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    REVIEW: Savage Rivals by Becca Steele

    Savage Rivals – Becca Steele

    Asher Henderson.
    Captain of the Highnam Academy football team, and the bane of my existence.
    As Alstone High’s team captain, I’ve been pitted against him from the beginning, but our conflict isn’t only reserved for the pitch.
    Everyone knows we’re enemies. From our first encounter, our rivalry has been escalating, spiralling out of control.

    Until one night when everything between us changed.
    He pushed me too far, and we crossed a line that should never have been crossed.
    Now, I can’t get him out of my head.
    Can we ever be more than rivals, or are there too many obstacles in our way?

    One thing I know for sure.
    Things between us will never be the same again.

    Savage Rivals is a standalone M/M new adult high school romance with enemies to lovers and gay awakening themes. This book contains mature situations and content.

    I *Originally included in the Brutal Boys on Devils Night collection. This edition of Savage Rivals has been expanded with additional content.


    I stepped into Savage Rivals blind, knowing only that this is enemies to lovers as per title and not much else. I was also drawn to the narrators’ voices. This savage book immediately held me in its grip, right until the very end. This is a guaranteed one-sitter!

    It starts with two bitter rivals, football captains of competing high schools, Asher Henderson and Levi Woodford. Their teams are trying to one-up each other in the pitch and in pranks. The ball is currently in Asher’s team’s court, the boys swearing revenge for a vicious prank by Levi’s team.

    The two captains’ rivalry is legendary. It’s reaching a particularly intense peak when Levi does the unthinkable. Now, Asher and Levi still claim they hate each other but are super, super confused about certain feelings.

    Part of what makes the enemies-to-lovers trope fun is the hate part. This is what most books tend to get wrong, delivering lukewarm animosity that barely lasts a couple chapters. It’s the passionate hate that gives the flip to lust/love it’s spine-tingling zing.

    Savage Rivals did this so deliciously! The two boys nearly killing each other at knife point and then going nuclear, albeit confused, angry, but hella horny. That scene scorched my brain! Everything leading to it was a tightly wounded ball of tension skillfully woven to detonate at maximum capacity. I am a happy casualty.

    It didn’t stop there. Once the two stopped resisting the magnetic pull towards each other, they became the ultimate relationship goals. Though secretly at first. They had to find a way to break it gently to their warring teams. Many might not take kindly to the news.

    Ash is from the poorer districts, while Levi lives in a posh neighborhood. The two were surprised by how much they had in common. Their chemistry was off the charts!

    My favorite thing about them is how honest they are to each other, even as enemies. As a couple, this kept them strong, even as everyone else pushed them to fight because the school rivalry was just that bitter. They are one of the most memorable couples of this year.

    Savage Rivals is one of the swooniest romances I’ve read! It perfectly captures the blurring line between love and hate, and the bliss thereafter, in all their breathtaking glory, I exploded in a puff of squees!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: War of Hearts
    Artist: Ruelle
    Album: Up In Flames


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    SAVAGE RIVALS

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    REVIEW: The Devil You Know by Morgan Brice

    Witchbane: The Devil You Know – Morgan Brice

    Seth and Evan met “on the job” when Evan was the intended sacrifice of a dark coven, and Seth came to the rescue. Now, they’ve teamed up to stop a century of ritual murders and get justice for Seth’s brother Jesse and the other victims.

    Seth and Evan have a plan to stop the next witch disciple, plus new allies and magic. But this time, the warlock knows they’re coming, and he has plans of his own. When Seth disappears and is trapped in a spell that gives him his heart’s desire, can he free himself in time to help Evan?

    And when Evan’s younger brother shows up unexpectedly, can Evan trust Parker to have his back? It all comes down to trusting the devil you know!

    The Devil You Know is a thrill-paHotcked urban fantasy MM paranormal romance with plenty of supernatural suspense, hurt/comfort, hot sex, found family, and dark magic and features an evolving, established romantic relationship with all the feels.


    I’ve been diligently following Witchbane since its not-so-impressive beginning. I almost gave up on the series but I’m glad I stuck around because it gets better and better with each new installment. Morgan Brice spectacularly outdid herself in this latest offering.

    The series follows boyfriends Seth and Evan in their quest to hunt the serial killing witches responsible for the deaths throughout the century of the firstborn sons of the men who hang their master. They do this to prolong their lifespans. Seth and Evan were survivors who vowed to stop the cycle.

    The Devil You Know is a book of reunions and do-overs, grief and closure. Seth relives his fondest memories and deepest regrets, while Evan has an unexpected meeting with his estranged brother. I’m not going to reveal many details because it’s best experienced knowing little of the plot going in. But if you have been following the series, you’d have an inkling that this is going to be hella bittersweet and cathartic, especially for Seth, a few chapters in.

    The story is about the witch-hunting boyfriends’ usual adventure, except that their target knows they’re after him and goes on the offensive. There are the welcome appearances from characters from the author’s other series, supernatural allies who had Seth’s and Evan’s backs.

    I’ve read some comments where they weren’t pleased with Seth and Evan mostly separated the whole time. I’m also not a fan of separation, but this time it worked brilliantly with the plot, paving way for the most emotionally wrecking moment in the entire series.

    I could count in one hand the times a book moved me to tears. The Devil You Know joins the illustrious ranks of The Book Thief for making me cry. It was just that heart-wrenching! That poor Seth had to go through something like that! I would have dropped the book at the unfairness of it all. But the author pulled it off so well, especially the resolution, I was completely riveted! It was a one-sitter because I just couldn’t tear myself away!

    The Devil You Know saw major character developments and closure for our boys as well as changes to the team dynamics. Loving where Morgan Brice is taking the series! All in all, deeply moving, deftly executed and so far, the best book of all.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: A Thousand Lives
    Artist: The Murder Capital
    Album: Gigi’s Recovery

    P.S.

    Witchbane books can be read as standalones but I highly recommend starting from the beginning for maximum enjoyment.


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    THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

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    SERIES REVIEW: Frat Wars by Saxon James

    *** you can scroll to the bottom for the tl;dr version ***

    Greek life shenanigans ship frat boy to frat boy in this riot of a series by contemporary MM romance author Saxon James.

