A Captain's Order -- A Duke's Command
by Tamara Gill
Published by Noble Romance Publishing
Lady Eloise Bartholomew's trip to Australia on the shirttails of her adventurous brother ends in tragedy when he dies from a fever. But with the conventions of English society suspended on the high seas, she finds passion and excitement in the arms of a rugged ship's captain—only to be dumped back into the ton, still burning from the fire ignited in her and the loss of the only man she could ever love.
More at home on his ship than dallying with the ton, Gabriel Lyons, now the Duke of Dale, intended never to set foot in London again. But when an elder brother dies, and the woman who claimed his heart over his love for the ocean brings him home, he knows he has to face the secrets of his past. He can only pray their love will survive the scandal that sent him away, the lies he has told her, and the duel he must fight for his honor and her hand.
I'm still searching for Regency stories that work for me, but this one turned into a Did Not Finish. Probably better for those more into romance, and less into history.
Take a Chance on Me
by Kate Davies
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Jessica Martin is determined to earn a permanent teaching position at Summit High School. That means hard work, dedication, and even volunteering extra time to direct the school’s Shakespeare play. Which leaves no room for romance—especially with a co-worker. She didn’t factor in the school’s sexy security officer and the delicious fantasies he inspires.
Former cop Tom Cameron likes his job. Or he did, until the new substitute busted his orderly life right open. Now, he can’t seem to avoid her—deserted hallways, empty theaters, classrooms after dark—but he’s got too many skeletons in his closet to risk his heart again. Asking her out to distract her from the play’s, well, drama is a friendly gesture. Nothing more.
Their chemistry could melt down the science lab, and before long they’re burning up the sheets off-campus. And uncovering raw emotions—a stark reminder that love isn’t in their curricula. When a troubled student goes over the edge, though, the need to stop a tragedy brings them right back where they started—face to face with fate.
I do like stories with Shakespeare mixed in there somewhere. This was sweet and mostly involved the main characters acting like grown-ups and actually talking to each other. The biggest block to their happiness was in fact the urge to be sensible and consider how a workplace relationship might affect their career prospects. One or two slightly convenient tyings-up of loose ends at the end, but overall a fun read.
by Julia Talbot
Published by Torquere Press Inc
Craig is on a mission. He needs monsters for a movie, and he’s heard of a guy in New Orleans who makes the most original masks and statues out there. Etienne is way more than a weirdo who makes monsters, though, and Craig finds himself willing to face his own fears to get to know the hottest guy he’s ever met.
This was a very sweet story about monsters. It did exactly what it said on the tin, and I'll definitely be rereading it.
by Michael M. Jones, Brandi Guthrie, Victoria Pond and Anya Levin
Edited by Jennifer Levine
Published by Circlet Press
Everyone knows the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” But what if the picture begs for more than a thousand words? This anthology features stories that were inspired by the cover photo. Writers were challenged to use the photo as their muse or inspiration and to let their imagination take over from there. The result is a collection of stories at once nostalgic and looking toward the future, finished off with a dash of hope and a sprinkle of romance.
Michael M. Jones’s “Devil’s Masquerade” takes us through an erotic masquerade filled with disguised nobles, following the lovers Agents Starling and Grace as they search for a rogue sex demon; Brandi Guthrie’s “The Seer’s Mask” lets us into the mind of Gadeah, a powerful seer tormented by the lack of meaningful love in her life; Victoria Pond’s “Heir Apparent” tells of His Lady Highness, a princess forced into playing the role of a knight after both her brother and husband are killed, who discovers a long-lost loved one hidden in a tower far away; and Anya Levin’s “An Unusual Legacy” explores a futuristic world in which a group of rebels creates Freedom, an invitation-only chance to temporarily experience life without the constant informative babble of the identification interface.
Disclaimer: I was given a review copy by Victoria Pond. 'Devil's Masquerade' was actually my favourite of the bunch, possibly because it featured two enjoyable female characters. 'Heir Apparent' and 'An Unusual Legacy' came close behind, and I couldn't decide which I preferred, and that's not to say I disliked 'The Seer's Mask', just that it wasn't quite so close to my taste. Definitely recommended to be dipped into for an interesting erotica fix.
A Forever Kind of Love
by Shiloh Walker
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Chase and Zoe were the high school golden couple. Football captain, cheerleader, prom royalty. After graduation, though, Chase couldn’t resist the urge to experience life outside their small town. He didn’t exactly expect Zoe to wait twelve years for him, but now that he’s back, he finds some small part of him hoping she did.
It’s no big surprise she’s married. The kick in the face is she married his best friend.
Zoe was devastated when Chase left, but she’s filed those bittersweet memories under “Moved On”. She loves her life, and loves her husband. She has all she needs. And Chase keeps an honorable distance.
One cold, wet, miserable day, tragedy turns Zoe’s world upside down. Chase never expected her to simply fall into his arms, but a man can dream. Except his dream doesn’t include the fact that this time, she’s the one hitting the road…and he’s the one left behind.
This purchase was me being unashamedly soppy, and the book did exactly what it said on the tin. I'll be rereading at some point, because sometimes that mood just strikes me.
by Sue Brown
Published by Torquere Press Inc
Dave picks up coffee every morning at the train station on his way to work. He can't help but notice when the man in front of him is given a plum-colored cup holder, as it goes perfectly with his own tie. There are other things he can't help but notice, like how hot "Mr. Plum" is.
When Mr. Plum hands over a cup of coffee, exactly how Dave likes it, the morning he's late getting to the station, it's the start of a beautiful friendship. Or is it?
Disclaimer: Sue is my friend, and I won this one in a competition. A very sweet story, but sadly I was jarred a few times by the editing. There were more typos than I'd have expected from Torquere (was this a pre-release copy?) including one where I'm sure the character's names had been switched. I also came across the two USisms that I really hate finding in a UK-set story about British characters: 'gotten' (which I'd have possibly allowed for certain brands of Northerner, but not for these guys) and 'fit' instead of 'fitted'.
Sorry, Sue, I loved the story itself. It was just disappointing that those few issues hadn't been picked up in something I'd been looking forward to ever since you first announced it.
by JL Merrow
Published at Smashwords
Two years ago a casual encounter in Stuttgart left Carl changed forever. He thought he could handle being a werewolf—until he passed the curse on to his English lover, Nick Sewell.
Now Carl's come back to Germany to look for answers from the man who made him a monster. But Dieter's disappeared, and in his place Carl finds Christian, who may have as much to hide as Carl does—or even more.
This is a companion piece to Camwolf, due out next week from Samhain. On the strength of this piece, I'll definitely be buying the longer story.
Lady Wyre's Regret
by Joely Sue Burkhart
Lady Wyre discovers the truth about what’s happening with her research and decides to flee Britannia with the famous assassin, Lord Sigmund Regret’s, help.
Regency-tinged Steampunk-in-Space and the prequel to Lady Doctor Wyre from Samhain. Now this is another way to mash up historical and romance without throwing me out with anachronisms. They're in space! I'll definitely be buying the main story at some point.
[ETA:] I should just add, that there appeared to be some font/formatting errors in the pdf. I've seen similar before, and wonder if it's my netbook more than the eBooks themselves. Not something I'm going to get wildly upset about in a short, free piece.
I've read a bunch of other shorts online recently, some of which have inspired me to seek out longer stories by their authors.