Seasonal Series | Erotica Reviews, April 1, 2016

SEASONAL SERIES Spring has always been a time of gradual, pleasant surprises: warmer winds, longer days, and new novels from old favorites. This month features a bunch of fresh additions to well-loved series. The author duo writing as Christina Lauren give readers a glimpse into lovebirds Hanna’s and Will’s rapidly changing lives as newly­weds in a “Beautiful” novella, while Manties in a Twist follows Subs Club regular Kamen on his own path to domestic bliss. J. Kenner’s Dirtiest Secret kicks off a brand-new trilogy spotlighting Stark International’s wealthy womanizer Dallas Sykes, and sports and sex share the field yet again in Dani Jace’s latest installment in the “Seaside Heat” books. Make sure to keep an eye out for Magic and Desire, a captivating trio of mystical erotic shorts from some of the genre’s best-selling authors.

WELL LOVED & GROWING

redstarDa Costa, Portia & others. Magic and Desire. Virgin Black Lace, dist. by Trafalgar Square. (Classics). May 2016. 272p. ISBN 9780352347848. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9780753516652. EROTICA

Enchantment and erotica join forces in this powerful collection. “The House of Dust” by Janine Ashbless follows Ishara, a priestess of the fertility goddess Inanna, as she grieves over the untimely death of her beloved King Tamuz and seeks to avenge his murder. ­Ishara has no choice but to visit the Queen of the Underworld in order to bring back her lover and rightful king. Da Costa’s “Ill Met by Moonlight” puts a more playful spin on the magic theme, as bored vacationer Lois finds herself visited at night by her gorgeous, enigmatic Dream Lover, who looks like a rock star version of “tall, dark, and handsome” and smells mysteriously of lavender. Dream Lover (real name Robin) shows up outside her holiday cabin, leading the two to embark on a fantastical sex fest that leaves them helplessly in lust and in love. But when Robin reveals that his human form is temporary, they must confront the reality of finding true love on a deadline. Olivia Knight’s “The Dragon Lord” returns to the high fantasy genre, recounting a dramatic tale of legacy, intense passion, and the value of truth. In Kâo, a dragon queen lies on her deathbed; meanwhile, fiery young Princess Nina of Navarone finds herself betrothed in a dull marriage meant to cure her lifelong “problem.” She is thrown into a tumult by Lord Drake, a mysterious wedding guest who claims to be from Kâo, a land she thought to be a fairy tale. He ignites Nina’s yearning, but each is bound by a sense of duty, and Drake knows his queen is running out of time. Ashbless and Knight skillfully imbue dark, sensual scenes with the air of a time long past, both ancient and otherworldly, while Da Costa’s lighter, modern fare provides ­humor alongside hot sex and sprites. ­VERDICT A perfect fit for fans of the intense erotic stylings of Sylvia Day, mingled with epic fantasy themes.

Jace, Dani. Game On! Lyrical: Kensington. (Seaside Heat). Jun. 2016. 75p. ebk. ISBN 9781601835987. $1.99. EROTICA

gameon.jpg33016Heath Lancaster, professional football player and hopeful rising star, sees his dreams stalled when the league goes on strike. Stuck in a Virginia beach house with nothing to do but play, he meets beautiful yet reserved local Jordan Walker, who has put dating on permanent hiatus after an affair with a married man all but destroyed her life and self-esteem. Heath has a similar history of being burned, so the two agree to a steamy no-strings sex game to last the summer ­season. But a ghost emerges from Jordan’s past just as the couple turn their attraction to genuine affection, making a simple summer fling more complicated than either could have imagined. Jace (Sand and Sun; Hot as Blazes) puts a sporty spin on the casual sex trope, with athletic Jordan and pro footballer Heath scoring on and off the field. VERDICT This familiar tale of a hookup with a happy ending fits the bill for a great beach read. Recommended for followers of Jace’s series and sports-themed erotica fans.

Kenner, J. Dirtiest Secret. Bantam. (Dirtiest Trilogy, Bk. 1). Apr. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9781101967454. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781101967461. EROTICA

Dallas Sykes, the playboy billionaire who first made a splash in Kenner’s “Stark International” trilogy, is the leading man in this fast-paced erotic thriller. Dallas has a “sex god” reputation that he’s worked hard to maintain, but his series of sexcapades with interchangeable women are only a temporary balm for the sorrows of his painful past. No one knows the extent of his trauma, except for Jane, the one woman he loves—and can’t have. The two are bound by a horrific experience that has shaped each in drastically different ways. A raucous bad boy in public, Dallas privately heads Deliverance, a covert special ops team of MI6 that rescues kidnapped children. Jane is a burgeoning author who transforms her trauma into fiction while investigating vigilante rescue missions. When the two are drawn together by the promise of finding their childhood captor, they’re unable to ignore the passion that their physical distance has kept at bay. Yet looming secrets threaten to destroy their life ­together, forever. Kenner’s tight storytelling and ­relentless pace make for action-packed scenes both in and out of the bedroom. ­VERDICT Strong writing propels an exciting tale of longing, danger, and forbidden desire. The ending’s twist will leave readers eager for the next installment.

Lauren, Christina. Beautiful Boss. Gallery. (Beautiful, Bk. 9). Apr. 2016. 144p. ISBN 9781501146220. pap. $9.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501131226. EROTICA

Marking the newest, bite-sized interlude in the “Beautiful” series, this novella follows supersweet nerd Hanna ­Bergstrom and “Beautiful Player” Will Sumner as they embark on their greatest adventure together so far—marriage. The wedding arrangements seem easy, though, compared to Hanna’s back-to-back interviews and the whirlwind of questions surrounding their newlywed life. Will’s latent insecurities about Hanna’s growing academic career are laid bare one drunken night, forcing the two to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of making decisions for two, first fights, and lots of makeup sex. ­VERDICT Talented duo Lauren excel at packing plenty of hot sex, newlywed bliss, and touches of reality into a few short pages with humor and aplomb. Though series fans in particular will appreciate the familiar faces, newcomers seeking a brief, racy read will not be disappointed.

redstarRock, J.A. Manties in a Twist. Riptide. (Subs Club, Bk. 3). Apr. 2016. 278p. ISBN 9781626493483. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9781626493476. EROTICA

This third book in the “Subs Club” ­series features goofy, gorgeous submissive ­Kamen navigating love, new kinks, and the many minor terrors known cumulatively as “adulting.” Though he’s not considered the brightest bulb among his friends, ­Kamen knows he’s found something good in his relationship with dominant partner Ryan. Subs Club buddies and confidants Miles, Gould, and Dave, however, don’t love Ryan’s brash nature or his perceived ambivalence toward their friend. Hal’s death and accuse the couple of isolating themselves in their “honeymoon” stage of domestic bliss. Add to that a newfound interest in pony play, and Kamen finds himself growing up rapidly, but he isn’t quite sure what, or whom, he might end up leaving behind. Rock has a knack for infusing even the naughtiest of sex scenes with humor and sweetness. Each episode sparkles with warmth and wit, whether it’s friendly banter during Subs Club meetings, poignant discussions of grief, or Ryan and Kamen discovering a shared panty kink. VERDICT Recommended for M/M erotica fans looking for edgier fetish depictions, with vibrant writing and plenty of laughs.

Ashleigh Williams is a New York–based freelance writer

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