• book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Jack: Grime and Punishment by Z.A. Maxfield

    50792376. sx318 sy475

    The Brothers Grime: Jack: Grime and Punishment – Z.A. Maxfield

    One man’s tough job is a path to love.

    The Brothers Grime is Jack Masterson’s way of helping people in crisis after disability ends his career as a firefighter. Jack’s people get to a scene long after the physical trauma ends. They don’t solve crime or rescue the victims. They help people move on. The new job is all Jack wants or needs, until he gets the call about old flame Nick Foasberg’s suicide.

    Ryan Halloran’s cousin Nick has been on a downhill slide for a long time. Despite that, Ryan does everything he knows to help. Ryan only understands part of what happened between Nick and Jack in high school, but after Nick’s suicide, Ryan agrees both he and Jack need closure. They work together to clean the scene and despite the situation, heat flares between them.

    Jack is keeping a painful secret and fighting his attraction to Nick’s lookalike cousin, Ryan. Ryan calls himself a magnet for lost causes and worries Jack might be the next in a long line of losers.

    Despite his misgivings, despite the past and the mistakes they’ve both made, Jack gives Ryan something to look forward to, and Ryan gives Jack a reason to stop looking back, in Grime and Punishment.

    This is a rerelease of the 2013 novel with bonus stories in the Grime-verse!!!


    Pun-y titles always make me think light and humorous so I was surprised that this was rather bleak and angsty. Well, at least the first 30% of the story. I nearly dropped the book but I’m glad I hanged on. I mistakenly thought this was going to be mystery but it’s actually contemporary romance.

    The Brothers Grime has a very interesting set-up that’s quite unique. This is the name of the company that specializes in cleaning up crime scenes. It is co-owned by three friends, Jack, his cousin Gabe, and their friend Eddie. Jack was a former firefighter who came up with the idea after he had a serious accident that left him with a disability and needed a cane to walk.

    Jack: Grime and Punishment opens the series with a suicide. Jack receives a call from their detective friend and his occasional fuck buddy, Dave, that a friend from high school shot himself in his bathroom.

    Nick was Jack’s first love, his bestfriend and lover. He was very closeted. He and his friends nearly beat Jack to a pulp when he publicly tried to ask Nick to the prom. Jack’s cousin and friends never forgave Nick for that. The incident left marks on everyone. Jack carried the wounds ever since. He goes about life avoiding relationships. He also had to deal with the chronic pain from his injury as a firefighter. Understandably, he’s an angry man.

    This part was came off a bit heavy for me. After all he had suffered and through the past 15 years, Jack kept Nick’s secret closely guarded despite urgings from his friends, who also knew the truth, to tell the whole story. You have to admire Jack’s loyalty here. He badly needed closure and cleaning up the scene of death was it.

    Ryan is the other person who needed closure. Nick was living with him. Ryan is a magnet for lost causes who took in his drug-addicted cousin.

    Ryan put Jack in a dilemma. He looked so much like his dead cousin. This brought in the conflict of whether Jack was attracted to Ryan because he reminded him of his lost love. Many times Jack drew comparisons between the two. At one point, he wondered if he can think about Ryan without thinking about Nick. This also colored Ryan’s perception of Jack.

    Another thing here was that both MCs slept with other people off page. If you are like me, a stickler for exclusivity between MCs the moment they noticed each other, I’m happy to say this part wasn’t that off-putting. I did wonder for a while if there was going to be a love triangle with Dave. Thankfully it was emphasized that there were no feelings there therefore no cheating for all parties involved. The thing with Dave was automatically put to a stop.

    The book took a lighter, happier tone after the funeral when Jack and Ryan had their official first date. Ryan had the brilliant idea to test his dates with the first date playlist. This was the moment Jack’s sense of humor came to the fore and his character became infinitely more likable.

    Same with Ryan. I first thought him as abrasive but that was because he was dealing with a lot of things. It was him who smoothly turned a difficult day at Nick’s funeral with Jack into a fun getting-to-know-you session on their way home and capped it with a nice dinner date. He had a playful, flirtatious streak. My favorite part was how he breathed life into Jack’s morose world, reminding him how to have fun again.

    And with the similarities, I liked that Jack was honest that he had a type when it comes to looks and Ryan and Nick both shared that look. But he also made it clear he liked Ryan for who he is. “Ryan was so like Nick. Yet…they were as individual as snowflakes.” He had to work hard to convince Ryan though.

    Given that both MCs were trying to move on from a tragic incident, the romance was not cute and fluffy. There was also misunderstanding and a separation period. But it had plenty of enjoyable parts and the flirting/banter between Jack and Ryan brought the book up a notch.

    This series had a great supporting cast of characters I’m eager to read more about. Gage was the client whisperer who certainly lived up to his reputation. He and Jack were pretty close. Dave wasn’t my favorite person here but he was certainly intriguing. He’s going to be paired with Gage in the third book. He’s so deep in the closet I’m curious to see how Gage convinces him to come out of it. Skippy, a Brothers Grime employee who takes morbid glee in his job would make for a very interesting MC but he’s straight and married so he’s off the list. Eddie was mostly off page but his book is next.

    Jack: Grime and Punishment is a good book to pick up if you have a yen for contemporary romance with a gritty, unusual set-up, engaging characters, and serious themes balanced out by adorable kitty antics and a lot of sweetness and humor. I really liked how the crime scene clean up was worked into the plot. After all, it was what I signed up for and it didn’t disappoint. There were some gory details illustrating the kind of work involved but not too much to make you lose lunch.

    The Brothers Grime is a nasty business but it also brought together two men who would have otherwise missed the fateful connection that brought joy and healing to their hurt, angry souls. Jack’s company logo maybe “Life is not a fairytale“, it certainly doesn’t say he can’t have his happy ever after.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Someone New
    Artist: Hozier
    Album: Hozier


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Jack: Grime and Punishment. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    KINDLE
    AUDIOBOOK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    JACK: GRIME AND PUNISHMENT

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Earth Fathers Are Weird by Lyn Gala

    44569467. sy475

    Earth Fathers: Earth Fathers Are Weird – Lyn Gala

    Captain Maxwell Davis and his entire unit scrambled to engage alien ships over Iowa. The aliens snatched him out of his destroyed jet before they continued on their interplanetary hot pursuit. Then they informed Max that Earth was too far outside regular shipping lanes to return him to his planet.

