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    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.


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    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


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    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

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  • book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Four Kings Security Books 3 & 4 by Charlie Cochet

    More love for the Kings today.

    The Four Kings Security is owned by ex-Special Forces Ace, Red, Lucky and King, along with their fellow Green Berets, Jack and Joker. They built their security firm to continue their mission of protecting people in honor of their fallen brothers in their unit.

    This is the second part of my review of this well-loved series by Charlie Cochet. In the first two books, we meet Ace, the troublemaker and Red, the sweetheart and how they found their persons (review of books 1 & 2 here). The next two books is about the King of Clubs and The King of Diamonds.


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    Four Kings Security: Join The Club – Charlie Cochet

    Eduardo “Lucky” Morales is a fighter, from his childhood days in Cuba to his time as a Special Forces Green Beret. Scarred by the wars of his past, Lucky has learned nothing lasts forever. Guarding his heart is second nature, and getting emotionally involved is not an option. As co-owner of Four Kings Security, Lucky works hard alongside his former brothers-in-arms and fellow Kings, but he also plays hard. Flirting with sexy Texas cowboy and detective, Mason Cooper, is too much fun to resist, until Mason turns the tables on him.

    Mason Cooper may not be a soldier, but he’s fought his share of battles as an openly gay cop and now a detective for Major Crimes. Mason has no idea when things changed between him and Lucky, but the gorgeous, fiery Cuban has turned his world upside down. When a mistake leads to his suspension from the force, Mason turns to the least likely person for help: Ward Kingston.

    Determined to keep Mason at arms’ length, Lucky is surprised to find the man at Four Kings Security. The Florida nights might be getting cooler, but the heat between Lucky and Mason burns hotter with every passing moment. Working private security can be dangerous and unpredictable, but so can falling in love.


    Lucky got his nickname because he has all the luck with the ladies and gents. Unlike his cousin Ace who is half-Cuban and raised in the US, Lucky grew up in Cuba until he was 14 when his Aunt was able to bring his family to Florida.

    Lucky still uses his native tongue sometimes, especially when emotions ran high. I really enjoyed that he’s bilingual and the author uses Spanish words liberally. I liked that her Cuban roots gave the story much authenticity.

    All the Kings, Jack and Joker had gone through much in life, but I think Lucky had a few more challenges to hurdle. He grew up dirt poor with barely anything to eat. What his parents, especially his mother, had to go through just to put food in the table was tough to think about.

    As a result, he had a special appreciation for the finer things in life. Not in the materialistic sense but more of a reminder of how far he had gone and what he had accomplished. Lucky is a man who can appreciate a pair of limited edition Gucci loafers. He and Colton could go shoe shopping together.

    Mason Cooper is a drawling cowboy transplant from Texas and a recently promoted detective who’d worked with the Kings in some cases. After a failed drug test (he forgot to mention the cough syrup) that caused his suspension, he requested King for a temp job. He was paired with Lucky.

    Lucky gets along with everybody. Except Mason. Who is Ace’s ex. Also, the guy he had some sort of moment with. And so they’re always riling each other up a.k.a. flirting. They not so much as throw off sparks but more like burn for each other since the previous books. It’s so palpable everybody already expected the inevitable sooner or later. They’re just too stubborn, the idiots.

    When I started on this, I was a bit meh. I’m not particularly keen on cowboys and Mason was probably the character I’m least drawn to. But the deeper I got into the story, the more I became engrossed.

    A big part of the book showed the day to day of a security specialist with Lucky showing Mason the ropes. I liked this peek into their working lives. It made Mason realized how much he could achieve working for Four Kings. There is a nebulous threat to Mason’s life and this came to a head at the last 20% with a twist I least expected.

    This installment is different from the rest. This is more of an antagonistic partners-to-lovers romance. The forced proximity of working together made all their excuses not to get close disappear in a cloud of lust and feelings. There’s a lot of push pull and a lot of heat. The chemistry was explosive. So was the love.

    The King of Clubs has everything he could ever want.

    ˛˛ꉂ ◞•̀д•́)◞⚔◟(•̀д•́◟ ) <- Lucky and Mason being idiots.

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

    Soundtrack: How Lucky We Are
    Artist: Douwe Bob
    Album: Fool Bar


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    Four Kings Security: Diamond In The Rough – Charlie Cochet

    When the cards are stacked against you, the Kings will even the odds.

