Alta Hensley-The Truth About Cinder

Have you ever wanted a fairy tale that took place in a post-apocalyptic world where most everywhere in the world has dried up and water is more precious than gold? If you have, then Alta has the perfect story for you, The Truth About Cinder. As you might be able to guess from the name, this is the story of Sleeping Beauty. OK, it’s a dark, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, kinky version of Cinderella. And I gotta tell you, I much prefer Alta’s version over the Brothers Grimm’s version. More sex and spanking, for one thing.

So, pretty much all the water has dried up. There are a few places where water can still be found, and in those areas, communes have sprung up where people live. The communes aren’t very pleasant places. They are really just surviving, and you know how people are when they are in that kind of mindset, so just imagine how nasty the people were in some of those communes. Think something like Mad Max or Tank Girl. Outside of the communes, the rest of the world is a desert, with no plants, no animals, no nothing.

Into this desperate, desiccated world trudges Cinder. She left the commune she was born into, and has stayed here and there at various communes on her journey. She has an ultimate goal in her journey, and it has taken her quite a while to get to it. She is going to the Palace of Lazar. She wants to join the harem there. Everyone says that it is just a myth, but she knows deep in her soul that Lazar exists and she’s going to get there. It isn’t an easy journey, by any means, but it is worth it for Cinder. In fact, for Cinder, it’s so worth it that she nearly dies on her journey.

But when she wakes, she discovers that she has made it to Lazar, and a gorgeous man is there in front of her, telling her that she has made it and if she meets the requirements, she can join the harem. Donte is the man, and he tells her that if she doesn’t behave, he’ll be in charge of punishing her. He stands there while she’s examined to see if she’s a virgin then takes her to the baths and watches as she is groomed, and all her body hair is removed. Cinder is all about having him there, as she is drawn to him and he makes her feel safe.

Months go on, and Cinder is happy in the harem and being trained, but of course, nothing stays the same, and when you live in a dangerous world, even if you are living in a palace in the lap of luxury, no place is safe forever.

I really like Cinder. She knew what she wanted and she was willing to go out and get it. I mean, it had to have been scary to go out into the world from her birth commune, and then to leave one after another so that she could get to the palace. And she had to do that without knowing exactly where she’d be able to get more supplies or if what she carried would last her as long as she needed. I’m not sure that I would’ve been able to do it, especially trudging through the desert. I am not a trudging through the desert kind of woman. I am not a going to the desert kind of woman. It’s hot. I don’t like to be hot. We get to see a lot of that fire and strength in Cinder. I mean, yeah, she has her moments, but overall, she is a very strong character. That doesn’t mean she’s not submissive too. The two things aren’t mutually exclusive. You can be both strong and submissive. And Cinder definitely is.

Donte seems to be a really good man. He cares for the entire harem, and wants everyone to be safe. He is stern and disciplined, as well as being the disciplinarian. But it seems like everything he does to discipline the women of the harem is done in a caring way. In fact, there is one point when he’s been brought in to punish Cinder that he asks if she thinks that she deserves it and listens to her explain why she doesn’t. We really don’t get to know much about him, except through Cinder, since everything is from her POV.

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OMG, that last scene with Maysa? I’m pretty sure that’s going to be nightmare fodder for me. That was… Yeah.

OK, that’s all for me. Go check this out! Happy reading!

 

Alta Hensley-Fallen Daughters

 

Alta Hensley has an interesting writing technique. She writes short stories that show up in various box sets, and then she either expands them or puts them in other books, using the box set as a kind of testing laboratory. There are others that she has written that have just sat on her desk. If you are like me and have read most of what Alta has written, then you will recognize most of her Fallen Daughters, either in their original form or in the form they showed up in other books. I recognized all of them, except for Fallen Daughter 3. Did that stop me from rereading all the stories? No way. I love to reread, so this was awesome for me.

Fallen Daughter #1

This one got tested out in Daddy’s Demands, and then found its way into one of the Top Shelf books, the one with Roman and Cheri, to be precise. I loved it in both its forms, and it’s still as fucking hot the second time around. Or third time. However many, it’s still ridiculously hot.

Fallen Daughter #2

This one first showed up in an anthology called The Dark Forest, which is a collection of adult fairy tales. Alta’s was a take on Sleeping Beauty. A very, very dirty version of Sleeping Beauty. I know that it showed up in another book, in parts at least, but my brain fails me right now, so I don’t remember which one it was. I loved the way that our heroine was given her gifts, and how they really did help her in her captivity.

Fallen Daughter #3

This was the only one of the stories that I haven’t read before. I will say that I haven’t read every single thing that Alta has written, so it may be in one of the books that I haven’t read yet. I really liked it though. It was a pretty sweet little story, which kind of makes it not Alta’s usual fare, but it is just a lovely little story, and left me very happy.

Fallen Daughters #4 & #5

There is a reason that I am combining these two. It’s because they were together in a book called No White Knight, and it was one of the first things that I read by Alta. #4 was known as Pallid Slave, and it disturbed me on a couple of levels. Disturbing good, though. OK, I have to get a smidge personal here. I have lost 2 brothers, one 31 years ago, one 16 years ago. There really isn’t a mark of that loss that shows everyone that you have lost someone you loved so much. That can be both a blessing and a curse. You don’t have to worry about anyone giving you sympathy when it’s overwhelming. Then again, you have to tell them that you are grieving when it gets too much, and that can be really hard to do. In Pallid Slave, there really is a very visible outward sign of mourning, which I think is more of a curse than a blessing in this case, but I found it to be a really interesting way to handle it. #5 was called a Hero in Disguise, and frankly, it could be ripped right out of today’s headlines, and that’s what makes it so fucking disturbing to me.

Fallen Daughter #6

This one first showed up in Twisted Sacraments. If you read those stories, you know that there is no happy in any of them, and it’s no different with Alta’s story. Frankly, I’m pretty sure that the world is going to end in a plague, and so any stories that have some kind of plague in them play right into that fear. And then you put the coocoo for cocoa puffs bits in there, and yup. I’m properly worried.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve read these stories in any form before, they are definitely worth a reread.

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Laura Thalassa-Pestilence

I love a good post-apocalyptic story, and you can’t get much more apocalyptic than Laura Thalassa’s Four Horsemen series, which starts with Pestilence. And yes, it’s the four horsemen as in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. See, can’t get much more apocalyptic than that.

So, here’s how this world works. Five years ago, the Horsemen rode out on Earth. Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death each picked a direction and rode. And in their wake, everything that made up the modern world stopped working. Then, they suddenly disappeared. Now, some things are starting to come back, well, sort of. There is some television, there is some electricity, but not much. And they aren’t very trustworthy. But there is enough television to let people know that Pestilence has now come back, and where he rides, the Messianic Fever follows. The modern day plague has a 100% death rate. And it’s not a pretty death. It involves swellings, and sores, and pustules, and just yucky in general. Luckily, Pestilence the Conqueror is following a predictable path, so they are able to issue evacuation warnings so that the towns can empty. The further you can get from Pestilence, the better.

Sara is one of the few firefighters in her town who stayed to help everyone evacuate. Now it’s down to just these few, and they are drawing straws to see who is going to stay and kill Pestilence when he rides through their town. Guess who the lucky one is? She knows that it’s a suicide mission, but if she can kill Pestilence, then she can save the world, so her life is a good tradeoff. So, she sees off her friends, and goes to find the perfect place to hide so she can kill Pestilence with her grandfather’s rifle. Only, it turns out, Pestilence is harder to kill than you might think, and now Sara is stuck with him. He’s not going to kill her. He’s going to make her suffer.

This story just emotionally wiped me out. I had to spend a couple of days processing it until I could talk about how it made me feel. It’s a slow book. Not just a slow burn, but a slow book. There is a lot of riding, and a lot of analyzing of feelings, and a lot of suffering. There are quick bursts of action in places, but most of the time, it’s a fairly slow book. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s kind of like the Lord of the Rings books. There’s a lot of walking and riding to get to where they are going, but it’s during that walking and riding that you get to know the characters and get to see what makes them tick. Then you get the quick bursts of action which give you a nice jolt and make the characters realize things.

