Lenni Reviews: “The Firebird and Other Stories” (Being(s) in Love #5) by R. Cooper

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

This book is a collection of short stories set in the same universe as the other Beings in Love books.

The first one is “The Firebird” set in France in 1934, where a firebird, Kazimir, becomes enamored with a writer named Jacob. Kazimir is used to being the center of attention and having admirers begging to be inspired by him. But Jacob sees Kazimir as more than just an object. It’s a sweet story about finding someone who really values you.

Next is “The Warrior’s Sacrifice” set in Mexico in 1947. Mateo is a “muxe” a person assigned one gender at birth but behaves associated with the opposite gender and he gets beat up for this and left as an offering to the jaguar who protects the town; named Carmelo. Carmelo is home from WWII and keeps Mateo safe, revealing he has been watching Mateo for some time. This is a really touching story with low angst.

Next is “Hyacinth on the Air” featuring a fairy named Hyacinth, who loves to push the boundaries of what he’s allowed to say on air. Seeing as this is set in 1961, there are some pretty strict standards so he causes no end of trouble for Walter, a human who’s in charge of cleaning up after the messes Hyacinth makes. Being a fairy, Hyacinth doesn’t understand why humans are so uptight and why Walter would resist their obvious attraction. This one’s cute but out of all of them this one I found the least impactful.

The next story is “A Giant Among Men.” Set in 1982, Vietnam veteran, former police officer, and troll, Tank, is determined to make sure his friend Simon, an elf, gets home safe after the bar where Simon works is vandalized by people who hate Beings. Simon resists the help because he doesn’t want to be seen as weak but comes to realize Tank sees him as much more than a pretty elf bartender. Pretty enjoyable for what it is.

Next up is “The Imp for Mr. Sunshine.” Set in 2005, Rennet – an imp – has a crush on John, the deputy mayor. Since things tend to go wrong when an imp is present, Rennet believes this bad reputation will keep him from this crush developing into anything more. Little does he know that John has been protecting him for more than just friendly reasons. The parts where Rennet is dealing with his nature and what that means to the people around him are the best in this story.

Next, we have “A Wolf in the Garden.” Miki is a human who loves to work with exotic pants so his job in a greenhouse that’s also in a magic shop is where he’s most comfortable. One day a werewolf named Diego comes into the shop and Miki is smitten, but he knows Diego had a mate, and she tragically died of cancer. Miki does see Diego wants him but believes a wolf only gets one mate in their lives and that a man like him who’s been abandoned by his family and has strange hobbies. These two make an adorable couple and I really enjoyed this story and it was cool to see previous characters like Kazimir reappear. It makes the world feel so much bigger.

Lastly, “The Dragon’s Egg” featuring Arthur and Bertie from “A Boy and his Dragon”. Here Bertie discovers an egg that is their child and Arthur goes into full nesting mode.

This is a pretty decent collection but I have to say “A Wolf in the Garden” and “The Warriors Sacrifice” are my favorite. The others just didn’t grab me as much and made the book feel SO much longer. To get the full experience, you really have to make sure you read the previous four books so don’t just hop into this one. 3 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “Little Wolf” (Being(s) in Love #4) by R. Cooper

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+.

Tim Dirus is on the run from his werewolf family and has taken up what he thinks of as temporary residence in Wolf’s Paw sanctuary, where the town’s tourism centers around a festival where their hunk of a sheriff, Nathaniel Neri. Everybody wants Nathaniel but he has his sights on Tim, who is ready to bolt at any moment if anyone from the Dirus family shows up to lock him away again.

As this is part of the Beings in Love series, you see some of the characters from the previous books make an appearance; making the world-building feel more expansive and detailed. Watching Tim slowly work his way toward understanding what he is and how he fits in is VERY well done and grounded. You can tell his family did a number on him and he’s trying to heal. And don’t let the title fool you. I expected Tim to be some shy thing but Tim’s got some sass in him! He takes crap from no one and I like it.

