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    SERIES REVIEW: The Spectral Files by S.E. Harmon

    The Spectral Files: P.S. I Spooked You by S.E. Harmon

    SSA Rain Christiansen used to be the agency’s golden boy. It just takes one moment of weakness, one slight, tiny, itty-bitty paranormal sighting, and all of a sudden he’s the agency’s embarrassment. His boss gives him one last chance to redeem himself—go down to Brickell Bay, play nice with the local police, and leave the ghost sightings behind. Rain is determined to do exactly that, even if it kills him.

    Cold-case detective Daniel McKenna’s latest investigation is going nowhere fast. Five years earlier, high school student Amy Greene went missing after leaving her part-time job and was never seen again. Daniel is glad to finally have the FBI help that his department requested, even if it does come in the form of his ex.

    It doesn’t help that Rain is pretty sure he’s falling in love with Danny all over again—if he ever stopped. Add to that the frustration of seeing ghosts at every turn while he works a case that’s stalled in its tracks, and Rain is starting to wonder if second chances and happy endings are just for fairy tales.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Light Up
    Artist: Mutemath
    Album: Vitals

    The Spectral Files: Principles of Spookology by S.E. Harmon

    No one said being a medium would be easy.

    Rain Christiansen, former FBI agent and current cold case detective, is starting to think it’s the hardest job he’s ever had—and the most important. He’s determined to accept all the changes in his formerly well-ordered life, but that means embracing a whole lot of weird. There’s no instruction manual for meshing his work with his medium duties, and he’s painfully aware that he’s flubbing the job. So are the ghosts, who are becoming increasingly impatient. And stronger.

    To complicate matters, he’s not sure what these spooktacular developments mean for his relationship. It certainly seems like Daniel McKenna, his partner in work and life, is in it for the long haul. But Rain can’t help but wonder how long that patience will last…and what he’ll do if Danny decides the intrusive ghosts are just too much.

    Rain thought accepting his supernatural gifts would be the solution to his troubles. But he’s starting to realize his problems are just getting started.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Beautiful Mistake
    Artist: Hudson Taylor
    Album: Singing to Strangers

    The Spectral Files: Spooky Business by S.E. Harmon

    Being insatiably curious is a good way to end up dead.

    Rain Christiansen, cold case detective and reluctant medium, is very aware of that fact. But when infamous serial killer Thomas Kane wants to meet, there’s no way Rain can say no. He also can’t refuse Kane’s offer—find his missing wife, Delilah, and he’ll reveal the location of his victim’s bodies.

    Rain has never turned down a good quid pro quo, and he doesn’t intend to start.

    The hunt for Kane’s wife leads to yet another cold case, three copycat murders, and an investigation where nothing is as it seems. Soon, Rain is dealing with a ghost unlike any he’s ever dealt with before…a ghost capable of doing things he shouldn’t be able to do. How can Rain control something he doesn’t even understand? And what will he do when the unknown threatens the safety of the most important person in his life?

    Rain is starting to realize that he can only battle the supernatural with the supernatural, and that is spooky business indeed.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: You Are Mine
    Artist: Mutemath
    Album: Mutemath

    The Spectral Files: The Spooky Life by S.E. Harmon

    Rain Christiansen isn’t sure he’ll ever fully understand the supernatural. But he’s finally finding his groove as a reluctant medium and cold-case detective. That’s not to say everything is going smoothly—there’s a wedding in the works, after all. He’s finally taking that enormous step with fellow detective, Daniel McKenna, and he couldn’t be happier…about the marriage. Not so much the wedding. The hoopla is enough to make him wish for a quick flight to Vegas and an Elvis officiant.

    At least work is keeping Rain and the PTU plenty busy. Their latest case involves Hannah Caldwell, a silent ghost who can’t—or won’t—speak. She still manages to request that they find her dear friend, Cherry Parker, so that she can say goodbye. Piece of cake. Finding people is pretty high on the list of things that Rain does best.

    But when it comes to ghosts, nothing is ever quite what it seems. Before long, his simple missing person’s case takes a dark and twisted turn. And Rain realizes he’s been so busy trying to protect Danny that he forgot to protect himself.

