The Reanimator Mysteries: The Reanimator’s Heart – Kara Jorgensen
A reluctant necromancer, a man killed before his time, and the crime that brings them together.
Felipe Galvan’s life as an investigator for the Paranormal Society has been spent running into danger. Returning home from his latest case, Felipe struggles with the sudden quiet of his life until a mysterious death puts him in the path of the enigmatic Oliver Barlow.
Oliver has two secrets. One, he has been in love with the charming Felipe Galvan for years. Two, he is a necromancer, but to keep the sensible life he’s built as a medical examiner, he must hide his powers. That is until Oliver finds Felipe murdered and accidentally brings him back from the dead.
But Felipe refuses to die again until he and Oliver catch his killer. Together, Felipe and Oliver embark on an investigation to uncover a plot centuries in the making. As they close in on his killer, one thing is certain: if they don’t stop them, Felipe won’t be the last to die.
This year, I developed a soft spot for underdog necromancers, with books such as Malum Discordiae and The Necromancer’s Light showing that the much-maligned death magic, like any ability, can be used for good, too. As Cassius from Malum Discordiae said, among magic users, necromancers are the most respectful of the dead.
The Reanimator’s Heart introduces us to another cinnamon roll necromancer, Oliver Barlow, a neurodiverse medical examiner for the Paranormal Society. A lover of solitude and quiet, Oliver is also lonely, socially awkward, and acutely aware of people’s unflattering opinions of him. His only friend is Gwen Jones, a telekinetic who works in the library.
Oliver has been secretly crushing on veteran investigator Felipe Galvan for ten years. They don’t have much interaction at first but are soon prompted to work together on the case of the mysterious death of a nun.
Later, after many encouragements from Gwen, Oliver gathered courage to ask Felipe to dinner only to find him dead in his room the same way the nun died. In his shock, he accidentally reanimated Felipe. Now, they were tethered to each other and must remain close at all times.
The book opens The Reanimator Mysteries. The series is set in an alt-New York where some people have magical abilities. Many of them work for the Paranormal Society, an organization that handles cases relating to anything supernatural. This is a world where anything from vampires, shifters, demons to magic users exist.
There are some very light steampunk touches, such as steamers, which are their cars, and the presence of pneumatic tubes as means of communication. The Paranormal society is housed in a huge building with dormitories, archives, offices, and a fantastic magical library I would LOVE to explore!
Homosexuality is still considered taboo, but members of the Paranormal Society pretty much do as they please. Women also hold positions of power within the its ranks. Other than these liberties, it’s stays true to a vague 18th?19th?-century setting.
The story is written in dual POV in an omniscient third person style, where Oliver’s perspective is presented, and then immediately shifts to Felipe’s in the same paragraph or section. I liked this style a lot because I don’t have to wait for the next chapter to know the other character’s thoughts. The pacing might be a tad too slow for my liking, but there are no info-dumps, the need-to-knows flow seamlessly with the narrative.
I am also glad we get experienced magic users from the get-go. Although I’m mildly disappointed there are no bombastic displays of magic here, the kind that makes your jaw drop. Magic is used sparingly and are mostly muted affairs deployed when murder is being committed or the dead is being raised.
Oliver is especially careful not to show how strong his powers really are, knowing full well the stigma. He has a very nuanced code of morality when it comes to using his necromancy following rules he set up for himself. At the same time, Oliver doesn’t actually know much about his magic because of lack of books on the the topic and because he doesn’t use it enough to test its limits.
Felipe is a healer, a skill useful only to him because he can only do it to his body. Much, much later, he was able to channel his healing abilities to help Oliver. It’s only the first book, so I’m expecting more spectacular magical developments in the later installments.
And I’ve got to say, Oliver and Felipe are two of the most endearing people you could know! I just loved them individually and together! I’m happy Oliver finally found the person who understood him and let him be himself. And Felipe finally have someone worth staying home for and introducing to his unconventional family.
Majority of the plot focused on Oliver and Felipe’s magical connection and their blossoming romance while they investigate the murder. The mystery was very intriguing, especially as the opening scene shows the murder happening. It was a phenomenal opening, and it set my expectations high. The book delivered most of its promises and made me excited for the next one.