    So Max ends up in an alien spaceport looking for work. To afford a ticket home he can either spend three hundred years working with linguists to improve the computer’s questionable ability to translate English or he can take a job as a nanny for an unpopular alien.  That way he can afford the ticket in four years.  The problem is that the computer may have mistranslated the word “nanny” and there might be a reason an alien is willing to pay such a high fee.


    Sometimes, it pays to jump headfirst into something knowing as little as possible.

    I started on Earth Fathers Are Weird with the knowledge that there will be tentacles. That’s about it. Now if you have told me beforehand I would be walking into three incubating octopods, me who wouldn’t go near mpreg if I can help it, I would have said blech! and consign this to the farthest reaches of space.

    But much like our boy Captain Maxwell Davis who fell madly and deeply in stupid, I was thrown into a completely foreign world of tentacles and whale speak and loved every minute of it.

    My biggest gripe with space stories is how authors tend to make things human-centric. For me, this is akin to how most movies almost always revolved around an MC that’s white and/or American while the rest of humanity are either villains or supporting characters. I don’t think aliens would think much of humans, heck we couldn’t even travel outside our own solar system. And in their part of the universe, the humans are the aliens.

    This has something to do as well with my niggle regarding alien romances. Frequently, the alien love interest is usually just some guy with blue skin give or take an odd feature or two. Pfft, if you want to do alien, might as well go all the way.

    Lyn Gala went full octopus with Rick. Now, he has multiple eyes and just as many tentacles. The genius of Earth Fathers is that I didn’t even feel a smidge of disgust between the pairing of an octopus and a human. Not even when Rick had his tentacles up Max’s business. Not even with Max pregnant with baby aliens. Nor the very graphic birthing scene. Far from it. I was rooting for Rick and Max all the way!

    It’s not that you would forget Rick is a tentacled alien. You are constantly aware he’s an alien. I especially liked this fact wasn’t diminished as a way to establish a more ‘acceptable’ love interest. The author did a wonderful job showcasing his caring side, his patience, him being a good listener, him being dorky, his various nuances, his fantastic chemistry with Max despite extreme language barrier, colossal cultural gap and mismatched body parts

    At the same time, Max’s humanity and open-mindedness gave him the strength to adapt and face things with good humor. He’s a pop culture enthusiast who regals his alien boyfriend with Darth Vader stories. Gotta love Max right there!

    I really enjoyed how these two worked out their differences and learned about each other. With the help of the ship’s computer, Max did translations. They developed their own way of speaking English. I also enjoyed this part a lot because it felt very true to the set-up.

    The world-building was one of the best I’ve encountered. Things just unfolded so smoothly even with Max’s limited understanding of Rick’s world. We discover things along with Max as he navigates this new reality he was thrust into. Normally, I would have preferred a dual POV, but seeing things through Max’s eyes really worked here.

    And the children. You’d love them too! These three have very distinct personalities. Max named them after fictional characters. There’s Kohei, the eldest. He loves acrobatics. He’s also a very protective big brother. James, named after the captain of the Enterprise, because he loves exploring. And Xander, Max’s little boy who’s named after a Buffy the Vampire Slayer character. He’s the youngest and the smallest and gets cold easily. He loves learning English.

    These little aliens brought out Max’s fierce protective side. I really loved how he went above and beyond here. He fought space pirates with a cleaning hook just to keep his family safe. So of course, Rick had to tangle tentacles with him. This human is a keeper.

    Major props goes to narrator John Solo. Sometimes, he tends to overact some of his narrations but he performed this book to perfection. He did it so well and the story was so good, I listened to this in one sitting!

    Earth Fathers Are Weird is a sweet, beautifully executed love story of two people who not only came from worlds galaxies apart but were of completely different species. How they bridged the gap that spanned this divide was a joy to witness. Hence, this book has gone where no book in my experience has gone before, an mpreg book that earned 5 absolutely perfect stars from me.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Space Age Love Song
    Artist: A Flock Of Seagulls
    Album: A Flock Of Seagulls


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

    KINDLE
    AUDIOBOOK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperback copies and help support independent bookstores.

    Earth Fathers Are Weird

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: To Die For by Davidson King

    54631414. sy475

    Joker’s Sin: To Die For – Davidson King

    Managing the bar at Joker’s Sin, a gay nightclub, is Max’s dream job. Where many seek fame or fortune, he’s living his best life, surrounded by family and friends. The only thing he doesn’t have is the guy to complete him.

    Lane, AKA Sparkles, sees too much of the person he used to be when he looks at Max, and none of it is good. But the stubborn man won’t let up, and when Sparkles’s past threatens to unravel his whole life, it’s Max who steps in to save him.

    Can these two opposites push past their differences to see just how right they are for each other? Will they get a chance before it all falls down around them? Or is their love one to die for?

    (While it is book 2 in the Joker’s Sin Series, it can be read as a standalone)


    When I first met dancing diva extraordinaire Sparkles and his frosty treatment of Max in Joker’s Sin book 1, My Whole World, I immediately thought of the song I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor by Arctic Monkeys. The lines “Stop making the eyes at me / I’ll stop making the eyes at you/ What it is that surprises me / Is that I don’t really want you to” is them eyefucking the heck out of each other. Well, Max did the blatant ogling and I’m pretty sure Sparkles was doing the side eye ogling now and then.

    Fast forward to book 2, To Die For, and their snarky flirting continued. The two saw each other at the club almost every night but knew little about each other. Sparkles was attracted to Max but pegged him as a manwhore and didn’t want to be just another notch in his belt. Meanwhile, Max was really into Sparkles but how to convince the pink-haired diva that he wanted more than just a quick fuck when he wouldn’t even give him the time of day?

    Things took a different turn when a monster from Sparkles’ past showed up liked he owned the town and Max’s protective instincts kicked into high gear.

    The story touches upon the enemies to lovers trope but it’s obvious they don’t really hate each other. It was more like a case of bad first impressions and seeing reminders of an ugly past one had already run away from. Unfortunately, it had a way of catching up to a person.

    But Sparkles is nothing if not a tough-as-nails survivor. He built his life in Haven Hart from the ground up and is not going to let it go that easily. His real name is Lane but to me and everyone at Joker’s Sin, he’ll always be Sparkles. Because he’s that fabulous!

