• book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Real Trouble by Elle Keaton

    55775218. sy475

    West Coast Forensics: Real Trouble – Elle Keaton

    Two men on opposite sides of the law: will they be able to set aside their differences and trust love?

    Danylo Peters has issues, lots of them. He’s not on Piedras Island by accident, he’s not a nice guy, and Peters isn’t his real name. Dany’s in hiding, trying to escape his family’s influence and start a new life. But Dany must have been born under a bad sign because the very man he’s really running from is one of the first he runs into.

    A new life in a new town seemed like the right decision for Soren Jorgensen, especially after a difficult case left him recovering from a gunshot wound and lonely as he’d ever been. Finding Dany living on Piedras brings back all the feelings he’d tried to lock away. He’s angry and bitter and Dany is not going to continue to get away with his old tricks. Too bad Dany is just as compelling as he ever was.

    The two men find themselves on opposite sides of Soren’s first case on Piedras, but neither is able to deny the attraction between them. They keep finding themselves in compromising situations; if they’re found out there will be Real Trouble.

    Real Trouble is set in the Veiled Intentions world, while familiar characters appear Real Trouble can be read as a standalone. Real Trouble is a dual POV following Soren Jorgensen and Danylo Peters as they fight their way to their HEA and is the first in the new West Coast Forensics series.


    I love how Elle Keaton keeps bringing us back to Piedras Island, part of the real life San Juan archipelago in Washington. The first time I’ve known this place in Veiled Intentions was through the rather grim eyes of Niall Hamarsson, It felt like such a bleak place then. It slowly revealed to be a charming vacation town the longer Niall hung around his now husband, Sheriff Mat Dempsey.

    This summer hotspot is not without its darker side. Yet another local was found murdered. With the newly married sheriff and his private detective husband away on their honeymoon, it’s up to the new deputy, Soren Jorgensen and island native, Deputy Birdy Flynn to solve this case.

    They also had to investigate the fire that damaged a landmark hotel. To Soren’s shock, he saw the last person he expected to see working as the hotel’s new chef. His ex, Danylo Petyr a.k.a. Dany Peters. Suspect in the fire incident and member of a notorious crime family.

    Dany’s history is tied to events in the other books. In an effort to leave his sordid past behind, he moved to the island under an assumed name. He’s now a hardworking, talented chef. Still as headstrong, troublesome and goddamn alluring as Soren remembered.

    The deputy is a stoic, taciturn, gentle giant Dany likes to poke and provoke. The two were sorta together some years back. Dany disappeared after Soren was shot by Dany’s cousin. As their paths crossed again, they found the flames still burned hot even with the old hurts, the anger and the bitterness.

    They might not be favorites or that memorable, I still found Soren and Dany likable, individually and as a couple. Their relationship development might not be that strongly established given that they had more page time apart than together. And they weren’t really communicating properly. However, their shared past already gave them an insta-connection. That, plus the swirling mix of intense emotions that drew them together convinced me that these two were meant for each other.

    A huge chunk of the story is devoted to the case. This is the type of mystery where I don’t particularly care who had done it, I just liked tagging along with the detectives because the author made it enjoyable to do so. The investigation took me around Piedras. The setting was familiar and comfortable yet still offered new avenues to explore.

    This opener has the same vibe as its sister series. It’s written in a straight forward style that kept the plot constantly moving. I really liked that even without the flash and bang, the book was consistently engaging. It’s filled with characters that felt like old friends and new ones I want to know better.

    Fans of the author’s other series, Accidental Roots would recognize Soren and Danylo immediately. I haven’t read that series yet but I had no problems following their backstories. Although, I do think some readers might feel like they’re dropped in the middle of a story because of the many established characters and some references to events in the author’s previous works. I recommend starting with Veiled Intentions first.

    Real Trouble did a great job as a police procedural. It has a second chance romance that’s good enough for me to root for. It’s also an engrossing story about small town camaraderie, family ties, building friendships, honesty, setting new roots and becoming a better person. All in all, it’s worth the trip.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Trouble
    Artist: Cage The Elephant
    Album: Tell Me I’m Pretty

    P.S.

    Witness how an antisocial ex-cop found heart and home in arms of the good sheriff of Piedras in Veiled Intentions. Check out my reviews: Conspiracy Theory, Long Shadow and Black Moon.


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Real Trouble. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

      US |  UK

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Acsquidentally In Love by K.L. Hiers

    55021708. sy475

    Sucker For Love Mysteries: Acsquidentally In Love – K.L. Hiers

    Nothing brings two men—or one man and an ancient god—together like revenge.

    Private investigator Sloane sacrificed his career in law enforcement in pursuit of his parents’ murderer. Like them, he is a follower of long-forgotten gods, practicing their magic and offering them his prayers… not that he’s ever gotten a response.

    Until now.

    Azaethoth the Lesser might be the patron of thieves and tricksters, but he takes care of his followers. He’s come to earth to avenge the killing of one of his favorites, and maybe charm the pants off the cute detective Fate has placed in his path. If he has his way, they’ll do much more than bring a killer to justice. In fact, he’s sure he’s found the man he’ll spend his immortal life with.

    Sloane’s resolve is crumbling under Azaethoth’s surprising sweetness, and the tentacles he sometimes glimpses escaping the god’s mortal form set his imagination alight. But their investigation gets stranger and deadlier with every turn. To survive, they’ll need a little faith… and a lot of mystical firepower.


    A super fun take on the Lovecraftian mythos featuring TENTACLES!

    Acsquidentally In Love is the opener of A Sucker For Love Mystery, a series about hapless humans trying to solve mysteries while stumbling upon (and dating) elder gods along the way.

    Our boy Sloane is a grieving son who witnessed his parents being stabbed to death in a ritual gone wrong 19 years ago. Since then, he dedicated his life trying to find the hooded man who killed them. Well-meaning friends set him up on a date. The man, Lochrain, failed to show.

    The one who showed up was Azaethoth the Lesser a.k.a. Loch, inhabiting the body of the murdered Lochrain and vowing to avenge his favorite worshipper. God and detective set out to find the killer. The god also wasted no time claiming the detective as his mate. Sloane quickly discovered the joys of Loch’s various wiggly parts. So glad our boy could finally catch a break.

    LOVE Loch! He can be a cheesy dork at times but I adored the way he adores Sloane. This trickster god was a whirlwind who swept our boy off his feet since day one and hasn’t stopped showering his mate with affection ever since. Mischievous and sneaky as expected of the patron of thieves but also surprisingly benevolent towards his followers. He never hesitates to comfort distraught humans when he knows they needed it. He also likes making children smile.