My favorite part was how Oliver, ostracized for being different and strange, grew in confidence and strength with the help of a loyal friend, the love of a good man, and most of all, the indomitable spirit of a lone wolf. As a solitary creature myself, I find our boy pretty inspiring and relatable.
One thing, though, the conclusion wasn’t clear on what the bad guys’ goals were. Was it to raise an undead army? Open a portal to another world? Or control people through magic?
While I’m glad there are no villain monologues, I was hoping Oliver and Felipe would have a dialogue about what exactly were the bad guys’ endgame. Also, I’m not sure whether this thread is connected to the sequels or if it was all wrapped up.
The Reanimator’s Heart is a sweet story of love and friendship, an uplifting portrayal of understanding and acceptance, and a gripping tale of magic and death. Don’t mind my juvenile wish for magical flash and bang, overall, this book is suspenseful, fascinating and deeply heartfelt!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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Pretty Policeman: The Case of the Suspicious Stripper – Fifer Rose
Going undercover at a strip club owned by your mafioso boyfriend without running it past him first? Not the best idea. (Then again, a few spankings never hurt anyone… much.)
Micah Hart had learned a few things the first few months of officially dating Damon Romano, a vicious mafioso/ridiculously rich billionaire, infamous throughout New York City for his cut-throat “business”
1. Damon was soft for nothing and no one… except Micah (and maybe his sisters).
2. His domineering tendencies definitely extended to the bedroom.
3. Damon didn’t trust him – not completely.
That last one shouldn’t have hurt as much as it did. After all, there were bound to be certain obstacles to overcome in a relationship when one person was a mafia don and the other was a police-detective-turned-PI.
Damon keeps Micah far away from anything related to his “work”, and Micah allows it… at least until a stripper named Ginger waltzes into his struggling detective agency, claiming that her boyfriend – also a stripper – is trying to kill her. Ginger just so happens to work at Lust, the most infamous of a chain of clubs Damon has specifically warned Micah away from.
Taking the job would require him to go undercover at Lust, and he should say no.
But Damon is out of town for the weekend.
And Micah’s been salivating for an actually worthwhile case for weeks now.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Pretty Policeman is a fantastic brain candy written in the vein of Pretty Woman but with an undercover cop posing as a rent boy and a ruthless mafia don hellbent on being his sugar daddy. Against all odds and common sense, the two made it work.
Fast forward to the present day, former detective Micah Hart is now working as a private investigator with his partner, also former detective, Tessa Gallagher. One particularly interesting case came their way, and the two were eager to jump on it.
Pretty Policeman: The Case of the Suspicious Stripper has Micah and Tessa investigating claims by Ginger, a stripper, that her boyfriend and fellow stripper, Tommy, is trying to kill her. To do this, the detectives have to work undercover as employees of the club owned by Damon Romano and managed by his sister Joelle. And Micah has to do it secretly because everyone knows Damon’s possessive caveman tendencies.
As with the first book, its best to suspend disbelief, grain of salt, etc. Also, read Pretty Policeman before diving into this to get the lay of land, so to speak, because this installment assumes you had done just that. The plot moves fast and doesn’t waste time explaining who’s who. Previous events were vaguely referenced, as well.
The new case is interesting but can hardly hold water. It runs on the miscommunication gag where a character says one thing, and Micah thinks another. The people involved could have sorted it out themselves had Joelle not been scheming about Micah and her brother.
Micah is still our lovable TSTL hero with spectacularly bad self-preservation instincts, has a look of wide-eyed innocence only seen in lambs, and a heart of gold as bright as his smile. The doofus still makes me laugh with his internal dialogues, this time written with less mini-explanations in parentheses. I kinda miss those because they show how Micah’s mind works.
The story is in Micah’s POV. One of the things that makes it entertaining is that there is a constant sense of impending disaster, or anticipation of the other shoe dropping, whenever Micah makes god awful decisions or is talked into doing dumbass things. We as the reader see the approaching trainwreck a mile away while Micah doesn’t or does but forges on anyway.