    Frat Wars is about two fraternities, Sigma Beta Psi and Rho Kappa Tau, and their bitter rivalry to out prank each other. The Sigmas are the popular jocks, given a lot of leeway with their antics because of all the accolades they earn for the university. The Kappas are sorta nerdy but typically wealthy, whose parents make hefty donations to the school. Frat boys can pretty much wreck havoc as long they don’t break the golden rule: don’t get the dean’s attention.

    The series is crazy fun! The Sigmas, in particular, love practical jokes. It’s not just the Kappas they love to annoy, they even do it to their brothers. There are a lot of hilariously dumb dialogues that had me cracking up.

    The author picked the perfect narrators in Alexander Cendese and Iggy Toma. I rarely like dual narration, but these two synced so seamlessly. Their voices are perfect as frat boys and their delivery of the rapid-fire snark for snark banters is ridiculously on point.

    There are three books in the series, featuring the four brothers who hold the top executive positions in the Sigma House.


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    Frat Wars: King Of Thieves – Saxon James

    We’re basically Romeo and Juliet. But dudes. And without all the dying.

    Chad

    Being VP of Sigma Beta Psi is wild. I get all the benefits of being in charge with hardly any of the responsibility.

    Parties, pranks, and frat politics—college life has never been sweeter.

    Until I meet Bailey Prince.

    He has the face of a goddamn angel. I don’t know where he came from or why I’m so obsessed.

    But I do know he’s a Kappa.

    And our houses have a rivalry that’s written into legend.

    Bailey

    At Rho Kappa Tau, I’m a legacy.

    It’s a lot of pressure, but I’ve always been responsible, never had that rebellious need to rock the boat, and I like it that way.

    But after a party at Sigma—the jock frat—I meet Chad Doomsen, and for the first time in my life I want to step outside my square.

    Our houses have always had a rivalry, but some of the guys seem to hate Chad specifically, and I don’t know why.

    He’s surprisingly sweet and kind. At least to me.

    I need to stay away. A relationship with Chad would be betraying the very legacy that brought me here.

    But I can’t help myself. And it seems, neither can he.


    Chad Doomsen is the VP of Sigma and the mastermind of the best pranks they pulled. He met Bailey Prince at a party, found him cute, and decided to pursue him, not knowing he’s a new Kappa member. They hooked up several times on the down-low. Bailey takes the opportunity to steal some of Chad’s stuff as part of the King of Thieves game. This is a stealth steal game where each item they take will earn their House points.

    The Romeo and Juliet angle was cute, but I was more into the game and the brotherhood than the romance. The games and pranks in this series are brilliant! I dunno if real-life fraternities do the King of Thieves game, but this sounds so fun. On the other hand, I don’t want anybody creeping into my room and grabbing my stuff.

    The book sets off a series of events that connects the entire series. The books are not standalone and should be read in order.

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

    Soundtrack: You Stole My Heart
    Artist: My Sun and Stars
    Album: You Stole My Heart


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    Frat Wars: Master of Mayhem – Saxon James

    Bro big or bro home.

    Robbie

    As social chair of Sigma Beta Psi, I’m the life of the party. It’s what I’m known for, and if it’s not fun, I’m not interested, simple as that.

    I’m not someone who overthinks.

    So when one of my brothers hooks up with a dude from another frat house, it catches me off guard when I can’t stop thinking about them … together.

    There’s only one way for me to get this obsession out of my head and that’s by jumping in with both feet and putting it into practice.

    The problem is, the one guy who’s up for the ride, is the last one I’d expect.

    Brandon

    Being risk manager of a frat house is nobody’s idea of a good time. My brothers get annoyed when I put a damper on their plans, and wrangling drunken frat brothers isn’t how I pictured my Saturday nights of senior year.

    I’m bored.

    In a rut.

    Study, frat duties, planning for the future.

    When is it my turn to let loose for a moment?

    So when my dumb-as-bricks frat bro is scoping out the house for a little experimenting fun, I throw out the offer like it isn’t the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever considered.

    I never imagined I’d actually enjoy it.


    Master of Mayhem stars Robbie (forgot last name), the Sigma social manager, and Brandon (forgot last name too), the risk manager, in their bicurious frenemies romance.

    It all started when Robbie point blank asked his best friend, Chad, if he could touch his dick. The big guy had questions about his sexuality and had no hesitations whatsoever asking, because who else can help a guy out but his frat brothers? Chad was all hell no! Then at a party, Brandon was urged by his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend to try kissing the persistently curious Robbie. The two frat brothers were gob smacked by how much they liked it!

    Robbie completely won me over for being comfortable in his own skin. He’s the first to admit he’s not a brainiac, but far from being insecure about it, he embraces his impulsive, fun-loving nature shamelessly and has a childlike candor that’s very endearing. Also, he’s the reason why Sigmas have the best parties.

    Brandon is his foil. This guy’s a born risk manager, always planning steps ahead.

    This was a whole level of crazy! The boys up the ante with Chad and Robbie vying for the title of Master of Mayhem, a contest of who can come up with the best prank. The romance was hella cheesy and sweet with the kind of chemistry that reduces one to goo. And leave it to Robbie to pull off the cheesiest, most bombastic grand gesture to end all grand gestures!

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

    Soundtrack: Curious
    Artist: Franz Ferdinand
    Album: Hits to the Head


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    Frat Wars: Presidential Chaos – Saxon James

    Two houses. Two Presidents. One hell of a happy ending.

    Zeke

    Being President of a frat house means everything is on my shoulders.
    Idiot brothers, epic pranks, a list of organizational duties long enough to make my eyes bleed.
    None of it fazes me.
    But senior year is almost over, and I’m ready to take a step back.
    Until the hazing rumors start.
    I might not know where they’re coming from, but I know they’re total BS.
    Now, instead of dialing back the stress, we’ve broken the number one rule on the row: Don’t get the dean’s attention.
    I need to find out who’s driving the lies.
    And all evidence points to one person.