    If he doesn’t turn things around—and quickly—his spooky life might be cut short for good.

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Wedding Song
    Artist: The Psychedelic Furs
    Album: The Psychedelic Furs

    The Spectral Files is one of the more entertaining psychic procedurals I’ve read. The series stars Rainstorm Christiansen, an uptight, straight-laced federal agent turned police detective who can see ghosts. The unique name is due to his hippie-dippy, weed-growing parents, who named his twin sister Sky. His middle name may or may not be Moonbeam, depending on who’s exasperated at him. Mostly Danny. Rain is almost always exasperating and damn well knows it.

    The series opens with Rain returning to his hometown for a case and quickly butting heads with the head detective, a.k.a. the ex he ghosted seven years ago, Daniel Mckenna. The investigation forced Rain to use his much-dreaded ability, but its effectiveness yielded results that the police higher-ups couldn’t ignore. This led to Rain rethinking his career and earning a second chance with Danny.

    The books focus on a big case each while also tackling minor cases, which maybe related to it. I loved that they vary and are not always murder. The 3rd book is about a serial killer with a twist. These cases are closely interwoven with Rain and Danny’s personal lives since most of the ghosts have no concept of boundaries. Also, Danny is technically Rain’s supervisor in their newly formed paranormal unit.

    One running gag is how spectacularly inept Rain is at managing his ability. Rain is very contrary, usually difficult just for the heck of it. He’s been advised to take lessons in reining in his energy because the ghosts are getting out of hand. Poor Danny freaked upon learning these specters were watching and opining on them going at it like bunnies.

    Rain dragged his feet for as long as he could, then managed to offend all his peace-loving gurus to the point of violence. But it was obvious he’s going to settle with the whimsically named Dakota Daydream because this chill guru was described as cute, also gay and lowkey lusting after him, while the rest were funky enough to be throwaways.

    The plots document the barely perceptible progress of Rain’s psychic powers and how he finally came to terms with them in the last book. Rain is such a disaster he mostly gets by the skin of his teeth. This is funny at some points, but his performance in the last case pissed me off so much. It could have been easily avoided, if only he bothered to learn more about his abilities. The idiot got himself trapped. I thought it was pretty stupid, and I was so angry at Rain for letting it happen.

    The writing has a humorous tone, full of snarky banters and Rain’s internal jokes. Rain is an entertaining narrator but tends to digress at almost every instant. This is the author’s style, and I’m not really a fan of it. I found many of the jokes unnecessary. They mess up the pace a bit too.

    Still, I was glued to the books. Wordy as they are, they’re very riveting. The cases were tough, the character interactions were hilarious, and the investigations were fun to follow. The stories have an engaging slice-of-life quality that makes the characters feel like people I know. Danny’s team is an awesome supporting cast, especially the super laidback Kevin St. James, who doesn’t stop eating.

    Also, the author excels at writing second-chance romances, capturing that second-time-around magic and proving the sweetness in the adage. The dynamics between Rain and Danny are fantastic because Danny is a saint who can roll with Rain’s crazy and his wackadoodle family. The boys work together and live together, and still can’t get enough of each other! GOALS.

    My gripes aside, The Spectral Files is snarky, occasionally serious given the crime, and always entertaining. It is easily one of the most bingeable series out there!

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    One Line Reviews Of Some Books I Read This Year (July – August 2022)

    This is a round up of the books I read on the 3rd quarter of this year that I’m too lazy to do a full review.

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    REVIEW: Prince of Flowers by Nazri Noor

    Wild Hearts: Prince of Flowers – Nazri Noor

    He captured a fae prince. But can he capture his heart?

    Lochlann Wilde walks in the shadow of his father, a legendary summoner who commanded mythical beasts in battle. But Locke isn’t legendary. He’s barely a summoner, never passing his academy’s trial of the elements.

    And then he accidentally summons a fae prince with a beautiful body and a bad attitude.

    Sylvain is fiery and ferocious, stronger than anything Locke has ever encountered. And hotter, too. But time is running out. Locke must tame the prince’s wild heart. If he fails his trial, he’ll lose his inheritance and ruin his family’s name.

