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    REVIEW: Moonstruck by Onley James

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    Necessary Evils: Moonstruck – Onley James

    Atticus Mulvaney is the eldest son of eccentric billionaire, Thomas Mulvaney—a role he takes very seriously. Atticus takes everything seriously. Like his brothers, Atticus is a psychopath, raised to right the wrongs of a broken justice system. Unlike his brothers, he’s not very good at it.

    Jericho Navarro is no psychopath, but he is a vicious killer. Like Atticus, he also has a secret life. To most, he’s just a mechanic. But to a ragtag group of social misfits, he’s Peter Pan, teaching them to eliminate those who prey on the weak with extreme prejudice.

    When Atticus and Jericho come face to face over a shared enemy, their accidental meeting ends in an explosively hot hookup neither can forget. But they have nothing in common. Atticus is a buttoned-up closeted scientist and Jericho is a man on a mission, determined to find and punish those responsible for the death of his sister. Still, Jericho can’t stay away. And, truthfully, Atticus doesn’t want him to.

    As Jericho’s mission begins to bleed into Atticus’s life, two separate but equally brutal families will need to learn how to fight together to take out a common enemy. But no amount of brute force can show Jericho how to scale the walls of a psychopath’s heart. Can Jericho convince Atticus that, sometimes, the couple who kills together stays together?

    Moonstruck is a high heat, intense psychopath romance with an HEA and no cliffhangers. It features a fumbling, sexually confused maniac and the dominating, unapologetic gang leader who can’t stop tormenting him. As always, there’s gratuitous violence, very dark humor, more killers than you can count, and enough explosive chemistry to level a city block. This is book three in the Necessary Evils series. Each book follows a different couple.


    More Mulvaney madness today. Couldn’t get enough of this crazy family!

    Moonstruck is the 3rd book of Necessary Evils, a series about a family of serial killers meting punishment to fellow monsters. The family was founded by Thomas, a billionaire and a genius psychiatrist, who adopted seven boys, Atticus, August, twins Asa and Avi, Archer, Aidan, and Adam. They were carefully selected and trained to be highly accomplished individuals in various fields by day and deadly vigilante killers by night.

    Now August might be my favorite Mulvaney, but I have a soft spot a mile wide for my grumpy Atticus. He was the first to be adopted and, therefore, felt pressured to make Daddy Mulvaney proud.

    Atticus tries so hard to be perfect but always felt like he’s coming up short. Like his brothers, the man is an over-achiever. He is both M.D. and Ph.D. The thing with Atticus, trained killer that he is, the man actually hates killing (because it’s unsanitary). And by his brothers’ accounts, isn’t very good at it.

    On one of his assignments, he stumbles upon another killer, Jericho Navarro, in what was perhaps the most perfect meet-cute for a pair of murderers ever! Bossy mechanic Jericho promptly latched on to the grumpy ginger, recognizing the man’s submissive nature from the get-go. Gives him the most adorable nickname you can give a psychopath, “Freckles“.

    “I’m not letting you go, Freckles. I’m just not. You can call it a business arrangement, an affair, a kidnapping, some kind of midlife crisis. But whatever you call it, you’re mine. And I protect what’s mine.”

    I’m not a fan of dirty talk and, man, Jericho has a mouth on him! Other than that, it was a lot of fun watching Atticus’ prickly submissive nature meshed with Jericho’s affectionate dominance. It’s not just Atticus’ submissiveness. Jericho was also quick to recognize and appreciate everything good about his man.

    “Do you think I want anybody else? Nobody compares to you, Freckles. You are this weirdly perfect combination of impenetrable and vulnerable and I can’t fucking get enough of it.”

    The family’s reactions to their relationship were one of the best parts. Atticus’ brothers could be such asshats sometimes, so watching Jericho defend his Freckles gave me great satisfaction. He even called Thomas out for his treatment of his eldest son. Jericho goes declaring he wants to be Atticus everything, including be his proxy killer. And sure enough, he holds true to it. As Thomas puts it, Atticus found himself a good one!

    I was so happy for my favorite grumpy ginger getting his HEA. Atticus’ special ability is mimicry. He’s used to mirroring other people, but he rarely gets to be himself. I loved how he took the courage to embrace his truth and proved he could be just as good as his brothers.