    Charles

    I never wanted to become Kappa President.
    The appointment was made easier, though, when none other than Zeke Ariston took over Sigma house. I’ve always been … drawn to him.
    Fascinated.
    And maybe a little attracted too.
    Pity I’ve never been more than an afterthought to him.
    But when rumors start to circulate about hazing, and the sources lead back to my house, it puts me square on Zeke’s radar.
    I want to help him get to the bottom of it all.
    And with his attention finally on me, I want to tell him how I feel.

    The guys on Greek Row meet their chaotic conclusion with this rivals-to-lovers romance full of pranks, shared hoodies, and secret meetings made in the dark.


    Squeed when I saw the cover because that is exactly how Zeke looks!

    There are some books that you just instantly know will be awesome even before reading. I had a good feeling about Presidential Chaos beforehand. And, I was right, it totally swept me off my feet!

    Zeke Ariston is the super cool, super chill Sigma president. While his brothers ran amuck, Zeke is above it all, calm, always in control, and secretly anal retentive. He’s hyper-focused on his goal to win Olympic gold in swimming. My favorite character in the entire series.

    In contrast, Charles Levine is the passionate, easily flustered, but confident Kappa president. He’s usually red-faced with annoyance confronting the Sigma president over yet another prank by the Sigmas. Charles has a legacy to uphold and a law degree he has no desire to pursue. He’s also secretly crushing on Zeke.

    I spent most the book feeling sorry for Charles because boy, did he pine! I rooted hard for the patient, selfless Kappa president. But as soon as Zeke realized he had feelings for the Charles, it was so worth the wait! I didn’t know Zeke had it in him, but he uttered some of the most romantic lines in the series. The Sigma president fell HARD! He literally fell to his knees when he realized that his Charlie was perfect for him.

    Zeke and Charles are the kind of power couple that can conquer the world. The way they support each other are goals! I loved how they helped each other find the freedom to pursue their goals. They’re just fit so perfectly!

    This is a fabulous presidential finale and one of the swooniest, most delicious, squee-tastic execution of he fell first, he fell harder!!!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Sweet Chaos
    Artist: Day6
    Album: The Best of Day6


    Frat Wars is a story of rivalry, brotherhood, youthful shenanigans, secret hook-ups, sexual awakening, and freedom. It’s one of the year’s most entertaining series. It’s the best kind of chaos, mayhem, lifelong friendships, and everything we love about Greek life.


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    King Of Thieves: US | UK
    Master Of Mayhem: US | UK
    Presidential Chaos: US | UK

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    KING OF THIEVES | MASTER OF MAYHEM | PRESIDENTIAL CHAOS

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    SERIES REVIEW: Dearest Milton James & Dearest Malachi Keogh by N.R. Walker

    Dearest Milton James – N.R. Walker

    Malachi Keogh finds himself in a job he neither wanted nor asked for when his father, boss of Sydney’s postal service, sends him to the end of the business line, aka The Dead Letter Office. Malachi expects tedious and boring but instead discovers a warehouse with a quirky bunch of misfit co-workers, including a stoic and nerdy boss, Julian Pollard.

    Malachi’s intrigued by Julian at first, and he soon learns there’s more to the man than his boring clothes of beige, tan, and brown; a far cry from Malachi’s hot pink, lilac, and electric blue. Where Julian is calm and ordered, Malachi is chaos personified, but despite their outward differences, there’s an immediate chemistry between them that sends Malachi’s head—and heart—into a spin.

    To keep his father happy, Malachi needs to keep this job. He also needs to solve the mystery of the pile of old letters that sits in Julian’s office and maybe get to the bottom of what makes Julian tick. Like everything that goes through the mail centre, only time will tell if Malachi has found his intended destination or if he’ll find himself returned to sender.

    Dearest Malachi Keogh – N.R. Walker

    Julian Pollard never believed in love at first sight. That was until he met Malachi Keogh. Well, maybe it wasn’t love at first sight, but it sure was something.

    Julian had forgotten how to live, how to be happy, and Malachi changed all that. Now together for four years, Julian wants to give Malachi a Christmas he’ll never forget.


    N.R. Walker writes some of the most heartwarming, unforgettable stories. She outdid herself with Dearest Milton James. Hands down, this is one of the most adorable stories I’ve read!

    Dearest Milton James is set in Australia’s Dead Letter Office, perhaps the least likely place to find excitement or the man of your dreams. The story not only made this dull department a place of surprises and mysteries, it also housed two very inspiring, heart-meltingly sweet romances.

    Colorfully dressed, walking ray of sunshine Malachi Keogh was dumped by his father, the head of the postal service, in the Dead Letter Office as a last-ditch effort to give his son work. Boldly declaring he would not stay long, Malachi soon found himself a new family in the merry band of misfits headed by the nerdy but hottie, Julian Pollard, rocking head-to-toe brown.

    He also discovered that the Dead Letter Office was far from dead. I was just as surprised with how much activity there was. Their main responsibility is to find the sender or/and receiver. It’s work that combines detective skills and research. And opening packages!

    It’s the most fun and sometimes terrifying part because you never know what you’ll find. From heartwarming little tokens, live animals, sex toys, and even body parts. The plastic kind but still hella creepy.

    The plot is an epistolary romantic mystery of two anonymous men in a forbidden relationship in the 1970s. It sparked a present-day romance between Malachi and Julian. The department has a bundle of mysterious 40-year-old letters addressed to a Milton James. Malachi, Julian, and the rest of the gang pooled their talents to solve the mystery and find the sender.

    This part of the story completely absorbed me. I was so intrigued and heavily invested in uncovering the identity of the two men who were separated by war and societal taboos. I was prepared to be heartbroken about the outcome but the plot threw in some twists that totally caught me by surprise!

    I love Malachi! I loved how he matched his hair to his clothes. I used to dress as colorfully as him, so I was totally digging his vibe right off the bat. Our boy is prone to verbal diarrhea, and his outbursts are funny! He’s endearingly emotional and soft-hearted with just the right amount of sass. His POV was super fun to read.

    If you’re looking for a book boyfriend, Julian’s your guy. I’m a sucker for blushy seme, and he’s adorably blushy. He’s perfect without being annoying. Seeing him trying to conceal his attraction to Malachi from Malachi’s perspective worked so well in highlighting his swoony nerdy appeal

    The story hit me hard in the kokoro! From the deeply moving, beautifully poetic writing of the mysterious letter sender pouring his heart out to Milton James to the floofy gooey, super sweet connection that blossomed between Malachi and Julian, I was a mushy ball of goo!

