They Called Him Nightmare by Deja Black (review)

Tagline: Two creatures of the night – one dark, one light – cannot forget a burning touch
Alternate tag:  a vampire’s thirst and need to possess encounters a hotly burning dark man with deeper secrets

They Called Him Nightmare Book Cover Image

Title: They Called Him Nightmare
Author: Deja Black
Genre:  Paranormal Gay Erotica
Format:  Short Story (7k words, 26 pages)

Series: Walk on Wild Side

Publisher: Dreamspinner (June 2016)

ISBN: 978-1-63477-502-1

Retail:  $1.99

Also available:  Walk on Wild Side Anthology

Rating:   star  star  star  star  star  (5 stars – I loved it!)

Dreamspinner’s 2016 Daily Dose anthology includes 30 romantic male/male shifter stories released one a day during the month of June.


Synopsis: Kai Bennu, a man of dark skin and even darker secrets, is taunted as a Nightmare in his small Carolina town.  Golden boy Alex Vasilios is more than intrigued by the Nightmare, yet all of his powerful charm cannot real him in.  A mere touch between the two leaves an immediate burn and a long-term sizzle that does not dissipate. When it is time for men to move on in life, can anything replace and surpass that supernatural boyhood burning and yearning?

Review:  I am not sure how to even begin to review this without revealing the tantalizing details of the story.  Normally, I try not to reveal any more (or at least not too much more) than the publisher’s synopsis unveils.  This short story switches back and forth between the two protagonists, revealing the core hunger and fears of both boys and then men as they each struggle with their own fantastic natures.  The exposition for each character is absolutely compelling, enticing, and enchanting, engaging my rapt attention like no other story has in a long time.

The switch between the point of view that quickly thrusts deep secrets and longings out to the reader obviously worked extremely well for me, binding me in a spell of interest and fascination that usually takes chapters upon chapters to evoke from me as a reader.  While this writing style might not work for some, it took my breath away, reeling me into a supernatural short story incredibly quickly and effectively.

The ultimate physical connection was fine, but the reveal at the end was a perfect payoff for me.


Recommended for fans of: Extremely light and rather dark fantastical creatures; first person point-of-view of quickly and piercingly laying out the longings and fears of supernatural creatures living in a sea of humanity.

Sizzle:
Explicit Heat: fire  fire  fire –  Only two explicit scenes, but they burned very hot for me.
Passion: heart  heart  heart  heart  – For such a short story, it’s hard to imagine more passion that worked for me


Other Comments (spoilers):

The vampire’s narration was the most compelling description of supernatural hunger and lust I have read in quite a while.

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Series Review: KinKaid Wolf Pack by Jessica Lee

Tagline: Series of wolf shifter romantic erotica (gay and bisexual)

Bloodlines Book CoverMake Me Book Cover
HeatRisingimg_0079

TitleKinKaid Wolf Pack Series
Author: Jessica Lee

Genre:  Paranormal Erotic Gay and Bi (m/m/f) Romance
Format:  Series of 4 connected stories (166k words)
Series: KinKaid Wolf Pack (4 titles)

Sites: AuthorGoodreads | Amazon

Publisher: Self-Published (2013-2016)

 

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

Uneven but heated series with a range of sizzling relationships (two m/m and one MMF menage) and a bit of a story, but best for the (sometimes a bit dominating) sex
The first three installments (two novels and a short story) focus on a pair of wolf shifter twins and their struggle to assert their non-traditional sexuality as it collides with pack traditions and treachery along with plenty of heated encounters.  (These first three were also republished together in a trilogy.) The fourth title (a novella) is set in the same pack, but is not particularly tied in with the previous pack storyline and instead is focused on a new relationship.

The underlying story of a shifter pack going through chage extends through the trilogy (2 novellas and one short story) and had plenty of interesting elements, although the strength of this work (especially the first two installments) is clearly the erotic encounters, so I classify it as romantic erotica.  The fourth book combines some of the strength of the relationship building found in the third book, but with a return to a focus on a male/male relationship with two very strong (and one more dominant) males.

The writing starts weak, although the first two installments have decent m/m sizzle.  Somewhere in the third (MMF) book, the story, dialog and character development exposition become significantly better, and the plot becomes more compelling before the heat rises again. While the fourth book returns to a male couple, the characters and relationship building remain stronger and are more than just filler for the sizzle.

