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    REVIEW: Hot As Heller by Lucy Lennox

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    Aster Valley: Hot As Heller – Lucy Lennox

    The man asked me to valet his damn car.

    Look, I left LA for a reason. I’ve had my fill of big Hollywood stars and their even bigger egos. I want something genuine. Something real. And it doesn’t get any realer than being the new sheriff of Aster Valley, Colorado.

    That is, until entitled Finn Heller appears on the scene, handing me the keys to his convertible like I’m his personal servant.

    The former child star and wannabe action hero is the hottest thing I’ve ever seen. He’s also a snarky party animal with legions of adoring fans and attitude for days.

    Or so I thought.

    The longer the film crew stays in town, the more I begin to wonder if Finn is hiding his true self, one that’s as beautiful inside as out. He’s a star alright, but the kind that shines bright enough to light up the night sky… the kind I want to make a wish on.

    A wish Finn will find a way to make things work with me, even if it means his next role is my very own leading man.


    Aster Valley works its magic one more time in this delightful love story between a Shakespeare-quoting action star and the good sheriff of the town.

    The sleepy mountain valley in Colorado is buzzing with movie stars. A film crew is in town shooting a big budget action flick starring infamous former child actor, Finn Heller. Sheriff Declan Stone has had enough of the crowds and the inflated egos and is counting the days when all these brouhaha is over. Unfortunately, fate keeps throwing trouble and a certain former child actor his way.

    Finn has the disastrous reputation typical of child actors who grew up in front of the camera. But you got to hand it to our boy, he was trying really, really hard to rise above that. It was a huge uphill battle, with everyone, including his own mother, expecting him to be nothing more than a money-making machine. I was rooting hard for this sweet, passionate, hardworking man who just wants to be taken seriously.

    I appreciated Dec being a steady, grounding presence for Finn. The good sheriff and the actor might have started off the wrong foot, even butted heads a few more times, but Dec always made sure the younger man was safe and protected.

    I loved the way the author bought these two characters together. The more time they spent together, the more they realized there’s so much more to the other person. Their chemistry was just fabulous! And I adore the way Dec treats Finn like the treasure he is.

    The most vivid moment for me was when Finn was at the park teaching some teenagers about Shakespeare. Dec saw him all glowing and happy under the trees and sunshine and he couldn’t resist coming over to talk. I could almost see that as a breathtaking scene in a rom-com movie, with the camera showing a dreamy Finn through Dec’s bedazzled eyes.

    I enjoyed all the Aster Valley books, but I enjoyed Hot As Heller more because it was an easier read. Previously, I had complained that the antagonists were much too vile for me. So much so that they took me out of the story. Here, the author toned down the negativity, going for more tell rather than show. I really appreciated it because while we still have major conflicts and bad guys to keep us on our toes, they were deployed at a tolerable level.

    All the couples from the previous books made their appearances. I always perk up whenever one of them pops up. This series has some of the most lovable supporting cast. They made me want to move to Aster Valley. The town itself is almost another character.

    Hot As Heller is a heartwarming story about taking charge of one’s life and following your dreams. It continues the Aster Valley tradition of charming unwitting celebrities into finding love and staying for good. It is quite an enticing place. So I say, drop by any time. You’ll feel right at home too!

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

    Soundtrack: Starstruck
    Artist: Years & Years
    Album:

    P.S.

    Let Aster Valley charm you by reading the books in order. Check out my reviews below:

    Winter Waites
    Right As Raine
    Sweet As Honey


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    US: Kindle | Audiobook
    UK: Kindle | Audiobook

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  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Love Is A Stranger by John Wiltshire

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    More Heat Than The Sun: Love Is A Stranger – John Wiltshire

    Ex-SAS soldier Ben Rider falls in love with his enigmatic married boss Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen, but Nikolas is living a lie. A lie so profound that when the shadows are lifted, Ben realises he’s in love with a very dangerous stranger. Ben has to choose between Nikolas and safety, but sometimes danger comes in a very seductive package. 


    Note: long post so you can skip to the last paragraph for the TL,DR version if you want

    Love Is A Stranger is built on layers upon layers of secrets, with just enough hints of the dark and dangerous to keep you on the edge, all wrapped up in old world suave and sophistication that charms and seduces. Very Much like Nikolas Mikkelsen.

    The story is told in Ben Rider’s POV. He’s involved with the married Nikolas. The story drops you right smack in the middle of their affair. They worked in what I gather is some government department handling sensitive missions. Basically, they’re secret agents.

    Nikolas is married for 10 years to a high-ranking lady in the royal family. Now, this part initially put me off this series. Cheating is a deal-breaker for me. But I’ve seen some glowing reviews and I was very curious to see how the author would make their relationship work. Quite spectacularly as it turned out.

    At first, it would seem Nikolas has all the power. Older, richer, cold and aloof, yet very charismatic. Also, the boss. It was pretty obvious that Ben was in awe of the man. As the story progressed, we see the gradual shift in dynamics as Ben work his way through the chinks in Nikolas’ armor.

    This could have been a serious, heavy book but the bright spots of dry humor really gave the story the levity it needed to keep the weight off. Usually this is when Ben is calling Nikolas out on his shit. I loved it when Ben is being very irreverent with the older man. Not only is it really funny but it also makes Nikolas less cold figure on a pedestal, more warm-blooded person.

    While this is a very Nikolas book, Ben’s character is just as complex. Blessed with model perfect looks, he had no qualms using it to get the job done. I really liked that he thinks of his looks as just another tool. He’s good at his job and doesn’t hesitate to maim, torture and/or kill to get what he wants. He also has a bratty side that loves to annoy his older lover. And boy, does he like to eat. We get Ben’s backstory but the latter parts teased us with more reveals in the future.

