a short time. It was a good way to continue their relationship, allowing it to grow.

I’d love to see how these two continue to build on that relationship, with an update at some point. This was well-written, with fantastic descriptions of locations. Recommended for those looking for a quick holiday read.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

Even at this late hour, the streets were full of people, carts, and carriages, and the never-ending din of iron wheels and hooves made conversation impossible on the main thoroughfares. But they could walk side by side, and because the pavements were so crowded, nobody took any notice of two men walking close enough for their shoulders to brush. Indeed, close enough that they could occasionally link their little fingers or brush a thumb over the back of the other’s hand, each touch lasting no longer than a heartbeat. And yet it was enough to stoke Aigee’s desire until he felt he was burning up with it.

The walk to his lodgings had never seemed that long.

They didn’t meet anybody on the stairs, and then, finally, they were in Aigee’s room, and he could close the door behind them. He slid the bolt home and turned. “So—”

The next moment, he found himself pressed back against the wood, with Kit’s mouth on his in hot demand, Kit’s hands on his jaw, cupping his face.

Aigee made a sound of surprise, but then opened his lips quite willingly for Kit’s onslaught. With his hands on Kit’s slim hips, he drew the man further against himself until they touched chest to thigh.

“Hmm…”

One of his hands went to Kit’s arse, encouraging his hips to cant up against him, while Kit deepened their kiss. Greedily, Aigee swallowed his moans. He inserted a thigh between Kit’s, pressing upward, and was rewarded with more muffled moans and groans.

“You!” With a breathless laugh, Kit tore his mouth away and drew back a little. “You.” He trailed a hand that wasn’t quite steady down the side of Aigee’s face. “Calling me a wicked man and then proceeding to drive me insane with all those little touches on the way here.” He gave Aigee a short, hard kiss. “It would have served you right if I had started to rip off your clothes in the middle of the street.”

Aigee grinned, feeling ridiculously pleased with himself. “That would have caused a bit of a scandal,” he said mildly.

Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now, she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances (some of which she now uses to shamelessly fangirl over Punch, her favorite Victorian magazine).

She holds a PhD in English literature, and in autumn 2015, she appeared on the BBC documentary Great Continental Railway Journeys to talk about another favorite topic of hers, the Grimms’ fairy tales (while walking through a rather muddy stretch of the Black Forest) (there were a lot of slugs, too).

She lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.

Connect with Sandra:

Website: http://www.sandraschwab.com

Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/k4j3w6

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScribblingSandy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SandraSchwab.Author/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/scribblingsandy/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/SandraSchwab


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A Master For Michael by Morticia Knight: Release Day Review

Finding a Master for Michael won’t be easy, but Javier is determined that his boy will have the best—even if it means letting him go.

The Hampton Road Club is a secret gathering place for men of a more sadomasochistic nature. The 1920s might be roaring, but certain practices are still frowned upon in open society. Michael’s job is to greet the club members as they arrive and to report directly to the club manager, Javier. Sometimes, his direct contact with Javier has nothing to do with the club members and everything to do with submitting to the strict Master.

Javier would give anything to keep Michael as his permanent boy, but he owes his boss, Saul a great personal debt for helping him when he was at his lowest. Saul taught him that professionalism is the key to keeping things running smoothly at the club. He knows Saul would be greatly disappointed if he were to ever find out about what goes on between him and the club greeter behind closed doors. That’s why he’s never revealed to Michael how he really feels and why he must do the one thing for which he’d never thought he’d have the courage: Give Michael away to a new Master.

General Release Date: 12th September 2017

Pairing: MM Book Length: Novella

Genre: Bondage and BDSM, Erotic Romance, Gay, Historical

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Michael is the greeter at a secret men’s sex club in 1920s LA. He’s a sweet kid who’s had a harsh upbringing and while down on his luck was befriended by one of the club’s masters, Javier, and given a home and a job. Those parts are told through flashback. I don’t think it’s spoilery to say that in the year and a half that since Michael came to the club, he’s become Javier’s sub on the down low, and has fallen in love with the kind Dom. Javier, trying to sustain a level of professionalism in front of the staff and in particular club owner Saul, keeps Michael and the relationship at arm’s length. Saul is kind of a bright guy and suspects that under Javier’s cool façade run strong feelings for Michael. Saul sets in motion a plan to see if he’s right.

