Celia Aaron-Blood Prince

I guarantee that if Celia Aaron writes it, I will read it. Every.damn.time. I love her work so much. I’ve talked about before about how I think she’s a new chapter in Modern Southern Gothic fiction. She writes such layered stories with a lot of nuance. Her FMCs are strong characters in and of themselves, and she gives them a lot of smarts and stubbornness. Blood Prince fits in well with her style, even if it doesn’t take place in the South, unless, well, you consider the Underworld the South.

So, this is Celia’s take on the Helen of Troy story. For those who aren’t familiar with the story, Paris, the prince of Troy is asked to judge a beauty contest between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. They bribe him and Aphrodite offers Paris the most beautiful woman in the world. That just happens to be Helen, Queen of Sparta, wife to Menelaus. As the story goes, either he went and kidnapped her and brought her to Troy or Aphrodite spirited her away. Either way, Helen and Paris end up together in Troy and madly in love. Menelaus, understandably, is really fucking pissed, so he and his allies lay siege to Troy. Eventually, Menelaus challenges Paris to a duel, and Paris either dies or runs away, depending on which story you read. Then, the Trojan Horse shows up.

OK, that’s the way that Homer told it. Celia’s version is slightly different. In her version, Priam, Paris’ dad, is the vampire king, and the vamps aren’t bad. Menelaus is a demon lord, and demons are bad. Menelaus bought Helen, a daughter of Zeus and full of magic, at an auction to be his wife. He did terrible, terrible things to her. We don’t know most of what he did to her at any point, other than killing her brothers and torturing her mother, we just know that it was terrible. When Paris was there and saw Helen in a rose garden, lightning struck, and they fell in love. He took her home to Troy, where they lived happily ever after, at least until Menelaus showed up and tried to get her back. Paris went to fight Menelaus and he lost. Then when Menelaus came to get Helen, she killed herself so that he couldn’t have her anymore.

Flash forward a few centuries and Elena, one of the maiden warriors of Artemis and her chief strategist, is out wandering through the streets of Paris. She runs into a huge guy who ends up taking her and shoving her in his car. Right before that happens, she sees the vampire prince Paris teleporting towards her, with a really angry look on his face. Last she knew, he was dallying with Artemis, so she can’t figure out why he’s mad at her. When she gets in the car, the man sticks some silver bracelets on her which block her magic and then tells her that, oh, BTW, he’s her husband.

Paris manages to help her escape, and tells Elena that she’s actually Helen of Troy. Artemis rescued her body after death, took her memories, and turned her into one of her warriors.

Elena/Helen is pretty damn kick ass. She’s smart, tricksy, wily, and a master tactician. She pretty much strategically outthinks everyone. Paris is more than willing to go with her plans because he knows that she’s not only the best at it but that she’s already thought through all the possible steps and problems before she finalizes anything. It’s like she already has seen every possible outcome and knows what definitely happen. It’s pretty cool. I love that Elena/Helen is so kick ass and that she is seriously fierce. She isn’t necessarily a damsel in distress. She definitely causes the distress. She’s confident and sure of herself and her power. The nice thing is that Paris isn’t threatened by that. He values her, her powers, and her abilities. He knows that if she’s by his side then he can’t fail.

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Oh, Iphi. I love her. She and Helen are a pair. I think that she’s just super fun, and not quite right, but in a good way. I would love to see a story about Iphi because I’m pretty sure that she would get into all kinds of good trouble.

Apollo is such a horndog. So funny. I wonder how many upset husbands he’s left in his wake over the centuries, because you know he has. Or maybe he just managed to charm them all, who knows. I feel like he’s one of those jackasses who is such a huge asshole but you can’t help but like him because he’s a charming fuck.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. Go check this one out! Happy reading!