There are times I hate Pestilence, but the thing is, as I think about it now, it’s kind of hard to hate him. It’s like hating a hurricane or a force of nature. Pestilence just IS. How can you hate something that just is? I could easier hate a tree. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I like him a lot of the time. He is who he is, and he is implacable. He is doing his God-given duty, and Pestilence isn’t just his name, it is who he is.

Sara isn’t always likable either. I truly dislike her a couple of times, but in general, I tend to like her. She’s dealing with a hell of a lot of stuff and not just physical pain or anything. There’s a lot there, and I don’t think that I could’ve handled everything that Sara had to deal with. I would’ve probably totally shattered, never to be able to be put back together again.

I can’t wait for War to come out. It’s supposed to come out soon.

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Rob and Ruth just broke my heart and then put it back together again. It was a beautiful section of the book.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. Go check it out and make sure to tell me what you think of it. Happy reading!

Addison Cain-Ravaged Captive

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that I have another Omegaverse book on the blog today, especially since Addison just had one come out this weekend. Well, that and I warned you guys. LOL. I have the newest book from Ivy Chapman on the hook for later today, and a post about mpreg coming up soon. But first, Wren and Ravaged Captive.

As a reminder, Wren’s Song is a serial. That means the books cannot be read as standalones. This is book #4, but if you don’t read books 1-3, you are going to be totally lost. I know that a lot of people like to wait until the entire series is out before they start a serial like this, but I have no clue how many more books Addison is going to write for Wren, and I don’t think that Addison would tell us anyway. She’s a sadistic tease like that. Also, because of the nature of serials, there may be spoilers for books 1-3 in this, but as always, I will try really hard not to spoil anything. You have been warned.

When last we saw our intrepid heroine, she was with Caspian and Toby, but Kieran wasn’t around, until all of a sudden he was. And he wasn’t alone.

All Caspian knows is that the person that Kieran brought around is upsetting Wren, and he isn’t going to have any of that. When that whole situation has been handled, it’s time for Kieran to have his time with Wren, and he’s going to have it. He’s going to take her to the big room and do all the things to her. Well, the things that probably won’t get him killed by Caspian and/or Toby.

I have to admit, I hate one of the guys in each book, and it varies from book to book. Last book I liked Kieran. This time I pretty much hate Kieran and he can fuck right off into a deep dark hole, and he can make sure he doesn’t go alone.

I think that Caspian and Toby are changing, and changing for the better, maybe. It’s not like they are ever going to be good guys, but maybe they aren’t as rough as they have been in the past. They are still going to be dominant assholes, I mean, that’s just who they are, and no amount of Wren or any kind of bond that may or may not be there is going to change that. But, I think that she is going to round over some of those edges.

I don’t know what’s going on with Kieran. I don’t think he knows what’s going on with him. I think that I may be able to get a read on him in one second, but then something completely different happens, and I have no clue what’s going on. I don’t know what kind of bond exists between Kieran and Wren, if they even have one, or if they will ever be able to have one. I think of the three of them, Kieran is the most significantly broken, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men aren’t ever going to be able to put him back together again. I mean, we all know that Caspian and Toby are broken and ain’t quite right, but I think they are less broken.

I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next. I can only tell you it’s going to be sooooooooon. Addison never tells us when release day happens, until it happens, so I guess we’re just going to have to be happy with that answer.

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The Doll. We hatez her, we do.

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

Scarlett Snow and Loxley Savage-Saphyre

Oh my ducklings, this is DARK. This is disturbing. This is intense, and if you don’t like those things, then Saphyre is definitely not the book for you. Which is definitely not anything to be upset about, we all like what we like. And you’re in good company, Amazon doesn’t like it either. In fact, Amazon banned this book, not just once, but twice. Once under this name, and then after Scarlett and Loxley reworked and renamed it, it was banned under that name too. It had reached bestseller status too, both times. But, do not despair, oh my darlings, the buy link I posted is good, and you can get it there, at least as a mobi file. And once you have it, you definitely have it forever.