    Max proved he’s more than a walking case of herpes as Sparkles loved to point out. He’s the only boy in a loud Italian family of three sisters and their mom. He’s a whiz at mixing drinks, reads classic books, drives a fast bike and lives with his mom to help her out with her living expenses. He loves his job at the club. He’s one of the big four in Joker’s Sin, along with club owner Atlas Durand, DJ Edge and head of security Zero.

    I was really looking forward to read this book because I was drawn to Sparkles from the get go. While I loved the flirting/fighting thing they had, I didn’t feel the same excitement about Max and Sparkles once they started getting along. I think it was sweet how Max was ready to jump to Sparkles defense. The chemistry was there but it lacked intensity. The pacing was great but the way the romance developed, it didn’t quite match the fire they had at the beginning. Their first date had all the right ingredients to turn magical but the execution failed to deliver.

    Even the suspense lacked bite. There were many things going on that was just…going. The bad guy was an absolute asshole. Now this one stood out. He made Sparkles’ life a complete nightmare. I was so glad when they got rid of him permanently.

    I don’t know, maybe I read this at the wrong time but To Die For didn’t really get my blood pumping as much as I hope it would. There’s nothing outright bad about it, more like, the story was kind of just there. The plot was simple and straightforward. The MCs were both likable, so were the supporting cast. And though it needed some oomph, the romance didn’t feel forced. The part I enjoyed the most were the scenes at the club. This is the heart of the series and this is where the writing really shine with how it made the pulsing club atmosphere palpable.

    A lot of people gave this rave reviews so it really might be a ME thing. I say, read this for the club and the people.

    P.S.

    To Die For can be read as a standalone but it’s also best to drop by Joker’s Sin and meet club owner and showman, Atlas Durand, in book 1, My Whole World. Review here.

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

    Rating: I Bet You Look Good At The Dancefloor
    Artist: Arctic Monkeys
    Album: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not


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

    KINDLE
    AUDIOBOOK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperback copies and help support independent bookstores.

    TO DIE FOR

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Hitman Vs Hitman by Cari Z & L.A. Witt

    54458811. sy475

    Hitman Vs Hitman – Cari Z & L.A. Witt

    Ricardo Torralba and August Morrison don’t agree on much besides the fact that they hate each other. According to Ricardo, August is a spoiled brat who really needs to knock off the sass once in a while. August insists that Ricardo needs a sense of humor, a good lay, or a well-placed bullet. Maybe all three.

    Fortunately, the assassin’s profession is a solitary one, and they can go about their lives without getting in each other’s way.

    Usually.

    When a contracted hit turns out to be a setup for both of them, they narrowly escape with their lives. Now, even if they don’t like it (spoiler: they don’t), August and Ricardo have to work together if they want a shot at survival.

    In between firefights and questionable interrogation methods as they hunt down their would-be killer, the cranky assassins discover that under all that mutual loathing is a spark of chemistry they can’t ignore. They want to ignore it, they probably should ignore it, but August can’t help flirting to annoy Ricardo, and Ricardo can think of at least one way to shut him up for a while.

    But they need to focus, damn it, and figure out who’s gunning for them and why.

    Assuming they don’t kill each other first.

    Hitman vs Hitman is a standalone gay romantic suspense featuring two men who’d rather chew glass than fall for each other, a whole lot of inappropriate comments, and some buttons that will need resewing.


    L.A. Witt and Cari Z had wowed me with their awesomely co-written series, Bad Behavior. Their latest book, Hitman Vs Hitman is a fun, explosive romp oozing with USTs between two hired guns who were contracted to take on an assignment that was set up to get them both killed.

    Hitmen all over the world are ranked in a website called Rate My Hit. It’s where clients post reviews worded as satirical comments.

    The #1 hitman according to the website is Ricardo Torralba. He’s a born planner who has a trunk full of props and costumes that lets him slip through security. He’s of Spanish descent but he can change his accent when undercover. He’s a grumpy, taciturn fellow with a drawer filled with burner phones.

    And #2 on the chart is August Morrison, an unlikely person for such occupation. He is publicly known as the son of a billionaire. His mansion is built like Bruce Wayne’s. He loves clothes. Wears designer suits to his assignments. And jeeesus, when is he going to shut up?!

    This book moved fast, much like the way Ricardo and August were constantly on the run from whoever had them in their crosshairs. They paused long enough to come up with a plan to turn things around. Along the way, their combustible combination finally combusted and they discovered, that despite their very obvious differences, they’re really good together in more ways than they expected.

    The chemistry is off the charts! The sexual tension adding piquancy to the already strained interactions of two men on edge. I love the way these two threw off fireworks while constantly bickering. And that they took time before jumping each other’s bones.

    I do think the way their backstories were presented could have been stronger. While we get a good picture of Ricardo’s and August’s personalities, I felt their pasts could have been explored further. We learn more about August and his quirks. Also him with his famous billionaire face, going about his secret missions sans disguise and not recognized is stretching it.

    Majority of the book is spent uncovering the identity of the person who set them up. The mystery wasn’t hardcore mindboggling and you can kind of expect who the bad guy was. Still, it was an intriguing enough plotline.

    We get an HFN that left some things open in case the authors decide to give us a sequel. I wish they would because that conclusion certainly felt like the start of events that will shake up the charts. I liked that Ricardo and August did not retire as is usually the case when assassins are given their happy endings.

    Overall, Hitman Vs Hitman is light, humorous, suspenseful with OTT stunts and a lot of ridiculousness, mostly from August. It might not be a bullseye but it still hit its target.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Bullet
    Artist: Riot Child
    Album: Made For Another Time


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

    KINDLE
    AUDIOBOOK
  • book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Handled Books 2 & 3 by Romilly King

    I practically inhaled these last two Handled books in one sitting because they’re that good!

    The entire series blew me away with Gray and Nathan’s deliciously deviant tale of death and desire that is surprisingly sweet as it is dark. Romilly King created two very memorable characters that are up there in my most favorite couples ever list.

    Handled is a world where capital punishment is meted out to serial killers by highly trained killers called Handlers. These executions are supervised by Witnesses. Each Handler is assigned a Witness.

    Gray, best handler in town, was assigned Nathan, rookie witness, who somehow forged a more than professional connection to the notoriously very difficult handler.


