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
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This is a round up of the books I read on the 4rd quarter of this year that I’m too lazy to do a full review.
Seasons Of The Lukoi: Winter Of The Owl – Iris Foxglove
Sava has the best house in all of Lukos. He built it himself, dreaming of the day when he and Milan, the man he loved, could live there and brave the harsh winters of Lukos together—only to be devastated when Milan was found dead in the spring. Fraught with grief, Sava resigns himself to spending his winters alone.
Then a stranger appears on his doorstep, and everything changes.
Victor is a scholar from Gerakia, a land known for its long summers and vibrant history, and he has never been more unprepared in his life. Abandoned on the inhospitable island of Lukos after a disastrous relationship, Victor has to adapt quickly to survive. It helps, of course, that he’s taken in by Sava, who has the biggest heart of any man Victor has ever known. Victor and Sava start to make a home together, growing close as snow falls outside, but the true danger of a Lukos winter is closer than they suspect…
Winter Of The Owl is the first book of the fantasy series, Seasons of the Lukoi. It is also my first from author duo, Iris Foxglove. I couldn’t have picked a better book to start with because I couldn’t get enough of the Cozy Husbands!
The series is set in the Starian world. Even if I haven’t read the other books, world-building is effortless and intuitive. It was easy to picture the cold, frigid island with its survivalist community.
Lukos is an island way up north. Not much is known about it by the rest of the world. It was built by exiles who established laws that helped them survive the harsh territory.
The Lukoi has a strong sense of community and family. They have their own unique culture heavily influenced by their environment. They are welcoming to those who were abandoned. They mate for life and are fiercely protective of children. Despite the toughness of their living conditions, I found Lukos almost like a utopia the way the Lukoi thrived and flourished.
Like the related series, Seasons of the Lukoi also has its people born as either dominant or submissive. Sava, being a dominant, is responsible for providing all the best that he can give to his potential mate, Milan. He did it so well, his house was considered the best house in Lukos.
But then, Milan died and he was left all alone in his very nice abode. One day, the kuvar, their leader, drags in a scholar they found on the beach and requests Sava to house the poor man. Thus begins a sweet and achingly tender love story built on mutual care and trust.
Victor is from sunny Gerakia. He is a beautiful, pure-hearted soul, a veritable “sweet summer child”. Cast aside by an abusive lover and left for dead, he still found joy and wonder everywhere he looked. I could practically see him lighting up at the sight of the first snowfall. His enthusiasm for learning is boundless.
Sava was so kind, attentive, and patient with Victor from the very beginning. He teaches him skills to survive winter. The man is a total sweetheart. He’s a selfless gentle giant who gives the adorkable scholar a ride on his back whenever the clumsy dork had a hard time navigating rocky paths.
I loved how they comfort each other and prop each other up whenever one is beset by insecurities. They helped the other rediscover their self-worth and find closure. Victor had to process the betrayal and the mean things his ex did. Sava had to deal with guilt over Milan’s death.
One of the best moments for me was when Sava, first time to see eyeglasses, asked Victor what those are for. “To make your pretty eyes look bigger?” Then, later in the story, noticing how Victor complains about them slipping, quietly ties a ribbon to keep them in place. The megane moe is strong!!! I love it! Especially when it was revealed Victor’s ex hated his glasses.
Sava and Victor are just too adorable!!! Then they adopted Speedy, the snowcat, who stole the show. I died from fluff overload!
There are some BDSM elements present. The authors wisely deployed them at a minimum. It kept the story’s vibe cozy and wholesome in harmony with Sava and Victor’s dynamics.
I loved how the book was written. It’s detailed yet easy to read. The characters were fully fleshed out. The relationships were given time to develop properly. The plot is deceptively straightforward, almost conflict-free. Most of it is Sava and Victor getting to know each other, enveloped in domestic bliss.
Far from feeling nothing is happening, we see Lukos coming alive through Victor’s fresh eyes. His openness and curiosity were contagious. He made me want to visit the island. It has a rich culture and a chockful of intriguing characters I’d love to know more.
The book has mentions of suicide and cultural misunderstanding of mental illness so take note of the CWs if they are triggering for you. This is in connection with Milan, which leads to a not-so-surprising twist and the suspenseful climax. The book nicely wraps up with Victor’s ex getting his comeuppance. I think they let him off too easily. They should’ve just dropped him in the sea.
Winter of the Owl is a feel-good, forced proximity story filled with kindness and affection. It’s about finding joy in the mundane and looking at the world with wonder. It’s about seeing the good in other people and rediscovering self-worth. Immersive, compelling, and hella squee-tastic, it may be set in the dead of winter but it certainly warms the heart.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
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