Title: The Protector Author: Cooper West Narrator: Paul Morey Genre: Paranormal Romance Length: 8 hours and 47 minutes Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (11-25-14) Heat Level: Moderate Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥4.5 Hearts Blurb: Guardsmen are always matched in a bonded pair. The Protector can shift into a weredog, and the human partner is his Handler. They are incredibly rare and highly valued, but people also fear them for their mystical abilities. No Protector in living memory has outlived his Handler—until Alex Taylor.
Now a widower, Alex lives a lonely half-life and faces day after day of grief with no hope for happiness in the future. When he unexpectedly bonds with the young and vibrant Handler Marcus Stephanek, Alex is angry and unwilling to leave the memory of his former Handler behind.
He pushes Marcus away and tries to distance himself from their bond. But then a mysterious villain who has been secretly shadowing Alex for years sets his plan in motion. Alex and Marcus must learn to trust their bond and love each other, or risk not only their own lives but also the lives of those closest to them.
Review: Alex Taylor was the youngest Protector in the history of the Guardsman to manifest his abilities at just eight years old. He’s always known who he was and what his destiny was, and knew exactly who Theo was, his bond mate, his Handler. After surviving the death of his Handler, Alex is lost and for the first time in his life, doesn’t know who he is anymore without Theo.
Highly accomplished Handler Marcus Stephanek is an anomaly as well at the ripe old age of twenty-six, he has yet to bond with a Protector. He has more degrees and accolades than anyone else his age and yet, he’s unfulfilled in his life without his bond mate. Fate has a funny way of answering your prayers, and Marcus is certain he’s been screwed when he bonds with Alex Taylor.
Alex goes out of his way to avoid Marcus and try to push him out of his life, he feels like he is betraying the memory of Theo to even entertain the thought of a life with another Handler. Marcus bends, sways, and takes it all in stride, as much as he can, in an effort to prove to Alex that they can be a successful team. Handler and Protector, bond mates, partners, lovers, and friends.
This was a very emotional, angst filled story of how life continues to evolve and change and even the deepest-rooted traditions continually evolve, especially when science and man stick their fingers in the pot. As the story progress, you learn that Alex, Theo, Marcus and so many more are just pawns in one man’s sick and twisted attempt at fame and glory.
But the core of the story is the relationship between Marcus and Alex, how they go from angry bond mates to friends and eventually, lovers. How they get past their own ideals and visions of what their life is or were supposed to be, and learn to make their own life together.
My biggest, well my only complaint about this story was the angst. There were a few times I wanted to bang my head against the wall, or bang Alex and Marcus’s heads together, at the very least! But the society that West created with the Guardsman and the Institute, the history and the science was spectacular.
This was basically a dystopian novel in my opinion with the way everything was conveyed and written, and I love a good dystopian novel. The push and pull between Alex and Marcus was all-encompassing, all be it annoying, but when they finally stopped fighting and started working together, they were lethal.
Morey’s narration was spot on as usual. I could actually feel the pain in Marcus’s voice as he tried everything he could think of to break down the tough exterior Alex has placed around his heart since Theo’s death. Only to be tripped around every corner. Lots of drama, emotion, angst, and action make up the words of this odd romance.
Definitely a must listen though. I was completely captivated by the world West created from start to finish, to spite wanting to spank Alex and Marcus a time or two.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *
Blurb: Gary Winston is a professional musician with a debilitating problem: stage fright. Between his failing career and his failing relationship, Chicago has little left to offer him, so when he inherits his great-aunt’s pecan farm in North Carolina; it’s the perfect excuse to escape.
Nervous about being back in the Deep South again, surrounded by small-town homophobia, Gary’s certainly not ready to fall in love. Then he meets local farmer, businessman, and fiddle player Chuck Everett, whose family has been contracted to harvest the crop of pecans. Chuck’s the perfect man for Gary… except for being deep in the Southern closet.
Life heats up quickly when they start making music together, and though both men have more than their fair share of baggage, neither can walk away from the relationship. If Gary rediscovers his muse and realizes being true to himself means moving past his comfort zone, will going forward mean leaving Chuck behind?
Review: Gary was bouncing from pillar to post, sleeping on friends’ couches, subsisting as a studio musician when his aunt leaves him property in North Carolina. Stage fright has kept him from moving to the next level in his career. There’s really nothing keeping him in Chicago, since he and his part-time closeted ex-lover parted ways. So, with little more than the shirt on his back, Gary goes home.
I’ve come to expect a well-written angsty story from Cooper West. Dawn in the Orchard is classic Cooper West. The pace is a bit slower than some contemporary romances, but you really get to know the characters before they hop into bed. I really felt how lost and frustrated Gary was in relation to his career. And I loved how Cooper West uses the music of Gary’s childhood to help him heal and evolve.
