Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, September 2012

Welcome to the First Anniversary Edition of Ebook Review Central!

The first issue of Ebook Review Central was published a little more than one year ago. But what it covered, well, that’s the anniversary part. Roughly this time last year, ERC started with the Carina Press titles from September 2011.

And here we are, back again, with the Carina Press titles from September 2012.

Carina Press publishes slightly fewer titles per month than they did a year ago; 15-ish now instead of 20. However, everything they publish gets reviewed. Every single title. Usually in more than one blog, and often by RT Book Reviews, or Library Journal Xpress Reviews, or both. It must help a lot to have Harlequin’s deep pockets, but that wouldn’t matter if their books weren’t consistently good. And they are.

Talking about good books, which titles did reviewers say were good this month?

Number one has to be the re-release of  Christine d’Abo’s Long Shots Books 1-3. Not just because it garnered another bunch of extremely positive reviews for the very nicely priced set, but because it got people to go back and re-review the three titles that make up the series: Double Shot, A Shot in the Dark, and Pulled Long. This series of erotic novellas is the story of the Long siblings, the coffee shop they own, and a local sex club named Mavericks. There’s one friends-into-lovers story, one BDSM story, and one male/male story to round out this set that is guaranteed to warm up a winter night.


Sometimes, the number of reviews makes a book a clear choice, just because so many people are talking about the book. The Reluctant Amazon by Sandy James is that kind of story. Readers loved the idea of a normal woman discovering that she is a superhero with the power to save the world, and then they (well, we) all debated the merits of the details. The story has an absolutely fantastic opening scene, and the worldbuilding shows promise. Read Tracy’s review at Tracy’s Place for the positive spin and Mandi at Smexy Books for the so-so reaction.

The third featured book this week didn’t get quite as many reviews as a couple of other titles. But, every single reviewer who reviewed this book liked it. In many cases, they liked it a LOT. No mehs. no 2/5 or DNFs. Just a lot of good feelings about a fun book.

This week’s final featured title is How to Date a Henchman by Mari Fee. It’s a fantasy romance about a  girl who works for a mysterious agency. One where she doesn’t know what’s going on in the basement. She starts finding out when she goes on a date, not with the guy who comes to visit the company, but, you guessed it, his henchman. Mayhem ensues. The biggest complaint about this story was that it was just too damn short. Everyone wanted more of the fun!

So in September 2012 for Carina we have erotic romance and superheroes. Back in September 2011 we had urban fantasy, shapeshifters and romantic suspense. Still sounds like lots of things going bump in the night to me!

We’ll be back next time with the Dreamspinner Press titles from September 2012!

Ebook Review Central, Multi-publisher, August 2012

Welcome to the Ebook Review Central multi-publisher wrap-up post for the titles published in August 2012. This week’s edition covers the output from Amber Quill Press, Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver and Riptide for the month of August. Red Sage didn’t publish anything new this month.

This is also my multi-conundrum post. Out of six possible publishers, not all of whom have output in any given month, there are entirely too many months, like this one, where Riptide publishes three titles and absolutely sweeps the featured titles. No other publisher has titles that received more than four reviews, and there were way too many ones and zeroes, all over.

Why am I bringing this up right now? I’m moving to Seattle in November, and starting a full-time job in early December. Some things will have to re-arranged. I will continue Ebook Review Central, but for publishers where there are regularly no reviews, or very few reviews, to report, I’m going to have to make some decisions about priorities.

Multiple reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, even when they exist, do not count on Ebook Review Central. Why? Because many reviewers cross-post their reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. When we receive review copies from publishers, the publishers generally make that request specifically.

All of this week’s featured titles were from Riptide. While I would have liked to have spread the featured titles out a bit, Riptide absolutely ran so far ahead of the pack, it wasn’t remotely possible. And good on them and their publicity department/review coordinators as well as the authors for getting their books out there.

Featured title number one is Anne Tenino’s Love, Hypothetically. I’ll say up front that the reviews weren’t universally good, but there were simply a ton of them. When this many people are talking (and writing), the book is worth looking at just to get in on the conversation! Love, Hypothetically is the sequel to Frat Boy and Toppy, and is a story of reunited lovers. Paul and Trevor were high school boyfriends who veered way off track. Trevor chose a major league baseball career instead of coming out, but threw Paul pretty much under the bus on his way. Now the big career is over and Trevor is back in town and he wants a second chance with his first love. See Under the Covers for the wow review and Avon Romance for the meh vote.