    Without Sylvain, Locke could lose his chance to become a true summoner… along with his shot at true love.

    Prince of Flowers is a contemporary fantasy romance with an HFN ending. Can a snarky summoner and a fickle fae prince endure mythical creatures, meddling goddesses, the fury of the elements, and each other? Only one way to find out. If you like sorcery, spice, and everything nice, you’ve come to the right place. Start the Wild Hearts series today.

    Prince of Flowers has a gorgeously captivating cover that is hard to resist. I had to grab it immediately! I was thrilled to learn this is part of the fabulously magical Nazri Noor universe that always has plenty of adventures and misadventures in store for our brave, if sometimes cocky, heroes.

    Our hero today is Lochlann Wilde, a super senior at Wispwood Academy desperate to earn his Summoner’s Crest and graduate so he could live up to his father’s illustrious name. At yet another of his attempts to summon a magical creature to serve as his eidolon, he inadvertently summoned a fae. And not just any fae, but a fae prince.

    Loch and Sylvain are characters that I have come to recognize as the author’s style. They tend to be unashamedly arrogant and cocky golden boys, courageous in battle and quick of wit, and quite aware of how badass they are. It’s a nice change to how chosen-one characters usually bemoan their fate.

    The two MCs’ first meeting would have been a grumpy yet adorable meet-cute had it not been overshadowed by Loch going on and on about how hot Sylvain is. Yeah, I get it. The fae are extremely good-looking, but one doesn’t need to sound like a broken record.

    The writing is on the wordy side. The jokes would have been funnier and have more impact had they been more succinct. However, I appreciate the details about Wispwood Academy and its adjacent worlds, as well as the many magical creatures and goddesses that appeared in the story. There are slight similarities to Harry Potter, but the Wild Hearts series stands on its own, even among the related series.

    One thing I love about the author’s books is that they are guaranteed to be action-packed, full of magic and mayhem, and HELLA FUN! And I’m so glad Greg Boudreaux is the narrator because his style suited the book’s spirit to perfection.

    There’s an adventure to be had, a quest to retrieve the Blood of the Earth, and the mystery of the Withering to be solved. There’s also the very intriguing Three Headmasters, who are definitely not what they seem. I’m most curious about them. There are a lot to discover in the Wild Hearts world, and I’m eager to explore.

    Loch and Sylvain bicker and banter their way through the story, throwing off USTs like fireworks, then deliciously succumbing to the inevitable. They were quite the happy power couple, but they were hit by the third arc curse. I’m not a fan of the third arc separation, but it paved way for dramatic entrances and spectacular displays of magic. There were many awesome, adrenalin-pumping fight scenes rendered in cinematic detail, and I relished every minute!

    I love being part of Loch and Sylvain’s adventure, and it only just begun. Prince of Flowers is a fantastic opener, laying the foundations of a very promising series while giving us a riveting tale of overdue graduations, super cool plant magic, and a hot, very, very hot fae prince because Loch won’t shut up about it. Snarky and fascinating, it might be on the flowery side, but it will definitely grow on you!

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Innerbloom
    Artist: Rufus Du Sol
    Album: Bloom

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    REVIEW: Exclusive by Ki Brightly & M.D. Gregory

    Model Love: Exclusive – Ki Brightly & M.D. Gregory

    Getting signed as an exclusive model for a new fashion line is a dream come true for Asa, but is there more to the rich Ruslan than meets the eye?

    Being a model was supposed to be temporary for Asa McGogh AKA Augustine Hart. His fashion career was meant to be a stepping stone to acting, but when he gets an exclusive contract that comes with a hefty payday, he can’t say no. It would be a privilege for any model to be the face of a new fashion line built by millionaire Ruslan Kozlova, and it doesn’t hurt that Ruslan is charming, a flirt, and incredibly handsome.

    Ruslan Kozlova has a lonely life. Being a mafia boss isn’t easy, and all he wants to do is find the right person to stay by his side. When he sees Asa on a billboard, he knows he must have him, and he’ll do anything to make it happen, even bankroll an entire fashion line to get him close. Ruslan doesn’t want to be like every other businessman who expects more than Asa is willing to give him, though, so he decides to woo him the old-fashioned way.

