He’s Just Knot That Into You by Nico Jaye (review)

Tagline: Desperate Alpha misses the potential mate right under the horned rimmed glasses in front of him

Book Cover

Cover: Anna Sikorska
Title: He’s Just Knot That Into You 
Author: Nico Jaye

Genre:  Paranormal m/m shifter romance
Format:  Novella (42k words)

Sites:  PublisherGoodreads

Publisher: Dreamspinner (June 2016)
ISBN: 978-1-63216-823-8

Retail: $4.99

Rating:   star  star  star  half-star  (I liked it alot!)

Synopsis:  When Tanner moves to Chicago for a new job, he experiences his First Shift, a revelation that signifies he’s met his mate since the last full moon. The only problem? He doesn’t know who it is. To find his mate, he enlists his new assistant Jon to arrange a series of dates, but each one turns out more disastrous than the last.

With the next full moon quickly approaching, Tanner finally determines the identity of his true mate. Unfortunately, Jon has since disappeared, and Tanner must now begin a new search. Is it really Jon’s family crisis pulling him away, or is Jon just not that into him?

Review:  I loved the premise – a potential Alpha in desperate need of finding his fated mate overlooks a rather endearing Omega who is serving him right in front of his eyes.

A nicely sweet story of an Alpha looking for his mate, it’s a fun piece of mating fluff with a little sizzle and even some shifter toughness mixed in with the yearning and potential love.Overall, it’s simply a nice treat for a quick, escapist read with plenty of sweet and a touch of sizzle.

3.5 stars (rounded up for the knotting)

Recommended for fans of: Quick and sweet romances; Alpha males who appreciate quite and/or young nerdy mates; knotting.

Explicit Heat: fire fire fire  – Some explicit scenes  (and tiny bit of knotting kink).
Passion: heart heart heart   – Some chemistry present, especially with
Genre:  Adult Romance

Other Comments:
A bit of a wolf shifter Alpha / Omega vibe (including a Female Alpha/Male Omega pair of background characters).

More Beautiful Than a Unicorn by Bell Ellis (review)

Tagline: Fairy tale of a shy virgin with both a unicorn and an exotic hero who keep fading away

More Beautiful than a Unicorn Book Cover Image

Title: More Beautiful Than a Unicorn 
Author: Bell Ellis
Genre:  Paranormal M/M Romance
Format:  Short Story (12k words, 38 pages)

Series: Walk on Wild Side

Publisher: Dreamspinner (June 2016)

ISBN: 978-1-63477-514-4

Retail: $1.99

Also available:  Walk on Wild Side Anthology

Rating:   star  star  star  half-star   (I liked it alot! – but I’m a sucker for fairy tales)

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

Synopsis: At 25 years of age, Tobias is a bit frustrated at being a virgin and being alone, but when he begins catching sight of a unicorn, he’s not sure what to do.  After being rescued by some ruffians by the exotic Amar, Tobias realizes he wants more love and connection than he’s had, but more than anything he just needs to spend time with someone he really loves.

Review: A fairy tale through and through, the author brings a little character to fabled characters, including a sweet but earnest modern male virgin and a stout, experienced, and true Unicorn stallion.  Tobias comes across as a truthful and truly  shy young man slowly thrust into a fantastical story.  The connection between the protagonists moved a bit more swiftly (at least in terms of exposition, although it developed over a longer bit of “story” time) than in a full romance novel, but decently on pace for a short story-length fairy tale.  The ending had an interesting twist, cementing the focus of the story, which I say would be the importance of a pure love.

Recommended for fans of: Fairy tales; unicorns; sweet virgin men; the power of love (almost at first sight); sweet and simple sappiness (in a good but simple way) over sizzle.

Explicit Heat: fire  fire – not explicit, mostly fade to black, but some heated hints and tantalizing tastes
Passion: heart  heart  – A tremendous amount of love and passion implied, but in a fairy tale kind of way (rather than sizzling, although fans of denial might find it even more compelling)
Genre:  Adult Romance

Shifter By Mark Wildyr (review)

Tagline: The young native, his best bud, the enchanted isle, and trans-formative magic witch unleashes true desires with plenty of sizzle

Shifter Book Cover Image

Title: Shifter
Author: Mark Wildyr
Genre:  Paranormal M/M Erotica
Format:  Short Story (5k words, 19 pages)

Series: Walk on Wild Side

Publisher: Dreamspinner (June 2016)

ISBN: 978-1-63477-508-3

Retail: $1.99

Also available:  Walk on Wild Side Anthology

Rating:   star star star star   (I really liked it!)

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

Synopsis:  Recently come of age, Gray Fox paddles across the lakes to visit his long-time but separated friend.  A spirit on an enchanted isle has ideas on how the young man should enter adulthood, perhaps giving the canoeist a story to share upon their reunion.

Review:  This erotic story might not be typical m/m romance, or necessarily appealing to those looking for more romantic, relationship focused stories, or typical shifters.  This rather atypical shifter really worked for me, and the combination of a coming of age/”first-time” sizzle with just enough of an interesting story and relationship really worked for me.

In short, the native/indingenous setting was a nice frame for a rather sizzling short tale, invoking some nice “shifting” magic to turn up the heat.  A budding attraction between two recently come of age young men was a light but appreciated touch to round out the “first time” vibe.  This alternate shifter might not work for some readers of m/m romance, but I really liked the weave of sizzle, magic, a trans-formation, and a bit of young love (or at least lust).

Recommended for fans of:  Nicely sexual native/indigenous/First People spirituality and shifting; those who don’t mind a bit of a feminine touch in their m/m romance;  sexy witch stories.