Honestly, I didn’t like Chuck…at first. This is, after all, Gary’s story and Chuck seemed to pose a risk that I wasn’t sure Gary was ready for. I mean, what could a wealthy, divorced, closeted single dad want with Gary, except to use him as a boy-toy? But, as you get to know Chuck, you realize he’s doing the best he can with the history that he’s got.
In the End, I loved that their journey was bumpy. Their reactions, fears and responses rang true every step of the way. This isn’t a light read with a fairytale ending and the family singing We are the World over Thanksgiving dinner. There are more than a few moments when you really wonder if one or both of them will call it quits and simply walk away. This is a slow-building, thoroughly masculine romance that had me believing in the probability of happy-ever-after.
Blurb: Ahoy, me proud beauty, shiver me timbers! I ask ye to sail me jollyboat on the high seas, lubber, but will ye dare to accept? On offer be a pirate’s life full of danger and risk, and not just to yer neck, but to yer very virgin heart! There’s many a bodice to be ripped–or perhaps I should say many a codpiece to be snapped–and should ye be graced enough to cross bones with a corsair, don’t be an addlepate! Heave ho, lad, handsomely, and show him how ye bury yer treasure!
Pirates didn’t only sail the high seas in historical times. Modern-day renegades and futuristic rebels are just as ripe for adventure and plunder. No matter the time, place, or circumstances, bad boys steal affection as often as they salvage treasure, and in these stories of romance, a rogue’s black heart always conceals a center of gold.
Review: Daniel is a captain in the Royal Navy when his crew forms a mutiny against him and finds himself adrift in a small boat and then picked up by pirates. James is the pirate Captain Merric. His crew fish out a Navy captain from the sea who turns out to be a childhood sweetheart.
This is a cute read where two childhood sweethearts are reunited after 16 years apart; only for one to be a Navy captain and the other a pirate captain. Daniel tries to fight his renewed feelings for James knowing he has to return to England and James decides that Daniel is his and will do anything to have him. An enjoyable short story.
Ellen Holiday – Touched by the West Wind Heart Rating: ♥♥♥3, Genre: Historical, Pirate Length: Short (16pgs)
Review: Tom and Bren are part of a pirate crew. These two young men have been best friends for years when they realize that the way they feel has changed.
This is a sweet romance of two young men who discover their feelings have changed and what they feel for their friend is love. It is a sweet exploration of their feelings as they embark on an innocent physical exploration of each other. A sweet romantic story.
K.R. Foster – The Golden Galleon Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4, Genre: Contemporary Length: Short (12pgs)
Review: Flynn and Jason own the Golden Galleon restaurant together, as well as being life partners. Flynn is having a nice relaxing day off reading his favorite author’s latest novel when he gets a phone call from a desperate Jason begging him to come in on his day off.
Flynn is unhappy to arrive at the restaurant only to find that Jason lied to him, Jason asks him to go to the office where he makes it up to him in a hot and horny manner. A sweet, hot and sexy short.
Emily Moreton – My Hand in Yours Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3 ½, Genre: Fantasy, Pirate Length: Short (10pgs)
Review: Jack is a peace keeper for a coastal town. Robert is a pirate. They come together for primal needs and continue to do so for over five years whenever Robert is in town.
For over five years Robert comes to Jack whenever he is in town, when he is offered work on the Nether Shore, he asks Jack to make a huge decision. This is a nice sweet short.
Jana Denardo – Ghost of Jupiter Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5, Genre: Science Fiction, Inter-species Length: Short (35pgs)
Review: Telek is a Chimera (genetically engineered species) having been sold to the highest bidder he is now being transported. Al is a privateer who has raided a space craft, what he finds on board is more than he could have ever expected.
Telek has been bred to fight and kill. Chimera’s are feared as many have no control over themselves; a few can control themselves. Telek is one of the few. He begins to trust the privateer captain and wants more from him. Al trusts Telek not to hurt or kill him but he doesn’t want Telek thinking that he has to offer himself up to stay safe. Between them is a want to protect the other and a relationship based on trust. A great read I would love to see more from this writer.
E.S. Douglas – Officer and a Gentleman Pirate Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4, Genre: Historical, Pirate Length: Short (16pgs)
Review: Geoffrey is a lieutenant in a British Colony; Captain Jones is a pirate he captured after bumping into him outside a tavern.
Jones uses his wiles to try to seduce the lieutenant so he can escape. Geoffrey tries to deny himself but fails; leading to the pirate escaping, but with instructions on how to contact him again. What will happen to these two men when they meet up again? A charming story which shows opposites attract.