Almost all of the 16 reviews for the number two feature were raves. I’m talking about Aleksandr Voinov’s look back at two German flyers during World War II, Skybound. Even though this is a time and/or a side that many people avoid like the plague (as my fellow Book Lover Caro put it) every one who read this one fell in love with the characters and saw it as a beautiful story of love and courage, set in dark and desperate times.

Coming in at number three was the book I expected to be number one, which says something about the strength of the competition this week. Anything that could beat out the latest entry in the Cut & Run series has to have been pretty damn good. Because the number three title for this week is Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux, the 6th book in the Cut & Run series. Everyone who reviewed this one absolutely loved it, but that’s not a surprise. By six books in, everyone reviewing is deeply invested in the series. The series started as a mystery/suspense series about two FBI agents, Ty Grady and Zane Garrett, who have absolutely opposite working styles and one hell of a lot of sexual tension. During a significant part of the series, it’s a question whether they’re going to fall into bed or get each other killed, or both. The series is meant to be read in order, starting with Cut & Run, and highly recommended by pretty much everyone who has ever reviewed it.

We’ll be back! Next week! Carina Press, September 2012. The Frankenstorm will not bring me down.

Ebook Review Central, Samhain Publishing, August 2012

We return, not to the thrilling days of yesteryear, but to the August 2012 titles from Samhain Publishing.

And readers did find some of the titles pretty thrilling, at least according to the reviews. Others, not so much.

Let’s not talk about the stuff that no one else was talking about. It’s just getting old. In some cases, it already was old. Enough said.

The book that everyone was talking about, which made it easily swim into the number one slot in this week’s featured titles list, is Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett. Degrees of Wrong is, and I am very pleased to say it, science fiction romance, in this particular case of the “futuristic medical plague and doctor needs to find a cure” school. Also while kidnapped by the future U.N. and working on a top-secret hi-tech undersea warship. The romance: the doctor is a feisty and highly intelligent woman who is pursued relentlessly by the warship’s captain. She resists that relentless pursuit for quite a while, because said captain is tied up in a politically arranged engagement. The doctor respects his upcoming vows way more than he does. The first-person perspective really put readers into the doc’s head as she battles to find a cure, figure out the true agenda behind all the research, AND protect her heart.

This week’s number two feature is all about lucky number seven. Because the book for this slot is Seven Sexy Sins by Serenity Woods. Ms. Woods has taken one of the all-time favorite themes, the friends-into-lovers story, and combined it with a trope that is hard to do in a modern context, the “sex teacher” trope, and found a way to make it work really, really fantastically. The heroine, Faith, is a writer who has to come up with an article on spicing up women’s sex lives. Her only problem is that hers, so far, has been a dud. She’s not innocent, she’s just been unlucky. That’s believable. Her circle of friends commiserate, but one of them is her brother! Now there’s a potential downer. However, Rusty, her long-time secret crush, offers to help her out. Faith agrees, as long as they keep it a secret. Faith’s got some very good reasons for this crazy idea. Rusty kissed her once, and her brother punched his lights out. And when her article is over, she needs his friendship: he’s one of her best mates. If they try to be more than friends, and fail, their whole group could fall apart in the explosion. But when their friendship adds way too much depth to their sexual explorations, neither of them is sure if they can pull away. This one is both hot and sweet, something that Serenity Woods does very, very well.

Number three for this week is hot but not sweet. More like hot and hotter, and with an extra helping of jet fuel into the bargain. Katie Porter’s Inside Bet is a story about a woman  who’s concealing a wild past behind her successful career as an accountant. Her decision to have a no-holds-barred one-night-stand with a playboy fighter pilot-jock leads to an unexpected longer term fling. Heather and Jon are two people who both thought they were too jaded to be in this thing for anything more than just sex. Instead, they find out that they are daring each other to do things they never dreamed of, including, just maybe, fall in love.

All of this week’s stories are on the steamy side of the equation. Degrees of Wrong with a side dose of futuristic thrills, Seven Sexy Sins with a helping of friends-into-lovers romance, and Inside Bet just plain sex first and love later. But steam heated every single one.

Just a little something to warm you up if Autumn is bringing a chill to the air!

Ebook Review Central will be back next week with the multi-publisher, multi-legged (in honor of Halloween) wrap-up.

Ebook Review Central, Dreamspinner Press, August 2012

This week at Ebook Review Central, it’s time to take a look at the August 2012 titles from Dreamspinner Press.

