Erotica, New Adult Romance, Paranormal

My Review: Tricky Princess (Tricky Magic #2) [ARC]

***ARC Review***
Publish Date: September 13th, 2022
Number of Pages: N/A
Publisher: Self Published
Genre(s): New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Erotica

***Warning!! This review contains spoilers to the previous book in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!!***

To see my full review of book #1 – Tricky Magic – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4.25 Stars

Even though she was sad, she had love. They whispered it to each other every morning and night and when they were wrapped around each other so deeply that their magic became one.”

– L.L. Campbell, “Tricky Princess”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

A Shadowborn Prince of Hel and a feared, all-powerful Trickster Witch will learn once again that not everything is as it seems in this second installment of the Tricky Magic series.

Travel to Hel with this steamy dark romance that has all your favorite things: Shadow play, supernaturals, loveable characters, and some tricky magic.

Rosier, crown prince and commander of Hel’s four armies, has been desperately avoiding his destiny as a ruler. When his father kidnaps Ellea, the Trickster Witch who gave him something worth living for, he has no choice but to return home. He must leave the comfort of his secluded life to journey to Hel—a path that is full of monsters, beasts, and terrible memories.

Nothing will stand in his way of saving Ellea—not his father, not Hel, and not the Gods. The funny thing is, he will be reminded once again that she never needed saving.

Ellea never saw herself stowed away in a castle, surrounded by the dead, sleeping Gods, and demons. While navigating her powers with her captor and newfound friend, she realizes that Hel itself needs work. She misses Ros every second they’re apart, but she can’t shake the feeling that she is exactly where she belongs.

A string of attacks will disrupt Ros and Ellea’s magical and steamy reunion. Only Ellea can stop her parents from ruining the balance between mortals and supernaturals, but she may have to give up a piece of her soul to do it.

Tricky Princess is a dark paranormal and mythological romance that contains detailed sex scenes, violence, swearing, and emotional trauma.

~~~

First off, I want to personally throw out a big THANK YOU to Lexi for sending me out an E-ARC copy of this book! It was so sweet of her, I’ve really liked chatting with her and getting to know her and show support for an indie book series that I’m really enjoying. Of course, this also means I want to reassure and say this review is ENTIRELY my own!

…now THIS is what I’m talking about! I love it when a sequel surpasses the first book in a series. I fairly enjoyed Tricky Magic, but Tricky Princess felt enhanced in almost every way. I read through this sequel much faster as more was happening and the plot has certainly thickened with how book 1 ended. There were more battles, bloodshed, intrigue, and of course spice!

This time around, you get more side-to-side perspectives from both Rosier and Ellea, but what I mean is it really feels like both characters really went through some change this time. I felt like Ros especially got a lot more attention this time around which I appreciated.

So the story starts off immediately where you were left off: Ellea has been kidnapped by Asmodeus, King of Hel and Ros’s father, and brings her to the underworld, and Ros and the gang set out to rescue her and bring her back. The road to Hel is a long and dangerous trek, and is filled with terrible obstacles…little do they know is that Ellea is being her usual Ellea self and casually wins the heart of the land and feels a sense of belonging down in Ros’s homeland!

The story felt more urgent and the raised stakes with Ellea’s parents starting a war with the supernaturals and even the worry of Belias and what he could possibly be up to—I also don’t remember if it was mentioned at all in book 1 but I thought it was cool that his father ended up being Beelzebub—but overall the pacing felt faster which really helps make you read through this one quicker.

The sex scenes were OF COURSE a major highlight, the author is really good at writing paranormal smut. I especially loved the scene of how Ellea wakes up Ros one morning…..you’ll have to read yourself to see what I mean 😉

~~~

She was goading him, trying to take back some control with her dirty mouth.

‘The goal is to make you not walk.’ He said it with a snarl, snapping his hips hard, enough to bruise, but she didn’t flinch, didn’t balk.

She smirked. ‘Then I would go harder.’

What a brat.

– L.L. Campbell, “Tricky Princess”

~~~

What I Liked:

  1. More Spice! HOT DAMN do Ros and Ellea not know how to slow down! The amount of spice in this book is a major plus for people like me who enjoy lots of “flavor” in their reading material! They go at it with MUCH enthusiasm, and get very inventive in some circumstances too, spice lovers will very much enjoy these parts of the books!
  2. Lots of New Characters! Holy Characters, Batman! There’s a LOT of new characters who make for an interesting read for sure! Most notably is Asmodeus, who is Ros’s father and King of Hel. Another character to look out for is Florence, who is a demon who knows ALL the secrets–it’s why her hair is so big!
  3. The Worldbuilding Really Expanded! The world of Hel really opens up and has a unique version told in this book. Ellea explores this underworld and lets us discover it all alongside with her!
  4. Ellea’s and Asmodeus’s Relationship! Ellea had such a fun dynamic with Ros’s father as he trained her down in Hel and they grew closer, she got a father figure she never really had, and he had a possible future daughter-in-law that he got along with too! Plus she tried to come up with a cute pet name for him like Azzy, Mod, etc. It was also funny how when Ros eventually storms the castle and expects her to be tortured and hanging by her ankles in a dungeon, she’s actually sipping tea with his dad in the library!
  5. More Was Going On In the Story! Even though I still consider this series to be character-driven, it felt like a lot more was happening and the stakes definitely felt raised to drive the story forward in a faster pace.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. A Lot of Characters Didn’t Reappear…I was disappointed to not see a few characters return this time around, like Sybil and a lot of the other witches and warlocks. Sam, Devon, Garm, Billy, Belias, and even Ellea’s harem of boys make appearances, but some felt shortened and revolved purely around Ellea and Ros and their character development, which makes sense for the story. I guess I was just maybe hoping for more in this regard? Like I wish we got more from Belias even with his scheming, and I think it would’ve added to the story to see him get away with more or rage with his temper to make him feel like a bigger threat, just something to add more to his character would’ve really helped him.

Conclusion:

Overall, this was a fun sequel that really added to the whole story. The writing felt smoother, the excitement and pacing definitely picked up, and the spice got even hotter! I think those who enjoyed the first book will REALLY enjoy this second installment!

I would also say those who really enjoyed other books like Kerri Maniscalco’s Kingdom of the Wicked series and the Hades and Persephone books by Scarlett St. Clair (A Touch of Darkness) will also really enjoy this book! I feel like the readers who want more spicy details with Wrath and Emilia and wish Wrath would just rip their clothes off already……… well, you get what I’m saying. Obviously, just be sure to read the first book before this one…

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Romance

My Review: Tricky Magic (Tricky Magic #1): by L.L. Campbell

Publish Date: December 18th, 2021
Number of Pages: 445 Pages
Publisher: Self Published
Genre(s): New Adult Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Erotica

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

Fears evolve and grow, welcoming another. One whose power will balance yours in destruction. You feed his fire as he feeds your chaos. You will turn worlds upside down,

– L.L. Campbell, “Tricky Magic”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

Ellea is a Witch, a mix of both the respected Seers and the feared Tricksters. On top of that, she has also spent her whole life in the shadows of her parents’ infamous attempted destruction.

After Ellea’s frequent and feared vision of the future shifts into something darker and more terrifying than before, she runs to a town that used to be a haven for her as a child.

But things are no longer as they seem. The world of supernaturals is so much more than she thought and after a run in with a mysterious hunter, she finds her and her powers spiraling.

Will the town of Glenover be the place she finally leaves her fears behind and embraces a new future? Or will her powers become destructive and result in her own destruction by the frustratingly handsome hunter?

~~~

This book had been calling to me for some time…

There was like this gut feeling or calling or siren’s song that had me drawn to it that I can’t entirely explain…all I can explain about it is that it was telling me to read this book for some reason.

Before doing so, I’d heard several mixed reviews about the book from my reading inner circle and a few others, but anything negative didn’t fully deter me, and I’m glad it didn’t because for the most part I did end up enjoying this book!

For some reason I was expecting this to be a medieval fantasy setting with the talk of witches, demons, and other paranormal creatures, but I was a little surprised to see that this actually takes place in modern, contemporary times. Not that this detracted me from the story at all, it gave me Vampire Diaries and/or True Blood kind vibes, which I love, so it works!

The story is definitely more character driven, so the plot will be slow at times, but theres plenty of spice throughout, and the slow burn between Ros and Ellea really drives the story forward, plus interactions with the rest of the cast make it actually kinda fun too! There’s Billy, who’s Ellea’s familiar in the form of a black dog and has a few zinger one liners and is supposed to be this ancient being with a lot of mystery surrounding her history, so color me intrigued…theres Belias, who’s Ros’s cousin who’s definitely got something wicked planned, watch out for him… there’s Sybil, an ancient witch who’s only in one scene, but leaves quite an impression…

Actually there’s quite a bit of characters who are only in a handful of scenes, and I have no idea if they’ll be important players later on in the series or if they’re just done now? It’s really hard to say right now, and hopefully reading book two answers that for me and–possibly–other readers.

And I’d actually add onto that saying that there’s actually A LOT that gets left up in the air that you may want answers to but you won’t get, all that is determined by whatever direction the author wants to take this story in, but consider me curious to see what happens next!

~~~

My life has been spent looking for ways to change, ways to control this monster that I am destined to become. And I am getting tired of it.

– L.L. Campbell, “Tricky Magic”

What I Liked:

  1. The Spice! Okay, there is a decent amount of spice in this book including a four way like right away kinda to my surprise, and another good thing about all of it is that it doesn’t feel like it overtakes the plot at all! Like, sometimes you can tell when an author makes a story total PWP (Porn Without Plot), but the author kept a decent balance here with it!……and the shadow play!!! Azriel fans will appreciate that part a whole lot!
  2. Rosier! Hello new book boyfriend addition! Ros is absolutely a new favorite of mine who I can’t wait to see more of his perspective in the next book! He’s grumpy, swoon-worthy, protective, cheeky, and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty in more ways than one!
  3. There’s LGBT Side Characters! Sam and Devon are a gay couple in this story, and their relationship seems so easy going and calming, aka the complete opposite of Ellea and Ros, so I’m here for them! I have no idea how important they’ll be in the series, but if anything happens to them…..oooooooooo we don’t want to go there!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Not Clear Magic System…With witchcraft and demon summoning and other supernatural creatures in the vicinity, obviously theres going to be a magic system involved right?…well technically there is, but it’s not really developed as much as some of you readers may like, and I felt like it wasn’t explored enough in the story. HOWEVER, for a large part of this book it also wasn’t completely necessary to use it, so maybe it’ll be more fleshed out in book 2!
  2. Pacing Can Be Slow…This story is character driven with mostly the development/growth of Ellea, so yes, the pacing is a bit slower in some beats. It’s not as action packed as some of us would perhaps like, so I can see some of you getting bored with it in this regards.
  3. The Unexpected Ending…This kind of continues off the pacing issue, but the shocking ending felt like it kind of came out of nowhere and I wasn’t expecting it, but only because I also felt like there wasn’t really the proper build up to it? It felt like it was slapped right into the end of the story and yeah, it did raise the stakes and make things harder for Ros and Ellea, but I felt it wasn’t the best approach…

Conclusion:

Overall, I did for the most part enjoy this book! It’s not heavy or dense, and it’s perfect for anyone looking for some spicy paranormal romance with a witchy aesthetic and a hot hot hot slow burn! The pacing was fairly slow, but the characters keep you interested, and the author certainly puts a few questions in your head about them and the plot of the story and where everything is going, so now it’s up to L.L Campbell to keep the ball rolling.

The series has some potential to get better with each and every book, for me it really depends on where the author plans to go with this series as you don’t get a lot of answers for those questions that pop up, so I’m definitely putting some pressure on the sequel coming out in Fall 2022 to pass the baton and keep things moving!

We Shall See!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Erotica, Romance

My Review: Crosstown Crush (Sins in the City #1): by Cara McKenna

Publish Date: September 1st, 2015
Number of Pages: 336 Pages
Publisher: Signet
Genre(s): Erotica, Romance

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

After I happened upon this book totally by accident, I can say that this is definitely a smutty & erotic story worth checking out for those who are curious about what exactly is explored by the main characters…

I was doing a mini experiment with this title and decided to give it a try without looking into it on Goodreads, Amazon, literally nothing besides just reading the blurb and starting it based off just that. Honestly, it’s been wayyyyyyy too long since I’ve done that and I feel like I should do it more often; I might enjoy a lot more titles and not end up passing on a lot of them based off their Goodreads average rating or being scared off from others’ reviews. It makes me think of how many books I’d actually passed up on because of that, and it turns out I would’ve really enjoyed them?

So back to this book, but sex and a particular kink are the main focus of the story. I mean, that makes total sense when it comes to books within this genre, and one thing to remember is that with so much emphasis on the graphic sex scenes comes less actual plot and in-depth character development. Sometimes you do get all that in the story, but it can’t always be expected. What is expected is incredibly detailed sex scenes that really heat things up! This book is a dirty one and might even be too much for some readers! I enjoyed it because it was all about exploration of something that is taboo and forbidden and looked down on by a lot of people, plus I think it also depends on your personal views of marriage and how far a couple can go with their sex lives both as a couple but also as individuals.

So I’m kind of assuming a lot by this point, but I’m sure you know what’s going on in the book, so I’m just going to sort of go off about the “other man” in this whole relationship because he was by far my favorite character! I go into more detail about him later on in my review, but I thought the chemistry between him and the wife was so much hotter and undeniable than even her and her actual husband! There was definitely some major sparks happening there, and of course plenty of passionate, forbidden sex that was happening between them all!

The ending left a little more to be desired in my honest opinion, but again, I go more into detail on that below. I guess I can say that it was satisfying enough, but maybe not for those who read this and are leaning more towards the third man in this whole setup.

This erotic novel kind of hit different with its content and focus on cuckholding, which is when the husband is cheated on, but there’s also a lot more to it I think… This book doesn’t really give you a lesson in the topic and taboo subject matter, but it certainly paints it all in an interesting picture. Of course in this book it was all kind of hot, but would it be the same in your own sex life? What if instead of seeing red with rage and getting jealous, what if it was a huge turn on to have your significant other whispering in your ear all the torrid and dirty things they did with someone else? Maybe it leads to roleplaying and/or bringing a third party into the mix all for the sake of experimentation and fulfilling a dark and forbidden fantasy? I know that definitely doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I feel like exploring the idea through fiction might be a safer way to do so? It’s tricky because how accurate can it be? How much research did the author do? Is this just another 50 Shades of Grey mess? It certainly raises a ton of questions the more you think about it, but I’m going to leave it all up to you, the reader, to make up your mind on the topic. I appreciate you either way!

Each of the three characters has their own fantasies/fetishes that they admit to at some point in the story, some earlier than others. As the three of them explore themselves and their whole sexual dynamic, it actually gets kind of complex with how their feelings change and develop as they get to know more about each other, but the one thing that makes us unique gets in the way: human emotion. It certainly can lead to complications, especially with such a fragile and unique dynamic that the characters find themselves in with this book. Lines get crossed, as to be expected, but how exactly do they deal with it all? Thats the big question to ask that makes me say you need to read it for yourself to find out!

(or just keep reading on where I’m kind of giving a vague spoiler on the ending…fair warning).

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

The first in a new series from the “wicked-hot”* author of Hard Time and Give It All explores the fantasies of a daring married couple—and those of a stranger invited to play along in their scandalous little games… When he’s working, Mike Heyer is all business—every inch the alpha male, with the hard, capable body to back up his persona. But at home he can be a different man entirely, harboring appetites only his wife gets to glimpse…

When Samira first learned of her husband’s fantasies, she was reluctant, even alarmed. But after witnessing the way they set him on fire, she yielded, and happily indulged. As their games have intensified, so has the rush. And now so has the risk—they’re poised to take Mike’s indecent desires to the next level, by opening their bed to a sexy, brazen stranger. A man seeming custom-made to grant every last one of Mike and Samira’s sinful wishes.

Welcoming someone new into their lives was always a dangerous proposition, but the couple imagined if anything was at stake, it was their privacy…not their hearts.

What I Liked:

  1. Bern! He was a total highlight of this book, and I find it so ironic considering he’s the third party person whose brought into this unique pairing. He’s charming, he’s confident, down to earth, cheeky, and so intune with his sexuality and what all happens, he was fun to read in this story. I liked him almost immediately and wouldn’t mind if he was a real person if I ever bumped into him. He also has a dog who he obviously cares a lot about which is also a major plus, but also how he totally is down to go with the flow and change up the roleplaying almost quicker than either Sam or Mike. He has an exhibitionist in him and he’s not afraid to take charge and put his emotions out on his sleeve, I think anyone who reads this will absolutely adore him!
  2. The Smut! With the added thrill of the forbidden and taboo, the sex was absolutely so well done in this book. So much dirty talk and hot actions were said and done to heat up the pages and make you blush a couple times, plus these scenes take up a rather hefty amount of the book itself. Any fans of smut will absolutely love this book for this fact alone.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Ending… So this goes into spoiler territory, so read on at our own risk or skip to the conclusion……….but I wasn’t thrilled about the ending. It felt rushed and wrapped up a little too nicely, which always seems to be a problem I have with contemporary romance titles I swear! Well the main reason I wasn’t all that happy with it is because it honestly felt like it gave Bern the short end of the straw. So basically Sam ends up wanting both men in her life and being in a relationship with Bern while staying married to Mike, so they basically share her. Well, Mike shares her and pretty much chaperones anything that happens with Bern and Sam….It may have ended the book fine, but I was thinking about how it could come to be later on in their lives, like it doesn’t seem like it’d work long-term for them. To be fair, it was implied that Mike lessoned his strictness a little bit over time, but I just feel like Bern is going to resent how he doesn’t get enough over time… I just saw it going south, plus it’s not like throuples are really a big socially acceptable thing in this day and age. I’m not even sure if you can call it a throuple because Mike and Bern don’t really go too far with each other; there’s some exploration with that, but it’s more about them sharing Sam with little interaction between themselves…I don’t know, I just wasn’t thrilled with how it all wrapped together in the end.

Conclusion:

Certainly a HAWT erotica novel that fans of the genre should absolutely consider getting their hands on! It explores the dynamic of a man and wife and their adventurous sex life and how far they’re willing to go in order to live out some of their most forbidden and dark sexual fantasies. Those curious about it all have the chance to really enjoy this title, and meet the other man Bern, who was a total delight for this book!

This is also the first in a series, and while the couple in the next book isn’t anyone you meet in this book, I wonder if these characters make other appearances at all? I guess I’ll have to read on in order to find out!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Erotica

My Review: Priest (Priest #1): by Sierra Simone

Publish Date: June 18th, 2015
Number of Pages: 354 Pages
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing
Genre(s): Erotica

Total Star Rating: 2.75 Stars

I’ll admit that I was just in such a mood to read a smutty, erotic book when this book popped up into the bookstore one day. I’ve been reminiscing about books/series like the Crossfire series, the Beautiful Bastard series, and even the New Camelot Trilogy (that’s written by this very same author), and I just wanted to read something along the lines of those kinds of books again; it feels like it’s been awhile since I really have! I’ve been enjoying some new adult romance books by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy, and while those are incredibly fun, they’re not entirely in the same ballpark as the other series I’ve just mentioned. I just need some mindless smut, you know? Literally, sometimes a reader like me just needs pornography in the written word format, there’s nothing else to it!

The premise of this book immediately drew me in because I absolutely adored Sierra Simone’s New Camelot Trilogy, and I thought I’d hit another goldmine with this story, which is about a Catholic Priest breaking his sacred, religious vows with a woman. several times. As someone who loves to explore the darker and forbidden side like these sort of things, at least in literature, how can you not be immediately curious? Sure, figures in the church like the main character haven’t been cast in the best light over the years, but luckily this wasn’t as horrific of a tale like say, The Keepers (A Netflix true-crime documentary).

This book wasn’t terrible, but I can also say I was not as satisfied with the story overall as I was with her other trilogy I loved. I go more into detail about that further down in my review, but I can say I still thought it was pretty good book; the story wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped, but the sex scenes were still hot as hell and entertaining enough to that degree. It was more one of those kinds of reads that are mindless fun; you enjoy it more if you don’t really think about all the things wrong with it too much. I felt the exact same way with stories like 50 Shades of Grey and 365 Days; super hot stuff, but the forbidden factors don’t appeal to everyone, like if you sign a contract to be someone’s submissive, you get kidnapped by the mob, or in this case with a Catholic Priest falling for a woman and having a secret, torrid affair with her.

What It’s About:

This story revolves around 29-years old Tyler Anselm Bell, who’s also a priest in his small town. He has an incredibly personal reason for turning to the church since his past is questionable, but one day he has a run in with a sensuous voice in the confessional booth. He’s a man who’s sworn to walk the straight and narrow, to guide those who seek forgiveness and retribution, but meeting Poppy Danforth makes him question everything.

Poppy has moved into the small town, and meets Tyler during a private confession session, and despite them both trying to keep it professional, they can’t deny the sparks that fly between them, and of course, begin to have a torrid and secret affair.

What begins as a relationship that’s doomed from the start, their secret is constantly threatened to be exposed along with both seeking their true purpose in life as well as whether their relationship is strong enough to withstand all that it’s up against…but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to be having electric sex all while trying to figure it out!

What I Liked:

  1. It’s Certainly Taboo! I’m not someone who’s all that religious, and I would have to be an idiot to actually recommend this title to someone who’s heavily involved with the catholic church, and this book really brings up a controversial idea of what if a catholic priest falls in love? With the story involving someone involved in the Catholic church, where tradition and strict guidelines is the reputation, this story certainly falls on the forbidden and taboo subject matter that will definitely appeal to those who are looking for a spicy book that will make them ashamed to be caught reading in public! Sierra Simone really seems to be an author that loves to explore the forbidden and darker themed erotic fiction!
  2. The Sex Scenes Absolutely Sizzle! Just like when I read The New Camelot Trilogy by this author, I can say this book also has some seriously hot love scenes that fans of erotica, and even further justifies me recommending this author to anyone who’s looking for something to read within the erotic fiction genre. It’s even hotter when some of the scenes within this story take place right inside the church, even up on the dais

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Few Perspectives Told from Poppy’s POV…You don’t really get inside the head of the female main character except for a few quick instances with the author giving you a brief glimpse, but they’re horribly written and horribly edited because they’re, like, all run on sentences and also just feel very randomly put in. They could’ve been more consistently placed within the story in order to maybe feel more effective too.
  2. The Build Up…I get that it’s erotica and sex is the main focus of the story, but I swear that even some porno’s had a much better bridge into the lust and all that than this story. It’s like the first time the main character even hears her voice is when he’s having trouble controlling himself and his raging hard ons, and in reality, if you’re a pastor/priest/anyone heavily involved with the church, shouldn’t you have a little better self control than that? I think the story would’ve been a little stronger if there was a little more restraint at first, and hell, it would’ve been a well drawn out slow burn that readers would appreciate more!
  3. Poppy Danforth in General…I just was SO not sold on her in general…the author brings up her privileged upbringing and her college degrees, and constantly reminds us of how smart she is, but honestly I wasn’t buying it based off the choices the character made and just how she presented herself in general. Also, a classic case of show don’t tell would’ve made this aspect of the whole book a lot better too. Don’t tell us she’s smart, show us through her dialogue, her characterization, or even just the decisions she makes!

Conclusion:

Another sensuous, wicked, provocative piece of erotic fiction from Sierra Simone, but I have to say I wasn’t as sold on this title when compared to her New Camelot Trilogy that I really enjoyed! I think this story was actually one of her earlier works, so I can definitely see that being why I felt like this book wasn’t as strong of a story. The characters weren’t as memorable, but I can say how once again the author really explores the dark and forbidden side of human sexual attraction; this time with a Catholic Church Priest falling in love with a woman.

I recommend this book to those that enjoy these beachy, easy to read erotic tales that have absolutely scorching sex scenes with maybe not the greatest plot…I think fans of such things like 50 Shades of Grey and 365 Days on Netflix will enjoy this book the most!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

LGBT, Paranormal

My Review: Captive (Beautiful Monsters #1): by Jex Lane

**Kindle Edition**
Publish Date: August 5th, 2016
Number of Pages: 316 Pages
Publisher: Jex Lane
Genre(s): Paranormal, LGBT

Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

In all fairness, I knew going in that I wasn’t going to absolutely love this story because I’ve just been so done with the whole vampire cliché for quite some time. For me, it died with TV shows like The Vampire Diaries and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I haven’t looked back too much to be completely honest. What truly drew me in was the M/M romance mentioned by the genre listings and from many other reviewers on Goodreads.

I wouldn’t call this a romance title at all though; far from it in actuality. It plays on the mental and emotional manipulation that people have often speculated happening in another fictional vampire franchise: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. In this book, it’s way more obvious and it really makes you feel for the main character: Matthew Callahan. His “love interest,” the Incubus General Tarrick, tricks him into slavery and slowly and methodically breaks him down until he’s calling the Incubi his “master.” It certainly doesn’t help that the general also uses sex as a weapon to manipulate the MC into performing specific orders. You really sympathize for Matthew as despite the terrible situation he’s put in, which is right in the middle of a centuries long war between Vampires and Incubi, he falls in love with the general. It’s even implied that the general may be falling for him too, but it’s not necessarily certain.

Overall, I liked it but didn’t love it, but there’s for sure enough interest from me to want to keep going on later in the series. The storyline wasn’t too interesting, the action scenes didn’t really grab my attention, nor am I a big fan of Vampires in general, but there’s still some major potential in some aspects like the MC, the mysteries surrounding his past, and his relationship with his potential love interest.

Many trigger warnings go with this title for anyone who’s a more sensitive reader: slavery, emotional and sexual manipulation, torture, character death, and smut.

What It’s About:

I’m risking a lot for you. I could lose everything. Don’t betray me.” It was a plea. Not an order. The first he had ever heard from Tarrick.”

– Jex Lane, “Captive”

Matthew Callahan has spent seven years struggling against the insatiable hunger for blood consuming him. Unable to stop the vampire inside from preying on humans, he keeps himself confined to a lonely existence.

Everything changes the night he is lured into a trap and taken prisoner by High Lord General Tarrick—a seductive incubus who feeds off sexual energy. Forced into the middle of a war between vampires and incubi, Matthew is used as a weapon against his own kind. Although he’s desperate for freedom, he is unable to deny the burning desire drawing him to the incubus general he now calls Master.

*This book is intended for mature audiences!*

Collar or no, we all have our masters. One day, that would be different for Matthew. One day, others would kneel before him.”

– Jex Lane, “Captive”

What I Liked:

  1. The Uncertainty behind Tarrick and Matthew’s Relationship! Like I said earlier, it’s definitely not a romantic relationship by any means, and if someone really does think the opposite, they may want to reconsider. While a sexual relationship starts, what’s truly interesting about them is all the questioning that goes into both the characters motives. Since the story is focused on Matthew, you know he falls in love with Tarrick through everything, but it’s definitely unclear what Tarrick’s true feelings are. I want to hope he has some sort of humanity left and that maybe he returns the feelings that Matthew has, but it’s incredibly up in the air, which does make it more interesting!
  2. The Mystery Behind Matthew’s Past! Besides the unclarity of Tarrick and Matthew, there’s also a lot of mystery behind Matthew’s past that drives him further into the story. I don’t want to give too much away, but some of it has to pertain to who his parents were, and who was the person/monster that turned him in the first place. Obviously, there’s more questions, but I don’t want to spoil it as it’s a major part of the story, and you should experience it yourself in order to fully enjoy it.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. A Lot of Slower Moments…There were plenty of sex scenes (M/M and M/F as Matthew is bisexual) to entertain readers looking for that sort of story, but I can say the big battles and higher action scenes didn’t really pick up the story for me personally. They weren’t badly written, but they also didn’t make me glued to my Kindle screen either.
  2. Vampires… I just don’t like Vampire’s anymore. I know I know… I say this as I knowingly read this story that has them within and part of the main plot, but I can at least enjoy it somewhat if the author at least can add something new to the table in terms of all that people associate with the pale ones, but that doesn’t really happen here in this book anyways.

Conclusion:

An interesting paranormal-genre title that’s filled with war, violence, slavery, Incubi and Vampires, along with lots of sex. Anyone who reads dark fantasy and can handle the more disturbing relationships that are filled with sexual manipulation will enjoy this title, especially if someone’s looking for a M/M erotic tale.

It was good but not great, but the first book is hardly ever the best in a trilogy/series, so I say these books can only go up from here! I’m not in love with the story, but I am interested enough to want to keep reading on and seeing what happens next in terms of exploring how Tarrick’s relationship develops with Matthew, whether there’s actual romance that will form once all the mind games are over and done, and all the questions raised with Matthew’s past, like why would a vampire refer to him as “my prince?”

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell