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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.


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

    Bad Habits: US | UK
    Play Dirty: US | UK
    Head Games: US | UK

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

    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


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    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


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    SERIES REVIEW: Claimings Books 1 & 2 by Lyn Gala

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

    Covers like these make it easy to dismiss alien romance as nothing more than smut with freaky body parts. But judgey mcjudgey me should have learned my lesson from Earth Fathers Are Weird. This is Lyn Gala we’re talking about here and she is a master of romances that are out of this world.

    I picked up this series because I found out it is narrated by John Solo. He blew me away with his performance in Earth Fathers Are Weird so it’s pretty much guaranteed this was going to be enjoyable even if the story itself might not be that good. Turns out, this was absolutely perfect!

    Claimings is so much more than alien meet cute. It is an epic love story, a very unique cultural experience and perhaps, also a mini commentary on human nature. It introduces us to a species known as the Rownt.

    Rownt are natives of the planet Parorownt. They are a large, extremely long-lived humanoid species with heights up to 11 ft and lifespans reaching a millennium or so. They have purple skin and tails. They are born from eggs. They are very vaguely based on turtles.

    The Rownt are a status-conscious, matriarchal society ruled by grandmothers (who, btw, are total badasses, you’ll love ’em!). They have a highly logical mindset, predatory nature and live solitary lives. They only engage in sex to procreate then go their separate ways immediately after the act. They are highly protective of children but don’t have family units. Their primary occupation is trading and thus live for profit. As Liam puts it, this is a society that “worships on the altar of business acumen

    I am not a detail-oriented reader. I tend to gloss over a lot of things. That I can easily recall these information is a testament to how immersive this series is. This is one of the most fully-realized worlds I have ever come across. The amount of details the author put into these books is astounding. And she did it without making me feel overwhelmed. She made the Rownt feel real and likable yet still truly alien.

    And the language! I enjoyed this part so much. It was like she created a foreign language using English words. We gradually pick up Rownt-speak the same time the MC, Liam, is learning his way around it. This is one of my favorite parts of a Lyn Gala book.

    I loved how the way the author writes about two characters trying to work around language and cultural barriers. She always does it in an amusing and thought-provoking way. And it further heightens the feeling of being in another planet.

    Sgt. Liam Munsun is a soldier, linguist and trader currently assigned as a liason in Prarowont. After many traumatic experiences fighting in the civil war, Liam wants a peaceful, boring life. Trading in the Rownt marketplace is as close as he could get to that.

    One day, he met a certain Rownt trader named Ondry with whom he struck a friendship. They had lunches together and spent their time talking about Rownt culture. This went on for about 5 years until Liam had a new superior officer who treated him badly. Ondry saw this incident and immediately made a move to stake his claim on Liam. This is where things get really, really interesting.


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    Claimings: Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts – Lyn Gala

    Liam loves his life as a linguist and trader on the Rownt homeworld, but he has ignored his heart and sexual needs for years. After escaping the horrors of war, he wants a boring life. He won’t risk letting anyone come too close because he won’t risk letting anyone see his deeply submissive nature. For him, submission comes with pain. Life burned that lesson into his soul from a young age.

    This fear keeps him from noticing that the Rownt trader Ondry cares for him. Ondry may not understand humans, but he recognizes a wounded soul, and his need to protect Liam is quickly outpacing his common sense. They may have laws, culture, and incompatible genitalia in their way, but Ondry knows that he can find a way to overcome all that if he can just overcome the ghosts of Liam’s past. Only then can he take possession of a man he has grown to respect.


    The first book is solely from Liam’s POV. For 5 years, our boy was apparently very oblivious to the fact that he was being courted by Ondry. The astute trader recognized that he is paltea, a certain type of rare individual highly valued by the Rownt.

    Because I didn’t even read the blurb properly, it took me a while to figure out what it meant until it was spelled out to me. And so I suddenly realized I’m right smack in the middle of a BDSM set up. A pretty unique one at that.

    The Rownt perspective is especially significant because humans tend to look at submissives as weak and broken. Liam had a really shitty past where his submissive nature was abused (TW: off page sexual abuses). His current situation wasn’t helping either. He’s good at his job but knows he’s not going to be promoted because of his past.