    My favorite part about Ben, apart from his super snarky attitude, is his sheer determination to love Nikolas in any way he can have him.

    “If this is love for you, then you are in love with a ghost, with the illusion of a man. Is that enough for you?”

    “Would you let me have that? If you do, then I will find the man. I’ll breathe life back into the ghost.”

    Ben and Nikolas are two beautiful, dysfunctional people that started their relationship backwards. They now had to figure out how to do it for real. Their chemistry sizzled right from page 1 and continued to set off smoke alarms with the way they played off each other throughout the book. Sometimes ridiculous, frequently fucked up, these two really deserved each other.

    The plot has, initially, a slice of life-ish feel to it. Generally, a book would cover one major mission. This one had Ben tackling a few missions during the course of the story, especially at the first half where the plot had things happening before establishing the set up. It was almost a spy procedural in a way.

    These parts had some very shocking revelations! Without giving too much away, it pave the way for the two men to really begin their relationship. The next portions admittedly meandered just like the two meandered through their days. This could be considered the honeymoon phase. Sadly, this saggy middle made me put the book on hold for a while.

    The story picked up at the third arc. That is when it took a much darker turn when Nikolas’s past caught up to him. The plot already covered some disturbing elements early on but this time it was way worse. That the man has a troubled past has been hinted from the start but I never realized how very troubled it really is. From the unspeakable abuses that began in his childhood to his career in shadow agencies, Nikolas is a man who lives a lie within a lie.

    Love Is Stranger is a riveting spy thriller and the beginnings of an epic love story. It does a good job setting up the succeeding books. The first parts could be struggle to go through. The character and story development doesn’t happened until much later on. But stick around for the twisty turny plot, the witty dialogue, the crazy awesome chemistry, and, most especially, when the layers start peeling off one by one.

    P.S.

    Open-ended conclusion but most of the books are out so you won’t have trouble bingeing.

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

    Soundtrack: Stranger
    Artist: Covey
    Album;


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    SERIES REVIEW: Bad Behavior Books 5 & 5.5 by L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Note: another long post so you can skip to the end for the tl:dr version if you want. looks like this is turning out to be a series review month

    Bad Behavior was one of the best series I’ve read back in 2018. This gritty, partners to lovers, police procedural cemented L.A. Witt and Cari Z‘s status as one of the best writing duos for me. Just when I thought Andreas and Darren’s story was over, we get another awesome installment and a floofy floof short story.

    This is a review of Books 5 and 5.5.


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    Bad Behavior: Protective Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Detective Mark Thibedeau is perfectly happy doing his job in Internal Affairs and going home to his cat. Still, when his assistant wants to set him up on a blind date, he can’t help but be intrigued.

    Dr. Ryan Campbell loves the frenetic pace of working in an emergency department. He likes his life and doesn’t need anyone. But that guy his colleague wants him to meet does sound pretty interesting.

    It’s instant chemistry when they meet—and instant chaos.

    That chaos isn’t just phone calls interrupting dates. When a patient comes into the ED rapidly bleeding out from a gunshot wound, Ryan suddenly finds himself in possession of evidence that could very well put two white cops in jail for killing an innocent black man in cold blood.

    Not sure what else to do, Ryan takes the evidence to the only cop he can trust—Mark.

    Now Mark is investigating a delicate case, and Ryan is a material witness, and putting their fledgling relationship on hold is the least of their problems. Dirty cops stalk Ryan and his colleagues. Higher-ups question Mark’s investigative integrity at every turn. Worse, he’s tugging at threads of a citywide systemic problem of cops getting away with racially motivated murder.

    And there are cops with blood on their hands who will gladly kill to keep that system running.

    CW: Racially motivated violence, white-cop-on-black civilian violence

    This book is #5 in the Bad Behavior series, but can be read as a standalone.


    I read in L.A. Witt‘s post somewhere that Protective Behavior began as series narrator Michael Ferraiuolo‘s suggestion. This book was a pleasant surprise. It’s a story I didn’t realize I wanted because I didn’t really pay that much attention to IA Detective Mark Thibedeau. After learning of its existence, I was like, oh yeah, about time we have a book about Internal Affairs cops.

    We first met Mark in Book 1, Risky Behavior, as the IA detective who thought Andreas was a dirty cop. He and Andreas were both grumpy assholes who butt heads all the time. Andreas’ daughter Erin later worked as Mark’s assistant. She wrangled him into a blind date with a doctor friend, Ryan.

    Mark and Ryan are two very busy men who had no lives outside work. They immediately hit it off but barely got around to their second date, let alone some smexy times, due to ongoing investigations and medical emergencies. They tried. Boy, they really tried but the call of duty always had impeccable bad timing.

    I felt their initial meeting was, deliberately, a conventional blind date, perhaps as a reminder that they were really just ordinary people cockblocked by extraordinary circumstances.

    Some time after they began dating, Mark found himself investigating a suspected murder of a black man by white cops. The more Mark uncovers, the more he realized this could very well be a systemic problem.

    The case was brought to his attention by Ryan. The doctor was the one who attended the victim. The man handed him a recording of the incident as he lay dying . This makes Ryan a witness and thus off limits for any romantic endeavors. It also made him a target of the psycho cops who were looking to get rid of evidence.

