Folk Lore: Where the Devil Says Goodnight – K.A. Merikan
— Forgive me, Father, for I will sin —
Adam. Catholic priest. Celibate. Does not yield to temptation.
Emil. Sinner. Seducer. Snake. Hot as hell itself.
After a sheltered childhood ruled by religion, all Adam wants is to be a good priest and make his parents proud. But it’s hard to stay virtuous in a big city like Warsaw, and when he makes one slip up, his life spirals into ruin. He is sent to a tiny mountain village where he hopes to live down his shame and work on restraint.
But staying celibate becomes far from easy when he meets Emil, a local man with long dark hair, a mysterious past, and as little morality as he has luck. Emil has no qualms about flirting with a priest. Worse still, he seems hell-bent on tasting forbidden fruit and unearthing the desires Adam has always kept hidden.
The odd village hides secrets far more sinister than Adam’s insatiable lust for Emil. Old Slavic magic looms everywhere. Superstition mixes with reality. Someone is watching his every move. Someone follows him in the dark, lurking in the shadows of the ancient forest. Adam is plagued by disturbing events, and Emil could be his only salvation even if he is the devil himself.
Can a priest shepherd the black sheep to safety or has he been the wolf all along?
Genre: Dark, paranormal M/M romance
Erotic content: Scorching hot, emotional, explicit scenes
Themes: Occult, witchcraft, Slavic superstition and myth, folklore, priest, forbidden love, hurt/comfort, metalhead, little town, temptation, religion, paganism, cult, old gods, possession, demons, magic, homophobia, bigotry, prejudice, coming out, fish out of water, soul mates, mysterious man, tease and denial
Length: ~ 120,000 words (standalone)
WARNING: This story contains scenes of violence, offensive language, self-harm, and morally ambiguous characters.
I’ve wanted to read this ever since they unveiled that gorgeous cover. The thing is, K.A. Merikan is a hit or miss with me. It took two tries before this book finally stuck.
Where The Devil Says Goodnight has a setting rarely seen in MM romance. The story mostly took place in a small Polish village of Dybukowo, picturesque, eerie, and timeless in a way that feels jarring whenever they mention modern technology like internet or cellphones.
Father Adam, a young priest caught with a porn mag in his room, was sent from Warsaw to the village to keep him away from temptation. But temptation came in the form of a tattooed metalhead and village pariah Emil. At first, Adam tried offering just his friendship, but the lure was too strong, and with a dark entity giving him all his deepest, darkest desires, it wasn’t long until Emil and he became secret lovers.
I was ready to dive deep into everything the story promised to offer. Occultism, Slavic paganism, dark magic and how they blend and clash with Catholicism is fascinating to someone whose own country, halfway across the world from Poland, is similarly influenced. These are the best parts of the story, and they made the horror elements extra creepy.
Sadly, the book didn’t delve deeply enough into these, just touching the surface. The plot straddles the line between paranormal and horror. The midnight church scene scared me the most when narrator Wyatt Baker used special effects for his demon voice. Man, it gave me a jolt! And that was when I fully committed.
The paranormal elements were mostly lowkey, the kind that Adam would shrug off as his imagination or thought he was being gaslighted. I preferred the paranormal to be more overt, just so there would be excitement to keep the plot from dragging. The story moved slowly, with only the narrator’s energetic delivery to keep me going. And it’s a long ass book too.
I am not a fan of religious officials as gay romantic leads because they tend to be miserably hard on themselves. The story is in dual POV. Adam’s internal dialogue is childishly naive, self-flagellatory and mistrustful, making him pathetic rather than sympathetic. The man willingly sleeps with Emil, then gives me whiplash with his denials and accusations right after.
I hate it when people, cheaters especially, don’t take responsibility for their actions. Instead they blame the “seducer,” the “tempter,” or the devil for leading them into sin. Almost always after they do the deed, Adam would blame Emil for leading him away from the righteous path, even accusing the poor guy of putting a spell on him. Dude, you can always say no and walk away. Emil wasn’t holding a gun to your head.
Emil is the more interesting character, a country bad boy who’s more worldly than the virgin city mouse while also a cinnamon roll of sorts. The villagers consider him as a cursed good-for-nothing. He comes from a family of whisperer women, a kind of witch or shaman dealing with the old gods of the land. His most loyal companion is his black stallion, Jinx.
Emil tries his hand at various endeavors, from palm reading to wine making, so he could earn enough money to leave. The man really tried but with his abysmal bad luck, there’s always one reason or another he cannot leave the village. A lonely gay man with few options and a non-believer, he has no qualms sleeping with a closeted priest he soon fell in love with.
The romance was my least favorite simply because I wasn’t convinced it would work. There’s too much lack of trust for them to function as a couple. But I’m glad I stuck around till the end, because when Adam let his beast out, and a fabulous beast he is, he was way more likable. I wish he did it earlier, because it was almost too late, but he and Emil finally convinced me they were it.
