Copper King by Vivian Arend

21458176

Grade: B+
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Shifter, Bear, novella
Series: Takhini Shifters #1
Published: 5/6/14 
Reviewed by Anne
*Note: This book is part of the Alphas After Dark Anthology
 
Jim is on a yearly vacation.  He’s a workaholic, especially since his parents died, but his good friend pulls him out to play at least once each year.  This year they’re in Vegas.  Lillie is also in Las Vegas.  She’s having her very first and last wild weekend.  When Jim sees Lillie, sparks fly.  When he offers to show her around the shifter side of Vegas, her bear can’t resist his.
 
I really enjoyed this novella.  I can’t believe I haven’t read Vivian Arend before.  She does shifters right!  Not the over the top humor of Shelly Laurenston, who is a favorite of mine, but just really well written shifters.  I love it when a shifter’s animal side shows through in her human side, both in actions and little things like Lillie wearing a shirt polka dotted with teeny tiny teddy bears.  There is plenty of humor, too.  Not over the top humor, but the kind that makes you smile while you’re reading
 
I did predict the twist coming in this novella, but it still worked really well, so I didn’t care.  The whole setup (for the twist) stetched my willingness to suspend disbelief a bit, but again, overall the story worked for me.  I’m definitely going to be reading more Vivian Arend!
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Ink and Flowers by J.K. Pendragon

Ink and Flowers

Grade: B-
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m, Coming Out, novella
Published: 6/4/14
Reviewed by Anne
89 pages

Luke, a shy anxiety ridden college student, needs a place to live. He’s practically broke and determined not to have to move in with his overbearing family. There’s a guy that comes into the flower shop every week who scares the heck out of Luke, just due to his rough looks and many tattoos, and the fact that he hit on Luke once. His name is Cooper. Cooper makes Luke a hideous bargain – have sex with me and you can sleep on my couch. Luke has spent a lot of time telling himself he’s not gay, but he agrees to the bargain anyway.

This is a fairly straight forward set up for a novella, and you certainly get the story promised, but there’s a LOT packed into this novella! You’ve got a controlling and repressing family, severe depression, anxiety that’s not really addressed, the question of paying for art school, Cooper’s career and mysterious trauma, Cooper’s habit of handling problems by running away, and erectile dysfunction! It’s a bit too much for this short of a story.

It was refreshing to read about a couple who didn’t have immortal hardons for each other, but I was disappointed that it seemed like their sex life depended on the ability to have an erection. I expected to see a discussion or practice of non-ejaculatory ways to be intimate. But, then again, I’m already complaining that there’s too much packed into this book! It was also interesting to read about a character with anxiety and see how it affected his life. But, again, it was disappointing that no treatment was pursued. Luke’s anxiety had a big impact on his life. So much so, that it’s difficult to believe that it will go away just because he’s come out.

This story is told solely from Luke’s POV, but that worked for me. The mystery around Cooper’s motivation and his transformation from jerk to sympathetic character was well done! Luke’s character growth made me want to stand up and cheer! Despite having so much packed into it, I enjoyed the story and would read more by this author.

Educating Caroline by Patricia Cabot

640121
Grade: B

Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Historcal
Published: 10/30/01
Reviewed by Kate
439 pages

This one read like a soap opera-in the best way possible.  I feel like a who’s who might be the best way to start.

Cast of Characters:
Braden Granville-our hero, aka the Lothario of London
Lady Caroline Linford-our heroine, prim, proper, and, of course, virginal
Lady Jacquelyn Seldon-Braden’s fiance
Marquis of Winchilsea-Caroline’s fiance

Do you have it all straight now?  All right.  Here we go!

We start off with Lady Caroline walking in on the Marquis of Winchilsea (her finance, remember) in the arms (well technically, in the legs) of Lady Jacquelyn (Braden’s fiance).  She’s ready to call off the engagement, but her mother tells her there’s no way she can end it without causing a reputation ending scandal.  Instead, she should use her womanly wiles to make her fiance fall for her.  Which wouldn’t be a bad idea, except Caroline’s not really sure if she has any wiles. 

Braden knows that Lady Jacquelyn has not been faithful to him.  But he can’t call of their engagement without losing a lot of money.  Unless he can prove it, with a name or a witness.  Caroline decides Braden is the perfect person to teach her how to make the Marquis fall in love with her-all hands off of course. In exchange for teaching her, she’ll be his witness against Lady Jacquelyn.

And from that point forward we have the story of Braden and Caroline coming to love one another.  My reading experience was filled with happy smiles, chuckles, gasps of shock and outrage, outright laughs, and contented sighs.  With just enough intrique thrown in, this one kept me turning pages from start to finish.

Thanks to Anne for the recommendation.