    Meanwhile, to the Rownt, a paltea is someone who serves, someone who devotes his life to his chilta‘s happiness. Therefore, such person should be cherished and protected at all cost. They are the closest thing these solitary creatures ever get to a spouse.

    While the two did get around their anatomical differences to enjoy sexual pleasures (which involved creative use of twitchy appendages), the beauty of Ondry and Liam’s dom/sub relationship is that it’s not even sexual in nature. It is a relationship of equals where one person willingly gives his complete submission to a dominant who would fight even the gods to protect his beloved submissive.

    His very obvious pride of his paltea, his gentle comforts to the wounded man, his growly protectiveness, his single-minded devotion to Liam delivered in unerring Rownt logic, Ondry just makes you swoon!

    The dork is so damn proud of his Liam, he goes around town just to show him off. Also, his “unholy glee” whenever Liam bested another trader.

    Liam! I was rooting really hard for this guy. Such a cinnamon roll. The man deserves all the hugs! I liked that he has a good sense of humor without being wasn’t overly sassy. I could definitely relate to him wanting a boring life.

    This book blew me away so much that I finished it in one sitting. Then I immediately dived into the sequel.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Protect
    Artist: High Sunn
    Album: Wishes


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    Claiming: Assimilation, Love, and Other Human Oddities – Lyn Gala

    Ondry and Liam have settled into a good life, but their trading is still tied up with humans, and humans are always messy. When political changes at the human base lead Ondry to attempt a difficult trade, the pair find themselves entangled in human affairs. Liam wants to help the people he left and the worlds being torn apart. He also wants to serve Ondry with not only the pleasures of the nest but also by bringing human profits.

    Ondry has no hope of understanding human psychology in general, he only knows that he will hold onto his palteia with the last breath in his body, and he’d like to keep his status and his wealth too. Unfortunately, new humans bring new conflicts and he is not sure how to protect Liam. He does know one thing that humans seem to constantly forget—that the peaceful Rownt are predators and when their families are threatened, Rownt become deadly killers. Liam is his family, and Ondry will protect him with his last breath… assuming that he can recognize the dangers in time to do so.


    Here we meet another human who attempts to liaise with the Parorownt natives. What she was actually trying to do was, well, let’s just say Ondry wasn’t pleased.

    We finally get Ondry’s POV along with Liam’s. I love getting inside the Rownt’s head. He finds humans confusing, amusing. and not very bright. Excerpt of course for his Liam who he adores. If he could bind this human to his very existence, he would.

    Our boy Liam is practically a Rownt now. He very much came into his own here. He’s so happy now! I also loved how he and Ondry just sync together perfectly.. The trust between the two men was absolute, the love and affection was infinite and pure.

    That scene after they were attacked by a huge predatory animal was, hands down, the most intimate scene I have ever come across with. It’s even more intimate than sex scenes.

    This was the part where Ondy was making sure Liam wasn’t injured. I had this weird feeling of wanting to move away and give them privacy. I was holding my breath the entire time! For this scene alone, John Solo deserves an award for his sublime performance.

    The second book answers my burning concern regarding the huge difference in Rownt and human lifespans. For which I was so relieved because I don’t want Liam dying on Ondry any time soon.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: It Would Be An Honor
    Artist: Night Terrors Of 1927
    Album: Everything’s Coming Up Roses


    Admittedly, Liam and Ondry’s caudal bonding might not be someone’s preferred way of interspecies liaising. But freaky body parts notwithstanding, these are alien stories with a lot of heart. Claimings is one of the most achingly tender and breathtakingly beautiful love stories out there.

    The first two books are set in Parorownt. The next two take Liam and Ondry to space. I will review them in the future. The series is should be read in order in audiobook as decreed by the grandmothers.


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    Claimings: US | UK

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    Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts
    Assimilation, Love, and Other Human Oddities
    Affiliations, Aliens, and Other Profitable Pursuits
    Expedition, Estimation, and Other Dangerous Pastimes


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    REVIEW: The Murder Between Us by Tal Bauer

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    Noah & Cole Thriller: The Murder Between Us – Tal Bauer

    It was just one night.
    It was just one mistake.