    Dearest Malachi Keogh is the equally wonderful and floofy short story of Julian hatching a plan to gift Malachi the most unforgettable Christmas surprise of all. Everyone got involved to make it happen.

    It’s a charming little epilogue that echoes the main story. I was delighted to read Julian’s POV. This guy is everything!

    Dearest Milton James and Dearest Malachi Keogh are the perfect balance of humor, romance, and mystery. They’re light and angst-free. A magical, poignant, feel-good tale of love and friendship definitely worth writing home about.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Dearest
    Artist: The Black Keys
    Album: Rave On Buddy Holly

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: My Dear
    Artist: The Tallest Man On Earth
    Album: I Love You, It’s A Fever Dream


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    DEAREST MILTON JAMES

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    SERIES REVIEW: Panopolis Books 1 & 2 by Cari Z

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 25369553.jpg

    Panopolis: Where There’s Smoke – Cari Z

    Panopolis is a rough place to be an average Joe. I came here looking for adventure and excitement, but nobody cares about one more normal guy in a city filled with super-powered heroes. The closest I’ve come to glory is working in a bank that villains often rob.

    But then I maybe accidentally-on-purpose helped a villain escape the hero who was trying to save the day. Imagine my shock when, a week later, that villain asked me out for coffee. One date turned into more, and now I’m head over heels in love with Raul.

    Falling in love with the guy dubbed the Mad Bombardier isn’t without its downsides, though. I’ve had to deal with near-death encounters with other villains, awkwardly flirtatious heroes who won’t take no for an answer, and a lover I’m not sure I can trust. It’s getting to the point where I know I’ll have to make a choice: side with the heroes, or stand fast by my villain.

    Either way, I think my days as a normal guy are over.

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    Panopolis: Where There’s Fire – Cari Z

    Making a name for myself as a Villain in Panopolis is hard work. Six months ago, my boyfriend broke me out of jail. Now he’s spending most of his time defending our turf against other Villains he accidentally freed along with me. And my new psychic powers are not only impossible to control, but they’re also giving me migraines.

    But it’s not all doom and gloom. My skills are improving every day, and Raul—aka the Mad Bombardier—and I have never been happier. That is, until my first solo job is interrupted by a mysterious woman who tells me that Raul has been kidnapped by a ruthless new Villain. The only way to free him is to do a job for Maggot, a man with scary ideas and an even scarier superpower.

    I can’t go to the cops or a Hero for help. Odds are they wouldn’t listen to me anyway. If I fail, Raul will be killed. If I succeed, we’ll both be bound to a man who’ll stop at nothing to put Panopolis on the path to civil war.

    It looks like the only way to win is to take out the competition.


    When I was working as an ESL tutor, my Japanese student and I talked about anime. I told him I was almost always fascinated with the villains and asked why anime stories usually show the villain’s backstory. I asked because most western cartoons don’t do that. He told me it was because the Japanese believe an enemy today could be a friend tomorrow.

    Panopolis by Cari Z is a great example of of the shifting lines between villainy and heroism. Sometimes, it’s a matter of perspective. This underrated series deconstructs the superhero and supervillain tropes.

    I came into this thinking I would get a cartoonish, comical romp, something along the lines of Despicable Me or The Incredibles. I got a dark, sinister tale of highly unethical science, mind control and oppression, torture and terrorism, politics and conspiracies, and the collateral damage that is conveniently ignored in the name of saving the day.

    Panopolis is a mega-city with an unusually high number of supers. Time-honored tradition dictates it’s always heroes vs. villains. The good guys have corporate sponsorships and all the perks. The baddies are mostly after money and make the heroes look good. The fights get a lot of tv coverage, usually as entertainment.

    Where There’s Smoke opens the series with a bank heist by one of the city’s most notorious villains, The Mad Bombardier. It happens to be the bank where Edward Dingle works. He’s a kind, mild-mannered guy. So kind he couldn’t resist covertly helping the very villain robbing his bank because he saw The Mad Bombardier needed a hand.

    Intrigued, The Mad Bombardier, a.k.a. Raul, sought Edward out again. Their first date was cute! They eventually started dating. The story breezed through the early parts of their relationship and fast-forwarded to them being an established couple.

    Raul is a total sweetheart, and his costume is supercool! He became a bomb expert due to a rather atypical upbringing. He wears a helmet with numbers counting down. It looks ominous, but it’s actually his little joke. He’s also the only top villain with no body count under his belt so far.

    Book 1 is a 2-hour audiobook, so the plot moved fast. The story is told from the 1st-person POV of Edward, tackling the moral dilemma and the consequences of dating a supervillain. It shakes an already precarious situation by having that supervillain’s superhero nemesis crushing on Edward and persistently asking him out. Edward is also slowly learning what those corporate sponsorships really entail.

    I love how the story blurs the lines. Along with Edward, we question who is the hero? Who is the villain? Who is the criminal? Who is the victim? And who the hell is really in charge? This novella laid out a fantastic foundation for the follow-up. It’s best to have the next book on hand before starting this because the ending turned Edward’s world upside down. You’ll be grabbing that sequel immediately!

    Where There’s Fire picks up on the aftermath of all those explosions. This is where those foreboding thoughts about Panopolis became harsh reality. What was only hinted at and glimpsed in the periphery came out in the open when Edward and Raul met with the villains. It’s where the series became truly dark.

    It’s also the part where I was seriously torn. One hand, I felt sorry for these villains because of what they had gone through. It was pretty nasty! I also understood their cause, their fight to right the wrongs done to their ilk. But then, them being what they are, they get a little too Machiavellian. Poor Raul had to suffer for it!

    This is the part where Edward embraced who he really was. How he saved Raul was brilliantly executed! It’s like the man conquered the city by making people feel and being his kind self. He was awesome!!!

    This is longer than the 1st book, so things were more fleshed out. The tension is tight throughout the story. The suspense ratcheted up several notches when our boy Edward took on the entire city. Edward’s trick on the boss fight scene was super clever!

