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    SERIES REVIEW: Enlightenment Books 2 & 3 by Joanna Chambers

    Enlightenment: Beguiled – Joanna Chambers

    A fleeting pleasure is the sweetest seduction…

    David Lauriston couldn’t be less interested in King George IV’s first visit to Edinburgh. But with Faculty of Advocates members required to put on a minimal show of patriotism, David makes an appointment with his tailor for a new set of clothes-only to run into a man he hasn’t seen for two long years.

    Lord Murdo Balfour.

    Much has changed since their bitter parting, except their stormy attraction. And when Murdo suggests they enjoy each other’s company during his stay, David finds himself agreeing. After all, it’s only a temporary tryst.

    Amidst the pomp and ceremony of the King’s visit, Murdo’s seduction is more powerful than David ever imagined possible. But when other figures from David’s past show up, he is drawn into a chain of events beyond his control. Where his determination to help a friend will break his body, threaten his career, and put at risk the fragile tenderness he’s found in Murdo’s arms.

    Warning: Contains a lowborn Scottish lawyer with no love for the aristocracy, but more than enough passion for this highborn lord. Political intrigue, kilts, explicit m/m trysts, and men who epitomize “knight in shining armor.”

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Show Me The Wonder
    Artist: Manic Street Preachers
    Album: Rewind the Film

    Enlightenment: Enlightened – Joanna Chambers

    The cruelest duel may not spill a drop of blood…but it could break their hearts.

    Five months ago, David Lauriston was badly hurt helping his friend Elizabeth escape her violent husband. Since then, David has been living with his lover, Lord Murdo Balfour, while he recuperates.

    Despite the pain of his injuries, David’s time with Murdo has been the happiest of his life. The only things that trouble him are Murdo’s occasional bouts of preoccupation, and the fact that one day soon, David will have to return to his legal practice in Edinburgh.

    That day comes too soon when David’s friend and mentor takes to his deathbed, and David finds himself agreeing to take on a private mission in London. Murdo is at his side in the journey, but a shocking revelation by Murdo’s ruthless father leaves David questioning everything they’ve shared.

    As tensions mount and the stakes grow higher, David and Murdo are forced to ask themselves how far they’re prepared to go—and how much they’re prepared to give up—to stay together. And whether there’s any chance of lasting happiness for men like them.

    Warning: Men in love, men with secrets, and men armed with dueling pistols.

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Light
    Artist: Kinder
    Album: Light

    I don’t know what the heck I read in 2017, but I remember not being too impressed with Provoked, Book 1 of Enlightenment. The series was a huge fan-favorite, so what was I missing? 

    The story is from the POV of young lawyer David Lauriston. He’s a man with strong opinions about right or wrong. He will go through extreme lengths to protect his friends, especially Elizabeth, who married a rich but abusive aristocrat. David is stubborn, but I liked that he’s loyal and kind to a fault.

    My main gripe was Lord Murdo Balfour.

    Murdo is a villain name. Also, he was supposed to be this mysterious rakish figure who seduced the then-virgin David Lauriston, only to leave him high and dry. Apparently, there’s a thing as too enigmatic because he came across as a faceless, featureless, one-dimensional entity.

    Cue Books 2 and 3, Beguiled and Enlightened, and I was spectacularly flabbergasted to discover the very same Lord Murdo Balfour, not just a living, breathing entity, but a swoony, generous, considerate, and attentive love interest so obviously smitten with our boy David. How the hell did I not see that before?!

    And Murdo, chafing at the bit to free himself from his father’s evil grasp, and single-mindedly defiant of the Earl’s machinations to have him marry a woman to further their family’s political power. Also, him doing everything to protect David and his friends at the cost of his reputation, family, and wealth. This man, OMG!!! My jaw dropped to the floor!

    My, ahem, enlightenment in this aptly named series gave me a high while reading the 2nd and 3rd books. I had better appreciation of what turned out to be an very-well thought out plot running through the first three books, with nuanced characters navigating tricky political and social rules and a high stakes forbidden romance culminating a daring all or nothing bid for an HEA.

    I also complained before about the POV being solely from David’s as too one-sided. It didn’t matter anymore. The storytelling felt more balanced now that I have a better grasp of Murdo’s character. Also, the rest of the supporting cast, David’s mentor Chalmers, Elizabeth, Euan who is David’s friend and Lizzie’s lover, the Earl, and Lizzie’s abusive husband, now stood out individually and playing their parts effectively.

    I have never been more glad to give a series another chance. The fans were right!

    From the eye-opening characters, the compelling threads of kindness, trust, and care in a world of power and abuse, to the clever, clever way it sliced through the Gordian knots that bind Murdo and the hard-won happiness for him and David, Enlightenment is a brilliant historical romance. 

    A true classic!


    Enlightenment should be read in order. Decide if Murdo was indeed cardboard or I was too blind to see his true nature in Book1, Provoked.

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


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    REVIEW: His Brutal Heart by Leighton Greene

    West Coast Mobsters: His Brutal Heart – Leighton Greene

    The ultimate forbidden love: a Mafia Boss and his captive.

    I’m a man without mercy. A Mafia heir.
    Brutality was all that ever made sense to me…
    Until I saw him.

    Unfortunately, he happens to be the sole witness to my latest crime.
    That should mean one thing.

    But one look into those pleading blue eyes, and I lost myself.

    I let a beauty live…
    But – beast that I am – I’ve locked him away.

    Little by little, he charms his way out of his cell and into my bed, until I begin to wonder which of us is the real prisoner.

    After all, I’m the one trapped by my own brutal heart.

    And that oh-so-innocent beauty I took and kept?

    He has secrets of his own.

    Secrets that could destroy me.