    55849158. sy475

    Handled: Cleansed – Romilly King

    Sometimes you have to go back in order to go forward – Gray is going back to handle the man who saw him as an angel, and unleashed the demon in him.

    I am a Handler; I deal with serial killers, legally, ruthlessly, and in the presence of my Witness, because justice must be seen to be done.

    Handling is an intimate procedure. I only perform for an audience of one; for my Witness, with his hot eyes and his innocent heart, and the pure white soul that I dirtied up so beautifully.

    Now someone else is watching, the man who refined the monster in me. I can’t allow that to continue, particularly as he threatens the Witness who has caused the frozen lump in my chest that I laughingly refer to as a heart, to sporadically beat.

    This isn’t about retribution; this is cleaning up the past so I have a chance at a future.

    Cleansed is the second book in the Handled trilogy, it is a dark gay romance dealing with adult themes and contains graphic scenes that may upset some readers. Please heed the trigger warnings inside.


    Cleansed picks up some months after the first book. We see Gray and Nathan’s relationship continue to evolve and grow stronger. For one brief moment, our favorite psycho lets himself be a vulnerable relaxed tiger around Nathan and learns what being cared for without any ulterior motives feels like.

    I am so happy we finally get Gray’s backstory. A crazed evangelist played a pivotal role, christening the kidnapped child Gray an angel sent to him. The man killed and tortured people in front of the child, waiting to see if the angel will appear and save the sinners.

    Years after his release, Gray learned this evangelist has kept tabs on him and was angry about his relationship with Nathan. Gray being Gray, he provoked his stalker and inadvertently put Nathan in danger. Then he went after the killer with typical Gray panache.

    I really like that the story went straight to the point with the identity of the killer. Gray has the resources and is smart enough to figure things out quickly. I also appreciated that he remained essentially himself even after the memories came rushing back. He might have a vulnerable moment or two but his claws are still sharp as ever.

    But also, soft thoughts!!!!!

    Oh, the soft thoughts are everything! ♥(ˆ⌣ˆԅ)

    This is an aptly named book. Gray proved how deadly angelic he can be, burned the bridges to his past and went on to live halcyon days of sun, the occasional Nathan and OMG! cartwheels!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Animal Impulses
    Artist: IAMX
    Album: The Unified Field


    56331560. sy475

    Handled: Polished – Romilly King

    How deadly do you have to be to kill a killer?

    Handlers are hard to kill, and to be fair most of us like the challenge when people try, but now someone is killing off handlers in bloody and complex ways.

    Not my problem.

    Not anymore.

    I got out, I got free, and I don’t want to go back.

    But someone is offering a favour if I handle this, a valuable one, and it could make all the difference to how this story ends.

    Handlers don’t expect a happy ever after; most of us don’t even know what one looks like. I do, my happy ever after is blue eyed and frequently filthy and deliciously mouthy and he bends the way I want him to bend. And I could have that. All I have to do is take on one more handling, and ensure we both survive it.

    The odds are not with me this time though.

    I really should have kept on killing, I’m out of practice.

    Polished is the third book in the Handled trilogy, it is a dark gay romance dealing with adult themes and contains graphic scenes that may upset some readers. Please heed the trigger warnings inside.


    The cartwheeling had to come to an end eventually…

    Polished is where things come full circle as a retired Gray was forced to handle another case and Nathan is again assigned as his witness. Handlers and Witnesses are murdered one by one. Gray needed to get his monster mojo back in order to solve the case faster. To do so, he pushes poor Nathan away because his little witness makes him more human. They kept hitting dead ends. The situation became even more desperate when Nathan disappeared.

    Nathan’s baby handler brother, Indigo and Indi’s special friend Trans, demanded they help. Now these two are adorable psychos! Can we have their book please?

    Nathan has learned his way around Gray, keeping faith and patiently waiting, waiting, waiting…Meanwhile, Gray, struggles to put a name to this thing between him and Nathan. It took two teen psychos to help him ease into it. And solve the case while they’re at it.

    Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed with how Gray’s redemption came about. Is it wrong for me to wish he was really the psychopath everyone thought he was? Can we just let psychos be psychos and still be capable of love? If Indi can, Gray can too, I believe.

    In this trilogy, I was all about Gray. Nathan is a great character through and through. I loved him from the start but the dark and dangerous tend to hog the spotlight more. However, Nathan’s dogged determination, his innate goodness, even his naivety and most especially his selfless love for these unlovable monsters sneaked up on me much like he sneaked his way into Gray’s heart. Slowly but surely. His complete trust in Gray was such a beautiful gift. After all that he has done, I looked at him with wonder too!

    This finale revealed a more intimate picture of the relationships between Handlers and Witnesses. It is a complicated relationship, a symbiosis of two people working together in super intense, highly volatile situations. Professional can quickly turn to personal, a natural progression of sorts, and I would love to see more of these dynamics explored. I really hope we get a spinoff series.

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

    Soundtrack: My Witness
    Artist: The Irrepressibles
    Album: Mirror Mirror

    P.S.

    Handled should be experienced as a binge read. You won’t have it any other way.

    Witness the beginnings of Gray and Nathan’s explosive partnership in Handled book 1. Review here.


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

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperback copies and help support independent bookstores.

    HANDLED | CLEANSED

  • book,  Uncategorized

    AUDIO REVIEW: Shot In The Dark by Riley Long

    55507652. sy475

    Shot In The Dark – Riley Long

    If you win the bet, we’ll let you disappear. If you lose, you’ll be trapped on stage forever.

    Charlie
    I’m definitely straight, but when rock god Eli Steele offers me the opportunity of a lifetime in exchange for being his fake husband for a year, I can’t say no. That’s how I find myself sharing a bed – and more than a few kisses – with the lead singer of Blood Money. All I have to do is stay focused on my work and pretend to be in love with him. Easy, right?

    Eli
    I took a stupid fucking bet and now I have to convince Charlie to fall for me without using mind control. He’s straight, but the bigger problem is that he’s human and I’m not. Once he finds out I’m really a vampire, will he be able to look past my fangs and see what’s in my heart?


    Shot In The Dark grabbed my attention because of several things. We have a rock star who’s also a vampire who wrangled a fake husband in order to win a bet. If he wins, he gets to hang up his guitar and fade into oblivion a.k.a. retire. What he didn’t count on was falling in love with his fake husband who is straight.

