Big Bad Wolf: The Wolf At The Door – Charlie Adhara
A former FBI agent is partnered with the enemy in this suspenseful male/male shifter romance from debut author Charlie Adhara
Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.
Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.
When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.
I’ve been reading three shifter stories in quick succession. So far, each of them brought something different to the table and kept things from being same-y. All Souls Near & Nigh has gods and magic galore and Hexhunter has witches, familiars and its own toned-down magic.
The third book, The Wolf At The Door has no magic at all, except maybe for the part where people can change into wolves. It’s an engaging first novel that blended were-wolves with police procedural. It puts a fresh spin on the shifter genre and offers another delightful couple to root for. So I’m happy my first Charlie Adhara is a win.
First, I really liked how this series avoided the usual insta-love fated mate thing and made the whole set-up as realistic as it can given the premise. It treated the wolves as ‘normal’, almost like a racial minority who had to fight for their rights and deal with bigotry.
The wolves came out to the government but still a secret to the general public. The Trust, their oversight organization, collaborated with the Bureau of Special Investigations to investigate possible wolf-related serial killings in the town of Florence. Cooper was the agent chosen to investigate and he was assigned Park as his Trust partner. Cooper survived a werewolf attack, which was the reason why he started working at the BSI and being partnered with a werewolf was bound to get his hackles up.
“Something bothering you, Agent Dayton?”
“Nope. Just want to solve this case. And go home and hug my very live cat.”
“Should have known you were a cat person.”
“Why, because I don’t like you?” Cooper muttered as Park left the trailer.
Cooper is insecure, not a small talk person and more often than not tends to be harsh. Meanwhile, Park is unflappable, caring, and kind of perfect really with a vulnerable side that makes you want to hug him, especially when Cooper was being particularly bitchy. This combination has worked pretty well for other mystery/paranormal series such as Holmes & Moriarity and Psycop and the same fantastic chemistry could be felt in this series too as viewed from Cooper’s perspective. I also liked how the progression of their romance was paced and where they are in their relationship when the book ended.
Mystery-wise, I guessed the unsub early on. However, I didn’t really mind. Even with the predictable part, the book was well-written and had a lot of surprising twists, suspenseful moments and snarky humor to keep me listening until 4 am. I enjoyed tagging along with Cooper and Park in their investigation. I was also more focus on Park who was a big mystery himself. It didn’t help that the were-wolf was close-lipped when it comes to himself and his family. There were many things hinted at, the Parks, were-wolf politics, the ominous “it’s bigger than us” declarations, a lot of hush-hush stuff. That’s also as far as the world-building goes and boy, do I need to know more!
So color me intrigued. And hooked! I’m definitely sticking around for these big bad wolves.
Recommended for those who like ’em growley but low-key.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Criminal Delights: Organized Crime: Blood & Bitcoin – L.A. Witt
Chris Emmett has a talent for screwing up and landing on his feet. As a SEAL, he managed to evade bullets and court-martials alike. As an FBI agent, he dodged danger and disciplinary action—right up until he didn’t.
With his career and freedom hanging in the balance, he’ll do whatever it takes to clean the slate… including an off-the-books deep cover solo mission.
The objective: infiltrate the Hive, a complex crime syndicate operating on the dark web, and find out who’s trying to kill Piker, the organization’s enigmatic and strangely alluring Mob boss.
The moment he’s pulled into the Hive, Chris enters a world where no one is what they seem, including the man he’s there to protect. Lines blur between moral and wrong, legal and criminal, ally and foe, and—as Piker’s seductive magnetism draws Chris in—straight and queer.
Chris is running out of time to stop a killer. He has dangerous feelings for a dangerous man, and the deeper he moves into the realms of modern day organized crime, the less he knows and the fewer people he can trust.
And that’s before he learns the truth about Piker’s assassin.
This 104,000 word book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance. For other books in the collection, please see: Criminal Delights Listopia
Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.
L.A. Witt and Michael Ferraiuolo is my favorite author/narrator combination. With them at the helm, you’re almost always guaranteed a thrilling experience.
Blood & Bitcoin was one hell of a ride but one that didn’t go full throttle the way I wanted it to. This is by far, the lightest among the dark offerings of the Criminal Delights series. The characters make many morally grey decisions and ‘the end justify the means’ actions but as emphasized by Chris, it is for the right reasons. Which is all good because, yeah these are people we can root for but sadly not what was advertised in the blurb aka it needed more blood.