    His Brutal Heart is the second book in the West Coast Mobsters series. Follow the men of the Los Angeles underworld in this page-turning romantic suspense series as they find love, danger and mystery in the most unexpected places.

    Each book in this series tells the love story of a different couple who find their happy ending, as well as a resolution to the mystery they’re investigating, but there are cliffhangers to the wider suspense plot for the series.

    Content advisory notes are available to view on the Copyright page via Look Inside or by downloading the sample.

    There’s a Teddy inside all of us.

    Why else would there be an entire sub-genre of romance dedicated to the mafia, bratva, heck, even the damn cartel? Strictly fictional, of course.

    Leighton Greene continues to blew me away with the second book of her spectacular romantic suspense series, West Coast Mobsters. I was tickled pink to learn His Brutal Heart is about Alessandro Castellani and Teddy MacCallum. I knew it would be good, but holyyy hell, I didn’t know it would FUCKING SLAY!!!!

    At its core, the story is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, where the scarred Alessandro considers himself too ugly to be lovable and the adorkably-oblivious-that-he-is-gorgeous Teddy MacCallum was initially held prisoner in Redwood Manor against his will.

    The two were forced to work together when Teddy proved he could be useful in solving the murder of the old Don Castellani. By this time, our boy Teddy practically begged to stay in the manor.

    Teddy owns Cute Crims, a website dedicated to stanning and/or fapping over made men. As Site God, Teddy runs a tight ship, the rules for posting a pic being a.) should be cute, b.) should be crim, and c.) should be Family. He oversees multi-forums worth of information, mostly wild speculations, some surprisingly accurate.

    And if there’s one mafioso Teddy is obsessed with, that is the notorious but elusive Alessandro Castellani. Theirs was a fucked up version of a celebrity meet cute where the Sandro fan boy meets his crush over double crossing gangs and gunfire. Because how else?

    In Book 1, His Lethal Desire, Jack was the main driving force. Here, both Alessandro and Teddy fascinated me. The dynamics is pure delight! There’s a delicate play of power that swings deliciously back and forth between Alessandro and Teddy.

    Alessandro, now the new Don Castellani, finds himself with no trusted allies within their ranks. The murder of the old don demands that it should be solved first and the killer punished before vows to the new don could be made. If they will be made at all.

    Alessandro ruthlessly dominates but questions his value as the new Don and a person worthy of affection. He’s angry, bitter, and lonely. Teddy is inexperienced but completely obsessed and single-minded in his pursuit and adoration of the scarred Alessandro. An angelic marshmallow, Teddy has a surprising amount of steel and resourcefulness. In no time, he has Sandro wrapped around his little finger.

    That our boy Teddy was gutsy enough to pit his wits against a cunning devil like Julian, spoke volumes of Teddy’s intellect and devotion to Alessandro. With his sweet, giving nature, it’s easy to forget he has serious tech skills and smarts.

    Sandro would be the big bad Don Castellani, making hard decisions, being a mean motherfucker, and pushing Teddy away. Teddy only has to say “Alessandro” in a certain way, and BAM, Alessandro melting be like, “I can’t refuse you when you say my name like that.” SWOON!!

    It’s the way he says my name, worshipful, shy, his voice trembling, that destroys the last of my self-control.

    The way Alessandro’s character grew, the way he let Teddy inside his walls, and the way his cold, dead heart started beating again, it’s why hurt comfort holds my heart in a vise and then be DEVASTATINGLY GOOD!

    And it’s not just the romance that was brilliant, the mystery and the rest of the plot were equally riveting.

    I guessed the murderer early on, but such is the author’s storytelling abilities that I enjoyed watching the characters put it all together. The murder mystery is the thread that propelled the plot, leading Alessandro and Teddy to interact with various characters, hash out old grudges, and eventually clear the air.

    Alessandro’s complicated relationship with former-best-friend-now-frenemy Jack kept me hooked. Their friendship was broken by betrayal, bloody and violent. But Alessandro needs Jack because there’s almost no one else to trust, and our boy Jack, honorable man that he is, dutifully watched his boss’s back despite mixed feelings.

    Another complicated relationship is with Julian, Alessandro’s half-brother. Wily, with genius-level scheming skills, and downright crazy, the man spent most of the story behind bars in the manor dungeons but still managed to make quite a presence!

    The resolutions for both of these and the murder conclude the story in a satisfying way while leaving an opening for Julian’s book.

    Leighton Greene excels at creating memorable and compelling characters. Alessandro and Teddy are just two of the many she conceived that were memorable. It’s a huge deal because this series and the Morelli Family, are interconnected, and every time one character makes a cameo, I could still recall scenes from their book. Not many interconnected series can do that.

    His Brutal Heart is a story of finding self-worth and fighting for family and blood. As Alessandro quickly learns, it’s lonely at the top. It’s even lonelier to have your heart’s desire within reach but you’re too afraid to grab it. Overall, intensely passionate, incredibly squee-tastic, brutally romantic!

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Scar
    Artist: Joe Henry
    Album: Scar


    West Coast Mobsters should be read in order. The endings are left as openings for the succeeding book. And these mafiosos are worth the shot.

    Witness a hitman dodge bullets, only to be hit by a bullseye straight to the heart in His Lethal Desire.

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    HIS BRUTAL HEARTKindle | Paperback

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    SERIES REVIEW: Kage Trilogy by Maris Black

    Kage Trilogy – Maris Black

    *** KAGE (Book 1)

    My name is Jamie Atwood, and I’m an addict. I never thought I’d say such a thing. Never had a problem being overly-attached to anything in my life. I came from a perfectly middle-class family, made good grades, and had a hot cheerleader girlfriend… but the truth is, nothing ever really moved me. So how did a guy like me become an addict?