    The rock star in question is Eli, 290 years old, the youngest in a band of vampires known as Blood Money. He’s tired of his current life and wants to leave it all behind. The band made a deal with him that they would end their life as a band if he falls in the love with the first person who walks in the bar.

    Eli is my favorite vampire here. He’s got that intense vampire charisma down pat. He’s also gentle, sweet, caring, and generous. He closed his heart, determined not to fall in love again, after his human lover was killed by a coven of vampires many, many years ago. That’s why the band came up with the bet.

    The other members were Drew, Rudy and Zach. The one who stood out the most was Drew, mostly for being an ass. He was right about a lot of things but did he have to be so goddamn obnoxious about it?

    Charlie was the lucky man who came in at the right place, at the right time. He’s an aspiring filmmaker who wanted to create a documentary about Blood Money. Meeting the great Eli Steele, he couldn’t help but feel things even if he was as straight as they come. And to his amazement, the rock star offered to let him secretly document the notoriously private band in exchange for pretending to be in love and becoming his husband. They had to convince the band their relationship was real.

    At this point, I was left wondering, how come nobody questioned that Eli was suddenly married despite knowing Charlie for only a couple of days? I would assume Drew was sharp enough to pick up on that suspicious timing.

    That little niggle aside, Eli and Charlie went about this fake husband thing in the most spectacular way. Right off the bat, the chemistry between the MCs was palpable and gave the story sparkle and zing. The way the romance was pulled off, in that delicious journey from uh-oh there’s only one bed to I can’t he’s straight to so very gay for you right now, was the best thing about the book.

    And alongside of the romance, the friendship that blossomed between Eli and Charlie was a beautiful thing too. It highlighted how good they are for each other. Charlie is lovely! I loved his open-minded approach to their relationship and how he just naturally fell into place in Eli’s life.

    I also liked many of the concepts presented in the story. However, they were as not fully explored as I would have liked. The world building was minimal, just enough to give paranormal color. We get only a small glimpse of the larger vampire world but that is already at the latter part. The secret documentary could have been an interesting issue, especially with vampire identities needed to be kept on the down low but that went nowhere. I also wished we get a more fleshed out backstory for Eli and his friends. Majority of the book was spent with the band on tour but I didn’t get a strong grasp of the other personalities apart from Eli, Charlie and Drew.

    Too bad we only hear about Eli’s fierce fighting skills after Charlie was captured by the bad vampires. That would have been one heck of a climactic scene had it been shown. Instead we get a ridiculous separation period that was totally unnecessary. Although, I get that the book was going for conflict but it could have been done differently.

    The audiobook is narrated by Andrew Morrison. He is a new-to-me narrator. He brought Eli, Charlie and their friends to life with distinct personalities, recognizable voices and accents. Although, there were a couple of dialogues where the accents bled a bit into another character, specifically Eli’s British accent and Charlie’s American accent. Nonetheless, I greatly enjoyed his performance. I was able to listen to the story in one sitting because he made it flow so easily.

    Shot In The Dark is a sweet, low-angst novella, focusing primarily on the romance with the paranormal elements mostly low key. If vampire-flavored fake husbands, gay for you tropes tick your boxes too, this one is definitely worth a shot.

    P.S.

    Thank you to Gay Romance Reviews and Audible for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: One Shot In The Darkness
    Artist: Joshua Hyslop
    Album: One Shot In The Darkness


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

    KINDLE
    AUDIOBOOK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperback copies and help support independent bookstores.

    SHOT IN THE DARK

  • book,  Uncategorized

    AUDIO REVIEW: Secret Santa by Jay Northcote

    36541914. sy475

    Secret Santa – Jay Northcote

    Keeping secrets is never a good way to start a relationship…

    Theo hardly has time to date. Between work and caring for his four-year-old son there aren’t many hours left over. He’s lonely though, so he joins a hook-up app and starts chatting to a guy called Luke. Luke seems friendly and they arrange to meet. Theo doesn’t mention that he has a child. It’s early days and he’s worried about putting Luke off before they get to know each other.

    Luke is currently working as Santa at the local shopping mall. He figures Theo never has to know. Christmas will be over soon and Luke will move on to a new, less embarrassing job. He’s surprised when Theo and a little boy visit Santa one afternoon. Theo doesn’t recognise Luke, and Luke realises he’s not the only one with a secret.

    Despite misgivings on both sides, they start dating, and the chemistry is amazing. But as Christmas approaches their secrets pile up like colourful packages under the tree. If they’re not careful, they’ll lose the best gift of all—each other.


    Secret Santa reminded me of the things I hate about dating. Namely, the awkward getting to know you questions, the contrived atmosphere and most of all, the false advertisements. My approach is to exchange a list of worst attributes right off the bat, see if the other person can or can’t live with those and take it from there. That way, nobody wastes time on false hopes. Obviously, this is not how normal human interactions happen. Which is why my dealings with other people are usually stilted and awkward.

    Anyway, Luke and Theo went with the more conventional approach, that is, good ole Grindr.

    Luke is currently temping as the Santa for M&S since he is in between jobs. He’s kind of grumpy but has a nice sense of humor. He’s fed up with hookups. He only started chatting with Theo because he’s cute and doesn’t seem the like typical horny douche he usually sees on Grindr. They hit it off remarkably well on that first chat. And they continue to hit it off through out the whole story.

    Theo is geeky and sweet. He works at the Apple store as a technician. He’s a wonderful dad. He co-parents with his friend (sorry forget her name), who is the mother of his son, Archie. He’s completely devoted to Archie but having a kid in the equation puts off a lot of guys he tried to date. So when he found Luke, who he really liked, he kept that teeny tiny fact a secret.

    Normally I don’t pay attention to children characters but Archie is great. He felt like a real kid. He’s only 4 years old and quite well-spoken but not in an overly mature, smarter than the adults way that is so often the case in fiction. He loves dinosaurs and Luke’s Santa presents.

    I didn’t enjoy Luke’s and Theo’s avoidances, omissions and blatant lies. Hell, Luke even gave Theo major openings to fess up multiple times but nooo, the man stuck to his story. I’m also dinging Luke for not telling Theo he knew about Archie. Seriously, they could have just talked!

