Everyone who’s heard about the Mulvaneys knows that the Mulvaney twins always come as a package. So it makes sense that I should review their books together.
By now, the Mulvaneys need no introduction. This family of vigilante psychopaths has endeared themselves to many readers of MM romance. And I have declared my love for them ad nauseum.
Here’s my review of Headcase and Mad Man, Books 4 and 5 of Necessary Evils:
Necessary Evils: Headcase – Onley James
Asa Mulvaney is half of a psychopathic whole. He and his twin brother live together, party together…kill together. In the Mulvaney family, murder is the family business and business is good. When an experiment separates Asa and his brother, Asa is forced to navigate the world on his own for the first time in his life.
Zane Scott is a small-time crime blogger and amateur sleuth, but he dreams of a byline in a major paper someday. When he winds up at a boring fundraiser beside Asa Mulvaney, they share an intensely passionate encounter that leaves Zane with an ache in his chest and a story idea that could make his career dreams a reality.
At a nearby college, a cluster of suicides isn’t what it seems. When Asa’s father asks him to look into it, he sees the perfect opportunity to see his little crime reporter again. And Asa needs to see him again. Zane’s suspicious of Asa’s motives, but he won’t say no to a chance to peek behind the Mulvaney family curtains.
As the two unravel a sinister plot, Asa’s obsession with Zane grows and Zane finds being Asa’s sole focus outweighs almost anything, maybe even his career–which is good for Asa because loving a Mulvaney is a full-time job. Can he convince Zane that he’s worth navigating a family of psychopaths and his pathologically jealous twin, or will Zane learn the hard way that the Mulvaney boys always get what they want? Always.
Headcase is a high heat, intense, lovers-to-frenemies, psychopath romance with an HEA and no cliffhangers. It features an obsessive, calculating psychopath and a wannabe reporter who will stop at nothing to earn himself a major byline. As always, there’s gratuitous violence, very dark humor, enough killers to fill an auditorium, and enough heat to melt your kindle. This is book 4 in the Necessary Evils series. Each book follows a different couple.
TAGS: psychopath romance, Asa is bored, Avi is jealous, Zane is pretty, Adam is still a dick, August is… August, Aiden’s still missing, Lucas is concerned, Atticus plays den mother to a gaggle of murderous young adults, Asa wants Zane but knows he suspects he’s a killer, Zane wants a story but can’t keep from falling into bed with his target, extra dark humor, found family, So. Many. Murderers, mysteries abound, bad boys doing bad things and each other, high non-relationship angst, low relationship angst, shmoop, fluff, smut.
Necessary Evils: Mad Man – Onley James
Avi Mulvaney is many things. Son. Twin. Owner of the fashion label, Gemini. Murderous psychopath. Together, he and his brother, Asa, make one brutally efficient monster, ridding the world of predators who victimize the innocent. History proves Avi and Asa don’t do well apart, but their father has decided to test that theory.
Felix Navarro knows exactly who he is. Baby brother. Fashionista. Vigilante. While he’s not happy that his big brother married a Mulvaney, the union has its perks. Like a paid internship with Gemini. But all good things come with a cost and, for Felix, that’s enduring Avi Mulvaney each day, which inevitably leads to thinking about him every night.
Felix doesn’t like Avi. He’s cocky, condescending, overbearing, and inappropriate. He’s also sexy, brilliant, and twice as lethal as Felix. Still, Felix loathes him. Even if he keeps letting him kiss him. And touch him. Even if he slipped just once. It was still hate sex, and it would never happen again. Ever.
Except, Avi’s being sent to help take down a dangerous crime ring and he’s ordered Felix to come along. Felix has vowed to stay strong. To remember he hates Avi. But they’re trapped together and there’s only one bed, and it’s so hard to hate Avi in the dark when he’s whispering how Felix belongs to him. Felix belongs to no man, but Avi is determined. He has one week to prove to Felix that he’s the exception to his rule. After all, who says no to a Mulvaney?