    I might have initially overlooked him before but the authors did a good job making Mark a likable character here. He’s not a flash and bang guy. He’s more of a solid, dependable, dogged determination gets the job done kind of guy. He goes home to a spoiled cat. A dead giveaway that this hardened detective is really a softie.

    Ryan’s more of the same, albeit more playful and flirty. Right away, they understood the kind of high stress, demanding job the other man had. They made their relationship work despite those hurdles. I liked that they were kind of low-key compared to the flashier Andreas and Darren because it feels right to their story. I also appreciated that they were both in their 40s and this is not an age-gap romance.

    The story is first and foremost, a police procedural. I really enjoyed this because it’s my first time to read a book that focuses on Internal Affairs. IA investigations are trickier than normal cases. Cops don’t snitch on other cops. Especially their partners.

    The plot was well-written. It was easy to follow but still giving plenty of twists and turns that kept me at the edge of my seat. Any police procedural aficionado would love all the nitty gritty investigative stuff.

    This is a very timely book that reflects real life events, specifically racism and Black Lives Matter. These issues were handled well. I read one review that says the story tries too hard to make a point. I did find some parts repetitive but not preachy.. All in all, gripping and relevant .

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

    Soundtrack: Matter
    Artist: For King & Country
    Album: Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.


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    Bad Behavior: Cuddly Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Detective Andreas Ruffner is less than thrilled when his husband and partner, Detective Darren Corliss, announces they’ll be cat-sitting for a couple of weeks. He’s even less pleased when he realizes the cat in question is a large grumpy thing with razor-sharp claws and no regard for personal space.

    When Darren deploys the puppy dog eyes, though, Andreas is powerless to say no, so they’re on kitty detail… and despite his best efforts, Andreas is a sucker for the critter shedding all over his apartment and stealing his husband’s affection.

    It’s only for two weeks. Plenty of time for the cat to get on his nerves, but not nearly enough for her to trick him into falling in love with her. Right?

    This 15,000 word short story is Bad Behavior book 6, and is best read after Protective Behavior. 


    So I mentioned above that Mark goes home to his cat. The cat is Harley, a giant hairy ball of fluff with no regard for personal space. She jumped on an injured Mark and opened his stitches. So she was sent to live with Andreas and Darren for a couple of weeks while Mark recovers.

    This short story is full of adorable cat antics and besotted humans. It is a demonstration of how cats can win over even the most anti-cat person. Witness grizzled detective Andreas being trained by the cunning Harley to become her personal seat cushion, much to the delight of his husband, Darren. Photographic evidence was promptly obtained for posterity.

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

    Soundtrack: Cuddles
    Artist: The Tired Flames
    Album: Cuddles


    Michael Ferraiuolo was right on the money when he suggested Mark’s book. Protective Behavior certainly added another dimension to the series by giving us a peek at the inner workings of the Internal Affairs Department. It is a solid police procedural tackling real life issues with a gentle, low-steam romance that goes perfectly well with the story’s vibe. Cuddly Behavior is the squishy cherry on top, a veritable catnip to all cat lovers.

    Protective Behavior can be read as a standalone but why stop at one? Experience all the different ways to misbehave in the first four Bad Behavior books: Risky Behavior, Suspicious Behavior, Reckless Behavior and Romatic Behavior.


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    Protective Behavior: US | UK
    Cuddly Behavior: US | UK

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    Protective Behavior


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    SERIES REVIEW: Lords Of Discord Books 3 & 4 by Jocelynn Drake

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

    Lords of Discord is Jocelynn Drake‘s fabulous take on vampire lore with the most lovable brothers to ever be changed into creatures of the night.

    The Varik brothers, Marcus, twins Rafe and Bel, and Winter became vampires to protect the world and their mother from herself. Julianna Varik was changed by their adopted father, Aidan, because she was ill. Madness overtook her right after that. She can only be calmed by music. Each Varik brother plays a musical instrument. They each have their own unique powers as well.

    The author’s version of vampires is typical of what we know with the addition of special powers. However, she made them stand out by making them very human. The vampires here get tired. They get dark circles under their eyes. There’s not much focus on hypersensitive senses and barely any mention of enhanced physical abilities.

    Normally, authors tend to give descriptions of physical perfection. super strength, super speed, super smells, etc. I don’t think Jocelynn Drake‘s style is necessarily bad, just different from how others do it. I think it’s why this aspect of the writing made an impression on me.

    The series is set in a world where vampires lived secretly among humans. They are ruled by the council. So far Marcus, their serious eldest brother, had done what he could to keep the Variks out of vampire politics. However, trouble always had a way of finding them. The upside to all of these was that he found his mate in the sunshiny Ethan.

    Rafe, the pleasure-loving provocateur, found himself on a hunt for a killer with the leader of the Arsenault clan, Philippe. The French vampire saw there’s more to Rafe than the hedonistic side he shows to the the world. Unfortunately, the rest of the vampire world, the council in particular, saw their union as more of the Variks gathering strength for a takeover

    And we’re on to the youngest Variks.


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    Lords Of Discord: Waking Bel – Jocelynn Drake

    Beltran Varik believes in science.

    It holds all the answers he seeks.

    Except for one.

    How in the world did he end up falling in love with two werewolves?

    Of course, there was no way science could account for the beauty, warmth, and mind-blowing sexiness of Wyatt and River.

    The two shifters are outcasts from their own kind and must seek the protection of a vampire.

    Bel might take them in out of a need to keep them safe, but his feelings for them grow into something so much deeper.

    Unfortunately, Bel might have to choose between his wolves and his family as a fight brews with the local werewolf pack and the Variks face a darker threat from the Ministry.

