Leap of the Lion (The Wild Hunt Legacy #4)

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She shifts for the first time on the day of her escape.

After a decade of captivity, Darcy MacCormac escapes the corrupt, clandestine organization called the Scythe, leaving family and friends behind. She must find a way to rescue them. Discovered by other shifters, the brand-new cougar gets two mentors. Blademage Gawain is an easy-going blacksmith with a steel-hard core. His brother Owen is a deadly warrior. Grumpy. Rude. And he doesn’t like her.

They aren’t the mates she’d dreamed of—they’re more.

Powerful, dominating Owen protects the clan—especially the weak—and the only remnant of an abused childhood is his avoidance of females. Now he has to mentor one? Although Gawain soon falls for the dauntless little cat, Owen knows better than to lose his head. But Darcy has a gift for repairing everything…including damaged hearts.

Love isn’t in her destiny.

In the brothers’ arms, Darcy finds safety. Comfort. And love. But however much she longs for a future with Owen and Gawain, her people need her. Somehow, she must find the courage and skills to save them, even if the attempt demands her life.

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I have been eagerly awaiting this book all year. The Wild Hunt series is one of the handful of book series that I wish I could bring to life. It has the personality I look for in books, where the whole town comes to life through a supportive cast, strong leading characters and well thought out culture and backstories (since this is a fantasy series). Nothing in the Wild Hunt Legacy feels contrived or forced.

Cherise Sinclair masterfully balances the needs and distinct personalities of three main characters in a way no other author can match. Owen, Gawain and Darcy each had their moment to shine and I felt that the needs of each character were balanced with each other, and with the plot demands.

The romance kindles much slower in Leap of the Lion that readers of Sinclair would expect.  Owen and Gawain develop respect and friendship for Darcy before attraction takes over. There isn’t the same level of insta-romance that I typically expect but once love developed between these three, it was everything that I had hoped for.

Leap of the Lion grows the series in a lot of ways. We learned more about shifter culture, specifically Tinkers, Blade Mages and Healers, and several more shifters were introduced who could lead in stories of their own. While I am excited to get my paws on Tynan and Donal’s story, I think that Fell/Patrin/Heather will come first, which isn’t exactly a hardship.

I definitely recommend this book, this series, this author! But these books should be read in order, starting with Hour of the Lion.

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Elicitation by William Vitelli

Okay. Real Talk. This book is straight up porn. I usually hate when people refer to romance or erotica this way, but sex is the main driver of this story. Not plot. Not character development. Sex. But it is incredibly well-written, as is the sequel and it is a book that I really enjoyed.

elicitation

Eileen was happy to begin a new life with her new husband. Visions of fairy tales and “happily ever after” filled her head; as the wife of a wealthy and handsome architect, she thought she would have everything she ever wanted.

And she did, though not quite in the way that she might have imagined.

Her husband Anthony, seeing beneath her repressed exterior someone who wanted nothing so much as to be kidnapped and carried away by pirates, set out to train her as his new sex slave…whether she wanted it or not. What followed was an intensive introduction into a new world she could scarcely have imagined.

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Trigger warning: dubious consent, multiple partners (at times), anal play, humiliation, public play. See the story tags for further details if necessary.

Elicitation contains awesome long sex scenes that are well-written and better than most of the erotica you will find online. If you are looking for something super kinky, this might very well be the book for you!

Anthony and his fiance have discussed her rape fantasies in the past but never acted upon them. Anthony decides independently that Eileen is a woman who could learn to enjoy living the life of a sex slave to her husband, and believes that “wifely duties” are how a woman earns her keep as a stay-at-home-wife. So he uses their European vacation as a means to isolate Eileen from the real world and introduce her to a crash course of expectations.

Something that I found surprising was my reaction to the lack of descriptive butt play in this book. Even though Anthony and Eileen “play” with butt plugs multiple times and also have anal sex, those scenes were mostly glossed over in a couple of paragraphs, rather than the more in-depth descriptions of oral and vaginal sex that the author uses throughout. This was something that struck me as odd throughout and when Anthony finally reaches his goal of training Eileen’s ass to take the largest, plug, it felt anti-climactic.

Elicitation is one of those tales that can be titillating to read about, even though it is nothing you would ever want to experience in real life. Escapism is a leading reason for fiction sales, and I liken a person’s reasons for reading a book like this to those behind the decision to read something like the Hunger Games trilogy. I’m not judging. Yet, even though I am pretty open about reading romance and erotica in RL, this is not a blog post that I will link to my Goodreads. This is my dirty little secret, so we’ll just keep it between you and me, ya?

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Winter of the Wolf – Cherise Sinclair

Winter of the Wolf is the second book in the Wild Hunt Legacy series by Cherise Sinclair.