    I tried not to give too many details here because it’s best to go in knowing only the minimum details. The Cari Z books I’ve read are those she has written with L.A. Witt. I need to read more of her solo works, as well, because she’s a very talented writer. I could tell she really knows her stuff when it comes to supers.

    Panopolis is the perfect example of that. It is an action-packed, sometimes sweet, thought-provoking, and uniquely fascinating take on heroes and villains. A potent reminder that with great powers comes great headaches.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Villains
    Artist: Delta Spirit
    Album: One Is One

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: How Villains Are Made
    Artist: Madelen Duke
    Album: Talking To Myself


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    Where There’s Smoke: US | UK
    Where There’s Fire: US | UK

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    REVIEW: The Solnyshko Duet by Ashlyn Drewek

    I grabbed this series on a whim because I like the word ‘solnyshko.’ I was glad it was the weekend because I ended up reading until 5:00 AM. I finished the first book in one sitting. This duet is just sooo good.

    Now this might not be most people’s cup of tea. This comes with a list of warnings, from homophobia to graphic violence and PTSD. Things get nasty, even horrific, at some points. So please do head the TWs.

    Beyond all that darkness, this is a story of ‘two broken people who found each other,‘ according to the author’s notes. It all started with a kidnapping…


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    The Solnyshko Duet: The Kidnapping Of Roan Sinclair – Ashlyn Drewek

    Roan Sinclair’s life is perfect, just ask anyone. Set to graduate college and bound for grad school at Georgetown, Roan’s life has been all planned out for him. Except, he doesn’t want it. Dedicated to his music, he dreams of a life free from his parents’ expectations. Those dreams are gone the minute he’s kidnapped by a group of Russians, led by the tall, dark, and broody Sasha — a man ripped straight from Roan’s fantasies. Determined to make it out alive, Roan will do whatever is necessary to secure his freedom, even if that means seducing his captor.

    Aleksandr Vassiliev doesn’t care about anything except surviving in a merciless world. Known as the Wolf of Verkhoyansk, Sasha’s reputation for brutality is far-reaching and well-deserved. When a bank robbery goes wrong, he’ll do whatever he can to fix it — including kidnapping the bank owner’s son. Instead of complying like he should, Roan defies Sasha at every turn. Worst of all, he makes Sasha want things he can’t have, things that are a death sentence for men like him. Things like Roan Sinclair.

    Content warning: This book contains references to alcohol/drug use, sexual assault, graphic violence, self-harm, ethnic and homosexual slurs, and a lot of profanity. Reader discretion is advised.


    Roan Sinclair is a poor little rich boy trapped in a gilded cage. Music is his passion, but his banker dad blackmailed him to take a business major. He has one year to go before he leaves for business school.

    Aleksandr ‘Sacha’ Vassiliev is a feared, ruthless killer, not a bank robber and certainly not a kidnapper. But when a bank heist had gone wrong, a heist they didn’t fully understand why they had to do, he and his fellow bratva members were forced to change tactics. They kidnapped the banker’s son instead.

    It wasn’t the most ideal meeting, to say the least, but right from the get-go, Roan got under Sacha’s skin. Given his environment, the Russian is deeply in the closet. But he pinged Roan’s gaydar, and our boy used it to his advantage.

    One of the things I really loved about the books was the writing. There were no long paragraphs, and it’s very easy to read. The prose is straight to the point. Just 3-4 sentences per paragraph, yet they conveyed everything the reader needs to know. You feel the emotions jumping off the page. The graphic bits were written to show the nastiness without being gratuitous.

    Thawing the cold, dead heart of a man like Sacha is an impossible feat. Our boy Roan not only brought it back to life, but he became the center of Sacha’s universe. I was completely riveted to their journey, swept away by a tide of emotions. The story is devastating, painful, and, as mentioned, quite dark. But the lighter moments when they come is as heart-warming and bright as the proverbial solnyshko the duet is named after.

    It ends with a HFN but this is one of the best Stockholm Syndrome romances for me!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Captivate You
    Artist: Marmozets
    Album: The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets


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    The Solnyshko Duet: The Vengeance Of Roan Sinclair – Ashlyn Drewek

    After a lifetime of death and suffering, Aleksandr Vassiliev finally has everything he could ever want — the most important being someone to share his future with. Somehow a spoiled American named Roan gave Sasha a reason to see life could be more. Except, that’s where the fairytale ends. He’s not surprised Roan hasn’t been the same since his attack, but with every day that passes, Sasha sees less and less of the boy he fell in love with. He would do anything to get his Solnyshko back, but old enemies from Sasha’s past might end up costing him everything, even Roan.

    Roan Sinclair used to have it all. Now? He’s a shell of his former self. No longer the rich, carefree college guy who brought a Russian criminal to his knees, all he’s trying to do is recover from an assault that nearly killed him. Roan knows he should be grateful to be alive… but he’s not. He’s humiliated. Ashamed. Most of all, he’s angry. He hasn’t forgotten the part his dad played in everything that happened and when he threatens Sasha’s freedom, Roan takes a page from the Russian’s playbook. Maybe vengeance will piece him back together. Maybe then Roan can move on and get to the happily ever after he so desperately wants with the Wolf of Verkhoyansk.

    Content warning: This book contains references to alcohol/smoking, ethnic and homosexual slurs, sexual assault, mental health issues including PTSD and depression, on-page torture, and a lot of profanity. Reader discretion is advised.


    The second book picks up on the aftermath of the very traumatic events of Book 1. Roan is not in a good place, and Sacha is at his wit’s end. He does everything he thinks would help Roan, but the younger man isn’t taking it well.

    Here we have the major presence of Misha, Sacha’s boss, who is also sort of a friend and Misha’s nephew, Ilya. Sacha hired the young man to be Roan’s bodyguard. The easy going man provided a normalcy in Roan’s life during these troubled times.

    Misha has intrigued me since Book 1. He offers Sacha advice on his Roan situation. Where Sacha is a grumpy mofo, Misha is all easy smiles. But make no mistake, they are both wolves. I am so thrilled the bratva boss is going to have his own book!