    However, the blurb was definitely not lying about their chemistry. It was indeed amazing! This really shone through everything and I enjoyed it so much that I kept reading. It was like, the way I felt about the book mirrored the way these two characters felt about each other and their situation. Yes, there were niggles but I knew deep down, Luke and Theo were worth sticking around for.

    Patience paid off big time because when everything came out in the open, the story became more rewarding. Luke and Theo’s relationship felt fresher and stronger now that they were 100% honest with each other. I loved how Archie effortlessly included Luke in their little family. And Luke won major points for coming up with a brilliant idea to have Santa visit their house.

    This novella is narrated by Hamish Long. I haven’t listened to a lot of his audiobooks but now that has to change because I really liked his Theo voice. My favorite part was his portrayal of Archie because he really sounded like an articulate small child. Luke sounded good too. Overall, his narration was another factor that made the book more fun. His style is a great match to Jay Northcote‘s writing. If I remember correctly, he was also the one who performed Harper Fox‘s Brothers of the Wild North Sea and he did exceptionally well there too.

    Even with the major lack of communication, Secret Santa is a warm, cozy, low-angst and very sweet story. It’s full of holiday cheers and feel-good vibes. It’s short but felt complete. All in all, it’s 3 hours 44 minutes well spent and a good book to keep you company while waiting for Santa.

    P.S.

    Thank you to Signal Boost Promotions and Audible for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Secret Santa
    Artist: Gwen Stefani
    Album: You Make It Feel Like Christmas


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

    KINDLE
    AUDIOBOOK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperback copies and help support independent bookstores.

    SECRET SANTA (Italian edition)

  • book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Paranormal Princes Books 2 & 3 by Charlie Cochet

    Paranormal Princes is one the most enjoyable shifter series I have ever read.

    When I started on the series, I wasn’t that familiar yet with Charlie Cochet‘s writing. My first experience with her early shifter stories was a miss. This was soon put to rights by the hilarious and adorable The Prince and His Bedeviled Bodyguard. This is the first novella about an ocelot shifter prince who had to go on a quest accompanied by a grim wolf shifter acting as his bodyguard. It had all the humor and charm I have come to associate with the author.

    Paranormal Princes is set in an alt-universe where all kinds of shifters exist, everything from hummingbirds to whales. Not just shifters but fae, ancients gods and mythical creatures too.

    The father and King of All Shifters is Alarick. With the help of his advisor and long-time friend, Jean, he designs a quest for each shifter prince or princess. They are accompanied by a companion, chosen for them by the king. Many of his children were not happy with it. That is, until they realized it was for the best.


    51006577. sy475

    Paranormal Princes: The Prince and His Captivating Carpenter – Charlie Cochet

    PRINCE BERND

    As Prince of the Bear Shifters, I knew the time would come for me to prove myself worthy of my crown. I expected my quest to be perilous. What I didn’t expect was for it to take me up into Espen Mountain, a place that’s brought me nothing but grief and terrible nightmares. Not only must I find the five magical ingredients, but I have to do so alongside Saer, a mysterious and charming shifter coyote summoned by the king to be my guide. But who is Saer, and why do I feel as if we’ve met before?

    SAER

    Crushing on Prince Bernd from afar was one thing. Being given the responsibility of saving the prince and his kingdom was a whole other story. Banished from my kingdom by my own prince years ago, I never imagined I would be summoned to help Bernd. What could I possibly offer a prince? How was I supposed to save him? I was no one. A shifter with no place to call home. What I did know was that I would do everything in my power to help Bernd succeed on his quest. All I had to do was stop crushing on the guy, find the magical ingredients hidden up a dangerous mountain, and save his heart. What could go wrong?


    Prince Bernd is the Prince of Bear Shifters. He inherited the throne after his father died a tragic death in Espen Mountain. Bernd is still mourning his death years after. He closed himself off, spending more and more time in the library amidst the beautiful furniture lovingly made for him. The Prince is hot-tempered but he is devoted to his mom and his siblings. He takes his responsibilities to them and his kingdom seriously.

    Then the fateful day arrived when the king assigned him his quest to the very same mountain his father died. He was to be accompanied by Saer who will act as his guide. Attractive though he was, Bernd couldn’t understand why the king chose him. Saer was a complete stranger.

    The Prince and His Captivating Carpenter is a story of grief and healing. It’s not as funny as the first book but it had plenty of cute moments too. Saer was all adorably shy and awkward during their first meeting. He had been crushing on the prince for a very long time. The prince, unfortunately, didn’t even know he existed.

    I was neutral about Bernd for much of the story. For their quest, it was really Saer who did most of the work. However, their adventure opened the prince’s eyes to the realities of his kingdom as well as the beautiful things he missed because of his grief.

    Like all the books in the series, the romance was wonderfully done. It was interwoven seamlessly with the overarching thread. The chemistry between Bernd and Saer was so palpable, even they couldn’t deny there was something between them. Bernd might be the biggest, most powerful bear but he was also a teddy bear.

    The ending played out as expected. There were not many surprises here. It did, however, provide a nice jumping off point for the final book.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: The Healing
    Artist: Carfax Abbey
    Album: Second Skin


    52283292. sy475

    Paranormal Princes: The King and His Vigilant Valet – Charlie Cochet

    JEAN

    The past has a way of catching up with you, even if you are immortal. I’ve spent thousands of years as the valet and companion to the powerful King of All Shifters. It has been my honor and duty to protect, serve, and advise him. I never intended to fall in love with him. My past is filled with death and bloodshed, but I never once regretted keeping Alarick safe. Now an evil I thought long gone has resurfaced, determined to kill Alarick and plunge the world into chaos. Saving Alarick means revealing the truth about myself. I don’t know what’s worse, failing to protect the king I love, or watching him turn away from me in disgust when he discovers what I really am.

    KING ALARICK

    As King of All Shifters, my powers are connected to the cosmos, and I have been around since the dawn of time. There are few things that can kill me. Unfortunately, one of those things has escaped its prison and is set to destroy me. The only weapon that can defeat this creature is the Scythe of Kronos, which has been missing for nearly as long as I have lived. When Jean and I set out on a quest to find the scythe, questions I had long ignored must now be answered. What is Jean’s connection to this evil? Why will he trust me with his life but not his secrets? As my most trusted valet, and my greatest friend, surely nothing that happens along this perilous journey can change what I feel in my heart for him. Or can it?


