Necessary Evils: Lunatic – Onley James
Every psychopath in the Mulvaney family has a role to play. Archer Mulvaney is the gambler, a drunken reprobate making his living as a high-stakes poker player. Very few people know the real Archer, not even his brothers. But there is one man who knows far too much.
Mackenzie Shepherd spends his days photographing endangered wildlife. He’s also the brother of a psychopath and son to the woman who literally wrote the book on raising one. When his mother asks him to head a secret government project, it seems like the perfect excuse to run away from his life.
But running from his past has Mac colliding straight into Archer. And that’s a problem. For this project to be successful, Mac and Archer have to agree on every decision, and the two see eye-to-eye on nothing. Except, maybe the sex. The sex is off the charts.
When Mac’s old life comes back to haunt him, Archer insists on putting their differences aside to help keep him safe. But Mac, like Archer, is used to solving things on his own. Can they finally stop fighting each other to find the truth, or is their relationship the next thing on the endangered species list?
Lunatic is a filthy hot, enemies to lovers, psychopath romance with an HEA and no cliffhangers. It features a sexy, roguish degenerate and a hunky bleeding heart ginger who love how much they hate each other. As always, there’s gratuitous violence, very dark humor, more blood than a slaughterhouse, and enough heat to melt your metaphorical undies. This is book six in the Necessary Evils series. Each book follows a different couple.
The Mulvaney family continues to grow as another brother falls. At this point, it is a circus, with four brothers married, one engaged, two baby girls, a baby mama, a genius hacker, an ex-brother, and the formidable patriarch with BIG secrets. It is a testament to Onley James‘s talent that with all these larger than life personalities, she made Archer, who barely say more than two sentences and in a drunken stupor most of the series, a very intriguing character I’m most eager to read about.
Lunatic sheds light on the enigma that is Archer Mulvaney. He is a man who lives triple identities. Archer is publicly known as a professional poker player and raging alcoholic. Unknown to his brothers, Thomas entrusted him with a super secret government project. Privately, he was something else entirely, a delightfully complicated and hella endearing creature, Mackenzie Shephard, was lucky to discover.
He and Archer co-head the project, and it didn’t take long for their clandestine hook-ups to turn into baring of souls and word-vomiting of feels. Mostly on Archer’s part because Mac was already 101% all in for this Mulvaney brother from their very first hook-up and is patiently waiting for the skittish Archer to stop running away.
The first parts of Archer and Mac’s romance were the best and most delicious chaotic disaster of Mulvaney proportions and totally perfect for the infamous drunken reprobate gambler. I was wishing for a very particular event to happen given their current location and squee-ed so hard when it did! Mac has perma-heart eyes for Archer because heart eyes are how one should look at this oddly vulnerable psychopath.
“Unguarded Archer was lethal, his words landing with maximum force on Mac’s heart.“
Mac’s a fantastic addition to the family, a calm, grounding presence for Archer’s wilder energy. The guy’s no stranger to crazies since his brother is a sociopath who stars in another series. Publicly, he’s ex-military and an award-winning wildlife photographer who one day stumbled upon three armed men at the Texas border. Later, the couple learned there was a hit on him, and Archer, desperate to save his person, asked his family for help.
The plot follows the usual Necessary Evils pattern, meeting in the war room, hazing the newcomer, digging up evidence, Calliope doing her magic, vetting the kill, extracting the bad guy, and then the fun part. The author did a great job keeping things exciting. There’s Noah’s reaction to Archer’s big reveal which added extra family drama. Also, major teasers on the spin-off, The Watch, that had me super hyped for the series.
However, I wished the latter parts gave more focus on the main couple. At this point, the romance lacked the intensity of the other books. And I’m not a fan of “Katniss” as Mac’s nickname for Archer. Also, the story juggles a huge cast, plus cameos and new characters, so it’s tricky giving everyone page time. Sadly, it took some away from Archer and Mac.
I deliberately kept details to a minimum because Lunatic is best enjoyed knowing as little as possible about Archer beforehand. It’s a story of secrets and revelations, and I was completely riveted watching things unfold. The most enigmatic Mulvaney brother has a quite a tale to tell. Not exactly a bullseye, but you can bet it hits right in the kokoro.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Necessary Evils is best read in order because there’s a joyful kind of madness in how each psychopathic brother finds the person who matches their crazy. Don’t we wish we can find one too? And aren’t we are all dying for that last book?!!!
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Black Veil: Blood Boss – Davidson King
Vampires, mermaids, and witches…oh, my! Black Veil is full of them all, but at the end of the day, it’s The Blood Boss who has the last word. Ever since The Final War, Vampires rule Black Veil, and with The Blood Boss in charge, peace reigns.
Keeping the vampires under control is a task Cain takes seriously. Humans have accepted his rule, and anyone who seeks to destroy his territory is given swift punishment. His promise to keep Black Veil safe comes with great sacrifice and selflessness; never does he dare hope for more in life. Until one day, a man walks through his front door and changes everything.
Jayce has a happy life. His adopted parents love him, he wants for very little, and he lives every day to the fullest. But when a normal evening turns into a nightmare, and Jayce is forced to come face-to-face with The Blood Boss, the world as he knows it feels like a lie.