    FBI Agent Noah Downing had questions about his sexuality that a single night in Vegas should have answered. But dawn finds him on a plane back to Iowa, back on the trail of a vicious serial killer who disappeared six years ago and has suddenly resurfaced. There’s nothing like a murder investigation to escape an existential crisis.

    FBI profiler Cole Kennedy is still reeling after finding a heart-stopping connection with a seemingly perfect man, only for him to vanish. When he’s sent to Iowa to profile the killer terrorizing America’s heartland, he finds more questions than answers – both about the murderer and about Noah, the last man he ever expected to see again.

    A twisted secret stretches between Cole and Noah, tangled with questions they both have about each other. But now, thrown together, they’ll have to unravel the killer’s profile and follow his trail… back to the very beginning, to where everyone’s questions are answered once and for all.

    ***This is an M|M romantic suspense standalone novel, featuring a second chance romance, the hunt for a twisted serial killer, and one man’s journey to acceptance. 80k words.


    Wow. Just wow!

    I’ve heard so many good things about Tal Bauer’s books. This is my first and it’s already a 5-star read!

    The Murder Between Us is about closeted FBI agent Noah Downing letting himself, for once and just this once because heck, it’s Vegas, hook up with a guy to answer that burning question about his sexuality. He let himself be swept away on a date by a very charming man named Cole Kennedy. His very first date with a man was so perfect, it felt like a dream. I was swept away by this part too.

    They had a magical night together and promised to meet the next day. But Noah was suddenly called away on a murder case back in his hometown, Des Moines. This turned out to be the work of a serial killer who supposedly vanished 6 years ago. They needed a profiler. So guess who showed up as their new profiler?

    “Damn midwestern men!”

    Noah and Cole are compelling characters that immediately drew me in. They are both brilliant, competent and highly respected in their field. From the get go, the two men had AMAZING chemistry.

    That chemistry remained strong even as they go through the lows of their relationship. And boy, these parts really hurt! Meanwhile, the highs were heart-meltingly adorable. It was a one step forward, two steps back with them. It can be argh! but so worth it in the end.

    Noah is sweet and vulnerable. He’s a doting father to his teenage daughter, Katie. He’s afraid to come out because he might lose custody. My heart went out to him. He wanted so much to be himself but he was so scared. Katie was his whole world. The poor man deserves to be happy, if only he let himself.

    His reunion with Cole was all sorts of awkward but even as Noah frequently doubts himself to the point of self-sabotage, Cole is always there. Cole is beyond wonderful! So patient and loving. I loved how his strength held them together through the worst moments.

    Katie deserves a mention because she is awesome. Her heart to heart talk with her dad after she found out about him and Cole made me teary eyed.

    The procedural part is as equally riveting as the romance. The crimes were quite gruesome. The case was difficult to solve. I loved all the twist and turns, especially the one at the climax that really took me by surprise. That was pretty clever!

    The Murder Between Us is a beautifully written story, with a intricate plot and prose that kept me hooked. I finished it in one sitting. From that super sweet beginning to the painful struggle for self-acceptance to the hard-fought HEA that run alongside the high stress investigation and heart-stopping confrontations with the killer, this was truly a rollercoaster from beginning to end. The feels just hits you hard, right in the kokoro. This book totally slayed me!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: The Space Between
    Artist: Dave Matthews Band
    Album: Everyday


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    The Murder Between Us: US | UK

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    REVIEW: The Gangster by C.S Poe

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    Magic & Steam: The Gangster – C.S. Poe

    1881—Special Agent Gillian Hamilton, magic caster for the Federal Bureau of Magic and Steam, has recovered from injuries obtained while in Shallow Grave, Arizona. Now back in New York City, Gillian makes an arrest on New Year’s Eve that leads to information on a gangster, known only as Tick Tock, who’s perfected utilizing elemental magic ammunition. This report complicates Gillian’s holiday plans, specifically those with infamous outlaw, Gunner the Deadly, who promised they’d ring in 1882 together.