    Waking Bel is the third book in the Lords of Discord paranormal romance series. This book is an MMM and contains vampires, werewolves, nosy brothers, music, science!, Ozzie the raven, so many first times, hope, dirty talk, and a love that will never end.


    Right off the bat, I had a good feeling about Bel’s book. He is my favorite Varik. I was over the moon when I heard he’s going to get not only one but two werewolf mates!

    And OMG!!! This is the most perfectly choreographed threesome dynamics there is! I think the author outdid herself with how well Bel, Wyatt and River played off each other. Wyatt and River were already a couple and the way Bel just naturally fell into place in their relationship, there was never any doubt that Bel was theirs and they were Bel’s.

    Winter is technically the youngest but I’ve always thought of Bel as the baby of the family.. Probably because he seemed so fluffy and wholesome. Our sweet Bel is the mad scientist. His power is communicating with animals. He’s a mild-mannered guy whose life was wholly dedicated to his family and his experiments.

    He’s also the most over-protective and the most dangerous. This is the man who invented a weapon that can reduce living creatures into a puddle of goo. It’s so deadly, he was banned by the council from ever making it again.

    Wyatt and River are werewolves who were exiled from their pack for being gay. The shifters here are a bunch of homophobes who don’t approve of same-sex relationships because they don’t lead to procreation. This is probably my least favorite version of shifters.

    Wyatt is more of the strong, silent type alpha and River is summer and sunshine. I loved these two! All the Varik mates are awesome in their own way but I think these two are the best thing to happened to the Variks in general. Not only did they give them shifter allies, their presence gave Bel’s story a lot of soul.

    Unlike the vampires, werewolves are tactile and very affectionate and their warmth and care really resonated throughout the book. They also made the succeeding book more fun. So very apt title because Bel truly came alive with Wyatt and River.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Wake Me
    Artist: Message To Bears
    Album: Folding Leaves


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    Lords Of Discord: Embracing Winter – Jocelynn Drake

    Winter Varik believes in only one thing—protecting his family.Even from himself.

    For nearly 200 years, he’s kept a dangerous secret from his brothers.

    But Winter might have found his salvation in the form of a sexy witch named Fox.

    Too bad this same witch was named in a prophecy foretelling the destruction of the Variks.

    In a race to uncover the truth behind the prophecy and take down a vampire determined to kill all the Variks, Winter may have to choose between finally having his heart’s desire and the family he loves.

    Embracing Winteris the fourth book in the Lords of Discord paranormal romance series. This book contains vampires, werewolves, witches, nosy brothers, music, lots of rope, sass, hope, dirty talk, redemption, and a love that will never end. And did I mention rope? Lots of rope.


    I was as eager for Winter’s book as Bel’s. The youngest Varik is the most mysterious. Even his brother’s don’t know what he can really do.

    I didn’t quite have a grasp of his personality in the previous books so I was surprised to learn that Wee Varik is a grumpy, grumpy bastard. I guess being the family spy and assassin doesn’t really leave much room for good cheer. Especially not one burdened with a secret such as his. The only other person who knows about this is their father, Aidan. Let’s just say, Winter’s world is very noisy. All he ever wanted is some peace and quiet.

    This is why Fox is a great foil for him. The witch is super sassy and assertive, the type who talks a lot when nervous. Winter was supposed to kill him because he was the witch who will destroy the Variks, according to a prophesy. One look at the redhead and Winter had the sudden urge to protect him. Turns out, Fox was the gift he never realized he could have.

    I didn’t warm up to Fox immediately. I found him a bit pushy at first. But later on, when more of Winter’s centuries-long struggle was revealed, I was glad Fox held on until the vampire’s walls came down. And that’s when we really see Winter the man.

    I do think their dynamics is somewhat similar to Marcus and Ethan’s. The story was also longer than it really is. A lot of it spent cooped up in Winter’s house. I understand it was a way of letting the relationship develop slowly while also taking place in a matter of days. But I couldn’t help feeling things could have been resolved faster. The pacing picked up when the rest of the Variks became more involved.

    All the Variks and their friends rallying to put an end to the bad guys gave this book one heck of a conclusion!. If the series ended at this point, I would have been already satisfied. Happily, there’s more because Aidan gets some love too!

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

    Soundtrack: Silence
    Artist: Before You Exit
    Album: 001_love


    The two youngest Variks certainly had the most delicious tales to tell. Bel’s awakening is a threesome surprise delivered in the most delightful way. Winter’s story might have gone about things a bit too slow at some parts, but Wee Varik living his dream in the arms of a witch and the thrilling mega-boss fight are definitely worth sticking around for.

    Lords of Discord should be read in order because you meet one Varik, you’ll love ’em all. Start with how a feisty human charmed the big bad vampire with food and some Tori Amos in Claiming Marcus. Witness how the self-proclaimed purveyor of fleshy delights met his match in one angelic vampire in Saving Rafe.


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    Lords Of Discord: US | UK

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    Claiming Marcus | Saving Rafe | Waking Bel
    Embracing Winter | Healing Aiden


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    SERIES REVIEW: Claimings Books 1 & 2 by Lyn Gala

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Protect
    Artist: High Sunn
    Album: Wishes


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

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


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

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


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    Claimings: US | UK

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


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  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: The Murder Between Us by Tal Bauer

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Wow. Just wow!