    Now here is a love story thousands of years in the making. Talk about slow burn!

    As many reader might notice from the start, King Alarick is a doofus. He is spectacularly oblivious to his best friend’s more than friendly feelings towards him.

    Jean has been with the king for a very, very long time. He was actually the one who designed the quests. Jean is very loyal to Alarick. Despite being blind, he is the king’s fiercest, most formidable warrior. He developed quite an intimidating reputation. He is also very mysterious. Not even Alarick knew what kind of creature he is.

    Alarick and Jean’s story picks up directly after the second book. A threat to the king’s life was revealed. This was connected to Jean’s past, something he had long since buried. The monster can only be killed by the Scythe of Kronos.

    The two friends embarked on a quest to look for the weapon. Along the way, they met several of the king’s shifter children who wanted to help. They met some of his past flames too. Jealous Jean is cute Jean.

    I love how the king doesn’t mind that people were pissed at him, most of the characters here were. But when somebody tries to talk smack about Jean, he puts the bitch in place. He does it firmly in the nicest way possible because the king is a genial, easygoing sort of guy. I have never seen him lose his temper, ever. Not even when whacked half-way across the ocean by an irate siren.

    The Prince and His Vigilant Valet is the best kind of shmoopy, squeetastic fluff! When I first met them, it seemed Alarick and Jean’s dynamics was that of the bumbling superior and the wise assistant. But here we see a new side to the always composed Jean, a flustered blushy side that’s freakin’ adorable! Alarick was a lot smarter than people give him credit for. And he was just so infinitely kind. It was that very goodness that made Jean fall in love with him all those years ago dancing together at the Parthenon.

    And damn, the twists were so clever! All the things that were built up since book one came together beautifully. The scene where all the shifter princes rally to defend their king was as epic as that scene where all the Avengers and their friends popped out of portals to fight Thanos. The revelations were very unexpected. I would never have guessed the real purpose of the quests and Jean’s true identity. And why he is blind.

    All in all, a grand and very sweet finale fit for the immortal king who started it all.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Never Tear Us Apart
    Artist: INXS
    Album: Never Tear Us Apart

    P.S.

    Paranormal Princes should be read in order. Start by meeting the adorable diva prince Owin and the valiant warrior Grimm in The Prince and His Bedeviled Bodyguard. And oh, don’t call Owin adorable (at least not to his face). He prefers fierce.


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

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperback copies and help support independent bookstores.

    THE PRINCE AND HIS BEDEVILED BODYGUARD
    THE PRINCE AND HIS CAPTIVATING CARPENTER
    THE KING AND HIS VIGILANT VALET

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Handled by Romilly King

    55812669. sy475

    Handled – Romilly King

    Serial killers think if it all goes south and they finally get caught that their swan song is a day in court, making the families relive the agony while they get off on that delicious pain, all over again.

    Not happening. Not anymore. We’re not making celebrities out of monsters. We’re not giving them a stage to strut on.

    Now they get an audience of two.

    One to Handle the problem, one to Witness it.

    I’m a Witness. I trained for six years to do my duty, to manage my contracted killer, and to watch justice be done.

    I knew it would be hard, the first time, to watch the eye for an eye moment.

    I expected to feel a lot of things – fear, disgust, guilt.

    I didn’t expect to feel turned on.

    And I didn’t expect my contracted killer to look quite so pretty with blood on his hands.

    HANDLED is a dark gay romance with themes of justice, retribution, and unsuitable love. It is not for the faint of heart and contains graphic scenes intended for an adult audience. Further trigger warnings inside.


    So deliciously dark! I love Gray!!!

    I’ve read a lot of serial killer mysteries and just when I’m getting the same old same old feels about the genre, Romilly King creates this novel world of Handlers and Witnesses in her riveting new series, Handled. The way I see it, it’s fighting monsters with monsters.

    Handled introduces us to a government program where they controlled and trained young psychopaths into Handlers. Basically killers sanctioned to render whatever punishment they see fit on serial killers roaming in the wilds. To make sure these Handlers are doing their jobs properly and within the bounds of the law, they are assigned a Witness each. It goes without saying that Witnessing is a very dangerous job. Attrition rates are extremely high.

    The book is a police procedural of sorts. We follow Gray and Nathan as they go about their business of investigating the prime suspect and establishing concrete evidence for their cases. The government requires hard evidence before they are allowed to handle a certain client a.k.a the guilty party.

    The world-building here was very well-thought out. It was done without much info-dumping. Everything felt real. I had no problems following the set-up. The jargon was easy to pick up. I got some slight dystopian vibes from it. Especially with the government involved.

    It’s Nathan’s first time to Witness and he was assigned the best and most notorious Handler, Gray. Now this Handler doesn’t play well with others. When Gray doesn’t like a somebody, the least you can expect is lose an eye. The rare exception is Nora, his long-time Witness, who is now passing the baton to Nathan.

    It was lust at first sight for our young rookie. Like most psychos we loved, Gray exuded that magnetic charisma that had Nathan mesmerized even with the full knowledge of what the man is capable of.

    Gray loves pain. All kinds, whether inflicted by him or on him. When he is in a killing mood, the man is intense! That big scene with Nathan and his client at the climax was pretty nasty. But it was glorious!

    I wouldn’t put it past her to plant the seeds knowing something might blossom because the wily Nora chose the perfect man as her successor. Nathan was totally green, he made errors that could have been fatal. But Gray sensed he was different.

    Nathan was a bit naive but direct. He’s scared but he didn’t give his Handler bullshit. He was respectful of Gray, taking time to ask him about his background instead of simply reading his file. He sassed him back once in a while too.

    I love Nathan! As he acclimatized to his grim job, we see him drawing out Gray’s various nuances. The way he complemented Gray’s personality, they just fit so naturally. I appreciated him for considering that Gray could be something more than what the system thinks he should be.

    And holy heck, the chemistry!!!

    The dynamics between the two was fantastic. They played off each other so well. The interactions were fraught with danger and sexual tension. Any minute Gray could snap. You’d never know if he would kill Nathan or fuck him. Both really.