Also, there were moments where I just about had enough of Chris getting caught one too many times. And Piker forgiving him yet again and again and again. Oh, just shoot him already!
I absolutely love Piker! The man is lethal and mesmerizing as fuck. His effect on both men and women is palpable. I could definitely understand why Chris was so drawn to him. Michael Ferraiuolo’s Piker voice is really spot on and the slight exotic accent added to the crime lord’s enigmatic appeal. His past remained a mystery throughout the entire book. He’s so mysterious we don’t even get his real name.
Chris I liked less. He was too reckless. He was bumbling his way through the missions. I don’t know if he is just extremely lucky but his unorthodox methods worked somewhat. It helps that he got more chances than most people would dare ask from a Mafia boss. He and Piker play a dangerously exciting game of Golden Retriever & snake. Who bites who first? And for that matter, are we even sure who is the dog and who is the snake?
Although the chemistry and USTs between Piker and Chris were always a tantalizing hair trigger away from snapping, the romance needed a little more boost. Majority of the book, it was just mostly sex for them which is meh. But the last quarter of the book made up for the missing feels and convinced me their HFN would eventually be HEA.
The part about the bitcoin was info dumpy but did not majorly hinder the story. The Hive also got me intrigued about the dark web which I only learned from some hoaky Youtube videos. I’m hoping for a sequel where we get to learn more about Piker, his hacker friends who form The Hive and see if Chris learned to be circumspect.
Notwithstanding my complaint earlier about the book not being dark, in itself, Blood & Bitcoin is a very enjoyable suspense/thriller. It does not let up on the action and the twists and turns will keep your adrenaline running on high. There were many ever changing threads to unravel and identities to uncover. I had some inkling about Piker’s father but The Big Twist completely caught me off guard. That was, DAMN!
I recommend Blood & Bitcoin for those into stories about people with the right intentions doing it the wrong way.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
Trouble Brewing: Noble Hops – Layla Reyne
Everything Dominic Price has worked hard to uphold is about to come crashing down on everything he holds dear.
So much for the quiet life. Just as assistant US attorney and brewery owner Dominic Price is settling into a comfy new chapter with his partner, FBI agent Cameron Byrne, the sudden death of Nic’s father puts their happily-ever-after in jeopardy. Nic immediately suspects foul play, his prime suspect a notorious gangster his father was indebted to—only now the loan shark is out for blood.
Cam has been longing for Nic to finally let him in on this very personal case. But when Nic’s belief that he’s the sole Price heir is upended, the line between personal and professional starts to blur, leaving Cam unsure of where he stands.
Nic is depending on Cam’s kidnap and rescue expertise to save his recently discovered family member before it’s too late. But with a dangerous threat closing in, the ghosts from Nic’s past cast long shadows. Any relationship could crack under the pressure, but for Nic, finding his family might mean losing the love of his life.
I want some of that Fighting Boston Irish Stout!
Noble Hops wraps the Trouble Brewing series with a lot of suspense, action and that much awaited HEA. This third installment is focused on Nic. We get some answers to burning questions, such as why Vaugh was so hell-bent on hassling Nic when he had already cut ties with his father and who is this GS tattooed on Nic’s back.
Cam and Nic is rock-solid and nothing could come between them, not even Nic’s first love, though Cam had his insecurities. I love how in sync they were with each other and nothing underscores their deep connection than when Nic wholeheartedly said Cam would find him. He always does.
Like any MM reader, I love a good love story but Noble Hops is my kind of MM book in which there’s a whole lot of plot going on and the romance is on the side. An important person was kidnapped and Cam was in charge of the rescue operation. The search and rescue and the case against Vaugh took up most of the book. Vaughn was one tough bastard to nail. Waiting for him and Bowers to get their comeuppance kept me turning the pages. Nic’s family secrets were exposed but on the upside, his family expanded. Also, I have been waiting for it!, Nic doing his AUSA magic in the courtroom. Go get that bastard, Counselor!
I highly recommend Trouble Brewing. It’s an addicting romantic suspense series with well-written story arcs, lovable cast of characters, exciting romance, also, great beer.
And please, do we get a wedding novella? A spin-off for Eddie and G?
I received a copy of Noble Hops from Carina Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Trouble Brewing: Imperial Stout – Layla Reyne
Layla Reyne spins off from her pulse-pounding Agents Irish and Whiskey books with Imperial Stout , the first installment in the Trouble Brewing series
It’s a good thing assistant US attorney Dominic Price co-owns a brewery. He could use a cold one. Nic’s star witness has just been kidnapped, his joint operation with the FBI is in jeopardy, his father’s shady past is catching up with him and the hot new special agent in San Francisco is the kind of distraction best handled with a stiff drink.
Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne has his own ideas about how to handle Nic, but his skills are currently needed elsewhere. The by-the-book FBI agent goes deep undercover as a member of an infamous heist crew in order to save Nic’s witness, break up the crew and close the case before anyone else gets hurt. Nic in particular.
Things heat up when Cam falls for Nic, and the witness falls for Cam. As the crew’s suspicions grow, Cam must decide how far he’s willing to go—and how far into his own dark past he’s willing to dive—to get everyone out alive.
I liked Aidan and Jamie but their series, Agents Irish and Whiskey, as a whole was wonky. I am glad to say that Imperial Stout was much better.
Nic Price, who dated Aidan briefly, piqued my interest before for being sartorially correct and him hooking up with Cam Byrne was something of a pleasant surprise when it was revealed in Blended Whiskey.
Imperial Stout takes you immediately to where the action is as several teams stake out the bad guys. Slight niggle on the part where Nic is part of the stakeout team and started shooting people himself. I agree with one GR reviewer who mentioned that lawyers usually come in after the fact and not while the Feds are in an operation. I also wanted to see Nic doing lawyerly things so a courtroom scene would have been nice.
Cam goes undercover and did what he did best, rescuing kidnapped victims, namely Nic’s star witness, Abby. For this job, Cam digs into his not so stellar past and tries not to get involved in a threesome with Abby and her girlfriend, the main antagonist, Becca who both found him attractive. All the while dancing around his attraction to Nic and the memory of their kiss.
The book could be read as a standalone but I still recommend reading Agents Irish and Whiskey since most of the characters there play significant roles in Imperial Stout. The group dynamics is still as enjoyable as ever and I am happy that Lauren had more page time. She is fast becoming my favorite female character along with Mel. And for some reason, I might be seeing sparks that weren’t there because I was shipping Lauren with Percy Hunter, the B&E guy they nabbed.
Suspension of disbelief is still necessary at some instances but the story as a whole was entertaining. One of my issues before with Aidan and Jamie, aside from the plot holes and long drawn out investigations, was that they were too emotionally compromised to do their jobs properly as working partners. With Nic and Cam, there was less of that complication since they were from different departments. Overall, their book was simply better written compared to the original series.
Meh ratings on Agents Irish and Whiskey here.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
The Art of Murder: The Magician Murders – Josh Lanyon
Nothing up his sleeves. Nothing but murder…
Jason West, hot shot special agent with the FBI’s Art Crime Team, is recuperating from a recent hit-and-run accident at the Wyoming home of BAU Chief Sam Kennedy when he’s asked to aid in the investigation of a suspicious death in a National Forest.
When the dead man is found to be the Kosher Conjuror, a much-hated part-time magician accused of revealing the highly guarded secrets of professional illusionists, it seems clear this must be a simple revenge killing—until Jason realizes an earlier suspicious death at the trendy magic club Top Hat White Rabbit might be part of the same, much larger and more sinister, pattern.
Who knew Kennedy could be a caring and patient nurse and is capable of shedding tears?! Must be the Jason West effect This is the book where Sam Kennedy melted, not completely but just enough to show he got blood and not ice running in his veins.
However, how long is that specter of Ethan going to be a third wheel in their relationship. That question regarding Ethan’s effect on your relationship has been hashed and rehashed already so let it go, Jason. It’s natural you are curious, so go ahead and ask but nobody’s going to like it.
Special Agent Abigail Dreyfus was the rookie agent partnered with West and whom he hilariously mistaken as a serial killer. I use the word hilarious here but actually I was gullible as fuck and believed it for a second. Anyway, I think Dreyfus is a great addition to Lanyon’s collection of FBI agents. It’s not everyday we get somebody still green enough to bungle up the basics but gets to fight another day. Plus she “had guts and grit”.
This is the best book of The Art of Murder series so far. Extra points for focusing on magicians and for that trivia on Val Valentine. Now I know who the Masked Magician is. I think Lanyon was dangling some teasers on how magic tricks works, I wished she went ahead and revealed some secrets.
The Magician Murders is well-written as usual but one major reason I enjoyed the book and the series as a whole is narrator, Kale Williams. I don’t know how to describe his style exactly but he could read his grocery list and I would still be listening.
Holy hell…THAT.CLIFF.HANGER. People are going to lose sleep over that.