    I met Michael Kage.

    Kage is an MMA fighter. A famous one. I like to think I helped him get that way.

    He’s charming as hell, with looks to rival any movie star and talent to back it up. So why did he need to hire me as an intern Publicist? Simple. He has a darkness in him– like a black hole so deep it could swallow him, and me, and everyone we know– and that’s not good for business.

    The first time I met him, I felt the pull. I think the addiction began at that very moment. And even if I’d known then what I know now, I would have fallen for him. How could I not?

    For me, Kage is everything.

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Stay In My Corner
    Artist: The Arcs
    Album: Yours, Dreamily

    *** KAGE UNLEASHED (Book 2)

    In a battle of the heart, who will be the first to submit?

    My name is Jamie Atwood, and I am an idiot. Against all odds, I got the attention of Michael Kage, the hottest MMA fighter on the planet. To say he rocked my world would be an understatement. He transformed me completely, made me depend on him, and made me love him. And the sex? Let me put it this way: I’d never been with a guy before I met Kage, but I’d gladly spend the rest of my life on my knees for him. He is my obsession and my addiction. But I did something stupid, and now I’m paying for it. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Kage again.

    Being Michael Kage was never easy. Too many demons, too much anger, and not enough to live for. And then I met Jamie Atwood. He’s got this innocence about him that speaks to something deep down inside me- in a place that’s never been touched by anyone. He’s beautiful, smart, and courageous, and he hasn’t been tainted by the darkness that’s ruled my life. I wanted him from the first second I laid eyes on him. It’s selfish, I know. Because you can’t bring an innocent thing into the darkness and not expect something to rub off.

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Teleport 2 Me, Jamie
    Artist: KID CUDI
    Album: Teleport 2 Me, Jamie

    *** KAGE UNMASKED (Book 3)


    SEXY COLLEGE SENIOR Jamie Atwood has fallen hard for MMA dark horse Michael “the Machine” Kage. With his hot muscled body, intoxicating green eyes, and proclivity for rough sex, Kage is a potent aphrodisiac to the innocent boy-next-door. The danger, the intrigue, the feel of his strong hand around his throat, the knowledge that his fighter would kill or die for him. From the moment Kage grabbed onto his hips and channeled all that masculine aggression into claiming his body, Jamie was ruined for anyone else.

    PASSIONS RUN HIGH as the lovers try to assimilate into each other’s lives: coming out to family and friends, blending into the high-profile MMA world, dealing with Kage’s sketchy uncle. But behind Kage’s mask of strength and indifference lies a crippling vulnerability, and a devastating secret. As the mask comes off, past traumas surface, dark desires spin out of control, and the damaged fighter is driven to hurt the man he loves more than life itself.

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Forget the Past
    Artist: The Irrepressibles
    Album: Mirror Mirror

    Kage Trilogy by Maris Black is an intense, angsty, frustrating, compelling, and hella swoony sports romance between an MMA fighter and his publicist.

    Journalism major and college senior Jamie Atwood scored a summer internship as upcoming MMA fighter Michael ‘The Machine’ Kage’s publicist. This after the dork blustered his way through his first interview with Kage. The man was so impressed (and smittened) that he demanded the college boy work for him. Thing is, Jamie is straight and has a girlfriend.

    Did it stop Kage? Hell no!

    Meanwhile, Jamie couldn’t help but be magnetized by enigmatic Kage. And I couldn’t blame the boy because, damn, the man has quite the presence!

    I came into this series blind. The first two books end in cliffhangers, so the trilogy must be read in order. Kage, book 1, is written solely in Jamie’s POV. We see a bumbling, naive college student playing the sports publicist, pretending to know what he’s doing and boldly declaring he’s going to make Michael Kage famous.

    In fairness to Jamie, our boy did work hard, building a website, social media presence, and Kage’s image as a sexy MMA fighter. Multi-tasking as the photographer, some of his picture-taking sessions has Kage in temperature-raising poses that led to our boy questioning (and lowkey denying) his sexuality.

    Jamie could be spectacularly oblivious to the fact that Kage was doing a slow but thorough wooing. Kage was obsessed from that first interview and proceeded to wine, dine, and splurge, but our boy remained clueless (or in denial). And it wasn’t until, a very provocative pose and Kage spelling it out for him that our boy fell on his knees and willingly swallowed the truth, among other things.

    Kage Unleashed and Kage Unmasked are written in both Kage’s and Jamie’s POVs. The two sequels chronicle Kage and Jamie’s struggles as a secret gay couple and how they navigate publicly coming out while they introduce Kage to Jamie’s family and try to outmaneuver Kage’s evil uncle.

    There are scenes that might be disturbing to some, like the dubcon-ish scene in the gazebo or that minors were forced to fight to the death. Kage also has PTSD and childhood trauma cause by his abusive uncle.

    When I say frustrating, I’m mostly talking about Jamie and the villain, Peter Santori. Jamie is impulsive and makes stupid decisions. I could forgive him. He’s young and still has lots to learn.

    Kage and Jamie’s relationship is tested by misunderstandings and miscommunications made worse by separations caused by Kage’s uncle’s evil schemes. This asshole is mostly absent, but his presence and machinations can be felt through their negative impact on Kage and/or Jamie. He’s a psychopath who uses Kage to further his own goals and has no qualms attempting to kill his nephew when he proved too much trouble.

    Kage the man is why Kage the trilogy packed a punch. The Machine is highly skilled, unbeatable and hyper-focused on his targets, whether it be winning Jamie or the MMA championship belt. Life threw one challenge after another, first losing his family as a young child, then living under his evil uncle’s thumb and forced to toe the line by pretending to be in a relationship with a woman.