Scarlett and Loxley are both new authors to me. I saw the cover in passing in Sara Fields’ group and thought that it sounded like a good book, but then my brain sabotaged me, as it does. Then Katie Douglas and I were talking about other things, and she asked me if I knew anything about it, since she couldn’t find it anywhere. So, I went and looked and asked, and found out that yup, it had been banned. Loxley told me that they were trying to find other options, and then they came out with Ember, and by the time I had a second to read it, it was banned again. So, the very second I found the new buy link, I jumped on it. We all know that I buy banned books anyway, and a banned book that I want to read? Yupper.

So here’s the way that the story goes. It’s post-apocalyptic and dystopian AF. There are two very, very, very distinct castes. You have the Emperians and the Tenebrians. Emperia is made up of 4 floating islands, three of which have a separate kingdom on it. This book, we’re concerned with the kingdom of the manticore shifters. Manticores, by the way, are a beastie out of Persian mythology. It has the head of a man, the body of a lion, and can either have a scorpion tail or a long tail with spines all over it. The pix you see of manticores tend to have a humanish face with a mane. And oh yeah, lest I forget, they also have wings. The Emperian manticores have 3 tails, one which kills you when you are stung, one which gives you incredible pain, and one which is an aphrodisiac. Anyway, the Emperians are all that, a bag of chips, and the extra large soda too. They are the creme de la creme, the rulers, the tyrants, so on and so forth. Then you have the Tenebrians. Tenebris is the lands which lay far beneath the floating isles. They are the slums, filled with the peasants, the poor, the people who are trying to scratch out a living. There are better areas than others, but even the better areas of Tenebris aren’t all that great. The Emperians will come down to get themselves a little bit of trade, but generally, the only thing that Emperians value coming out of Tenebris are the breeders.

Saphyre and her sisters are part of the resistance that their mother set up. They have very good reasons to be, including the fact that they have what is called the Golden Curse. They are what is called Aurelian Breeders. They have a special birthmark on the crown of their heads, with a golden streak of hair coming from the mark. That golden streak of hair and the birthmark singles them out as something special, unique, desirable, and very, very valuable.

As one of the heads of the resistance, Saphyre takes her responsibilities very, very seriously. So, since they need some money to get food, she’s off to do what she can to get some. She’s going to dress all super sexy and visit one of the clubs that the Emperians hang out at, and she’s going to rob one of them. And hopefully kill them too. Each Emperian has a special emblem that they wear, and the more valuable the metal, the higher their rank is. So when Saphyre sees a guy with the most expensive emblem ever, she knows that she has to get him. But of course, nothing ever turns out that way. Instead, she gets caught and harvested by King Leonidas to be his Breeder to bear his royal heir. But first, he’s going to give her to his two friends and advisors to break her in and train her. His friends are Raphael and oh yeah, General Ryker, the man she stole from and tried to kill. Oh fuck.

I love Saphyre. She is fierce, loyal, and smart. She isn’t going to give in to the manticores who are trying to be her masters, at least not all the way. I think that there is always going to be that core of steel right down in the center of her that Leonidas, Raphael, and Ryker won’t be able to see, let alone touch. I think that they should definitely question themselves anytime she seems to give in easily, and maybe just not get all that complacent. I think that she’s always, always, always going to have more than one reason to do whatever she’s doing at any one time. She might not even acknowledge those reasons to herself, because acknowledging them means that someone else might figure them out. I think that she will be a force to be reckoned with, and I will definitely want to stay out of her way.

Oh, I hated Leonidas, Ryker, and Raphael in the beginning. And I’m not talking hate to love them or love to hate them kind of hate. I mean complete and utter loathing. They could’ve died by fire and spent the eternities boiling in a sea of lava and hellfire and I probably would’ve thought they were getting off lightly. But, they started to grow on me as the book went on. Of the three of them, I think Raphael is my favorite. Ryker is my least favorite most of the time, and Leonidas flows around there somewhere back and forth. They are occasionally brutal when it comes to how they treat  Saphyre. I mean, the nipple clamps? Or the first interactions between Leonidas and Saphyre? Holeeeeee fuck.