But before we do that, I’d like to give a little shout-out to one of the blogs that I regularly find coming up as a source for reviews for Dreamspinner (among others). This is one of my favorites because the picture always makes me smile. And wakes me up. I’d like to thank Oh My Gigi! for introducing me to the cute little fellow at the left, as well as providing me with some great reviews for ERC.

And speaking of great reviews, you might be wondering which books picked up those all important terrific reviews to get them one of the featured spots on this week’s Ebook Review Central.

I kind of dropped a hint in yesterday’s Sunday Post that one of the featured titles might have a tiger by its tail. It does. But it turned out that all the featured titles came at the end of the alphabet. By title, anyway. (What can I say, I’m a librarian. We alphabetize. It’s a thing.)

But the number one featured title this week is Sean Kennedy’s Tigers and Devils. This book made Jenre’s Best of 2009 list at Well Read when it was first released, and it has just been re-released in ebook, collecting a whole new set of fans and reviews. Tigers & Devils is a romantic story about a sports star (a rugby celebrity in Australia!) and an arty geek whose only previous serious relationship seems to have been with his cat. The other problem is that the sports star is not ready for the world to know that he’s gay, but he’s also not ready to give up the best thing he’s ever found. And his lover is okay with that. But when the world finds out anyway, their love is definitely put to the test. Reviewers love the story and Sean Kennedy’s writing. A LOT.

The second featured title this week is in the classic “fated mate” trope. Except that it twists the trope into some very different (and interesting) directions. Wake Me Up Inside by Cardeno C. uses the fated mate drive that often marks werewolf romances and gives it a new twist by switching the fated pair into a male/male bond AND placing in a paranormal setting where bonding between shifters and non-shifters is highly frowned upon. In this particular equation, the shifter’s pack isn’t sure which part they like least! But it makes for an epic love story that begins with a childhood friendship and is fated to last a lifetime.

I’m still laughing about the blurb for featured title number three, and it may be the blurb that got readers to pick up the book. Number three is Andrew Grey’s Strengthened by Fire. The story itself isn’t funny. The men in the story share, not only a romance, but also the very important job of saving lives through being firefighters. The problem is that their city is planning to cut costs by closing a fire station. And one characters answer is to hold the annual Fire Fighters’ Fundraising Chicken Dinner with the Firemen all going shirtless. It’s one of those hot firemen calendars come to life! One man thinks it’s a great idea, and the other one is embarrassed as possible, and there’s where the misunderstanding comes in. And eventually a happy ending.

Tigers. Werewolves. Chicken dinners with half-naked firemen. I think that’s enough for one week. Don’t you?

Ebook Review Central will be back next week with the August 2012 titles from Samhain Publishing.




Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, August 2012

I know, I know, it’s October, and Ebook Review Central is still talking about summer books. In this particular case, it’s the August 2012 books from Carina Press.

But hey, if the “Boys of Summer,” in other words, Major League Baseball, can play LONG into the NFL Football season, why can’t we keep talking about the summer books as long as we want–as long as they’re the good ones?

Based on the reviews, August was a pretty good month at Carina. At least the reviews were pretty tightly packed. Lots of titles in the 10+ review group, and then another bunch clumped at between 5 and 7 reviews. That 10+ gang made it difficult to pick the featured titles for the week, they were all excellent choices.

After reading over some of the terrific reviews for the books in that 10+ category, the three standouts, well, stood out after all.

First at bat this week is also the first book in L.B. Gregg’s Men of Smithfield series. When she originally released this contemporary male/male romance in 2009, the title of the book was Gobsmacked, and readers were absolutely gobsmacked from the opening scene of the story. Mark walks into church and whacks his boyfriend upside the head with a Bible for cheating on him and wiping out their joint checking account. Then he gets pulled over for speeding by the state trooper he’s always had a crush on. Carina Press has re-released Gobsmacked as Mark and Tony (the bible smacker and the state trooper) revised and with  new material added. Readers who read both versions say it’s even better the second time around.

Second in this week’s lineup is The Guardian of Bastet by Jacqueline M. Battisti. This urban fantasy/paranormal romance is one of the few times where the shapeshifter main character does not shift into a big powerful predator–Trinity becomes a house-cat. A feline who is also a witch, which makes her something very different indeed. Trinity’s little corner of the paranormal is about to be visited by something very evil, and only her peculiar mix of abilities that have never quite worked makes her suitable to inherit the responsibility of being the Guardian, and the power that goes with it. This one is terrific if you enjoy your urban fantasy with a touch of the snarktastic.