    Kage still managed to come out on top, fighting for his and Jamie’s lives. And there is always a fight and a separation. Then Kage getting Jamie back through sheer willpower and two middle fingers to the world and his uncle. Arrow right in my kokoro every time!

    Here’s a little spoiler why Kage is everything. Whenever I read somebody’s reaction to a book saying, “I’m a sobbing mess,” I tend to roll my eyes at such hyperbole. Well, there was this scene where Jamie and Kage were forcibly separated and had no contact for some time (evil uncle in action). Jamie convinced his friends to watch Kage’s fight on TV because he missed his boyfriend badly.

    Jamie was bragging he helped choose Kage’s entrance song, Kanye West’s I Am A God. But when Kage entered, Jamie was surprised it was a different song playing. His friend googled the song and showed him the title: Teleport 2 Me, Jamie.

    You guessed it, I was a sobbing mess! Songs are my krytonite and Kage just had to pick the perfect song!

    Kage Trilogy ends with a HFN, a cliffhanger really. I’m glad I read it now and not when it was first released because now I know the story continues with Santori Trilogy. Kage and Jamie aren’t perfect, but with the distinct honor of being the third book to make me cry in all my reading life, I’m giving them 5 stars. These boys hit me with a knock out punch!

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    REVIEW: Say I Do by Brea Alepou & Skyler Snow

    Vitale Brothers: Say I Do – Brea Alepou & Skyler Snow

    What do you get when you mix a mobster with the son of the yakuza?

    A marriage bathed in blood.

    I never expected to be getting married, but when a business opportunity lands in my lap, I know I have to take it. After all, my family means the world to me. I’ll do anything to keep them safe, even if it’s entering a marriage that’s nothing more than convenience so I can pop out an heir.

    However, that’s not what happens. The Hayashi’s pull a fast one and I’m left with a snarling godd*mn hellhound on my hands. Harlow is nothing like the demure, sweet woman I signed up for. No, he’s got teeth and he knows how to use them.

    There’s no going back.

    I’ll either fall in love or bury another lover.

    When I started the Vitale Brothers series, I loved the cover of Take Me Apart but didn’t put much meaning to it. It wasn’t until the second book, Paid In Full, that I sat up and took a closer look at the cover because, holy hell, the scene connected to it slayed me!

    And DAMN! Benito’s book is a killer, too! That cover is perfect, right down to the turtle tattoo!

    Say I Do is the marriage between a monster and the devil. You can bet it’s one hell of a wedding night!

    And did I say they’re marrying each other, TWICE!

    Seriously, do we expect anything less from the merger of the head of a notorious mafia family and the son of the yakuza boss? It is as feral as it fiery, the bloodlust as intense as the passion! The hatefucks are so nuclear they set the standard for my other reads!

    The opening scene set the tone with Harlow Hayashi strapped to a gurney and gagged, ala Hannibal Lecter, because our boy is too deadly. He was wheeled into his wedding to Vitale Family head, Benito, after his twin sister became unsuitable for being pregnant with another man’s child.

    Surprised by this turn of events, a.k.a. shitty move by the Hayashis, but unwilling to break the fragile peace, Benito went through with the wedding ceremony. Not knowing what to do with a groom and claiming to be straight, Benito was quick to realize his life not only turned upside down, it got whole lot bloodier too.

    Please check the trigger warnings before diving in. There are instances of pedophilia, trauma, death, grief, and a lot of morally grey, if not down right criminal actions.

    There is also graphic domestic violence here, and by that, we have Benito and Harlow going at it like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt discovering they’re both spies. It’s not pretty, but just like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mr. and Mr. Vitale couldn’t resist the magnetic pull and soon channeled their aggression into a more steamy exchange of body fluids. It happens every time buttons are pushed because these two just loved pushing.

    Mostricio, non nascondetevi da me. Non eri quello che cercavo, ma sei tutto ciò di cui ho bisogno
    “Monster, don’t hide from me. You weren’t what I was looking for, but you’re all I need”

    The tumultuous romance blossomed while Benito is tasked to uncover who is snitching on the Vitales to a reporter. Harlow, recognizing his stake in the marriage and the Vitales, uses his skills and contacts to help gather intel on the snitch.

    This brought him to an old lover, the head of the Chinese triad, who declares ownership of Harlow. Even as a child, the young man was nothing but a bargaining chip to his father who handed him over to the triad. Benito’s not having any of the triad leader’s crap and took matters in his own hands.

    This series rarely pulled its punches, and Benito’s story did some heavy hitting, as well. This book is the perfect balance of sex, violence, and FEELS so swoony, the boutique scene melted me into goo! Add to that a gripping plot, and writing that keeps the tension tightly wounded until it exploded into a glorious red wedding climax.

    To top it off, another brother was introduced! The mysterious Gianpaolo, Gin’s twin, sacrificed his life for the family to become an FBI agent. He’s going to be paired with his boss! Can’t wait to see how they make this work!

    Say I Do blew my expectations out of the water! It is what a proper enemies-to-lovers romance should be, where real hate burns like fire of a thousand suns and the love it forges is true and unbreakable. This 3rd book of the series cements the Vitale Brothers as one of the most memorable mafia romances I’ve read this year!

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: To Be
    Artist: The Irrepressibles
    Album: Nude


    Vitale Brothers is best read in order because these brothers are pretty special. Meet Enzo who likes ’em bloody and neat in Take Me Apart. Meet Gin who likes a toppy twink in Paid In Full.

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    SAY I DOKindle | Audiobook

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    REVIEW: Pretty Policeman by Fifer Rose

    Pretty Policeman – Fifer Rose

    Detective Micah Hart wasn’t sure when his fairly safe, predictable life became something more closely resembling a dumpster fire.