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

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

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

    “Damn midwestern men!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

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


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    The Murder Between Us: US | UK

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    SERIES REVIEW: Witchbane Books 4 & 5 by Morgan Brice

    Witchbane is a series that started off as a disappointment but became better and better with each new installment. The main thing that kept me hanging on was that I really liked the paranormal world Morgan Brice created. This series is part of her shared Morgan Brice/Gail Z. Martin world that includes Badlands, Deadly Curiosities, Treasure Trail, and other series.

    Witchbane is about an ongoing witchhunt for disciples of th evil warlock, Ryfel Gremory, who was killed by the sheriff and his men hundreds of years ago. As revenge and to keep themselves immortal, the disciples sacrifice the first born son of the men who killed their master every 12 years.

    Seth would have been another victim had his brother, Jesse, not been mistaken as him and murdered. Vowing to avenge his brother, he made it his mission to track down the disciples.

    Evan was one of the intended victims but Seth was able to save him. After initial distrust, the two quickly became partners in more ways than one.

    This is a review of Books 4 and 5. I haven’t read book 2, Burn.


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    Witchbane: Flame and Ash – Morgan Brice

    The third novel in the Witchbane series.

    One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse

    Seth rescued Evan Malone from one of the witches, and they’ve fallen in love despite the danger and chaos, going on the road to complete the quest and bring an end to the ritual murders. Their relationship is new, their emotions are raw, and the danger is real. It’s a challenge to find their way as a couple while they’re on the road together in the close quarters of Seth’s RV, training in magic and combat skills to fight off a supernatural killer.

    In pursuit of the next witch-disciple, Seth and Evan team up with older hunters Milo and Toby as their quest to stop a century-long killing spree takes them to a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They’re ahead of the sacrifice cycle, with plans to stop the murders and kill the dark witch. Only this time, the hunters become the hunted when the witch knows they’re coming to get him, and has deadly plans of his own. When their lives are on the line, will love be enough?

    Flame and Ash contains sexually explicit content intended for adults 18 and over.


    Flame and Ash is meeting Seth’s family and Evan coming into his own.

    The story started with something as close to normalcy two witch-hunting boyfriends can get, which is meet the parents. Seth brings Evan to meet his mentors/foster dads, Toby and Milo. These two grizzled hunters took Seth under their wing when he was just starting on his mission. I’ve heard so much about them so I’m happy they finally made their appearance.

    I loved this two oldsters always grousing about each other with so much affection. They give the boys hope that there’s a happier future together after their very dangerous and seemingly endless mission.

    When I first met him, I thought Evan was too much of a TSTL character. Distrustful of Seth who saved him, too trusting of appearances and not much good in a fight. But he has grown by leaps and bounds with every book. Here, it was up to him to save Seth when his boyfriend was hexed by a henchman of the witch they’re hunting. If I had any lingering doubts about Evan, well, our boy proved his mettle.

    The book takes us to a very weird museum that was inspired a real life one. There’s also the very real Road To Nowhere. I enjoyed the creepy artifacts. All of these were worked brilliantly into the story, amping the suspense and adding to the chills and thrills the series is known for.

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

    Soundtrack: Up In Flames
    Artist: Ruelle
    Album: Up In Flames


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    Witchbane: Unholy – Morgan Brice

    A cycle of ritual murders. A coven of dark warlocks, drawing their immortality from the magic of their dead master. Two men sworn to stop the deaths, destroy the warlocks, and avenge the victims. Except this time, the killer flips the script.

    Seth Tanner swore vengeance on the dark witches who killed his brother, Jesse. He rescued Evan Malone from one of the witches, and they’ve fallen in love despite the danger and chaos, going on the road to complete the quest and bring an end to the ritual murders. Their relationship is still new, tested at every turn by danger and magic.

    Seth and Evan head to Charleston to stop the next warlock and save his intended victim. But this time, they’re too late. The warlock has already powered up, and he’s determined to destroy the two hunters one way or another. A deadly curse on Seth and Evan means time is running out. Can they find a way to turn the tables, or is Charleston their final destination?

    Unholy is an urban fantasy MM paranormal romance with plenty of supernatural suspense, hurt/comfort, hot sex, found family, dark magic, and paranormal thrills. 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.


    Unholy gave Seth and Evan more friends. Also, they were cursed with blue balls.

    Witchhunting is a lonely business. Most of the time, it’s long hours on the road just the two of them. Many of the ‘cameos’ from characters of other books were either though mentions by name or communication through email or phone. Here, we meet some of these people.

    Their latest target took Seth and Evan to Charleston. Readers of Deadly Curiousity will recognize the place as home to Cassidy, Teag and their friends. They have been helping the boys indirectly for a long time now so I’m very glad to see them finally interacting face to face. I loved how they all rallied to Seth and Evan’s aid.

    The boys also learned something about the warlock that changed their perspectives. I think it was a great twist to what would otherwise be the same old pattern of roadtrips and hunting.

    All the books have a lot of action/suspense in them but this book felt more dynamic than the rest. Maybe it’s because there are more characters involved. It also had two climactic scenes that were executed brilliantly. The author was able to give each MC their moment to shine without one overshadowing the other.

    Not only was this aspect of the story pulled off skillfully, the romance was so damn good! When a relationship is going well, it is common for authors to deploy the separation. Morgan Brice did just that. It was how she did it that made it extra excruciating for the boys. Evil. I loved it!

    Seth and Evan were cursed by a touch-me-not spell. This means that they cannot touch each other or else they will eventually kill one another.

    Now this curse might not be exactly new, but it’s very effective. You can feel the longing, the sheer torture of not being able to touch your lover when he’s so close, that pang of sadness at seeing others casually shaking his hand when you can’t. All the feels leaping off the page! And the boys had tensions aplenty so they had to get creative.