Heat: 7/10 – explicit, repeated (25-30%), some kink (variety of MM, including Domination; MMF)

 


Bloodlines Book Cover

#1- Bloodlines – Free Novella (42k words, 192 pages), m/m
Evin, alpha heir to the KinKaid pack, is banished by his father when he refuses to mate a woman to cement a family and pack alliance. The gay shifter in exile encounters Mason, a human heir to a powerful family also rather outcast because of his sexuality. When the sparks begin to fly, the heated intimacy has great implications for both males’ families, health, and position.
Story is not the strength of this first installment, but there is plenty of m/m heat – (full review)

Make Me Book Cover

#2– Make Me– Short Story (8k words, 30 pages), m/m

The alpha and his mate face threats to the pack from outside, resulting in some fear and relief that leads to hot discipline from the dominant wolf.

Short story with “Yes, alpha!” sizzle –  (full review)


Heat Rising Book Cover
#3 – Heat Rising – Short Novel (59k words, 220 pages), m/m/f
Rosa, twin sister of the KinKaid pack’s alpha, is on the cusp of going into “full heat” and therefore needs to choose a mate, but choosing one of the males she longs for would wound one of her best friends.  Kaleb learns his friends’ secrets and only is likely to spill his own when he’s had one too many.  Landry, the bisexual pack enforcer, knows his lineage and unrequited longings prevent him from pursuing his friends, but his resulting trips to the BDSM club have endangered the pack.
Some nice MMF menage sizzle in a bit of a wolfy story  –  (full review)

 


Sins of the Wolf Book Cover
#4 – Sins of a Wolf – Novella (49k words, 180 pages), m/m
Aydin, a rough wolf pack enforcer with a troubled past, is on probation with his new pack, but biting a human in a bar room brawl is not going to make his position any more secure.  Sin, a recently discharged special forces veteran with family issues of his own, jumps in to help another gay guy from getting bashed in the bar room brawl, only to get bit in the process.  Aydin must track down the fleeing human, as an unaware individual turning into a wolf in the midst of a human population would be problematic in so many ways. The resulting heat between the two tough men is palpable and palatable, but each must overcome past decisions, traumatic memories (including PTSD), and family complications if the connection between them has any chance of deepening.
Palpable and, amidst a bit of outside and “humans dealing with wolves” drama, eventually realized heat between two strong males, one a bit more dominant than the other –  (full review)

KinKaid Wolf Pack Book Cover

#1-3 –KinKaid Wolf Pack Triology – 2 Novellas + Short Story (111k words), m/m, m/m/f

Includes the first two novellas and a short story in the series, exploring twin wolf shifters struggling with sexuality in the midst of pack politics and treachery. Plenty of male/male and MMF sizzle in wolf shifter setting –  (full review)


Sins of a Wolf by Jessica Lee (review)

Tagline: Tough biker vet with PTSD bitten by a wolf

Sins of the Wolf Book Cover

TitleSins of a Wolf
Author: Jessica Lee

Genre:  Paranormal Shifter M/M Romance
Format:  Novella  (49k words)
Series: KinKaid Wolf Pack #4

Sites: AuthorGoodreads | Amazon

Publisher: Self-Published (Feb. 2016)
AISN: B00FEQGRWU

Retail: $2.99

Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

Heat: 4/5 – sizzling – plenty explicit, repeated, and with just a touch of Top/bottom domination

Synopsis: Sin, a closeted special forces veteran biker, comes to the defense of a fellow gay man in a bar brawl and gets bitten in the process. Aydin, an enforcer with a troubled past still on probation with the alpha, knows he needs to make sure Sin’s transition to being a shifter does not expose his pack to the human world. The chemistry evident between the two tough gay men could be helpful.

Review: The writing and plot in this installment is much better than in the first two stories in the KinKaid Wolf Pack series. The heat, however, continues to sizzle with several steaming scenes between two very strong and aggressive males. As in the first two books, the sexual intimacy focused on a very masculine man and his strong partner, with a bit of rough and tumble but also straightforward heat between them.

Recommended for: Good for those who like a bit of tough man on man action and love, with one tough guy a bit more dominant than the other, in a wolf shifter setting. Unlike the first two books in the series, the plot and relationship building is present and explore in more than just a few quick sentences here and there. In terms of strength of story, this is more like the third book in the series, although this fourth installment is all male on male.

Comments / possible spoilers:
One dispppointing aspect is while both men are very tough, one becomes significantly more dominating and commanding over another who normally tops, but the slightly less aggressive man only bottoms in the story. However, the author does a better job than some writers in exploring male/male sex outside of just full-on intercourse (although intercourse is still clearly the ultimate physical connection between the two).