    The more time Ruslan spends with Asa, the more he comes to realize how different Asa is from every other man he has met. Asa is pure and sweet, and Ruslan will do anything to keep him from the dark part of his life. But what happens when Asa finds out who Ruslan really is?

    Exclusive is part of the Model Love multiauthored series. Each book can be read as a stand-alone story, in any order, but there are so many models falling in love, why not read them all?

    Exclusive has a premise that immediately grabbed my attention. As someone who has dabbled in the fashion industry, a.k.a. failed attempts at designing, a person bankrolling an entire fashion line just to get his crush’s attention is peak romance to me.

    This is one of the fluffier and sweeter stories from this author duo who specializes in love interests from the wrong side of the law, mafia bosses, bikers, those types. It’s also a nice little tribute to Ukraine, with Ruslan Kozlova being a son of Ukrainian immigrants. The guy took one look at a billboard of perfume model Augustine Hart, a.k.a, Asa McGogh, and was immediately smitten. He had to have him!

    This kicks off the classic wine-and-dine romance because Ru is determined to woo Asa the traditional way. It was hella charming, though a tad bit too old-fashion and cheesy for me. Ru was the perfect gentleman and a romantic, wishing for true love as his parents had. At odds with his mob boss persona at which, the story was quick to clarify that the man was tired of the criminal life.

    Asa is advertised as sweet and pure. Yeah, he is that, but I felt his characterization wasn’t there 100%, falling short of adorable. He came from the Midwest with a supposedly wacky family. He took Ruslan to meet his folks. The McGoghs took it as a cue to act as ridiculously as possible. I felt they were trying too hard, and Ru pretty much lost his personality, barely having any dialogues and just going along with the trainwreck.

    Exclusive is a mix-bag for me. It’s my ultimate fashion fairy tale and a cheesy, light-hearted love story that almost lost the plot near the end. Luckily, it got back on track and rallied to the HEA I’ve been waiting for. All in all, this sugary sweet love at first sight romance is worth more than a passing glance.

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: One Look
    Artist: The Correspondents
    Album: Foolishman

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    Exclusive: US | UK

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    REVIEW: Like Father, Like Son by Quin Perin

    Like Father, Like Son by Quin Perin

    Surprise, it’s a boy!

    I never wanted to know him.

    Never even suspected his existence. But once I knew, I had to see him. Had to see if it was true.

    He has your eyes, your hair, your dimples.

    Timothee is everything I used to be, full of life, full of joy. He’s also a sassy little sh*t.

    He has me wrapped around his fingers, so damn easily.

    My son? He’s trouble.

    What we share is all kinds of wrong, even if it feels oh so right.

    ***LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON is a forbidden love romance, full of snark and k*nk. Please heed warning at the beginning of the book.

    A read inspired by those inbred dragon whisperers. Like Father, Like Son is a forbidden daddy kink romance where one boy’s daddy was his actual dad.

    Jobbing thief Devon receives a bombshell that he has a 17-year old son named Timothee. Setting out to the next town to meet him, Dev stops at a bar where a very attractive and barely legal young man grabs his interest. They had a hook up that ended with the little shit sneaking away after robbing Dev. Guess what happens when he arrives at his son’s house…

    Flesh and blood connections aside, this pretty much reads like the usual daddy/boy, age gap romance where the younger character is the active pursuer. Dev is the first to admit he’s no father figure. Meanwhile, Tim has no familial sentiments associated with Dev, which removes any major angsting over morality and fuck up-ness of what they’re doing.

    The recently homeless and penniless Tim had no qualms using sex to persuade the initially reluctant Dev to let him stay at his rundown apartment. The manipulative little shit even manage to finagle a non-sexual father/son bonding time. This part was a little bittersweet because it was obvious the young man wanted some fatherly affection and had to resort to tactics just to get it. I liked this part best because it was a what-could-have-been if the two had met under different circumstances. It also showed a softer side to these tough characters.