    The story is set in a paranormal universe of where most elder gods are asleep and have been rendered irrelevant. A dominant religion has taken over. Sloane and his parents are followers of the old ways. Like all followers of the ancient gods, Sloane is blessed with a gift. His power is starlight. Loch fondly calls him his Starkiller.

    The mystery ties in both old and new cases. I already expected that but I don’t mind the predictability. I was having a lot of fun. While the story touches upon revenge, death, grief, religion and afterlife, it doesn’t dwell on the heavy feels. It kept the tone consistently humorous and upbeat, breezing through the world-building and the plot, stopping only for some steamy tentacular shenanigans.

    This is the only book I could read during my hiatus. It’s a great book to read during troubled times because it’s light, fluffy, fast-paced, low-angst and funny. I don’t have to think too much about anything. At the same time, the story still has enough substance to keep it from being completely mindless.

    Personally, I think the Lovecraftian mythos is fascinating but the stories themselves are somewhat dull affairs. Acsquidentally In Love gives us an effervescent version complete with a lovable eldritch god and a sweet romance that makes you go aaw. If tentacles are your appendage of choice, this one will have you squirming with delight. If you are curious about the trope and want to see how it’s done, this is a good place as any to get in touch with those extra limbs.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Starlight
    Artist: Jai Wolf feat. Mr Gabriel
    Album: The Cure To Loneliness


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Acsquidentally In Love. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

     US |  UK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    US | UK

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Love Is A Stranger by John Wiltshire

    56156325. sx318

    More Heat Than The Sun: Love Is A Stranger – John Wiltshire

    Ex-SAS soldier Ben Rider falls in love with his enigmatic married boss Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen, but Nikolas is living a lie. A lie so profound that when the shadows are lifted, Ben realises he’s in love with a very dangerous stranger. Ben has to choose between Nikolas and safety, but sometimes danger comes in a very seductive package. 


    Note: long post so you can skip to the last paragraph for the TL,DR version if you want

    Love Is A Stranger is built on layers upon layers of secrets, with just enough hints of the dark and dangerous to keep you on the edge, all wrapped up in old world suave and sophistication that charms and seduces. Very Much like Nikolas Mikkelsen.

    The story is told in Ben Rider’s POV. He’s involved with the married Nikolas. The story drops you right smack in the middle of their affair. They worked in what I gather is some government department handling sensitive missions. Basically, they’re secret agents.

    Nikolas is married for 10 years to a high-ranking lady in the royal family. Now, this part initially put me off this series. Cheating is a deal-breaker for me. But I’ve seen some glowing reviews and I was very curious to see how the author would make their relationship work. Quite spectacularly as it turned out.

    At first, it would seem Nikolas has all the power. Older, richer, cold and aloof, yet very charismatic. Also, the boss. It was pretty obvious that Ben was in awe of the man. As the story progressed, we see the gradual shift in dynamics as Ben work his way through the chinks in Nikolas’ armor.

    This could have been a serious, heavy book but the bright spots of dry humor really gave the story the levity it needed to keep the weight off. Usually this is when Ben is calling Nikolas out on his shit. I loved it when Ben is being very irreverent with the older man. Not only is it really funny but it also makes Nikolas less cold figure on a pedestal, more warm-blooded person.

    While this is a very Nikolas book, Ben’s character is just as complex. Blessed with model perfect looks, he had no qualms using it to get the job done. I really liked that he thinks of his looks as just another tool. He’s good at his job and doesn’t hesitate to maim, torture and/or kill to get what he wants. He also has a bratty side that loves to annoy his older lover. And boy, does he like to eat. We get Ben’s backstory but the latter parts teased us with more reveals in the future.

    My favorite part about Ben, apart from his super snarky attitude, is his sheer determination to love Nikolas in any way he can have him.

    “If this is love for you, then you are in love with a ghost, with the illusion of a man. Is that enough for you?”

    “Would you let me have that? If you do, then I will find the man. I’ll breathe life back into the ghost.”

    Ben and Nikolas are two beautiful, dysfunctional people that started their relationship backwards. They now had to figure out how to do it for real. Their chemistry sizzled right from page 1 and continued to set off smoke alarms with the way they played off each other throughout the book. Sometimes ridiculous, frequently fucked up, these two really deserved each other.

    The plot has, initially, a slice of life-ish feel to it. Generally, a book would cover one major mission. This one had Ben tackling a few missions during the course of the story, especially at the first half where the plot had things happening before establishing the set up. It was almost a spy procedural in a way.

    These parts had some very shocking revelations! Without giving too much away, it pave the way for the two men to really begin their relationship. The next portions admittedly meandered just like the two meandered through their days. This could be considered the honeymoon phase. Sadly, this saggy middle made me put the book on hold for a while.

    The story picked up at the third arc. That is when it took a much darker turn when Nikolas’s past caught up to him. The plot already covered some disturbing elements early on but this time it was way worse. That the man has a troubled past has been hinted from the start but I never realized how very troubled it really is. From the unspeakable abuses that began in his childhood to his career in shadow agencies, Nikolas is a man who lives a lie within a lie.

    Love Is Stranger is a riveting spy thriller and the beginnings of an epic love story. It does a good job setting up the succeeding books. The first parts could be struggle to go through. The character and story development doesn’t happened until much later on. But stick around for the twisty turny plot, the witty dialogue, the crazy awesome chemistry, and, most especially, when the layers start peeling off one by one.

    P.S.

    Open-ended conclusion but most of the books are out so you won’t have trouble bingeing.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Stranger
    Artist: Covey
    Album;


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Love Is A Stranger. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    US: Kindle | Audiobook
    UK: Kindle | Audiobook

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    LOVE IS A STRANGER: US |UK

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Bad Behavior Books 5 & 5.5 by L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Note: another long post so you can skip to the end for the tl:dr version if you want. looks like this is turning out to be a series review month

    Bad Behavior was one of the best series I’ve read back in 2018. This gritty, partners to lovers, police procedural cemented L.A. Witt and Cari Z‘s status as one of the best writing duos for me. Just when I thought Andreas and Darren’s story was over, we get another awesome installment and a floofy floof short story.

    This is a review of Books 5 and 5.5.


    52703097. sy475

    Bad Behavior: Protective Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Detective Mark Thibedeau is perfectly happy doing his job in Internal Affairs and going home to his cat. Still, when his assistant wants to set him up on a blind date, he can’t help but be intrigued.

