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Archive for the ‘Paranormal’ Category

lightsout185Title: The Haunted Halloween of Barnaby Sloan
Author: Jenna Jones
Length: 7,600 words (28 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal
Rating: C+

Blurb: 

It’s Halloween, and Barnaby and his friends plan to do their usual Halloween ghost walk at a local park that is rumored to be haunted. Barnaby worries his new boyfriend Liam will find their plans ridiculous, and he doesn’t even believe in ghosts, but he invites Liam to join them on the ghost walk anyway.

While their friends scare each other at the park, Barnaby confides in Liam about why he doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Then Barnaby hears a familiar voice whispering his name — and of course, he must investigate…

Review:

This is a sequel to The Wishing Book of Barnaby Sloan which was reviewed on the site last October, but which I confess I have not read. It’s not essential you read it, but it would probably be worthwhile. This story takes place only a short time after the last book. Barnaby has been seeing his older boyfriend Liam for a bit, although they’ve not really been dating, more falling into bed. This Halloween, Barnaby worked at a wedding that Liam attended and despite their relationship, Barnaby is not really sure they are “dating”. He can’t figure out why a great guy like Liam would be into him.

Liam asked him out after the wedding, but Barnaby declined as he had plans to go ghost hunting with his friends, and he’s sure a guy like Liam wouldn’t want to do that. His friends give him a bit of a hassle, and when Liam shows up unexpectedly, they push Barnaby to invite him, and to Barnaby’s surprise he’s more than happy to go along.

The event takes place in a local park, supposedly built on a grave-yard. After wandering around in the dark and taking some time to share some personal info, Barnaby hears something odd nearby and of course, like a victim in a horror movie, sneaks off on his own to check it out, getting attacked by some thugs while doing so.

There’s not much to the story. A hint of the paranormal, but I think for fans of the first book they’ll enjoy seeing the couple move forward and share some more intimate details about themselves. It’s more about Barnaby and his desire to believe in the paranormal for personal reasons, rather than a romantic story. If you enjoyed the first story, you will enjoy this one as well.

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Title: Phantom Touch
Author: Delilah Storm
Length: 7,300 words (25 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m/m (?) erotica contemporary paranormal
Rating: C+

Blurb:

Coerced by his friends, Chris enters the old Weyburn mansion on Halloween night.  The most haunted housed in Ashville, Weyburn mansion is supposed to be possessed by the spirits of Mrs. Weyburn and her many lovers. From the moment Chris enters, he’s plagued by touches which quickly turn into caresses and then more. How can Chris possibly escape all the pleasure those touches bring, and does he really want to?

Review:

This is weak on the romance side, but if you are interested in some hot paranormal erotica, this might be the choice for you. Chris is bullied by his friends into participating in a haunted house challenge. He’s terrified of all things horror-related, but after one bad experience, he tends to go along with things rather than risk the ridicule. He has to enter the house, go to the attic, ring a bell and come down. He finally makes it out of the basement, only to have his flashlight go out, and before long, he’s being molested by ghostly touches, however, that’s not such a bad thing.

The next period of time is the ghostly encounter with one (or more since there are more hands than two, or maybe that’s a ghost trick), and Chris is getting it from all sides and angles, and before long has even run out of spunk. Once it’s over, he finds the door and gets out, only to be criticized by his friends for making them wait.

Chris accuses their gay jock friend of being behind it. He denies it, however promises to give a better blow job, having learned from the best. He smirks at the house and given his comment about last year’s experience there, I’m presuming he had a run-in with the ghost as well.

To be honest, I didn’t much like Chris’s friends or the love interest. The friends, especially his friend Karen who was a real bully, were not very supportive.  Not liking scary movies or horror myself, I could relate to Chris, and was angry on his behalf for the pressure his friends exerted. I also thought Heath, the love interest was very smug and arrogant. Besides being a hot jock, he didn’t come across as very appealing.

