Pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday.
Majo to Neko -Kuroi Yodaka
Outwardly, Sudo is a delivery man, but at night he is a “courier” for the underworld. By chance, he gets together with his neighbor Uno, whom he has been interested in, over a potluck. The next day, he sleeps with Uno, who is drunk, and the next day, Uno becomes very distant from him. While he is worried that he might be onto his ulterior motives, he sees Uno being tangled up with some unscrupulous men on the street, and he reflexively takes Uno by the hand and runs away. The dying Sudo, under attack from the enemy, is saved by a contract with Uno, a descendant of witches. Sudo learns that Uno has been living in hiding from the world because he is a witch. To escape his pursuers, Sudo returns to his home to retrieve money for his escape, only to find his pursuers waiting for him…?
Witch and Cat is a gritty paranormal romance that is as violent as it is steamy as it is heart-wrenching as it is so freakin’ good!
This is a world where witches are the most sought-after commodity, able to heal and give extra lives to people they contracted with, known as familiars. These witches are so valuable that even their body parts are sold for exorbitant prices.
A witch can contract multiple familiars, but it would drain their life energy in the long run. The contract had to be done with mutual consent with both parties present and with exchange of mana through physical contact. A kiss can give a short burst of mana, but we all know there are more fun ways to exchange body fluids.
The witch is Uno, a scowl-y guy who rarely smiles and keeps to himself. He frequently bumps into his neighbor Sudo, a smiley, friendly guy who always seem to sport an injury. Right off the bat, it’s obvious that he is that kind of character who smiles even as everything falls apart.
Sudo is strongly attracted to Uno and was determined to see the guy smile. Their lives is such that they cross paths with a yakuza who turned out to be a witch hunter, hellbent on capturing Uno.
As you might guess, Sudo becomes Uno’s familiar and protector. While on the run, they realized their feelings towards each other were more than just witch and familiar. As Uno’ familiar, Sudo has cat qualities since Uno is affliated with cats. Ironic that he has a doting dog personality as a seme.
Sudo frequently suffers horrendous injuries while protecting Uno, even lost several lives (he has 9), that Uno helped heal later. One thing that was puzzling to me was why Sudo was already healing so fast even before he became Uno’s familiar.
The main antagonists are Natsume, a dog familiar and his witch, Keigo, son of the yakuza boss. These two are as compelling as Sudo and Uno, and I want their story so bad!
There are plenty of uber violent fight scenes and a lot of blood shed. I’d love to see this as an anime. Not just because of the fight scenes but because the story is poignant and angsty. Also, their world is ripe for more stories about the complicated relationships between witches and their familiars, and the rest of the humanity.
One of my top manga of the year!
Vitale Brothers: Take Me Apart – Brea Alepou & Skylar Snow
I have only one goal in life: Become a detective. It’s there, just out of reach, so close I can taste it. When I find out the Vitale family is about to be investigated again, I do what I do best.
Jump in head first.
There’s just one problem; Enzo Vitale. The man is red hot danger, every word a dare from his lips. And I never was one to turn away from a challenge…
But when things get rough, lies reign and deceit is around every corner. I find myself drawn to the one man I should be running from. The criminal whose hands are bathed in blood.
Am I falling for the enemy?
Take Me Apart is a siren song of dark, delicious things, and I’m here for it!
This is the opener for Vitale Brothers, a mafia romance series by Brea Alepou and Skyler Snow. I’ve known Brea Alepou for her poly romances, and this is my first Skyler Snow. They immediately got me hooked on the series.
The premise is similar to my last weeks’ read, Pretty Policeman. Here we have another cop falling for a mafioso in a forbidden love that might just destroy them both. Rookie cop Tex Castor, desperate to become a detective, took it upon himself to investigate the Vitale Family as the short cut to his dreams.
While in a club owned by the mob, Enzo Vitale took one look at Tex, knew he was a cop, but latched on to him anyway. Enzo didn’t tell Tex he knew, and launched into a single minded pursuit of the man. This despite a previous fatally disastrous affair with a guy eerily similar to Tex.
Early on, it’s apparent that Enzo is neurodivergent. It’s never explicitly mentioned, but there were lots of hints, such as his tendency to dissociate or hyper-fixate, as well as his inability to process emotions.
Enzo is described as a non-threatening looking guy with eye glasses and lean build who loves reading, doing projects, and most of all, cleaning. In my head, I pictured him looking like a university professor. He could have been had he not been born a Vitale. Being the younger Vitale and exceptionally adept at torture, he the enforcer and interrogator of the family. This is a neat freak who likes blood and gore.
Tex isn’t TSTL, just a cop with poor impulse control and a reformed drug addict dangerously close to slipping. Torn between his dream of becoming a detective and his growing feelings for the mafioso, Tex is a hot mess with nowhere to go but run, the dork!
Admittedly, the first few chapters were not as riveting as I hoped. Only the enticing performance of Declan Winters kept me going. He’s one of those gifted narrators who could read a grocery list, and I’ll be listening. I highly recommend audiobooking this. He’s the same guy who brought C.S. Poe‘s Magic & Steam series to life.
Things picked up a third way in. Enzo got his claws out and firmly sank them into Tex. I loved his voice!, The narrator gave him this calm, emotionless voice that gets growly when he’s being extra emotional. No wonder Tex can’t keep away!
Enzo is everything here! Dominant, possessive and obsessive, he’s a psychopath, confident in himself and his abilities. He knows what he wants and has no qualms handcuffing the object of his desire to keep it there. The fluffy parts come when he shows his soft side because he’s crazy in love with Tex and would do anything to make him happy.
Meanwhile, Tex needs to make up his mind because he can’t play both sides. I wasn’t impress with our boy stringing Enzo along. I liked him better after he made up his mind. Also, his cat Penelope is a star.
I can’t say the pace is fast, but after moving past the opening chapters, the plot moved in a steady, engaging manner. The authors kept the tension tight and intense most parts of the story. The dysfunctional romance was both frustrating and compelling, cute at certain moments but mostly as deliciously dark as promised.
“From now on, I’m the only one allowed to hurt you or make you cry. Every inch of you belongs to me.” I bit his lip. “Even your life.”
Tex groaned. “Yeah. Where do I sign, Satan?”
The rest of the story gives us violence, graphic torture, domestic abuse, childhood trauma, and betrayal. It’s not pitch black, just dark grey, but reader discretion is advised. The vibe of Vitale Brothers reminded me of my favorite Criminal Delights books. If you like that series, the Vitales will do it for you.
I don’t have a favorite Vitale yet. Each brother is pretty memorable. While Enzo is usually preternaturally calm and expressionless, Giancarlo, a.k.a. Gin, wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s the easy going playboy who goes beast mode on a hair trigger. Benito is the oldest and the deadliest, and I’m so excited for his book. He’s forced to marry a yakuza boss’s son! What a merger!
Take Me Apart is about a cop following his dream and stumbles into a seductive nightmare he’s helpless to resist. Gritty, violent, wild and all the raw intensity of a monster growling, “MINE!“
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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