    Dr. Ryan Campbell loves the frenetic pace of working in an emergency department. He likes his life and doesn’t need anyone. But that guy his colleague wants him to meet does sound pretty interesting.

    It’s instant chemistry when they meet—and instant chaos.

    That chaos isn’t just phone calls interrupting dates. When a patient comes into the ED rapidly bleeding out from a gunshot wound, Ryan suddenly finds himself in possession of evidence that could very well put two white cops in jail for killing an innocent black man in cold blood.

    Not sure what else to do, Ryan takes the evidence to the only cop he can trust—Mark.

    Now Mark is investigating a delicate case, and Ryan is a material witness, and putting their fledgling relationship on hold is the least of their problems. Dirty cops stalk Ryan and his colleagues. Higher-ups question Mark’s investigative integrity at every turn. Worse, he’s tugging at threads of a citywide systemic problem of cops getting away with racially motivated murder.

    And there are cops with blood on their hands who will gladly kill to keep that system running.

    CW: Racially motivated violence, white-cop-on-black civilian violence

    This book is #5 in the Bad Behavior series, but can be read as a standalone.


    I read in L.A. Witt‘s post somewhere that Protective Behavior began as series narrator Michael Ferraiuolo‘s suggestion. This book was a pleasant surprise. It’s a story I didn’t realize I wanted because I didn’t really pay that much attention to IA Detective Mark Thibedeau. After learning of its existence, I was like, oh yeah, about time we have a book about Internal Affairs cops.

    We first met Mark in Book 1, Risky Behavior, as the IA detective who thought Andreas was a dirty cop. He and Andreas were both grumpy assholes who butt heads all the time. Andreas’ daughter Erin later worked as Mark’s assistant. She wrangled him into a blind date with a doctor friend, Ryan.

    Mark and Ryan are two very busy men who had no lives outside work. They immediately hit it off but barely got around to their second date, let alone some smexy times, due to ongoing investigations and medical emergencies. They tried. Boy, they really tried but the call of duty always had impeccable bad timing.

    I felt their initial meeting was, deliberately, a conventional blind date, perhaps as a reminder that they were really just ordinary people cockblocked by extraordinary circumstances.

    Some time after they began dating, Mark found himself investigating a suspected murder of a black man by white cops. The more Mark uncovers, the more he realized this could very well be a systemic problem.

    The case was brought to his attention by Ryan. The doctor was the one who attended the victim. The man handed him a recording of the incident as he lay dying . This makes Ryan a witness and thus off limits for any romantic endeavors. It also made him a target of the psycho cops who were looking to get rid of evidence.

    I might have initially overlooked him before but the authors did a good job making Mark a likable character here. He’s not a flash and bang guy. He’s more of a solid, dependable, dogged determination gets the job done kind of guy. He goes home to a spoiled cat. A dead giveaway that this hardened detective is really a softie.

    Ryan’s more of the same, albeit more playful and flirty. Right away, they understood the kind of high stress, demanding job the other man had. They made their relationship work despite those hurdles. I liked that they were kind of low-key compared to the flashier Andreas and Darren because it feels right to their story. I also appreciated that they were both in their 40s and this is not an age-gap romance.

    The story is first and foremost, a police procedural. I really enjoyed this because it’s my first time to read a book that focuses on Internal Affairs. IA investigations are trickier than normal cases. Cops don’t snitch on other cops. Especially their partners.

    The plot was well-written. It was easy to follow but still giving plenty of twists and turns that kept me at the edge of my seat. Any police procedural aficionado would love all the nitty gritty investigative stuff.

    This is a very timely book that reflects real life events, specifically racism and Black Lives Matter. These issues were handled well. I read one review that says the story tries too hard to make a point. I did find some parts repetitive but not preachy.. All in all, gripping and relevant .

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bit

    Soundtrack: Matter
    Artist: For King & Country
    Album: Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.


    52899660. sy475

    Bad Behavior: Cuddly Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Detective Andreas Ruffner is less than thrilled when his husband and partner, Detective Darren Corliss, announces they’ll be cat-sitting for a couple of weeks. He’s even less pleased when he realizes the cat in question is a large grumpy thing with razor-sharp claws and no regard for personal space.

    When Darren deploys the puppy dog eyes, though, Andreas is powerless to say no, so they’re on kitty detail… and despite his best efforts, Andreas is a sucker for the critter shedding all over his apartment and stealing his husband’s affection.

    It’s only for two weeks. Plenty of time for the cat to get on his nerves, but not nearly enough for her to trick him into falling in love with her. Right?

    This 15,000 word short story is Bad Behavior book 6, and is best read after Protective Behavior. 


    So I mentioned above that Mark goes home to his cat. The cat is Harley, a giant hairy ball of fluff with no regard for personal space. She jumped on an injured Mark and opened his stitches. So she was sent to live with Andreas and Darren for a couple of weeks while Mark recovers.

    This short story is full of adorable cat antics and besotted humans. It is a demonstration of how cats can win over even the most anti-cat person. Witness grizzled detective Andreas being trained by the cunning Harley to become her personal seat cushion, much to the delight of his husband, Darren. Photographic evidence was promptly obtained for posterity.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bit

    Soundtrack: Cuddles
    Artist: The Tired Flames
    Album: Cuddles


    Michael Ferraiuolo was right on the money when he suggested Mark’s book. Protective Behavior certainly added another dimension to the series by giving us a peek at the inner workings of the Internal Affairs Department. It is a solid police procedural tackling real life issues with a gentle, low-steam romance that goes perfectly well with the story’s vibe. Cuddly Behavior is the squishy cherry on top, a veritable catnip to all cat lovers.

    Protective Behavior can be read as a standalone but why stop at one? Experience all the different ways to misbehave in the first four Bad Behavior books: Risky Behavior, Suspicious Behavior, Reckless Behavior and Romatic Behavior.


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Protective Behavior and Cuddly Behavior. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    Protective Behavior: US | UK
    Cuddly Behavior: US | UK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    Protective Behavior


    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Lords Of Discord Books 3 & 4 by Jocelynn Drake

    Note: long post so you can skip to the end for the tl:dr version if you wamt

    Lords of Discord is Jocelynn Drake‘s fabulous take on vampire lore with the most lovable brothers to ever be changed into creatures of the night.

    The Varik brothers, Marcus, twins Rafe and Bel, and Winter became vampires to protect the world and their mother from herself. Julianna Varik was changed by their adopted father, Aidan, because she was ill. Madness overtook her right after that. She can only be calmed by music. Each Varik brother plays a musical instrument. They each have their own unique powers as well.