    For Ward “King” Kingston the role of protector, forged by fire and tragedy, is one he takes seriously. When King is asked to safeguard the son of a four-star general and friend, he is pulled back into the world of government black ops on a mission that raises painful memories from his past. The moment King meets Leo, amid the chaos of a lockdown at a secret black site, it’s clear he’s never faced a challenge like this—one that will test his unwavering sense of control.

    Leopold de Loughrey is a misunderstood genius whose anxiety and insecurities are sent into overdrive when he is forcefully recruited to work on a top-secret project. Terrified of what his role as “invaluable asset” means, Leo’s stress leads to disappearances, arguments, and blowups that threaten the project and Leo’s future. King’s arrival is a calm in the storm for Leo and his frenetic thoughts.

    King and Leo couldn’t be more different, yet as they navigate the dangers of a secret multi-agency operation and face unknown threats, their differences could be what saves them. Neither man believes a happily ever after is in the cards, but their hearts might just prove them wrong… if they can survive a deadly betrayal.


    Saving the best for last because The King deserves a Leo.

    King is the group’s alpha. He was the second in command of their former unit so the men naturally follows his orders. He’s also the most enigmatic of the Kings, always there but almost in the background. He’s a known grump who shoulders the world’s responsibilities.

    His book picks up right after the epilogue of Join the Club. King just completed his mission. He was asked a favor by his friend, their old general, to protect his son. Little did King know, it was more than he bargained for.

    A hell lot more.

    Leopold de Loughrey is a tech genius recruited a.k.a. blackmailed by the government to create a program for surveillance. Leo has always been special, according to his dad who feels very protective of him. He has anxieties and health issues that made it hard for him to work in such a difficult environment as a tightly-guarded government facility. Especially with the other analysts being downright hostile towards him.

    Leo is also a master escape artist.

    It began with a ridiculously cute meet-cute in the middle of chaos inside a bunker hidden in a black site. While everyone was scrambling about looking for the missing Leo, King, standing still while taking stock of the situation was offered fish crackers by an unidentified but admittedly very cute young man. Guess who.

    I have to use cute 3 times there because Leo is so freakin’ adorkable!!! That he was inspired by Dylan O’Brian made me love him more. The moment King laid eyes on him, the man was a goner.

    The mission here was to protect Leo from the Russians and the traitor who was working with them. They used code names from the Avengers. I’m totally living for the Marvel references.

    This is an age-gap, opposites attract, slow-burn romance with a lot of humor and heart. King and Leo formed a great partnership. I loved how King paid attention to the little things that make Leo ticked. Their dynamics was so funny and sweet. I loved the contrast between the brawny, protective grump and the brainy, quirky nerd.

    The scene I like replaying in my head was the part where the rest of the guys met Leo. All of them were so flabbergasted to know that King, who never laughs, laughs and smiles with Leo. Like, all the time! Even Ace was impressed. It was hilarious!

    Of course King will never hear the end of it.

    (*・∀・)_Ω~ヽ(o_o–) <- King and the fish cracker incident

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

    Soundtrack: King and Lionheart
    Artist: Of Monsters and Men
    Album: My Head is an Animal


    I can’t recommend Four Kings Security enough! This is one of the most enjoyable series I have read. The camaraderie and the humor alone made this worthwhile. I loved the huge cast and their group dynamics.

    The series tend to focus on the relationship development and the interactions between characters. The action/suspense usually occur in the latter parts. However, there is still a good balance between the various elements. This is definitely a series worth binge-reading!

    The books are best read in order.

    Review of Love in Spades and Be Still My Heart, books 1 & 2, here.

    P.S.

    And so faceclaims!!! LOVE Charlie Cochet‘s inspiration for the guys. Check out her pinterest here.


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

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    SERIES REVIEW: Four Kings Security Books 1 & 2 by Charlie Cochet

    You meet one King, you’ll love them all. Which is why I ended up binge reading this fantastic series by Charlie Cochet.

    Four Kings Security is owned by the the Kings, Ace, Red, Lucky and King, along with their friends, Jack and Joker. All of them are ex-Special Forces, the remaining half of a unit deployed in Syria years ago. All of the men felt the loss of their brothers heavily, each of them carrying of traumatic memories of a mission gone wrong. These memories are gradually revealed as the stories progressed. They are the reason why these men started their security agency.