Explicit Heat: fire fire fire  –  The focus of this read was the explicit heat which, for some readers, might be a tad different than typical m/m romance encounters.
Passion: heart  heart   – Clearly some atraction between the two friends, but the physical heat seemed more important.
Genre:  Erotica

Other Comments (with spoilers):
I personally loved the gender fluid aspect of the story, a bit of a trans-forming witchcraft made the “witch” character an intriguing place to me (and I personally am not squicked by female sexuality mixed in with my m/m romance).
Also, two “straight” young men overcoming their prejudice and enjoying what they have likely longed for.

How to Wish Upon a Star by Eli Easton (review)

Tagline: Research scientist frustrated by newly quickened “pup” looking for shelter…

How to Wish Upon A Star Book Cover

Cover art: Reese Dante

Title: How to Wish Upon a Star
Author: Eli Easton

Genre:  M/M Paranormal Shifter Romance
Format:  Novel (226 pages)
Series: Howl at the Moon #3

Sites: Author |  Goodreads | Amazon

Publisher: Pinkerton Road (May 2016)

Bonus: Kindle Unlimited

Retail: $4.99

Rating:   star1  star1 star1 star1  half-star  (4.5 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: Dr. Jason Kunik is  genetic scientist researching how his kind, the quickened, can change from being a normal dog and shift into a fully human form. As their existence is a secret, he must relocate to Mad Creek, a town in the Sierra foothills dominated by the quickened.  All he wants is to be left alone to conduct his research, but before he becomes too settled, the town settles Milo, a newly quickened hospice therapy dog, into his cabin.  The mix of an extremely intelligent but socially awkward scientist and a man recently emerged from being a comfort dog makes for difficult conversations.  After being uprooted from his former life, Milo simply wants to find the comfort and shelter of a true home, and living with the introverted, anti-social doctor might not be the best place for a lonely dog to be.

Review: I found the promise of the setting and characters of the first two books in this series explode into fulfillment in this installment. This book can be read as a standalone work, but it works even better as a third entry in the series.

Milo was a perfect foil for Jason’s understandable but often annoying scientific, intellectual, and analytical thoughts and habits.  The temperament and eagerness of the newly arrived man unaccustomed to the human ways played perfectly off of the scientist who was alienated from human society in his own way.   The plot took some unexpected turns which both fleshed out the setting and highlighted character traits and interactions in an endearing and creative manner.

I found this to be the most enticing and engrossing entry in a great series for paranormal male/male shifter romance readers who love dogs!

Recommended for fans of: Weredogs and dogs in general; geeks and scientists; first time/virginal/innocent characters; overcoming social awkwardness.

Heat: fire  fire – Milo’s emergence into a social and sexual consciousness was handled with finesse and a little humor, including a tasteful and nicely passionate first-time scene.
Passion: heart heart heart – The chemistry of the two seemed very real, but based more on trust, friendship, and building love rather than bursting passion.
Genre:  Adult Romance

Other Comments:

The contraposition between an overly analytical scientist and a naive and newly emerged dog was sometimes brilliant.  Asked how he went from a dog to become quickened, Milo provides a perfect answer that befuddles the genetic scientist looking for specific biological circumstances that might trigger a dormant gene to spontaneously activate –  “You make a wish upon a star.

Themes:  virgin (first time), geek, loyalty.

Unacceptable Risks by Kaje Harper (review)

Unacceptable Risk Book Cover

Title: Unacceptable Risk
Author: Kaje Harper
Genre:  M/M Paranormal Romance
Format:  Novel (111,000 words)
Sites: Publisher | Goodreads | Amazon 
Series: Hidden Wolves #1
Publisher: MLR (Oct. 2011)
ISBN: 9781608204649

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

Tagline:  Ostracized and wounded gay werewolf falls and fights for “straight” veterinarian  

Heat: Several explicit scenes (nicely contextual to the plot)

This book has been on my Goodreads “to read” shelf longer than any other title, as I added it in 2013.  I wish I had read it sooner as, after an initially slow start, this novel turned out to have some of my favorite paranormal male/male romance themes presented with just the right balance for me. The story centers on a gay werewolf ostracized and attacked for his orientation, usually a capital offense among his kind.  The town’s young, straight veterinarian saves a bloodied and beaten wolf, and the shapeshifter befriends, falls for, and seduces the animal doctor who has his own troubled past.

I am particularly fond of wolfpack politics, human mates coming to terms with shifter culture, virginal/inexperienced men coming exploring with a new lover, and geeky-ish and awkward but intelligent protagonists.  This novel had nice doses of all of the above, and I especially appreciated the presence of a “traditional” shifter culture that provided plenty of danger while retaining a consistent, if unpleasant and dangerous  world-view.  Even many of the heroes’ potential allies were uncertain and some of the adversaries showed a bit more nuance in political pack scheming than I was expecting.

The physical sizzle was enticing but used sparingly enough to add to the plot (rather than overwhelming the story). In a very nice twist, a reciprocal surprise between the lovers was seamlessly woven into the story.  The ultimate connection between the two technically did not center on intercourse (although those scenes were delicious), but woven into whether trust and accepting one’s emotions could lead to a sudden, deep connection.

I’m looking forward to reading more by this author (who has been popular – I have some catching up to do), including the next two works in this series.

Themes:  Male/male romance, werewolves, pack politics, gay for you, virgin/first-time, mate-for life, human mate, homophobia, gay shapeshifters, wounded, geeks, Minnesota