    I struggled for a bit in the first part because going through Sacha and Roan’s rocky patch wasn’t a pleasant experience. It was angsty and raw. Communication isn’t their strongest suit, and you can really feel how bad they were struggling. All of these is worth going through just to get to the part where Roan smiles and Sacha declares, his sun is back!

    And that’s when we get to the vengeance portion of the story. Roan wants revenge for what his father did, and a ghost from the past is out to get Sacha. I really enjoyed this arc because it felt happier and lighter despite the gruesome bratva business.

    Sacha and Roan evolved to become the power couple they were meant to be. The pace here was also smoother and faster, and there was more action. Characters from the author’s other series popped up, the very mysterious Leander and his flamboyant husband, Bennet. I must investigate these two.

    Both books go through suspenseful, brutal climaxes where the piper is paid in blood and gore. But this time, the ending is a solid and very satisfying HEA. It was such a sweet and uplifting conclusion that sensation of relief was very palpable. I couldn’t ask for a better one for Sasha and Roan! Sometimes all you need in life is a new lease and some sunshine.

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

    Soundtrack: Who Needs The Sunshine?
    Artist: The Heavy
    Album: Great Vengeance And Furious Fire


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    The Kidnapping Of Roan Sinclair :US | UK
    The Vengeance Of Roan Sinclair :US | UK

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    SERIES REVIEW: Wages Of Sin Books 2 & 3 by Onley James & Neve Wilder

    Wages of Sin is a dark romantic suspense series by authors Onley James and Neve Wilder. I’ve known Onley James for her outstanding Necessary Evils. These are my first books by Neve Wilder.

    The series follows the same vein as Necessary Evils, where hired killers go on vigilante missions to right the wrongs. The first book, Bad Habits, set the stage through young hacker, Caspian, who has a bad crush on Jonah, the hitman who rescued and took him in from the streets. After being separated for six years, the two were reunited when a hit was called on Caspian.

    The aftermath of the big showdown in Book 1 resulted in a dead pool. Assassins were invited to join. Among them, Jonah’s found family/friends, Madigan, Sadie, Ronan, retired killer Soren, and two other assassins they know by reputation. The rest of the books picked up the thread.

    Below is a succinct a.k.a. can’t be arsed review of Book 1, Bad Habits, which can also be found here. I rated it 4-stars.

    A sweet and steamy bad boys do right action suspense that made me want to eat pancakes.

    This is a full review of the second and third book.


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    Wages Of Sin: Play Dirty – Onley James & Neve Wilder

    “When you talk, chaos follows and I forget who I am.”

    Madigan has spent his life indulging in the world’s most hedonistic pursuits, his skills as a sharpshooting killer-for-hire paying his way.

    Azrael, an assassin referred to as the angel of death, is a chemist and a loner, his poisons as lethal as they are undetectable.

    A chance encounter leads to a passionate night and a heated rivalry that spans years, but after they’re both offered a chance at big money by taking out elite targets on a mysterious hitlist, they find themselves once again in each other’s way. And then in each other’s arms.

    Trust doesn’t come easily for either of them, but no matter how far they stray, fate always seems to pull them back together. In a profession where your partner is just as likely to kill you as kiss you, maybe trust is as close to love as they get?

    Play Dirty is a steamy, action-packed thrill ride of a romance with a HEA and no cliffhangers. It features two stubborn rival assassins who can’t seem to stop tempting each other, a bit of knife play, a Die Hard-style Christmas, plenty of dark humor, and true love. Because even assassins deserve their soulmates. This is book 2 in the Wages of Sin series. Each book will follow a new couple.


    Play Dirty was the book I was looking forward to the least because I didn’t like Madigan in Book 1. He and Jonah had a friends-with-benefits thing in the past. He’s a sneaky bastard who said mean things to Caspian. He made the young man run away from Jonah for six years. So I was pleasantly surprised that his book turned out to be my favorite.

    Madigan and Azrael are bitter rivals. They had an ongoing competition where one tries to take down the other’s mark before the other got to them. Madigan is a sharpshooter, while Azrael specializes in poison and close combat.

    The two met at a bar, scoping each other out because they were after the same mark. They went somewhere private, using names both of them knew full well were fakes. Then Madigan woke up the next day with Az gone, all his ammo taken and his mark dead. And that was the start of their little game.

    What made this the best book was how CRAZY GOOD Maddie and Az were together. The way their connection formed and deepened was a brilliant execution of the enemies-to-lovers trope. It’s very apt that for a story about a chemist, the chemistry was perfect! Maddie and Az were fire and gasoline! Murder Husbands for the win!!!!!

    I loved how the authors blended all the different aspects of the story. While giving us a deliciously intense romance, the plot is equally solid and hella engaging, moving things fast and suspenseful enough to keep the adrenaline pumping.

    I’m tickled pink every time Az calls Maddie, “motek“. I plan to give the audiobook another go just to hear it again

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Fall Together
    Artist: Temper Trap
    Album: Thick As Thieves


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    Wages Of Sin: Head Games – Onley James & Neve Wilder

    “You’re a vigilante in an argyle sweater.”

    Straight-laced psychologist Tobias is an expert in the deviant behavior of others but a novice when it comes to his latest endeavor: serial killer.

    After years of high-profile kills and mentoring numerous other assassins, laid-back Soren lives his life in a state of semi-permanent vacation. He comes out of an early retirement to help out a friend, only to set off sparks with the renowned psychologist when they discover they’re hunting the same man.

    One shaky truce and a whole lot of blood later, Soren has a new mentee in Tobias.

    Soren finds Tobias and his dark impulses fascinating. Tobias finds Soren’s relaxed attitude infuriating. They have nothing in common except their ability to kill and chemistry neither can deny. But a kill list, a rage room, the Irish mob and the ghosts of their past all stand in the way of their happily ever after.

    Head Games is a steamy, thrill ride of a romance with a HEA and no cliffhangers. It features an uptight, sweater-loving psychologist with a taste for blood and a soft spot for his murderous yorkie, the most zen contract killer to ever mosey the earth, plenty of dark humor, and true love. Because even bad dudes deserve their soulmates. This is book 3 in the Wages of Sin series. Each book follows a different couple.