    All in all their Charleston experience shake things up for our boys. I consider this the best book so far.

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

    Soundtrack: Together
    Artist: Arula
    Album: We Belong


    From the too insta-love beginning that favored steam to substance and world-building to well-written, well-rounded sequels that completely won me over, Witchbane has certainly come a long way. You can definitely see how everything, from the characters, to the plot, to the writing, improved the further we get into the series.

    The paranormal elements has always been its strongest suit and it always worked beautifully with the plot. I liked the idea of rote magic, the kind of magic that you can learn through practice. Normally, I’m all about high-level spells but I think it’s just right that Seth and Evan can only do simple spells. After all, they were just ordinary joes who were suddenly thrust into the world of the supernatural.

    Lastly, Seth and Evan takes readers on a road trip all over the US. I am not a fan of road trips in books but they made it enjoyable. I’ve always wanted to tour places mentioned in books. Like how anime fans make pilgrimages to sites shown in anime. The supernatural element coupled with the various unusual points of interest the author included in the stories makes Witchbane a good source of bookish places to visit. Places that might even have a real witch or two.

    P.S.

    To get the most out the experience, Witchbane is best read in order. Check out Seth and Evan’s wonky beginnings in Book 1, Witchbane (review here). And watch them hit their stride in Book 3, Dark Rivers (review here).


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    Flame and Ash US | UK
    Unholy: US | UK

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    FLAME AND ASH: US | UK
    UNHOLY: US | UK

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  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Wood by A.E. Via

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    A True Lover’s Story: Wood – A.E. Via

    This isn’t a romance about billionaires, movie stars, or models. This is a story of two ordinary, working-class men, dealing with life’s real problems, and trying to find love along the way.

    It’s been a long seventeen years but Herschel Wood Jr. is finally a free man and he’s looking forward to reconnecting with his old cellmate, Bishop Stockley, who promised him a place to stay and some help getting back on his feet. Wood had a good life once upon time when he’d owned one of the most successful tattoo shops on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront – until a fatal accident that was his fault cost him everything.

    Now at forty-six years old, all Wood wants is to work in another shop on the beach and find a mature, easygoing man to settle down with. But when he gets to his new place and finds he has to share the small trailer with Bishop’s childhood friend, he wasn’t expecting a sexy, smart-mouthed brat that enjoys pushing a man to his limits.

    Wood pressed in tight until there was only misunderstanding between them, his mouth mere inches from Trent’s parted lips. “You wanted to get a reaction out of me you annoying, immature little shit… now you’ve got one.”

    Trent Armstrong has never been considered a catch. He’s a twenty-nine year old laborer, an ex-con, and not the easiest person to get along with. He’s used to being the one people cast to the side when they’re done with him. Everyone he’s ever cared about has walked out of his life without a backward glance, so he’s used to the loneliness. His foul mouth and quick temper are a great defense mechanism and an easy way to hide his hurt.

    From the moment the tattooed, silver-haired man walked into the house there had been nothing but tension, side-eyeing, and sparks between them. Trent has always held back a side of himself that he’s terrified to explore, and without warning Wood’s voice, his maturity, that maddening scent, and even his damaged past all trigger feelings that Trent thought he’d buried deep long ago.

    Trent went completely still when Wood dragged his nose over his forehead and down the side of his face. His voice was shaky, and his breaths were hot and swift along Wood’s throat. “What the hell are you doing?”
    “I’m doing what you want me to do.” Wood whispered. “I’m playing your bullshit game, Trent.”

    The True Lover’s Stories are connected standalones. Each title features a different couple but will contain previously mentioned characters.
    No multiple pairings. No cliffhangers. Ends with a HEA.
    Note: This is a steaming agnsty, age gap, new-to-love romance.


    Trigger Warning: AA Recovery 


    Wood is the second book of the True Lover’s Stories. Readers of Book 1, Bishop, knew Trent Armstrong as the titular character’s hot-headed, mouthy bestfriend. By all accounts, the man was into girls. It took a silver fox ex-con with beautiful tattoos for him to admit, that might not be exactly the case.

    Herschel Wood Jr was mentioned in the first book as Bishop‘s beloved mentor. After almost two decades, he was finally released from prison. Now it’s time to pick up whatever’s left of his old life. Bishop‘s dad, Mike, offered to rent him his trailer. He’s to be rooming with a young ex-con who hated him at first sight but was also giving that certain unmistakable look that pinged Wood’s gaydar.

    I was excited for Trent’s story. He was an interesting character. He’s practically a brother to Bishop and a second son to Mike. He’s doofus and has a temper but his antics were entertaining. I wanted to see how this dork deals with his gay-for- you moment.

    I loved how Wood and Trent found their common ground despite their many differences. One was a mature, levelheaded former tattoo artist who wants to reclaim his lost art, the other was a bratty construction worker with a penchant for jazz music. Both a bit broken and a little lonely and realized they enjoyed each other’s company if they, well, Trent really (because this guy is an idiot), were honest with themselves.

    I really liked Wood’s explanation when said he would choose a cactus tattoo to represent Trent and it’s not because he’s prickly. It showed how perceptive the older man was, seeing through Trent’s bluster to his core.

    For all his faults, Trent’s loyalty shone through. When Wood’s demons got the better of him, it was him who doggedly nursed the other man back to health. Those scenes were the best parts of Trent.

    For Wood, the author went out of her way to emphasize the age difference, giving descriptions of how prison aged the character. This is different from the usual route most authors take where they tend to highlight how youthful the older man looks despite his age. It’s also more realistic which I appreciated.