    But this is not an angsty, tear-jerker of a series. These are, in fact, some of the funniest books I’ve read. Like its spinoff, Stacking the Deck, which was the one I read first, I keep remembering some hilarious scenes. It keeps me nicely entertained while going about my day. Talk about memorable!

    This series also stands out for the wonderful friendship and camaraderie. These are men who would die for each other. There’s so much palpable warmth and love here, this quickly became one of my favorite found families ever.

    This is a review of Love in Spades and Be Still My Heart, books 1 and 2. The books are not standalones. They pick up from events of the previous books. There are many recurring characters and scenes alluded to throughout the series, it’s definitely best to start at the beginning to get the most out of it.

    I’ll be reviewing books 3 and 4 on Friday. First, let’s meet the King of Spades and the King of Hearts.


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    Four Kings Security: Love in Spades – Charlie Cochet

    When the cards are stacked against you, the Kings will even the odds.

    Ex-Special Forces soldier Anston “Ace” Sharpe is fighting a different battle these days—one involving the world of private security across the state of Florida. As part owner of Four Kings Security, Ace and his fellow Kings tackle everything from armed transport and investigations to cyber intelligence and executive protection. Cocky, fearless, and brash, Ace isn’t afraid to take risks.

    After years of working alongside his father, Colton Connolly is ready to take the helm at Connolly Maritime, but his father’s retirement is put on hold when Colton begins receiving death threats. If that isn’t bad enough, his father signs a contract with Four Kings Security to provide Colton with round-the-clock protection, despite his adamant refusal. Colton’s life has been turned upside down, the last thing he needs is a shadow, especially in the form of infuriating, sexy-as-sin Ace Sharpe, who seems to be on a mission to drive Colton mad.

    Sparks fly the moment Colton and Ace meet on a sultry night club dance floor. But getting involved with a client, even one as fiery and beautiful as Colton Connolly, is a line Ace is unwilling to cross. Colton might be attracted to Ace, but he’d been burned before. He might be willing to put his life in Ace’s hands, but not his heart.

    As the Florida nights heat up, so does their passion, and Ace and Colton are faced with a difficult choice—take the plunge and risk it all, or play it safe and walk away?

    If Ace can keep a deadly threat from robbing Colton of a future….


    Ace is the chief purveyor of mischief and instigator of some of the funniest scenes in the series. He’s almost never serious, always riling up one or all of his brothers. All the jokes hide a smart individual who can be quite perceptive. And you got to hand it to the guy, he can be really professional when on the job.

    Which is what he tried to do while working for the Connollys. Well, he tried. But when faced with the temptation that is billionaire Colton Connolly, he was sorely tested.

    The thing that brought them together was a stalker threatening Colton. This part was almost forgotten through most of the story. The focus were on the interactions between the major characters and the development of the romance with the action/suspense crammed at the last quarter.

    Can’t blame Ace for falling hard. Colton is a wonderful person. He’s a beautiful, hardworking, generous man who can stand toe to toe with Ace’s brand of crazy. He succeeded in driving Ace out of his wits with his 4-hour shoe shopping sprees and firm opinions on powder white vs snow white loafers.

    The attraction was insta, the romance slow-burn, the USTs sizzling. Since this is bodyguard romance, it’s only a matter of time before they surrender to the inevitable. So I tend to judge this kind of situation on how fast they give in before they throw professionalism out the window. Ace wins my approval for holding out as long as he could, which was more than half the book. He put up a good fight but Colton was a very determined man. As they say resistance is futile.

    <( ̄︶ ̄)>  👞 ლ(ಠ_ಠლ)ᑦᵒᔿᵉ ᵒᐢᵎᵎ <— Ace met his match.

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

    Soundtrack: Protection
    Artist: Future of Forestry
    Album: The Complete Travel Series


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    Four Kings Security: Be Still My Heart – Charlie Cochet

    When the cards are stacked against you, the Kings will even the odds.

    Former Special Forces medical sergeant Russell “Red” McKinley knows a thing or two about wounds, like the fact some can take a lifetime to heal, if they heal at all. The scars Red carries run deep, and living with PTSD often means battling the memories of his past. Injuries he received while working an executive protection case with fellow Kings and co-owners of Four Kings Security, have once again forced past heartaches to the surface, but Red is determined not to let it derail his blossoming romance with sweet and sexy fashion photographer Lazarus Galanos.