    The author’s version of vampires is typical of what we know with the addition of special powers. However, she made them stand out by making them very human. The vampires here get tired. They get dark circles under their eyes. There’s not much focus on hypersensitive senses and barely any mention of enhanced physical abilities.

    Normally, authors tend to give descriptions of physical perfection. super strength, super speed, super smells, etc. I don’t think Jocelynn Drake‘s style is necessarily bad, just different from how others do it. I think it’s why this aspect of the writing made an impression on me.

    The series is set in a world where vampires lived secretly among humans. They are ruled by the council. So far Marcus, their serious eldest brother, had done what he could to keep the Variks out of vampire politics. However, trouble always had a way of finding them. The upside to all of these was that he found his mate in the sunshiny Ethan.

    Rafe, the pleasure-loving provocateur, found himself on a hunt for a killer with the leader of the Arsenault clan, Philippe. The French vampire saw there’s more to Rafe than the hedonistic side he shows to the the world. Unfortunately, the rest of the vampire world, the council in particular, saw their union as more of the Variks gathering strength for a takeover

    And we’re on to the youngest Variks.


    53472987. sy475

    Lords Of Discord: Waking Bel – Jocelynn Drake

    Beltran Varik believes in science.

    It holds all the answers he seeks.

    Except for one.

    How in the world did he end up falling in love with two werewolves?

    Of course, there was no way science could account for the beauty, warmth, and mind-blowing sexiness of Wyatt and River.

    The two shifters are outcasts from their own kind and must seek the protection of a vampire.

    Bel might take them in out of a need to keep them safe, but his feelings for them grow into something so much deeper.

    Unfortunately, Bel might have to choose between his wolves and his family as a fight brews with the local werewolf pack and the Variks face a darker threat from the Ministry.

    Waking Bel is the third book in the Lords of Discord paranormal romance series. This book is an MMM and contains vampires, werewolves, nosy brothers, music, science!, Ozzie the raven, so many first times, hope, dirty talk, and a love that will never end.


    Right off the bat, I had a good feeling about Bel’s book. He is my favorite Varik. I was over the moon when I heard he’s going to get not only one but two werewolf mates!

    And OMG!!! This is the most perfectly choreographed threesome dynamics there is! I think the author outdid herself with how well Bel, Wyatt and River played off each other. Wyatt and River were already a couple and the way Bel just naturally fell into place in their relationship, there was never any doubt that Bel was theirs and they were Bel’s.

    Winter is technically the youngest but I’ve always thought of Bel as the baby of the family.. Probably because he seemed so fluffy and wholesome. Our sweet Bel is the mad scientist. His power is communicating with animals. He’s a mild-mannered guy whose life was wholly dedicated to his family and his experiments.

    He’s also the most over-protective and the most dangerous. This is the man who invented a weapon that can reduce living creatures into a puddle of goo. It’s so deadly, he was banned by the council from ever making it again.

    Wyatt and River are werewolves who were exiled from their pack for being gay. The shifters here are a bunch of homophobes who don’t approve of same-sex relationships because they don’t lead to procreation. This is probably my least favorite version of shifters.

    Wyatt is more of the strong, silent type alpha and River is summer and sunshine. I loved these two! All the Varik mates are awesome in their own way but I think these two are the best thing to happened to the Variks in general. Not only did they give them shifter allies, their presence gave Bel’s story a lot of soul.

    Unlike the vampires, werewolves are tactile and very affectionate and their warmth and care really resonated throughout the book. They also made the succeeding book more fun. So very apt title because Bel truly came alive with Wyatt and River.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Wake Me
    Artist: Message To Bears
    Album: Folding Leaves


    54506971. sy475

    Lords Of Discord: Embracing Winter – Jocelynn Drake

    Winter Varik believes in only one thing—protecting his family.Even from himself.

    For nearly 200 years, he’s kept a dangerous secret from his brothers.

    But Winter might have found his salvation in the form of a sexy witch named Fox.

    Too bad this same witch was named in a prophecy foretelling the destruction of the Variks.

    In a race to uncover the truth behind the prophecy and take down a vampire determined to kill all the Variks, Winter may have to choose between finally having his heart’s desire and the family he loves.

    Embracing Winteris the fourth book in the Lords of Discord paranormal romance series. This book contains vampires, werewolves, witches, nosy brothers, music, lots of rope, sass, hope, dirty talk, redemption, and a love that will never end. And did I mention rope? Lots of rope.


    I was as eager for Winter’s book as Bel’s. The youngest Varik is the most mysterious. Even his brother’s don’t know what he can really do.

    I didn’t quite have a grasp of his personality in the previous books so I was surprised to learn that Wee Varik is a grumpy, grumpy bastard. I guess being the family spy and assassin doesn’t really leave much room for good cheer. Especially not one burdened with a secret such as his. The only other person who knows about this is their father, Aidan. Let’s just say, Winter’s world is very noisy. All he ever wanted is some peace and quiet.

    This is why Fox is a great foil for him. The witch is super sassy and assertive, the type who talks a lot when nervous. Winter was supposed to kill him because he was the witch who will destroy the Variks, according to a prophesy. One look at the redhead and Winter had the sudden urge to protect him. Turns out, Fox was the gift he never realized he could have.

    I didn’t warm up to Fox immediately. I found him a bit pushy at first. But later on, when more of Winter’s centuries-long struggle was revealed, I was glad Fox held on until the vampire’s walls came down. And that’s when we really see Winter the man.

    I do think their dynamics is somewhat similar to Marcus and Ethan’s. The story was also longer than it really is. A lot of it spent cooped up in Winter’s house. I understand it was a way of letting the relationship develop slowly while also taking place in a matter of days. But I couldn’t help feeling things could have been resolved faster. The pacing picked up when the rest of the Variks became more involved.

    All the Variks and their friends rallying to put an end to the bad guys gave this book one heck of a conclusion!. If the series ended at this point, I would have been already satisfied. Happily, there’s more because Aidan gets some love too!

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Silence
    Artist: Before You Exit
    Album: 001_love


    The two youngest Variks certainly had the most delicious tales to tell. Bel’s awakening is a threesome surprise delivered in the most delightful way. Winter’s story might have gone about things a bit too slow at some parts, but Wee Varik living his dream in the arms of a witch and the thrilling mega-boss fight are definitely worth sticking around for.

    Lords of Discord should be read in order because you meet one Varik, you’ll love ’em all. Start with how a feisty human charmed the big bad vampire with food and some Tori Amos in Claiming Marcus. Witness how the self-proclaimed purveyor of fleshy delights met his match in one angelic vampire in Saving Rafe.