I thought the author did a great job with Chris’s fear and anxiety during the story, and even his confusion over what was happening, but his inability to stop it during the sex. Or perhaps his desire NOT to stop it. I just found the characters surrounding that even rather obnoxious and off-putting. But that is my interpretation and others may not find them so. But if you enjoy some paranormal sex, you will probably enjoy this short spooky story.

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lightsout185Title: The Caldwell Ghost
Author: KJ Charles
Length: 4,500 words (17 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal historical
Rating: B

Blurb:

When Robert Caldwell inherits a haunted house, he calls on ghost-hunter Simon Feximal to rid him of the supernatural menace. But the ghost is stronger than either man realizes — strong, angry, and desperate for release. Trapped in a haunted house with a dangerously attractive ghost-hunter and a sexually frustrated spirit, can Robert survive the night intact…and will he want to?

Review:

This book has a bit of a Sherlock Holmes feel to it, in the time period and the language, but not directly. It’s written as a letter Robert intends to reveal to his editor upon his death. Apparently for some time Richard has been chronicling the exploits of famed ghost hunter Feximal, (reminded me of the Sherlock/Watson relationship) and he was never willing to reveal how they met, and this is that story.

In order to disprove the house he recently inherited is haunted, Robert moves in. He’s willing to ignore the screams and moans, but the walls bleeding blood is a bit too far. He gets trapped in the room with Fleximal as the exorcism of sorts is about to begin, and it seems the ghost was a bit of lecherous man who slept with all the boys and was murdered in bed during the act. The ghost has some “unfinished business” before he’s willing to leave.

There’s a rather light feel to the story despite a rather intense scene when Fleximal faces the ghost. There is also some interesting facets of Fleximal’s work that would have been interesting to see explored further. I also liked Robert a great deal. He is quite logical, with a calm head on his shoulders and it comes through in some of his comments.

I paid no mind to the screams in the night, which could easily have been foxes or cats (never mind that they sprang from the empty air of my bedroom). I scarcely objected to the muffled moans, which could have come from a neighbour’s pleasures (if the house had not stood alone, with no neighbour for a mile to either side).

But I did feel it was a bit much when the walls began to bleed.

It all came across as a bit of an inconvenience, rather than something terribly frightening. If you’re in the mood for a bit of a ghost story with a lighter edge it’s a good choice. I quite enjoyed the short time it too me to read.

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lightsout185Title: Grave Appeal
Author: Kassandra Lea
Length: 3,600 words, 13 pages
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m contemporary paranormal romance
Rating: D

Blurb:
All Aidan Harker wanted on his Halloween was to spend time with his best friend watching horror movies and to stuff himself silly on little chocolates. Instead Aidan gets a visit from a coworker that makes his evening sweeter than any number of bite size candy bars ever possibly could.

Review:
Aidan usually spends his Halloween night with his best friend watching horror movies. This year his friend has been called away on a family emergency and so Aidan is all alone, until a late night knock at the door.

The first 5 pages of this story set the scene of lonely Aidan feeling sad because his Halloween tradition with his friend isn’t happening this year. I felt rather sorry for Aidan and curious about the knock at the door. The man standing there is a doctor from the hospital where Aidan works (I think as a nurse, but that wasn’t made very clear), so far so good in the attraction Aidan feels. Then suddenly things take an abrupt left turn and I was left struggling to catch up. A whole heap of ideas are thrown into the story. Dante is a gargoyle, Aidan can see ghosts. They fly off through the air. There’s mention of someone called Brim who I think is an ex-boyfriend of Aidan’s, but again that’s not really explained. I was left baffled as to what was happening and why. I even thought that the story may be a sequel because so much of the characterisation seemed to assume some sort of prior knowledge that I didn’t have. However, a quick look showed me that there were no other stories by this author at TQ. Lines such as “It wasn’t the first time that Dante had used his magic to transport them, though usually it was to take them out of harm’s way” were also baffling. I thought they were a doctor and nurse, when had Dante needed to rescue them?