Just Breathe

This anthology is more than a collection of excellent stories by excellent authors, it’s also a way to support To Write Love on Her Arms. I’ve talked about them before. They are an organization that helps support people who are dealing with self-harm and suicidal ideations, among other things. This is such a great organization. Even if you only want one or two of the stories in Just Breathe, you should definitely buy it to support TWLOHA.

Before I get further into my review, I want to warn people that the stories in this book all deal with mental illnesses of some shape or form. There are things in these stories which may trigger you. Please be aware of that and read responsibly.

All of the stories are pretty short, so if you only have a moment here or there to read, you should have no problem finding one that will fit. Because they are short, you are going to basically get my reaction to each story. For most of them, if I were to put anything about them in the review, it would totally spoil the story. So, here we go.

Missy Ann-Forbidden Sorrows-Grief

Missy Ann was a new author to me, and I’ll be looking up more of her work. Grief is hard to deal with at the best of times, and is highly individual. In most cases, you and your grief can be acknowledged, but what happens when it can’t be? It’s not anything I’ve ever thought of before, and wow, Missy brought it to life so vividly.

Anna Edwards-Grounded-Anxiety

I deal with an anxiety disorder and Anna’s story rang so true for me. It was very much like what can go through my head when I feel out of control. It was a great story. And, it looks like it’s the start of a new series, when Anna gets the rights back to it. I can’t wait to see it.

Michelle Brown-Little Lies-Self-Harm

Michelle is still a pretty new writer, but damn, the girl has some serious chops. Self-harm is a very, very touchy subject and has to be handled just right. If you go too far one way, you end up sensationalizing it, if you go too far the other way, you end up making it not believable. Michelle walked that line perfectly. Not so much that it’s glorified, but just at the point where you can understand why Lindsey does what she does. Self-harm was the very reason that TWLOHA was created, so I felt like this one was so important.

K.S. Marshall-Wreckage-Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder

PMDD is PMS with roid rage. As the hormones in a woman’s body ramp up for ovulation and menstruation, they can have an effect on the woman even at the best of times. But brain and body chemistry being what it is, sometimes the best of times isn’t what happens. K.S. Marshall explored that really, really well. You are inside her heroine’s head as these changes are happening to her and she can’t figure out what’s going on. It’s kind of chilling, but in a good way.

Livia Grant-Purged-Eating Disorder

If you’ve read any of the Black Light books, you’ve probably run across Khloe and Ryder before. It’s no secret in their book that Khloe, a big time movie star, has a history with an eating disorder. What Livia’s story shows so well is that dealing with something like an eating disorder is that it isn’t as easy as one day being cured. There are always going to be things that can trigger you and it’s something you are always going to have to be diligent at fighting, and sometimes that fight is really, really hard.

Yolanda Olson-Sickness in the Sunrise-Erotomania

Erotomania generally happens to women, and it’s when they believe that someone who is of a higher status than they are is in love with them. For example, Yolanda’s story. Yolanda is one of my favorite authors when I want dark, creepy, and chilling, as well as beautiful. Her characters are always so real to me. Just like you can reach out and touch them. That’s no different when it comes to this one. You can feel what’s going on in Dice’s head and why her thoughts make perfect sense.

Natalie Bennett-Ashes to Ashes-Depression

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say with this one. It got deep inside me and moved me. I had to take a break and read something completely different after reading this one. It was so… Yeah.

Dani Rene-Tattered Pieces-Abuse

The one thing we always ask when we talk about people who are in domestic violence situations is why did they stay? Why didn’t they leave the first time, the fifth time, the twentieth time? The thing is, the question isn’t that simple, and the answer is nowhere even near that simple. I could probably write a thousand words on that alone, and it wouldn’t even come near answering anything. And I wouldn’t have gotten it anywhere near as good as what Dani said. I hope that this is the start of a series, because it looks like it could be. I want more of Toni’s story. I’m rooting for her.

