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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Arcane Hearts: A Stroke of Brilliance – Nazri Noor
The fragrance of chaos. The flavor of terror. The color of madness.
Jackson Pryde and Xander Wright are loving a life of hunting and harvesting rare reagents wherever the Black Market travels. But a routine trip to visit Japanese tree spirits turns up something sinister: two crystal shards, embedded in the bodies of wild animals. They’re familiar, glimmering, violet… like splinters of amethyst.
But that’s not all. Two rival guilds are in strife, Jack and Xander caught in a crossfire of spells and slander. SEER and its hundred eyes are still watching their every move. And then there’s the matter of meeting Xander’s parents, perhaps Jackson’s deadliest challenge to date.
The Chrysanthemyst’s return is the least of their problems.
A Stroke of Brilliance is a 70,000-word M/M urban fantasy romance with a HFN ending. Join a fast-talking artificer and a snarky sorcerer, childhood friends who become bitter enemies, then lovers, as they explore a world filled with strange flora, mythical fauna, and magical murders. If you like your urban fantasy with humor, horror, and a whole lot of heart, you’ve come to the right place. Experience A Stroke of Brilliance today.
Arcane Hearts is a series I like to think of as a shounen anime with a BL romance. It has the kind of scenes I’d love to see on screen, and vivid writing that makes them come alive in my head. With the majority of the world-building, and tons of info-dumps, taken care of in Book 1, A Touch Of Fever, the rest of the installments could focus more on Jackson and Xander’s adventures.
A Stroke of Brilliance follows partners and boyfriends Jackson Pryde and Alexander Wright, working as glorified errand boys for guilds looking for rare materials to use in their crafts. In one of their quests, they came upon purple crystals strikingly similar to the Chrysanthemyst that caused the fevers in Book 1.
This sequel has everything I loved about the series. Jackson still talks a a little too much for me, but he’s also more amusing now. He’s the last remaining Pryde of the defunct Guild of Artificers. The way he misses his parents is one of the more serious notes of the story. Author, Nazri Noor, created a clever way of making them come back from the dead, so to speak.
Book 1 has Jack pining after his frenemy neighbor, Xander, from the Wright family of mages and graduate of the super-elite Greyhaven Academy. Boy had it bad, and I could definitely see why. Xander’s adorbs! And their romance was pretty cute. Now that they’re a couple, the author succeeded in making them even more floofy! The boys are so madly in love, it’s ridiculous!
Speaking of Greyhaven boys, man, am I super intrigued! Total badasses and complete nerds, all of them! I am glad this is not about a magic academy because I’m tired of that. But the way Jack talks about the Greyhaven boys, he’s in awe but also considers them his rivals. I want more of them!!!
There’s the cocky SEER agent, Reza Arshad and his cool teleportation, and the Guildmaster of the Thousand Hands, Kaoru, who looks magnificent in his swooshy white robes. I’m low-key shipping the two.
One thing that makes me think of this as shounen anime is how each character has a signature magical power. Reza has the smoke thing going on, and Kaoru is the master of paper. Xander is on his way to becoming magic personified, and Jack has his gauntlet. As the series progresses, we’ll probably be introduced to more powers, which makes me go nuts because I love imagining which magical powers I’ll have. That’s what I tend do when I watch anime.
Not to mention the fight scenes! Holy hell, that scene inside the inner sanctum of the Thousand Hands was pure awesome!!! I live for spectacular displays of magic, and this second book certainly lives up to its titular brilliance.
And with these heart-thumping action, we have a gripping mystery, a bitter rivalry between two guilds, a secret hiding in plain sight, and family drama worthy of a soap opera. The plot moves the overarching storyline forward, with the threat of the purple crystals looming over everything. And even with the numerous side commentary from Jack, things move fast without loosing a beat.
Xander’s future is one I’m waiting on with bated breath. I’m half expecting him to become the Incandescent, a being of pure magic, something his horrid parents are forcing him to do because it is the Wright legacy. I love it when Xander completely unleashes his magic. The sad thing about it he loses part of himself every time he does it on his way to Incandescence until he’s nothing but a shell. I don’t want to Jack to lose the his favorite person.
A Stroke of Brilliance gives us all the bombastic action, humor, and magical fireworks while keeping the plot solid and making the romance even more squee-tastic. It’s a fantastic sequel that promises more thrilling adventures for our boys! All in all, a masterfully crafted tale!
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
Jackson and Xander’s adventures should be followed in order, starting with A Touch Of Fever.
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The Vampire’s Club 6 – X. Aratare
Lucas Daniels knows that witches and vampires are real.
Lucas has discovered that witch blood flows through his veins and he can perform magic, but it is hardly within his control. And the more he delves into his gifts, the more dangerous they appear.