This one is on the verge for me  between Adult Romance and Romantic erotica.  There certainly is enough of a plot to have a coherent story beyond what is provided in basic erotica, and the story and relationship building has more foucs and development than just the sex scenes.  Still, the main reason to read this is probably the sizzle, although the story is strong enough to merit interest and attention.

KinKaid Wolf Pack Trilogy by Jessica Lee (review)

Tagline: Series of wolf shifter romantic erotica (gay and bisexual)

KinKaid Wolf Pack Triology Book Cover

TitleKinKaid Wolf Pack Trilogy
Author: Jessica Lee

Genre:  Paranormal Erotic Gay and Bi (MMF) Romance
Format:  Series of 3 connected stories (107k words)
Series: KinKaid Wolf Pack #1-3

Sites: AuthorGoodreads | Amazon

Publisher: Self-Published (Sep. 2013)
ISBN: 9781301298655

Retail: $5.99

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

 Wolf shifter twins’ sexuality (and heated encounters) collide with pack treachery 

Series: Originally released as three separate installments, this trilogy combines two stories (a novella and a short story) about a gay alpha heir and his beau followed by a third (novella-length) centered on his twin sister and her two best friends. (Individual parts detailed below.) A fourth installment in the same setting (but with a separate story) was published separately.

Synopsis: The story centers on threats, pack power struggles, and the personal lives of twin children of the alpha of the KinKaid pack. The first two installments focus on Evin, the gay alpha heir banished to a world where he meets a human he can’t resist. The last installment covers threats to the pack as well as the impending heat and need to mate of Rosa, Evin’s twin sister. She’s in love with two best friends and can’t choose between them.

Review: The three installments of this series contain plenty of heated scenes, and indeed the strength of the first two parts are the heated encounters between Evin and Mason. The third part, Rosa’s MMF story, has much more plot and more developed story telling.  While it delivers a bit fewer sizzling scenes, it still has several heated encounters between Rosa and her friends.

The work starts out with some formulaic and sometimes very thin writing, with decent story and character ideas that are not fleshed out but simply glossed over on the way to the more heated scenes, clearly the focus of the first two (m/m) stories. In the third installment, parts of the middle crank up the tension and read like they were written by an improved, more experienced and nuanced writer. In all of the books, the setting, plot, and character ideas were sound and much of the exposition weak, but  Rosa’s Heat Rising story had enough substance in the dialog and explored enough character and plot tension to make the build to the climatic scenes more substantive and interesting than the non-sexual portions of Evin and Mason’s stories.

Recommended for: Fans of erotic m/m and m/m/f wolf shifter heated eounters, who don’t mind if the supporting plot is a little weak. The underlying story of a shifter pack going through change extends through the trilogy (2 novellas and one short story) and had plenty of interesting elements, but the strength of this work (especially the first two installments) is clearly the erotic encounters, so I classify this as romantic erotica.

Heat: 7/10 – explicit, repeated (25-30%), some kink (variety of MM, including Domination; MMF)


Bloodlines Book Cover
Bloodlines – Free Novella (42k words, 192 pages), m/m
Evin, alpha heir to the KinKaid pack, is banished by his father when he refuses to mate a woman to cement a family and pack alliance. The gay shifter in exile encounters Mason, a human heir to a powerful family also rather outcast because of his sexuality. When the sparks begin to fly, the heated intimacy has great implications for both males’ families, health, and position.
Plenty of heat – (Full review)

Bloodlines Book Cover

Make Me– Short Story (8k words, 30 pages), m/m

The alpha and his mate face threats to the pack from outside, resulting in some fear and relief that leads to hot discipline from the dominant wolf.

“Yes, alpha!” sizzle –  (Full review)


Bloodlines Book Cover
Heat Rising – Novella (49k words, 180 pages), m/m/f
Rosa, twin sister of the KinKaid pack’s alpha, is on the cusp of going into “full heat” and therefore needs to choose a mate, but choosing one of the males she longs for would wound one of her best friends.  Kaleb learns his friends’ secrets and only is likely to spill his own when he’s had one too many.  Landry, the bisexual pack enforcer, knows his lineage and unrequited longings prevent him from pursuing his friends, but his resulting trips to the BDSM club have endangered the pack.
Some MMF menage steam-  (Full review)

 

Heat Rising by Jessica Lee (review)

Tagline: Mating heat mixed among a bisexual wolf and his two best friends (MMF)