    Wood has gone through and done a lot but he’s not jaded. He still has some optimism left, enough to give him strength to start anew. He has the kind of grace that comes with age and wisdom. Fine wine indeed. With that, he’s also in denial about his alcoholism.

    The book tackled the struggles ex-cons go through once they regain their freedom. We follow Wood as he goes about finding a job, deal with discrimination, meet people from his past, and tie up the loose ends. The story executed this theme well.

    I wanted to like this story more but unfortunately, the thing plodded along oh so slowly, especially the first half. If I thought Bishop was slow, the pace here made it a real struggle to keep going. I even put the book on hold for a couple of months.

    Trent’s development, from antagonistic to civil to interested to committed, was done believably and progressed at a good pace. It’s just that the writing made things feel slow. I gave it a go once in a while until I hit the point where things moved faster, which was around the second half.

    The last stretch could have been done better. The scheming ex felt forced, so were the petty jealousy. The most ridiculous part for me was the ending where out of the blue, Mike, who is straight and has a serious girlfriend, suddenly had the hots for a young, sex-addicted twink. It seemed like a ploy just so the next book will be connected to the rest. Do we really need another gay-for-you, age-gap story for this series?

    Wood might not have gone about it fast enough but it delivered the angst, the hurt comfort, the redemption and the happy ever after for two men who very much deserved their second chance. It didn’t exactly set my world on fire but I still liked it overall.

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

    Soundtrack: My My My!
    Artist: Troye Sivan
    Album: Bloom

    P.S.

    Wood can be read as a standalone but I recommend meeting the wonderful Edison, whose old world charm and culinary magic won the heart of an equally awesome and talented man. Bishop is really great and his story is much better. Check out my review here.


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    US: Bishop | Wood
    UK: Bishop | Wood

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    WOOD

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    REVIEW: Black Moon by Elle Keaton

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    Veiled Intentions: Black Moon – Elle Keaton

    One corpse, two corpse, old corpse, new corpse.

    Summer is crashing into fall, Mat and Niall have a wedding to overthink.

    A body is discovered floating in the harbor and this time it’s the missing ex-Piedras Marine officer Duane Cooper.

    Who, aside from Niall, wanted Duane dead? He’s been on the run for months, why would he turn up dead now?

    Black Moon, third in the Veiled Intentions series, Black Moon is a dual POV following Sheriff Mat Dempsey and now Private Investigator Niall Hamarsson as they grope their way to a happily ever after.


    Black Moon is the third book in the Veiled Intentions (formerly Hamarsson & Dempsey) series. Hopefully not the last. It follows directly from the awkward and very Niall proposal from the second book, Long Shadow.

    The series is set in a small island of Piedras, part of the real life San Juan Islands in Washington. Island natives Niall Hamarrson and Sheriff Mat Dempsey both grew up in the island, moved away as adults, only to come back to their hometown later on. Niall, as way to find himself perhaps and Mat, after his father died.

    The two started off antagonistic but Mat is a do-gooder who slowly but surely chipped away at the walls Niall built around himself. Fast forward many months later, Niall and Matt were trying to squeeze in wedding planning amidst murder investigations, new jobs, bomb explosions and buildings collapsing. A man involved in the previous case and who was missing for months was fished out of the water, dead.

    I’ve been following this series since the beginning and I loved watching the characters grow. Niall in particular. Look how far he had come! When I first met him in Book 1, Conspiracy Theory, he was a grumpy bastard who barely said a word to anyone. The longest sentence he uttered was when he was talking about his dog, Fenrir.

    Now, well, I wouldn’t say he’s a completely different person but you can definitely see his warm, caring side. Especially when Mat and animals are involved. He’s not really talking more but at least he talks. He’s even getting along with his new co-workers at West Coast Forensics, a private investigation firm.

    I also loved how even if the two men were settling into a nice, comfortable domestic routine, the romance is far from boring. There’s enough external conflict to keep them on their toes. With work as dangerous as theirs, it’s just right that they have something safe and normal to come home to. And even if they had huge blow ups, they don’t let the bad feelings fester. They always talk and work things out. They’re complete opposites but they just synced perfectly!

    The case was a tough one. It had me guessing until the big reveal. Mat unearthed a decade old secret about his father’s death. Niall was doing his usual bullheaded best by ‘helping’ with Mat’s investigation whether his fiance wanted him to or not. The big guy was supposed to rest after a building collapsed on him. But obviously, not one for staying at home and twiddling his thumbs. Not one to concern himself with legalities either.

    The mystery connects to the previous cases as well as the author’s other books. There were many characters from other series that made appearances. I enjoyed this part a lot. It introduces a bigger world and more stories to explore.

    This series has great supporting characters. There’s Alyson, Mat’s mom, as well as his sister and niece, who welcomed a long-lost Viking and his new-found mutt to their home right from the very beginning. There’s Birdy, Mat’s deputy and, possibly, the only capable officer in their perpetually understaffed department. There’s Marshall Soper, the only doctor in the island who had to double as a coroner. There’s smooth-talking lawyer, Shay, Niall’s half-brother, who he now likes. I hope Shay gets his own book.

    The pacing here was better compared to the second book. It was faster and more consistent, giving a sense of constant motion while still delivering tension. There was ample time for the plot to develop properly. The downtimes didn’t lag. All in all, the best written installment in the series.