    The two men stand on the cusp of a romance that needs to be explored intimately and privately. But when Gillian’s residence is broken into by a magical mechanical man who tries to murder him on behalf of Tick Tock, he and Gunner must immediately investigate the city’s ruthless street gangs before the illegal magic becomes a threat that cannot be contained.

    This might be their most wild adventure yet, but criminal undergrounds can’t compare to the dangers of the heart. Gillian must balance his career in law enforcement with his love for a vigilante, or lose both entirely.

    The novel-length follow-up to The Engineer, in the exciting new steampunk series, Magic & Steam.


    The Gangster is, hands down, C.S. Poe‘s best work to date. I was so blown away by this book! How is this not a movie already??!!

    For me, the Magic & Steam series is very cinematic. Not just story-wise, it would also look really gorgeous on screen. The world-building is a steampunk dream! For the first book, The Engineer, it was a clockwork version of the Wild West, complete with dashing outlaws and their aether-powered guns and evil geniuses with fantastically rigged out battle tanks.

    For The Gangster, the author reimagined 1881 New York into a magically-run city where instead of subways trains, we get a Grand Central Depot that is a sixteen-story terminal for airships. I can see this as a breath-taking panoramic shot when Gillian goes there to meet Gunner.

    It’s not just the technology and the setting. The atmosphere was electric, the people felt real. The writing took me to an alt-Victorian New York that lives and breathes.

    This is a world where magic users undergo mandatory regulation documentation. The Federal Bureau of Magic & Steam oversees the usage of magic. There are three kinds of people in the magic community. There are scholars who study magic, architects who fabricated the spells and casters, like Gillian, who perform them. Magic created by machines is illegal because it goes against the natural order, hence, it is extremely unpredictable and volatile.

    It’s New Year’s Eve and Gillian eagerly awaits Gunner’s arrival to make good on their promise to ring in the New Year together. Earlier that evening, the federal agent was hot on the tail of a gangster who was using illegal magic. This gave him the name of a mysterious new player in the scene, Tick-Tock, who was stirring up trouble in the Five Points. There is no rest for our poor caster because as soon as Gunnar arrives, things went boom!

    And so off they go to uncover Tick-Tock’s identity and his evil agenda, crossing paths with bullying co-workers, mechanical men, machine-made magic and grotesque abominations.

    If I thought Gillian was already using high-level magic before, well, he just went nuclear. The fight scenes were beyond AWESOME!!! This part alone was enough to earn the book 5 stars. Add to that a gripping case that kept me glued and two fascinating characters that were so damn perfect for each other.

    I first thought, Gunner was a mystery. We still don’t know much about him. But turns out, Gillian was the bigger puzzle to solve. He’s a bit unreliable as a narrator. We constantly learn more things about him as we go along. Everything is told from Gillian’s first person POV. You can really feel his emotions jumping off the page and boy, did I feel for the guy.

    Our boy tends to be too hard on himself. He is a lonely man who oh so badly craves love but thinks himself unworthy because sees himself a monster. He is spectacularly unaware of his own appeal, bemoans his chibi stature and has absolutely no gaydar whatsoever. I thought he was a pushover but this well-spoken little man has quite a temper. When Gillian unleashes his fury, he’s one magnificent, scary motherfucker!

    I also naively thought him a bad liar but holy heck, he was actually lying through his teeth all this time! All in the name of survival. Because our dear Special Agent Gillian Hamilton has some very dark secrets. I love him!!!

    Gunner The Deadly is his complete opposite. He is exactly what Gillian wants. And what he wants to be. The outlaw makes no apologies about who he is. He never lies. Tall, handsome, confident, perceptive and virtually unflappable, his calm automatically shatters the moment Gillian is in danger. I loved how he gently taught the younger man about intimacy and affection. I loved how he sees Gillian, really see him. It’s through the outlaw’s uncannily sharp observations that we get glimpses of how things really are. It is through these that the troubled agent is forced to be honest with himself.

