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    REVIEW: Loose Ends by Morgan Brice

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    Badlands: Loose Ends – Morgan Brice

    Cold cases, old enemies, ex-lovers, and vengeful spirits are making life dangerous for psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his boyfriend, homicide detective Vic D’Amato.

    The ghosts of Myrtle Beach are restless, trapped by love, secrets, scandals, and spells, keeping Simon busy protecting the living from the unhappy dead. Someone from Vic’s past is out to destroy him and everyone he holds dear, and the high-profile trial of the first case Simon and Vic worked together puts them in the spotlight—and put a target on their backs. As a deadly trap closes around them, can Simon and Vic tie up the loose ends to stop the threat, or will they become the newest ghosts of the Grand Strand? 

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


    The Badlands series opened with a strong book 1, Badlands. Book 2, The Rising was a tad too predictable for my liking. Happily, this third book renewed my faith in this highly interesting psychic procedural.

    Loose Ends has exes crawling out of the woodwork. Simon’s former fiance, Jason, showed up with his pouncy ass demanding that Simon return to the bosom of his family and be the trophy fiance again. Vic’s sorta ex and former work partner, Nick, has yet to show his ugly mug but it was clear he was trying to ruin Vic’s life. His social media was hacked, his partner Ross’s car was sabotage.

    I had complained in my review of The Rising that the author’s execution of couple down time didn’t feel natural. They’re not necessarily forced but they don’t flow as smoothly as I would have liked with the story.

    Loose Ends finds Simon and Vic in their happy place. The romantic element was very much improved. The timing and execution of sex scenes felt more organic to the story.

    And it’s nice to see an established couple just generally being happy together without becoming boring. I really liked that they stayed strong and worked as a team against those who wanted to tear them apart. I loved that they avoided major misunderstandings and that they never resort to petty internal conflicts either. They weren’t an insta-favorite but Simon and Vic won me over with how well they made their relationship work.

    It’s not just the exes. There was also Simon’s estranged mother. She’s a cold woman who cares only about herself and prefers Simon’s ex-fiance to her own son. She called to demand Simon return to his old life, then sent Jason to persuade him.

    Simon had no intentions of doing that. He had built a good life in Myrtle Beach. He has Vic and a great support group. His powerful witch friends provide magical back up while his non-magical friends were always there to cheer them on.

    The stand out secondary character here is most definitely Ross. He proved himself a good friend and partner to Vic from the time they started working together. He continues to be awesome, advising Vic on his grand plans of putting a ring on it. I’d love to see more of him around.

    Simon’s psychic abilities had once again unearthed a dead body. The paranormal elements came wonderfully into play with a cold case, more haunted objects and later on, Nick’s nefarious methods of revenge. The series has always excelled in this aspect. In this third installment, the world has been established but it still offered different avenues to explore and more otherworldly happenings to investigate.

    This is the type of case where the perpetrator was known but has yet to be found. The story moved fast with a well-executed plot. It did a great job tying everything together, making clever use of ghostly characters and magic. It certainly lived up to its promise of spooky paranormal suspense with all the romantic feels.

    Although it says Loose Ends can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading the Badlands series in order. Start with Simon and Vic’s meet cute in book 1 and watch them go from strength to strength while solving supernatural cases. They have, since then, put a lot of ghosts to rest. It’s time to move on and take it to the next level.

    P.S.

    Book 1 review, Badlands.
    Book 2 review, The Rising.

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

    Soundtrack: Unfinished Business
    Artist: White Lies
    Album: To Lose My Life


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    LOOSE ENDS

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  • Uncategorized

    THE AMERICAN HORROR STORY BOOK TAG

    This tag is brought to you by Susan at Novel Lives. She made this tag and you should click the link to check out the original tag and her blog!

    I found this on My Year of Reading Dangerously. The gifs are theirs.

    I LOVE American Horror Story. The visuals are always stunning! But after Hotel, I was too chickenshit to watch the other seasons.