Count Konstantin “the Wolf” Volk must keep Lucas’ parentage a secret from the Nomad while searching for a way to free himself and Lucas from Gaia’s plot. But how can he succeed when the Nomad sees and hears all?
NOTE: THIS NOVELLA SERIES HAS CLIFFHANGERS! EVERY BOOK WILL END ON ONE. THAT’S MY NATURAL WRITING STYLE. IF YOU DO NOT LIKE CLIFFHANGERS, WAIT UNTIL THE WHOLE SERIES IS PUBLISHED TO READ. THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
The Vampire’s Club 7 – X. Aratare
Lucas Daniels is a vampire… and a witch.
Can he use his newfound powers to help Konstantin “the Wolf” Volk, the dangerous and mysterious Nomad, and the witch, Gaia, to stop the destruction of all vampires by the coven leader Rachel?
If Lucas does, he’ll have to convince the Nomad that he is not a threat to Konstantin. While Konstantin wants only to protect his very new and special fledgling from the dangers that Lucas wants to help him face.
The end of The Vampire’s Club Series!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
When it was first released in 2019, I was ridiculously obsessed with The Vampire’s Club. The books had such intense level of USTs and squee-tastic moments I was reduced to incoherent gushing emojis. However, the start of Book 6 wasn’t working for me, so the series was stuck in TBR limbo.
Recently, I had a sudden urge for vampire romance and decided to pick up where I left off. This time, Book 6 had me completely engaged.
Admittedly, the emotional distance created by time reduced the impact the books had on me. I wasn’t a gushy stan anymore. I was more aware of how cringey some of the scenes were. Cringey like having Lucas’s mother speaking inside Konstantine’s head while the boys were having sex.
Having read the author’s other works, The Fall and The Bodyguard, I’ve recognized certain themes and tropes they like to employ. The stories are dark and sensual, conjuring images of luxurious, dimly lit rooms heavy with musk.
The stories feature relationships that are vaguely incestuous involving father figures. For instance, here we have Lucas’s stepdad attempting to molest him. The vampires use terms such as Childe, Sire, and Grandpere when referring to their creators and fledglings who are usually also their lovers.
The heroes tend to be barely legal, naive, or innocent young men paired with a much older, worldly love interest. The series underscores that by having centuries-old Konstantine fondly calling college-age Lucas “nevinovnyy”, the Russian word for innocent.
By Book 6, Lucas is not so innocent anymore, fully aware of what he can do, who his real mother is and what Konstantine is. Meanwhile, Konstantine agonizes over the fact that Lucas is the key to lifting his curse, but then his boy would have to pay the prize should the vampire turn him to save himself. The witches are also making their power move to destroy the vampires.
Where the first five books were merely dark and gothic, Books 6 and 7 nearly crossed over to horror because now there’s blood, gore, rape and torture (the latter two were off page). Lucas unleashed was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before, a powerful killing machine who can go toe to toe with eldritch monsters from other worlds. And our boy hasn’t even showed 100% of his powers yet!
Konstantine unlocks magical abilities like his Sire, The Nomad, is known for. Then realizes The Nomad’s secret identity. This part I cheered the most because Konstantine was abandoned by his Sire for centuries. Little did he know, The Nomad had always watched over him. The little tidbit I found really endearing was The Nomad was secretly Club Dyavol’s first customer!
Much of the series was spent building tension, both the sexual and the deadly kind, so the big showdown when it exploded sent shockwaves that swept everyone. The fight scenes were thrilling and spectacularly gruesome!
Some of the casualties were especially tragic, like Lucas’s foster mom. This part could have been written differently, less tragically, but I guess it was the way it was to completely cut off Lucas’s ties to the mundane world.
Another gripe is that there were too much dialogue on what should have been a time for action. It happened when Lucas and his real mother teamed up. They received texts that Konstantine and The Nomad were in grave danger and needed to be rescued ASAP. Mother and son then proceeded to have pages of dialogue, all the while mentioning the urgency of the situation. It was like those scenes where a character is dying, but still managed to have a lengthy monologue. Meh!
The Vampire’s Club 6 and 7 wasn’t quite what the first books were, but this finale pulled out all the stops! Lucas reclaimed his heritage and became so much more than anyone could have predicted. Konstantine reclaimed his Sire and his best friend, his beloved nevinovnyy, and his home Club Dyavol. A fairy tale ending for the vampire romance of my dreams!
Overall, The Vampire’s Club is a heady mix of fluff and steam, dark and sweet. It’s pure escapism, seductive, enthralling, dangerous. Yes, exactly like our favorite undead creature.
The Vampire’s Club is a serial. The books are meant to be read in order because seriously, that dream sequence and the elevator scene are two of the most unforgettable scenes of my entire reading life!
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The Vampire’s Club: US