    The two men are constantly out and about so the quiet moments are rare and precious. Gillian cherished them like the treasures they are as his connection with Gunner grew deeper. These scenes are so pure!

    I cleared my throat. “There’s something to be said for a well-built man.” I looked up at Gunner again. He was staring at me. “You’ve been eyed up and down no fewer than half a dozen times since we entered.”

    He nodded a fraction, like he was already quite aware.

    “And the man behind me at the bar intends to bring a beer to you.”

    Gunner’s gaze flicked in that direction but didn’t linger. “You’re quite observant when the attention isn’t focused on you.”

    Sweat prickled under my arms. I shrugged, trying to appear casual, but I’m sure I looked, if anything, manic. “Perhaps… territorial, is more correct.”

    That made the corners of Gunner’s eyes crinkle. “It’s rather too fish-in-a-barrel for me. I enjoy making eye contact with a man across a tavern. Getting that swell in your gut, like the ground has fallen out from under you.”

    I tried to swallow, but my throat was parched—dry like animal bones bleaching in the desert sun. “Like you’ve been pinned to the wall.”

    Gunner took one step closer to me. “And you realize you share a tendency.”

    “Now you’ve got to put it into words.”

    Another step. “When it’s right, you don’t need words.”

    The Gangster took off at a running start. Quite literally too. It never let down the pace until the very end, where it dropped one hell of a cliffhanger. The events took place only a couple of days but even with things going fast, all the various plotlines were brilliantly executed. Everything came together beautifully. It went all out with the action, the suspense, the mystery, the imagery and the magic while delivering a wonderful romance that is as tender as it is spine-tingling. THIS is exactly how you cast a spell on a reader!

    P.S.

    Magic & Steam should be read in order. Gillian and Gunner’s story began where all grand adventures begin, in the Wild Wild West. Check out my review of Book 1, The Engineer, here.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Burn It Down
    Artist: AWOLNATION
    Album: Megalithic Symphony


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    THE GANGSTER

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: This Is Not Revenge by Romilly King

    NOTE: the author plagirized stories from fanfic writers. I’m retracting my review

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    This Is Not Revenge by Romilly King

    The new dark gay romance series from Romilly King – Author of the Delphic Agency and Handled Series.

    He’s never going to believe this is for his own good.

    It looks like revenge.

    I swear it’s not.

    There is zero motivation for me to revenge what he did to my Father.

    I’d rather kiss him for it.

    (No, don’t think like that)

    This is me doing the only thing I can to save him.

    I can’t take the thought of one more death on my hands.

    Too many people have lost everything so we can live.

    And there is such power in the enemy vanquished.

    He’ll understand, once I get through to him, once I explain it all, then we can be allies, or even friends.

    I think I would like that.

    It’s a shame I have to lock him up to do this.

    (He does look really good in my chains though)

    This Is Not Revenge is the first book in a new trilogy by gay romance author Romilly King. It features damaged characters, an unreliable narrator, and themes of dark, twisted love. The story arc will continue across all three books.

    Trigger warning – this is a dark gay romance book and includes graphic violence, sexual scenes and psychological manipulation between lovers. Additional trigger warnings inside.


    First of all, that blurb!

    I already knew I will love this even before I started. I just had that feeling.

    Romilly King set the bar high with her Handled series. I completely went gaga over Gray and Nathan. Well, here’s another psycho pair for us to love.

    GIL and LEO ♡!!!

    Sweet, caring, enchanting, equal parts worldly and innocent, quite delusional, very adept at killing, Gil is everything and more. He is a favored son of a serial killer. Raised in a cult, he completely believes his father’s delusions that they have magic. He kidnaps Leo to keep him safe from his father’s wrath. His father has a long reach and other sons at his beck and call who will go after Leo.

    Leo is a forensic psychologist who helped put Gil’s father in prison. He describes himself as a typical gay man, thought himself capable of withstanding the mental tortures of an abduction but learns surprising things about himself while being chained to the wall. He also learns surprising things about his captor.

    The psychological aspect of the book was really well-done. This is written in dual POV which worked perfectly with the plot. It had me questioning whether the book might actually be paranormal, especially in light of Gil’s firm conviction that he can use magic. And yes, it would really seem he does. But then you would get Leo’s POV and the reality would shift back to the mundane. It was a real mindfuck. I loved it.

