Barren by Anna Hedley


Title: Barren
Author: Anna Hedley
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Pages: 480 pages
Characters: Blair and Ren
POV: Third
Sub-Genre: High Fantasy
Kisses: 5+

Blurb:

All the women of Yarn have died. King Daniel sends out his twelfth best warrior, Blair. But having learned from the first eleven that warriors aren’t to be trusted, he orders Ren, scholar and advisor, to go with him.

Blair thinks the Amorphous, a race of formless and seemingly omniscient beings, know more about the death of the women than they’re saying. Ren suspects Blair’s prejudices are skewing his judgment, and they’re looking in the wrong place.

If they’re going to solve the mystery and set Yarn right, it’s going to take understanding on both their parts.

Review:

I wasn’t sure about this book, even though I love high fantasy. I’m glad I read it. Not only is there an interesting society, one starting to cope now that the women have been gone for over twelve years, but there are multiple races: human, felin, the various elementals (naiad, dryad, etc), and a strange, non-corporal being.

The story has some really neat touches (like the country being called Yarn, the main river Twine, main city Rumple, and the felin being anthromorphic cats). The history, both recent and long past, are well thought out and the plot comes up with surprises here and there.

At first, I thought Barren would just be one of those enjoyable stories you read and then put away to not really think about. I was wrong. It snuck up on me and before I’d read a quarter of the story, I was enthralled. Although it really started to get my attention when Ren told Blair off when they first met.

Ms Hedley has crafted a wonderful story that takes you on a ride you won’t forget. A great book for high fantasy, suspense, or mystery stories. I’m definitely looking for more of her books and this one’s going in my favourites.

Reviewed By: Alison

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Serve Me by Anna Hedley, Fox Lee, Gabriel Belthir and Lor Rose


Title: Serve Me
Author: Anna Hedley, Fox Lee, Gabriel Belthir, and Lor Rose
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Characters: Multiple Characters
POV: Mixed
Sub-Genre: Gay Slavery Erotica
Kisses: 4


Blurb:

For some people there’s nothing more appealing than the idea of a man forced to serve against his will, as a second-class citizen: a slave. Despite the dark history surrounding forced servitude and slavery, there remains a growing desire for depictions of fetishized slavery fantasies. Like rape fantasy, the appeal for readers in slave fiction lies not in a desire for the actual act, but in the ability to explore such things in a safe space. Many people harbor a secret wish to be forced into certain acts that they know they want, but have been socially conditioned to abhor. Such is the core of the Serve Me anthology. Be warned: these are not stories of consensual, negotiated power exchange. The stories in this anthology focus on true sexualized, erotic slavery: stories of men forced, coerced, or otherwise bound into a second-class life servicing another in whatever ways their master sees fit.

Warnings/Themes: slavery, historical, vampire, fantasy, bondage, dubious consent, non-con, dark themes

Review:

The first thing I would say is pay attention to the warnings as the themes covered in these stories are not for the faint hearted. That said, it was only really the first story The Spoils that I was uncomfortable reading. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed these short stories each one taking perhaps half an hour to read; perfect for reading with your feet up and a cup of coffee. Each time I reached the end of a story, I wished there was a bit more so all in all a great read.

The Spoils by Anna Hedley

3 kisses out of 5

Blurb:

Idris is part of The Spoils of war: the last surviving member of a barbarian clan, he is famed in the gladiatorial arena for his bloody ruthlessness and outside the arena for his carnal appetites. His inner beast is calmed by the presence of his slave and lover, Theo, but to be true to his heart, Idris may have to risk breaking it.

Review:

For me The Spoils was the most difficult of the four stories and as it is the first in the anthology I did wonder what I had let myself in for. I quickly realized that this story had a strong theme of horror and violence which is not normally something I choose to read.

Set in an Ancient Grecian type world, a world that I know nothing about, I found myself distracted by trying to work out if all the Satyr and Maenads were real creatures or slaves dressed up to look like them.

Despite the violent start to the story I grew to like and sympathise with Idris as he experienced visions of the people he’d killed all at the bidding of his owner, Dominic. Idris’ confusion about these visions is reflected in the slightly disjointed nature of the writing. The arrival of his own slave Theo brings Idris immeasurable peace and this is reflected in the much smoother style of writing. A very clever trick by the author.

