Dysfunctional – Isabel Lucero
A dark, MM romance
Ezra Hamilton hasn’t felt the warm spurt of blood flow through his fingers or the indescribable feeling of pushing a knife deep into someone’s flesh in a long time. Too long.
He’s been watching a man stalk women, curious as to what he’s doing with them. Ezra’s never encountered someone with similar dark tendencies before, and what starts off as genuine curiosity turns into much more when Kaspian turns the tables on him.
As their chemistry builds, so does the mistrust. They both know they can’t trust a killer, but their inner demons call to each other anyway.
When Kaspian’s impulsivity threatens to ruin Ezra’s freedom, he knows he has to stop him. Kas appears to be fixated on Willow—a woman Ezra works with. In an effort to not have to worry about her disappearance bringing heat on him, he tracks Kaspian as Kaspian follows Willow into a cabin in the mountains.
There, in the middle of a blizzard, secrets will be revealed and revelations made, but the chances of everybody making it out alive are slim.
This is a dark romance that will have graphic scenes. Warnings are on the author’s website. 18+
Ever since Hannigram, I have been looking for more murder husbands stories so Dysfunctional is right up my alley.
The premise reminded me of Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite, where one serial killer falls in love with another. One difference, however, is that both MCs are bisexual.
The story starts with Ezra Hamilton, a psychopathic killer trying to lead a normal life. He noticed a tattooed young man, Kaspian, stalking several women. Intrigued, he proceeded to stalk him in return. Observing that these women soon disappeared, he recognized a kindred spirit. One day, he followed Kas and his victim to a hotel, only to be confronted by Kaspian.
This starts a little game of I-know-what-you-are-and-I’m-going-to-make-you-say-it. Later, as their relationship evolved, it turned into pushing buttons and testing limits. I’m living for the USTs and the power dynamics here!
They danced around each, using innocent people as pawns while they exchanged long looks across the room. And this is both in the literal and figurative sense because some of the scenes happened in a club. The zing jumps off the page!
I have a one niggle though. For experienced bad guys, they’re pretty sloppy. It’s a wonder they’re not caught yet.
For instance, in the first few chapters, Ezra’s phone broke. He took it to a cellphone repair shop. Turns out Kas works there. I couldn’t believe, Ez just handed his phone over to Kas, knowing the guy is a fellow killer. Cellphone techs dig up a lot of shit from people’s phones. Ezra should have known better.
Another thing, these two were not mentioned wearing gloves or any protective gear when they touched the victims. Heck, they even jerked each other off next to the grave after just burying their victim. They are spreading their DNA samples all over the place. So yeah, sloppy.
But even with the lack of PPEs, the story completely grabbed me with its tightly paced writing that always held a thrum of tension. I loved how the plot explored the dynamics in so many interesting ways, twisting and turning with secrets and revelations that are part of a deadly mating ritual between Ezra and Kas. It became a question of who is after who. And why. It was the why that unleashed the monsters.
There are some graphic scenes here so please heed the TWs. In terms of darkness, I say this is darkish grey. The murder scenes are short and to the point. Nothing gratuitous. There is some blood play as well. The two MCs are obviously bad guys but are shown with a code in the later part where they kill only evil-doers.
Overall, Dysfunctional is a satisfying addition to my small but growing list of murder husbands books. It grabbed me from page 1, and I was riveted til the end. It was a weeknight, but I finished it in one sitting. It’s that good!
There’s something so fascinating about stories where one’s crazy matches another’s insanity. Gives hope that there’s someone for everyone. Even the psychos.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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Everyone who’s heard about the Mulvaneys knows that the Mulvaney twins always come as a package. So it makes sense that I should review their books together.
By now, the Mulvaneys need no introduction. This family of vigilante psychopaths has endeared themselves to many readers of MM romance. And I have declared my love for them ad nauseum.
Here’s my review of Headcase and Mad Man, Books 4 and 5 of Necessary Evils:
Necessary Evils: Headcase – Onley James
Asa Mulvaney is half of a psychopathic whole. He and his twin brother live together, party together…kill together. In the Mulvaney family, murder is the family business and business is good. When an experiment separates Asa and his brother, Asa is forced to navigate the world on his own for the first time in his life.
Zane Scott is a small-time crime blogger and amateur sleuth, but he dreams of a byline in a major paper someday. When he winds up at a boring fundraiser beside Asa Mulvaney, they share an intensely passionate encounter that leaves Zane with an ache in his chest and a story idea that could make his career dreams a reality.
At a nearby college, a cluster of suicides isn’t what it seems. When Asa’s father asks him to look into it, he sees the perfect opportunity to see his little crime reporter again. And Asa needs to see him again. Zane’s suspicious of Asa’s motives, but he won’t say no to a chance to peek behind the Mulvaney family curtains.
As the two unravel a sinister plot, Asa’s obsession with Zane grows and Zane finds being Asa’s sole focus outweighs almost anything, maybe even his career–which is good for Asa because loving a Mulvaney is a full-time job. Can he convince Zane that he’s worth navigating a family of psychopaths and his pathologically jealous twin, or will Zane learn the hard way that the Mulvaney boys always get what they want? Always.
Headcase is a high heat, intense, lovers-to-frenemies, psychopath romance with an HEA and no cliffhangers. It features an obsessive, calculating psychopath and a wannabe reporter who will stop at nothing to earn himself a major byline. As always, there’s gratuitous violence, very dark humor, enough killers to fill an auditorium, and enough heat to melt your kindle. This is book 4 in the Necessary Evils series. Each book follows a different couple.
TAGS: psychopath romance, Asa is bored, Avi is jealous, Zane is pretty, Adam is still a dick, August is… August, Aiden’s still missing, Lucas is concerned, Atticus plays den mother to a gaggle of murderous young adults, Asa wants Zane but knows he suspects he’s a killer, Zane wants a story but can’t keep from falling into bed with his target, extra dark humor, found family, So. Many. Murderers, mysteries abound, bad boys doing bad things and each other, high non-relationship angst, low relationship angst, shmoop, fluff, smut.
Necessary Evils: Mad Man – Onley James
Avi Mulvaney is many things. Son. Twin. Owner of the fashion label, Gemini. Murderous psychopath. Together, he and his brother, Asa, make one brutally efficient monster, ridding the world of predators who victimize the innocent. History proves Avi and Asa don’t do well apart, but their father has decided to test that theory.
Felix Navarro knows exactly who he is. Baby brother. Fashionista. Vigilante. While he’s not happy that his big brother married a Mulvaney, the union has its perks. Like a paid internship with Gemini. But all good things come with a cost and, for Felix, that’s enduring Avi Mulvaney each day, which inevitably leads to thinking about him every night.
Felix doesn’t like Avi. He’s cocky, condescending, overbearing, and inappropriate. He’s also sexy, brilliant, and twice as lethal as Felix. Still, Felix loathes him. Even if he keeps letting him kiss him. And touch him. Even if he slipped just once. It was still hate sex, and it would never happen again. Ever.
Except, Avi’s being sent to help take down a dangerous crime ring and he’s ordered Felix to come along. Felix has vowed to stay strong. To remember he hates Avi. But they’re trapped together and there’s only one bed, and it’s so hard to hate Avi in the dark when he’s whispering how Felix belongs to him. Felix belongs to no man, but Avi is determined. He has one week to prove to Felix that he’s the exception to his rule. After all, who says no to a Mulvaney?
Mad Man is a scorchingly hot, intense, enemies to lovers, psychopath romance with an HEA and no cliffhangers. It features a dirty talking, brutally vicious killer and a sharp tongued murderous fashionista who are both too stubborn for their own good. As always, there’s gratuitous violence, very dark humor, enough blood to film the final scene in the movie Carrie, and enough heat to melt your panties. This is book 5 in the Necessary Evils series. Each book follows a different couple.
TAGS: psychopath, enemies-to-loves, dark humor, much violence, jealousy, bad boys doing bad things, long distance snark, only one bed, hate sex, more hate sex, hate sex that becomes apathetic sex then maybe something like love, if two killers are better than one what’s three killers, Avi is jealous, Asa is preoccupied, August is still August, Lucas is frazzed, Archer is still drunk, Thomas is at his wits end, Aiden is still in denial, Noah is still the psychopath whisperer and Adam is still a dick.
The twins were separated by Thomas as an experiment. Neither of them copes well with separations. And a bored Murder twin always spells T.R.O.U.B.L.E.
Asa is the dominant twin, so his book, Headcase, came first. This guy loves to hunt and play rough. That his person is a sweet and adorkable tabloid reporter plays really well into his dominant side and his daredevil personality.
Zane, what the hell had you gotten yourself into? This dork is the luckiest unlucky tabloid reporter out there. He finagled his way into an exclusive event to get the dirt on the Mulvaneys, met Asa, was taken home, discovered exactly how rough Asa likes it. Then, realizes he just stumbled into a family of serials killers. Asa refused to let him go.
Like the other Mulvaney boys, Asa didn’t waste time declaring Zane was his. The intrepid reporter put up a half-hearted fight before giving in because of course. Together, they try to untangle the mystery of a secret game that drives young college students to kill themselves.
The mystery really intrigued me because it was unusual and hard to solve. It gave me the chills to find out later on, it was based on a real-life internet game that targeted children. This is the best case in the series so far. Watch out for cameos by Dmitri and his little Arlo.
A huge chunk of the book is steam. I know Zane enjoys it, but I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the injury-inducing sex. BDSM is really not my thing. I kinda feel sorry for him looking like a battered boyfriend all the time. And he has to wear concealer in public, or else people would think Asa is an abuser. But, it’s their thing, they enjoy it, and they’re perfect for each other.
While Asa was with Zane, Avi was on the other side of the country with Felix. They were helping Aidan. They were investigating a case where a seemingly random bunch of people died. Aidan found the connection and is looking for the perpetrator.
Mad Man is Avi’s book. He is the twin who likes to serve. He enjoys pain and is also the more reckless of the two. I loved his wicked sense of humor. I could always clearly picture his glee every time they employed more creative ways to punish the bad guys.
Felix is the diva brother of Jericho, Atticus’ husband. He interns in Avi’s clothing company. He’s deadly, sharp, and talented. And bossy too. Exactly how Avi likes it. The man has been trying to get in his pants since they met. Felix put up a good fight, but they both know it’s only a matter of when. Boy is not so secretly crushing on his boss.
I didn’t warm up to Felix all the way. I found him too abrasive, too full of himself. It was only later on, when more of his personality and backstory was revealed, that I felt a stab of sympathy for him. Still, he’s my least favorite character in the entire series.
My favorite part was how Felix and Zane latched on to each other. Total friendship goals! There’s no sharing, mind you. The four became a mini-family within a family, and Felix became Zane’s emotional support person. It was all very cute and cozy.
Headcase and Mad Man is one story split in half. Asa and Avi are mirror twins. It’s very apt that their stories follow that symmetry. Each found yin to their yang without losing that special connection that makes the two of them a symbiotic unit.
The twins came off the market at the same time. It’s brilliant how the author choreographed the plots to get to that point, juggled all the various and many larger-than-life personalities without anyone being left out, and teased a.k.a. tortured us with threads of Thomas and Aidan’s story without missing a beat.
All in all, not perfect but you know what they say, double the trouble, double the fun!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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