    But if he had to pinpoint an exact moment, he would say it was the first time he went undercover as a prostitute in an attempt to bait the notorious serial killer who was stalking New York City’s streets – the media-dubbed Hooker Hunter.

    It’s when Damon Romano plows into his life, with his fierce protective energy, and those thick thighs, and the bluest pair of eyes Micah has ever seen.

    If only he wasn’t also a temperamental mafioso in charge of running one of the city’s largest criminal empires.

    Damon fixates on Micah, obsessing over feeding him and making sure he always has a coat. He spoils him rotten with gifts and insists on taking Micah on as his personal escort – a “boyfriend” to get his nagging sisters off his back.

    It’s weirdly sweet, and Micah doesn’t know how he’s become a soft spot in the ruthless man’s otherwise hardened exterior, but it would be a lie to say he didn’t want even more: a real relationship with Damon.

    There was just one teensy, tiny problem with that.

    Despite what Damon thinks, Micah isn’t actually a prostitute. He’s a cop for the NYPD.

    Pretty Policeman is an MM billionaire/mafia romance, sprinkled liberally with rom-com elements, served with a side helping of sugar daddy kink and mistaken identity trope.

    I’m not a fan of Pretty Woman because I don’t find Julia Roberts and Richard Gere attractive or appealing as actors. But I could see that the trope could be hella romantic if done correctly.

    Pretty Policeman is a take on Pretty Woman, but instead of a sex worker, we have an undercover cop, Micah Hart, playing rent boy in order to catch a serial killer. He was rescued from an abusive john by billionaire Damon Romano, who then fed and clothed the underdressed, underage-looking Micah. And showered him with presents without expecting anything in return.

    Micah tried several times to reject the care and the presents, but the older man sincerely and quite firmly wants to help get him off the streets. Thing is, Micah has a case to solve. Later, Damon gave him an offer he can’t refuse. And it turned out the caring billionaire is also a ruthless mafia don.

    The premise grabbed me immediately, and I didn’t initially realize what trope it was referencing. Author Fifer Rose sold me the fantasy and spiced it up with forbidden love between an undercover cop and a mafia boss, and I bought it hook, line, and sinker.

    And she made it so much fun! Written in Micah’s POV, his internal dialogues were hilarious, especially with how clueless he is in many situations and how we, as the reader, could see disaster written all over it. The writing also tends to use cutesy mini-explanations in parenthesis. It could have been annoying, but it worked with the tone of the story.

    Both characters have a duality to them. Our boy Micah, lovable as he is, is a total himbo, suffers from verbal diarrhea, prone to making spectacularly bad decisions, and should avoid vodka at all costs. As a newly minted detective, he is surprisingly good at his job. Micah is eager to prove himself, works his cases with dedication and diligence, and has good instincts he utilizes to maximum effect during investigations.

    Damon is known to Micah as a kind, protective, and generous man with a sugar daddy kink. He is a total gentleman, respecting Micah’s virtue even when the dork came on to him while completely smashed. Unknown to our boy, Damon is a much-feared mafia don whose wetwork makes even his hardened chauffer, Geoffrey, queasy.

    We never see Damon’s POV, which I wanted so badly. On the other hand, seeing him through Micah’s eyes enhances his mystique. And boy, does he cut a dashing figure in his sharp suits and greek god good looks! Not to mention all that TLC he showers Micah.

    In the last scene, we are teased with Geoffrey’s POV of his boss, where he comments on the changes to Damon’s character (“pep in his step” among them). While he secretly thinks Micah is an idiot, he couldn’t deny the dork’s good for the don. Heck, their chemistry sizzled and zinged! Even a grizzled mafioso could see that.

    I hope we get Geoffrey’s POV again in book two because I am intrigued by a third person’s POV of the mismatched pair.

    The trick to this book is to suspend disbelief, take it with a heaping pile of salt, and just let the romance sweep you away. The plot is OTT ridiculous but the case is actually interesting and is woven well with the crazy, implausible sugar daddy shenanigans, family drama, and workplace woes. I haven’t had this much fun with a book in a while!

    Pretty Policeman isn’t the kind of literary masterpiece people rhapsodize about. But to me, it is a masterful take on a classic romance trope, a novel of pure escapist fun, and a swoony fantasy of dark knights sweeping pretty boys off their feet. It doesn’t get more perfect than that!

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Sugar
    Artist: Tonic
    Album: Sugar

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    REVIEW: Mafia Target by Mila Finelli

    The Kings of Italy: Mafia Target – Mila Finelli

    GIULIO I’ve renounced my birthright as the heir to an Italian mafia empire, but no one leaves the brotherhood without paying a price. To evade my enemies, I stay on the move. Now a new man is stalking me, watching me. But there’s something else in his eyes, a hunger that sets me on fire. He’s rough and dangerous, all the things I crave in the dark. Except he’s been hired to kill me.

    I shouldn’t want him. But I do.

    They say to keep your enemies close. So that’s exactly what I’m planning. Beware the hunted who becomes the hunter…

    ALESSIO I live in the shadows, the assassin they never see coming. I’m the best, but Giulio is my weakness. I need him in ways I can’t begin to explain. He might run, but I’ll follow him to the ends of the earth. And if others try to hurt him, I’ll protect him with my last breath. Except I’m hiding a secret, one that will cost me everything. I should walk away, but I can’t.

    Even if it’s my undoing.

    Mafia Target is the fourth book in the Kings of Italy series. It’s a stand-alone male/male romance, complete with two hot and dangerous Italian men. HEA and no cliffhangers guaranteed!