    The story is from both Dev’s and Tim’s 1st-person POVs. Most of the character development came from Dev’s side. He had to come to terms with having a son who is also his lover, while Tim was quick to get over it, blase even. I’m neutral about these two, they’re both compelling characters, but daddy-kink romance isn’t my cup of tea.

    There were a couple of characters who came in to stir the possessive sides of the two MCs. First is Jason, the son of the mobster to whom Dev owed money. Their high-stakes pool challenge had Dev biting his nails while sassy boy Tim put his ass on the line. Had a laugh at how skillfully Tim could wrap his dad around his little finger. Dev didn’t know what hit him!

    Brandon is Devon’s regular hook-up who came over because the dork was being cagey. Tim was in no way sharing his daddy and proceeded to mark his territory in the most explicit way possible right in front of the competition. After Tim made his point, had another laugh at the part where Brandon tells Dev he’s going to be the best daddy to Tim. Then gives him a wink. Dev’s a daddy, alright.

    No fairy tale endings for our deviant duo. Not much of an ending really, which is to be expected. Because how do you give an HEA for two lovers already bound by flesh and blood? Let them happily carry on, I guess.

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Human
    Artist: Rumgold
    Album: Thicker Than Water

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    REVIEW: The Doctor’s Date by Heidi Cullinan

    Copper Point Medical: The Doctor’s Date – Heidi Cullinan

    Sequel to The Doctor’s Secret
    Copper Point Medical: Book Two

    The hospital’s least eligible bachelor and its aloof administrator hate each other… so why are they pretending to date?

    Dr. Owen Gagnon and HR director Erin Andreas are infamous for their hospital hallway shouting matches. So imagine the town’s surprise when Erin bids an obscene amount of money to win Owen in the hospital bachelor auction—and Owen ups the ante by insisting Erin move in with him. 

    Copper Point may not know what’s going on, but neither do Erin and Owen. Erin intends his gesture to let Owen know he’s interested. Owen, on the other hand, suspects ulterior motives—that Erin wants a fake relationship as a refuge from his overbearing father.

    With Erin suddenly heading a messy internal investigation, Owen wants to step up and be the hero Erin’s never had. Too bad Erin would rather spend his energy trying to rescue Owen from the shadows of a past he doesn’t talk about.

    This relationship may be fake, but the feelings aren’t. Still, what Erin and Owen have won’t last unless they put their respective demons to rest. To do that, they’ll have to do more than work together—they’ll have to trust they can heal each other’s hearts.

    The Doctor’s Date has the kind of intriguing premise that immediately grabs attention. It was almost lost in TBR limbo after my bad experience with Antisocial, my first Heidi Cullinan book. Reading it now, The Doctor’s Date is a mix-bag of feels but definitely, much better than the other book.

    The part that got me hooked is Erin Andreas, HR head and wallflower, spending $25,000 on Dr. Owen Gagnon, anesthesiologist, the world’s grouchiest grump, and his infamous nemesis, in the hospital bachelor auction fundraiser. Then Owen asked Erin to move in with him that very night.

    This has the makings of a very squee-tastic rom-com. But unlike a rom-com where the prose and events are laced with humor, the writing leans towards misery. Many events go from bad to worse for Erin and Owen, then whiplashes to uber romantic comfort scenes designed to soothe the hurts. I don’t mind some angst and drama, but there were too many miserable moments to wade through just to get to the happier parts.

    It’s why I struggled in the opening chapters. Erin’s father, head of the hospital board, was really horrible. He’s a bully who neglects him in private and belittles him in public. The guy is the kind of villain I hate the most, the lawful evil type. He made me drop the book. Owen’s dad was just as horrid, causing serious trauma to his son,. Once a musical prodigy, now Owen couldn’t bear looking at his violin.

    But I kept thinking about the premise and was compelled to pick up where I left off, hoping it would get better.

    It did!

    The bachelor auction has some of the swooniest scenes!!! I hated Owen at first. He was drunk and high and a complete asshole. But the way he swooped in to rescue Erin from his dad! And the way he spectacularly misunderstood Erin’s motive for bidding on him, causing the dork to hatch ridiculous but hella sweet plans to protect the gob-smacked but secretly swooning Erin, it was rom-com gold!