    Laz can’t deny there’s something special developing between him and Red, but Laz has wounds of his own. He’s hesitant to jump into a new relationship after his recent explosive breakup. Experience has taught Laz to doubt his judgement when it comes to men. Guys who seem too good to be true, usually are, and no one appears more perfect than Red.

    When an attempt is made on Laz’s life, Red is determined to keep him safe. Laz may not be a client, and Red is still off duty, but Laz is one of their own, and nothing means more to the Kings than family. While an investigation is underway, Red and Laz are growing closer, but can they find a way to help each other heal and take a chance on love, or will their fears and insecurities cost them more than their future together?


    Red is the quietest King and the sweetheart of the group. He’s a gentle teddy bear everybody feels safe around with. He’s also a pansexual, disco-dancing, lavender-scented aromatherapy enthusiast who knows his way around the kitchen.

    He and Laz met in book one at a party in Colton’s house. Laz is Colton’s bestfriend’s Gio younger brother. He had a huge messy fight with his then boyfriend. The asshole pushed Laz who hit his head and fell to the pool. Red jumped to his rescue.

    The mission here was to protect Laz from death threats from an unknown person. Red being on leave since he was recovering from injuries that happened in the previous book, volunteered to stay with him.

    I wasn’t terribly impressed with Laz. As a person, he’s sweet, driven, and talented. I loved how he stood by Red when he had a bad episode with his PTSD. But when Laz’s insecurities were triggered, it led him to some very stupid conclusions that hurt Red badly.

    Red’s PTSD was something that had cost him his past relationships. Laz was badly burned by his ex so both man were hesitant to jump into a relationship. These issues were used effectively in the story while still keeping it light and fluffy.

    This is an insta-attraction, slow burn romance with hurt-comfort thrown in. There’s a perfectly balanced mix of humor and drama. As with the previous book, it’s all about the relationship and the group dynamics. We don’t see much action till the later parts. Even if that is the case, there’s never a dull moment with this gang!

    With support from their awesome family, Red and Laz promised to work around their issues and emerge a stronger couple. Red wins the day for his enormous capacity to forgive. He really lived up to his title as the King of Hearts.

    ヽ(⌐■_■)ノ♪♬♡(‘∀’●) <— Red showing off his groovy moves

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

    Soundtrack: Heart to Heart
    Artist: James Blunt
    Album: Moon Landing

    P.S.

    And OMG!!! you guys have to check out the faceclaims a.k.a. inspiration for the Four Kings in Charlie Cochet’s pinterest!!! So much eye candy!

    Review of spin off, The Kings: Wild Cards book 1, Stacking The Deck here


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

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    REVIEW: Stacking the Deck by Charlie Cochet

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    The Kings: Wild Cards: Stacking the Deck – Charlie Cochet

    Ex-Special Forces Communications Sergeant Jacopo “Jack” Constantino knows a thing or two about communications technology. As head of Cyber Security at Four Kings Security, Jack spends his days working with high-tech systems. Life for Jack is pretty uneventful—despite working with his brothers-in-arms—and he finds himself longing for a little excitement.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    Two years ago, Fitz Harlow captured Jack’s heart and walked away with it. Now he’s back.

    Fitz spent the last two years picking up the pieces of his life after a disastrous end to a ten-year relationship. After much therapy, and ice cream, Fitz leaves the fashion world behind and returns home to St. Augustine to open his own high-end salon, Hair Comes Trouble. Two years later, Fitz finally has the quiet, peaceful life he’s wanted for so long. There’s only one thing missing, or rather, one man missing, but Fitz has his doubts. With Jack, he’s not just gaining a boyfriend, he’s gaining a boyfriend, his family of mischief-magnet ex-Green Berets, and one highly opinionated Belgian Malinois.

    Fitz and Jack discover their connection has only grown stronger over time, thanks in part to meddling friends, but just as they start to pick up where they left off, someone takes objection to their reunion. Danger hides in the shadows, a stalker determined to keep Fitz out of Jack’s life, no matter the cost. With the odds stacked against them, can Jack and Fitz win a battle against an unknown enemy, or will Jack lose Fitz forever?

