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REVIEW: Maniac by Onley James

Necessary Evils: Maniac – Onley James

Thomas Mulvaney was just a child when an error in judgment cost him everything. He vowed then that he would do anything to atone for his mistake. And he did. He never strayed from the right path. Until Aiden.

Aiden Mulvaney doesn’t exist. He’s a lie created by the father who disowned him and by Thomas Mulvaney, the only man Aiden had ever begged to love him. But that was years ago, when he’d still believed in fairytales. Before Thomas rejected him.

Thomas has spent years trying to have Aiden in his life while keeping him at arm’s length, but Aiden’s done with half-measures. He’s done with Thomas the martyr. He’s just done. So, he’s kept his distance. Trouble is, now, someone is threatening to expose a secret that affects them all.

No, not that one. A secret so shameful, Thomas won’t even utter it out loud. Can he and Aiden revisit the past and keep the family name intact, or will they both be buried beneath the weight of their memories as their old feelings resurface?

Necessary Evils started because of Thomas Mulvaney’s brainchild, and it was only fitting that its finale circles back to the Mulvaney patriarch. 

The infamous Mulvaneys are a bunch of gorgeous, overachieving, secret vigilante psychopaths adopted by billionaire genius Thomas. Among their many accomplishments are making dysfunctional, borderline toxic, if not outright toxic relationships, work spectacularly with the love of their lives, people they latched on to the minute they laid their eyes on.

And to my surprise, Thomas, their rock-solid, level-headed leader and father, had the most toxic relationship of all. Thomas and Aiden go way back. We have been teased with their pairing early in the series, and mini-developments scattered throughout the other books, such as Aiden’s decision to un-adopt himself from the family. The brothers also didn’t shy away from teasing their brother about his feelings for their father.

Thoughts of Thomas doing a Woody Allen were dispelled as the author went the usual way of age gap romances where the younger man does the pursuing. The amount of push/pull here was maddeningly frustrating, not to mention heart-wrenching levels of mutual pining, when it was revealed how Thomas habitually uses Aiden as a crutch only to push him away again and again. And poor Aiden can never say no when Thomas calls because he just can’t. Guess how long this has been going on.

This angsty sad sad drama dominated the first parts of Maniac giving us the backstories and setting the plot for the mayhem to come. Once Thomas pulled his head out of his ass and Aiden got his Tommy, the fun and games begin.

At this point, the family had expanded into a village, and Onley James did that thing she always excels at. One of my favorite parts of the series is the war room scene where she juggles the entire army of cast into hilarious dialogues that highlights everyone’s particular brand of crazy. Sometimes, all a character need to say is one line, one word, and boom! She’s the only author I’ve read so far that can pull it off effectively with so many characters in one room.

Every character made an impression, and even from the beginning, I could easily name all the brothers in order because that’s how well their personalities stood out. Their significant others, plus Calliope and Jericho’s boys, are just as distinct. All in all, an unbeatable group dynamic! My faves are August and Lucas.

The plot followed the usual Mulvaney mission. A hunt for a serial killer on the loose, this time threatening to destroy the family. Calliope did her magic, and the brothers and their friends heckled each other while puzzling out who knew Thomas well enough to know what he had been hiding for decades. Extra puzzling because his entire family died when he was a teen and the man had no friends.

All the signature Mulvaney shenanigans are showcased more extra, with Jericho’s boys and the ladies adding to the chaos. I loved all the books so much that they have become my comfort reads. The subject may be dark, but the humor and found family magic gave me cozy feels. Maniac amps that feeling with a sense of belongingness and familiarity because everyone feels like old friends.

I’m not ready to say goodbye to the Mulvaneys, and I am thrilled it’s not the last we see of them. The resolution to the mission might felt anti-climactic, but the boys thrived and even multiplied, with future little Mulvaneys and young vigilantes being spawned as we speak. That means spin-offs!

Starting with Jericho’s boys. I am ecstatic because we get more of Atticus, my grumpy Freckles! I have a soft spot for the man because I feel he’s the underdog of the family.

Necessary Evils is one of the most memorable series in my entire reading history. Maniac is the bestest, most fitting finale to a family saga that has always been crazy good, crazy fun, and just plain crazy!

4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

Soundtrack: Thomas
Artist: A Perfect Circle
Album: Mer De Nom

Necessary Evils should be read in order. The first brother to fall is Adam and one by one the rest followed like dominos. Reviews below:

Mad Man

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