    The running metaphor here is the fairy tale about the poor prince(ss) in the tower, the ogre and the evil king. It’s fitting but a little too on the nose and repeated too often. I love the childhood connection angle in the prologue. I sensed some BL manga influences, and unlike Antisocial, it was deployed better here.

    Owen and Erin as boyfriends is everything!!! It’s their magic that kept me reading because by the third arc, the story slumped. There were the not-so-exciting slice-of-life scenes that took too long reaching key events dealing with the suspected embezzlement of hospital funds, and Owen’s and Erin’s family issues. I got impatient and tuned out.

    By the time it got to the climax, I barely cared about the goings-on. I wished the embezzlement issue was played up more, giving the plot a stronger mystery angle. But it was fun to see Owen, Erin and their friends forming their own Scooby Gang and taking down the bad guys. And the epilogue was too cute!!!

    The Doctor’s Date holds true to its promise to sweep me off my feet with a charming fairy tale. I rooted hard for the poor little prince and squee-ed with delight to discover the ogre’s golden heart. There were monsters to slay and an evil king to vanquish. Sometimes the villains were too much, but the prince and the ogre stayed strong and true. With the help of their friends, they saved the world and lived happily ever after.

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Prince
    Artist: Versailles


    The Doctor’s Date is the second book of Copper Point Medical. It can be read as standalone. I haven’t read Book 1 yet.

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    REVIEW: Unraveling the Threads of Fate by Alice Winters

    Unraveling the Threads of Fate – Alice Winters


    Some people are born lucky.

    Then there’s me, destined to be loved by the man who knows my darkest secret.

    My gift has followed me my entire life—the ability to see the threads of fate. I can see the red thread tying together two people destined to love one another.

    But my gift has another side to it. A darker side.
    I can also see a simple black thread tied to the fingers of those who aren’t aware of it, connecting them to the person destined to kill them. And when I look down at my own finger, I can see the red thread stretched over to Bishop King. The man who is my soul mate.

    But then why is the black thread also wrapped around our fingers?

    Bishop is sweet and caring, and I can’t stop my heart from loving him. I just need to thwart fate before it separates us forever.


    I swore to never let myself be drawn back into Alex’s world, but the man is funny and charming and the moment we’re together I fall back into the familiarity we shared as teenagers.

    I know this time is different; he’s hoping that I can help him walk through his dreams to figure out how an innocent girl is going to die.

    While his dreams tell of the future, mine allow us to find the truth. But what happens when we save a life and change fate–will it affect our own future? I can’t keep myself from falling for Alex, but what if helping him leaves one of us dead?

    Unraveling the Threads of Fate is a standalone romance with action, mystery, humor, and a happy ending.

    I was introduced to the red string of fate via anime. This is a belief that two people meant to be together are linked by a red string tied around their pinkies. So I was ridiculously excited for this Alice Winters standalone novel that features the magical threads.

    Unraveling the Threads of Fate is a story of a high school teacher, Alex, whose gift is the ability to see the red strings. It has a neat little twist wherein he can also see the black strings linking people to those who will kill them. To make Alex’s life even more exciting, a.k.a. hellish, his red string AND black string are attached to the same person, Bishop King, his billionaire high school friend. The man is both a hopeless crush and the last person he wants to see.

    The world-building reminded me of another urban fantasy series by the author, In The Mind, where people have gifts. The writing doesn’t dwell too much on the hows and whys. It’s just a given that some people have gifts. Bishop’s gift is the ability to walk dreams.

    The chapters switch between past and present with brief glimpses of the future. One thing that soon became apparent is that everyone’s got MAJOR daddy issues. Young Alex was manipulated by his drug-dealing father to run drugs. The teen also had to take care of his baby half-sister because his dad couldn’t be bothered. Bishop has his own rich people problems to sort out with his dad.

    The book is humor, mystery and suspense with the romance seamlessly falling into place without too much fanfare. It’s driven by the MCs’ desire to stop the deaths of people close to them with the past events heavily impacting the present.