Then a great secret is revealed, and nothing is what it seems. Cain and Jayce must work together to stop the forces uniting against the vampires. Life and love are in jeopardy as they fight those who seek to destroy them. Can Cain and Jayce keep Black Veil from crumbling into the sea when every attempt to do so seems impossible?
The setting is reminiscent of Haven Hart, taking place in a city ruled by the mysterious Blood Boss. It’s a time after humans nearly destroyed themselves and supernatural creatures stepped in to save Earth. When things settled, vampires were on top of the food chain.
The vampire lore has little interesting twists that I liked, such as the blood magic and the custom of treating the humans they fed from with reverence instead of livestock. Apart from vampires, there are dragons, creatures of the sea, witches, and perhaps, shifters and whatnot in the future books.
Jayce is an adopted son of a kind-hearted couple who loved him as their own. He was forced to work off their debt from the Blood Boss after his dad failed to pay. I didn’t warm up to Jayce. He has a temper that tends to flair in inappropriate times. It was supposed to make him feisty, but IMO, but he lacked the charm to pull it off.
The Blood Boss is Cain, the first vampire. I liked him better. He’s a strict leader, but he’s fair and just. I suspect he’s the biblical Cain since it was mentioned several times that he was accused of killing his brothers.
Sadly, the romance didn’t work for me. The progression of their relationship wasn’t convincing. And I didn’t feel the chemistry.
The rest of the book was much more entertaining. It’s a story of a young man who discovered his voice is more powerful than he realized and that his real parents sacrificed so much so that he lives. There were so many things to unpack here, and I was super hyped when secrets were revealed. This was more than just vampire romance! This was cosmic!
However, sometimes it felt like things were crammed and shortened to fit the required page count. The plot could have benefited from a longer book. The narrative suffered from too much tell versus show.
But even with these issues, I was fascinated with all the goings-on. Also, this is just the opener, so we can expect some of the juicier threads explored further.
Blood Boss is the beginnings of an epic urban fantasy series. It’s a story about secrets, sacrifice, power, loyalty, and families lost and found. It might not be perfectly composed but it still hit the right notes to make me look forward to the next piece.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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Everyone who’s heard about the Mulvaneys knows that the Mulvaney twins always come as a package. So it makes sense that I should review their books together.
By now, the Mulvaneys need no introduction. This family of vigilante psychopaths has endeared themselves to many readers of MM romance. And I have declared my love for them ad nauseum.
Here’s my review of Headcase and Mad Man, Books 4 and 5 of Necessary Evils:
Necessary Evils: Headcase – Onley James
Asa Mulvaney is half of a psychopathic whole. He and his twin brother live together, party together…kill together. In the Mulvaney family, murder is the family business and business is good. When an experiment separates Asa and his brother, Asa is forced to navigate the world on his own for the first time in his life.
Zane Scott is a small-time crime blogger and amateur sleuth, but he dreams of a byline in a major paper someday. When he winds up at a boring fundraiser beside Asa Mulvaney, they share an intensely passionate encounter that leaves Zane with an ache in his chest and a story idea that could make his career dreams a reality.
At a nearby college, a cluster of suicides isn’t what it seems. When Asa’s father asks him to look into it, he sees the perfect opportunity to see his little crime reporter again. And Asa needs to see him again. Zane’s suspicious of Asa’s motives, but he won’t say no to a chance to peek behind the Mulvaney family curtains.
As the two unravel a sinister plot, Asa’s obsession with Zane grows and Zane finds being Asa’s sole focus outweighs almost anything, maybe even his career–which is good for Asa because loving a Mulvaney is a full-time job. Can he convince Zane that he’s worth navigating a family of psychopaths and his pathologically jealous twin, or will Zane learn the hard way that the Mulvaney boys always get what they want? Always.
Headcase is a high heat, intense, lovers-to-frenemies, psychopath romance with an HEA and no cliffhangers. It features an obsessive, calculating psychopath and a wannabe reporter who will stop at nothing to earn himself a major byline. As always, there’s gratuitous violence, very dark humor, enough killers to fill an auditorium, and enough heat to melt your kindle. This is book 4 in the Necessary Evils series. Each book follows a different couple.
TAGS: psychopath romance, Asa is bored, Avi is jealous, Zane is pretty, Adam is still a dick, August is… August, Aiden’s still missing, Lucas is concerned, Atticus plays den mother to a gaggle of murderous young adults, Asa wants Zane but knows he suspects he’s a killer, Zane wants a story but can’t keep from falling into bed with his target, extra dark humor, found family, So. Many. Murderers, mysteries abound, bad boys doing bad things and each other, high non-relationship angst, low relationship angst, shmoop, fluff, smut.
Necessary Evils: Mad Man – Onley James
Avi Mulvaney is many things. Son. Twin. Owner of the fashion label, Gemini. Murderous psychopath. Together, he and his brother, Asa, make one brutally efficient monster, ridding the world of predators who victimize the innocent. History proves Avi and Asa don’t do well apart, but their father has decided to test that theory.