I finished the story utterly confused as to what had happened and why. The romance left me flat because I wasn’t sure where Brim-the-sort-of-ex came into the equation, plus there seems to be no point to the story when Aidan doesn’t even get his man at the end. Overall, the best thing about the story was the opening promise and the fact it was very short at less than 4,000 words so I’m afraid I can’t recommend this jumble of a story even to those who like a good Halloween tale.

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New Sip coverTitle: Absolutely Magic
Author: Julia Talbot
Length: 3,200 words (14 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal
Rating: B+

Blurb:

Damon McTavish is a demon hunter. He’s pretty damn good at the job, too. There’s just one thing his boss wishes he wouldn’t do — sleep with the pretty ones before he sends them back to Hell.

Alisdair is an old demon who wants his humanity back and sleeping with Damon is how he plans to do it. First he has to convince Damon to participate in a little sex magic, though, so it’s a good thing just a touch between the two is electrifying.
Can demon and demon hunter make a little magic and come out unsinged?

Originally published in the Demon anthology.

Review:

This is a cute lighthearted look at the demon hunter/demon match up. Damon is always in trouble with his boss for sleeping with the demons before he sends them back to hell. But hey, the job doesn’t pay well, so why not have some fun. One night as he’s getting ready to send a particularly nasty demon back, another demon arrives and dispatches the creature and soon convinces Damon to have sex with him so that he can try a spell to turn human again.

Despite being a determined top, Damon is soon ready to give it up and the two are almost drunk on the effect they have of touching each other. When the moment comes… well, it doesn’t go quite as Alisdair had hoped.

I do enjoy stories that don’t take the demon mythology too seriously. The spell book burns the hands of humans, so Damon wears oven mitts while he uses it. And oh, tails, yeah, demon tails are good. 🙂

It’s just a short light little story, but when you want to end up smiling when you are done, it’s a perfect choice for a quick pick-you-up between more serious stories or before bed.

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fullmoondating185Title: Full Moon Dating: Aiden & Ben
Author: Julia Talbot
Length: 10,100 words (38 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal (shifters)
Rating: C+

Blurb:

When Aiden goes to Wyoming on the dime of the Full Moon Dating service, he doesn’t really think he and country wolf Ben will be right for each other. He just wants some time off from city life.

Ben knows better right away. He and Aiden are meant to be together, despite Aiden’s city ways and cluelessness about being a werewolf. Can he convince Aiden to stay with him, or will Ben, and Full Moon Dating have to write this one off as a mistake?

Review:

This is a cute little shifter story which is pretty typical of the author’s style. Aiden and Ben both sign up for the dating agency and are put together, even though on the surface it doesn’t look like a match. Ben is definitely a dominant top, but Aiden makes no mention of being into the lifestyle, but they are set up together. Aiden, a photographer travels from Dallas to Wyoming to meet Ben and they soon hit it off.

The biggest issue is that Aiden is a city wolf. He’s grown up in the city where shifting at will is not safe and even on the full moon they shift only for one night. When after their first night he wakes up in his shifted form, he totally freaks out and runs. Ben finds him and helps him through it, but it happens yet again, forcing Ben to chase after him.

Because of the paranormal aspect you have the instant mates thing, but Ben is strong and caring and kind, and Aiden is cute as the city wolf feeling completely out of his element. If you like the author and/or shifter stories you’ll enjoy this. It sets up the second book with the next couple to try out the dating agency. It was a fun light read, but fairly standard fare.

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New Sip coverTitle: Summer Country
Author: Camilla Gingold
Length: 7,700 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal romance
Rating: C+

Blurb:
Recently divorced geneticist Tom St. Laurent is hoping for a quiet summer vacation. Then a mysterious man named Namir saves him from drowning and disappears, leaving a strange sealskin behind. Tom, who grew up hearing about the legend of the selkies, strikes a deal: Namir will allow himself to be studied for seven nights. In return, Tom will give back the sealskin and never bother Namir again. But science isn’t the only thing Tom is interested in. When forced to decide between his conscience and the pursuit of knowledge, will he choose Namir’s happiness above all?