    I also loved that one line at the first part that hinted this might be set in the Handled world. If so, would there be cameos? Please?

    The trigger warnings set my expectations for this to be very dark and disturbing. It’s actually kind of mild a.k.a. I wasn’t disturbed (but YMMV so do heed the TWs). But it is quite intense in many ways. It is this intensity as well as the complex and compelling characters, the fast-paced plot and the brilliant writing that made the book perfect for me.

    This Is Not Revenge is one of the best Stockholm Syndrome stories I have read. I loved how the author laid out Gil and Leo’s internal conflicts, how they got to know each other, how they slowly won each other’s trust. I relished the delicious anticipation building up to the point when things shifted between them. You can really FEEL that moment.

    It was such a tender and sweet romance. I think it’s absolutely wonderful that, Stockholm Syndrome or not, they were able to find a pure and beautiful emotional connection amidst all these fucked up circumstances. For me, it’s what stood out the most. Witness this heartwrenching scene where they had to fight against the evil father:

    “We have to stop this.”

    Gil looks at me, “We?”

    “Yes.” There is utter certainty in my voice. “We, always we, from now on, forever, we.”

    There is a desperate hope in his eyes. “But I’m mad.”

    “Me too, apparently it’s catching, and I don’t care.” I’m suddenly fierce, suddenly determined, begging him to believe me.

    I don’t suppose there was ever much doubt.

    This madman, I love him. I can’t help it, and I am going to do everything I can to fight for him

    I too caught the bug, apparently, because I’m crazy about these two madmen.

    P.S.

    This Is Not Revenge is book 1 of a trilogy. It ends with a cliffhanger.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Safety
    Artist: Yoke Lore
    Album: Far Shore


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    Kindle

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Earth Fathers Are Weird by Lyn Gala

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    Earth Fathers: Earth Fathers Are Weird – Lyn Gala

    Captain Maxwell Davis and his entire unit scrambled to engage alien ships over Iowa. The aliens snatched him out of his destroyed jet before they continued on their interplanetary hot pursuit. Then they informed Max that Earth was too far outside regular shipping lanes to return him to his planet.

    So Max ends up in an alien spaceport looking for work. To afford a ticket home he can either spend three hundred years working with linguists to improve the computer’s questionable ability to translate English or he can take a job as a nanny for an unpopular alien.  That way he can afford the ticket in four years.  The problem is that the computer may have mistranslated the word “nanny” and there might be a reason an alien is willing to pay such a high fee.


    Sometimes, it pays to jump headfirst into something knowing as little as possible.

    I started on Earth Fathers Are Weird with the knowledge that there will be tentacles. That’s about it. Now if you have told me beforehand I would be walking into three incubating octopods, me who wouldn’t go near mpreg if I can help it, I would have said blech! and consign this to the farthest reaches of space.

    But much like our boy Captain Maxwell Davis who fell madly and deeply in stupid, I was thrown into a completely foreign world of tentacles and whale speak and loved every minute of it.

    My biggest gripe with space stories is how authors tend to make things human-centric. For me, this is akin to how most movies almost always revolved around an MC that’s white and/or American while the rest of humanity are either villains or supporting characters. I don’t think aliens would think much of humans, heck we couldn’t even travel outside our own solar system. And in their part of the universe, the humans are the aliens.

    This has something to do as well with my niggle regarding alien romances. Frequently, the alien love interest is usually just some guy with blue skin give or take an odd feature or two. Pfft, if you want to do alien, might as well go all the way.

    Lyn Gala went full octopus with Rick. Now, he has multiple eyes and just as many tentacles. The genius of Earth Fathers is that I didn’t even feel a smidge of disgust between the pairing of an octopus and a human. Not even when Rick had his tentacles up Max’s business. Not even with Max pregnant with baby aliens. Nor the very graphic birthing scene. Far from it. I was rooting for Rick and Max all the way!