Actually, I was vaguely entertaining an FBI agent slash psycho psychiatrist angle since The Mermaid Murders but the author already gave Jeremy Kyser unattractive features and that usually means a no-go on the romance department. Too bad. It seemed more interesting really.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
Winter Kill – Josh Lanyon
Clever and ambitious, Special Agent Adam Darling (yeah, he’s heard all the jokes before) was on the fast track to promotion and success until his mishandling of a high profile operation left one person dead and Adam “On the Beach.” Now he’s got a new partner, a new case, and a new chance to resurrect his career, hunting a legendary serial killer known as The Crow in a remote mountain resort in Oregon.
Deputy Sheriff Robert Haskell may seem laid-back, but he’s a tough and efficient cop – and he’s none too thrilled to see feebs on his turf – even when one of the agents is smart, handsome, and probably gay. But a butchered body in a Native American museum is out of his small town department’s league. For that matter, icy, uptight Adam Darling is out of Rob’s league, but that doesn’t mean Rob won’t take his best shot.
So we know Special Agent Adam Darling is quite the looker and then we have this:
Having reached the airport in plenty of time, Adam had relaxed. He looked tired, there were shadows beneath his green eyes, but he smiled at Rob. He had an attractive, quirky smile—despite noticeably sharp incisors—and Rob was sorry again that the night before had been a one-time thing.
Fangs! Oh that’s just too cute!!
Usui Takumi as Adam Darling
“And we can always talk over the case, if it’ll make you feel better.” Rob was teasing him. Flirting with him? Adam smiled uncertainly. “True.”
“And then we can be back at work bright and early tomorrow morning.”
“Yes. That would be…”
Heaven? Sort of.
“See how easy that was?” Rob said. “Easiest decision you’ll make tonight.”
It was hard to tell in the grainy light, but Adam thought Rob winked.
Yuu Otosaka as Deputy Rob Haskell
Adam and Rob. I was neutral about these two until that fang incident mentioned above. That’s when I squee-ed (internally)! From that point forward, I was low-key cheering them on. Low-key because I need to keep a straight face. I’m reading this while there are other people around.
This is really good! I especially enjoyed Winter Kill because the mysteries (as there are several) kept me guessing, and for once, there were no loose threads left hanging. The story wrapped up and resolved things satisfactorily and though the ending was still in that characteristic abrupt style, it promised a HFN, which is realistic for the kind of relationship Adam and Rob have.
After I realized this is the Adam Darling mentioned in The Art of Murder series and that Lanyon’s FBI agents live in the same world, it became a little game of anticipating who’s going to pop up in whose book. BAU chief Sam Kennedy made an appearance here and he was as menacing as ever. Special Agent JJ Russell was also present in the AoM series. I think, Tucker, Adam’s ex has a book of his own.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
The Art of Murder: The Monet Murders by Josh Lanyon
All those late night conversations when Sam had maybe a drink too many or Jason was half falling asleep. All those playful, provocative comments about what they’d do when they finally met up again.
Well, here they were.
The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI Special Agent with the Art Crimes Team, wants–or needs–is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.
And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.
But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.
Wow, this… is complicated…
How awkward and cringe-worthy would it be to see your friend slash almost boyfriend after eight months of flirty, confessional phone calls only to pretend like there’s nothing going on between you? But while I am very tempted to smack stupid Kennedy on the head, I very much approve of their professionalism and competence on the job in spite of so many personal things left unsaid. Despite working together, West and Kennedy might have been oceans apart. I would have happily sailed along with the West + Shipka ship had Shipka not had too many death flags all over him to be a viable love interest for our main guy. I felt sorry for West pining for Kennedy, although at some points it got rather tiresome. It was satisfying to see lone wolf Kennedy struggle to let West into his life, satisfying because he could be cold, aloof and off putting majority of the time. I think Kennedy is an acquired taste, something that I am still trying to get used to.
This time around, West and Kennedy are working on separate cases. West was investigating a high and mighty art dealer allegedly involved in forgery and larceny while Kennedy was investigating murders where the killer is leaving bad imitation Monet paintings on the crime scene. They found that these two cases might be related so their paths crossed again. As with the first book, The Mermaid Murders, the mystery here was well-written but the suspense was not as tight as that of the first book. As I have the audiobook, I enjoyed listening to West going about his investigation and I felt like I was there, tagging along with him, looking over his shoulder as he conducts his daily business. I like the sense of realism, like the parts where Jason occasionally compares Hollywood FBI to ‘real-life’ FBI, or where cases don’t get wrapped up neatly and loose ends are sometimes left hanging. And from what I have read of Lanyon so far, the author likes to leave some things hanging. Also something that takes getting used to.