Review:
Tom arrives at his island holiday home still unsettled from his divorce. After swimming too far out, he is rescued by a mysterious man. Tom discovers a seal skin on the beach and takes it home only to find that the skin’s owner, Namir, comes looking for it. Tom agrees to give it back to Namir after a week if Namir will let Tom study him.

I rather like selkie stories but they often leave me feeling vaguely dissatisfied because the inevitable happy ending can seem forced. This was the case for this story as when it ended I felt that the differences between the two species was too great for the romance to work in the long term. Another part which didn’t work so well was that I didn’t really like Tom. He comes across as smug and arrogant, and even his hurt over his divorce couldn’t redeem him too much for me.

There were parts that I did enjoy. The writing is evocative and the growing regard that Tom feels for Namir was done well. Tom changes from seeing Namir as a specimen to study to getting to know him and although the short length of the story means that this happens quickly, I still liked seeing that growth in Tom’s character. I liked Namir too. He’s enigmatic but as the story develops we learn a little more about him and I wished that we had been given more information about his life as a selkie.

In the end I had mixed feelings about the story. Its flaws were bound up with the selkie myth and trying to create a romance from that, but this was balanced by some positive aspects with Namir and the development of Tom. If you like selkie stories then I would still recommend this one despite its imperfections.

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ReynaudsTitle: Reynaud’s Redemption
Author: Jaxx Steele
Length: 15,577 words (83 pdf pages)
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: m/m paranormal
Rating: B-

Blurb:

After a year of bliss with Cameron by his side, Reynaud began to feel uneasy. Can a call from his past threaten to ruin his present and future with Cam?

Reynaud had everything he ever wanted with Cam and yet something nagged at him. Now that his magic was back, he could not ignore the pull he felt to go ‘home’. He hoped going home would ease his weariness, but it was apparent that things had changed during his absence. Friends had lost their places and enemies had gained power. Will the final confrontation with his past destroy everything Reynaud had in his present and prevent him from having a future with Cam?

Review:

This is a follow-up to Cam’s Best Friend which I reviewed here. A year later, Cam and Reynaud have settled into their life running a restaurant, although since Reynaud started to get his magic back, something has been nagging him. It’s causing a rift between the two of them, but Cam tries to help him figure it out. There are basically two points of view in the story, Reynaud and the villain, Baptiste, so it switches back and forth as Reynaud sets out to figure out if it’s the leader of their sect who is calling to him.

Meanwhile, Baptiste is keeping the elders semi-captive until they die so that he can can absorb their power and thus take control of the council. However Reynaud finds the leader and she passes on all of her power to him, telling him she knows he was not guilty of the crime that had him banished to life as a dog, and that he is meant to be the leader. A fight between Reynaud and Baptiste ensues.

There is not much emphasis in the story of the relationship between Reynaud and Cam, they are still in love and it was kind of nice to see a couple get in a spat about things, but primary story is Baptiste’s efforts to steal power and Reynaud trying to figure out his life now that he’s got his magic back. There is one m/f scene between the villain and a prostitute, so be aware if that’s a no-no for you, but I didn’t have a problem with it, as it doesn’t involve the main characters.

If you enjoyed the first book and wanted to know more about Raynaud’s past and the paranormal element, then you’ll enjoy it. It’s definitely recommended you read the other one first though. You’ll have a much greater understanding of the animosity between Reynaud and Baptiste.

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beachremedy400Title: Beach Remedy
Author: Sasha L. Miller
Length: 17,000 words (63 pdf pages)
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: m/m paranormal
Rating: B

Blurb:

With his cousin laid up from a broken ankle, Lee agrees to help him out and combine a beach vacation with a bit of legwork to scope out a haunted lighthouse. That his cousin agrees to pay for the vacation certainly makes a cheesy ghost tour bearable. Lee’s plan is to get the work out of the way quickly, then spend the rest of his time on sun, sand, and all the blood and sex a vampire can stand. But the cute hotel clerk he picks out proves to be anything, but an easy snack.