Jennifer Bene-Cocoon-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Jennifer managed to write a story that is very true to her storytelling while still exploring OCD. People who have OCD have rituals that they have to follow or their world ends, and that’s not really an exaggeration. That’s the way it will feel, at the very least. Amy was an interesting character and Colton was tortured in so many ways. Such an excellent story and a viewpoint of OCD that most people won’t ever see.

Ally Vance-Ignite-Pyromania

Fire can be very pretty. But, for most of us, pretty is as far as it gets. For people who are pyromaniacs, it’s like their lifeblood. Ally showed that really well. I’ll never look at wooden matches the same way again. Nor, I think, will I ever look at a bonfire the same way.

Murphy Wallace-Hostile Takeover-Split Personality

Murphy Wallace is another new to me author. And another one I’ll be tracking down more of. This was really intriguing to me. I’m not sure how to describe it or even to talk about how it made me feel. I really enjoyed it though.

Jane Anthony-The Row-Addiction

Addiction is a serious illness. Too many people want to see it as some kind of moral failure or something, but that’s not the way it works. Jane’s Trinity fights with addiction, and when you see her backstory, you see why. I thought that Jane did so well. Trinity and King made me cry.

Ashleigh Giannoccaro-Awake-Insomnia

When I was reading Ashleigh’s story, it was both kind of creepy and engrossing. I mean, yeah. I’m hoping any of her insomniacs stay right away from me, please and thank you.

Skye Callahan-Unbearable-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

When you go through a traumatic incident, there are changes that are made to your brain’s chemistry and your body. Those changes can trigger PTSD. And there’s no way of telling who is going to have it and who isn’t. Two people who went through the exact same event may not both have PTSD, and if they do, they might not be triggered in the same way. Skye handled the subject really well, and explained it in ways that many people don’t necessarily hear.

Toni Lemay-Loops-Mandela Effect

The Mandela Effect is something that was totally new to me. Basically, it has to do with alternate realities and the way that your brain makes memories. That’s probably a way too simplistic description, but it’s what I got from in when I looked it up. If I had more time to research it, I would probably be able to come up with something more, but I tend to fall down the rabbit hole when I start researching things. I will probably be looking into this more when I have a chance because Toni made it sound really interesting, and I want to see how it works.

I want to applaud all these authors for writing about these mental illnesses. I don’t know how many of these talented people deal with the subjects they wrote about, but they handled all of them really well. People who are mentally ill aren’t always handled well in fiction, let alone real life, and the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses makes it hard for those of us who are mentally ill to get the help that they need. We are made to feel bad because our brain don’t work the same way that other people’s brains do, and are shamed because we have to take medication to get through our days. I’m very open about the fact that I’m mentally ill and that I take medication to help me be stable. My thought is that if I’m open about it, maybe that fact can help one person get the help that they need. Also, the more we talk about it, the less the stigma is going to be there.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. You really need to get this.

And because I hate to post anything without a picture, here’s a fogbow.

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Ava Sinclair-Camp Daddy

Ava Sinclair has gone back to her Daddy roots for this one, and we get not just one dedicated Daddy Dom, but two, and they have set up Camp Daddy for their wives.

We have two pairs of best friends. Elana and Shelby are lifelong friends who married Zane and Archer, best friends and former Marines. Archer and Zane are Doms and they first met Shelby and Elana when they walked into the club where the guys were members. They had a double wedding, and were really close. However, Zane and Elana moved away a little while ago, so they haven’t been able to get together as much. The foursome has a tradition of renting a little cabin for the weekend and having a lot of kinkery fuckery fun. But in the recent past, that hasn’t been happening in either relationship. Both couples have ceased in any kink in their lives, and no one is really happy. So the guys planned this weekend for everyone to get together, but also so that they could get back to where they were, and basically have a Daddy boot camp for their subs. They’ve never really had the DD/lg dynamic before, but it’s something that they are going to try. All the guys know is that they aren’t happy, their wives aren’t happy, and as the Domly types, it’s their job to try and make it right.