    It’s not that you would forget Rick is a tentacled alien. You are constantly aware he’s an alien. I especially liked this fact wasn’t diminished as a way to establish a more ‘acceptable’ love interest. The author did a wonderful job showcasing his caring side, his patience, him being a good listener, him being dorky, his various nuances, his fantastic chemistry with Max despite extreme language barrier, colossal cultural gap and mismatched body parts

    At the same time, Max’s humanity and open-mindedness gave him the strength to adapt and face things with good humor. He’s a pop culture enthusiast who regals his alien boyfriend with Darth Vader stories. Gotta love Max right there!

    I really enjoyed how these two worked out their differences and learned about each other. With the help of the ship’s computer, Max did translations. They developed their own way of speaking English. I also enjoyed this part a lot because it felt very true to the set-up.

    The world-building was one of the best I’ve encountered. Things just unfolded so smoothly even with Max’s limited understanding of Rick’s world. We discover things along with Max as he navigates this new reality he was thrust into. Normally, I would have preferred a dual POV, but seeing things through Max’s eyes really worked here.

    And the children. You’d love them too! These three have very distinct personalities. Max named them after fictional characters. There’s Kohei, the eldest. He loves acrobatics. He’s also a very protective big brother. James, named after the captain of the Enterprise, because he loves exploring. And Xander, Max’s little boy who’s named after a Buffy the Vampire Slayer character. He’s the youngest and the smallest and gets cold easily. He loves learning English.

    These little aliens brought out Max’s fierce protective side. I really loved how he went above and beyond here. He fought space pirates with a cleaning hook just to keep his family safe. So of course, Rick had to tangle tentacles with him. This human is a keeper.

    Major props goes to narrator John Solo. Sometimes, he tends to overact some of his narrations but he performed this book to perfection. He did it so well and the story was so good, I listened to this in one sitting!

    Earth Fathers Are Weird is a sweet, beautifully executed love story of two people who not only came from worlds galaxies apart but were of completely different species. How they bridged the gap that spanned this divide was a joy to witness. Hence, this book has gone where no book in my experience has gone before, an mpreg book that earned 5 absolutely perfect stars from me.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Space Age Love Song
    Artist: A Flock Of Seagulls
    Album: A Flock Of Seagulls


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    KINDLE
    AUDIOBOOK

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    Earth Fathers Are Weird

  • book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Handled Books 2 & 3 by Romilly King

    NOTE: the author plagirized stories from fanfic writers. I’m retracting my review

    I practically inhaled these last two Handled books in one sitting because they’re that good!

    The entire series blew me away with Gray and Nathan’s deliciously deviant tale of death and desire that is surprisingly sweet as it is dark. Romilly King created two very memorable characters that are up there in my most favorite couples ever list.

    Handled is a world where capital punishment is meted out to serial killers by highly trained killers called Handlers. These executions are supervised by Witnesses. Each Handler is assigned a Witness.

    Gray, best handler in town, was assigned Nathan, rookie witness, who somehow forged a more than professional connection to the notoriously very difficult handler.


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    Handled: Cleansed – Romilly King

    Sometimes you have to go back in order to go forward – Gray is going back to handle the man who saw him as an angel, and unleashed the demon in him.

    I am a Handler; I deal with serial killers, legally, ruthlessly, and in the presence of my Witness, because justice must be seen to be done.

    Handling is an intimate procedure. I only perform for an audience of one; for my Witness, with his hot eyes and his innocent heart, and the pure white soul that I dirtied up so beautifully.

    Now someone else is watching, the man who refined the monster in me. I can’t allow that to continue, particularly as he threatens the Witness who has caused the frozen lump in my chest that I laughingly refer to as a heart, to sporadically beat.

    This isn’t about retribution; this is cleaning up the past so I have a chance at a future.

    Cleansed is the second book in the Handled trilogy, it is a dark gay romance dealing with adult themes and contains graphic scenes that may upset some readers. Please heed the trigger warnings inside.


    Cleansed picks up some months after the first book. We see Gray and Nathan’s relationship continue to evolve and grow stronger. For one brief moment, our favorite psycho lets himself be a vulnerable relaxed tiger around Nathan and learns what being cared for without any ulterior motives feels like.

