This is a round up of the rest of the books I read this year that I’m too lazy to do a full review.
The Kings: Wild Cards: Sleight Of Hand – Charlie Cochet
Former Special Forces Green Beret, Sacha “Joker” Wilder, is well-versed on the subject of demolitions. As a silent partner of Four Kings Security, Joker spends his days working alongside his brothers-in-arms and his best boy, Chip—a bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois with sass. Years of military and private security experience have prepared Joker for almost anything, except the explosive attraction between him and Giovanni Galanos.
When Gio returns from his travels abroad, everyone is charmed by the handsome billionaire philanthropist, but in Joker’s experience, anyone who’s too good to be true usually is. Gio is hiding something, but the more time Joker spends around Gio, the more his walls start crumbling, leaving him exposed and at risk of losing his heart, something he swore he would never do. Love is for suckers, and that’s not him.
For years Gio has dedicated his life to his charity work, helping people around the globe, but when things go horribly wrong during one particular trip, Gio decides it’s time to come home for good. The desire for family, and a certain ex-Green Beret with a chip on his shoulder, has Gio eager to restart his life Stateside. For all of Sacha’s blustering and griping, no one makes Gio feel safer. If only Sacha could see how right they are for each other.
Danger lurks in the shadows as someone sets their sights on Gio, and secrets are forced into the light. If Gio and Joker are to have any kind of future together, they’ll have to face difficult truths, because where love is concerned, it’ll take more than sleight of hand to make things work.
The Kings: Wild Cards series is a spin-off of the Four Kings Security series.
Among the ex-Special Forces Green Beret co-owners of the Four Kings Security, cybersecurity specialist Jack is my favorite. But my most anticipated story is his best friend, Joker’s.
Our boy Joker is the group’s wild child. He grabbed my attention from the start. He hates being called by his real name, Sacha. He boldly declared he was never going to fall in love, EVER. He is short of stature, with an even shorter fuse, sloppily dressed, occasionally skips showers yet still managed to be very adorable. Jack might be his brother but his best friend is Chip, his black, bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois. This lovable duo charmed their way into everyone’s hearts.
When Gio made his appearance and Joker expressed his dislike of the do-gooding billionaire, I knew right off the bat that what these two have was something special. The author teased us with glimpses of their USTs-filled, long-distanced interactions in previous installments. Gio has always been upfront about his interest in Joker who he calls Sacha. This, despite never having met him face to face yet.
Now home after a long stint abroad, he was very determined to show his beloved Sacha how good they could be together. Meanwhile, Joker was very determined not to fall for Gio’s considerable charms. Still, the very enticing billionaire has a way of breaking through his walls.
The magic of Sleight Of Hand was how it brought Gio and Joker together in the most delicious and satisfying way possible even if we already know what to expect. I loved how naturally Gio and Joker fell for each other and the way Joker came to terms with his feelings. This was one of the most enjoyable and well orchestrated relationship progressions I’ve ever encountered. The chemistry was off the charts!
Joker’s antagonistic approach to Gio stemmed from preconceive notions fueled by trust issues. Despite his best efforts to disliked the billionaire, he was attracted to him. The more time he spent with Gio, the more he realized how truly kind-hearted and sincere about his intentions the other man was.
Gio is awesome! He is sweet, generous and caring. He is a self-made billionaire who’s always smiling and genuinely enjoys helping people. He has so much love to give. Joker was surprised at how much the billionaire cared for him. Also, the man loved his dog Chip almost as much as he did. So really, our boy stood no chance of resisting.
I lived for that moment when things fell into place for Joker and he realized, oh fuck, he was indeed in love! With last person he expected to fall for. It was so damn GOOD!
My favorite part was how the two showed they care. These are men who take action. And their gestures, no matter how grand or small, really showcased the depths of their feelings. Joker, for all his griping about Gio, always made sure the busy man had eaten properly. What Gio did near the end made me a bit emotional. It was a touching tribute that meant the world to Joker.
The book is mostly romance with bits of action/suspense and mystery to move things along. The bad guy’s identity was very obvious but even with the elements of predictability, the story never felt stale to me. The plot moved fast while still giving Gio and Joker enough time to slow-burn their way towards each other (and make us squee).
The book is written in that inimitable Charlie Cochet style that’s always humorous, engaging and immersive. There were a lot of ridiculous dialogues and gags. Also, very thorough with details, especially the actions, yet never dragging.
The best thing about her books are the people and their wonderful dynamics. Joker and Gio belonged to a big family of ex-Green Berets, their boyfriends and their friends. Since the first time I meet this group in Jack’s book, Stacking The Deck, they felt very real to me. The author created such a fabulous cast, every one of them is memorable. And watching them interact with each other is always a treat.
However, the real star of the show is Chip. I loved all his cute doggy antics! New dog Cookie is also a sweetheart. You need to see how Cookie came into the picture. This part is pure heart-melter!
Sleight of Hand gave us everything we hoped for for our boys, Joker and Gio. Theirs was a fun, emotional, fluffy, sweet, delicious and happy coming together, with furry friends to light their way and human friends to cheer them on. Well played, Charlie Cochet!
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
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Happy Pride Month, everyone!
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.
Paranormal Princes: The Prince and His Captivating Carpenter – Charlie Cochet
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?
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.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
Paranormal Princes: The King and His Vigilant Valet – Charlie Cochet
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.
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 King 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.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect
Paranormal Princes should be read in order. Start by meeting the
adorablediva 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