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    SERIES REVIEW: Spellbound & Edge Lines by Ava Marie Salinger

    The thing with most urban fantasy/paranormal series is that the premise pique my interest, but actually putting in the work to read them or finish them, well, most of the time, I never see the end. It happened with Whyborne & Griffin (the last book! gah!) and Soulbound. It gets to the point where so many things are happening for a prolonged period that it becomes a toss-up between laziness and boredom.

    So far, Fallen Messengers is doing a great job of keeping me riveted. If this keeps up and hopefully wraps up soon, I can complete the series. I’m giving major props to narrator Alex Kydd. My first impression was he spoke too slowly. It turned out to be an advantage because his slow even delivery helps me through the info-dumps without brain overload. And he gave the million and one cast their distinct voices and personalities, which is impressive given that there are numerous female characters.

    This is a review of Books 2 and 3.


    Fallen Messengers: Spellbound by Ava Marie Salinger

    Can Cassius and Morgan overcome an elusive enemy and save a young girl’s life?

    Eden Monroe has spent her entire existence believing she has no magic. Shunned by her mother Brianna and the magical bureau Hexa, she runs away from home when she is forced to embrace a future she never chose, only to fall into the hands of ghastly monsters from the Nine Hells. After being rescued by a mysterious Dryad with secrets of his own, Eden realizes there is more to her past and future than she could ever have imagined.

    When San Francisco PD asks Argonaut to assist them in solving a series of strange bank robberies, Cassius Black and Morgan King uncover a disturbing plot that points to an unknown artifact hidden somewhere in the city. Their investigation soon has them crossing paths with a desperate Brianna, who seeks their help in finding her missing daughter. When the witch reveals the shocking circumstances surrounding her daughter’s birth as well as the deadly magic sealed inside the young girl’s body, the Argonaut agents realize their case is linked to Eden and the weapon of devastating power the bank robbers are after.

    Can Cassius and Morgan defeat the malevolent organization behind it all and save Eden from her cursed fate? Or will the young girl suffer a destiny worse than death itself?

    Spellbound is the second novel in the gay urban fantasy romance series Fallen Messengers. This is an MM paranormal adventure full of action, magic, snark, and a host of steamy angels and demons.


    Spellbound is the second book, introducing new characters and multiple POVs. I’m assuming each book will focus on one supernatural agency. Book 1, Fractured Souls, has the MC, Cassius the imperial, joining the Argonauts, the agency overseeing otherworldlies. This book features Brianna Monroe, head of Hexa, the organization of witches. She has a rather complicated relationship with her daughter Eden. The teen ran away after having had enough of her mother’s controlling ways.

    What I love most about this series is that whenever people use magic, they go BIG! Even those who just discovered they have the ability don’t start small, which makes the fight scenes super mind-blowing. Although here, it’s a tad bit less intense than in Book 1, but still awesome. Possibly because a chunk of the plot is Eden struggling to survive the streets while being hunted by monsters. Reading about people on the run isn’t my favorite thing. Also, I had to wait for events to connect to Cassius, Morgan and their team. It’s a me problem because, objectively, this sequel rocks!

    Rating:

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Bound Together
    Artist: Kate York feat. Vanyo
    Album:


    Fallen Messengers: Edge Lines – Ava Marie Salinger

    The Gods have come to San Francisco…

    Cassius Black and Morgan King’s trip to Ivory Peaks to uncover clues about their past takes an unexpected turn when a rift materializes and war demons attack the capital. Having saved one world by the skin of their teeth, they return to Earth, only to find it has been rocked by ominous quakes bearing a close resemblance to the phenomenon that nearly destroyed the Dryad kingdom.

    After defeating demons that emerge from a crevasse in San Francisco, Cassius and Morgan rescue the Wild God Pan from the bottom of a rift with the help of Victor Sloan and the city’s otherwordly. But instead of thanking them, Pan makes a startling demand: rescue his lover and prevent the Spirit Realm from being destroyed, and he will reveal the truth about who Cassius and Morgan are.

    Help comes from an unexpected source when a pair of Reapers visit the city and Cassius, Morgan, and Victor soon go hunting for a missing deity who may hold the key to saving all the realms. Can they free the immortals from their prisons and find the powerful artefact that can bend the mind and will of even a God? Or will the enemy who has long manipulated them from the shadows win this war and destroy everything they have come to care for?

    Edge Lines is the third novel in the gay urban fantasy romance series Fallen Messengers. If you like your paranormal adventures full of action, magic, snark, and a host of steamy angels and demons, then you’re not going to want to miss this enthralling, fun-filled ride!


    Edge Lines is the highly anticipated 3rd book because Victor Sloane!!!

    The story also has multiple POVs but the majority is from Cass and his angel boyfriend, Morgan. This is where gods and demi-gods make themselves known. The team, along with Victor, has to deal with rifts and war demons appearing in various realms. It has something to do with the disappearance of the winter god and Pan’s lover, the winter god’s nephew.

    As mentioned in my review of Fractured Souls, I’m not a fan of Morgan. His brand of assholery doesn’t appeal to me. Here, I go back and forth because, yeah, he’s super protective of Cass, but also an inconsiderate horndog who wouldn’t let his perpetually sleep-deprived boyfriend get proper sleep.

    I am team Victor. Cass’ demon ex is a nicer guy than Morgan. That teeny tiny glimpse inside Victor’s thoughts revealed dark possessive desires of owning Cass, mind, body, heart, and soul. I suppose this was meant to show Morgan as the better man but Victor has the goodness in him to know doing so would kill the light in Cass that he loves. If Morgan has to stay go poly, please! Love triangles are never ever fun and tiresome as fuck! This could kill the series for me if it continues.

    I’m wondering how much more epic the series could get because this one brought it up another notch! There are the crazy level-ups we love, long-awaited identity reveals that got me hyped for future events, and of course, the action scenes that always go nuclear. The writing strikes a great balance between info dumps, character progression, plot, imagery, and fight scene choreography. And with a talented narrator, this tale of the fallen and the otherworldly continues to be a spellbinding experience that kept me enthralled.

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

    Soundtrack: The Curse
    Artist: Agnes Obel
    Album:

    P.S.

    Fallen Messengers has a cute custom of giving many supporting characters their little happy endings. Cheesy but fun! So Victor might get one too, if he doesn’t end up throupling with Cass and Morgan. Can the angel and the demon share the imperial, please?

    Fallen Messengers should be read in order. The adventure stars with Fractured Souls.



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    FRACTURED SOULS | SPELLBOUND | EDGE LINES | OATH BREAKER

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    REVIEW: Taking His Confession by P.J. Friel & Saffron Hart

    Cloth & Stone: Taking His Confession – P.J. Friel & Saffron Hart

    Sparks fly when a man of the cloth teams up with a cursed creature of stone to save a troubled teen from a ruthless drug lord. 

    Gideon Fawkes longs to meet the handsome young deacon who teaches at St. Anthony’s Boys Academy. There’s just one problem. Gideon is a gargoyle, and he’s pretty sure Deacon Cruz only dates humans.

    Cordero Cruz knows a lot about forgiveness. It’s the cornerstone of his calling. Too bad he can never offer it to himself. Because of him, people died, and there’s no redemption for that kind of mistake.

    But a lack of humanity and a heart filled with guilt are nothing compared to a young man’s life. When a merciless criminal threatens Cordero and one of his students, Gideon will have to risk more than his stony hide to protect them. Cordero must do the unthinkable to prove he’s deserving of the gargoyle turned guardian angel. But when their road to hell is paved with good intentions, they must learn only trust and redemption can pave the way for love.


    Among the various supernatural boyfriends found in paranormal romance, gargoyles are a rarity. The Cloth & Stone series immediately grabbed my attention because of its gargoyle MC.

    Taking His Confession opens the series from the 1st person POV of Deacon Cordero Cruz. He just saw the little brother of his late best friend talking to the city’s most notorious mob boss. Alarmed, he tried to get answers from the young man and learned he owed the mobsters a huge sum of money for a failed drug run. Money they couldn’t afford, barely having any to support his mom and siblings.

    Unknown to the people in St. Anthony’s, a watcher sat perched on its rooftops. Gideon Fawkes was cursed to be a gargoyle for almost a century. He has a special interest in the young deacon. Special enough for him to break cover when mobsters were out to get the Cordero.

    I have had this on my TBR since last year. I was hesitant to start on this because I usually steer clear of religion-themed books. Cordero’s internal dialogues are examples of why I do.

    Most of it boils down to “I am not worthy. I don’t deserve to be happy.” I wasn’t too keen on the self-flagellation, but happily, the authors managed to avoid crossing over to miserable. They were still able to let Cordero’s brighter personality shine through.

    And Cordero might angst over his so-called unworthiness, but there was no angsting over his sexuality. I loved that he was totally comfortable with it and had no hesitations about sleeping with Gideon.

    The deacon is the kind of man who bears all the world’s troubles on his shoulders. A selfless individual who prays for everyone else’s well-being except for himself. It’s why he stood out among the sea of prayers that the gargoyle hears everyday.

    Gideon used to be a rum runner back in the 1920s. He turned into a gargoyle one day after committing a crime. I found some of his thoughts on a divine being echoing some of my own. I wondered why he still believed. But then, turning into a stone at sunrise and back into a man by sunset is divine punishment if ever there was one.

    The plot interweaves the romantic development of Cordero and Gideon’s relationship with that of them teaming up to to protect Cordero’s students from the mobsters. Cordero and Gideon are compelling characters who very effectively drove the story forward, sweeping me along effortlessly with their woes and insecurities, joys and triumphs, and the occasional streak of humor. Usually from Gideon. I love this gargoyle! His POV is more fun than Cordero’s.

    The romance was sweet. I would even say it was kinda cute. It was a tender and fragile relationship filled with fears, misunderstanding, and also, love. Alas, it imploded after Gideon’s ridiculous decision to storm the mob boss’s mansion by himself without careful reconnaissance.

    Cordero was a complete mess for a while there, plus an even more ridiculous decision by Gideon to push the love of his life away. Fortunately, the two came to their senses and started working together for real. The story moved faster at this point, more action-packed and suspenseful with lotsa things going bang!

    Even with the negative thoughts and the bad decisions, Taking His Confession is a well-written book that kept me riveted. It ends with a cliffy HFN, so it’s best read when you have all three books on hand. This dramatic tale of the deacon and his gargoyle boyfriend is dark and full of heartache, but it’s also sweet, even hopeful, and most definitely gripping.

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

    Soundtrack: Holy Trouble
    Artist: Christian Cohle
    Album: Holy Trouble


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    SERIES REVIEW: Witchbane Books 4 & 5 by Morgan Brice

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

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

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

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

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


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    Witchbane: Flame and Ash – Morgan Brice

    The third novel in the Witchbane series.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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    Witchbane: Unholy – Morgan Brice

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

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

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

    Unholy is an urban fantasy MM paranormal romance with plenty of supernatural suspense, hurt/comfort, hot sex, found family, dark magic, and paranormal thrills. It is part of a series but can be read as a standalone and features an evolving, established romantic relationship with all the feels. Intended for readers 18 years of age and older.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Soundtrack: Together
    Artist: Arula
    Album: We Belong


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

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

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

    P.S.

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


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    Flame and Ash US | UK
    Unholy: US | UK

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

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