Where The Devil Says Goodnight was a tough read but worth it in the end. The almost unconvincing romance and unlikable MC was offset by the atmospheric setting, the fascinating glimpse into Slavic culture, and a satisfying conclusion that made all the difference. YMMV but all in all, a mix bag of blessings and curses.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Where the Devils Says Goodnight. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
Monstrous: Gloam – Lily Mayne
When a strange woman shows up outside our camp in the Wastes with monsters chained up to her RV, it feels like I’m the only one who actually wants to help them.
That big, grey-skinned monster with the cage on his head and the chain hanging from his back—something is telling me I need to help him. I need to free him. But I have absolutely no idea how I’m supposed to do that, especially when he can’t even talk to me to tell me how.
Collector Mary is finally leaving our camp to head back to her monster menagerie, so I do the only thing I can think of to help him. I go with her.
Now, this big beastie and I are traveling companions for the foreseeable future. Now I just have to think of a way to get that cage off his head, which seems like an impossible task. But I’m not giving up. He has no one else, and when I start to discover who he is beneath the cage, my motivation to free him becomes far more than just a desire to help.
This is so dangerous. The military is lurking. Vicious monsters are lurking. And when Mary turns out to be even worse than we could have ever imagined, my desperate bid to save this monster turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to die out here.
Gloam is Book Four of the Monstrous series, a post-apocalyptic m/m fantasy series that features monsters and human men falling in love. It is best to read the series in order. Warning: This m/m love story contains explicit sexual content and is not suitable for young readers. It also contains graphic depictions of torture and violence.
Gloam started with a thirsty young raider, Rig, lusting over the muscles of a huge, grey-skinned monster chained to an RV with a cage over his head. The antoran, along with two other beasties, were captives of a sinister human named Collector Mary. Feeling sorry for the big guy, Rig set out to free the beastie, and he was prepared to take all the risks, including leaving the raider camp and going with Collector Mary.
We know Rig from Book 3, The Rycke, as Ghost’s impulsive best friend. He’s the camp’s mechanic, good at fixing stuff, hence the name. Rig is also naive and doesn’t have much experience outside the camp, so I was looking forward to see how our boy survives the Wastes.
Risking his life, limb, and sanity, Rig’s pursuit to free Gloam took him through the Wastes, cannibal cults, the military, Mary’s vile thoughts, and more monsters. It was an adventure as exciting and suspenseful as the others, if a bit less action-packed. The story focused more on building Gloam and Rig’s relationship, which developed beautifully.
At the heart of it all is a pure-hearted young man who is very determined to do the right thing because nobody, not even beasties, deserves to be abused. What gripped me the most was that Rig broke down, bawled like a baby, and blubbered like an idiot, but never, ever stopped trying to free Gloam. Even before Gloam could talk to him, and even before falling in love with the beastie! Our boy is a fluffy marshmallow with a core of steel!
Gloam spent most of the story unable to speak, but Rig deviced a clever way for them to communicate. The big beastie might be super brawny, but he’s also surprisingly cultured and scholarly. His voice really showed off that gentle side of him! I recommend audiobooking this and the other books because Michael Lesley is giving us his best voices in this series!
I loved the big guy! Gloam is one of the sweetest characters in the entire series who kept his innate goodness intact despite being betrayed by his own family, and forced to do the worst, most stomach-churning tasks by his captors, like impaling people in spits while still alive. He didn’t even seek revenge! Gloam has a calming energy that grounds Rig. They are a perfect match!
There are some loose threads that I hope the author will pick up in future books. Something needs to be done about the cannibal cult! These are the assholes who forced Gloam to do the above-mentioned crime. I hope Samson, the reluctant cult member, gets his own book or will be able to escape. He’s another good guy trapped in a hellish situation. I hope we meet the intriguing beasties from Mary’s menagerie again.
Gloam is an emotional tale of determination and kindness, a rousing dystopian adventure, and a tender romance that beat the odds. Overall, a moving portrait of the worst and best of humans and monsters.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Monstrous. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
In The Mind: Lost In The Mind – Alice Winters
After the last incident—which involved a serial killer—Chevy and Seneca are considering puppy wrangling as a new, safer profession than psychic detective work. Honestly, Seneca would prefer to focus on his new relationship with Chevy, even if he’s worried about the menacing countdown calendar leading to Chevy’s birthday. But when homicide requests some assistance from them, they have no idea what they’re getting into. And if they’d known what would happen, they definitely would have gone with the puppy wrangling.
When an elderly couple is found dead in their own home, Chevy and Seneca are pulled into the case. But what’s unusual is that it appears neither of them were killed; instead, they simply stopped existing. Even with Chevy’s ability to go into the memories of the victims, he’s unable to tell what happened to the seemingly normal couple.
That is, until it happens again. This time, the victims are found alive, all of them kneeling and staring at a blank wall as if hypnotized by it. It’s up to Chevy and Seneca to figure out what is drawing these people and who might be manipulating them.
But when Seneca begins to act strangely, Chevy becomes concerned that he might also be affected by what is controlling the others. Chevy will do anything to keep the man he loves safe and as far from “The Light” as he can. But is it too late?
Lost in the Mind is 94k words of banter, the strangest salad ever, and the strengthening of a bond (especially after Chevy’s birthday). This book follows the events of Within the Mind but focuses on a new case.
Chevy and Seneca’s second adventure still delivers the same hilarious WTFuckery but tones down the creepy mindfuckery.
The two men are gifted law enforcement officers. Chevy can access people’s memories, Seneca can copy any gift. They were partnered together because Seneca keeps Chevy grounded.
Both men are in their late 20s going on 5 because they are the epitome of mature, civilized adults. Mature, civilized adults whose very juvenile sense of humor includes ridiculous bets about having sex on tree branches, eating a head of lettuce while on a stakeout and inappropriate jokes about their boss to their boss’s face. It should have long gotten them fired long ago.
But hey, everybody loves the uber charismatic Seneca. Who can talk everybody into doing anything, including murder it turns out. So they let him get away with everything.
Meanwhile, Chevy, introverted and usually overlooked, finally got his own admirer. Seneca got jealous for one hot minute then recruited said admirer into his Chevy fan club. You gotta love his devotion to his man.
I am happy that these two are settling together quite nicely. The book is written from Chevy’s point of view. He’s still as enamored with Seneca as he was in the first book. And still makes it his mission to aggravate the man. Seneca is still proudly demonstrating his love for Chevy in his inimitable Seneca way. The only change is that now, Chevy is no longer shy about showing his love back.
After the events in Within The Mind, these two dorks have became inseparable. As in living together, working together, holding hands while going after bad guys inseparable.
The new case is a very baffling mystery where individuals were found kneeling in front of a blank wall seemingly mesmerized. Investigation revealed these individuals were called by a light, enticing them to surrender to it. It turns them into fearless freaks with no regard to danger or consequences.
While I wasn’t as creeped out as the first case, this still has it’s fare share of scare amped up by scenes where pairs of eyes all move simultaneously to stare at Chevy and by narrator Joel Leslie’s bad guy voices. The villain behind the light wasn’t as malevolent as their first serial killer. His ‘good intentions’ were pretty twisted though.
This is a solid paranormal series although the world-building is nebulous at best. There is not much details about people, places and gifts. We don’t know where gifts come from. It’s only mentioned that it’s already there before. It’s also hinted that Chevy’s gift is more powerful than he thinks. Seneca’s gift also had a surprising twist and him getting his dark lord mojo on was one heck of a turnabout. I hope we get more explanations in future books.
Lost In The Mind was quite the head trip. The story felt both slow and fast. The case was difficult and took a while to solve. The plot cycles through humor to horror to fluff at breakneck speed.
One moment Chevy and Seneca are faced with the Pillow Case Cult (<- best cult name ever) ready to sacrifice them to The Light, the next we got an over the top birthday celebration complete with room full of balloons, a chastity belt and tunnel exploration. In between, we get quiet, tender moments of finger cuddles and warm fuzzies. It’s enough to give one whiplash.
But I’m already ready for more outrageous Chevy and Seneca shenanigans. Bring on the next psycho!
In The Mind series is best experienced in order. Witness Chevy hopelessly pining after Seneca, Seneca futilely chasing after Chevy because that’s how these two idiots roll in the first book, Within The Mind. Review here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Within The Mind. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
The Artifact: The Bodyguard Book 1 – X. Aratare
Dane Gareis is a wealthy, reclusive young man with a traumatic past, but a spine of steel. When his father is killed in a mysterious plane crash, Dane carries on the family business and continues his passion for the very antiquity that got his father murdered — a golden sarcophagus belonging to an ancient cult known as the Ydrath.
Soon, the Ydrath threaten him as well, and Dane seeks to hire a bodyguard he can trust. Someone who can protect him, and someone who will respect his boundaries. While he gets the first two, the third requirement falls apart when he hires Sean Harding.
Sean Harding is an ex-detective with a sixth sense for danger. After his entire unit was murdered in a drug bust gone very wrong, he is a broken man who thinks only of revenge until he takes the job protecting the Gareis CEO.
Sean’s attraction to the vulnerable Dane gives him new purpose, but his past is not escaped so easily, and his sixth sense tells him that there is more to the Ydrath than even Dane knows.
This was 95% fluff, 5% everything else.
By fluff, I both mean things that were designed to make people squee and unsubstantial fillers designed to make a book longer.
I normally enjoyed the author’s brand of fluff. When deployed properly, it could work to spectacular results. Witness: The Vampire’s Club. But here, it overwhelmed the story, leaving little room for an interesting backstory to work its magic.
Book 1 took pains to establish the connection between Dane and Sean but I felt it was too forced. I think the two would have come together more naturally had the book been a longer novel instead of three installments. Giving more page time to the Ydrath and the mysterious ongoings would have made this a stronger start to the serial.
I don’t know yet where this is heading. I’m not sure if there’s enough hook to make me go for the next installment. But this is X. Aratare we’re talking about here so maybe, just maybe I’ll keep at it.
X. Aratare books here.
2.5 Stars – far from hate but not quite a like