Rounding out this week’s roster we have title number three, a contemporary romance between a hopeless romantic and the anti-Cupid. The book I’m referring to is Planning for Love by Christi Barth, and it’s the first book in her Aisle Bound Trilogy. This trilogy is all about wedding planning, and in the first book, wedding planner Ivy falls in love with Ben, a guy who is allergic to love. This looks like comedy romance of the finest kind.


That’s it for this edition of Ebook Review Central. We’ll be back next time with the August 2012 titles from Dreamspinner Press.

Ebook Review Central, Hexapub, July 2012

This week on Ebook Review Central we have the multi-publisher wrap-up of July 2012. After this week, we’ll move on to the August titles for the publishers that ERC turns its eagle eye (or beady eye, take your pick) upon.

But until next week, it’s still mid-summer. I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, it IS still summer. We’re looking at the July 2012 titles from Amber Quill Press, Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver Books, and Riptide Publishing. Red Sage Publishing would normally be in that list, but they didn’t publish any new titles in July. That didn’t keep their titles from the previous months from garnering some new reviews, and the database has been updated to reflect those.

The surprising thing about this week’s featured titles is that Riptide did not run away with the reviews. They weren’t even in contention for running away with the featured list. Don’t get me wrong, they absolutely earned their first place spot on the list. Someone will need to pick me up off the floor the day Riptide doesn’t earn one place on the list, even with six publishers’ titles in contention. It’s just rare that they don’t look to take all three spots.

This week they weren’t even close to taking all three spots. First place however, was all theirs.

Cat Grant’s Doubtless, published by Riptide, absolutely ran away with first place. Any book that generates enough heat to get 21 people to post reviews (and remember that I’m talking about reviews outside of Goodreads and Amazon!) has got to be worth taking a look at. Doubtless is the followup to Grant’s May standout title, Priceless, another ERC feature, and follows the same characters. What Doubtless is not, as so many reviewers were careful to say, is a typical HEA. What it is, however, is a “compelling journey of self-awareness” as one reviewer so eloquently put it. Steve Campbell is professionally successful and personally miserable at the beginning of the book. It’s not until after his first encounter with Dylan Monroe, a confident and self-assured male escort, that Steve begins to realize that the reason he’s lonely is because he’s been looking in the wrong direction.

The second book in this week’s feature is also a sequel, and also from that same May list. Wilde’s Army by Krystal Wade is the second book in her Darkness Falls series from Curiosity Quills. The first book in this YA genre-bender (part paranormal romance, part urban fantasy) was Wilde’s Fire, and it was the absolute runaway of the May titles. It’s no surprise that so many of the readers who were caught up in the story of the girl who actually traveled to the magical world she dreamed of wanted to continue the adventure. And what an adventure it is! The adventure continues at an incredibly fast pace, and it’s even more difficult to figure out which are the good guys, and which are the bad guys. No one, and it seems like no one, can stand the suspense until book three comes out.

Imagine a world where your spine might be a precious commodity, but not necessarily the rest of you. Did a shiver just run up your…spine? That’s just a tiny hint of the action in Michael Shean’s Bone Wires, the third featured title this week, also from Curiosity Quills. Bone Wires is, dare I say it, a curious mix of Biopunk, Cyberpunk and dark science fiction with just that touch of urban fantasy. Or at least the part of urban fantasy that involves solving nasty crimes in an urban setting. It’s just that this particular setting is in the far future, and being a cop is a job that ranks somewhere below street-sweeping. Both involve taking out the trash in Shean’s not-so-brave new world. Shean’s description of a future America where police forces are operated not by the government, but by private corporations sounds, just a little too close to the possible.

So there you have it for this week, and for July 2012. One runaway feature for Riptide with Cat Grant’s Doubtless, and two solid hits for Curiosity Quills with Wilde’s Army and Bone Wires.

Ebook Review Central will be back next week with Carina Press’ August 2012 titles. It looks like I get to go back to baseball metaphors for a while. My hometown Cincinnati Reds clinched their division.


Ebook Review Central, Samhain Publishing, July 2012

I can always rely on the Samhain titles to present me with no lack of options for the featured titles. And this July 2012 list of Samhain’s publications is no exception.

Also, as usual, the retro romances didn’t get many new reviews.