Scarlett and Loxley have promised that there are more books in this world coming, and seriously, I may have to go find them, drag them to my “spare room” and lock them in until they can write them, because I really don’t want to wait. (Just kidding on the dragging them to my spare room part. That’s reserved for Addison Cain.)

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OK, I’m not going to say anything much down here, other than karma is a bitch.

Go check it out, and happy reading?!?

Sara Fields-Frenzy

So, my fave Omegaverse author dared one of my fave SFR authors to write an Omegaverse story. So, Sara took the dare and wrote Frenzy. And oh my, did she step up to the challenge. While Sara does tend to write darkish, she generally isn’t as dark as Addison, which is good, because who wants every single one of their favorite authors to write exactly like the others? I like the personal style of each and every author I read. And I really love the spin Sara puts on the Overse.

The nice thing with an alternate universe like the Omegaverse is that it isn’t real. There isn’t any specific set of rules, outside of the basics. That means that you can pretty much set up your world the way that you want it and for it to run the way that you want. I mean, sure you can do that with a lot of genres, but there are certain rules that we expect to happen in those genres, and when those things don’t happen, people get a little salty. Since the Overse is still newish, especially in more mainstream lit, there aren’t as many rules, so Sara’s books are going to be different to Addison’s books, which are going to be different to Lillian Sable’s, so forth and so on. Does that make sense? I know it did in my head, but I’m just getting over the norovirus, so my head may be all kinds of weird right now. Anyway, on to the book.

This is a post-apocalyptic and, as far as I can tell, pretty dystopian world. The dome that half of our main characters live in acknowledges the A/B/O dynamic, but they do everything they can to make sure that they aren’t ruled by it. That includes pumping suppressants into the air. The suppressants keep the hormones, pheromones, and instincts under control. In fact, it’s so under control, they don’t even really have sex anymore. It’s all clinical and medical reproduction, and not a whole lot of physicality. However, there are some people who are immune to the suppressants, and really, they are about 24 hours away from metabolizing the suppressants and all of a sudden feeling their dynamic kick in. Raven is a brilliant scientist, and she has a plan and has been spending years doing research on a better suppressant, but the one big ingredient she needs is extinct in the city. So she needs to go out into the wilds, where people’s dynamics aren’t suppressed, they are all natural and all that. Oh, the horrors. But she’s ready and has taken precautions. Except, no one ever expects the Spanish Inquistion, which in this case is a huge fiery-eyed monster and a band of raiders who killed everyone but Raven and her best friend and partner, Alix, who snatches her away and carries her off to safety.

Now, you can probably guess that Raven is an Omega and Alix is an Alpha, because it’s hard to have an Overse story without them. But, there are some pieces missing, since this is an RH story, you kinda have to have the H part, and the only person who can help out Raven when she goes into estrous right now is Alix, and unless he’s triplets that I missed, there’s a little bit of something missing.

Enter two of the wild men, Ivan and Wolfe, who smell Raven’s estrous, and decide that they will come and play.

To me, the real meat of the story here isn’t what happens with the plot, which I’m not going to run down, because it is a good story with a great plot that I enjoyed, but instead, the melding of wild and tame and how that worked. On one hand, you have Raven and Alix who have never come to grips with their biology, never had an estrous or a rut, until they are forced to have one, and it is, quite literally, a life-changing event. They don’t even have a cultural idea as to how to deal with this, because their culture suppresses all those natural urges. So, they are handling all this stuff with no practical knowledge. Then, you have Wolfe and Ivan, who have never lived in the dome and who have never had any kind of suppression, and who know who and what they are and how to control it. The thing is, when they all got together, it could’ve been really ugly, but they all figured out how to work in a way that worked for them. I love the thought that Sara puts into making that work.