Review:

This was a cute little story with an interesting take on vampires. Lee gets upgraded to a nicer hotel in exchange for helping out his cousin, and when he checks in sees super-cute receptionist Jayden. He tries to give him a little push of vamp power to convince him to come to his room, but it doesn’t seem to work. Oh well, it’s the beach, hotties galore. However Jayden shows up and is much more aggressive than Lee expected, but he’s not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and they are soon heating up the sheets. The next morning when he plans to have a little sip of Jayden, Jayden calls him out for being a vampire and admits to being a hedge witch. Lee’s mother always warned him about witches, so he reacts rather badly, and Jayden leaves. Lee feels badly after and manages to get the nerve up to apologise and they spend time together for the rest of his vacation.

So there’s not a lot of conflict here, and the misunderstanding, or awkward moment if you will, is handled the very next day so it’s not protracted. I just liked both guys a great deal. They are pretty young, early twenties and that comes across. Lee is a vampire, but he eats food and lays in the sun and enjoys the beach. So that was kind of fun to see a vamp who is pretty much normal except he needs to drink blood every few days. Descriptions of the beach resort and haunted lighthouse added a nice background to the story and their shyness as they danced around whether they wanted to try a long distance relationship was sweet and fit well with their ages.

It was kind of nice not to have a character with some traumatic relationship history holding them back, or some big secret, just young guys getting to know each other. The sex was steamy hot and the whole story left me with a good feeling after. My only beef is that I wanted to see them work it out. They live 2.5 hours apart and I was hoping that I’d see one of them decide to move and form a more settled relationship, but I would still recommend it.

I understand this is a partner book to Herbal Remedy by Megan Derr (also reviewed today) as Jayden’s brother Jordan makes a brief appearance in this book, but beyond a few paragraphs as he drops off some keys, you don’t need to read that one to enjoy this one. Although I’ll definitely be checking it out as Jayden doesn’t really use his witchy powers and I was curious about what they involved.

 

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New Sip coverTitle: Summer Storm
Author: Molly Church
Length: 5,600 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m paranormal
Rating: C-

Blurb:
One wet, wild summer day, Cathal, a young Irishman, is out walking along the beach near his home, only to see an injured selkie stumble ashore. A storyteller himself, Cathal feels a strange sort of responsibility for the fairytale creature, and brings him home. Over the course of the summer, their relationship grows into love, only for the selkie’s mysterious past to come back to haunt them.

Review:
Cathal is walking the beach near his seaside cottage, trying to battle the demons of writer’s block, when he sees a seal on the beach. Before his eyes the seal transforms into a man. As Cathal approaches he see that the selkie is injured and carries him and his seal skin back to his house. The selkie stays with Cathal to recover but the danger the selkie has been running from soon catches up with him.

I really liked the idea for this story and it had some lovely touches. The writing was good and the character of Cathal showed us a pragmatic man who didn’t seem at all unnerved to find an injured selkie on the beach. The selkie, called Slinky of all things, was an interesting character and I liked the awkwardness of the first few days.

It was a shame then that the initial promise of the story didn’t materialise. The rest of the story wasn’t bad, there was just too much crammed into a short word length. The relationship is skipped over so when we come to what could have been an emotional separation, I was left unmoved even as Cathal is weeping for his lover. A couple of characters are introduced but are mere shadows in the story. We are told twice that one character visits the toilet and yet know practically nothing else about him except his relationship to Slinky. Cathal is so passive and just calmly accepts what happens, instead of demanding that some questions were answered.

Finally, even though our heroes are reunited, I couldn’t see the relationship lasting. They are too different and not enough time is given to show them as a couple for me to believe that Slinky will successfully integrate with the human world. If the story had been expanded to show more of the couple during the summer months, or to see Slinky out and about in society rather than in the cottage with Cathal, then I may have been able to connect better with the characters and their relationship. Instead I felt this was a bit of a missed opportunity for a great story.

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