This is a very short story, and being BDSM, it’s not my usual cup of tea. We quickly learn Javier and Michael are in love with each other and Javier’s fear of disappointing Saul keeps him from making his relationship with Michael more official. While this hasn’t made me a fan of BDSM, it certainly didn’t make me hate the genre and it’s a sweet story, really. Morticia Knight fans will probably want to give this one a try.

3 pieces of eye candy

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King of the Fire Dancers by S.T. Sterlings: New Release Review and Excerpt


When he’s propositioned by a wealthy stranger, it seems Coy Conlin’s impoverished life is about to be upgraded. But before he can share the news with his family, he comes home to find his grandmother murdered and his little brother missing. To make matters worse, he’s thrown in prison along with every other shifter under the Sovereign’s orders.
August Seaton left his laboratory job at the Asuda Registry to become a Registry officer. But after a mission with his partner goes horribly wrong, August ends up with Coy’s dead grandmother on his hands, and Coy thinks he’s the murderer. Worst of all, his partner discovers his secret.
August is a shifter. And now he’s Coy’s cellmate. Coy and August must survive each other, abusive guards, and a scientist hell-bent on forcing Coy into a breeding program.
Teamed up, the pair escape prison and journey across the country. With the Registry hot on their trail, they have enough things to worry about. Falling for each other wasn’t supposed to be one of them.

King of the Fire Dancers
Author: S.T. Sterlings
Series: Shift Happens
Release Date: August 14, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-947139-59-6
Format: ePub, Mobi, PDF
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Category: Romance
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Word Count: 89700
Sex Content: Explicit
Pairing: MM
Orientation: Bisexual, Gay
Identity: Cisgender