    It also felt like a finale. Aside from the wedding, it wrapped up a lot of loose threads. It gave the boys their hard-earned happy ending and returned Piedras Island back to its sleepy, peaceful state. If Black Moon is indeed the last book, it’s a fitting conclusion to this compelling story about a big taciturn man and his giant dog, a kind-hearted sheriff who wouldn’t quit and a tiny island that always feels like home.

    P.S.

    Veiled Intentions should be read in order.

    Find out how a grumpy Viking found his way back to the home he thought he would never see again and a sheriff who wouldn’t leave him alone in Book 1, Conspiracy Theory. Check out my review here.

    Witness how glacial that Viking can get when it comes to making up his mind about the sheriff (a patient, patient man bless his heart) in Book 2, Long Shadow. Check out my review here.

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

    Soundtrack: Black Moon
    Artist: Heathers
    Album: Midnight Is A Place


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    US: Conspiracy Theory | Long Shadow | Black Moon
    UK: Conspiracy Theory | Long Shadow | Black Moon

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    CONSPIRACY THEORY | LONG SHADOW | BLACK MOON

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    SERIES REVIEW: Vigilance Books 3 & 4 by Silvia Violet

    Vigilance is an erotic romance spinoff of The Marchesi Family featuring a group of vigilantes headed by a mysterious individual simply known as X. The first book, Giorgio is a bodyguard romance involving X’s son, Lane. The followup, Niall, is an enemies to lovers story with the titular character butting heads with pawnshop owner, Marcus.

    Leo is the third book. Leo is a tattoo artist who found himself falling for his new employee, Ezra. The last book, Xavier, finally shed light on the their leader who thought himself straight until he met the young hacker, Emilio.

    The first three books follow their overarching mission to bring down a human trafficking ring. For the series finale, X had to protect Emilio from another hacker who threatened to expose their identities.

    This is a review of Books 3 and 4, Leo and Xavier.


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    Vigilance: Leo – Silvia Violet

    I used to be CIA. Now I’m a tattoo artist and a vigilante.

    When a new hire at my shop gets too curious about my less-than-legal activities, he needs all the protection I can give him.

    He wants a lot more. More than I should be willing to give. And yet, the longer I keep him close for his own safety… the more I want him in my bed.


    This is the series going slow-burn with Leo trying to resist the cute waiter turned receptionist, Ezra, at his tattoo shop. Then he caught the younger man eavesdropping on a Vigilance meeting. Ezra found himself caught up in their mission and a target of the evil villain, Swain.

    Swain was aggressively making his move, even making threats to X at his own fundraising party. Vigilance had to act and they had to act fast.

    The story wraps up the human trafficking thread. It gave a pretty satisfying resolution and I really liked that the Marchesis were there to assist. However, I don’t really care about the romance since I wasn’t drawn to either Leo or Ezra.

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

    Soundtrack: Tied Down
    Artist: Jaymes Young
    Album: Feel Something


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    Vigilance: Xavier – Silvia Violet

    I thought I was straight.
    I thought protecting my identity mattered more than anything besides family.
    Then Emilio came to me for protection.
    It’s my fault he’s in danger, and no one is going to touch him.
    No one besides me. 


    This is the book I’m most looking forward to. I was super curious about X. My enthusiasm petered out because this book fell into the same pattern as the other stories.

    There’s a threat to a young submissive man and a Vigilance member feels insta-lust and the overwhelming need to protect him. They hole up in a some isolated place, in this case X’s private island, had lots of sex, fall in love within a day or two, then a rushed action/suspense ending. There’s bisexual awakening thrown in the mix for variety but overall, it’s too similar to Giorgio and Lane’s story. Maybe, the author was going for parallels but I couldn’t help wishing that things went differently.

    Rating:
    2.5 Stars – far from hate but not quite a like

    Soundtrack: First Time
    Artist: Josef Salvat
    Album: The Close / The Reveil


    I liked the Vigilance boys better when they’re interacting with each other. That’s when you could see more of their personalities. I enjoyed their banter and their camaraderie. With their love interests, they tend to fall into the same mold, which is why I wasn’t keen about the romance.

    All the books were into BDSM. Even if it’s not my thing, I’m ok with it. However, most of the couples here were a dominant, controlling alpha paired with a very pliant younger, smaller man. The only exception was Niall and Marcus. That’s why they’re my favorite.

    I wasn’t wowed by the series overall. As I mentioned in my review of the first two books, I am aware it would be steamy but I was hoping for a more balanced presentation. It is unfortunate that the action scenes were relegated to the endings and were over almost as soon as they started. I wanted a bit more focus on the mission.

    This is a ME problem because other people have thoroughly enjoyed the books. They are best read with the mindset that they are primarily BDSM romance with some action on the side. If this is your thing, there’s a good chance you’ll find the books a lot of fun.

    And I have to say, there was something about Vigilance that made me finish the entire thing. I guess I liked the idea of a vigilante group plus the Marchesi cameos are always an incentive. Then there goes Lancelot Theriot and his pet monkey and so here I am, excited for another spinoff series, The Theriot Family.

    P.S.

    Vigilance should be read in order. Find out how grumpy ex-military sniper Giorgio unknowingly hooked up with his very off-limits boss’s son, the sparkly and fabulous Lane, in Book 1. Also, check out Niall and Marcus’ business with the blue speedo in Book 2. Reviews here.

    While you’re at it, meet the notorious bunch who love cannoli as much as they love causing trouble, The Marchesi Family. Series review here.


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

    US: GIORGIO | NIALL | LEO | XAVIER
    UK: GIORGIO | NIALL | LEO | XAVIER

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    GIORGIO | NIALL | LEO