Our boy is all good intentions and saving the people, and we root hard for him, but also, yikes! As cute as he is, I would l love to see Micah’s character develop. When he was still a detective, he convinced me he was good at what he does. Here, his investigations skills were a joke.
Damon, on the other hand, effortlessly kept the growly, possessive, soft-for-no-one-but-you moments as delicious and swoony as possible. The romance focused more on Damon being a Daddy rather than a Sugar Daddy, though he still loves pampering his precious tesoro. Fuck knows why the man latched on to Micah the way he did, but the mafia don had some of the most intensely romantic lines in the book!
“You’re my heart, tesoro, and it’s terrifying having to watch it walk outside my body.”
My favorite part is Geoffrey’s POV. He is Damon’s loyal chauffer and bodyguard who notes the changes in his boss since Damon had Micah. Through him we see a different side of Damon, the much-feared mafioso part, and the more recent besotted boyfriend side that few ever see. Geoffrey’s internal dialogues were more cynical than Micah’s but no less hilarious.
Pretty Policeman: The Case of the Suspicious Stripper is a shorter read than its predecessor. The plot may be thin, our hero might lack common sense, but the writing made me chuckle, and the romance is high on squees. All in all, fun, light-hearted, and super swoony!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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PRETTY POLICEMAN: THE CASE OF THE SUSPICIOUS STRIPPER: Kindle
Pretty Policeman – Fifer Rose
Detective Micah Hart wasn’t sure when his fairly safe, predictable life became something more closely resembling a dumpster fire.
But if he had to pinpoint an exact moment, he would say it was the first time he went undercover as a prostitute in an attempt to bait the notorious serial killer who was stalking New York City’s streets – the media-dubbed Hooker Hunter.
It’s when Damon Romano plows into his life, with his fierce protective energy, and those thick thighs, and the bluest pair of eyes Micah has ever seen.
If only he wasn’t also a temperamental mafioso in charge of running one of the city’s largest criminal empires.
Damon fixates on Micah, obsessing over feeding him and making sure he always has a coat. He spoils him rotten with gifts and insists on taking Micah on as his personal escort – a “boyfriend” to get his nagging sisters off his back.
It’s weirdly sweet, and Micah doesn’t know how he’s become a soft spot in the ruthless man’s otherwise hardened exterior, but it would be a lie to say he didn’t want even more: a real relationship with Damon.
There was just one teensy, tiny problem with that.
Despite what Damon thinks, Micah isn’t actually a prostitute. He’s a cop for the NYPD.
Pretty Policeman is an MM billionaire/mafia romance, sprinkled liberally with rom-com elements, served with a side helping of sugar daddy kink and mistaken identity trope.
I’m not a fan of Pretty Woman because I don’t find Julia Roberts and Richard Gere attractive or appealing as actors. But I could see that the trope could be hella romantic if done correctly.
Pretty Policeman is a take on Pretty Woman, but instead of a sex worker, we have an undercover cop, Micah Hart, playing rent boy in order to catch a serial killer. He was rescued from an abusive john by billionaire Damon Romano, who then fed and clothed the underdressed, underage-looking Micah. And showered him with presents without expecting anything in return.
Micah tried several times to reject the care and the presents, but the older man sincerely and quite firmly wants to help get him off the streets. Thing is, Micah has a case to solve. Later, Damon gave him an offer he can’t refuse. And it turned out the caring billionaire is also a ruthless mafia don.
The premise grabbed me immediately, and I didn’t initially realize what trope it was referencing. Author Fifer Rose sold me the fantasy and spiced it up with forbidden love between an undercover cop and a mafia boss, and I bought it hook, line, and sinker.
And she made it so much fun! Written in Micah’s POV, his internal dialogues were hilarious, especially with how clueless he is in many situations and how we, as the reader, could see disaster written all over it. The writing also tends to use cutesy mini-explanations in parenthesis. It could have been annoying, but it worked with the tone of the story.
