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    SERIES REVIEW: Haven Hart Books 1-7 by Davidson King

    ***Long post. you can skip to the end for the tl,dr version if preferred

    Never judge a series by its spin-off is a lesson I learned from Haven Hart.

    I read Joker’s Sin series first, and I’m sad to say, I wasn’t too impressed. I didn’t bother with Haven Hart after that. Then on a whim, I decided to pick up Snow Falling, since heck, Joel Leslie and Philip Alces were narrating, and these two are always fantastic. Plus, I was also in the mood for some mafia romance.

    I ended up binging the entire series! That GOOD!

    These are not-so-mini reviews of the seven books in the main Haven Hart universe. The books should be read in order.

    Snow Falling: A man with a dangerous past and a man with a dangerous future find love amidst murder and mayhem. But with Snow’s life being threatened at every turn, will Christopher’s best be enough to prevent Snow Falling?


    I didn’t have much expectations going in. I thought it would be the usual mafia romance. Little did I know, I would be completely charmed by the delightful titular character, Snow. This ray of sunshine also charmed a houseful of mobsters, especially the boss, Christopher Manos.

    Snow saved Simon, Christopher’s 8-year-old nephew, from a dire fate, putting himself in grave danger in return. Christopher offered the homeless Snow protection and a place to stay, hiring him as Simon’s companion.

    It was a joy to watch the much-feared mob boss, Christopher Manos, become simply Chris. I loved how he was drawn to Snow without seeming to realize it. He instinctively let him take the lead, and it was so endearing that Snow didn’t even realize how much power he had having the Christopher Manos in his corner. Our boy asked for so little, and here was Chris, ready to give him the world!

    It’s a fabulous book to open the series. It showed a glimpsed of Haven Hart from its underbelly. It touches upon some dark themes, but still relatively lighter than the other books. The plot had many surprising twists and dark secrets to uncover. I was completely riveted!

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

    Soundtrack: Naked
    Artist: Jaymes Young
    Album: Feel Something


    Hug It Out: When a mole is discovered within Riordan’s organization, relationships are compromised, and people’s lives are in danger. Time isn’t on their side, and they discover answers can’t always be found by hugging it out when someone is hell-bent on eliminating each and every one of them.

    So I tried reading this a couple years back, but I wasn’t feeling it. I was a bit skeptical (and admittedly judgey) about Teddy’s job. Like seriously, a professional hugger? I don’t even like hugging my relatives.

    Second time’s the charm because past the first couple of chapters, I got the hang of it. It’s a cute story of an assassin who was gifted with a professional hugger. He didn’t know what to do with him, so he ended up falling in love.

    I wasn’t as interested in the romance as I was with Riordan’s organization and his co-workers. He works for Black, an enigmatic and intimidating Thor of a man, who suddenly discovered somebody plans to launch a hostile takeover of his assassin company. Riordan and a few other trusted assassins work to uncover who was behind it.

    This installment introduced many of the characters who star in the succeeding books. The plot is as suspenseful and more action-packed. It also hinted at the presence of the nameless, faceless, hella mysterious heir to the Haven Hart founding family via the presence of Poe. He is an artist Snow befriended, and also the Hart heir’s representative. I was dying with curiosity!

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

    Soundtrack: Bullet Holes
    Artist: Gregory Alan Isakov
    Album: Evening Machines


    A Dangerous Dance: Bill and Mace’s traitorous hearts draw them closer together no matter how hard they fight the inevitable. With the lives of their loved ones hanging in the balance, they find themselves in the middle of a dangerous dance.

    This is an enemies-to-lovers story of Bill, Christopher Manos’s underling who became Snow’s best friend, and Mace, an assassin from Black’s organization. They were forced to work together.

    I didn’t expect Bill to get his own book. He was a goon from the Russian mob who threatened Snow. He had been given a second chance by Christopher after Snow asked to spare his life. He was mostly in the background, so I was surprised that he was suddenly Snow’s best friend.

    Mace was more memorable because he’s a flashier character. That’s all I’ll say about him because he and Bill weren’t that interesting. However, both are great as secondary characters.

    Their story felt very much like a mid-series book. It picked up the threads from the previous book and ended in an HFN. Not so satisfying but understandable given how things went.

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

    Soundtrack: Born Killers
    Artist: Selebrities
    Album: Lovely Things


    From the Ashes: Unknowingly sharing the same goal—burying their own pasts deeper than the fires of hell can reach—Black and Quill are unaware that jumping into that fire will do more than ignite their feelings, it could lead to their own demise.

    I was excited about this because Quill piqued my interest when he first appeared in Book 2. I was thrilled he’s paired with Black because they’re total opposites.