By the end of the story Idris has freed Theo and learned to forgive himself but Dominic is dead. Idris has been sold multiple times, each owner worse than the last as they find they can’t control him until Theo finds him again and they get their happy ever after.

As You Wish by Gabriel Belthir

4 kisses out of 5

Blurb:

Samuel has spent years striving toward the Viscount’s circles, where rich and fantastical parties are given and elaborate slave auctions held. He thinks he wants a young lover, but when he buys an Adonis known as Apollo, he realizes what he was truly missing. Now Apollo gives the orders, and it is Samuel saying, As You Wish.

Review:

This story was much more to my liking and is about the power exchange between master and slave.

It is well written with likable characters who genuinely seem to care for each other and pander to each other’s desires of domination and submission. Until that is, a scene towards the end of the story that is distinctly more non-con than anything that has gone before which stunned me and initially left me reeling.

This story definitely ended with me wanting more. The non-con scene was such a turning point in master/slave relationship that I really wanted to see how they progressed from the privacy of their own home out into public which is where the story was heading.

Life Is Unforgiving by Lor Rose

4 kisses out of 5

Blurb:

Life is Unforgiving for Aidan and Aaron, criminals who have been doomed to live as slaves to vampire masters, whose appetites can be agony… or bliss. When Aidan is given a new lease on life with a benevolent Master, his relief is tainted by pain at leaving Aaron behind; pain which only his Master Ryce has the power to end.

Review:

This is the only story in the collection told in the first person.

It is a classic tale of a cruel master who sells his beaten to a supposedly worse master who turns out to be unexpectedly nice. Set in a world where the slaves are often convicted criminals and known as bloodbags, the masters are vampires whose can bring pain or pleasure when they feed.

The story starts with Aiden being forcibly separated from fellow slave Aaron who he loves and being sold. Told from Aiden’s point of view we know he never expects to see Aaron again. It quickly becomes apparent that he has spent all his life as a slave frightened of his master and even though Ryce his new master does everything he can to ensure Aiden’s well-being, Aiden is afraid of him. Following a chance encounter with his previous owner and a lot of alone time, Aiden is reunited with Aaron and freed from slavery.

A downside of the story being told exclusively from Aiden’s point of view is that we don’t really learn much about the other characters and their motivations.

I loved the concept of this story and thoroughly enjoyed reading about Aiden and Ryce. I really felt sorry for Ryce at the end when he obviously believes that Aiden feels nothing for him and frees him.

Takashima’s Pet by Fox Lee

4.5 kisses out of 5

Blurb:

Yuta is a gentle giant who joins a local gang for the sense of family that they can provide, but when they leave him high and dry in the middle of a failed heist, it’s his captor, Takashima, who shows him what family can really mean as the vicious gang enforcer tenderly turns him into Takashima’s Pet.

Review:

Set in Japan amid a culture of underworld gangs, it might as well have been sent in outer space for all I knew of that world. That said the author does a really good job showing how miserable Yuta is within his gang family and how they bully him.

Left alone to face the consequences of a robbery gone wrong Yuta comes to the attention of Takashima, the biggest baddest member of the biggest baddest gang. Given the choice between death and being Takashima’s newest form of entertainment, Yuka chooses the latter.

Yuka’s first 24 hours with Takashima are fairly hardcore but Takashima isn’t the monster that we’re led to expect. The blurb describes Yuta as a gentle giant but as the book progressed I really came to think of Takashima as the gentle giant and I loved him just as much as I came to love Yuka. I found myself cheering Yuka on when he’s forced to confront his previous gang members and hoping that Takashima would live up to his vicious reputation when he joined that party.

In my opinion this was the best story in this anthology.

Reviewed By: Smidgeson

Gay and Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies: A Multi Authored Anthology by Storm Moon Press


Title: Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies
Author: Multi-Authored Anthology
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Pages: 118
Characters: Anthology-Many Characters
POV: 3rd and 1st
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 4.5




Blurb:

Ah, the allure of the office romance. The sly smiles across the room as you wonder if anyone else knows. The danger of being caught by the boss. The thrill of those stolen moments in the copy room or supply closet. It’s this feeling that we’ve condensed, distilled, and captured in the short shorts of Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies. We’ve compiled thirteen brief tales of men and women getting it on with a co-worker or a boss in a steamy office romance.