Unlike a lot of the other MF Omegaverse that I’ve read, this isn’t noncon. I would put this at light dubcon, I think. I mean, yeah, Alix and Raven are put into a situation when this could happen, but they are also able to talk about what is going to happen before it does. So, dubcon-ish.

I can’t wait to see where Sara is going to go with her world. It’s going to focus on a new character, I know, but outside that, I have no idea.

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The albatrosses! OMG, so freaking awesome! I thought that was just so neat!

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

Natalie Bennett-Degenerates

This is the 5th book in Natalie’s Badlands series, but instead of staying ith our original 3 couples, we’ve jumped forward a couple of decades and we’re dealing with everyone’s kids. Degenerates is Adelaide and Zane’s story. She’s the Savage Princess and he’s the Venomous Prince.

Before we get into the story, here’s the list of all the kids and their parents. And I say kids, but the older ones are in their 20s. Now, considering that I have a 23 year old son, I feel perfectly justified in calling them kids. So, Romero and Cali have Adelaide, Lucifage (m), and Belladonna. Grim and Arlen have Nyx (f), who has a pet crow named Charon, and Samael (m). Blue and Cobra’s kids are twins Cameron and Braxton, who is also called Butcher, and then daughter Lilith. Adelaide and Nyx are best friends. Nyx and Butcher are in a relationship. Lucifage, Adelaide, Cameron, Butcher, and Nyx all hang out together, while Belladonna, Lilith, and Samael are all tight.

On the Venom side, we have Zane, who doesn’t have any biological brothers, but he considers Malaki and Marcus his brothers. Now that we have all that, let’s get into the story.

Adelaide finds out that her sister Bella and her cousins Lilith and Samael have gone off. While Romero wants to send out all the acolytes to find his little girl and the rest of his family, she convinces him to let her go do it. She tells him that she will take Nyx and her acolyte/bodyguard, Annie. Romero is all good with that, but Romero being Romero, isn’t going to let it stay that way. He arranges for Lucifage, Butcher, and Cameron to go as well. And off towards the unknown they go.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Badlands, Zane, Malaki, Trix, and Ace are working on Ace’s initiation, which involves getting rid of some people who screwed Ace’s family over. It ain’t pretty. As they are leaving, they see a young woman with the Savages’ inverted cross tattooed on her running away while she’s yelling that he’s coming.

Then, along comes Adelaide and her entourage and they rescue that woman and run into the Venom, where Zane points Addy’s own gun right at her head. Definitely a romantic start when you come to this series, right?

I like Adelaide. She’s my kind of crazy. That being said, I mostly don’t think that she’s quite as hardcore as Callista. Of course, compared to Rome and Cali, Addy had a Leave it to Beaver childhood. Well, the Badlands version thereof. She’s pretty sheltered. She’s been trained in all matter of bad things by her parents, but she’s never really been out of the compound and has only really dealt with areas that the Savages already own. She’s also a virgin, if you can believe that of a young woman living in the middle of the Savages. She’s a really interesting mix of demonic and innocent, naive and worldly. Natalie writes those characters really well.

Zane, OTOH, is completely debauched, deviant, and demonic. There’s not anything innocent about him at all. He is smart and devious. He’s got some big damn plans as to what he’s going to do. I don’t think he thinks quite as far ahead as Romero, but frankly, I don’t think that many people do. I mean, Romero is 2 steps ahead of Satan. I would like to see the two of them conniving together, because I don’t think that the world would survive. I’m pretty sure that Zane and Addy are going to be a helluva power couple. I mean, she is her parents’ daughter.

I’m really looking forward to seeing where the story is going to go. It’s going to be fascinating.

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I’m not entirely sure that I trust Lucifage. I want to know who all knew what he was doing. I’m pretty sure that Romero knew, even if Luce doesn’t know that Rome knew. We’ve already pointed out that Rome knows everything. So, that’s going to be interesting to see what’s going to keep happening there.

And Cam, my poor black heart.

OK, that’s all for this one. It’s dark, but not as dark as other books by Natalie, but I know that the next one is going to be yeah…. Happy reading!