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Lords Of Discord. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    Lords Of Discord: US | UK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    Claiming Marcus | Saving Rafe | Waking Bel
    Embracing Winter | Healing Aiden


    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Witchbane Books 4 & 5 by Morgan Brice

    Witchbane is a series that started off as a disappointment but became better and better with each new installment. The main thing that kept me hanging on was that I really liked the paranormal world Morgan Brice created. This series is part of her shared Morgan Brice/Gail Z. Martin world that includes Badlands, Deadly Curiosities, Treasure Trail, and other series.

    Witchbane is about an ongoing witchhunt for disciples of th evil warlock, Ryfel Gremory, who was killed by the sheriff and his men hundreds of years ago. As revenge and to keep themselves immortal, the disciples sacrifice the first born son of the men who killed their master every 12 years.

    Seth would have been another victim had his brother, Jesse, not been mistaken as him and murdered. Vowing to avenge his brother, he made it his mission to track down the disciples.

    Evan was one of the intended victims but Seth was able to save him. After initial distrust, the two quickly became partners in more ways than one.

    This is a review of Books 4 and 5. I haven’t read book 2, Burn.


    50909795. sx318 sy475

    Witchbane: Flame and Ash – Morgan Brice

    The third novel in the Witchbane series.

    One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse

    Seth rescued Evan Malone from one of the witches, and they’ve fallen in love despite the danger and chaos, going on the road to complete the quest and bring an end to the ritual murders. Their relationship is new, their emotions are raw, and the danger is real. It’s a challenge to find their way as a couple while they’re on the road together in the close quarters of Seth’s RV, training in magic and combat skills to fight off a supernatural killer.

    In pursuit of the next witch-disciple, Seth and Evan team up with older hunters Milo and Toby as their quest to stop a century-long killing spree takes them to a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They’re ahead of the sacrifice cycle, with plans to stop the murders and kill the dark witch. Only this time, the hunters become the hunted when the witch knows they’re coming to get him, and has deadly plans of his own. When their lives are on the line, will love be enough?

    Flame and Ash contains sexually explicit content intended for adults 18 and over.


    Flame and Ash is meeting Seth’s family and Evan coming into his own.

    The story started with something as close to normalcy two witch-hunting boyfriends can get, which is meet the parents. Seth brings Evan to meet his mentors/foster dads, Toby and Milo. These two grizzled hunters took Seth under their wing when he was just starting on his mission. I’ve heard so much about them so I’m happy they finally made their appearance.

    I loved this two oldsters always grousing about each other with so much affection. They give the boys hope that there’s a happier future together after their very dangerous and seemingly endless mission.

    When I first met him, I thought Evan was too much of a TSTL character. Distrustful of Seth who saved him, too trusting of appearances and not much good in a fight. But he has grown by leaps and bounds with every book. Here, it was up to him to save Seth when his boyfriend was hexed by a henchman of the witch they’re hunting. If I had any lingering doubts about Evan, well, our boy proved his mettle.

    The book takes us to a very weird museum that was inspired a real life one. There’s also the very real Road To Nowhere. I enjoyed the creepy artifacts. All of these were worked brilliantly into the story, amping the suspense and adding to the chills and thrills the series is known for.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Up In Flames
    Artist: Ruelle
    Album: Up In Flames


    51028930. sy475

    Witchbane: Unholy – Morgan Brice

    A cycle of ritual murders. A coven of dark warlocks, drawing their immortality from the magic of their dead master. Two men sworn to stop the deaths, destroy the warlocks, and avenge the victims. Except this time, the killer flips the script.

    Seth Tanner swore vengeance on the dark witches who killed his brother, Jesse. He rescued Evan Malone from one of the witches, and they’ve fallen in love despite the danger and chaos, going on the road to complete the quest and bring an end to the ritual murders. Their relationship is still new, tested at every turn by danger and magic.

    Seth and Evan head to Charleston to stop the next warlock and save his intended victim. But this time, they’re too late. The warlock has already powered up, and he’s determined to destroy the two hunters one way or another. A deadly curse on Seth and Evan means time is running out. Can they find a way to turn the tables, or is Charleston their final destination?

    Unholy is an urban fantasy MM paranormal romance with plenty of supernatural suspense, hurt/comfort, hot sex, found family, dark magic, and paranormal thrills. It is part of a series but can be read as a standalone and features an evolving, established romantic relationship with all the feels. Intended for readers 18 years of age and older.


    Unholy gave Seth and Evan more friends. Also, they were cursed with blue balls.

    Witchhunting is a lonely business. Most of the time, it’s long hours on the road just the two of them. Many of the ‘cameos’ from characters of other books were either though mentions by name or communication through email or phone. Here, we meet some of these people.

    Their latest target took Seth and Evan to Charleston. Readers of Deadly Curiousity will recognize the place as home to Cassidy, Teag and their friends. They have been helping the boys indirectly for a long time now so I’m very glad to see them finally interacting face to face. I loved how they all rallied to Seth and Evan’s aid.

    The boys also learned something about the warlock that changed their perspectives. I think it was a great twist to what would otherwise be the same old pattern of roadtrips and hunting.

    All the books have a lot of action/suspense in them but this book felt more dynamic than the rest. Maybe it’s because there are more characters involved. It also had two climactic scenes that were executed brilliantly. The author was able to give each MC their moment to shine without one overshadowing the other.

    Not only was this aspect of the story pulled off skillfully, the romance was so damn good! When a relationship is going well, it is common for authors to deploy the separation. Morgan Brice did just that. It was how she did it that made it extra excruciating for the boys. Evil. I loved it!

    Seth and Evan were cursed by a touch-me-not spell. This means that they cannot touch each other or else they will eventually kill one another.

    Now this curse might not be exactly new, but it’s very effective. You can feel the longing, the sheer torture of not being able to touch your lover when he’s so close, that pang of sadness at seeing others casually shaking his hand when you can’t. All the feels leaping off the page! And the boys had tensions aplenty so they had to get creative.

    All in all their Charleston experience shake things up for our boys. I consider this the best book so far.

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Together
    Artist: Arula
    Album: We Belong


    From the too insta-love beginning that favored steam to substance and world-building to well-written, well-rounded sequels that completely won me over, Witchbane has certainly come a long way. You can definitely see how everything, from the characters, to the plot, to the writing, improved the further we get into the series.

    The paranormal elements has always been its strongest suit and it always worked beautifully with the plot. I liked the idea of rote magic, the kind of magic that you can learn through practice. Normally, I’m all about high-level spells but I think it’s just right that Seth and Evan can only do simple spells. After all, they were just ordinary joes who were suddenly thrust into the world of the supernatural.