    The scenes where Atticus eats granola bars while complaining about his paper not being front page in JAMA, and Jericho, fresh from a kill Atticus gifted him with, soothing his prickly man, is most definitely a very Mulvaney brand of endearing. It pretty much screams TRUE LOVE Murder Husbands-style. This is a trope I couldn’t get enough of, and watching these two serial killers falling in love is like the best thing ever!

    Atticus slipped his thigh between Jericho’s, snuggling closer to tuck his head against his chest. “I know. I don’t like killing, but I’d kill for you, too.” Jericho’s stomach fluttered. “I know, Freckles. I know.”

    Also, Atticus and Jericho cuddled and watched Labyrinth!!! ☆*:.。. o(≧▽≦)o .。.:*☆

    The story is part romance and part mystery. The mystery involved Jericho’s missing sister. I wasn’t as invested in this as I was with the other books. It wasn’t as strongly delivered compared to the first two books.

    Also, the series started dark but is leaning more towards steamy and humorous in this 3rd installment. I would have preferred a bit more darkness to offset that, the way the 2nd book, Psycho, perfectly balanced fluff, steam, and dark. 

    The case was, however, a great way to bring everyone together. All hands were on deck to solve it, including Jericho’s crew of young killers. These guys are awesome! They need their own spinoff. Jericho’s brother, Felix, will have a thing with Avi. So excited for the twins! Just a teensy bit disappointed they won’t be sharing. The plot also spent time building up Aiden and Thomas’ story. Hoo boy, I am beyond excited to see how this works!

    Moonstruck continues the wonderful and worthwhile tradition of giving the Mulvaney brothers their HEA. Atticus and Jericho’s relationship might have started with murder, but it certainly breathed new life to a mimic who learned how to be himself and found his perfect match in a man who was his opposite.

    The story is equal parts a very swoony insta-love romance, a riveting found family saga, and a crime procedural handled by vigilantes who love to get their hands dirty. I might not be completely over the moon about everything, but I definitely love this book to bits!

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

    Soundtrack: Every Other Freckle
    Artist: Alt-J
    Album: This Is All Yours

    P.S.

    The Mulvaney tradition starts with the youngest, Adam the supermodel serial killer, and his feisty person, Noah, in Unhinged. It continues with the psycho and the psychic, August and Lucas, in Psycho.


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    REVIEW: Christmas Wish List by N.R. Walker

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    Hartbridge Christmas: Christmas Wish List – N.R. Walker

    In need of work and a change of scenery, Aussie ex-pat Jayden Turner agrees to a short-term chef position at a Bed and Breakfast over the Christmas holidays. After all, how hard could it be in a small town in the mountains of Montana? What he finds is a grand old house in a beautiful town, and his new boss is gorgeous, gay, and single.

    After his divorce, Carter “Cass” Campion bought his great-aunt’s rundown country manor in his home town, and he’s determined to get it ready for the busy holiday period. Recently out as gay, he’s been focused solely on his business and hasn’t had time for a man. Not that many gay men come through Hartbridge . . .

    As his new clients arrive, and being away from his two kids, celebrating Christmas is the last thing on Cass’s mind. But his new chef has other ideas. And if there’s one thing on his Christmas Wish List this year, Jayden can make it come true.


    I’m not really into Christmas romances. I find them too cheesy and, well… Christmasy, for my taste. But then this book grabbed me right away, from the first time I featured its release on this blog. I mean, look at that cover!

    Christmas Wish List is a holiday, insta-love romance between a charming and talented chef who had enough of the drifter life and a divorced and newly-out small-town guy with a newly-opened bed and breakfast. It is the 2nd book of the Hartbridge Christmas series. It can be read as a standalone.

    The story starts with Jayden Turner, an Aussie ex-pat whose been all over the States for 15 years. He just arrived in Hartbridge for his Christmas temp job. After nearly getting lost, he meets his boss, Carter Campion, the man who single-handedly renovated an old grand manor into the magnificent Arabella Bed and Breakfast.

    With guests arriving in just a couple of days, Jayden soon realized there were still a lot of to-dos in an ever-growing number of to-do lists his distractable boss scattered throughout the property. It didn’t help Jayden was a distraction himself, with his megawatt smiles, engaging humor, and indecent proposals. Or did it?

    Jayden’s incessant flirting with his boss nearly irritated me, but he did it with so much good cheer, you couldn’t help but be charmed. He’s sweet, thoughtful, and very dedicated to feeding people. He’s a guy who knows what he wants and doesn’t hesitate to tell you. Yep, he’s a bossy one!

    I loved that this is not a grumpy+sunshine story. Cass is a total sweetheart. He’s a gentle, unassuming guy who starts doing a million things then forgets after being distracted by yet another task that needs to be done. He’s so unassuming that Jayden (and I) was surprised the man was a top-level executive.

    Having been in the closet most of his life, Cass’ life as a newly out gay man didn’t change much from before. He feels so guilty about ruining his marriage and his kids’ lives that he doesn’t let himself be happy. Cass is lonely and touched-starved. It so happens there’s a very attractive gay man who is very eager to show him the gay experience…

    With so much regret, he explicitly stated that he has a business to run and that if things went sideways with Jayden, he’d be left without a chef for Christmas. I totally applaud Cass here. The man was clearly being practical and responsible, especially after all the time, money, and effort he put into the BnB.

    This is why I wasn’t that pleased with Cass’s friend, Rem, encouraging him to hook up with his new and only employee. I was also annoyed at the repetitive parts where Jayden does one thing, apologizes about it, then keeps doing it anyway.

    Gripes aside, the romance was magical! It was a joyous celebration of freedom, first times, and the simple, heartwarming comfort of holding hands. The last one was my favorite.

    Cass and Jayden are all about communication. I loved that they do it with such easy openness. They clicked right away. They were a solid team from day one even with a deadline hanging over their head.

    It was so endearing to see Cass’ character grow with Jayden’s guidance, slowly gaining confidence to truly embrace his truth. The way he lit up with each new experience was quite adorable. Jayden is pure sunshine for being the kind of person who brings joy in everyday moments.

    The story could have easily gone in a steamier, angstier direction, but I loved where N.R. Walker took this. The mood hit the sweet spot for a holiday read. It’s light, humorous, cozy, and soo sweet and fluffy without being too precious.

    This feel-good romance touches upon family, setting roots and grabbing happiness whenever you can. The setting is simply fabulous! Hartbridge is an idyllic, picture-perfect town full of friendly, hardworking people.

    The two major secondary characters are Rem and Hamish. They are the couple from Book 1., Tic-Tac-Mistletoe. I haven’t read it yet. Now, I want to because these two are equally lovable! Cass’ ex-wife, Kendra, and their kids, Wyatt and Charlotte, were awesome too.

    Overall, Christmas Wish List is a heartwarming, feel-good Hallmark romance filled with wonderful people, sumptuous food, cozy settings, and sweet, uplifting moments. There’s even a wedding! It’s everything you can ever wish for in a Christmas story and more!

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

    Soundtrack: Stay With Me
    Artist: Better Love
    Album: All I Ever Wanted Is To Be Where You Are


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    CHRISTMAS WISH LIST

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    REVIEW: Death Tells A Tale by Felice Stevens writing as A.P. Eisen

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    The Paul Monroe Mystery: Death Tells A Tale – Felice Stevens writing as A.P. Eisen

    Cliff Baxter is approached with a dream job, but it means time away from the man he loves and the family he’s only just reconciled with. When opportunity knocks twice and another unexpected offer comes his way, he and Paul make a decision neither dreamed possible, changing their lives forever.

    Paul Monroe has everything he’s ever wanted—the man he loves, the respect of his coworkers…everything except the answer to his first murder investigation, the only case he’s never been able to solve.

    Who killed Ginny Sweeten?

    Follow along with Paul and his partner, Rob, as they wade through years-old evidence and piece together Thornwood Park’s most notorious cold case, leading to its startling and unexpected conclusion.


    After dropping that cliffhanger in Book 3, Death Comes To Main Street, A.P. Eisen, also known as Felice Steven, delivers the much-awaited 4th installment, Death Tells A Tale. This is, sadly, also the finale of the gritty but cozy police procedural, The Paul Monroe Mysteries.

    It’s common for mystery series to have the detective face their greatest nemesis at the latter point. Paul and his detective partner, Rob, went back to their very first case upon learning the bastard they had put behind bars was out.

    Both were still green when they worked on Ginny Sweeten’s murder case. With sloppy forensic work done by lazy forensic officials, they barely got a conviction if not for a strand of hair. Now, they needed something more conclusive or else be dinged by technicalities.

    Their investigation opened wounds that never truly healed. Paul and Rob met with the grief-stricken father, the uncaring mother, various schoolmates, and some nasty people. The villain was a piece of work who had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The bastard managed to form a cult fresh out of prison. He’s a lazy asshole who uses his good looks and considerable charm to con women into doing his bidding.

    The plot is similar to the 3rd book in that the criminal is already known. It’s a matter of proving it. I liked how the plot was executed. It struck a good balance between giving detailed accounts of the investigation and Paul and Cliff’s personal life.

    The mystery was pretty complex and challenging. It went through each step of the investigation while keeping me in the dark until the aha moment. You can feel the stress and frustration as the detectives combed through the old evidence, retracing their steps and trying to find anything they might have missed. I was thoroughly invested in the results because I hated the bad guy.

    However, I echo some issues pointed out by other reviewers. I did find this installment the least intense. The pacing felt a tad slower. There were moments when I was just there for the ride. The resolution of the case also felt unsatisfying. I have commended the series for avoiding grand heroics, yet I couldn’t help wanting a more impactful resolution this time. Especially with the kind of villain it has. Even the conflict regarding Cliff’s job came across as dry. While it mirrors very real career woes, it just doesn’t make for a riveting read.

    Apart from the good mystery, another of the thing that kept me going was my love for the characters. Paul and Cliff had come a long way, and they’re firmly heading for that HEA. They’re proof that you don’t need big fights or miscommunications to make the romance exciting. I loved how happy and healthy their relationship was. And that it also feels real and relatable. This is what makes this noirish series cozy.

    Paul in particular, had grown so much. From a deeply closeted cop to somebody who is infinitely more comfortable in his own skin. And an awesome boyfriend to boot!

    Cliff has always been amazing from the start. He’s a well-respected, uber-competent hotel manager. He handled Paul’s coming to terms with his sexuality in the most-level headed, most understanding and most patient way possible. They’re one of my favorite out-for-you stories.

    Death Tells A Tale wraps up a very enjoyable mystery series. It brings the detectives full circle while inspiring the boyfriends to take the leap forward. There might be some mixed feels and pacing issues, but overall, it’s still quite a tale to tell.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Love Is Stronger Than Death
    Artist: Christian Hovda (orig. The The)
    Album

    P.S.

    Follow Paul as he finds himself with Cliff, stumbles upon dead bodies, catch bad guys and work towards an HEA with his guy in The Paul Monroe Mysteries. The books should be read in order. Check out my review of the first three books below:

    Couldn’t Cheat Death by A.P. Eisen
    Diagnosis: Death by A.P. Eisen
    Death Comes To Main Street by A.P. Eisen


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    REVIEW: Psycho by Onley James

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    Necessary Evils: Psycho – Onley James

    August Mulvaney has always been exceptional. As the genius son of an eccentric billionaire, his off-putting behavior is often blamed on his high IQ. They say there’s a thin line between genius and madness. August is both—a brilliant professor loved by his students and a ruthless, obsessive killer tasked with righting the wrongs of a failing justice system. And he’s just found his latest obsession: Lucas Blackwell.

    Lucas Blackwell was once the golden child of the FBI, using his secret talent as a clairvoyant to help put away society’s worst. Until, with a touch, he discovers his co-worker is a killer and his life falls apart. Now, the world thinks he’s crazy and that co-worker wants him dead. He seeks refuge at a small college, hoping to rebuild his life and his reputation. But then he runs into August Mulvaney. Literally.

    August is immediately intrigued with Lucas and his backstory. He doesn’t believe in psychics, but there’s no missing the terror in his eyes when they collide in the hallway. Now, August has a problem. Lucas knows his secret, and August knows he wants Lucas. And August always gets what he wants.

    Can he convince Lucas that not all killers are created equal and that having a psychopath in his corner—and in his life—might be just what he needs?

    Psycho is a fast-paced, thrill ride of a romance with an HEA and no cliffhangers. It features a psychopath hell-bent on romance and a disgraced FBI agent attempting to redeem himself. As always, there’s gratuitous violence, very dark humor, and scenes so hot it will melt your kindle. This is book 2 in the Necessary Evils series. Each book follows a different couple.


    August is freakin’ AWESOME!!!

    We first meet August Mulvaney in Unhinged, Book 1 of Unnecessary Evils. The series is about a family of psychopaths raised by eccentric billionaire and psychiatric genius, Thomas Mulvaney. Atticus, August, Aiden, Archer, Asa, Avi, and Adam, were handpicked for their special psychological profiles, adopted, and trained to be secret vigilante killers. Each is equally talented in other fields, with carefully cultivated public personas that helped them pass as normal.

    August is the second oldest son. He loves music and enjoys the gruesome wetwork that even some of his brothers find distasteful. He doesn’t like the screaming though, hence the music. Publicly, he is a tenured theoretical physics professor, much loved by his students and well-respected by peers. It says a lot about him that he is dubbed as the weirdest psycho in the family of psychopaths. And decisive man that he is, it took only 7 seconds for him to decide that Lucas Blackwell, adjunct professor, disgraced FBI agent, and psychic, was the one.

    I loved this book so much! The cast is fantastic! I loved all the Mulvaneys. Every one of them is outstanding and gorgeous so it’s pretty hard to pick a favorite. But August could just be it. His characterization was brilliant. He is a very fascinating, complex person who always has an interesting side waiting to be discovered.

    He might be a genius with the IQ of Einstein and Hawking, but he was utterly clueless about relationships. So it was beyond endearing how he was so determined to make his relationship with Lucas work, he asked his family for help and even read five books on relationships.

    “What you are is mine. It’s my job to make you happy. I lack the capacity to do so on my own. I can’t love. I can’t feel guilt or empathy or remorse, any of the things that might help me understand what you need. All I have is research and context clues, which I’m not very good at interpreting. But I can give you what you need. I’ll do whatever it takes. But I can’t do it without help. Testing my theories is all I know.”

    Damn, these Mulvaney boys really know how to sweep somebody off their feet!

    Lucas is equally fantastic as well. He has a soft vulnerability that made August want to protect him. He spent some time in a mental health facility after he was ridiculed for identifying a co-worker as a serial killer through his psychic powers. The same killer making young girls disappear and taunting him about it.

    He immediately knew August was also one, after accidentally crashing into the professor. He was scared at first, but soon, he recognized August wasn’t the enemy. I loved how he accepted August’s quirks and how he fits. As August declared with absolute certainty within hours of meeting the man, “he’s perfect for me“. I wholeheartedly agree because he always brings out in best in August.

    Lucas crossed the room and pulled something from his pocket. August’s air pods. “I saw them in the center console and figured you could use them. I know the screaming bothers you.”

    August wrapped his arms around Lucas, dragging him in for a deep kiss, swallowing his cry of surprise. Kohn grunted in disgust.

    “It’s just headphones,” Lucas said.

    August shook his head. “It’s not just headphones. I don’t know what love feels like, but I imagine it’s like feeling I’m having right now.”

    Lucas’s face went soft, his smile radiant. “That’s the sweetest thing anybody’s ever said to me after cutting off another man’s nipple.”

    My favorite Lucas moment was at the epilogue, where he surprised August at lunch. Then he went on to relay the wild gossip about them circulating on campus. I LOLed at the part where he teased August about running away with his millions with the pool boy. They don’t even have a pool. It didn’t stop August from being adorably possessive and growly.

    Usually, when I get to the smexy parts, I stop reading or skim because I find them boring. August and Lucas are so amazing together and I loved them so much, I even enjoyed their love scenes. They are one of my all-time favorite couples!

    Like its predecessor, Psycho tackles very dark subjects. The mystery was super intriguing. It was a case of trying to pin down the killer who was also the federal agent assigned to solve the crimes he committed. When it was revealed what they were doing to the victims, it wasn’t anything too graphic but it did churn my stomach a bit. There are also scenes with torture, where pain was inflicted with glee. I highly recommend proceeding with caution.

    At its core, Psycho is a story of a man who found his person, fell in love for the first time, and wanted to do everything to make them happy. Only that man happened to be a cold-blooded serial killer and his person happened to have another serial killer hunting him. Looking past the blood and gore, it’s actually a very schmoopy, swoony book with some of the most quotable squee-tastic lines ever! All coming from an individual who cannot love.

    “Is it true you remember every word ever said to you?” 

    “Did Noah tell you that?” August asked,

    “He said you always wear headphones to drown out the noise. I’ve never seen you wear them.” 

    August brushed his hair aside, removing the tiny earbuds from his ears. “They’re not on. I don’t wear them around you.”

    “Why not?” 

    August frowned in confusion. “Because I want to remember every word you say to me.”

    You don’t need to be psychic to know, this one’s a keeper!

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: I Always Knew
    Artist: The Vaccines
    Album: Come Of Age

    P.S.

    I always say, you meet one Mulvaney, you love ’em all. Start with the youngest, Adam the supermodel serial killer, and his feisty person, Noah, in Unhinged,.


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