    Here goes my little tribute to this terrorific show…

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  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: The Rising by Morgan Brice

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    Badlands: The Rising – Morgan Brice

    A big storm is brewing, there’s a killer on the loose, and the ghosts of Myrtle Beach are restless. Psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his sexy cop boyfriend, homicide detective Vic D’Amato have their hands full helping the Grand Strand brace for rough surf, driving rain, and high winds as a winter storm roars toward shore.

    Everyone’s on edge, and rumors are rampant about sightings of Blackcoat Benny, a ghostly omen of danger, and worse, the Gallows Nine, the spirits of nine infamous criminals hanged back in the 1700s, a harbinger of disaster. Rough tides wash the wreck of an old pirate ship into shallow waters, high winds threaten to damage an old mansion with a dark past, and the citizens of the beach town hunker down to ride out the storm.

    As the skies grow dark and the sea turns wild, several men from prominent local families end up dead under suspicious circumstances. Simon’s premonition confirms Vic’s gut feeling—the killing is just getting started. As Simon tries to reach out to the spirits of the murdered men to help the investigation, he’s attacked by malicious ghosts that don’t want anyone getting in the way of their long-overdue vengeance.

    With the storm hammering the coast, and new victims piling up, Simon is certain that the sins and secrets of the past are coming due, and that the murders have a supernatural link. Vic and Simon race to stop the murders against an unholy deadline, but as they battle rising tides and risen ghosts, can they save the intended victims without getting trapped themselves?

    The Rising is the second novel in the Badlands series. It is a MM romance intended for readers 18 years of age and older.


    Hmm…I don’t know if I’m in a slump but I wasn’t into this the way I was with the first book, Badlands.

    I like Simon and Vic and appreciated that the book avoided the usual petty squabbles between couples, focusing instead on the adjustment to their new life and dealing with the fears and dangers of being in a relationship with a cop and a psychic. However, much as I like these developments, I can’t help feeling that the execution of their couple downtime felt a little mechanical a.k.a kind of blah. This is something I’ve noticed with Morgan Brice‘s books, the smexy times are not necessarily forced into the scenes but they don’t feel organic either.

    The book is a great mix of police and psychic procedural, taking time to lay out the step-by-step of the investigations and Simon’s rituals. Simon had to deal with dead pirates, sunken ships, haunted houses and vengeful ghosts while Vic tackled a case of multiple suicides, murder and possibly, spirit possession. The cases crossed paths and led them to two ghosts who were bitter enemies back in the day when they were privateer and pirate. And one of them had a special connection to Simon!

    As interesting as these sounded, I wasn’t surprised by any twists. I found that answers came too easily, via visions. This is convenient and welcome since it makes life easier and safer for Simon and Vic but it also makes it easier to predict the outcome. I guess it makes a nice change from the usual vague and obscure psychic visions but unfortunately doesn’t help in creating tension and excitement.

    The highlights for me were the seances and these were definitely suspenseful and exciting. Narrator Kale Williams did a wonderful job creating varied voices, some pitiful and some malevolent and he was able to amp up the scare factor effectively. As if that’s not scary enough, it’s quite something to read about these events in the dead of night where spirits were summoned, witches worked their magic and a storm unleashed its fury while an actual one is raging outside right at the exact moment. Talk about realism!

    What’s also fascinating about this book are the rich folklore and the magical practices that the author was able to make good use in the story, particularly through Miss Eppie’s and Gabriella’s talents, in addition to Simon’s academic background and his skeleton crew’s gifts Their hoodoo and witch magic made them formidable enemies so it’s a good thing they got Simon’s back. I want to see more of these folk magic again in the future.

    Overall, The Rising had all the right ingredients but some things were bland and predictable. This could be a ME thing because many people gave it high ratings. I’d still read the next books. The Badlands series, and Brice‘s paranormal universe as a whole, has many interesting elements that I would like to explore. I’ll give this one a passing grade for now.