So far, this is my favorite of the series because the stakes are higher. Tim has some dangerous people after him and this book doesn’t shy away from that. It made this the most thrilling book in the series to me. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “A Beginner’s Guide to Wooing Your Mate” (Being(s) in Love #3) by R. Cooper

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

When they were teenagers, Zeki had a crush on the most popular werewolf in high school, Theo Greenleaf but left town before anything could happen due to being bullied for being human in a werewolf school. Now returning to the werewolf sanctuary/tourist town of Wolf’s Paw as an adult, Zeki is an accomplished wizard looking to show his high school bullies how far he’s come but hears Theo is nearly broken from his mate rejecting him years ago. Now, Theo buries his emotions in baking and volunteering for the local fire department. Zeki unknowingly seeks to reconnect with Theo not knowing he was the mate who rejected him so long ago.

So far, this is the best of the series. I love how it goes into how weres don’t need words to make themselves understood and how frustrating it can be for a human to understand what any of them are feeling since we lack those senses. I think they took WAY too fucking long to finally let Zeki in on the idea; leaving him fumbling as to why everyone is mad at him. The chemistry between Zeki and Theo is fantastic and in place of the long back and forth of the previous book, there’s some real growth and understanding that needs to take place for our pair to finally come together. And in the end, I was happy with the ending. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “A Boy and His Dragon (Being(s) in Love #2) by R. Cooper

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Arthur MacArthur is in dire need of a job, wanting to get out of debt and perhaps go back to school when his recovering alcoholic sister is in a better place. One of his former professors sets him up with a job being an assistant to Philbert Jones, a historian, and writer but also a dragon with a horde of books. Not fully understanding dragons, Arthur learns about his new boss and the pair have a connection but Arthur doesn’t want to ruin his chances at this job.

While the writing if this book in the series is improved over the first, this book spends WAY too much time on the will they/won’t they back and forth where I found wanted to jump into the book and just scream “UGH! Just kiss already!” Then once they get to the point, Arthur and Philbert have great chemistry and I enjoyed their journey! Then it screeches to a halt. It’s just done. I would have liked a more rounded conclusion but I enjoyed this overall. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Some Kind of Magic” (Being(s) in Love #1) by R. Cooper

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Detective Ray Branigan knows Cal is his mate but believes fairies (even half fairies like Cal Parker) are too flighty for a long term commitment like mating. So, when they’re paired together on a case involving some mysterious and vicious murders, Ray’s restraint is tested as Cal is too tempting to resist.

This had all the hallmarks of something I’d enjoy and it did me the honor of not dropping the mystery part (unlike the Isle of series did). The problem here is with the writing. I found myself often confused as to who was who and critical details that would have helped me understand things, people, and places better – and enjoy the book more – were missing. In the end, I was left feeling like I missed something. Cal and Ray were cute and all but I feel like I never got immersed and I was left wanting. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Art Medium: The Complete Collection” by E.J. Russell

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

This collection contains two books; The Artist’s Touch and Tested in Fire. I’ll split the two so it’s not confusing.

The Artist’s Touch: Stephen Cobbe is a painter riddled with debts and homeless after the death of his lover. But when a new patron offers him room and board in exchange for his paintings, Stephen jumps at the change. The catch is he blacks out while he paints and awakens to completely dry canvases and no memory of creating them. As these paintings gain attention, Luke Morganstern is sent to investigate where they are coming from as the art is exactly like a painter who died many years ago. But when he sees the possible forger is his ex-boyfriend, Stephen, he can’t believe Stephen’s claims until they become too real to deny.

While this is a cute paranormal second chance romance, Stephen and Luke’s romance comes off as too rushed to really get invested in since they go from some pretty deep mistrust to “ok, we’re in love now” too quickly to form a real connection with them. However, their personalities are clearly written and real enough to empathize with them as they uncover some pretty serious ghost activity. The supernatural elements don’t feel tacked on as a frame to bring our main characters together and held it all together to make the story as a whole pretty cool. There are some sexy scenes but they don’t makeup very much of the book. 3.7 out of 5.

Tested in Fire: Having rekindled their relationship; Stephen and Luke are now rising stars in the art world. But Stephen’s debts still haunt him and he is determined to pay them off without Luke’s help. He wants to be independent and debt free so Luke will never see him as a burden. But after one argument, Luke seems to be acting very strange and the elderly stroke victim in the same building as Stephen is suddenly convinced he desperately needs Stephen’s help.