    Lastly, Seth and Evan takes readers on a road trip all over the US. I am not a fan of road trips in books but they made it enjoyable. I’ve always wanted to tour places mentioned in books. Like how anime fans make pilgrimages to sites shown in anime. The supernatural element coupled with the various unusual points of interest the author included in the stories makes Witchbane a good source of bookish places to visit. Places that might even have a real witch or two.

    P.S.

    To get the most out the experience, Witchbane is best read in order. Check out Seth and Evan’s wonky beginnings in Book 1, Witchbane (review here). And watch them hit their stride in Book 3, Dark Rivers (review here).


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Flame and Ash and Unholy. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    Flame and Ash US | UK
    Unholy: US | UK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    FLAME AND ASH: US | UK
    UNHOLY: US | UK

    If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Black Moon by Elle Keaton

    57042699. sy475

    Veiled Intentions: Black Moon – Elle Keaton

    One corpse, two corpse, old corpse, new corpse.

    Summer is crashing into fall, Mat and Niall have a wedding to overthink.

    A body is discovered floating in the harbor and this time it’s the missing ex-Piedras Marine officer Duane Cooper.

    Who, aside from Niall, wanted Duane dead? He’s been on the run for months, why would he turn up dead now?

    Black Moon, third in the Veiled Intentions series, Black Moon is a dual POV following Sheriff Mat Dempsey and now Private Investigator Niall Hamarsson as they grope their way to a happily ever after.


    Black Moon is the third book in the Veiled Intentions (formerly Hamarsson & Dempsey) series. Hopefully not the last. It follows directly from the awkward and very Niall proposal from the second book, Long Shadow.

    The series is set in a small island of Piedras, part of the real life San Juan Islands in Washington. Island natives Niall Hamarrson and Sheriff Mat Dempsey both grew up in the island, moved away as adults, only to come back to their hometown later on. Niall, as way to find himself perhaps and Mat, after his father died.

    The two started off antagonistic but Mat is a do-gooder who slowly but surely chipped away at the walls Niall built around himself. Fast forward many months later, Niall and Matt were trying to squeeze in wedding planning amidst murder investigations, new jobs, bomb explosions and buildings collapsing. A man involved in the previous case and who was missing for months was fished out of the water, dead.

    I’ve been following this series since the beginning and I loved watching the characters grow. Niall in particular. Look how far he had come! When I first met him in Book 1, Conspiracy Theory, he was a grumpy bastard who barely said a word to anyone. The longest sentence he uttered was when he was talking about his dog, Fenrir.

    Now, well, I wouldn’t say he’s a completely different person but you can definitely see his warm, caring side. Especially when Mat and animals are involved. He’s not really talking more but at least he talks. He’s even getting along with his new co-workers at West Coast Forensics, a private investigation firm.

    I also loved how even if the two men were settling into a nice, comfortable domestic routine, the romance is far from boring. There’s enough external conflict to keep them on their toes. With work as dangerous as theirs, it’s just right that they have something safe and normal to come home to. And even if they had huge blow ups, they don’t let the bad feelings fester. They always talk and work things out. They’re complete opposites but they just synced perfectly!

    The case was a tough one. It had me guessing until the big reveal. Mat unearthed a decade old secret about his father’s death. Niall was doing his usual bullheaded best by ‘helping’ with Mat’s investigation whether his fiance wanted him to or not. The big guy was supposed to rest after a building collapsed on him. But obviously, not one for staying at home and twiddling his thumbs. Not one to concern himself with legalities either.

    The mystery connects to the previous cases as well as the author’s other books. There were many characters from other series that made appearances. I enjoyed this part a lot. It introduces a bigger world and more stories to explore.

    This series has great supporting characters. There’s Alyson, Mat’s mom, as well as his sister and niece, who welcomed a long-lost Viking and his new-found mutt to their home right from the very beginning. There’s Birdy, Mat’s deputy and, possibly, the only capable officer in their perpetually understaffed department. There’s Marshall Soper, the only doctor in the island who had to double as a coroner. There’s smooth-talking lawyer, Shay, Niall’s half-brother, who he now likes. I hope Shay gets his own book.

    The pacing here was better compared to the second book. It was faster and more consistent, giving a sense of constant motion while still delivering tension. There was ample time for the plot to develop properly. The downtimes didn’t lag. All in all, the best written installment in the series.

    It also felt like a finale. Aside from the wedding, it wrapped up a lot of loose threads. It gave the boys their hard-earned happy ending and returned Piedras Island back to its sleepy, peaceful state. If Black Moon is indeed the last book, it’s a fitting conclusion to this compelling story about a big taciturn man and his giant dog, a kind-hearted sheriff who wouldn’t quit and a tiny island that always feels like home.

    P.S.

    Veiled Intentions should be read in order.

    Find out how a grumpy Viking found his way back to the home he thought he would never see again and a sheriff who wouldn’t leave him alone in Book 1, Conspiracy Theory. Check out my review here.

    Witness how glacial that Viking can get when it comes to making up his mind about the sheriff (a patient, patient man bless his heart) in Book 2, Long Shadow. Check out my review here.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Black Moon
    Artist: Heathers
    Album: Midnight Is A Place


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Veiled Intentions books. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    US: Conspiracy Theory | Long Shadow | Black Moon
    UK: Conspiracy Theory | Long Shadow | Black Moon

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    CONSPIRACY THEORY | LONG SHADOW | BLACK MOON

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: The Venetian And The Rum Runner by L.A. Witt

    55148425. sy475

    The Venetian And The Rum Runner – L.A. Witt

    New York City, 1924

    Once their paths cross, their worlds will never be the same.

    Danny Moore and his crew only meant to rob the hotel suites of rich guests. He wasn’t supposed to find himself in gangster Ricky il Sacchi’s room. And il Sacchi wasn’t supposed to wind up dead. Now Danny has the attention of another notorious gangster.

    Carmine Battaglia is intrigued by the Irish thieves who would have made off with a huge score if not for il Sacchi’s death. They’re cunning, careful, and exactly what he needs for his rum running operation. But Danny’s already lost two brothers to the violence between New York’s Irish and Sicilian gangs, and he’s not about to sell his soul to Carmine.

    With a gangster’s blood on his hands, Danny needs protection, whether he likes it or not. And that’s to say nothing of the generous pay, which promises to pull him and his crew—not to mention their families—out of destitution.