Heat Rising Book Cover

TitleHeat Rising 
Author: Jessica Lee

Genre:  Paranormal Adult Bi (MMF) Romance
Format:  Novella (57k words)
Series: KinKaid Wolf Pack #3

Sites: AuthorGoodreads | Amazon

Publisher: Self-Published (July 2013)
ISBN: 9781301396191

Retail: $2.99

Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

Synopsis: Rosa, the twin sister of the alpha, has not yet mated, but her full wolf shifter heat is about to be upon her, and she will need to have a mate.  Unfortunately, she cannot choose between the two men she loves, as they are best friends and she does not to pick one over the other.  Landry, the bisexual chief enforcer for the pack, knows his questionable lineage makes him unsuitable for the alpha’s sister.  He is in a quandary over discovering that his past submissive lover at the BDSM club is the scheming brother of a rival pack alpha, while he also tries to tamp down his own feelings for his straight best friend.   Kaleb is dedicated to helping both of his friends through their predicaments, but only lets his only feelings out after a few too many drinks.  As the rival pack plots and schemes, Rosa, Landry and Kaleb are caught in a web of shifter intrigue, raging hormones, and the most dedicated friendship and love.

Review: This installment in the KinKiad Wolf Pack series is more focused on plot than the preceding stories.  While it shares a few of same eye-rolling weaknesses as its predecessors, overall it is much stronger in terms of story and relationship development. Indeed, while it stated out with some formulaic and thin writing, the middle of the novella cranks up the tension more thoroughly, seeming like it was written by a much improved, more experienced and nuanced writer.  In all of the books, the setting, plot, and character ideas were sound while much of the exposition was weak, but in this third installment there was enough meat in the dialog and tension to make the “build up” to the climatic scenes a bit more fleshed out and interesting than in the previous stories.

Recommended for: Readers who need well-developed and written stories might enjoy this story more than the previous ones.  Fans who like to focus on explicit MMF menage scenes in a wolf shifter setting will likely appreciate this novella the most.  Those who also like some addition male/male action (with a different couple) and the full (but not necessarily wonderfully written) backstory should start with the first two installments about Evin and Mason.

Heat: 6/10 – not as much as in the previous stories, but the few scenes are plenty hot and explicit (focused on MMF menage)

Specific (but rambling) minor critiques and little pet peeves (with possible spoilers):

The Male:

The author uses the term “the male” in place of “man” quite often.  I understand this practice and have seen it before, especially in shifter books, as the characters don’t necessarily think of themselves as men (humans), but shifters (or wolves).  On the one hand, this is a bit of “turnabout is fair play,” since so many male characters in shifter  books refer to female wolves as “the female” or “she-wolf” instead of as a woman.  However, since the characters refer to each other as “man,” this logic is at least a little bit inconsistent in this work.  Overall, the fact that the narration and inner-dialogue repeatedly, almost constantly, refereed to “the male” ended up making the prose read rather awkwardly.  For example:

Uncurling his fingers from the male’s biceps, he stepped away.”

There were plenty of times the author could have used other words instead of man (his friend’s biceps, the other’s biceps, the wolf’s biceps, the guy’s biceps, etc.)   A lighter sprinkling of using “the male” would have added a touch of flavor without making so many sentences sound awkward to my ears.

Not quite gay, not completely straight = fucked up

One of the characters was straight, except for his attraction to his best friend.  The “gay for you” trope is one of my least favorites, the way those stories are written often smack of bisexual erasure to me.  In this story, the main character was openly bisexual, which certainly helped make Kaleb’s thoughts about his own sexuality a little less offensive to me.

He wasn’t quite gay, but there was a part of him that wasn’t completely straight either. Christ. That was fucked up.

Given that his best friend was openly and “fully” bisexual, it strikes me as a stretch that being attracted to women but also one particular man is “not quite gay” (sounds pretty far from gay to me) and that not being “completely straight” is fucked up. Still, these words are Kaleb’s musings about his own sexuality (and not a narrative commentary on it), so even if they strike me as almost offensive, it’s certainly something a person struggling with their orientation could think, even if I wouldn’t have expected those thoughts from Landry’s best friend.

BDSM club pick-up line?

“I know a sub when I see one. And, pup, I can tell you’re just itching for someone to call Daddy.”

As I, myself, am a submissive who formerly frequented BDSM clubs, this line just floored me and struck me as ridiculous. If an unfamiliar Dom said that to me in a club, I think I’d be horrified and aghast (as was the target of this line in the book).  But the more I think about it, if the chemistry were right, I could have been flattered by such an over-the-top approach.  In the right situation, maybe a super-cheesy BDSM pickup line would have worked on me? Yikes!