But the books that did, really, really did.

The book that was on the most reviewers’ lists this month, by an absolute landslide (which makes it the number one feature this month!) was Dee Tenorio’s The Virgin’s Revenge, (book 4 in her Rancho del Cielo series). This one is a combination friends-to-lovers story, and a small-town romance. There’s also a major element of heroine needing to get out from under her overprotective family. Most reviewers remarked about how much they loved the humor of the characters, but with this many reviews (27!) there were a few reviewers who were less than enthralled. For the thumbs up, read The Book Pushers’ review; for the lukewarm take, see Dear Author’s take.

The second-place finisher this month happens to be book number three in Moira Rogers’ dark and gritty (also hot and sexy) post-apocalyptic and post-Civil War steampunk western series, The Bloodhounds. I’m talking about Archer’s Lady. The Bloodhounds series is a mix of good werewolves, bad vampires, and crazy chemical experiments conducted by mysterious forces that might be working for good. The Bloodhounds are lone wolves, until they find their mate, and Archer, well, he’s been sent to save a town, or die trying. If he dies,  as far as the Bloodhound Guild is concerned, that just eliminates a problem for them. The town schoolteacher helps him eliminate the vampire threat, but that schoolteacher is running from a past that’s just as checkered as his. For steampunk fans, this series is, pardon my very mixed metaphors, catnip.

The final featured book this week is a secret. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to tell you. That means Sierra Dean has done it again. Keeping Secret by Sierra Dean, the fourth book in her Secret McQueen series, has clawed its way into the third and final featured spot for this week. Secret is half-vampire and half-werewolf, and this story is all about her trying to get herself to her wedding to a werewolf king. But her royal werewolf uncle does not approve (in a major way). And there’s a love triangle involved. Well, there’s always a love triangle involved. Oh yes, and an assassin. Family dramas at weddings are standard. Assassins, not so much. Unless you’re Secret McQueen, and someone has a contract on you.

So this time out we have a very mixed bag of featured titles: a contemporary romance, a steampunk western, and an urban fantasy. The one thing they do have in common is that they are all part of ongoing series. Building an audience really counts!

And now, my ERC audience, I will bid you farewell until next week, when we’ll come back to take a look at all of the publishers in the Hexapost (Amber Quill, Astraea, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver, Red Sage and Riptide).

See you next week!


Ebook Review Central, Dreamspinner Press, July 2012

Welcome back to Ebook Review Central! In today’s post-Labor Day edition of ERC, we’re taking a look at the titles from Dreamspinner Press for July 2012. There’s a certain symmetry to that, isn’t there? July was the last holiday month, and here we are again, just after another holiday.

But before we move to this week’s featured titles, I can’t resist one more look at Dragon*Con. (I know, I know, you’re wondering when I’m going to stop) But this is relevant.

At Dragon*Con I had the pleasure of meeting Adrienne Wilder, one of the authors on this month’s Dreamspinner list, and listening to her read from Worth, one of her Gray Zone novels, published by Dreamspinner. One of the fantastic things about cons is the opportunity to meet authors whose works I’ve read, reviewed or featured.

But we’re here to talk about the July books, so let’s take a look at the featured titles. It turns out that this week’s features are all character-driven stories.

Sometimes there’s a theme. Sometimes there isn’t.

Coming in at number three this week is After Ben by Con Riley. This is a contemporary romance about loving, grieving, and deciding whether or not to open yourself up again, even though there might be pain, later. The title of the book is After Ben because this is the story of Theo Anderson’s life after the sudden death of his longtime partner, Ben. A year later, Theo is still trying to pick up the pieces, but he’s starting to live again, instead of merely existing. On the one hand, he feels a physical attraction for Peter, a fellow gym member. But the one who really challenges him is Morgan, someone he met through a political chat room. Online, no one knows who you are or what you look like, only how intelligent, and occasionally how snarky you are. Morgan becomes a friend first, and it’s only after their relationship develops online that Theo discovers that Morgan is half his age. Just as Theo was to Ben. He’s afraid that he’s been there and done that and isn’t sure he wants to do it again. Is love worth the risk? Is the joy worth the potential pain. Again and so soon? Readers thought that Theo’s struggle and all the characters in this story were genuine and authentic.