    Working together brings Danny and Carmine to a détente, then to something so intense neither can ignore it. Something nearly enough to make them both forget the brutal tensions between their countrymen.

    But the death of Ricky il Sacchi hasn’t been forgotten. And someone is determined to make Danny bleed for it.

    The Venetian and the Rum Runner is a 144,000-word gay historical romantic suspense novel set during Prohibition and the Roaring Twenties.

    CW: graphic violence, PTSD 


    The Venetian and the Rum Runner is a historical mafia novel set in the Prohibition era. This is different from L.A. Witt‘s usual contemporary offerings but it has her trademark style of making the MCs go through hoops of fire before giving them their very hard-earned happy endings.

    The story brings together two men who were traditionally enemies. Danny Moore, leader of a gang of Irish thieves, found himself a wanted man when he inadvertently killed an Italian mobster. Having heard of the incident and duly impressed with the gang’s ingenuity in pulling off their heist (also grateful for reasons later revealed) Carmine Battaglia sought out the gang to hire them for rum running in exchange for his protection.

    Understandably, Danny and his gang wanted nothing to do with it at first. Italian mobsters were the reason Danny’s brothers were dead. Until pressing needs forced his hand and he reluctantly accepted the job. And so begins a very profitable business relationship and a simmering attraction that neither men expected.

    This is a long book. It took me a while to get into the first few chapters of the story but the rich atmosphere and the authentic vibe kept me hooked. I loved the 1920s setting. The writing effortlessly took me to that glamorous era of smoky speakeasies and creative alcohol consumption.

    There was a whole lot of black market items being moved around because people were thirsty and thirsty people were desperate. Alcohol was prescribed as “medicine”. People disguise the stuff in tea cups. Hidden compartments and escape hatches were at the ready in case of a raid. These parts alone were super interesting. It was pretty well-researched. The rich historical details really made the 1920s come alive.

    I had fun reading about the various clever schemes Danny and his gang came up with for their rum running activities. The story did a good job providing ample page-time for the lads. Although I must say that the best character is Danny’s bestfriend, James the priest. He gave the most sensible advise I’ve ever heard from a priest. There’s also a twist involving him that I never, ever expected. I hope he gets his own story because this holy man has a lot to tell.

    The romance was a slow, slow burning flame, full of longing looks and heated gazes that you can FEEL from across the room. In an age of secrecy and circumspection, the two would be like, “am I just seeing what I wanted to see?“. And I wanted to scream, yes, he IS looking at you like that!

    Danny and Carmine kept it strictly business for most of their interactions. But the tension between them was so palpable, had there been a third person in the room, they would certainly have no doubts about what these two men wanted.

    This had dual POV but I felt it was more Danny’s story than Carmine’s. Carmine spent most of the time in his office. He had no qualms doing business with Irishmen. He was also accepting of his attraction to Danny from the get go. There wasn’t much development to his character but I liked him all the same.

    It was Danny who had the most progression. He had to deal with his remaining brother who disapproved of his chosen path. He had to fight his attraction to an Italian. He had to reconcile with his core beliefs. When he did, he made the first move. That scene! I had to hold my breath because it was a beautiful wordless declaration done so excruciatingly slow and careful and gentle and sweet.

    Later on, the story took a tragic turn and stakes were raised even higher. This is what I loved most about L.A. Witt. She always creates these no way out scenarios that seem virtually impossible for her boys to get out of, much more, have a happy ending. Then she would have them pull off these daring, deadly maneuvers where they escape by the skin of their teeth.

    Danny and Carmine did just that and even found a way to be together. Although I wasn’t as satisfied with the resolution as I would have liked. It was a realistic HFN, given the time period and the situation but I couldn’t help wishing for something different, perhaps something with less goodbyes.

    According to the author, The Venetian and The Rum Runner was inspired by a conversation with Michael Ferraiuolo. He’s also the one who narrated it. He is my all time favorite narrator and he really poured all his talents in bringing the characters and their accents to life! His bad guy voices were especially nastily good. I definitely recommend experiencing this fabulous intoxicating historical in audiobook form.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Run
    Artist: Hozier
    Album: Hozier


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of The Venetian and The Rum Runner. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    KINDLE
    AUDIOBOOK
  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Sweet As Honey by Lucy Lennox

    56714714. sy475

    Aster Valley: Sweet As Honey – Lucy Lennox

    When I rode my bike into Aster Valley, it was supposed to be temporary. A quick, relaxing visit with friends. No entanglements. Zero drama.

    But then I saw the bumblebee being harassed on the side of the highway.

    More specifically, I saw Truman Sweet, Aster Valley’s resident botanist, spice merchant, and bee-costume enthusiast, being harassed. And the second I got involved, all my plans for a quick departure scattered like pollen on the breeze.

    It turns out that Truman—adorkably shy, relentlessly sunshiny, hot as all heck, reluctantly-still-a-virgin Truman—has secrets. Secrets someone in this charming small town doesn’t want brought to light. Secrets that rouse every one of my protective instincts just as surely as his kisses rouse… other parts of me.

    And before I know it, I’m thinking being entangled might not be so bad… if it’s Truman I’m tangled up with.

    I’ll do whatever it takes to protect Truman from the dangers in his past, but after a lifetime of loneliness and disappointment, how can I possibly convince him to trust me with his future?


    Time for another much anticipated visit to Aster Valley, a small town in the Colorado Mountains that’s big on charm and personality.

    The second full-length novel, Sweet As Honey, delivers a delightful love story between an adorkable plant geek and his adoring bad boy biker.

    It all started with a bumblebee.

    So Sam Rigby was cruising down the highway, minding his own business, when he spotted a bumblebee being harassed. He comes to its rescue and discovers it’s the friend of his bestfriend Mikey, the spice shop owner Truman Sweet. Then a truck comes barreling down the road and crushes his bike. They go to the town to report the incident, only for cops to surround them. Truman faints and Sam ends up looking like the bad guy.

    As Sam and Truman got to know each other better and become progressively closer, Sam learns that that incident was one of the many, many harassments Truman had endured under the hands of a pair of brothers. Their uncle is the town sheriff so good luck reporting that. All because of a shared past that Truman kept secret throughout most his life.

    This series has some of the worst villains out there. Give me blood and gore chaotic evils and I could take them on any time. It’s the lawful evil that really, really gets under my skin. In Book 1, it was Mikey’s dad, the coach. A guy who pretends he’s okay with queers but works underhandedly to undermine his gay son. Here, it’s Truman’s friend, Barney, and Sam’s mother and his sisters.