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Blurb:

After years in foster care, Breanne Gallagher has the stable life she’s always wanted, living with her foster-sister, working as a chef, enjoying her comfortable routines. Then one devastating night, a hellish creature invades her apartment and shatters her fragile existence. Shifting between monster and man, it slaughters her foster sister and assaults Bree. Alone, wounded, her beloved home tainted by gruesome memories, Bree flees to a tiny wilderness town, following her only clue to her past.

Shapeshifting warriors, Zeb and Shay move from one pack to another, hunting the hellhounds which prey on their kind. Assigned to Cold Creek, they take over management of a decrepit fishing lodge for their “human” cover. Their first renter is a pretty human female who trembles at the sight of them—yet stands her ground. Furious at the hurt they see in her eyes, the protective nomads are drawn into helping her. Although no shapeshifter is ever attracted to a human, her scent is oddly compelling, and her ferocious determination to conquer her fears ignites longings neither loner ever expected to face.

Bree is healing, learning to shoot the biggest pistol she can find, and overcoming her fears, especially of the two deadly, disconcertingly attractive hunters. Her life is getting back on track…until she tries to save a little girl from a hellhound and discovers that everything she knows about herself is false.

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It isn’t often that you see a second novel build so incredibly from the first in a series. Often, the story revolves around new characters in the same format and world.

Well, the world might be the same. And the initial premise too, of an adult woman discovering that she is a shapeshifter and trying to find her footing on new ground. But Bree is such an incredibly different character from the heroine of book one, almost her opposite in many ways, that it feels like a completely different story. Her male companions too are different, friends and partners in the field instead of littermates.

While I loved the original story, I also loved the differences that made this one unique. Bree is vulnerable and emotionally fragile throughout much of the book, with a difficult foster care background and abuse suffered both as a youth and an adult. Yet she grabs hold to a new existence in Cold Creek, forging personal relationships and business ties, and just generally establishing a life for herself.

I love books where the heroine does this. I find that … gumption? determination? pizzazz? something … to be an extremely admirable quality. It is something that I have many doubts I could do but wish I could. One day maybe I will pack up and move somewhere completely foreign to me and start again. Lord knows I wish I could, and Bree gives me the encouragement that maybe it would be possible for me as well.

Another difference from the first novel is that the protagonists are werewolves rather than were-cats, which means that in addition to belonging to the territory, they also have a pack that all the wolves in their territory belong to. The were-cats and bears don’t have this second community so it was an interesting development that added depth to the Wild Hunt series. I wanted to tear the pack leader limb from limb, but hey – that’s just a sign of a great author if they can make you care so much.

Ms. Sinclair adds enough humour into her novels to make them light, even when there is dark content, and that is a rare and lovely addition to erotic romance. Here is a brief excerpt from Winter of the Wolf, a scene that shows both Breanne and Zeb’s true natures, and is humorous as well.

A sweet voice caught his attention. Carrying a small tray she could use one-handed, Bree was taking drink orders. As she wove her way around the tables, her sunny hair gleamed in the light from the wall sconces. The wavy tangle stopped just above her waist, drawing attention to the way her jeans cupped her round ass. An inch or two taller than Vicki, she was even curvier and totally appealing.

Fuck.

Others had noticed, as well. She was collecting interested looks from the entire male population of the bar, even Daonain. But, true to form, humans started the trouble. Drunk, human, and male spelled pain in the ass, and the centre table held four PITAs.

One latched onto Bree’s arm tightly enough she couldn’t jerk away without spilling the drinks. Another had the effrontery to grab her ass.  Taller than everyone in the room, Zeb had a clear view. He started to push his way through the crowd.

She scowled and snapped something, but the human males only laughed. And then, she pivoted and planted her foot into the ass-toucher’s stomach. Man and chair went over backwards, skidding a few feet until coming to rest against the adjacent table.

She hadn’t even spilled a drink.

She turned toward the other male. He snatched his hand from her arm. With a swing of her blonde hair, she moved away as if she’d never been stopped. Fucking amazing. Zeb adjusted his jeans around a disconcerting hard-on and returned to the bar.

Calum was waiting for him. “Could you do me the favor of taking out the trash? Just the two. Politeness is not required. The others may stay.”

Sinclair, Cherise (2012-03-23). Winter of the Wolf (The Wild Hunt Legacy Book 2) (Kindle Locations 1144-1148). VanScoy Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Winter of the Wolf is certainly a romance novel, but you won’t find gratuitous sex scenes in the first couple of chapters. It is a menage relationship between two male “cahirs” and one little female, and they take their time getting to know each other before jumping beneath the sheets. Sometimes this gets boring, but it works for this series and the plot moves quickly without the spicy scenes.

I highly recommend this series, it is currently my favourite in the fantasy-romance genre!

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