    I am so happy we finally get Gray’s backstory. A crazed evangelist played a pivotal role, christening the kidnapped child Gray an angel sent to him. The man killed and tortured people in front of the child, waiting to see if the angel will appear and save the sinners.

    Years after his release, Gray learned this evangelist has kept tabs on him and was angry about his relationship with Nathan. Gray being Gray, he provoked his stalker and inadvertently put Nathan in danger. Then he went after the killer with typical Gray panache.

    I really like that the story went straight to the point with the identity of the killer. Gray has the resources and is smart enough to figure things out quickly. I also appreciated that he remained essentially himself even after the memories came rushing back. He might have a vulnerable moment or two but his claws are still sharp as ever.

    But also, soft thoughts!!!!!

    Oh, the soft thoughts are everything! ♥(ˆ⌣ˆԅ)

    This is an aptly named book. Gray proved how deadly angelic he can be, burned the bridges to his past and went on to live halcyon days of sun, the occasional Nathan and OMG! cartwheels!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Animal Impulses
    Artist: IAMX
    Album: The Unified Field


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    Handled: Polished – Romilly King

    How deadly do you have to be to kill a killer?

    Handlers are hard to kill, and to be fair most of us like the challenge when people try, but now someone is killing off handlers in bloody and complex ways.

    Not my problem.

    Not anymore.

    I got out, I got free, and I don’t want to go back.

    But someone is offering a favour if I handle this, a valuable one, and it could make all the difference to how this story ends.

    Handlers don’t expect a happy ever after; most of us don’t even know what one looks like. I do, my happy ever after is blue eyed and frequently filthy and deliciously mouthy and he bends the way I want him to bend. And I could have that. All I have to do is take on one more handling, and ensure we both survive it.

    The odds are not with me this time though.

    I really should have kept on killing, I’m out of practice.

    Polished is the third book in the Handled trilogy, it is a dark gay romance dealing with adult themes and contains graphic scenes that may upset some readers. Please heed the trigger warnings inside.


    The cartwheeling had to come to an end eventually…

    Polished is where things come full circle as a retired Gray was forced to handle another case and Nathan is again assigned as his witness. Handlers and Witnesses are murdered one by one. Gray needed to get his monster mojo back in order to solve the case faster. To do so, he pushes poor Nathan away because his little witness makes him more human. They kept hitting dead ends. The situation became even more desperate when Nathan disappeared.

    Nathan’s baby handler brother, Indigo and Indi’s special friend Trans, demanded they help. Now these two are adorable psychos! Can we have their book please?

    Nathan has learned his way around Gray, keeping faith and patiently waiting, waiting, waiting…Meanwhile, Gray, struggles to put a name to this thing between him and Nathan. It took two teen psychos to help him ease into it. And solve the case while they’re at it.

    Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed with how Gray’s redemption came about. Is it wrong for me to wish he was really the psychopath everyone thought he was? Can we just let psychos be psychos and still be capable of love? If Indi can, Gray can too, I believe.

    In this trilogy, I was all about Gray. Nathan is a great character through and through. I loved him from the start but the dark and dangerous tend to hog the spotlight more. However, Nathan’s dogged determination, his innate goodness, even his naivety and most especially his selfless love for these unlovable monsters sneaked up on me much like he sneaked his way into Gray’s heart. Slowly but surely. His complete trust in Gray was such a beautiful gift. After all that he has done, I looked at him with wonder too!

    This finale revealed a more intimate picture of the relationships between Handlers and Witnesses. It is a complicated relationship, a symbiosis of two people working together in super intense, highly volatile situations. Professional can quickly turn to personal, a natural progression of sorts, and I would love to see more of these dynamics explored. I really hope we get a spinoff series.

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

    Soundtrack: My Witness
    Artist: The Irrepressibles
    Album: Mirror Mirror

    P.S.

    Handled should be experienced as a binge read. You won’t have it any other way.

    Witness the beginnings of Gray and Nathan’s explosive partnership in Handled book 1. Review here.


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    HANDLED | CLEANSED