Their camp starts bright and early in the morning, after the women had a few too many drinks, and they are woken up way too early. Shelby ends up being spanked then. Then when she and Elana find out what they are supposed to wear, Elana ends up with a belting.

There are a lot of things that I like about this book. One of them is the fact that it shows that marriages aren’t easy and that even the happiest couple can end up at a point where there is a huge chasm in between the couple. It doesn’t even have to start big either. Just a tiny little change can make a huge difference as it goes on. And it doesn’t take a whole lot for that chasm to be more than someone can jump over and just too much work to try to bridge, especially if you feel like you are the only one trying to bridge that divide. So often, in romances, we get the wedding and they ride off into the sunset, happily ever after, so I like to see what happens after the HEA.

 

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OMG, I need to get a rubber ducky just like the one in the book. It would match my rubber ducky shower curtain, and it would definitely put new meaning to the rubber ducky song.

I love that the guys admit that they screwed up. The Domly alpha types generally get seen as infallible, so seeing that they make mistakes and screw up just like everyone else does is always good. I don’t like seeing anyone fail or anything, but Daddies are human too and Daddies can make mistakes that cause serious problems.

OK, that’s all I have to say on this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Loki Renard-Brute

Oh, my chickadees. Nine-foot tall alien? Check. Cock as big around as your wrist? Check. Rebellious heroine who has no plans of submitting any time soon? Double check. Definitely sounds like Loki Renard has written a new book. And Brute is filllllthy. Soooooo filthy. Like take 3 showers and still feel hot and bothered filthy.

So here’s our story. It’s far in the future and Earth is nearly depopulated. Things are crumbling, the infrastructure doesn’t really exist much anymore, and humans are leaving the world as they can, because there just isn’t much left on Earth. However, Pyxel isn’t planning on leaving anytime soon. She’s got a horde of stuff that she is saving, as part of Earth’s history. But, there is one chip that she’s currently selling. She needs the money to make sure that she can maintain her stuff.

Crash and Farti are traders. They’ve spent months and months on the way to Earth so that they can get this truly valuable chip that Pyxel is selling. When Crash, who is ginormous and keeps Farti safe, goes out to meet the seller, he sees that Pyxel’s leg is hurt and he wants to take her back to his ship to fix it. That’s when he realizes several things, including the fact that Pyxel really likes it when he punishes her.

This is a pretty quick read, with some really hot scenes in it. The first big scene between Crash and Pyxel was pretty much off the charts let’s turn this shit up to 11. Pyxel is a very stubborn character. She isn’t going to give into anyone. It has to be forced, each and every time, even when she loves whatever is about to happen. She also has a strong sense of duty and feels like she has to maintain all these treasures that her family has gathered over the years to keep the history of Earth safe. I mostly like her, but there are times when she is a real brat and she really needs her ass whipped. Good thing that Crash is there to take care of her. I like Crash. Mostly. There are a couple of times where I was a little unsure, but generally, I like him. We don’t see a lot about Farti, other than Pyxel thinking that he’s Crash’s pet.

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The queens. Euuuuwwww. Smart Pyxel dealing with it the way that she did. Strong Pyxel. Because, seriously. Euuuuwwww.

And the chip? Yeah, totally not what I was expecting.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. You know I’m going to go tell you to check out Loki’s work. Happy reading!

Grace Goodwin-Ascension Saga Books 1 & 2

So, over the time I’ve had the blog, you’ve heard me talk about Grace Goodwin and her Interstellar Bride Program books. Well, today, Grace has started a new series in her IBP ‘verse. The Ascension Saga is different than her regular books. For one thing, they are a serial, so if you don’t like cliffhangers, you may want to wait until all 6 books come out. Today, we have books 1 &2. There is also a free prequel so that you can understand what’s going on with the series. Another way that the Ascension series is different is that we’re focusing on the women a whole lot more and the entire saga follows 3 sisters.