Both characters have a duality to them. Our boy Micah, lovable as he is, is a total himbo, suffers from verbal diarrhea, prone to making spectacularly bad decisions, and should avoid vodka at all costs. As a newly minted detective, he is surprisingly good at his job. Micah is eager to prove himself, works his cases with dedication and diligence, and has good instincts he utilizes to maximum effect during investigations.
Damon is known to Micah as a kind, protective, and generous man with a sugar daddy kink. He is a total gentleman, respecting Micah’s virtue even when the dork came on to him while completely smashed. Unknown to our boy, Damon is a much-feared mafia don whose wetwork makes even his hardened chauffer, Geoffrey, queasy.
We never see Damon’s POV, which I wanted so badly. On the other hand, seeing him through Micah’s eyes enhances his mystique. And boy, does he cut a dashing figure in his sharp suits and greek god good looks! Not to mention all that TLC he showers Micah.
In the last scene, we are teased with Geoffrey’s POV of his boss, where he comments on the changes to Damon’s character (“pep in his step” among them). While he secretly thinks Micah is an idiot, he couldn’t deny the dork’s good for the don. Heck, their chemistry sizzled and zinged! Even a grizzled mafioso could see that.
I hope we get Geoffrey’s POV again in book two because I am intrigued by a third person’s POV of the mismatched pair.
The trick to this book is to suspend disbelief, take it with a heaping pile of salt, and just let the romance sweep you away. The plot is OTT ridiculous but the case is actually interesting and is woven well with the crazy, implausible sugar daddy shenanigans, family drama, and workplace woes. I haven’t had this much fun with a book in a while!
Pretty Policeman isn’t the kind of literary masterpiece people rhapsodize about. But to me, it is a masterful take on a classic romance trope, a novel of pure escapist fun, and a swoony fantasy of dark knights sweeping pretty boys off their feet. It doesn’t get more perfect than that!
5 Stars – absolutely perfect
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Tentacular Tales: Can’t Help Falling in Love with an Alien – Chloe Archer
Working for the Alliance is a sci-fi nerd’s dream–aka mine–come true. I’ve even won the heart of my grumpy-sexy alien boyfriend. Nothing can bring me down, baby. I’m walking on freaking sunshine! Except now one of Kai’s douchey AF exes decides to turn up like a bad case of crabs. I don’t trust him one bit. But I’ve got even bigger problems to worry about. Like helping some awesome aliens in trouble, and maybe moving in with Kai, who’s totally going to propose any day now—right? Oh, and my shady relatives might be hiring an assassin to take me out. So, you know, a day in the life of River Sullivan. I’m sure everything’s going to be fine. Won’t it?
We’ve finally got a new lead on the drug dealer targeting extraterrestrials on Earth. But the more we unravel in this investigation, the less I like it. Outside of work though, things are going amazingly well with my adorable mate–dear galactic gods, how did that happen? But with an ex back in my life and wanting to be friends, and the threat of a potential assassin looming, things are getting a little complicated. I love River with both my hearts—and all five tentacles—but even I’m worried I might not be able to protect him from the dangers ahead. Also, I need to figure out how the heck I’m going to propose to him. River deserves something “epic,” and I don’t want to let him down. Am I going to be able to deliver?
Can’t Help Falling in Love with an Alien (Tentacular Tales #2) is a (116,000 words) M/M sci-fi rom com and the second book in the series. It should be read in chronological order. This installment features a pajama party date that will go down in infamy, inappropriate team t-shirts, a half-baked love poem, more Captain Starblade and Lord Vardox, drunken shenanigans courtesy of spaceship moonshine, unexpected mating instincts, plenty of new aliens with problems for River to solve, and tentacles galore. And possibly an epic proposal? This book has an HFN ending and no cheating. Never fear—there is a guaranteed HEA by the end of the series!
Can’t Help Falling in Love with an Alien, Book 2 of Tentacular Tales, continues the tentacular shenanigans of interspecies couple River Sullivan and Captain Kai Genaro. It picks up after the events of the second book, where the Alliance is working on the case of drugs being smuggled and illegally used on the resident aliens of Las Vegas. It also moves Kai and River’s relationship forward.