In second place we have another emotional piece, The Wish by Eden Winters. It starts off with another character who is dead before the book begins. Byron however, wants to influence the world he left behind. But he’s a ghost. So Byron helps his partner Alfred get their nephews to see how perfect they are…for each other. The problem is that Paul and Alex have known each other most of their lives, and seem to be the epitome of the cliche that familiarity breeds contempt, because they certainly hold each other in plenty of contempt. It takes a lot of ghostly interference, including a lot that backfires, to make this romance work out right in the end. But ghost Byron deserves his own happy ending, and there’s only one way that can happen. Have some tissues handy.

Speechless by Kim Fielding is the winner for this roundup. This is a quietly sweet story about two lonely men who have survived some of the worst that life can throw at them. They are two people who would ordinarily never have met, but accidents and circumstances have created a situation where they have a chance to break through the biggest barrier that separates them, one of them has aphasia and can neither speak nor write. But they need each other enough to find a way to communicate. If you’re motivated, even that’s not a barrier. But what happens when one of them has to leave town? One reviewer described this story as “cute with a side of angst”. Read it for yourself and see.

This week’s stories are all character-driven. Next week it will be Samhain’s turn at the wheel, and maybe we’ll have a different theme. Maybe every story will have a completely different spin.

Tune in next week and see what happens!


Ebook Review Central, Carina Press, July 2012

The July 2012 Carina Press titles, at least when it comes to which ones got the most reviews, could definitely be said to owe something to the “Fifty Shades” effect.

The hottest books — in the erotic sense — were also definitely the hottest titles in the reviewing numbers.

Fifty shades of tie-ins!  Although the popularity of the book opened doors for more books that show a kinkier side of sex, it also spawned products in areas that the author couldn’t possibly have dreamed of. This one from Etsy may be the furthest after “Laters, baby” as later can get.

I’d much rather (make that much, much rather) get back to the Carina books.

First, I’d like to give a shout-out to Natasha Hoar’s urban fantasy title, The Ravenous Dead, which was one of the featured for Carina last month. Its date of publication seems to have changed, so now it’s on this month’s list. But I can’t feature it again, dagnabbit! Because it absolutely earned a featured slot this month, too. But each book only gets one bite at the apple, and The Ravenous Dead have already bitten.

So who are this month’s featured titles for Carina? I’m so glad you asked.

The number one featured title was so far out in first place that the sheer quantity of reviews is worth mentioning. The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden attracted over 40 reviews, all good or better. Those are pretty big numbers for an ebook-only title. What was it about The Theory of Attraction? Yes, it’s a BDSM story like Fifty Shades, with the virtue that it’s a heck of a lot shorter. Ms. Dryden’s story is also a geek love story, with two socially awkward scientists as the hero and heroine. Lots of readers identified with the couple and their geeky social circle. The geek dom made for a different twist on the trope: the hero was intelligent but not super-rich. RT Book Reviews described it as “erotic romance done right.”

In the second position we have another erotic romance, and another boundary-stretching and review-grabbing title as well. Sharing Hailey by Samantha Ann King pushed at the erotic romance envelope in a different direction. Hailey has always had a crush on her two best friends, Mark and Tony. But Mark and Tony are best buds, and don’t want to mess up their friendship by forcing Hailey to choose between them. Solution: the three of them get together! It’s perfect until Hailey’s abusive ex returns and tries to spoil everything. This story has 29 reviewers behind it, so far, all of them generally thinking it was pretty good or better. Again, 29 reviewers is a lot of positive feedback. This one looks worth checking out.

It was much more difficult to decide on the third spot. Two books were very close. But by a whisker, the featured slot goes to Rogue’s Pawn by Jeffe Kennedy. Rogue’s Pawn is the first book in her Covenant of Thorns series, and it’s a contemporary fantasy/urban fantasy with a touch of fantasy romance. Gwynn the bored academic in 21st century America crosses over to Fae at Devil’s Tower Wyoming and becomes a powerful but totally untrained sorceress–one who nearly gets killed as a danger to herself and others in her first day on the other side. Everyone wants a piece of her, and everyone wants her to be their pawn. Only one fae, a trickster named Rogue, might possibly have some of Gwynn’s better interests at heart. If Rogue has a heart. This is one twisted, dark and decadent fantasy world.

If I were giving honorable mentions, and I can, one would go to Karen Erickson this month for A Scandalous Affair.

Ebook Review Central will be back in two weeks (no issue next week because of the Labor Day Holiday!) with Dreamspinner Press.

Ebook Review Central, Hexapub, June 2012

This is the Creepy Crawly edition of Ebook Review Central.