    To say my interest was piqued would be an understatement. My guts was screaming for me to read this book!

    Mafia Target is an enemies-to-lovers story between the scion of a top mafia family and the assassin hired to kill him. It certainly ticked all my boxes and then some! It’s the 4th book of The Kings of Italy by new-to-me author Mila Finelli. The rest of the series are mf romance.

    This installment can be read as a standalone since the backstory can be effortlessly put together. Giulio Ravazzani is the gay son of Don Fausto Ravazzani. He was supposed to marry Francesca in Book 1, but the don ended up marrying her instead. Giulio’s former lover was killed in a car bomb intended for him, and the young mafioso decided to leave home to carve his own path away from his father’s shadow.

    The story starts when Alessandro Ricci, an ex-military turned assassin, was hired by a rival Family to kill Fausto. He was about to pull the trigger when he spotted Giulio. The world’s top assassin was so awestruck, he missed!

    He likened the experience to being struck by a thunderbolt, which I think is a very apt description of him falling in love at first sight. This was also mentioned in Godfather, so the thunderbolt must be an Italian thing. Because of his fuck up, he was tasked to kill Giulio instead.

    The enemies-to-lovers aspect was chef’s kiss! Just pure perfection! The air between Alessio and Giulio practically hummed with electricity and anticipation! The stalking, the buildup, the accidentally-on-purpose meetings, and the halcyon days of fucking and feeding sheep had that elusive, much sought after ZING only the best and most unforgettable romances have. 

    Between the two MCs, Alessio immediately won me over. He’s a man of few words with an intensity that radiates off the page. Watching him unerringly stalking Giulio as a target and then turning that into a single-minded determination to protect his beloved Principe, even at the cost of his life and limb, even with Giulio’s rejection, Alessio was both a force of nature and a man badly in need of a hug. 

    Giulio took a while for me to warm up to, mainly because he had his walls up. I can’t blame him for not jumping into the relationship head first. He’s still grieving his late boyfriend. But I loved how everytime Alessio does or says something endearing, his cold, dead heart melts little by little. He’s ambitious and resourceful, slowly carving out his little empire on his own. He and Alessio make a great team. He brings out the assassin’s human side.

    This is one of the swooniest books I’ve read this year! The separation scene that wrecked our MCs emotionally and physically brought the already potent brew up to another level! And that’s not all. The cherry on top of this already exquisite treat is the writing.

    The setting is in Italy and various parts of Europe. Typically, authors would use a couple of native phrases and leave it at that. Here, almost every other dialogue is spoken with Italian sentences and phrases. The way the prose seamlessly flows between English and Italian, with a smattering of Gaelic and Russian, the bilingualism of this book was pure eargasm! I highly recommend audiobooking this.

    I am especially ecstatic about the multi-lingual prose because it’s exactly how I want to write my book if I know how to write a story. I loved how the author pulled it off in a way that remains true to the characters’ nationality yet still relatable to an international, mostly American, audience.

    Mafia Target is a book that will grip you hard till the end, and as it is a long one, best read during weekends. It’s dark yet surprisingly fluffy, often heart-wrenching but just as incredibly squee-tastic, with prose that speaks to me. All in all, a thunderbolt to the kokoro and music to the ears!

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Danger
    Artist: Etro Anime
    Album: See the Sound

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    REVIEW: The Vicar and the Rake by Annabelle Greene

    The Vicar and the Rake – Annabelle Greene

    Debut author Annabelle Greene brings us the brilliant first book in her Society of Beasts series, in which a quiet country vicar is unwillingly reunited with the duke who left him long ago…

    As a young man, Sir Gabriel Winters left behind his status as a gentleman, turning his back on his secret desires and taking a self-imposed vow of celibacy. Now he’s a chaste, hardworking vicar, and his reputation is beyond reproach. But, try as he might, he’s never forgotten the man he once desired or the pain of being abandoned by his first love.

    Edward Stanhope, the Duke of Caddonfell, is a notorious rake, delighting in scandal no matter the consequence. With a price on his head, he flees to the countryside, forced to keep his presence a secret or risk assassination. When Edward finds Gabriel on his estate, burning with fever, he cannot leave him to die, but taking him in puts them both in jeopardy.

    With the help of a notorious blackmailer, a society of rich and famous gentlemen who prefer gentlemen, and a kitten named Buttons, they might just manage to save Edward’s life—but the greatest threat may be to their hearts.

    I’ve complained that historicals haven’t worked for me since last year, even the usually brilliant K.J. Charles books. 

    The Vicar and the Rake was a random pick and a blind read at that. I was ecstatic that not only did it click, it was a one-sitter and a 5-star!

    I was already deep inside the story when I realized similarities to the classic historical series, Society of Gentleman by K.J. Charles. I totally didn’t mind. If it was an homage, it was a wonderfully done tribute to my favorite gay gents.

    This is the story of two childhood friends, Edward Stanhope and Gabriel Winters. They spent their youthful days on the cusps of secret evolving feelings when Edward ghosted, leaving Gabriel adrift and pining.

    Ten years later, the infamous rake, Edward a.k.a. Scandal, skulks back to his estate with a pugnacious, insolent valet in tow. He’s hiding from the Duke of Sussex, who is hellbent on his demise after he was caught canoodling with the duke’s son. Upon arrival, Edward stumbles upon Gabriel, now a vicar, lying unconscious and feverish in the gardens.

    Edward is the founder of the Society of Beasts, along with his friends Frakes, Hartley, and Lambert. This is an uber-elite, super-secret club for gentlemen who prefer gentlemen. They called themselves Beasts the same way queers have embraced the word that was previously a slur.