    The Kings: Wild Cards series is a spin-off of the Four Kings Security series.


    I know Charlie Cochet writes great humor (witness The Prince and His Bedeviled Bodyguard) but Stacking The Deck had me LOLing. Scenes from the book even started popping in my head the next day. I was chuckling to myself while working. These guys are crazy!

    The Kings here refer to King, Ace, Red and Lucky who co-own the Four Kings Security company along with Jack and his best friend, Sacha a.k.a Joker. All of them are ex-military. The Kings have their own books and I’m pretty sure Joker is going to get one.

    Our hero of the moment is Jack, head of the cybersecurity department. He’s super smart, sweet and nerdy. He’s a Macguyver who can fix anything from broken fridges to military parachutes but can’t cook to save his life. Not even toast because him and kitchen appliances don’t get along.

    Fitz was a runway hairstylist who got tired of the limelight. He’s been together with his former boyfriend for 10 years until he caught him cheating. He needed a fresh start. Fitz is first to admit he’s high maintenance. He’s wary of relationships because of his cheating ex.

    He and Jack had an brief but unforgettable history together where Jack saved his life. This probably happened in the other books. The attraction was strong but Fitz wasn’t in the right headspace yet to start a new relationship. So he ghosted Jack.

    Fast forward present day, Fitz is now in a better place, running a successful salon. Jack receives a text from him about a hair appointment and promptly got distracted from monitoring Joker and the guys on the job. He got razzed about it because Fitz texted all of them

    Despite all the USTs exploding all over the place, the romance was a slow-burn. Trust had to be gained and the two danced around their feelings. Everybody did their best to help them along because they knew these two dorks are a forgone conclusion.

    I loved how the book didn’t hold back on the fluff. There’s this really squee-tastic scene where Fitz was drugged and Jack had to keep him awake on the way to the hospital. Fitz basically confessed everything while Jack in his best gentlemanly self, tried not to take advantage of Fitz in his present condition. The next day, Laz, Fitz’s bestfriend told him all about it. Then he finds Jack in his kitchen where he burns the toast.

    Jack is adorbs! His brain short-circuited when he realized he fell in love and had to be talked through it by Joker. Joker his wild, dog-loving, hates being called by his real name, “I’m never falling in love” best friend was suddenly the voice of reason. What is the world coming to?

    Also, famous last words, Sacha.

    This is a book about friendship and camaraderie. The author really did a great job with her characters because I remember all of them. King is the alpha and their big brother. His boyfriend is Leo, the best hacker of them all. Red’s a former military doctor. He’s a great cook. His boyfriend is Laz, a fashion photographer. Ace, purveyor of all mischief, is about to be married to his billionaire fiance, Colton. Colton is friends with Laz and Fitz. Lucky is a Latinx whose boyfriend is Mason, a former detective.

    The guys are awesome but the star of the show is Chip, Joker’s military dog. Everybody loves Chip.

    I appreciated that the author really made the effort to get all her well-loved characters in the picture so readers who want to check in on their favorites get a treat. There were a lot of cute scenes that were mostly there for cuteness sake, all designed to reduce you into a warm puddle of goo. The writing is so thorough in providing every detail, it’s like she anticipated all our questions. It gave all the information we need, giving hints to potential love interests because 99% of the male characters are queer

    The thing with this, however, is that it’s easy to guess who the good guys are and who’s not. If their eye color is mentioned, it’s probably either they have a book or will get one in the future. The faceless ones are usually up to no good which makes the mystery weaker. Understandable, since it comes as third priority to the romance and the group dynamics.

    While totally consumable as a standalone, Stacking the Deck is best experienced by reading Four Kings Security first. I have not read the main series yet and nearly got lost on the who’s who at the first parts because this had a huge cast. Not only you meet all the ex-Green Berets and their boyfriends, there’s also the other supporting characters that make their appearances here and there. There were a lot of inside jokes and references to hilarious past events that had me itching to start on the other series.

    All in all, this spin-off is off to a rocking start! Recommended if you’re up for some fantastic, fan-servicey, escapist fun.

    P.S.

    Review of The Prince and His Bedeviled Bodyguard here

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

    Soundtrack: Moonlight
    Artist: Future Islands
    Album: As Long As You Are


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    FIRST LINES FRIDAY 56: What The Hell?

    First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons

    I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.

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