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Chapter One Excerpt

King of the Fire Dancers
S.T. Sterlings © 2017
All Rights Reserved

There were two things that Coy Conlin was exceptionally skilled at. The first was dancing. The second, and more unconventional, was turning into a dragon. Both were in his blood and took years of trial and error to perfect, but the former wasn’t a danger to those around him. It wasn’t easy maneuvering a dragon body, especially not one as big as his. Dragons had claws, scales, and fangs. He even had the misfortune of retaining his proneness to seasonal allergies, which sure as hell took explosive sneezing to a whole new level. Still, thanks to his grandmother—a dragon shifter like him—he’d mastered shifting and everything that it entailed from a young age.
Like hunting.
His prey was a slender boy with white skin and blue eyes. The boy raced past, auburn hair catching the wind and blowing about his head. He scurried through the dried grass, his pale, gangly legs kicking up dirt as he rushed to hide behind a large tree. Laughter disguised as a growl escaped Coy’s mouth. As if a mere tree would provide the boy sanctuary.
Coy hated flying. Dragon or not, he preferred to keep his feet—and claws—securely grounded. But, humans were often smarter than they looked, and he knew that if he continued to creep along the ground, the boy would feel the vibrations caused by his heavy footsteps. And so, he pushed off, sharp talons grazing earth as he hovered above the coarse ground. His wings, as wide as sails on a cutter, pierced the air and sent forward a powerful gust of windblown, dusty dirt. He flapped them again, creating a mini dirt storm between himself and the tree and, most importantly, his prey.
A shower of prickly leaves and thin, brittle branches fell to the ground. Seconds later, the boy emerged from behind the tree, arms up and over his head, shielding himself from the downpour. Amidst the cascading debris, Coy caught the look of determination on the boy’s face. Wedged tightly in the boy’s grip was a rock, jagged and angled, the tip pointing toward the sky. A rock? Really? A puny, misshapen hunk of slate? What good would that do against a ninety-foot-long dragon with scales as black as onyx and five times as hard?
A rock.
The little idiot.
The boy let out a wail of a battle cry and charged forward, gripping the rock in his hand like a warrior wielding a sword. There were hundreds of ways Coy could have reacted, and most would have ended with the boy dead on his feet. Instead, he stood there, a beacon of massive power and pride, and allowed the boy to attack. He didn’t feel the impact of the rock smashing against his leg, though he did see the resulting blood. It wasn’t his. It would have taken much more than a rock to puncture his scales.
It was the boy’s.
The force behind the thrust of his hand had caused the rock to ricochet off a section of scales and created a shallow cut in the center of his reddened palm.
Coy had been specific with the rules—no blacking out, no crying, and no bloodletting. If any of those happened, the game ended immediately. And, although the human tried to hide it, he was definitely bleeding.
“No, wait. I’m okay. I swear it. I’m fine. Look. It barely—”
The protest fell on deaf ears—literally. Coy couldn’t hear—or see—anything during the transformation. It was as if he were alone in a black, soundproof room, nothing but darkness and depth and the feeling of endless falling. His heart rate quickened, slamming against his chest like a musician’s calloused hands pounding against a hand drum. He inhaled through his nose, focusing on the rhythm and physically and mentally controlling the pace of his heartbeat. He calmed his mind, grasping at emotions pulsing like lightning, smoothing them out until his vision began to return. First, blurs of colors: reds and browns and a single blob of white standing directly in front of him.
Then, all at once, everything returned.
“It’s barely a scratch,” the boy muttered, folding his pale arms over his chest.
“Too bad,” Coy replied, rubbing at his jaw. It felt good to use his vocal cords again. He was incapable of speech as a dragon, just limited to snarls and hisses…and fire breathing. That last one came in handy. “Rules are rules, Ari.”
Ari—Coy’s adopted brother—frowned. “You didn’t even give me a chance.”
“A chance to what?” Coy rolled his shoulders in an attempt to relax some of the tension in his muscles that came from shifting. “Find another rock? What was that supposed to do?”
He trudged away from his younger brother, crushing dead grass beneath his bare soles. He spotted his discarded sarong lying by a fragment of slate, the latter’s golden-brown surface highlighted with speckles of fiery red. The color was reminiscent of his own skin, warm brown with red undertones—the exact opposite of Ari’s. Even if Ari had somehow managed to slightly injure him with his dumb rock, the bruise would have been difficult to see. One of the many perks of having brown skin was that it didn’t display bruises well. Growing up, that played to his advantage with the number of fights he got into.
Ari pouted. “It was the only thing I could think of.”
“Yeah, well.” Nude, Coy bent down to retrieve his sarong. “That type of thinking is going to get you killed. Or worse, you’ll get your ass kicked.”
Ari rubbed his bloody hand against his sweat-soaked tunic. “How can getting beat up be worse than dying?”
Coy watched as the blood stained the faded fabric. Ari had already outgrown most of his clothes. What he had left was either tainted or torn. Coy would have to take up private performances at this rate just to make sure he could afford to buy Ari clothes.
“If you’re dead, you won’t have me around to rub it in.” He grinned at Ari and then motioned toward the open wound on his hand. “Better not let Dinina see that. You know how she gets.”
He wrapped the thin, cobalt-colored sarong around his waist, securing the two ends into a knot. They’d spent half the morning outside, which meant he’d spent just as long in his dragon form. He’d be exhausted later, but it was worth it. He always had fun hanging out with his little brother. Still, he felt like he was forgetting something.
And then he remembered.
“Shit!” he shouted, the sound so loud and sudden that it startled an unkindness of ravens perched in a nearby tree.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Ari asked, blue eyes wide with concern.
There were several things wrong, and all of them could be summed up with two words.
“The Registry.”

**SPOILER ALERT** I really liked this.

Coy Conlin is a dragon shifter who enjoys a career as a popular fire dancer at a circus, and recently acquired a wealthy, ah, patron. He makes enough money from their dalliance to quit dancing (if he chooses) and live quietly with his grandmother (also a dragon shifter) and his adopted brother Ari, a human. They live in the kingdom of Asuda, where shifters are the minority and are monitored by the Registry, who perform regular and kind of demoralizing interrogations and bodily inspections of all the shifters in the kingdom. Shifting is tightly regulated, and shifters are chipped.

Registry officer August Seaton is a new recruit and while Coy is appreciative of the guy’s looks, you might guess that these two will embark first upon an adversarial relationship before anything else fun and sexy can happen. That’s okay, I can wait! Coy is justifiably resentful towards the Registry, but his instincts lean towards a teasing and sarcastic nature. Despite Coy being a part-time dragon, and a large human to begin with, he’s more likely to verbally spar and bait his opponents than resort to violence or physical resistance. Coy has some family-related trauma from his youth that still haunt his dreams and while we know August’s childhood caused him to grow into a friendless near-recluse, we don’t find out why right away. August, like many humans, believe that shifters are sub-humans, but he also feels compassion for them.