I’m on the fence with this second book. I understand why the author went with the direction the story went. It makes sense to follow River’s career in the Alliance, as well as clues to his alien heritage, not to mention the riveting, super epic love/hate affair between Captain Starblade and Lord Vardox. It takes a special kind of genius to make me more excited about a fictional couple written by a fictional character than the actual MCs of the story.
And I enjoyed watching River deploy his crazy ideas to help aliens integrate better in human society. The fact that he genuinely wants to help the displaced aliens, and his ideas are ingenious and effective are points in his favor.
But I also want the series to follow a different couple per installment. I am dying to read about the notorious playboy Mel winning over the demisexual Big Lebowsky, Uncle Benjie. And the petite but spicy twink, Evan, seducing the hulking blue virgin alien, Zion.
I am sad to say the book was too long with a saggy middle I struggled to go through. And because I am extra bitter about recent anxiety-inducing events in my work-life, I am not happy with how Kai is frequently put in embarrassing situations supposedly in the name of love. I sympathized with Kai at how even his mother relishes her son’s humiliations. All because he’s the introvert of the family, and introverts are always being forced out of their shells.
Kai is a grump but he’s a good guy. It was endearing how he wants to be a better person for River. Personally, I think it is River who should learn to reign it in sometimes. (Again, don’t mind me. I am just tired of loud people right now.)
Happily, the story picked up at the third arc. The Magic Mike climax really brought the energy up several notches. Those multi-colored aliens sure knew how to bring the house down! This is why I love River’s wacky ideas!
Can’t Help Falling in Love with an Alien is an entertaining sequel (especially when I am in a better frame of mind). I’m in it for Kai and the rest of the not-so-loud characters, humans and aliens alike. Most especially the hotter-than-blue-stars romance between Captain Starblade and Lord Vardox. It’s a book that needs to be written, and its going to be out of this world! So please, please, please write it, Chloe Archer!
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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Stolen Hearts: Hex and the City by Nazri Noor
Leon Alcantara is a real son of a witch. The last in a proud line of witches, he’s come to test his small magic in the big city. Stealing enchanted artifacts pays the rent, but the competition is fierce. And handsome. And great at magic, too. But Maximilian Drake and his dark, brooding glances are the least of Leon’s problems. A chain of anomalies surges through the city, strange distortions in reality that threaten both Dos Lunas and its people. Suspected by the arcane authorities, Leon is forced to work with his nemesis to clear his name. But Max is so secretive over his shrouded past. Can he even be trusted? Leon must decide before the anomalies destroy the city — and his entire life.
Nazri Noor quickly became a go-to author since A Touch of Fever back in 2021. Many of his books are urban fantasies set in an alt-universe centered around a magical Black Market that moves all over the globe and beyond.
His latest series, Stolen Hearts, is another urban fantasy. I haven’t heard mention of the infamous Black Market, but I’m pretty sure it’s set in the same universe.
Book 1, Hex in the City, stars the feisty Leonardo Alcantara, green carded into the US from the Philippines by his mother. Leon comes from a long line of bruha or witches, the magic passed on from women to women. He is the first witch boy and, so far, the last Alcantara.
A winning combination of spells, street smarts and naivety, Leon currently ekes out a living as a finder, moving from city to city where there is work. In one heist, he butt heads with another finder, the tall, dark, and broody Maximillian Drake, who is also after the magical object he’s tasked to find.
Dos Lunas is a city with a magical underground and many magical law-enforcement agencies, one of which are the Masks. As you can guess, their agents wear certain types of masks depending on their rank, and I immediately wanted to be one when I grow up. Another group that fascinated me are the Spiders, information mongers who dole out jobs to finders like Leon and Max.
One very intriguing aspect are the old magical families like the Brilliantes, powerful and influential enough to be given a lot of leeway by the Masks. The characters have different types of magic as well. Leon’s traditional magic can amplify what is already there. Later, he got a power boost courtesy of certain ancient entities. Max’s magic has something to do with crystals. His friend Tina is very handy with her machete, while the Jade Spider lives and breathes secrets.