    The four friends band together to save Edward and take down the enemy duke, but cracks appear when a traitor is discovered among their ranks. Who?! I wished the other Beasts were introduced sooner so there’s more time to flesh out their personalities.

    I get that most of the plot focused on delicious tension between Edward and Gabriel, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. The two are dorks, Edward most of all. The man is hot/cold, skittish, and desperately wants to be good but fails miserably. Gabriel is heart eyes, stalwart adoration, and pure goodness. It was hallelujahs when Edward finally stopped running!

    However, the best character was Morris, Edward’s formidable and hella scary secret-monger brother. He is the most feared man in London, who knows everyone’s deepest, darkest secrets and rumored to hold even the regent himself by the throat.

    I love Morris so much! You’d think he’d be vile and evil. Sure, he’s cold, blunt, and utterly Machiavellian, but he’s also at his wit’s end trying to save the life of a brother who seemed flagrantly unrepentant about the trouble he caused and is now making more trouble with the vicar as we speak.

    At first, I couldn’t understand why Morris was making that much effort. He always acts like he hates Edward. Later, it was revealed how much Edward sacrificed to protect his little brother from their abusive father during their childhood. I realized, the bond between the brothers will always be unbreakable and true no matter how they act towards each other. For me, this was the most poignant part of the story.

    A delightful female character was introduced in the form of Gabriel’s sister, Caroline, recently widowed. Graceful, proper, and uncannily perceptive, she matched Morris’s wit and strategic genius, subtly nudging his thoughts in unexpected but enlightening points as they hatch their counterattack to Sussex. And this woman is simply divine for bringing out Morris’s endearing human side.

    As all best Regencies go, The Vicar and The Rake is ripe with USTs, shenanigans, danger, mystery, and intrigue. The dialogues are sharp and witty, and listening to this kind of writing when narrated by the great Cornell Collins is pure eargasm! Captivating, twisty turn-y, combustible, and perfectly put together, this is exactly how historical romance should be!

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Move Me
    Artist: Half Alive
    Album: Conditions of a Punk

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    REVIEW: Wyn by Lily Mayne

    Monstrous: Wyn by Lily Mayne

    I am a monster.

    A ghoul. A demon. The bogeyman. I have been called all of them. Most creatures fear me, but humans are repulsed by me. They are terrified of me. They have created legends about me, ever since they became aware of my existence when the tear between our worlds grew and we—the monsters from their nightmares—flooded through in our droves.

    There is only one human who isn’t afraid of me. The only one who matters. And I will destroy anyone who tries to hurt him or take him from me. Danny is mine.

    For the first time in my unfathomably long life, I know what it means to want another so much that the thought of losing him threatens to ruin me. I will do anything to keep Danny with me for as long as I can have him—for as long as he is willing to stay by the side of an ancient, scarred creature with a voice so inhuman it has sent some mad.

    For some reason, Danny loves my voice. For some reason, Danny loves me. And when we both decide that his natural human life is nowhere near enough time for us to have together, we go on a journey between worlds to the one place where we can do what it takes for us to be together forever.

    Wyn is a sweet, low-angst novella that is part of the Monstrous series, a post-apocalyptic m/m fantasy series that features monsters and human men falling in love. It is best to read this series in order—if you haven’t read books one to three already, there are big spoilers in this!

    Warning: This m/m love story contains explicit sexual content and is not suitable for young readers. It also contains graphic depictions of torture and violence, and very briefly mentions the lingering effects of PTSD

    Wyn is more than a novella.

    First, it gives us Wyn’s POV! I am thrilled to get inside his head! Our favorite monster is a snarky, grim bastard and totally putty in Danny’s hands. He would have gladly wiped out the entire military had Danny wanted it, but this sweet human is teaching the old fogey new tricks. Such as patience.

    Second, it addresses Wyn’s, and mine, concern which is him being a near immortal and Danny having that short human lifespan. And this was resolved in a cozy meandering adventure/honeymoon of sorts that culminated in one of my favorite scenes in the entire series, the tethering. I love how this scene was written, with tension and awe so palpable mixed in with a bit of levity.

    Third, this quest for extending Danny’s lifespan paved the way for the crossing to Wyn’s world. We learn more about the other monsters, their cultures, the flora, and fauna because Danny is prone to stopping and asking ten questions about everything and anything. The world-building was fantastic, especially the description of the towering fortress where Wyn and Danny were heading.

    Wyn was adorably patient because he loved his human so much. It was pretty amusing how the telyth was such a doting boyfriend to his human, because had it been any other creature, he would have slit their throats without second thoughts. Who knew the Soul Eater could be such a romantic!

    In the short time he appeared on page, Wyn’s ex, Orlith, made quite the impression. This bratty therin is a riot and I am dying to read his book!

    I was as endlessly fascinated as Danny about Wyn’s world. The ones that piqued my curiosity the most were the mabs. Gigantic, godlike creatures eternally at war yet perpetually drawn to each other. Their character designs were cool AF. Wyn dismissed them as nothing more than Others, creatures who are so ancient they make a 10,000-year-old telyth like Wyn seem a blip in existence. I hope we get their story in future books.

    “He was mine. He was always supposed to be mine. I had just needed to wait for a long time to find him. But the wait had been worth it.”

    All in all, Wyn is the answer to our fervent Monstrous wishes!

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Tethered
    Artist: Rationale
    Album: Vessels


    Monstrous should be read in order. Meet the monsters and their humans, starting with:
    Soul Eater
    The Rycke

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    SERIES REVIEW: Monstrous Books 1-2 by Lily Mayne

    Monstrous: Soul Eater – Lily Mayne

    Twenty years ago, monsters rose on earth and began a new age of civilization.