    Without giving too much away, these people pretend to look out for one’s own good then proceeds to gaslight, manipulate, spout biblical references even fake a medical emergency just to get their way. I hated them. They almost made me quit. I felt they belong to darker books. They are effective emotion-wise and plot-wise but they don’t encourage re-reads simply because I don’t want to meet them again.

    Happily, the good guys were awesome and they are most definitely worth the stay. I really enjoyed going through each MC’s thoughts. Truman is strong and brave, brilliant and funny. He had me chuckling in a couple of scenes. At times, very awkward but when you hit upon something relevant to his interests, off he goes talking non-stop about one trivia after another. I loved it when he’s on a roll. And Sam adored it too.

    We first knew Sam as Mikey’s bestfriend from Right As Raine. He owns a construction business. He doesn’t consider himself a relationship kind of guy. But the thing about Sam is that he’s very protective about the people he cares about. And his family is also shit. That’s why he and Mikey always looked out for each other. Then he found Truman, realized this was his person and grabbed on tightly.

    This book is one of the most wonderful and fluffily sweet romances out there. I lived for those heart-melting scenes! Sam and Truman were just perfect together. I loved the way they instinctively knew what the other needs without trampling all over the other person’s self-worth and autonomy. This was especially relevant because of the way Truman was treated by other people. I also loved how they used their brains, trusted one another and held on even as bad guys attempted to tear them apart again and again.

    I know I said the antagonists almost pulled me out of the story but this book is really more fluff than drama. It’s made up of a cast that I loved seeing again and again (except the bullies, of course). Tiller and Mikey played prominent roles throughout the story and Gentry and Winter also made appearances. So I recommend reading all the books in order, including the prequel.

    Sweet As Honey is a story about small towns secrets, family drama, building friendships, knowing who to trust and finding that person who feels like home. Overall, I had a great time with Sam and Truman. Aster Valley proved, yet again, it’s the place to be.

    P.S.

    Yes, the first two books are not to be missed. Witness a magical rockstar moment between folk rock superstar Gentry Kane and the titular Winter Waites in the prequel novella. Squee every time multi-million-dollar football receiver Tiller Raine calls his chef/coach’s son, Michael Vinning, my Mikey in Right As Raine.

    Reviews of Winter Waites and Right As Raine here.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Honey
    Artist: Boy Pablo
    Album: Wachito Rico!


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Aster Valley. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    RIGHT AS RAINE | SWEET AS HONEY

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Shadows Deceive by S.C. Wynne

    54558884. sy475

    Psychic Detective Mysteries: Shadows Deceive – S.C. Wynne

    If I could have put off meeting Thompson’s family forever, I would have. But he made it crystal clear it was important to him, and I got the feeling if I blew it off again, I’d lose him.

    So, like a good boyfriend, I accompanied him to the rustic city of Big Bear, hoping for the best. I expected awkward moments, and funny looks from his family. What I didn’t see coming was having to hang out with his perfect ex-lover, Alexander, and for dead bodies to start piling up.

    Working and living together, Thompson and I formed a bond I didn’t think could be broken. But when he starts doubting my abilities, and pulling away, simply because he doesn’t like what I’m saying, I start to realize maybe we were never as tight as I’d thought.

    Thompson needs to decide if he wants to protect the past, more than he wants to join me in the future. He thinks I’m just scared of commitment, and so I’m causing trouble. But the reality is, Thompson is the person with one foot out the door.


    Shadows Deceive is the third installment of the psychic procedural series, Psychic Detective Mysteries. It follows psychic/police consultant Liam Baker and his partner/boyfriend, Detective Kimball Thompson as they solve murders with the help of Liam’s ability to talk to ghosts.

    The first two books were about Liam and Thompson trying to catch a powerful evil psychic, Stephen Pine, who was killing several people and was out to get Liam. Meanwhile, Liam was grieving the loss of his late boyfriend, Will, while Thompson, Will’s partner, patiently waited for Liam to notice him.

    Book 3 sees the two men as an established couple which means it was time to meet the family.

    The story is from Liam’s POV and you really had to feel it for the guy. Our boy is most definitely not a people person. Not only does he have to stay with Thompson’s family for two weeks, he has to deal with Thompson’s very attractive, very accomplished, very charming ex, Alexander, who the family considers one of their own. The man even ate dinner with them almost everyday Liam was there. And, the poor psychic also stumbled upon a dead body near the family house. So you could see his pain here.

    His situation is the bane of introverts everywhere. And you got to hand it to Liam, he was really, really, really trying. He sucked it up and played nice. The book did a great job laying out Liam’s insecurities and the valiant way he tried to be a good boyfriend and to do his job professionally no matter how compromised his partner was. He has grown so much as a character. He came a long way from a grief-stricken man to someone who can hold is own against evil forces. I was neutral about him before but he really won me over here.

    Thompson’s family was awesome. His mom especially. The part that made her stood out for me was that she was very perceptive. She knew Liam was hurting. She wasn’t blind to her son’s faults and Alexander’s manipulative side.

    Meanwhile, Thompson needed to grovel more because he was being extra obtuse to how much he was hurting his beloved boyfriend by being chummy with the ex. Liam and Thompson’s relationship was tested almost to the breaking point. It was excruciating to watch. Don’t get me wrong, Thompson adores Liam. I liked him in the past 2 books. This Alex thing just wasn’t his shining moment.

    The story is a great blend of romance, mystery and paranormal. The mystery didn’t hold much surprises. It was glaringly obvious who the killer was, especially with another dead body popping up. Far from making it boring, I liked how it worked well with the plot, adding another layer of insidious evil for Liam to conquer. I did wonder though if it would have been better or worse, story-wise, if he knew the identity of the killer right away and had to convince Thompson about it.

    The plot also connects to the main villain, Stephen Pine. He is currently in jail. I wish that was the last we see of him because I’m not looking forward to his repeat performance. Alas, it is hinted we should expect a comeback in future installments

    Shadows Deceive is a story about trust, family, standing up for one’s self and holding on to what’s important. It was emotional and engaging and still suspenseful even with the element of predictability. This is the best book so far. I am eager to see more of Liam’s curmudgeon-y self getting together with ghosts, serial killers, co-workers, in-laws and who knows what. Expecting better of Thompson this time.

    P.S.

    Psychic Detective Mysteries should be read in order. Find out more about this Stephen Pine business in the first two books, Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Return. I read both but didn’t review Book 2. Check out my review of Book 1, Shadow’s Edge here.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Nearly Lost You
    Artist: Screaming Trees
    Album: Sweet Oblivion


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Psychic Detective Mysteries. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.