Issues with the “gay for you” trope (not in this book but, unfortunately many others):

Apart from a personal mini-reaction one semi-offensive line (that actually makes some sense for the character who said it), this mini-rant is not directed at this author (who has a rare, fully bisexual character – which is much appreciated).

Often a character at the center of a “gay for you” story seems to be written as 100% straight but, because they are attracted to one man, they are often labelled as fully gay for that person. In other words, there is often with no recognition of bisexuality – that there are plenty of men who are attracted to women and men to some degree or another. Often, the word bisexual is not mentioned at all or maybe be referred to once in a whole story about a “straight” man attracted to another man. In this book, the author includes a fully bisexual character, and over all Kaleb’s confusion lines hit a negative chord with me. (Just a pet peeve of mine, probably worth a more thoughtful, better researched and supported post, but the “fucked up” line just gave me an opportunity for a mini-rant…)

Bloodlines by Jessica Lee (review)

Tagline: Heated but too quick wolf shifter gay shifter/human “romance”

Bloodlines Book Cover

KinKaid Wolf Pack #1
Title: Bloodlines
Author: Jessica Lee

Genre:  Paranormal Erotic Male/Male Romance
Format:  Novella (42k words)
Series: KinKaid Wolf Pack #1

Publisher: Self-Published (2nd Ed., Oct. 2012)
ISBN: 9781301240289

Bonus: Free from most vendors

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

While this is an older worker (2nd edition in 2012), it’s in the genre I prefer to review (paranormal/wolf shifter male/male romance) and a new installment in the following series was recently released (February 2016).  Bloodlines is a free novella that is a complete erotic read in itself, but is also the first in a series of gay and bisexual erotic and romantic wolf shifter stories that build on an underlying plot line.

Synopsis: Evin KinKaid, in line to be the next alpha of his wolf shifter pack, is banished by his father for refusing to mate with the she-wolf chosen to cement a family and pack alliance. While living in exile, he takes a tumble with Mason Thorne III, a gay human travelling through town who is just as alienated from his powerful human family as Evin is from his pack. Stranded in Evin’s town for the weekend, Mason takes advantage of Evin’s sizzling and sensuous hospitality.  The wolf shifter enjoys the rough and tumble with his guest, being careful not to let his secrets slip or to bite (and therefore potentially turn) his hot and (mostly) accommodating guest. When Evin’s twin sister arrives with dire news, the wolf shifter and his new beau must make some quick decisions that will greatly affect their families at the risk to their own lives.

Review: The character and plot ideas were fairly interesting and intriguing, and some of the intimate connections had decent sizzle, but overall the heat seemed better executed than the relationship or story. The initial attraction of the pair moved very, very quickly to an extremely deep connection, in a manner similar to an “instant mate” trope without the benefit of that plot device. Still, the story and relationship elements that were present were enticing, and the physical intimacy was rather heated.

Overall it was a nice, explicit (romantic erotica) male/male shifter novella with enough glimpses of story and relationship elements to make the sexual intimacy a bit more compelling. This is a quick, erotic and somewhat romantic read that sizzles a bit in itself, but is also a set-up for an additional erotic short story with these two characters, as well as follow-on novellas broadening out to other relationships (including a bisexual male/female menage).

Specific Critiques (with Spoilers):

The general plot points are interesting, bringing up some wolfpack dynamics and shifter issues that are very intriguing, but only explored in the briefest manner, basically building a relatively slight story frame on which to hang the sex scenes.  For example, the pair go from an initial, happenstance meeting (and sex) to seeming to be totally comfortable living with each other in just two days. This (almost) instant love was so overwhelming the fact that his father was likely to die very soon slipped Evin’s mind as well as the mortal peril now faced by his new partner.  Basically, major plot developments were often breezed through in a few sentences, hence I classify this as more erotica than romance.

The focus of the book for me was clearly the intimate sizzle, accounting for about 1/4 of the novella.  The heat takes on a variety of themes, with the first scene slipping easily into a very top/bottom dynamic, followed by more back-and-forth physical confrontation between the pair, before devolving into a deeper, more primal interaction.

Series:

The first two installments (this novella and a follow-up short story) center on a male/male couple, while the third installment is a novella regarding a male/male/female potential menage, and a fourth novel focuses on a new male/male couple. There is a loose story connecting the first three installments, while the fourth is set in the same pack but has a new story.