    As much as I loved the concept, I wasn’t completely blown away. The beginning to about 60% was really riveting! The plot was tight and fast-paced. I loved how Alex and Bishop learned to make their gifts work together, turning from grudging partners to secret superheroes who saved people from untimely demise.

    I’d also like to commend the author for hitting the sweet spot for her trademark humor vs. moving things forward. We got the hilarious snark for snark gags but toned down and short enough that they don’t distract from the plot.

    However, the last 40% sorta meandered and lagged. These are the parts where they had to save more people and settle their daddy issues. It would have been exciting, except I got impatient for the story to wrap up because it’s becoming long drawn out.

    As for the strings, I loved how they were used in the story, especially Alex and Bishop’s connection. They were changing the course of fate by saving people, but were they really?

    Unraveling the Threads of Fate took a deeply romantic concept of soulmates, turned it upside down, and gave something of a Schrödinger dilemma. All in all, a funny, suspenseful, surprisingly gritty tale tying past, present, and future together.

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Red String
    Artist: Aldious
    Album: Dazed and Delight

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    REVIEW: Blood Boss by Davidson King

    Black Veil: Blood Boss – Davidson King

    Vampires, mermaids, and witches…oh, my! Black Veil is full of them all, but at the end of the day, it’s The Blood Boss who has the last word. Ever since The Final War, Vampires rule Black Veil, and with The Blood Boss in charge, peace reigns.

    Keeping the vampires under control is a task Cain takes seriously. Humans have accepted his rule, and anyone who seeks to destroy his territory is given swift punishment. His promise to keep Black Veil safe comes with great sacrifice and selflessness; never does he dare hope for more in life. Until one day, a man walks through his front door and changes everything.

    Jayce has a happy life. His adopted parents love him, he wants for very little, and he lives every day to the fullest. But when a normal evening turns into a nightmare, and Jayce is forced to come face-to-face with The Blood Boss, the world as he knows it feels like a lie.

    Then a great secret is revealed, and nothing is what it seems. Cain and Jayce must work together to stop the forces uniting against the vampires. Life and love are in jeopardy as they fight those who seek to destroy them. Can Cain and Jayce keep Black Veil from crumbling into the sea when every attempt to do so seems impossible?

    Black Veil is an exciting new paranormal series from Davidson King. We best know the author for her contemporary romantic suspense, Haven Hart, and, its spin-off, Joker’s Sin.

    The setting is reminiscent of Haven Hart, taking place in a city ruled by the mysterious Blood Boss. It’s a time after humans nearly destroyed themselves and supernatural creatures stepped in to save Earth. When things settled, vampires were on top of the food chain.

    The vampire lore has little interesting twists that I liked, such as the blood magic and the custom of treating the humans they fed from with reverence instead of livestock. Apart from vampires, there are dragons, creatures of the sea, witches, and perhaps, shifters and whatnot in the future books.

    Jayce is an adopted son of a kind-hearted couple who loved him as their own. He was forced to work off their debt from the Blood Boss after his dad failed to pay. I didn’t warm up to Jayce. He has a temper that tends to flair in inappropriate times. It was supposed to make him feisty, but IMO, but he lacked the charm to pull it off.

    The Blood Boss is Cain, the first vampire. I liked him better. He’s a strict leader, but he’s fair and just. I suspect he’s the biblical Cain since it was mentioned several times that he was accused of killing his brothers.

    Sadly, the romance didn’t work for me. The progression of their relationship wasn’t convincing. And I didn’t feel the chemistry.

    The rest of the book was much more entertaining. It’s a story of a young man who discovered his voice is more powerful than he realized and that his real parents sacrificed so much so that he lives. There were so many things to unpack here, and I was super hyped when secrets were revealed. This was more than just vampire romance! This was cosmic!

    However, sometimes it felt like things were crammed and shortened to fit the required page count. The plot could have benefited from a longer book. The narrative suffered from too much tell versus show.

    But even with these issues, I was fascinated with all the goings-on. Also, this is just the opener, so we can expect some of the juicier threads explored further.