    Head Games was the book I was looking forward to the most because I was super intrigued by the premise. Tobias, a psychiatrist specializing in psychopaths, decides to take justice into his own hands by indulging his psychopathic side. That is, try his hand at serial killing his patients. On his first attempt, he crosses paths with veteran killer, Soren, who is immediately drawn to the rookie.

    Soren is a retired hitman and mentor of Jonah, Maddie, and Ronan. He comes out of retirement once in a while. He decides to show Toby the ropes and, in the process, proceeds to effortlessly fit himself into Toby’s carefully planned life.

    Soren was compared to the main character in The Big Lebowski. And just like the movie where I enjoyed the story but didn’t like the MC, I wasn’t a fan of Soren. I didn’t feel his feelings towards Toby. His character was too one-dimensional. Also, he was described as not too keen on his hygiene which is blech!

    I love the idea of Toby as a character. He was compared to Hannibal Lecter. Although, he would have stood out more strongly to me if his character was fully explored. And if his connection with Soren was more convincing.

    Overall, I felt this book lacked a certain depth. The plot wasn’t as focused as the other books. It could have been going for an episodic, one kill per character growth thing while the romance develops, but the execution was flat. What kept me going was that I loved the rest of the boys. I only perked up at the appearance of my favorite Murder Husbands and Jonah and Cas.

    Rating:
    2.5 Stars – far from hate but not quite a like

    Soundtrack: Bleed Together
    Artist: Matt Lange
    Album: Bleed Together

    Two out of three hits for me so I still recommend this series. You can skip the 3rd book if you like. I’m hoping Ronan gets his own story.

    Wages of Sin is best read in order because this found family of hired killers is a package deal. Start by finding out how good deeds turn into bad habits and vice versa, in Book 1, Bad Habits.


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    BAD HABITS | PLAY DIRTY

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    REVIEW: Psycho by Onley James

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    Necessary Evils: Psycho – Onley James

    August Mulvaney has always been exceptional. As the genius son of an eccentric billionaire, his off-putting behavior is often blamed on his high IQ. They say there’s a thin line between genius and madness. August is both—a brilliant professor loved by his students and a ruthless, obsessive killer tasked with righting the wrongs of a failing justice system. And he’s just found his latest obsession: Lucas Blackwell.

    Lucas Blackwell was once the golden child of the FBI, using his secret talent as a clairvoyant to help put away society’s worst. Until, with a touch, he discovers his co-worker is a killer and his life falls apart. Now, the world thinks he’s crazy and that co-worker wants him dead. He seeks refuge at a small college, hoping to rebuild his life and his reputation. But then he runs into August Mulvaney. Literally.

    August is immediately intrigued with Lucas and his backstory. He doesn’t believe in psychics, but there’s no missing the terror in his eyes when they collide in the hallway. Now, August has a problem. Lucas knows his secret, and August knows he wants Lucas. And August always gets what he wants.

    Can he convince Lucas that not all killers are created equal and that having a psychopath in his corner—and in his life—might be just what he needs?

    Psycho is a fast-paced, thrill ride of a romance with an HEA and no cliffhangers. It features a psychopath hell-bent on romance and a disgraced FBI agent attempting to redeem himself. As always, there’s gratuitous violence, very dark humor, and scenes so hot it will melt your kindle. This is book 2 in the Necessary Evils series. Each book follows a different couple.


    August is freakin’ AWESOME!!!

    We first meet August Mulvaney in Unhinged, Book 1 of Unnecessary Evils. The series is about a family of psychopaths raised by eccentric billionaire and psychiatric genius, Thomas Mulvaney. Atticus, August, Aiden, Archer, Asa, Avi, and Adam, were handpicked for their special psychological profiles, adopted, and trained to be secret vigilante killers. Each is equally talented in other fields, with carefully cultivated public personas that helped them pass as normal.

    August is the second oldest son. He loves music and enjoys the gruesome wetwork that even some of his brothers find distasteful. He doesn’t like the screaming though, hence the music. Publicly, he is a tenured theoretical physics professor, much loved by his students and well-respected by peers. It says a lot about him that he is dubbed as the weirdest psycho in the family of psychopaths. And decisive man that he is, it took only 7 seconds for him to decide that Lucas Blackwell, adjunct professor, disgraced FBI agent, and psychic, was the one.

    I loved this book so much! The cast is fantastic! I loved all the Mulvaneys. Every one of them is outstanding and gorgeous so it’s pretty hard to pick a favorite. But August could just be it. His characterization was brilliant. He is a very fascinating, complex person who always has an interesting side waiting to be discovered.

    He might be a genius with the IQ of Einstein and Hawking, but he was utterly clueless about relationships. So it was beyond endearing how he was so determined to make his relationship with Lucas work, he asked his family for help and even read five books on relationships.

    “What you are is mine. It’s my job to make you happy. I lack the capacity to do so on my own. I can’t love. I can’t feel guilt or empathy or remorse, any of the things that might help me understand what you need. All I have is research and context clues, which I’m not very good at interpreting. But I can give you what you need. I’ll do whatever it takes. But I can’t do it without help. Testing my theories is all I know.”

    Damn, these Mulvaney boys really know how to sweep somebody off their feet!

    Lucas is equally fantastic as well. He has a soft vulnerability that made August want to protect him. He spent some time in a mental health facility after he was ridiculed for identifying a co-worker as a serial killer through his psychic powers. The same killer making young girls disappear and taunting him about it.

    He immediately knew August was also one, after accidentally crashing into the professor. He was scared at first, but soon, he recognized August wasn’t the enemy. I loved how he accepted August’s quirks and how he fits. As August declared with absolute certainty within hours of meeting the man, “he’s perfect for me“. I wholeheartedly agree because he always brings out in best in August.

    Lucas crossed the room and pulled something from his pocket. August’s air pods. “I saw them in the center console and figured you could use them. I know the screaming bothers you.”

    August wrapped his arms around Lucas, dragging him in for a deep kiss, swallowing his cry of surprise. Kohn grunted in disgust.

    “It’s just headphones,” Lucas said.

    August shook his head. “It’s not just headphones. I don’t know what love feels like, but I imagine it’s like feeling I’m having right now.”