So here’s the way this works. Alera, a planet that’s part of the Coalition, has a queen, Queen Celene. In the prequel, a coup is happening, the king is dead, and Celene is trying to get somewhere safe because she’s pregnant, which no one else knows, and she knows that she and her daughter need to get somewhere safe so that her daughter can be born and grow up and then they can come take back Alera. Celene’s lit spire in the Citadel will stay that way as long as she lives, no matter where she is, so her people will know that she lives.

Flash forward 27 years and Trinity and her younger twin sisters Faith and Destiny are speeding to the Interstellar Bride Processing Center as quickly as they can, while being chased by a black SUV. They want to ask the sisters about the spaceship that landed in their front yard and took their mother from her bed. The sisters just want to get to Alera so that they can start to find their mom, and oh yeah, declare themselves to be Princesses of Alera. They make it by the skin of their teeth and stand behind a couple of huge Atlan warriors who block the black SUV from getting in. With the help of Warden Egara and Prime Nial, the sisters make it to Alera, where they are greeted by a lord that Nial trusts, and a Consort to help slake Trinity’s Aleran Ardor, which is a kind of heat that Aleran women go into. Nial has also called in a friend, Leo, to help guard the women, but he doesn’t tell them who they are. All Leo knows is that when he sees Trinity, he realizes that she’s The One, his mate.

Because it’s a serial, if I talk too much about what happens in any of the books, it really spoils the one before it. So, in vague terms, we have true love, laser battles, torture, spanking, lots of sex, and untold secrets. We also have 3 sisters who are pretty kick ass. Trinity, as the oldest, has been trained to really think of her people and her planet first and herself after. She’s also been taught to value the rule of law and all that kind of thing. Destiny is pretty much a battle goddess. If you can kill someone with it, she can use it. Faith isn’t going to kill you, but she’s not a pushover either. All three sisters have been trained in defense and the things that all good rulers need to know. Don’t mess with them. They will hurt you in all kinds of ways, in all the ways. The series looks like it’s going to really focus in on the sisters. There are going to be mates, of course, because well, it’s a romance, but I think that they are going to be not as prominent as they have been in other books. We’re also going to get a different kind of story because here we’re focusing on the women taking their planet back and trying to save their mother. I’m really looking forward to it.

There are going to be 6 books in total, and each of the sisters will have 3 books focusing on her. 1-3 are for Trinity, and 3&4 come out in November.

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ARGH! The cliffhanger in 2. OMFG. I just about screamed out loud for real. The only reason I didn’t was that it was the middle of the night and my husband gets grumpy if I wake him up in the middle of the night because of a book. I don’t need his grumpiness when I’m reading.

I have the feeling that Celene may not be found, and I’m not sure what I think about that. I guess we’ll have to see what happens.

OK, that’s all I have to say about these. Go check them out. Happy reading!

Lee Savino-Beauty and the Lumberjacks

Lee Savino has given us a reverse harem full of lots of hot and sexy lumberjacks. Eight, to be precise. I know that I wouldn’t mind 8 lumberjacks, which could be a lot of fun. I’m pretty sure that Sierra doesn’t want to share with me though, so I’ll just have to imagine that I’m the one in Beauty and the Lumberjacks.

So, here we have Sierra, who is on the run. She was with a man in a motorcycle club, but somehow he ended up shot and she heard that they were going to blame her, so she ran. Now, weeks later, she’s at the end of her rope, the end of her money, and stuck where she is, not quite far enough out of the territory of the club so that she can’t be found. She’s resorted to having to beg the local sleazy strip club owner to let her dance, even though he’s turned her down before. She needs the money so that she can get further away. But when he doesn’t give her a chance again, she knows that she’s pretty much out of luck.