I find many of the author’s works fun but wordy. Here, his writing hit the sweet spot between the sass, the info-dump, and the rest of the elements. This is a fast-paced plot with fast-talking characters that skillfully balanced the romantic development, Leon’s Filipino background, the snarky dialogues, world-building, the mystery, and the high-octane, anime-style fight scenes that I am crazy about!
The only reason I didn’t give this a 5-star rating is that the romance on the generic side. I’ve already seen this style of rivals to lovers done in the author’s other books. Apart from that, Stolen Hearts offers a rich magical world I’d loved to get lost in, characters I’d love to hang out with, and more quests and adventures to conquer.
So yeah, Hex and the City would make a great onscreen series. And we all know fictional gay couples have the best and most devoted fandom. We already have angels and demons, princes and first sons, and of course, pirates. About time we have mages and witch boys, so please, if Netflix or anyone could turn this or any of the author’s books into an anime or live-action drama, it would be simply brilliant!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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Shifter Scoundrels: Dangerous – Charlie Cochet & Macy Blake
New Paranormal Romance from Bestselling MM Authors Charlie Cochet and Macy Blake.
A grumpy lion shifter duke with secrets, a sassy human who knows nothing of the shifter world, and a fiery arrangement neither of them expected.
Cormac Donegan, Duke of Everard, is all too familiar with the perils of his shifter world, especially as a Dahlia, one of the dragon king’s elite spies. After a mission nearly costs him his life, Cormac is sidelined, healing and grieving his heavy losses. Then a different kind of trouble shows up on his doorstep, a human claiming to be his fiancé.
When Jason Reaves is nearly killed in a house fire, it becomes clear that someone is trying to murder him. With his already fragile health deteriorating, Jason’s only hope is to call in the debt a stranger owes his father– a favor that promises safety, protection… and marriage.
Jason’s escape leads him and his service dog, Mouse, to an impressive country estate. He’s expecting the older man who’d made the promise, not his ruggedly handsome son–who happens to be a Duke, as in rich and royal.
Will this Cinderfella find his happily ever after in the arms of a dashing–if somewhat irritable–duke? Or will Cormac’s secrets prove to be more dangerous than the shifters hunting him?
Dangerous is the second installment of Charlie Cochet and Macy Blake‘s highly entertaining paranormal series, Shifter Scoundrels. After shocking the ton by bringing a human to the ball in Book 1, Notorious, the Duke of Everard, Cormac Donegan, and his fiance, Jason Reaves, set expectations high.
And they delivered!
The plot is an arranged marriage trope between the shifter duke and a human after a pledge by the old duke to Jason’s father years before. I have yet to experience the charms of Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy, but if comparisons between him and Cormac made Jason blush, well, I have to meet the guy ASAP.
Duke Everard is a black lion shifter whose bite is deadlier than his growl, and boy, does he love to growl. He’s secretly working as a spy, a member of the Dahlias, the king’s eyes, ears, and claws in the kingdom. He’s an honorable man and a stickler to duty. So much so that when a complete stranger showed up his doorstep claiming to be his fiance, with the old duke’s letter in hand promising protection, he was immediately determined to see it through.
Sad to say, Jason was my least favorite thing here. The man has to learn to shut up. His brand of sunshine and babble failed to charm me. His service dog Mouse, on the other hand, was adorable! Jason has Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and throughout the story, when his illness manifests, he requires Mouse’s aid as well as the duke’s and his staff.
But our boy is no damsel in distress. A very admirable thing about Jason is that he’s very good at keeping his head even under extreme pressure. He might hyperventilate and be hypertensive, but our boy can still strategize, helping Cormac in the key parts of his mission. And he won the hearts of the two deadliest Dahlias, Lady Alia and Lady Marmont(?), as well as the rest of society.
The book delves deeper into shifter world, looking at it through human eyes via the Cinder-fella trope. Cormac is the type who would spoil his beloved Jason rotten, so I wished the authors laid on the luxury and opulence thick. Also, the leap from friends to lovers happened too quickly. We are just told they spent some time together before taking the leap. I wished we were shown these scenes more.