Here’s where the paranormal elements really start to take center stage. We have an awesome badass former cop turned psychic named Peg and villains who are body snatchers. The stakes from the first book are substantially higher and more detailed, even giving our characters some actual abilities. I would love to see the series continue and see how they handle various supernatural threats while also trying to live a somewhat normal life (particularly since Luke will absolutely have some major real-life consequences because of events in the book that I won’t spoil). 4 out of 5.

Overall, I’m glad I read these back to back as they compliment each other perfectly.  The second, in my opinion, tops the first book in general so I’ll average the two as a 3.9 out of 5. If you like paranormal romance, these are pretty good!

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Lenni Reviews: “Beast” by Jamie Sullivan

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Beau thinks he’s got a hot story when he gets a tip that rock star Gabriel Fletcher, who has been out of the limelight for a year, is hold up in a remote mansion. What he finds there seems inhuman.

As a parody of Beauty and the Beast, this book hits all the beats of the original fairy tale ok. But where this book misses the mark is the relationship between the two main characters. They jump from learning to tolerate one another right into boning and proclamations of love. I couldn’t get to know them well enough to buy them as a couple so it falls flat when they get together. Maybe if it had more time to develop, it would have been more enjoyable. 2.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Smoke Signals” by Meredith Katz

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Working what should have been a typical shift at a customer service phone line for a gaming company, Mike is suddenly asked by a dragon to install the company’s entire catalog of games, necessitating the need to stay at the dragon’s home for several days. Zali’thurg like any dragon has a horde and games are his collection of choice. Now that Mike has proven himself competent, Zali’thurg insists he maintain and protect his collection not realizing Zali’thurg may want to keep him as well.

I LOVE how our main characters are so damn practical. Mike and Zee sit and talk about how they feel and their boundaries. They take some time to come together and work things out when they have a conflict. They are so damn forthright and honest, it’s adorable. And seeing how this is a paranormal romance set in modern day with a dragon that hoards video games, this could have fone VERY wrong and ended up a veritable cringe-fest of references. Thankfully, this book avoids that.

However, this book is hampered by its short length. Clocking in at only 100 pages, Katz has to get these two into the sack at least once before the end and once they do, it’s mostly exposition towards the end. But it was still cute! 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Bound for the Forest” by Kay Berrisford

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

When Brien returns to his childhood home to scrounge up something he can sell to settle his debts, he doesn’t expect to find a thief named Scarlet attempting to burn the place down. Scarlet considers Brien to be a traitor to the forest as he as abandoned his birthright. But all the legends Brien has shunned or dismissed as heathen tales are suddenly very real and very dangerous, much like his attraction to Scarlet.

This book takes the heavy kink of something like Take it All and ads a hefty dose of faerie lore. Brien and Scarlet’s will they/won’t they does go on a tad too long but they develop good chemistry so they may have been thrown together but they work. It’s when the book gets DEEP into its lore that could turn some people off. I personally loved the detailed world building around our main character’s sexual relationship.

And that relationship is intense, graphic, BDSM and some dubious consent. Not for the faint of heart.

This isn’t insta-love but it is insta-lust that becomes love later. If that’s your jam and you enjoy historical fantasy, this is a great outing! 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Kelpie Blue” by Mell Eight

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

As a kelpie, Blue is used to drowning humans in his lake and devouring them. But when a human named Rin and his mother move on to the property, Blue becomes fascinated by the strange boy. Eventually, the pair becomes inseparable but Rin’s mother is on the verge of losing the farm and her horse raising business. Blue offers to help by using his horse form to win races but outside forces from the fairie realm put them all in more danger than just losing their home.

As a gay romance, it’s fairly light but as a fantasy, this book is fun and interesting. I have to say I didn’t expect how the story went as the blurb accompanying it was WAY more vague, but it was satisfying and entertaining. Blue is a great character and Rin’s mother is a badass. Rin himself is more of a blank slate in comparison but we’re following his story and he’s a decent enough guy. I also love how the story is framed by Rin and Blue writing to each other in what is supposed to be a private diary. Very cute. 3.9 out of 5.

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