Some of them are established and have been sneaking around the office for some time, like Lori Hunt and her P.A. Ms. Lovell in She’s the Boss or Tom and Neal in Personal Assistance. Others, like The New Guy’s Greg and Eli or the awkwardly-named Rebecca A. and Rebecca B. from Tele-Romance are just beginning to experience the allure that can come from keeping the secret. Nor are such trysts confined to the office itself, spilling out into stairwells, copy rooms, gyms, and even computer server rooms. Whatever the case, though, they’re sure to arouse your imagination, and maybe even leave you looking at your own co-workers a little bit… differently.

Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies includes:
Skype Wars by Rob Rosen
Hands On by K. Piet
One Week by L. Alonso Corona
Working Lunch by Ann Anderson
Personal Assistance by K. Lynn
She’s the Boss by Angel Propps
The New Guy by John Amory
Stair Walking by Harper Bliss
1-888-BOREDOM by Raven de Hart
Fair Play by Anna Hedley
His Nonexistent Coffee Break by Lor Rose
Tele-Romance by Erik Moore
Three Strikes by Piper Vaughn

Review:

Skype Wars by Rob Rosen

New technology naturally breeds new means for having sex. Skype, for instance. Paul needs his computer to work, but IT is doing maintenance. So Paul contacts his go-to-guy, Craig, who he secretly has a crush on due to many emails with smiley icons, and just Craig’s friendly manner. One small Skype session to help out leads the two men talking, and then having sex via Skype.

Hot internet sex with cameras is an excellent way to start this anthology. Paul and Craig are so cute together, and though not on the same floor of the building, the sex is hot. This is told in the first person.

Hands On by K. Piet

Sarah and Gwen are massage therapists who have no clients due to wintery conditions. Sarah has a huge crush on Gwen, and their solitary snow-bound situation allows them to get closer through an impromptu massage that goes spectacularly right.

This was a hot little lesbian tale. From Sarah’s point of view, we are left wondering is Gwen lesbian or not. A massage doesn’t always have to lead to sex, now does it? Fortunately for smitten Sarah, it does. The writing is close to the skin, palpable, sensual. Sarah’s sweet shyness vs. Gwen’s strong straightforward character made this a likable read.

One Week by L. Alonso Corona

Tom and Michael are colleagues on the same floor as salesman. Michael is sort of Tom’s boss but not quite. And they’ve had a heated moment in the backseat of a car, and though Tom kind of resents Michael for being so perfect, they’re trying to figure each other and their attraction out.

I admit this wasn’t for me. The story is told in the present tense which threw me a bit. Never been a fan. But once I got used to it, there were timeline confusions: I couldn’t distinguish what happened in the past and what in the here and now. Still, this was the most realistic story of all of these. We are very much in the dark about what goes on inside the mind of another—unless we allow ourselves to get close, even with the risk of losing our hearts. And that was what made this story stand out in the end.

Working Lunch by Ann Anderson

Janice is on a lunch break when she is surprised by her lover, Amber. Even knowing people can walk by or start coming back to the office any minute, Amber goes down on Janice—under her table.

Sneaky and sexy. This was just a window into the relationship of these two women, but the danger of getting caught while giving oral can certainly spice up sex. Hot, and recommended.

Personal Assistance by K. Lynn

Tom is the personal assistant to the most disagreeable boss in the office, Mr. Thompson. However, when no one is looking, there is tenderness in said boss, and Tom knows how to work (with) his boss.

Secret blowjobs when anyone could walk in? Not bad, especially for a couple who work diligently to keep the true nature of their relationship a secret. Tom has remarkable patience, and Neal shows his true colors while being pleasured. Definitely worth the read.

She’s the Boss by Angel Propps

Lori Hunt is the bitch queen of hell-also-known-as-office, and Ms. Lovell is her PA. However, behind the closed door of the boss-woman’s office, all bets are off. The boss becomes the slave.

A short glimpse into the intimacy between two women, BDSM elements are abound as domination shifts from employer to employee. There was only one bit that I didn’t like, which was the boss lady calling her PA daddy. BDSM vocabulary, yes, but sounded so off. Other than that one word, this was sexy all the way. There’s a masculine prop to this heated encounter, but under the circumstances it works. This is in the first person.