Why Creepy Crawly? Six publishers, six legs. Spider-post. (Yes, we saw Spider-Man last week. Not bad, not bad at all.)

But we’re talking publishers, and not necessarily superheroes, although there might be a superhero book in the bunch. You’ll have to check the database. Take a look at the Amber Quill Press, Astraea Press, Curiosity Quills, Liquid Silver Books, Red Sage Publishing, and Riptide Publishing lists for June 2012. Maybe somebody published a superhero book this month.

Even if they didn’t, you’ll have fun seeing what they did publish, and what reviewers had to say about it.

What usually strikes me about the multi-publisher issue of ERC is that there are generally a lot of titles, but not a lot of reviews. There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the “epidemic of niceness” in online reviewing. If you haven’t seen the original article, it was  posted in Slate.

Unlike the New York Times Book Review, bloggers are not paid to write reviews. So, as a group, we may only spend our time writing reviews of books we like. Also, as Barbara Hoffert pointed out in an essay at Library Journal titled F. Scott Fitzgerald, Best-Selling Ebooks, and the Problem with Online Book Talk, bloggers are “out there” in terms of protection from legal repercussions if an author doesn’t like what we say. Library Journal has over a century of history behind it. It has a business structure. Most importantly, it has lawyers to defend its employees.

So, some of that epidemic of niceness may be a case of the old adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. In which case, a ton of good reviews probably means that a book is at least a decent read (Think of how Rotten Tomatoes crowdsources movie ratings). But if no one is reviewing a book, it means something else. It might mean that the book hasn’t found its audience.

And it might mean that no one has anything good to say, so everyone is keeping their keyboards disengaged.

But there were books this week that generated plenty of reviews. Let’s talk about the featured titles for this week.

Clanking into third place this week is The Blacksmith’s Lover by Heather Massey. This is the second book in her Clockpunk Trilogy, after The Watchmaker’s Lady. It’s a short, intense, erotic story of Sarah, a young woman who escapes abuse at the hands of her employer to find refuge with a rather unusual blacksmith outside West Boylston, Massachusetts in 1840. Viktor doesn’t just make horseshoes. In his hidden workshop, he makes clockwork animals, steam-powered clockwork animals, and all manner of fascinating devices. Keeping the secret of his special crafting out of the wrong hands is the reason Viktor fled his native Russia. But once Sarah and Viktor start an affair, he uses his mechanical skills to defend her, even against a rival clockworker employed by her insane former employer. This steampunk story is hotter than the blacksmith’s forge!

Number two for this week wafts in on a puff of pipe smoke. Kissing Sherlock Holmes by T.D. McKinney and Terry Wylis is a new Sherlock Holmes case with one difference. Instead of Holmes being indifferent to his emotions, Holmes both gets engaged to a headstrong young woman AND embarks on a passionate affair with his friend Dr. John Watson. Oh yes, there’s a mystery to be solved, a tiny little thing about a sadistic blackmailer threatening to undermine the government. The idea that Holmes and Watson are in a relationship has been around forever. BBC’s Sherlock lampshades it at every opportunity. Most of the reviewers say that Kissing Sherlock Holmes does a reasonable job treating the relationship as a real possibility, with a couple of minor quibbles. Everyone seems to have solved the mystery too quickly. For a very funny, and snarky, opposing view of the book, read Julie’s review at Word Weary, it’s a scream.

It seems like it’s inevitable. The number one book this week is from Riptide Publishing. This week’s selection is Awakening by Cat Grant and Rachel Haimowitz, the latest entry in their Power Play series. This one is definitely not for the faint of heart. The Power Play series makes no apologies about playing with all four letters of BDSM; the two characters of this series, Jonathan and Brandon are in a consensual Dom/sub relationship, and in this second book of the series, Brandon has entered into a new phase of his relationship with Jonathan for a $3 million payout. It was the only way he could get Jonathan back. But to do it, he has to prove that he’s every bit the masochist that dominant and sadist Jonathan wants and needs. Because Brandon loves him that much. But it takes them both a lot of pain to get there. And not all of that pain, not by any stretch of the imagination, is physical.

Now it’s time for the spider to climb back to the center of her web until the next hexapost. Ebook Review Central will be back next week, when we’ll turn our gaze to the Carina Press July titles. I’ve found a Monster in My Closet, but no superheroes so far. Guess I’ll just have to keep looking.