My gripes aside, Dangerous is another one-sitter. The romance was sweet and heartwarming enough, but like Notorious, it’s the rest of the story and the cast that really made my day. And with storytelling that kept me glued to the book, this sequel is a worthy addition to the magical alt-Regency paranormal world.
The series over-arching thread overlaps with some events from Book 1. This is a very intriguing mystery of who is behind the murder of the prince. The crimes keep coming, but we barely have clues. I have sworn to see this through the end.
The supporting cast was a riot, and I loved seeing familiar faces helped saved the day. The plot had most of the action at the last part, and this was full on mayhem and chaos! Thrilling car chases, explosions, and Cormac with the swag of Colin Firth in suit and umbrella.
Overall, this story of dangerous dukes, sassy humans, and royal shenanigans is well-written, fast-paced, snarky, and super fun! Definitely the talk of the town!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Beau’s book is next!
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Vet Shop Boys: Got Me Hoping – Casey Cox
It’s just a one-night stand, they said. It’ll be simple, no-strings fun, they said. They. Lied.
I’m done with love and being broken-hearted. The only dogs I want to deal with are the ones I treat in the veterinary clinic I work at.
But at thirty-four, having my first one-night stand can’t hurt. Right? The rules are pretty simple.
1. Don’t spend the night.
2. Don’t see him again.
3. Don’t share anything personal.
4. Don’t fall in love with him.
But when Haze, the guy I spent a blazing hot night with and haven’t been able to forget about, shows up as our new receptionist, the rules fly out the window.
There’s no way one night could lead to anything more. So why has Haze got me hoping this might just last?
Got Me Hoping is book 1 in the Vet Shop Boys series and can be read as a stand-alone. Expect plenty of humor, found family, an adorable golden retriever, a foul-mouthed parrot, a whole new way of getting clean (as well as very, very dirty) and a heartwarming happily ever after!
Got Me Hoping is the opener of Casey Cox‘s contemporary romance series, Vet Shop Boys. The prospect of cute couples with fur babies piqued my interest, so I had to give this series a go.
It took a few tries for the book to stick because the opening chapters weren’t that riveting. It wasn’t until Henry Cavill-lookalike and veterenarian Noah started hanging out with Haze regularly that it clicked. As Jeff and Will of Big Gay Fiction Podcast would say, this is a story about nice guys doing nice things.
Although we have examples of sunshiny all-around sweethearts who are completely adorable, our favorite angel Aziraphale being the perfect example, Noah and Haze failed to make me gush, despite being two perfectly, genuinely nice guys. These two men feel like secondary characters in their own book.
The character that stole the spotlight was the 40-something owner of Vet Shop Boys, Gus, a.k.a. the best boss in the world. He’s been through the wringer, first with the death of his former partner, who was also the co-founder of the clinic. As if it’s not bad enough, his new husband was caught cheating on the very day of their wedding. Now the asshole is demanding half of the clinic in their divorce.
Gus’s story was more compelling, and reading the blurb of his book, he’s going to be paired with a younger man. Which was disappointing because I was hoping for an equally mature boyfriend for him. There’s too few silver fox+silver fox romances, sadly.
Noah and Haze’s romance was mellow and comfortable, spiced with some kinky nipple play and a lot of rimming. They’re kinda forgettable, but at least they’re having fun.
The plot focuses on realistic problems and follows the MCs as they go about their days while breaking the rules of one-night stands. They navigate their relationship while Haze ponders what he wants to do with his life. This is what stood out to me the most.
All his life, Haze jumps from one thing to another, good enough at everything but never a master of something. He took microbiology in college, then bounced from one odd job to another, including a bed tester. Now, he’s on his second degree, while making soaps and part-timing at the Vet. And still feeling lost.
This is eerily similar to my situation, especially during my younger days. I majored in applied physics, even have a masters in the damn subject. But then I worked several odd jobs, and took various courses, including fashion design and hairstyling.
If somebody asked me before what I want to do with my life, I really didn’t know. Now, I’ll probably say my dream is to have enough resources to do what I want when I want it. That should cover everything.
Got Me Hoping is a good example of a 3-star book for me. It didn’t set my world on fire, but it got me hooked on the series.
3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it
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