Mad Man is a scorchingly hot, intense, enemies to lovers, psychopath romance with an HEA and no cliffhangers. It features a dirty talking, brutally vicious killer and a sharp tongued murderous fashionista who are both too stubborn for their own good. As always, there’s gratuitous violence, very dark humor, enough blood to film the final scene in the movie Carrie, and enough heat to melt your panties. This is book 5 in the Necessary Evils series. Each book follows a different couple.
TAGS: psychopath, enemies-to-loves, dark humor, much violence, jealousy, bad boys doing bad things, long distance snark, only one bed, hate sex, more hate sex, hate sex that becomes apathetic sex then maybe something like love, if two killers are better than one what’s three killers, Avi is jealous, Asa is preoccupied, August is still August, Lucas is frazzed, Archer is still drunk, Thomas is at his wits end, Aiden is still in denial, Noah is still the psychopath whisperer and Adam is still a dick.
The twins were separated by Thomas as an experiment. Neither of them copes well with separations. And a bored Murder twin always spells T.R.O.U.B.L.E.
Asa is the dominant twin, so his book, Headcase, came first. This guy loves to hunt and play rough. That his person is a sweet and adorkable tabloid reporter plays really well into his dominant side and his daredevil personality.
Zane, what the hell had you gotten yourself into? This dork is the luckiest unlucky tabloid reporter out there. He finagled his way into an exclusive event to get the dirt on the Mulvaneys, met Asa, was taken home, discovered exactly how rough Asa likes it. Then, realizes he just stumbled into a family of serials killers. Asa refused to let him go.
Like the other Mulvaney boys, Asa didn’t waste time declaring Zane was his. The intrepid reporter put up a half-hearted fight before giving in because of course. Together, they try to untangle the mystery of a secret game that drives young college students to kill themselves.
The mystery really intrigued me because it was unusual and hard to solve. It gave me the chills to find out later on, it was based on a real-life internet game that targeted children. This is the best case in the series so far. Watch out for cameos by Dmitri and his little Arlo.
A huge chunk of the book is steam. I know Zane enjoys it, but I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the injury-inducing sex. BDSM is really not my thing. I kinda feel sorry for him looking like a battered boyfriend all the time. And he has to wear concealer in public, or else people would think Asa is an abuser. But, it’s their thing, they enjoy it, and they’re perfect for each other.
While Asa was with Zane, Avi was on the other side of the country with Felix. They were helping Aidan. They were investigating a case where a seemingly random bunch of people died. Aidan found the connection and is looking for the perpetrator.
Mad Man is Avi’s book. He is the twin who likes to serve. He enjoys pain and is also the more reckless of the two. I loved his wicked sense of humor. I could always clearly picture his glee every time they employed more creative ways to punish the bad guys.
Felix is the diva brother of Jericho, Atticus’ husband. He interns in Avi’s clothing company. He’s deadly, sharp, and talented. And bossy too. Exactly how Avi likes it. The man has been trying to get in his pants since they met. Felix put up a good fight, but they both know it’s only a matter of when. Boy is not so secretly crushing on his boss.
I didn’t warm up to Felix all the way. I found him too abrasive, too full of himself. It was only later on, when more of his personality and backstory was revealed, that I felt a stab of sympathy for him. Still, he’s my least favorite character in the entire series.
My favorite part was how Felix and Zane latched on to each other. Total friendship goals! There’s no sharing, mind you. The four became a mini-family within a family, and Felix became Zane’s emotional support person. It was all very cute and cozy.
Headcase and Mad Man is one story split in half. Asa and Avi are mirror twins. It’s very apt that their stories follow that symmetry. Each found yin to their yang without losing that special connection that makes the two of them a symbiotic unit.
The twins came off the market at the same time. It’s brilliant how the author choreographed the plots to get to that point, juggled all the various and many larger-than-life personalities without anyone being left out, and teased a.k.a. tortured us with threads of Thomas and Aidan’s story without missing a beat.
All in all, not perfect but you know what they say, double the trouble, double the fun!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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Better The Devil You Know – Bey Deckard
This is not a romance.
Tags: graphic torture, murder, paranormal, forced incest, rape
Byron is tall, handsome, well spoken, wealthy, and has outstanding taste in wine and food. You’ll be impressed by his impeccable attire and eloquence in conversation, ranging from Baroque art to the newest advances in pharmacology. With his charming smile and elegant manners, Byron truly is the perfect date… and who doesn’t love a man who appreciates opera?