The New Guy by John Amory

Eli Grey is rich, but his family situation puts him in need of a job at the first of every month. A real job so he can learn to be self-sufficient. As a result, he’s the perpetual new guy. Until he becomes the assistant’s assistant to the exec of Mech Tech, Greg Fallon. A chance meeting in the restroom leads to an unanticipated but very welcomed sexual encounter.

This story has the best line in the anthology: “Aaand I just saw my boss’s penis, and it’s not even lunchtime yet. Great.” The unexpected sex here draws the reader in, just like this particular job with benefits draws Eli in. Recommended read! This is written in the first person and present tense.

Stair Walking by Harper Bliss

The heroine here, speaking in first person, is drawn to Delphine, a masculine, unapproachable woman at their company who always seems to know everything, but is the total opposite of a people person. One day after work in the stairwell, the heroine is surprised by Delphine who takes total command of their sex.

We are not given a name for the heroine, since she speaks to us directly. Delphine is not a pleasant individual and she uses crass language and has a distinct lack of manners. But when she’s in charge in a sexual situation, submission becomes sweet for our heroine. I personally wasn’t taken with Delphine as I’m not fond of mean people, especially in romances. But… where the story leaves off we’re given a glimpse of the woman’s other side.

1-888-BOREDOM by Raven de Hart

Being a temp sucks. Being a temp who’s about to get fired sucks even worse. But having an office fling in the copy room with the post boy, Tommy, as a last hurrah? Not bad at all.

This was a fun little romp, perfected by the liberal use of a copy machine during fiery sex. Yay! When working in an office, getting a pic of your butt or your orgasm face is an absolute must. And we get a cute HFN ending. Quite liked this one. This is in the first person.

Fair Play by Anna Hedley

Ethan is an assistant to another jerk of a boss, Mr. Vincent Berk. Then one day Ethan has enough, and tosses a cup of hot coffee on his boss—the same cup Mr. Berk said was too cold. Guess it wasn’t, huh. What happens next is a spanking—but just who’s doing the punishing?

Who hasn’t had a bad boss in their work history? You know, the one who complains about everything, even things that aren’t real. But disciplining has its merits, here especially. Turnabout is fair play. This was exciting and rough, very good.

His Nonexistent Coffee Break by Lor Rose

Harris is the assistant to Dean Ingold, a total dick of a boss. Yes, there’s obviously a theme here. When Harris tries to leave to quit his job, Ingold tells him he can’t due to his family situation, and pretty much forces Harris into a sexual encounter. I won’t ruin what happens after the sex, but there are surprises in store here.

This one was my least favorite story in this anthology. From the first page, there’s a lot of cursing, all the way through, quite unnecessary. Then there’s, what at first glance seems like, the rape scene mixed with cheating. Sure, that’s not the right conclusion, but I was so turned off by this that by the time I was proven wrong with my assumption, it was too late to start thinking about passion, let alone love. I was left cold and disappointed.

Tele-Romance by Erik Moore

Rebecca A needs the help of Rebecca B to get his work stuff done. RA has a crush on RB, and one evening of working late an innocent little remark on the messenger chat reveals the possibility that maybe it’s more mutual than RA thought.

This was fun and sexy, even though the two ladies are only having sex via messenger. You get a sense of both women, and they turn out to be different than either of them thought. Their talk, brief and punctual due to their method of communication, sets you at the edge of your seat. Just don’t drop the keyboard like RA. I liked this a lot.

Three Strikes by Piper Vaughn

Jeremy Saitou is a cocky, insolent brat who’s making Shawn Cole’s, the manager, job that much harder. Then Jeremy breaks the rules by calling a client, well, a poopoo head, and as his third strike Shawn is supposed to fire him. Shawn is totally in lust with Jeremy, but his impudence cannot be tolerated. However, Jeremy tells Shawn that to keep his job he’ll let Shawn fuck him. Will Shawn take up the offer?

I love Piper Vaughn’s work, no secret. Shawn’s feelings grow as Jeremy makes an effort to behave, and as a result we see Jeremy from a different point of view too, as opposed to his smartass attitude. Jeremy has a surprising vulnerability in the end, and seeing these two come together was so sweet and so damn hot. By far my favorite story. A wonderful ending to the anthology.

Reviewed By: Susan

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