I’m bumping this series up from 3.5 stars to 4 stars. It is an achievement to keep the reader riveted to the story despite this not having the requisite lovey-dovey romance typical of MM. As I mentioned in my review of the first book, the romance might even be superfluous as the mystery is well-developed and well-executed enough to carry the story on its own. Although, I must admit, that ending was pretty sweet! Happy Birthday indeed!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Agents Irish and Whiskey: Cask Strength – Layla Reyne
Professionally, the FBI team of Aidan “Irish” Talley and Jameson “Whiskey” Walker is as good as it gets, closing cases faster than any team at the Bureau. Personally, it’s a different story. Aidan’s feelings for Jamie scare the hell out of him: he won’t risk losing another love no matter how heart-tripping the intimacy between them. And loss is a grim reality with the terrorist Renaud still on their trail, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake.
Going undercover on a new case gets them out of town and off the killer’s radar. They’re assigned to investigate an identity theft ring involving a college basketball team in Jamie’s home state, where Jamie’s past makes him perfect for the role of coach. But returning to the court brings more than old memories.
As secrets and shocking betrayals abound, none may be more dangerous than the one Jamie’s been keeping: a secret about the death of Aidan’s husband that could blow his partner’s world apart and destroy forever the fragile bonds of trust and love building between them.
This was marginally better than the first. For one, this airport scene is the best:
Mouth dry, heart racing, cheeks burning, Jamie’s fingers twitched with the urge to weave through the long red strands. Reaching down instead, he grabbed his phone, held it between his palms, and wedged his clasped hands between his knees, forestalling his impulse. He tried to force out a “hello,” but his brain refused to cooperate, all the blood in his body having raced south where his jeans became painfully tight.
He was gone. So far gone. Past casual, past a crush, past simple attraction.
I am now also mildly interested in the mystery of Aidan’s late husband’s connection with the terrorist and what Mel’s doing. I think this Renaud mystery could have been solved in book one already but book two had to end with a cliffhanger so we have to read the third book just to see things through. What a hassle! The basketball story was nothing spectacular and there were elements of predictability. It was pretty easy to guess the mastermind behind the identity theft ring once the character was introduced.
As I listened to the audio book, I love Aidan laying his Irish accent on thick as part of his disguise as sports agent. Jamie as Whiskey Walker, assistant coach was a good hiding-in-plain-sight twist with the added complication of his ex showing up on campus. I am still not a fan of the partners-to-lovers trope as shown here because there were too many emotional entanglements and unnecessary drama. It made the two agents who were otherwise competent, seem unprofessional and too emotionally compromised to do their jobs properly. Thank god for Cam, the voice of reason and sense, who didn’t even bat an eyelash at the scandalous photos nor made any snide comments at how the two agents are carrying on.
So, I’m still not getting why it has such high ratings in GR. Granted, there has been some improvements but I wouldn’t really go out of my way to recommend this series.
2.5 Stars – far from hate but not quite a like
Agents Irish and Whiskey: Single Malt – Layla Reyne
The heart’s a resilient beast
Eight months after the car crash that changed everything, FBI agent Aidan Talley is back at work. New department, new case and a new partner. Smart, athletic and handsome, Jameson Walker is twelve years his junior. Even if Aidan was ready to move on—and he’s not—Jamie is off-limits.
Jamie’s lusted after Aidan for three years, and the chance to work with San Francisco’s top agent directly is too good to pass up. Aidan is prickly—to put it mildly—but a growing cyber threat soon proves Jamie’s skills invaluable.
Jamie’s talents paint a target on his back, and Aidan is determined to protect him. But with hack after hack threatening a high-security biocontainment facility, time is running out to thwart a deadly terrorist attack. They’ll have to filter out distractions, on the case and in their partnership, to identify the real enemy, solve the case and save thousands of lives, including their own.
God, I was bored. I found myself tuning out majority of the time because it was so dull. If this was an ebook, I wouldn’t be able to finish this. But I had the audiobook and I enjoyed Aidan’s Irish brogue and Jamie’s southern drawl enough to go through the whole thing but it mostly felt like a chore. Both agents were likeable but I couldn’t care less about the the mystery, the romance and the characters. A lot of people seem to love this. I’m beginning to think contemporary books and me just don’t click. I should stick with the historical, paranormal or magical.
2 Stars – it’s a struggle to finish the damn book