K.J. Johnson – Objectivity Heart Rating: ♥♥♥3, Genre: Modern Pirate, Interracial Length: Short (27pgs)
Review: Matthew is a photo-journalist on assignment to get the dirt on African pirates. Achmed is the pirate leader who is trying to show Matthew why they have resorted to piracy.
Matthew battles his attraction to the pirate leader who has made it clear that he could kill him at any time. He also struggles to understand why these men have resorted to piracy. Meanwhile, Achmed is trying to make the photo-journalist understand why they rob the rich. When Matthew is injured on Achmed’s boat by an American soldier they both give in to the attraction. A nice story that could be built on for a future novella.
Cornelia Grey – Worth the Price Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5, Genre: Historical, Pirate Length: Short (31pgs)
Review: Edward is a lieutenant in the Royal Navy who has been captured by pirate Captain James O’Shea. When the pirate captain visits him he attacks him with a passion which surprises even him.
Edward ends up risking his life to save James. James ends up giving himself up to save his crew but what will Edward do when his Commodore tries to go back on his word and just how far will Edward go to rescue his pirate. A great short with some intense passion and it was really well written.
Juan Kenobi – Peter and the Lost Boys Heart Rating: ♥1, Genre: ???? Length: Short (15pgs)
Review: Peter is approached in a bar by Kap. Kap takes him to his home to discuss a job and Peter meets the lost boys.
Well there is no sex, no kissing, no nothing; just some sexual innuendo and a job offer. This short story felt more like a small clip from a much longer book.
M.J. O’Shea – Irish Red Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4, Genre: Historical 1713 Length: Short (11pgs)
Review: Chris is a tavern owner and Brian is the pirate captain, Irish Red. they have to keep their love a secret and Brian has promised that this will be his last trip.
Chris is waiting for Brian to return. He’s been waiting months and months when he hears the rumor that Irish Red has been killed. He struggles to go on with his life after that; until one night when an intruder enters the tavern. A wonderful short story that has a lot of emotion.
Piper Vaughn – Black John Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4,Genre: Historical 1715 Length: Short (15pgs)
Review: Juan thought the love of his life had died 5 years before. That is until he is washed up on the beach. He thinks this is his second chance, but Jacob has other ideas.
Jacob can’t believe that there are men living and loving openly together on this Island and even though he has found Juan again the fear is too deep. He will be leaving on the next cargo ship. It isn’t until Juan suffers a life threatening injury that Jacob realizes just what he could have lost.
Cooper West –Rough Trade Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5, Genre: Science Fiction, Pirates Length: Short (29pgs)
Review: Audacity is kinda like the captain of the Helos A.I. Battleship Carthage which turned to piracy before Audacity joined her. He’s trying to bail out one of his crew when he bumps into a desperate doctor who needs to get off the space port fast. Sag is a doctor and is pretty shocked that the space craft he is on is a pirate ship but he’s so glad to be off the space port.
This is a great read, I loved the story-line and plot and thought Audacity and Sag were great together.
B. Snow – From a Simmer to a Burn Heart Rating: ♥♥♥3, Genre: Historical, Interracial Length: Short (31pgs)
Review: Sule was a slave who escaped his Dutch owners. He has an anger that is so great that it burns constantly no matter how many fights he’s in and he hates all things Dutch. Olaf is Norwegian but can only communicate with the other crew in Dutch. Sule hates him for reminding him of the Dutch.
This is a good story about overcoming your anger to accept something that much better; if only you can accept what is offered and stop fighting the present and to start forgetting the past.
Riley Shane – On the Wings of Lir Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5, Genre: Steam punk, Pirate Length: Short (17pgs)
Review: Hugh is determined to capture the pirate Patrick Kelly. Kelly is raiding air-ships that are carrying children that are heading for the whore houses. When Hugh finds this out he has a choice to make.
This is a great story that I would really love to see made into a much, much longer story. Hugh is shocked when he finds out the truth behind the raids and he also finds Kelly to be extremely attractive. Kelly thinks Hugh looks like an angel and goes about persuading Hugh to look deeper.
Maggie Lee – The Winds of Change Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5, Genre: Historical 1717, Pirates Length: Short (33pgs)
Review: Cook and Seb have been friends for a year; Cook is firm in his belief that Seb will remain faithful even when Cook sleeps around. That conviction is shaken when they find berth on Edward Teach’s ships.
I found this to be a great story, where one man finally realizes that he can’t have his cake and eat it, too.
Overall Review: I have to say that I enjoyed some of the stories more than others, as always with an anthology you have your gems and then you have the plastic beads. I have to say that the gems are definitely worth reading in this anthology. There is some hot sex in some of the stories but in quite a few there are other sex acts and sometimes it’s just thoughts of sex. A lot of the pairings are good and quite a few of the stories are well written. So I would recommend this if you love pirates…or not.