Felix Navarro knows exactly who he is. Baby brother. Fashionista. Vigilante. While he’s not happy that his big brother married a Mulvaney, the union has its perks. Like a paid internship with Gemini. But all good things come with a cost and, for Felix, that’s enduring Avi Mulvaney each day, which inevitably leads to thinking about him every night.
Felix doesn’t like Avi. He’s cocky, condescending, overbearing, and inappropriate. He’s also sexy, brilliant, and twice as lethal as Felix. Still, Felix loathes him. Even if he keeps letting him kiss him. And touch him. Even if he slipped just once. It was still hate sex, and it would never happen again. Ever.
Except, Avi’s being sent to help take down a dangerous crime ring and he’s ordered Felix to come along. Felix has vowed to stay strong. To remember he hates Avi. But they’re trapped together and there’s only one bed, and it’s so hard to hate Avi in the dark when he’s whispering how Felix belongs to him. Felix belongs to no man, but Avi is determined. He has one week to prove to Felix that he’s the exception to his rule. After all, who says no to a Mulvaney?
Mad Man is a scorchingly hot, intense, enemies to lovers, psychopath romance with an HEA and no cliffhangers. It features a dirty talking, brutally vicious killer and a sharp tongued murderous fashionista who are both too stubborn for their own good. As always, there’s gratuitous violence, very dark humor, enough blood to film the final scene in the movie Carrie, and enough heat to melt your panties. This is book 5 in the Necessary Evils series. Each book follows a different couple.
TAGS: psychopath, enemies-to-loves, dark humor, much violence, jealousy, bad boys doing bad things, long distance snark, only one bed, hate sex, more hate sex, hate sex that becomes apathetic sex then maybe something like love, if two killers are better than one what’s three killers, Avi is jealous, Asa is preoccupied, August is still August, Lucas is frazzed, Archer is still drunk, Thomas is at his wits end, Aiden is still in denial, Noah is still the psychopath whisperer and Adam is still a dick.
The twins were separated by Thomas as an experiment. Neither of them copes well with separations. And a bored Murder twin always spells T.R.O.U.B.L.E.
Asa is the dominant twin, so his book, Headcase, came first. This guy loves to hunt and play rough. That his person is a sweet and adorkable tabloid reporter plays really well into his dominant side and his daredevil personality.
Zane, what the hell had you gotten yourself into? This dork is the luckiest unlucky tabloid reporter out there. He finagled his way into an exclusive event to get the dirt on the Mulvaneys, met Asa, was taken home, discovered exactly how rough Asa likes it. Then, realizes he just stumbled into a family of serials killers. Asa refused to let him go.
Like the other Mulvaney boys, Asa didn’t waste time declaring Zane was his. The intrepid reporter put up a half-hearted fight before giving in because of course. Together, they try to untangle the mystery of a secret game that drives young college students to kill themselves.
The mystery really intrigued me because it was unusual and hard to solve. It gave me the chills to find out later on, it was based on a real-life internet game that targeted children. This is the best case in the series so far. Watch out for cameos by Dmitri and his little Arlo.
A huge chunk of the book is steam. I know Zane enjoys it, but I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the injury-inducing sex. BDSM is really not my thing. I kinda feel sorry for him looking like a battered boyfriend all the time. And he has to wear concealer in public, or else people would think Asa is an abuser. But, it’s their thing, they enjoy it, and they’re perfect for each other.
While Asa was with Zane, Avi was on the other side of the country with Felix. They were helping Aidan. They were investigating a case where a seemingly random bunch of people died. Aidan found the connection and is looking for the perpetrator.
Mad Man is Avi’s book. He is the twin who likes to serve. He enjoys pain and is also the more reckless of the two. I loved his wicked sense of humor. I could always clearly picture his glee every time they employed more creative ways to punish the bad guys.
Felix is the diva brother of Jericho, Atticus’ husband. He interns in Avi’s clothing company. He’s deadly, sharp, and talented. And bossy too. Exactly how Avi likes it. The man has been trying to get in his pants since they met. Felix put up a good fight, but they both know it’s only a matter of when. Boy is not so secretly crushing on his boss.
I didn’t warm up to Felix all the way. I found him too abrasive, too full of himself. It was only later on, when more of his personality and backstory was revealed, that I felt a stab of sympathy for him. Still, he’s my least favorite character in the entire series.
My favorite part was how Felix and Zane latched on to each other. Total friendship goals! There’s no sharing, mind you. The four became a mini-family within a family, and Felix became Zane’s emotional support person. It was all very cute and cozy.
Headcase and Mad Man is one story split in half. Asa and Avi are mirror twins. It’s very apt that their stories follow that symmetry. Each found yin to their yang without losing that special connection that makes the two of them a symbiotic unit.
The twins came off the market at the same time. It’s brilliant how the author choreographed the plots to get to that point, juggled all the various and many larger-than-life personalities without anyone being left out, and teased a.k.a. tortured us with threads of Thomas and Aidan’s story without missing a beat.
All in all, not perfect but you know what they say, double the trouble, double the fun!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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