The king experiences a tragedy that results in all shifters being imprisoned indefinitely. During the sweep Coy’s grandmother is killed and August allows Coy to believe that August killed her (he didn’t because that? Would be unforgivable). Until roughly the midway point of the book, we see Coy in prison, how he and the other shifters are mistreated and further dehumanized, and his hatred for the Registry — and August in particular — fester and grow. The two are then thrown together and the remainder of the book involves an escape attempt and the two men learning to trust each other as they grow closer.

I won’t say the first half is dull or moves slow. It’s necessary and we learn about the attitudes towards shifters, and how Coy and August interact with the world, themselves and each other. Coy’s not simply an angry guy, he’s a bit of a tease and a flirt and knows how to charm people for what he wants. August keeps to himself and being a lonely shut in, it’s easy to see how he is manipulated by his partner, Fate, and others. Their initial interactions are understandably tense and it’s not until the second half that the action really takes off. Once they spend time together, August loosens up just a bit, and he and Coy have an easy and fun bantering relationship. I laughed a lot and just really enjoyed how they were with each other. It wasn’t until I was 80% in that I realized this is actually part of a series — which is good because it was nowhere near getting wrapped up at that point. As you might suspect, these two really start to care for each other, throwing them into confusion as they each deal with their preconceptions about the other and of course their own personal traumas keeping them from wanting to give themselves to another person. This is a slow burn and we only get a teasing amount of gratification before it ends and we’re left waiting, wondering when the next book will be out. Talk about angst! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

3 pieces of eye candy, with the caveat that I think I might be a bit stingy considering the smile on my face when I finished. I’m wary of committing when I don’t know when I’ll get the next fix, er, book. Basically I’m holding this review hostage until I get the next installment and I can make a more informed decision!


S.T. Sterlings is a university librarian, a part-time instructor, and a full-time fangirl. She is originally from Virginia but currently lives in Southern California with her two sons and her maniac of a dog.

Website: http://www.ststerlings.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ststerlings

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Changing Tides by Alex Standish: Release Day Review and Giveaway

While most pirates sail in search of riches, Captain Devon Hall, the infamous Phantom of the Caribbean, is driven by vengeance. Devon has sworn to put an end to the corrupt governor of Jamaica and break the ruthless man’s stranglehold in the Caribbean.

When Devon is wounded and stranded on land, an unlikely rescuer comes to his aid. Brett Campbell is nothing like his uncle, the governor, and his goals are not so different from Devon’s. Brett longs for freedom, but his obligations to protect those under his uncle’s control keep him from fleeing. Throwing in with Devon might increase both their chances of success—and survival.

When the governor’s attempts to destroy Devon escalate and place Brett in danger and in the hands of the ruthless and depraved pirate Captain Blackburn, Devon must risk everything to save the man he loves and repay his enemies.

All Devon’s ever wanted is his ship, his freedom, friends who stand by his side through thick and thin, and someone to love. But facing dangers at sea and on land, Devon wonders if they will live to enjoy it all.

Title: Changing Tides
Author: Alex Standish
Release Date: August 16, 2017
Category: Historical: Americas
Pages: TBD (Novella)

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Changing Tides tells the tale of Devon, a notorious pirate known as the Phantom of the Caribbean who’s the captain of The Flying Horse. He and his crew do what pirates do, that is sail around looking for ships to commandeer and plunder. In between pirating, he’s got it in for the governor of Jamaica, Rupert Campbell, who Devon responsible for his father’s death, and is always looking for opportunity to take the guy down. The book opens with Devon wounded but stumbling his way to the Governor’s mansion where he is found by Brett, the Governor’s nephew. Brett nurses Devon back to health and during his recovery, he and Brett grow fond of each other. Naturally these two are going to have a bit of a hard time getting this thing off the ground, and before they can do much, the governor returns and Devon must flee. What follows is a pirating adventure that sort of reminded me of the classic Treasure Island: hidden treasure, an old map, adventure, ship battles, kidnappings, revenge, the high seas.