Lincoln runs a logging camp with 7 other big, burly guys. He doesn’t want to have his guys lose time all the time going down to the strip club. So, his solution is to contract a stripper to come in and spend the season with them. All they are paying her for is to dance, but if she wants to go above and beyond, well, they aren’t going to complain. But, the strip club owner turns him down. Luckily for him, Sierra overhears the owner telling Lincoln now. She runs after him and volunteers her services. Can it be volunteering if you are getting $10k? Doesn’t matter, she does it.

Lincoln is worried about the fact she looks like she’s about 12, but she proves she’s 21. She asks him to take her back to his hotel room so she can take a shower, and then she provides him with her qualifications for the job. So, he takes her back to camp where she meets Mason, Jagger, Saint, the twins Elon and Oren, and Roy and Tommy, who will be more than happy to just watch her dance.

At the heart of this book, it’s about family and relationships I think. It’s more than just hot sex, although there’s that. But it’s about what makes and family and how to make a relationship work whether there are 2 people or 9 people. I think that’s part of why I like the reverse harem books is because it’s interesting to me to watch how the relationships play out. Don’t get me wrong, I like the sex and the dark and kinky, but I also like the actual plot and working out the relationship stuff. And Lee does that really well. I love how free Sierra feels in herself and how confident she is most of the time. She likes sex and she’s not afraid to have it and not bothered by the fact that she is having it with all the guys.

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Oh Jagger. Poor sweet and idiotic Jagger. Did he not just stop to think for a minute? I felt so bad about that.

I kind of hated Mason at the beginning, but he turned into a good guy, even if they are having hate sex. I wouldn’t mind that kind of hate sex.

I love that Roy and Tommy are part of the family, even though they aren’t involved in the sex part. It just shows that there is more to making up a relationship than just sex.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

TM Smith-The Messenger

This book. This is just a wow. When I finished reading The Messenger, I was just like wooooow. Yeah. I loved the blurb when I read it, and I was so excited to read it, so I’m so glad that it was so good. TM Smith has done something pretty great. She’s written a strong romance with loads of layers with gay angels as the heroes that falls within a Christiancentric framework without being preachy or anything. It’s very spiritual though, and the sex scenes, which are very hot, are also somehow sacred and special. There’s a real Song of Solomon vibe. If you haven’t read that book of the Bible, you really should. It was banned back in the day because it was so provocative. So let’s talk about this book.

The way that Heaven works is that there are various choirs of angels. Each of those choirs has its own particular job. This series primarily deals with Archangels, which are the strongest and highest choir of angels. Archangels have the most important jobs in Heaven. Michael, the All Father’s general, Gabriel the messenger, so on and so forth. Then there’s Lucifer, the Morning Star, Bringer of Light, who was the first and foremost angel, the one that created first and as the right hand of God.

Michael and Lucifer are lovers and are bonded. They are connected on a deeply spiritual level, and can feel each other’s spirit. It’s just perfect. Well, except for one tiny thing. Lucifer has an intrinsic darkness which is starting to overwhelm him and drive a wedge in between him and Michael.

In the wings, we have Gabriel, the messenger, the angel who helps to shepherd innocent souls to Heaven. He has a very intrinsic innocence and light within. He also loves Michael deeply and strongly, but he doesn’t do anything that will shatter the bond between Michael and Lucifer. Michael is starting to feel that draw and attraction to Gabriel too. And Lucifer knows it, and isn’t happy. He depends on Michael to push his darkness back, but it’s not working anymore.

The book is told through several POVs. You get Michael, Gabriel, Lucifer, All Father, and the Holy Spirit True. It could be confusing with all those POVs in there, but it really isn’t. There is a large timespan going on in the book, but you don’t really get a good idea of how long it is, because there really isn’t given time, except for maybe once or twice, but that fits within the whole time eternal setting of the book.

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The scenes of the angels and Christ are just amazing. None of them are told from Christ’s point of view and you aren’t getting the Christian believes, but you are getting the angels’ viewpoints, and they are just fantastic.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. I can’t recommend it enough. Happy reading!