    P.S.

    Badlands books are best read in order. Review of book 1 here

    Other psychic series you might enjoy:

    Psycop review here
    The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal review here
    Psychic Detective Mysteries review here
    Tyack & Frayne review here
    Russ Morgan Mystery review here

    Rating:
    3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it

    Soundtrack: The Mariner’s Revenge
    Artist: The Decemberists
    Album: Picaresque

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  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Badlands by Morgan Brice

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    Badlands – Morgan Brice

    Medium and clairvoyant Simon Kincaide owns a Myrtle Beach boardwalk shop where he runs ghost tours, holds séances, and offers private psychic readings, making a fresh start after his abilities cost him his lover and his job as a folklore professor. Jaded cop Vic D’Amato saw something supernatural he couldn’t explain during a shootout several years ago in Pittsburgh and relocated to Myrtle Beach to leave the past behind, still skeptical about the paranormal. But when the search for a serial killer hits a dead end, Vic battles his skepticism to ask Simon for help. As the body count rises, Simon’s involvement makes him a target, and a suspect. But Simon can’t say no, even if it costs him his life and heart.

    The blurb grabbed my attention and Badlands reminded me of Psycop by Jordan Castillo Price with a teensy wee bit of that Whyborne & Griffin and The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal vibe. It has the same paranormal/urban fantasy/romance blend as the other series but it has it’s own distinct flavor that is just as interesting.

    Although, I was neutral about the romance part at first. But I was also like that with Vic and Jacob from Psycop and now I couldn’t get enough of the two. So the romance. Simon is cute, Vic D’Amato is good looking, they met, sparks flew, one couldn’t get the other out of their mind and so on. Nothing we haven’t seen before until Simon was dragged into the precinct and Vic wasn’t there to back him up. The look on Simon’s face and Vic helpless on the other side of the glass , I was feeling that moment. Hang on, guys!

    What really carried the entire book was the unputdownable murder mystery mixed in with the supernatural. As if a serial killer isn’t bad enough, we get a serial killer stealing psychic energies and gaining magical powers from each kill. Although the suspense and mystery kept me turning the page, it wasn’t as tight as I would have liked because the two men’s thoughts kept circling back to each other which was kind of minimized tension from the build-up. The book splits evenly between romance and the rest but I preferred it to be more detective work less thinking about getting into each others pants because people are dying here, detective.

    I was in the dark as to who the killer was. I made a bad guess as usual and suspected Jay, the tattoo artist. Stupid, I know. This is why I don’t try to play detective when reading mysteries. Best to just let the whole thing unfold without preconceive notions. Simon, however, would have made a great detective if he hadn’t become a uni professor. When he got some clues, he totally ran with it and came up with a lot of breakthroughs and insider information that unfortunately made him seem like the killer. Hence, him being interrogated by Ross.

    This needs to be said, but I think Ross wins the Best Partner award for not only putting up with Vic’s temper all the time, covering his ass from the Captain, being the voice of reason and a loyal friend but also doing ALL the paper work in the aftermath of the debacle. You owe him, Vic. Big time.

    As for the world-building, I like how the Badlands world is set-up and that it is connected with books from Morgan Brice’s other series. Myrtle Beach is home to many people with psychic abilities, most of them untrained and keeping low key. Simon sees himself as kind of like their mentor slash caretaker. I like the idea of having a network of psychic spies and I want see the Skeleton Crew in action again in the next books.

    Badlands is a strong first book of a very promising series. We have two very likable MCs, an enjoyable mystery and great setting. Morgan Brice vividly bought Myrtle Beach to life with its crowd of tourists, quirky shops and even quirkier locals. I’m definitely in for another visit.

    P.S.

    Psycop review here
    Whyborne & Griffin review here
    The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal review here

    I received a copy of Badlands from Darkwind Press via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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

    Soundtrack: Psychic City (Voodoo City)
    Artist: Yacht
    Album: See Mystery Lights

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