There were so many elements that would make me like this book: Pirates, romance, fights, rescue, bad guys getting their comeuppance…but I did not love this. The writing is a bit stilted and the details are kind of bland. I didn’t really feel anything for the characters or the romance. There’s a lot of tell, not show, here and conversations just don’t feel quite natural. There are a few love scenes, but at one point, Brett is half dead and it feels kind of icky for them to be attempting sexy times. This feels like an early writing attempt as far as dialogue and writing style go, but the plot wasn’t horrible. In fact, thinking back to Treasure Island, the style of writing is similar in that there’s lots of action and plot, and it’s much less character driven — not my favorite thing. Still, the good parts were okay and the less good parts really weren’t the worst I’ve read. I’d give the author another try in the future.

2.75 pieces of eye candy


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The Foxling Soldati by Charlie Cochet: Release Day Review and Giveaway

Foxling Toka has served the Soldati king for centuries, and now he attends to the kingdom’s cherished Soldati prince. It’s a position of honor, and as Toka helps the once-human prince adapt to their magical realm, he finds joy in their friendship. He also grows bolder in his encounters with Rayner, Soldati warrior and the king’s second. But the laws are clear: servants and Soldati are not permitted to mate. It doesn’t matter that Toka lost his heart to the dashing cad long ago.

Rayner never imagined he would fall in love with a servant, but the clever and beautiful foxling has ensnared him, and he resents the regulations keeping them apart. When an arrogant and spiteful king visits from a neighboring realm, Rayner is in danger of losing everything. But Soldati warriors don’t surrender, and he intends to fight all the harder to keep Toka where he belongs—in Rayner’s arms.

Title: The Foxling Soldati
Series: Soldati Hearts: Book Two
Author: Charlie Cochet
Release Date: August 16, 2017
Category: Fantasy: Urban Fantasy; Paranomal: Angels & Demons; Paranormal: Werewolves/Shapeshifters
Pages: TBD (Novella)

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Welp, that didn’t turn out like I thought it would.

Let me explain. I tend to shy away from fantasy books in general and shifter stories specifically. I’m not sure why. But this is an m/m and has a historical feel, so I gave it a try. What’s the worst that can happen?

Toka is a playful shape-shifting foxling who lives in the Soldati realm which is ruled by tiger shifters. It’s a nice place, actually: everyone seems to be happy and gets along, the king, Khalon, is easy going with a sense of humor, humility and since finding his fated mate, Riley, is pretty much in honeymoon mode 24/7. Toka’s lot in life is to be a servant, but the Soldati treat their servants (though let’s be honest, they’re slaves) kindly and respectfully. Rayner is the king’s sexy, tiger-shifting right-hand man whose (mutual) interest in Toka goes from flirtation in Book 1 (The Soldati Prince) to physical almost right away here. Pair up a tiger-shifting warrior with a lean twink-like foxling and you’re going to have some sexy times.

Toka and Rayner’s flirtations grow more heated and draw them closer together, physically and emotionally. Toka is just… so sweet, and I always like to see a big, tough alpha like Rayner show his soft, gooey center trying to please his little fox. There’s a bit of angst about whether this coupling is a fun distraction or true love — but it hardly matters because there’s a stupid ancient rule on the books that forbids Soldati and servants to mate. So, while the two can fool around all they want, they can never legally, officially, or openly pledge themselves to each other. Doesn’t that make you so mad? Me too.

The real trouble starts when the Soldati are visited by the king of a neighboring realm who is, essentially, a bear-shifting bully whose desire for revenge against Rayner fuels an uproar amongst the Soldatis and pits long-time friends — and new lovers — against each other. Toka finds himself in an intolerable situation and Rayner has to decide how far he will go, how much he will give up to keep Toka with him.

This is a short, sweet read and the short format naturally requires a sped-up lust-to-love-to-angst-to-resolution timeline and that may not be for everyone. Cochet’s writing is quick and to the point, and the plot flows smoothly. There are light hearted moments, the characters are drawn well and I’m mad, sad and a bit angsty along with them at times. There’s threat of rape and a couple of beatings that take place. Still, things may be a little too happy-happy for some, but I think it worked here for me because of the short-length format (Do not give me 800 pages of happy-happy). I liked Riley, the king’s husband, a lot and while you don’t need to read his book (The Soldati Prince) first, you do need to read it. DO IT. I knew I would get an HEA (because otherwise I would break things) but a little detail at the end made me even happier. So, while I shy away from shape shifting books in general, I was pleasantly surprised in how much I enjoyed this book and the series. Looking forward to reading more Charlie Cochet.

3.75 pieces of eye candy!


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This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.