    Blood Boss is the beginnings of an epic urban fantasy series. It’s a story about secrets, sacrifice, power, loyalty, and families lost and found. It might not be perfectly composed but it still hit the right notes to make me look forward to the next piece.

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Blood Sings
    Artist: Suzanne Vega
    Album: 99.9F

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    REVIEW: Real Risk by Elle Keaton

    West Coast Forensics: Real Risk – Elle Keaton

    It’s possible they’re a match but first the two men will have to survive trial by fire.

    Chief Flynn is fighting smoke and flames, tirelessly protecting the lives and property of his fellow islanders from yet another spate of fires.

    Arson or accident?

    When injury puts him on the sidelines, West Coast Forensics Arson Investigator Kimball Frye offers his assistance. Frye is The Most Irritating Man in the World, a condescending know-it-all who rubs Devon the wrong way.

    Or does he?

    Decades ago an arsonist stole his family from him since then Frye has devoted his life to putting them behind bars. At forty-nine, he doesn’t believe in permanent relationships, instead preferring the company of interchangeable younger men.

    Is the arsonist trying to shift the blame onto Devon, or trying to kill him? If it’s the latter it just might work.

    Feeling the pull of attraction to Devon as the firebug grows bolder is inconvenient. Will Kimball listen to his heart or his head? The younger men he’s always preferred are nothing like the solid, stalwart Fire Chief.

    Real Risk is the third in the West Coast Forensics series and can be read as a standalone but may be enjoyed more if you read the Real Trouble and Real Danger first. It is dual POV following Devon Flynn and Kimball Frye as they bicker and fumble their way to their happily ever after.

    After a rather disappointing visit in Book 2, I’ve yet to give up on Piedras Island. We’re back for another stay with Real Risk, the 3rd installment of West Coast Forensics, a series following the private detectives of the firm as they solve crime and find their persons in the little island town.

    My interest was greatly piqued by the case because most mystery novels are about murders, and this one’s about arson. It stars overworked fire chief Devon Flynn and Kimball Frye, the co-owner of WCF. I’ve met these two characters in several of the author’s works, and I’m pleasantly surprise, she paired them.

    Devon is an island native who practically raised his younger sister, Birdy, now the sheriff’s deputy. The siblings are half Lummi. Kimball is a former ATF agent who established WCF with his friend, Leo. His specialty is arson investigations. He tends to date men half his age, something his friends and Devon loves to point out. The two sorta frenemies were forced to work together to solve a series of fires popping all over Piedras.

    There is an enemies-to-lovers, sunshine/grumpy dynamics here. One nice little twist is that the younger man, 40-year-old Devon, is the grumpy one, while 49-year-old Kimball is the sunshiny high-handed one. I wasn’t too keen on how Devon seems to go out of his way to point out Kimball likes to date twinks. I felt he sounded too bitter, sour grape-y, and nosy. Who Kimball dates is none of his business.

    That aside, the romance was wonderfully slow-burn. Devon and Kimball’s chemistry worked fabulously! I loved that they are two mature men set in ways who found their equal. Two guys declaring they’re not into relationships finding the other worthy enough to try. I want to see more of them in future books. And more mature couples, please. I’m tired of men over 40 always pigeon-holed in age-gap romances.

    But I was really more interested in the case. I always found the WCF investigations fun because they take us around Piedras Island. The island is part of the real-life San Juan archipelago in the Pacific Northwest.

    The mystery itself had no big surprises because the bad guys are a given. I would have also preferred a more nitty gritty approach to the investigation. The case was suddenly solved just like that. Also, Devon’s plan was too hare brain a scheme to actually work.

    Although, I liked how this case connects to the events in the previous books. They even go way back to those in the Veiled Intentions series and Elle Keaton‘s other books. So it’s best to read WCF books in order for maximum enjoyment.

    Even with the less than solid mystery, Real Risk is an enjoyable addition to WCF. I love tagging along with the detectives, feeling the pulse of small-town life that’s so different yet similar to my small town, catching up with old characters, and meeting new ones. Characters who feel like old friends you always want to stay in touch with. These are why I always go back to Piedras Island.

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Fire In The Horizon
    Artist: Stick Figure
    Album: Set In Stone

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