    I am so happy the book is written in dual POV. Not knowing what goes on inside Gray’s head would be totally frustrating. I love that even though we are privy to his thoughts, it didn’t diminish his mystique. He’s still an enigmatic figure you’ll want to know more about. I enjoyed watching him deal with feelings Nathan is making him feel, feelings that are mostly foreign to him.

    Handled grabbed me and didn’t let me go. It’s a great balance of blood, gore, sex, and romance with a huge heaping of mystery, suspense and sprinkles of sweet. I didn’t find any of the scenes gratuitous. The plot just worked so well.

    I can’t wait to get more of Gray and Nathan as they mete out bloody justice while slowing finding their way to a happy ever after. But for now we are gifted with that super sweet ending.

    Please do heed the trigger warnings. I wouldn’t outright recommend this because it gets pretty dark. But if you dare…

    “Gray is the book you don’t skip to the last page of to see if your guesses are right. Gray is the book you read slowly and savour.”

    P.S.

    Handled is not a standalone novel. Rightly so because you’ll never be satisfied with just one book.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Used To The Darkness
    Artist: Des Rocs
    Album: Let The Vultures In


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

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperback copies and help support independent bookstores.

    HANDLED | CLEANSED

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: My Whole World by Davidson King

    53059882. sy475

    Joker’s Sin: My Whole World – Davidson King

    Atlas Durand’s whole world is built from the spoils of his past. Joker’s Sin is the most popular gay club in all of Haven Hart. Many clubs have come and gone, none able to compete with Atlas and his enigmatic power over his patrons. He would do anything to keep it thriving and anyone who stands in his way will be met with serious regrets.

    Toby St. Claire hates working at Vick’s Tricks and longs for his nights off so he can go to Joker’s Sin. Like everyone who steps foot into Atlas’s club, he’s taken by the owner himself and the magical pulse that owns him when he’s there. Joker’s Sin is Toby’s escape from his life and Atlas is his dream come true.

    When Toby’s boss realizes he can use Toby to help take down Joker’s Sin and make Vick’s Tricks the club to beat in Haven Hart, it turns everything upside down. Lies, deceit, and corruption threaten to tear Atlas and Toby apart. Is their love strong enough to survive it all or will they become victims of mayhem?


    I became curious about Davidson King’s Haven Hart universe after I listened to her interview in the Big Gay Fiction Podcast. I’ve seen her books around but was hesitant to start on her main Haven Hart series because there are a lot of books released.

    Joker’s Sin is the spin-off series that can be read as standalone. There are going to be only 4 installments so the odds of finishing the entire thing is high. Each major player in the Joker’s Sin club will have their own books. Three book are out so far.

    The series opens with My Whole World, the story of club owner, Atlas Durand. He is an uber-charismatic showman, loved by all who frequents his club. He runs a tight ship and puts an even tighter lock around his heart due to a tragic past that explains why his club is named that way. I pictured him as the magnificent Lenny Kravitz.

    His three closest friends work in the club. Ledger is DJ Edge. Max is in charge of the bar. Zero is head of security. Together, they make the club the hottest place to be in Haven Hart. I have no favorite character among them yet but they are interesting enough for me to want to get to know them better.

    The love interest here is Toby St. Claire. Toby is a club regular who had a hopeless crush on Atlas. His ultimate dream is to be noticed by the great man. Toby is sweet. Sadly, that seems to be all he is. Among the important characters, he was the one I least connected to. I agreed with one GR reviewer who did not like his character’s narration. His voice was overacted by the narrator in the audiobook. Toby’s exaggerated reactions were more annoying than amusing. As a result, I wasn’t feeling the romance.

    I’d love for Atlas to find a new love after what he had been through but I just didn’t feel his connection to Toby was that strong. I see it more of his protective instincts reacting to a sweet, gorgeous young man in need of help. The way their romance unfolded came across to me like we were told rather than shown. Although, there were scenes, like that lovely dance, that showed them forming connections. This issue is a ME thing because many people enjoyed their love story.

    One thing I liked about MM romances is that there is this nice tradition where the writers give the lead female characters little happy endings of their own. I’m giving this a mention because that mini arc about Tobi’s twin sister, Poppy, and hacker/bodyguard, Desi, piqued my interest more than the main couple.

    Haven Hart is home to many crime families. Toby works in the rival bar, Vick’s Tricks, owned by one of the minor crooks, Vic Kelly. When his abusive boss learned that he won a date with Atlas and was even offered a job at his club, he tasked Toby to gather intel on Joker’s Sin. If he fails, Poppy would pay the price. This put Toby in a difficult situation.

    I wasn’t particularly pleased with how he handled it. It’s understandable that he’s scared for his sister but I’m not a fan of the lies. Altas gave him several chances to come clean. The big man made it clear he was willing to help whatever the trouble was but Toby kept prevaricating.

    What kept me reading was Joker’s Sin, both the club and the person. I liked how they came alive. I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the inner workings of a club. Even though I don’t go clubbing at all, I love the vibe of clubs. It’s that palpable energy generated whenever there’s a crowd enjoying great music. I can see why people keep coming back to Atlas’ place. I’d love to be there myself.

    Joker the person was hell of a lot compelling. I wanted to know more about him. His history with Atlas was an entire book in itself. I was actually rooting hard for him and Atlas even though I knew how it played out. I wished this was their happy ending.

    While I wasn’t a fan of Altas and Toby’s romance, it still felt organic to the entire story. It had a pretty solid plot that moved things quickly so I wasn’t bored. There were a lot of things happening that kept my attention. I liked how they resolved the Vic Kelly situation because that’s where Wong, the Chinese mob boss, came in. His appearance was short but he made an impression. I’m keen to read a book about him.

    My Whole World was an effective series opener. My first visit to Haven Hart was a mixed bag but I’m already invested in this world. I liked how it connects to the bigger Haven Hart universe, enticing me to explore the other books. The author did an outstanding job integrating various elements from the main series and presenting them from new perspectives. Long-time readers would enjoy the easter eggs scattered about.

    This is a must-read if you are a fan. If you’re new to the author or a first-time visitor to this colorful town, Joker’s Sin is a good place to start.

    P.S.

    You can listen to Davidson King’s interview here.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Dance With Me
    Artist: Alphaville
    Album: Afternoons In Utopia


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

    Kindle
    Audiobook

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperback copies and help support independent bookstores.

    MY WHOLE WORLD