    One where humans live in military-controlled, cramped and dirty cities along the coasts, and the majority of the United States is known as the Wastes. A lawless, desolate and dangerous place, teeming with monsters that have claimed the land for their own.

    Including Wyn the Soul Eater.

    He appears every three years, making his way across the country and slaughtering humans randomly, sucking them dry until they’re nothing but husks.

    I’ve only been in the military for six months, but now I’m part of a unit tasked with trying to stop and capture him. And when I’m the only soldier out of hundreds that the Soul Eater leaves alive, I realise that… something about me has intrigued him.

    But what is it? What could a twenty-three year old guy from the south, with no one and nothing in the world, have possibly done to capture the attention of a death monster with horns, blackened fingertips and a face hidden in the dark depths of his hood?

    Soul Eater is the debut novel of Lily Mayne. It is the first in a planned post-apocalyptic fantasy series featuring monsters and human men falling in love. This m/m love story contains explicit content and is not suitable for young readers. It also contains scenes of violence, but don’t worry—they get their happy ending.

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: All Over You
    Artist: Live
    Album: Throwing Copper

    Monstrous: Edin – Lily Mayne

    I was just a boy when the monsters rose on earth, forcing humans to flee to the coastlines and live in cramped, dirty, military-controlled cities. I enlisted as soon as I could to escape.

    Now, I’ve been in the military for twelve years and have the scars—and missing body parts—to prove it. As a hardened soldier who’s spent his fair share of time out in the Wastes—the dangerous place where monsters roam free—I didn’t think anything could surprise me anymore.

    But then circumstance forced me together with a big, annoying purple monster who’s arrogant and bossy and pushes all my buttons in the worst—and best—ways. I need his help, and I hate needing anyone’s help. But the more time I spend with him, the more I realise that maybe there’s more from him that I need. And that he might need things from me too.

    But I’m still a soldier. I still have responsibilities. It doesn’t matter how I feel about Edin, because we can’t be together. It’s too dangerous.

    That doesn’t stop me wanting him, though.

    Edin is Book Two of the Monstrous series, a post-apocalyptic m/m fantasy series that focuses on monsters and human men falling in love. It is best to read the series in order. Warning: This m/m love story contains explicit content and is not suitable for young readers. It also contains graphic depictions of torture and violence, and mentions PTSD.

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Be There
    Artist: Seafret
    Album: Tell Me It’s Real

    Monstrous is a series that piqued my interest because I saw some eye-catching monster/human fanarts. The next thing I knew, I was swept away into the wastelands of post-apocalyptic America, where an interdimensional tear allowed monsters to come to Earth. Humans’ only sanctuary was to live on the coastlines. The army controls everything.

    The series opens with Soul Eater, told from the POV of new military recruit Danny Sullihan, a soldier woefully ill-suited to the job. This Southern boy is too innocent and laid-back.

    For some reason, the recently captured and much-dreaded serial killer, known as the Soul Eater kept asking to talk to him. Then one day, the Soul Eater busted out of his cage and let loose all the other monsters the military kept in captivity. Danny chooses to go with him rather than risk the wastelands alone.

    Majority of the plot is Danny and Wyn the Soul Eater traveling the wastelands and avoiding the army while Danny learns why Wyn is killing people. He also discovers the person behind the dark hood might be a grumpy bastard, but a grumpy bastard who always makes sure to find him his favorite food, a.k.a. peanut butter, whenever they go scavenging.

    The chemistry between Wyn and Danny went from simmering to nuclear, and I loved them so much! I especially loved how Wyn is so ferociously protective of his sweet human, especially that innately pure part of Danny who wouldn’t even pull a gun on another monster.

    There is so much more than romance here. There’s an endless adventure and eye-opening exploration, an utterly endearing friendship between Wyn and his best friend, the purple giant, Edin, and gut-wrenching scenes that were almost too much to bear. It made me infinitely glad, Danny has the Soul Eater in his corner. All in all, this is monster romance done to perfection!

    The second book, Edin, is told from the POV of Hunter, a 12-year military veteran with a prosthetic leg and a spec ops of some sort. He and his best friend, Charlie, came across the ruins of the base destroyed by the freed monsters. Then Charlie was captured by a new group of monsters. Edin found Hunter in a bind and after helping him, agreed to assist in rescuing Charlie.

    This is what I loved most about Edin. The big guy goes around the wastelands helping people he stumbles across. Just because. He’s an adorable teddy bear who loves taking care of people. The part where he helped Hunter with his prosthetic was such a tender moment.

    Hunter might be a surly, sarcastic, anti-social bastard, but he’s loyal to a fault. Very determined to get Charlie back at all costs, he took Edin’s help for granted. But the longer they were together, he had a better appreciation of Edin’s kindness. I wasn’t too keen on him at first, but as his character grew, he endeared himself to me.

    Edin and Hunter have different dynamics, but their chemistry is as sizzling as Wyn and Danny’s. There is a bit of a size difference power play here, but I’m glad Hunter is a big guy himself too. At first, Hunter struggled with his attraction to Edin, but after seeing Edin’s best friend and his human boyfriend, he shed all his qualms and took the leap. They went nuclear too!

    The plot delves deeper into the Monstrous world, revealing more monster+human interactions, mostly the violent type, and a few romantic ones that surprise Hunter. The rescue mission was a thrilling, action-packed adventure and a long overdue comeuppance to those who hurt Danny, courtesy of Wyn. The ending was a lovely, cozy domestic affair, and I couldn’t be happier for our gentle purple giant and his Hunter!


    I wish like hell narrator Michael Lesley would be able to finish the entire series because his monster voices are delightfully spine-tingling! The books should be read in order and best consumed as audiobook.

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    EDINKindle | Audiobook

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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!

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

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

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