    Quill is the colorfully tattooed smallish barista who latched on to Black and flirted every chance he got. Black is this grumpy giant who couldn’t understand why Quill, 20 years his junior, was interested in him. After the events in Book 3, he hired the young man to do deliveries.

    At first, the story was cute and amusing with Black trying to fend off the relentless Quill. Then things took a darker turn when it was revealed Quill was a victim of domestic abuse. Black was in full protective mode because he took such crime personally.

    Why he takes it personally was a story so tragic and horrific it triggered my anxieties. And I’m normally the type of reader who’s barely ruffled by blood and gore scenes. The author didn’t make it too graphic, it was just that terrible. You can feel how heartbreaking it was for Black to talk about it. Also, the scene where Quill was being hunted had me holding my breath. I was so terrified for him!

    My heart went out to Black and Quill! I am so glad this is romance, and the happy ending is guaranteed, or else I would be completely devastated.

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

    Soundtrack: Born In Flames
    Artist: In This Moment
    Album: Mother


    Snow Storm: The city of Haven Hart rests under the heel of Christopher Manos. Snow has found a home, a family, and the love of one of Haven Hart’s most powerful men. When Christopher and Simon are kidnapped, Snow risks everything to find his family. Snow calls in every favor he is owed, risking his life promising favors in return, all to save his family and the man he loves.

    This installment returns to Christopher, Snow, and now teen, Simon. The happy couple wants to celebrate Simon’s birthday. Chris promised his nephew the two of them would go camping so that they could spend some quality time together. En route, they were ambushed and kidnapped.

    Manos family skeletons were unearthed when Christopher came face to face with their kidnappers. The lengths Snow would go through to save his family knew no bounds. He even went so far as break his friendship with Poe by asking him to do the unthinkable, betray the Hart heir.

    This part was particularly juicy because I was hungry for crumbs about the Hart heir. Poe guarded his secrets like a dragon guarding his hoard. I’m so tempted to skip to the 7th book!!!

    Anyway, Snow was wonderfully brave and smart, even if he had to hurt Poe in process. Thankfully, they reconciled later on. With Black’s help, Snow hatched a clever rescue mission. This book also has a mid-series feel to it, bridging the past events to the present and laying down the seeds of things revealed in the next book. It’s not as dark as the previous book but still very gripping!

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

    Soundtrack: Find You
    Artist: Ruelle
    Album: Rival


    Triple Threat: Lee, Jones, and Ginger deal with dangerous situations and mounting stress daily working for the most powerful assassin organization in the world. All of those things seem like a walk in the park compared to the friction that sparks between them. When all three are assigned to the same job, ignoring the heat from the inferno of desire becomes impossible.

    Lee, Jones, and Ginger are Black’s people. Jones is the muscle and Lee’s best friend, while Ginger is the recruit. Lee is a hacker who went to the dark web to track down human traffickers who were running an auction. Then they discovered Ginger’s brother being sold and rushed to save him.

    This is a road trip poly romance running alongside a vigilante mission to take down the human trafficking ring. It had Jones and Lee pretending to be buyers while Ginger worked in the shadows since his close resemblance to his brother would give them away. They had to follow instructions and codes to various locations before they could retrieve their “merchandise.”

    Given the stomach-turning crime tackled here, the author did a good job keeping things from becoming too disturbing. The plot brings various arcs together and edges closer to the finale. I love how things are starting to fall into place. At the same time, it had me asking burning questions!

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

    Soundtrack: Bloom
    Artist: Murder By Death
    Album: The Other Shore


    Raven’s Hart: Haven Hart stands on the edge of good and evil. Having balance between the two is the only thing keeping the town from crumbling to the ground. For years, one man has been charged with maintaining that balance. Poe. The air of mystery surrounding Poe is one of necessity. Poe will need the help of his friends to fight the ultimate battle; not just save Haven Hart but everything and everyone he holds dear to him.

    Finally, Poe’s book!!!!

    I will not say much about the plot. All you need to know is that it’s so worth it to read the first six to get to this! My jaw dropped to the floor at the revelations. And that’s just in the opening chapters!

    I was also floored to know the true measure of the weight and heartache Poe carries. This guy is holding Haven Hart together single-handedly. And doing it while barely holding himself together. It’s a wonder he’s still standing, the poor man! Poe is amazing!!!

    Davidson King definitely saved the best for last! Haven Hart was never the same after this!

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

    Soundtrack: You
    Artist: Tally Hall
    Album: Good & Evil

    The Haven Hart series is about family. The good ones, the ones people found, and the ones they’d rather forget. I loved how the main characters were so alive and real, I felt like I knew them personally. Their stories moved me, scared me, amused me, made me feel like I’m part of their lives. Their stories are a delicate balance of good and evil, much like the city that gave the series its name.


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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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