    Lucas’s face went soft, his smile radiant. “That’s the sweetest thing anybody’s ever said to me after cutting off another man’s nipple.”

    My favorite Lucas moment was at the epilogue, where he surprised August at lunch. Then he went on to relay the wild gossip about them circulating on campus. I LOLed at the part where he teased August about running away with his millions with the pool boy. They don’t even have a pool. It didn’t stop August from being adorably possessive and growly.

    Usually, when I get to the smexy parts, I stop reading or skim because I find them boring. August and Lucas are so amazing together and I loved them so much, I even enjoyed their love scenes. They are one of my all-time favorite couples!

    Like its predecessor, Psycho tackles very dark subjects. The mystery was super intriguing. It was a case of trying to pin down the killer who was also the federal agent assigned to solve the crimes he committed. When it was revealed what they were doing to the victims, it wasn’t anything too graphic but it did churn my stomach a bit. There are also scenes with torture, where pain was inflicted with glee. I highly recommend proceeding with caution.

    At its core, Psycho is a story of a man who found his person, fell in love for the first time, and wanted to do everything to make them happy. Only that man happened to be a cold-blooded serial killer and his person happened to have another serial killer hunting him. Looking past the blood and gore, it’s actually a very schmoopy, swoony book with some of the most quotable squee-tastic lines ever! All coming from an individual who cannot love.

    “Is it true you remember every word ever said to you?” 

    “Did Noah tell you that?” August asked,

    “He said you always wear headphones to drown out the noise. I’ve never seen you wear them.” 

    August brushed his hair aside, removing the tiny earbuds from his ears. “They’re not on. I don’t wear them around you.”

    “Why not?” 

    August frowned in confusion. “Because I want to remember every word you say to me.”

    You don’t need to be psychic to know, this one’s a keeper!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: I Always Knew
    Artist: The Vaccines
    Album: Come Of Age

    P.S.

    I always say, you meet one Mulvaney, you love ’em all. Start with the youngest, Adam the supermodel serial killer, and his feisty person, Noah, in Unhinged,.


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    US | UK

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    AUDIO REVIEW: The Night Of by Tal Bauer

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    The Night Of – Tal Bauer

    You’ve heard this story before: a guy supposedly kills himself, but his best friend can’t accept it. He calls in an investigator he knows to take a second look, certain there’s more going on.

    I’m the investigator. Secret Service Agent Sean Avery. The guy who called me? My ex, Vice President Jonathan Sharp. And the guy he doesn’t believe put a bullet in his brain?

    That was President Steven Baker.

    The deeper I dig, the more things fall apart. I’ve got a dead president inside a locked room. A hidden note. A secret gun. A missing CIA officer.

    And no one I can trust.

    Now Jonathan’s in the crosshairs, and if I don’t figure out what really happened that night at Camp David, the love of my life might be the next president to die.

    ***This M/M romantic suspense features smoldering forbidden love and a May/December second chance romance that ignites your pages.


    I’m not too keen on politicians as the love interest but the premise for The Night Of intrigued me right away. Secret Service Agent Sean Avery is doing night patrols at the G8 Summit. All while trying really hard not to think about that fateful night exactly one year ago. The night he spent with Jonathan Sharp, the VPOTUS.

    It was a drunken night he barely remembered, but Sean was convinced he fucked up so bad he really should be in jail. His angsting was interrupted by a gunshot and a dead president. The next thing he knew, he was called by the VPOTUS, now POTUS, to investigate if it was indeed suicide or murder.

    The case was a locked door mystery and a damn good one. Sean’s investigation had him involved in federal pissing contests and unearthed evidence that cast him and Jonathan in a suspicious light,

    The book had one heck of a twisty turny plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. Although I had my suspicions regarding a certain well-placed individual, it kept me guessing until the third act. This was when Sean’s spidey senses started tingling around this person as well.

    The WHO might be relatively easy to suss out but the WHY and the HOW was what made the mystery so clever. Things came to a head, in the Oval Office no less. It was such a super intense, super suspenseful climactic scene, I held my breath the entire time.

    The book deals with a lot of heightened emotions that jumped off the page. The grief was almost unbearable. The way the writing and narrator John Solo brilliantly portrayed it, I deeply felt how devastated Jonathan and the First Widow were.

    The aga-gap, second chance romance between Sean and Jonathan was beautiful and tender. I loved how the two men were both strong and vulnerable. Sean may smart-mouth his way around his colleagues, but it’s easy to see how badly shaken he was to have a president die under his watch. It was also easy to see how much he loves Jonathan.

    Jonathan making Sean coffee exactly the way he likes, even after That Night!, slayed Sean. Jonathan, stoic ex-military general and new POTUS, giving his trust, his heart, himself to Sean, slayed me! ♡✧。 (◍>◡<◍⋈)。✧♡

    My favorite part was Sean counting how many times he could make the famously unsmiling Jonathan smile.

    Almost no one could make him smile, but damn it, I had. I’d felt like the biggest man in the whole damn world the first time I’d teased a smile out of him. It was the first time my heart had stutter-stepped, too, the first time I’d realized I was fucked. But not as fucked as that night, when—

    This part had the reader guessing about that night a year ago. Why is Sean beating himself up over it? What exactly did he do that he feels guilty Jonathan was still so nice to him after all this time?

    For their confrontation scene alone, I highly recommend experiencing this story as an audiobook. John Solo is a narrator who takes you inside the story and his portrayal of this particular scene was sublime!

    The way he emoted Sean’s self-flagellation with such rawness, the way he voiced Jonathan’s response with such vulnerability, that scene felt so real. It was like I was there in the Oval Office with them. And the way he portrayed the love scenes, lowering his voice to a whisper, he gave them an intimacy most narrators don’t bother to do. I was struck with the odd feeling of wanting to give them privacy.

    The Night Of is Tal Bauer doing what he does best, gripping romantic suspense that breaks the heart into pieces and puts it back together again. The audiobook is the perfect marriage of writing and narration. All in all, an experience worthy of the Presidential Seal of Approval.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Night
    Artist: Zola Jesus
    Album: Stridulum


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    US: Kindle Audiobook
    UK: Paperback | Audiobook

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    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.


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    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.


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


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