What’s the catch, you ask?
Just this: if Byron finds you suitable, he will subject you to utterly depraved forms of torture.
No, I’m not talking about S&M.
Byron will mutilate, rape, and then kill you. Don’t think that you will survive the encounter, because you won’t.
He has a perfect record.
Intrigued? Would you like me to arrange a rendezvous? It has to be in the next few days because he’s leaving on a trip south to much warmer climes, and his calendar will be completely full.
Yes? Very good. I will make a reservation for two under the name of Smith.
Who am I? I’m Gloria, his personal assistant.
This is where a very bad man goes to hell to give the Devil what he deserves.
Better The Devil You Know is most definitely not for the faint of heart. Please do heed the trigger warnings. As mentioned in the blurb, this is not a romance. This is paranormal horror. If you like it painful and gruesome, this one takes it to the extreme.
Byron was a former doctor who uses his money to cover up his many illicit activities. With the help of his uber-efficient assistant, Gloria, he seduces men then later turns them into his playthings. With his medical knowledge, he prolongs his victim’s life and inflicts the sickest, most depraved tortures you can ever imagine.
This sicko has no redeeming qualities what so ever. There’s no redemption, no turning over a new leaf at the end. But I have to say, boy is he charming!
This is a story that feels very much like its main character. Dark, monstrous, sickening, terrifying but somehow you are still drawn to it. The sheer force of Byron’s charisma compels one to stay, makes one curious, keeps one interested.
Each chapter is shown through the eyes of Byron’s many victims. All too often, it is a tale of hapless young men drawn to the handsome gentleman with impeccable taste and perfect manners, only to find out too late that this beauty is worst than a beast.
It’s very intense to go through these men’s thoughts as they writhe in agony and breathe their last breaths. The author gave them names, faces, voices and backstories. It makes their plight even more heart-breaking knowing that two brothers just wanting a new car or a gay immigrant just wanting to make a connection unknowingly threw themselves into the hands of a monster
There are a couple of mysteries presented in the book. One is Michael, Byron’s last date. Why does this young man seem vaguely familiar? Gloria became a mystery as the story progressed. Who exactly is this assistant who seem almost too good at her job?
Then there is Lucifer. Luce to his friends. Never ever Lucie. Wondering what would it take to break a man like Byron. The Lord Of Hell has always been a fascinating character. Here, he’s fabulous, if perpetually bored. Seeing him light up when he talks to Byron, well, I couldn’t help but ship the two. But again, this is not romance. Fantastic chemistry notwithstanding, Luce is too good for the likes of Byron. Yes, the man is that bad.
There are so many clever twists and turns. Everything came together in a thrilling climax. It was a something I half expected since it felt like the logical conclusion given the set-up. I just didn’t know how exactly it would be done. The other half was something like Luce and Byron plotting elaborate methods of soul rehabilitation together. Would have loved to see that.
Either way, I loved how things were resolved. It does have its own kind of happy ending for the two, Because really, when I think about it, take away all the blood and gore, Better The Devil You Know is a story about one hell of a job promotion.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
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Exquisite Corpse – Poppy Z. Brite
A terrifying novel of love and slaughter set in London and New Orleans.
To serial killer Andrew Compton, murder is an art, the most intimate art. After feigning his own death to escape from a life sentence in prison, he makes his way to America with the intention of bringing his art to new heights. Tortured by his own perverse desires, he inadvertently joins forced with Jay, a dissolute playboy. They set their sights on a young Vietnamese-American runaway, whom they deem to be the perfect victim. Moving from the grimy streets of London’s Piccadilly Circus to the decadences of New Orleans’ French Quarter, Poppy Z. Brite dissects the landscape of torture and invites us into the mind of a serial killer in this riveting, unforgettable masterpiece of horror.
This for me is an absolute gem of a book. It has one of the best love stories I ever read, a love story between two male serial killers. So achingly beautiful, so damn gory. It is indeed a masterpiece.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect